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Health Care? Humbug!

Health care is not a human right [“Like Health Care Reform? So Does the Vermont Workers’ Center,” May 11]. A human right is any right a human would have whether there was a civilization or not — like the right to the pursuit of happiness, the right to be right or wrong, the right to succeed or fail, the right to bear arms, and the right to fight for one’s life. Without a civilization, there would be no health care, so therefore it is not a human right.

James Mellar

South Royalton

Make It Mexican

[Re: Side Dishes: “Al Pastor in Winooski,” May 18]: Finally.

Maria Sciancalepore

Burlington

Bad Call on bin Laden

There are times when I can read Seven Days without feeling like it is so firmly entrenched in the Establishment that I should burn it. Reading [Blurt: “Peace Activists Rally to Protest bin Laden Killing,” May 6; excerpted in Local Matters, May 11] was not one of those times.

The offense? Glib treatment of locals who decried the illegal killing of bin Laden, whom you besmirched with the comment, “Only in Burlington.”

Actually, despite what we have been programmed to think, the killing of bin Laden was an extrajudicial execution that is firmly held to be illegal under international law. This is mob law — as in, “dead men tell no tales.” We’ve run roughshod over the United Nations before, but never in such a high-profile way, which sets a dangerous precedent.

This killing does grave damage to our own Constitution, particularly the part about “innocent until proven guilty” — supposedly a central tenet of who we are as a nation. I know, everyone knows bin Laden is the guiltiest person on Earth ... or is he? Osama bin Laden, who once worked for the CIA, has claimed not to be responsible for the 9/11 attacks, though he knew who was. Dick Cheney said that the FBI has no significant evidence linking bin Laden to the attacks. The videos in which bin Laden has supposedly appeared over the years have been decried as fakes — often by people who point out the usefulness of his image to the war-making profiteers that be. For the past decade, anyone whose cousin laid eyes on bin Laden was rounded up and shipped to Guantanamo, where they were “interrogated” and held for years without charges. Now the U.S. has a chance to pocket the man himself, and you’re telling me they don’t want to ask him a few questions?

Marc Beaudette

Reading

Levine’s Logic?

Judith Levine’s May 11 column [Poli Psy: “Neither Victim nor Executioner”] was circuitous rambling at best. Her first sentence destroyed any credibility that her thesis had merit. It said, “Murder throws us back on murder,” whatever that means. Even worse, it was not murder. Murder is knowingly taking the life of an innocent person by design. To infer that bin Laden was innocent is farcical to say the least. Continuing from a false premise, she wandered about hopelessly. Her quote from the Vatican’s statement was the only sanity on the page.

Paul Holzweiss

Essex Junction

Positive Press

I was interviewed by Ken Picard for a story [“Water World,” May 11], and while I am always a little leery of the press (things can get twisted), Ken nailed it. I have had many comments about the article — not only about my business but how well written it was. Nice job, Ken!

Darrel Depot

Williston

Fair to Farmworkers?

At a time when immigration is once again coming to the forefront, it is important that we have accurate information on which to base our opinions. In the May 4 issue, Shay Totten wrote in his Fair Game column [“Show Us Your Papers!”]: “The farmworker toiling away to bring Vermont’s milk, cheese and veggies to market is probably not Caucasian, nor residing here legally.”

While I do not know about the milk and cheese portion of Shay’s statement, the veggie portion of his statement did not ring true from my involvement with commercial vegetable growing. So I contacted Vern Grubinger, vegetable and berry specialist at University of Vermont Extension, and asked what he thought about the statement. He told me horticulture workers are entirely legal as far as he can tell. He said, “It is true that the larger commercial fruit and vegetable farms in Vermont rely on migrant workers to meet their labor needs since they have intense labor demands, especially during the harvest season. However, these workers are entirely legal, with the vast majority enrolled in the federal government’s H-2A season worker program that assures they are paid a fair wage, provided decent housing and do not replace willing local workers. Many of these workers come back to the same farms year after year and have a really good relationship with the farmers.”

Gary Bressor

Richmond

Milking the System?

While I applaud Shay Totten’s May 4 Fair Game column [“Show Us Your Papers!”] for getting the word out about the many atrocities our undocumented dairy workers face, I believe it could make folks believe two very erroneous things:

1. H-2A is accessible to the vast majority of dairy employers, which it is not.

2. When Totten writes that the “H-2A program is currently used by some dairy farmers in Vermont,” it leads the reader to believe dairy employers could use H-2A if they chose to, thus implying employers who don’t are intentionally skirting the system — which they are not.

The fact is this: The only way Vermont dairy farmers could be eligible for the H-2A program is if they were to turn their year-round dairies into seasonal operations. In other words, they would need to “dry off their cows” for part of the year to make their herd seasonal. As one could imagine, this is neither a practical nor viable option for most of Vermont’s dairy producers. The bottom line is this: We need a visa system that is humane for both immigrant dairy workers and Vermont dairy employers.

Erin Shea

Plainfield

Correction

Last week’s story about the Vermont band 8084 [“Rock-and-Roll Fantasy”] incorrectly stated that drummer Gary Spaulding works in software and lives in White River Junction. He works as a website provider and lives in Essex Junction.

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