March 14-20, 2007

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Letters to the Editor

Old-fashioned questions

Congratulations on dealing with tough topics in the March 7 "Money Issue," especially Patricia Lynn Henley's article on the pitfalls of home equity loans ("UnReal Estate"). Paul Krugman's March 2 column in the New York Times acknowledges the impact of inflation in the housing sector as well as burgeoning personal debt as significant hazards for American financial stability.

Now we are seeing the next wave of economic tribulation as the housing market shrinks and the attendant crisis in proliferating equity lines of credit and the sub-prime mortgages taken out by people who really cannot afford the houses they are living in.

Where is an alternative? What happened to the instruction so many of us received in economics classes in high school and college that a sound budget was one where consumers chose a house priced at four times their family's annual income?

What justifies the abandonment of this rule? Who benefits when home buyers take on overpriced, over-large houses? Are parents spending a good share of their time with their children or are they working a second job?

When foreclosures begin over home equity loans or at the level of sub-prime mortgages, what happens to those consumers? What happens at banks or mortgage lending institutions? What happens to our community?

Am I missing something here in that I still believe in living within one's means? Am I old-fashioned for paying my bills?

Cecile Lusby, Santa Rosa

Aw, shucks

The Bohemian's "Money Issue" should win you some kind of publishing award. An excellent read, front page to back--the features, critics' choices, cartoons, Brezsny--even the ads. I was moved to send a copy to Our Meg [artist Meg Hitchcock, recently relocated to Brooklyn] to remind her that intelligence, creativity and humor are still thriving here in the North Bay. Thanks, guys.

Claude Smith, Graton

Call me paranoid, but. . .

While I agree with Peter Byrne that impeachment of the Bush-Cheney cabal is a moral imperative (The Byrne Report, "Impeach Now!" March 7), I think one thing he failed to address is that the left fears the right, and rightfully so. The right controls most of the money in this country, all of the arms produced in it and has demonstrated with the Oklahoma City bombing that they are quite prepared to kill innocent Americans to achieve their aims. And rather than atone for it, right wing commentators now cite it as one of former president Clinton's "security failures."

Call me paranoid, but I can't help but feel that Bush and Cheney have, during one of their bull sessions, at the very least riffed on a hypothetical scenario in which another terrorist attack is allowed to succeed that could serve as a pretense for use of the president's war powers for a declaration of national emergency, the cancellation of November '08 elections, and the indefinite suspension of the U.S. Constitution. But it'll never happen, right?

Rich Jones, Monte Rio

Two-word cause

Peter Byrne seems bewildered by the dearth of "soldier age" attendees at the talks on impeachment of Bush-Cheney given locally by Elizabeth de la Vega and Cynthia McKinney. I suggest a two-word cause for that effect: no draft. It's not that young people applaud the behavior of Bush & Ilk; it's that they don't take such shenanigans personally, as did their generational peers of the '60s and '70s. It could also be that they're following the example of their parents (who by and large missed Vietnam) and who aren't showing all that much urgency about changing things either, beyond perhaps some tut-tutting to pollsters for maybe five minutes--and the pollsters come to them!

Constant reader Don McQueen, Santa Rosa

Blue Teeth Brigade

Thanks for a great write-up by Alastair Bland ("P.S. I Love You," March 7). He's right about this varietal turning teeth blue, which is why we had Blue Tooth Tours for a couple of years. We took to the highways and byways to extol the virtues of this dark and delicious varietal grape, Petite Sirah--hence, the morphing into Dark & Delicious.

With the wine industry being a billion-dollar business in California, and California being the fifth largest economy in the world, I say, "Make wine, not war!" and we'll all be happier.

Jo Diaz, Windsor

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