A moral imperative
Thank you for the very informative article on the World Trade Organization by Geov Parrish ("Shutting down Seattle," 8/19) that sheds light on an organization that operates largely in secret.
As citizens of Seattle, we are uniquely positioned to affect the course of history this fall. As such, we have a moral imperative to represent the interests of workers and consumers around the world. While there are many ways to become involved in the effort to demand fair trade rather than free trade policy, the very least each of us can do is to attend the peaceful rally and march scheduled for November 30th. As we join the tens of thousands of people taking to the streets, we will send a loud and clear message that will ring around the world—the citizens say NO to the WTO!
But what about shoes?
Geov Parrish's attack on free trade and the WTO ("Shutting down Seattle," 8/19) nicely states the positions of two groups: 1) those whose interests would be served by a reduction in free trade (or, as the article seems to imply, its abolition; if it's so bad, why allow any free trade?), and 2) those who have developed an emotional hatred of business, US corporations, government officials, and institutions in general (I hope the anarchists don't threaten this group's ideology as they organize their November protests). No amount of data, reasoned discourse, or objective analysis ever could sway either group from their positions.
However, union members should step back and consider a few realities. First, free trade creates export jobs for union members. Take it away and the jobs go with it. Second, is the American union movement—a noble endeavor—best served by advocating trade barriers which deprive foreign workers of jobs? As a member of a union family, I hope my brothers and sisters come to recognize that selfishness posing as idealism is not a sound base on which to build labor institutions.
As for those whose emotions drive their opinions, consider the plight of the single mom in Seattle. She pays $20 for each pair of cheap shoes she buys for her kids. The shoes are made in China, and if trade barriers go up she will pay $40. That's $20 no longer available for food and daycare. Maybe the job of a shoe worker in South Carolina will be saved, maybe not. But why aren't Geov Parrish and his friends sticking up for that single mom? What about her interests, her emotions, and her right to be able to purchase whatever she needs at the best price?
GREAT BIG CRISIS
A GREAT BIG THANK YOU!!!!--for putting Geov Parrish's article ("Shutting down Seattle," 8/19) on the front of your newspaper. The global coup d'etat on the part of the big business by way of WTO/NAFTA/GATT/MAI/etc. is the central political crisis on the planet. To my knowledge, the August 19 issue of the Weekly is the only instance in which a newspaper has given it the front-page coverage it deserves. Please keep this issue on the front burner so more people can become aware of the multinational corporate assault on the environment, human rights, national sovereignty, and democracy itself.
Riparian—look it up
An obvious question arises after reading about the proposal to add seven species of bottomfish to the endangered species list in "Scraping the bottom" (8/19). Doesn't the fact that the National Marine Fisheries Service announcement of "'substantial information' suggesting that a variety of causes—most notably overfishing—had driven seven familiar species into extinction's docket," and Fish and Wildlife's tagging another culprit—El Ni�as a main cause ring a bell as to primary causes of salmon disappearance also?
Could it be possible that our federal, state, and local fisheries biologists are concentrating on streamside habitat as the primary cause instead of overfishing and ocean conditions because of all the research and restoration jobs and private property controls involved in back-to-naturing and locking up riparian corridors? There's a lot more potential for government agency growth in saving salmon that return to inland streams than in saving bottomfish that stay put on the bottom of Puget Sound.
People for fish
Kudos to Eric Scigliano and the Weekly for reporting the catastrophic decline of many marine fish species in Puget Sound ("Scraping the bottom," 8/19). Once again the Endangered Species Act is being focused on the biological implosion we humans have fostered in the Sound and the Northwest Straits. Steep declines in herring, cod, and rockfish populations are mirrored in shellfish, invertebrate, and marine bird species.
Salmon eat herring. We will not solve the problems we have created for salmon until we address what is going wrong with the herring—and with what they eat. Depletion of one more species here and destruction of another vital marine habitat there has reached the point of unraveling the fabric of this ecosystem.
Overfishing is one part of the problem, but massive loss of nearshore habitats essential to fish has also occurred. Here, in eelgrass and kelp beds, many species including juvenile salmon hide and grow. Incremental loss of this critical nearshore habitat—one more stretch of bulkheading, one more dock, one more failing septic system—is writing the script for ecosystem disaster. A new industrial dock, such as the one proposed for the Lone Star gravel mine on Maury Island, or a tanker oil spill in the unprotected Strait of Juan de Fuca can devastate the already sorely stressed ecosystem.
Stopping loss of marine habitats requires better education of shoreline owners, stronger laws, and more effective enforcement. The voters enacted the Shoreline Management Act by ballot measure more than a quarter century ago. The Department of Ecology's 25-year-old implementing regulations have not proven enough to protect nearshore habitats from the tide of human development around the Sound and Straits. Yet even as more fish species join the endangered species track, modest updating of those inadequate regulations has been sidetracked by ill-informed opposition whipped up by farming and development interests and their allies in the Legislature.
These groups will be taking their attack on the Shoreline Management Act to the Legislature next January. The far broader public of Puget Sound lovers needs to get engaged in this issue so vital to the survival of our marine ecosystem.
People for Puget Sound
Standing up for cutting down
Katherine Alberg's article about the Weyerhaeuser building (Design, 8/19) makes (or fails to challenge) two points attributed to Professor Kristina Hill that I find quite annoying.
First, the concept that a large corporation that cuts down trees is somehow inherently evil. Let's put aside, for a moment, the fact that trees are PLANTS, for goodness sake. Weyerhaeuser (where I once worked) owns the forestland it harvests and replants every acre. Most of that harvest is second- and third-growth; only a tiny percentage of it is old growth.
Furthermore, Weyerhaeuser is no more in the "tree-cutting business" than railroads were in the "train business." Weyerhaeuser understands that its real business is the marketing of wood products. The company (in fact, the entire forest products industry) stays in business by satisfying consumer demands, demands for everything from the rafters that hold up your house to the toilet paper in your bathroom, to—yes, Ms. Alberg, yes Professor Hill, the one absolutely indispensable product that Seattle Weekly depends on—NEWSPRINT!
Blame the politicians
In your recent article about I-695 ("Tax scratch fever," 7/29, Quick & Dirty, 8/26) you neglected to talk about its impact on Metro Transit. King County estimates an immediate 30% reduction will be necessary in transit service, accompanied by big layoffs. Some smaller transit systems around the state may shut down altogether.
This insanity will please the people who think that roads and public services are paid for by somebody else; and when the decay and gridlock get bad enough, they'll blame "the politicians" and take pleasure in cynically remarking on how nothing works anymore.
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