"Of Elk and Men" [November 7] made me wonder: Why is everyone so upset about elk being raised and killed in the woods? (Albeit fenced-off woods.) In an age when so many people would rather eat eggs and meat from "free range" chickens, why does this theory not extend to four-legged animals? Are slaughterhouses more humane for elk than chickens?
RIGHT ON REVIEW
Your review [of Colin Clary's Apocalypse Yow, November 14] is right on. Colin's latest is fun, extremely musical and has more than a little of the trademark Clary droll wit. It's a winner!
ORCHARD park, NY
I want to thank you for your most recent coverage of hunting in Vermont ["Open Season," November 7]. Too often, "hunting culture" is regarded with disdain these days. By offering views into different aspects of hunting, you're exposing many important parts of Vermont culture to those who might not otherwise get such exposure.
Also, a belated thank you for covering the deer herd population story last year ["Seen and Herd," October 18]. I found Seven Days' coverage well-balanced and informed - in some ways impressively more so than your larger competitor.
So while I sit here in Virginia, begrudgingly missing opening day back home, I'm happy to be reading your publication's work.
THE IRAN PLAN
What a great column [Peter Freyne] had this month ["Inside Track," November 7]. It covered many issues and news items concerning Vermont's congressional delegation - although Welch was missing. The only thing I would add is discussion of the real possibility of war with Iran. I think Cheney is really pushing this. And, unlike Iraq, Iran is a real country - it's big - and fanatical enough to use whatever weapons it has, be they nuclear or whatever.
Among the presidential candidates, I like McCain on this issue. He's seen the horrors of war. He's a war hero who has good standing with the hawks and can preach moderation, and he's got lots of experience dealing with congressional politics. He's one of the most respected members of Congress. I know he's way to the right on a lot of social issues, but one cannot have everything.
PETER PEEVES PROTESTORS
Ever have a houseguest from hell? That's exactly how Congressman Peter Welch could be described during a recent meeting with a group of folks who wanted to get answers they had not been able to obtain by phone, email or the recent sit-in (for which Welch had them arrested) at his office ["Inside Track," October 24 & November 14]. Welch refused to comply with the agenda of his hosts . . . Imagine a houseguest who refuses to comply with any of your house rules and planned activities, instead insisting you do as he or she demands.
The house rules were simple and clearly defined. The hosts had 14 questions that they wanted a simple "yes" or "no" answer to. Then, Welch would have time to explain himself. He refused. Welch whined that he was somehow being blindsided, asked trick questions, etc.
Welch admitted he hadn't bothered to watch a DVD given to him documenting why the Twin Towers came down, and was surprised so many people fail to believe the 9/11 Report that he blindly believes. Welch has staunchly refused to support impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney in spite of the fact that Vermonters have demanded it. Welch and the Democrats . . . have repeatedly stated they have more important things to do.
The Democrats, and Welch in particular, ran for office with the promise they would impeach Bush. Yes, the audience was verbal and demanding of their Congressman - telling him he works for us, demanding he follow the rules of his hosts, demanding that he follow the Constitution, demanding he produce the results he campaigned on and the reason many in the room voted and campaigned for him, and demanding a simple up or down vote as he claimed was so important in Congress.
Anyone remember the other Peter - Peter Smith? We get what we elect! No more Republicans or Democrats. Save America.
It takes a lot of work (and words) to spin the conservative take on poverty - 482 by my count (232 more than the 250-word limit noted in the letters policy in your paper). But I appreciate that Seven Days waived the policy to run the argument by John McClaughry of the Ethan Allen Institute ["Letters," November 7]. His argument illustrates nicely the perverted and downright acerbic view of the poor by social and fiscal conservatives and the nation's minority wealthy class. It exhibits the ideas that I hope as a college instructor and a new father I can help disabuse in generations to come.
McClaughry suggests or implies that poor people in America are poor out of choice, that there aren't any "poor" in America, that the "poor" can raise [sic] to the middle class and that benefits extended to the poor are giveaways that serve only to grow government and increase tax burdens. These are among the misguided, unreasonable and downright contradictory ideas posited by McClaughry in his diatribe.
