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NOBODY FORCED TO SHOP AT WAL-MART
Move over, Halliburton -- another bad dog is moving in! Wal-Mart is quickly becoming the nation's most bashed company. According to Jim Hightower, it seems that Wal-Mart is absolutely bad for the communities it is located in ["Wal-Mart milks taxpayers," Oct. 21].
I do not doubt the subsidies, nor do I want to. Obviously there are all kinds of subsidies (tax-increment financing and other public and private incentives) for all kinds of businesses, not just Wal-Mart.
The one thing you have lost sight of, though: We, the consumers, shop at Wal-Mart. If you have never been at the Wal-Mart on the northeast side of Springfield, there are lots of consumers. Wal-Mart is only providing products at a price the consumers are willing to pay. Plus, lots of other businesses are now locating in the same vicinity, creating jobs.
Hightower writes: "Wal-Mart pays at a poverty level and provides no health coverage for most of its workers; instead, it counts on food stamps, emergency departments, and other publicly subsidized services for its workforce." Hmmm, were all those workers forced to work there? I must have missed the news flash on TV about the "Wal-Mart chain gang." How much higher hourly wage should Wal-Mart pay? Double? Perhaps triple the current hourly wage?
I'm betting you agree all pay scales should be based on skill, knowledge, health risks, importance, education, and so on. If Wal-Mart doubled or tripled the wages to a scale you may agree with, chances are very good that Wal-Mart wouldn't be full of consumers today. The consumers would be somewhere else they can buy it cheaper. It's the American consumer that determines whether a business survives or not. We inherently look for the bargain!
WAKE UP, SMELL THE COFFEE
Today [Oct. 27] I received a phone call from "Beth," a downtown employee, who was quite upset with me. Her co-worker had been in the Trout Lily Café just before Beth called and overheard one of my customers talking to me about the election. He'd heard something about President George W. Bush orchestrating the 9/11 disaster.
I'd asked my customer whether he was sure of his sources, which he wasn't, and we'd talked for a few minutes about the election. This was a conversation with someone I've known since childhood. Evidently Beth's coworker was eavesdropping. Somehow in the retelling it became that I was telling customers that Bush planned 9/11. (Did you ever play the game "telephone" when you were a kid?) Well, now Beth and five of her coworkers refuse to return to the Trout Lily because of what someone "overheard" me say, because of what they believe to be my politics.
Historically a coffee shop is a place for discussion -- life, love, politics, sociology, literature, theater, and art. No topic is off-limits. At the Trout Lily, we welcome persons of all political, ideological, religious, and other belief systems, and we encourage conversation, even if we don't agree with all points of view. It is not our intent to insult anyone's belief system. Discussion and dissent are the prerogatives of any citizen in a democracy. Our Constitution guarantees free speech (First Amendment, remember?).
Wake up and smell the coffee, Beth!
Owner, Trout Lily Café
CHIVALRY IS NOT DEAD
I want to say thank you to Ryan Eckert, who last Friday did something extraordinary. He is not someone that I knew before Oct. 23, but I consider him a good person all the same. What did he do that was so extraordinary? He rescued my cat.
My roommates' kitten ran up the tree in front of the house and of course got stuck. We called the fire department, animal control, and even the police to see whether anyone would get Oreo down from the tree. They all said that he would eventually come down once he got hungry. This was about noon on Thursday. I placed food out for him, but when I woke up the next morning, he was still in the tree. I called all of the aforementioned agencies and got the same answer, even when I explained that he was a kitten and had been up there almost 20 hours and was not coming down.
When I spotted an Insight Communications worker on my street. I politely asked him whether I could use his ladder because my kitten was stuck in a tree. He said that not only would he let me use the ladder, but he would also get him for me. I was surprised yet relieved that someone would help me. He climbed up the tree and nearly fell (thank God he did not) trying to rescue Oreo. I just want to say thank you again to Ryan Eckert for saving the kitten when no one else would.
YIKES, I FOUND A UNION LABEL
I was looking at the current issue of "News Channel 20 Hometown Savings Source," a publication copyrighted by Sinclair Broadcasting Group, for businesses I would likely not support, when, to my astonishment and disappointment, I see a half-page ad sponsored by the Carpenters Local #16 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.
I wonder if people realize support for Sinclair Broadcasting is the intellectual, if not ethical, equivalent of hiring scab labor.
Michael J Puma
SAVING SPACE FOR HIMSELF
It isn't right that Chief Justice William Rehnquist is being given medical treatment in the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Md., but military retirees are not welcome there.
In June 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court, supported by Pentagon lawyers, rejected a legal appeal filed on behalf of military retirees, who are often refused earned medical care at military facilities. I see why Rehnquist voted to keep us out -- to save space for himself.
Lest anyone think he is being singled out, all other government elites, and some not so elite, in Washington, D.C., get the same red carpet medical treatment while military retirees, spouses, and widows beg.
CREDIT CARDS AND THE DEVIL
It's been said that the devil is in the details. That old adage couldn't be truer for credit card consumers these days.
While most consumers shop for a credit card by comparing interest rates, the real costs may be hidden in the fine print. That's because as interest rates have become more competitive, card companies are increasingly using late fees and penalties like "universal default" to capture more revenue.
Under a "universal default" policy, some credit card companies automatically hike their customer's interest rate -- sometimes to as high as 30 percent -- for missing a payment, even if they missed a payment on a different card issued by a different company. That means even if a consumer was never late or missed a payment on a particular credit card, they could still be penalized with a dramatic interest rate hike on the balance due on that card for being late or missing a payment on another card.
Consumers need to know that interest rates -- particularly low introductory rates -- are not always a good indicator of what a credit card will truly cost.
For more information about "universal default" and other tricks creditors use, check out the Consumers for Responsible Credit Solutions Web site at www.responsiblecredit.com.
Consumers for Responsible Credit Solutions
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Come on, Illinois Times. You can't slam one media entity for broadcasting the Republican side when you do just the same with the opposing viewpoint [John Sherffius, "Sinclair Broadcasting" cartoon, Oct. 21]. No one would accuse IT of being the voice of conservatism, but unfortunately they can't call you unbiased and fair, either. I enjoy much of IT (heck, it's free), but it would be nice to find some balance other than in the letters to the editor. Let's see, someone once said that freedom of the press is limited to those who own one. That puts you and Sinclair Broadcasting in the same boat for once.
Jean L. Mehochko
Editor's note: The Sherffius cartoon depicted radio waves emanating from an elephant's trunk. Mehochko's letter included a drawing of radio waves radiating from the hindquarters of an Illinois Times donkey.