First, there are poor people in America. Twelve percent of Americans live on poverty wages. White kids and black kids comprise the biggest groups of poor, with 15 percent and 30 percent, respectively, living in poverty. I'm not sure how census data could be used to highlight the "choices" that the poor have neglected to make to relieve themselves of poverty, but they do tell the income and relative poverty story of our country.
Second, poverty - or remaining in poverty - is hardly a choice. Common sense dictates that people who move upward socio-economically do so after benefiting from training and education. Education, then, is one of the "choices" that people must make to move upward. Surely someone has to pay for that education.
Third, benefits for the poor do not represent bigger government. This is the view proffered by the rich and those who own the corporations (or run think tanks geared toward benefiting the so-called "free market"). Yet those of the conservative social ilk support American hegemony through warfare - the equipment and personnel for which is bought with our tax dollars and goes directly to large corporations like General Dynamics, General Motors and Halliburton. If we spent a fraction of our military and war-making budget on equal educational opportunities for poor children and retraining for displaced workers, we could afford to educate those who "choose" to lose their jobs and who "choose" to not have good, fair-wage jobs to go to.
So, it's well and good that McClaughry can use creative interpretations of words and disclaimers of affiliation with the Heritage Foundation to spin his ideas, but the most basic facts are these: What we've been doing isn't working. There are more poor today than there were before the neocons who have hijacked our government took over seven years ago. We can implement programs that hold beneficiaries accountable. We can solve these problems before we raise yet another generation of Americans who believe that poverty is a "choice," that the only person who matters is me, and the only legitimate worry is whether "I've got mine."
A MUST READ
Thanks, Seven Days, for your timely article on the Farm Bill ["Crop Circles," November 14]. The Farm Bill is so important to us. The article deserves careful reading and discussion. Americans need to wake up to the necessity for farmers to make a living and for people to eat good food.
We should especially note the statistics column on page 31. The geography of Vermont lends itself to small, diversified farms. "Average acreage of a VT farm - 189." Then glide your eyes upward to the first three statistics: Eight percent of U.S. farmers produce 72 percent of U.S. ag sales; two-thirds of subsidies go to 10 percent of the farms; 93 percent of the subsidies are for the big five: corn, wheat, rice, soybeans and cotton. We're talking about giant corporate farms using heavy chemicals and GMO seeds. Most of the commentators in the article are distressed about these subsidies going to the already-rich farmers, who are destroying soil and the environment with their farming practices.
The fine aspect of this year's Farm Bill discussion in Congress is that consumers, small farmers and organic farmers, and advocates of hungry people are all stepping up to the table to ask for better food and support of more ecological farmer-friendly and land-friendly practices. Thirty years ago, Frances Moore Lappé turned many of us into vegetarians with her analysis of the world food supply and the possibility of food abundance for all. Today she is arguing for food education and activism on a large scale. "We don't experience ourselves as creating this world; we don't see ourselves as choosers at all," she wrote in her book, Hope's Edge. She taught herself new ways of imagining food production and distribution by traveling around the world and visiting alternative cooperative food producers. Here in Vermont, with many hard-working small farmers and supporters such as the Intervale Farm Program, we have an opportunity to make an impact with our buying power and our personal education about the farm bill and U.S. policies regarding food.
Why pay more for local food? Because it's healthier and doesn't require major transportation costs. It also gives local farmers' families a living wage! Do you realize that U.S. citizens pay almost half as much as the citizens of Europe for their food?
Please read the article, inform yourself further and, above all, be willing to pay your farmers and to expect nutritious and satisfying food.
* In a story that ran last week ["All Souped Up"], Seven Days incorrectly identified a photo. The photo was taken at That's Life Soup in Montpelier by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.
* In a story that ran last week ["Crop Circles"], Seven Days incorrectly spelled the name of Roger Allbee.