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Wheat near Lethbridge, Alta. Today's topics: Occupy's future; crony capitalism; the Canadian Wheat Board; Andy Rooney ... and more (TODD KOROL/REUTERS)
Wheat near Lethbridge, Alta. Today's topics: Occupy's future; crony capitalism; the Canadian Wheat Board; Andy Rooney ... and more (TODD KOROL/REUTERS)

What readers think

Nov. 8: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Occupied ground

Gary Mason tells us the Occupy movement is in trouble because no one is in charge (The Face Of Occupy Has Changed, And Movement Is In Trouble – Nov. 7). Collective leadership and direct democracy are at the centre of the Occupy movement. Somehow, with no one in charge and in just a few weeks, they have managed to spread across the continent and around the world, not to mention force a discussion on the massive inequality produced by our economic system.

A tragic death is no more an excuse to close down an Occupy encampment than a school shooting is to close down public schools.

Judy Rebick, Toronto

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While the death of the young woman within the confines of the Occupy Vancouver camp is tragic, we know shockingly little about the context or the factors of her death. Overdose deaths are, regrettably, not uncommon in Vancouver; blaming the Occupy protests distracts from meaningful discourse on the subject and is a smoke-and-mirrors attempt at actual intervention or prevention.

Jason Nickerson, Ottawa

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Economic growth is a root cause of our environmental crisis, and it only heals our social ills if we distribute the proceeds effectively (Protesters Should Get Occupied With Economic Solutions – Nov. 4). Our midcentury governments did this to the betterment of our societies, but over the past 30 years the proceeds have been monopolized by a tiny minority and the redistributive function of taxation has been eroded.

We have sacrificed our public investments to the detriment of society, and it appears that the only thing that trickles down is the cost of corruption and malfeasance. The real point of reining in the 1 per cent is not to “goose” the GDP, but to ensure that economic growth is aligned with social justice.

Brad Cope, Victoria

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Margaret Wente’s argument that there is a far bigger supply of wannabe world-saving academics than there is a demand, is, unfortunately, accurate (Occupiers Are Blaming The Wrong People – Nov. 5). But to imagine that is the fault of the very anthropologists and sociologists hoping to offer alternative paths is to miss the point. The lack of demand, the lack of resources to support alternative visions, is exactly what is wrong. Instead of imagining the market demands something of us (such as lowering corporate taxes and academic funding), we should realize this logic is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Until we both financially and emotionally invest ourselves in alternatives, the rich/poor divide will continue to break records.

Jeremy Withers, Toronto

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All the laughs

From one old fart to another, I’d like to thank Andy Rooney for all the laughs and curmudgeonly insight (‘I’ve Done A Lot Of Complaining Here’ – Obituary, Nov. 7). As a tribute, I’ve decided not to yank out the cotton from the Aspirin bottle I just opened. (BTW, they put it there to keep the pills from breaking during transport. Now you know, Andy.)

Michael Lennick, Toronto

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Peace, order, good ...

In his critique of American “crony capitalism” (Who Ordered The Bailouts? Look Again – Nov. 7), Neil Reynolds concludes that an “awesome transfer of power [may have]taken place in the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

I’ve been reading Alan Taylor’s commendable The Civil War of 1812, where he writes that the messenger sent from Washington on horseback to alert the U.S. Army at Fort Niagara that Congress had declared war actually rode past Fort Niagara to Fort George, and wound up alerting the British first. The messenger had been hired by American merchant and financier John Jacob Astor to warn Astor’s colleagues that they should protect Astor’s furs stored in Canada from British seizure as a prize of war.

Relations between regulators and the regulated will always be what they have always been. It is why transparency is so fundamental to peace, order and good government.

Tim I. G. Hyde, Oakville, Ont.

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Germs of endearment

The article Germ Hot Spots In Your Home (Life, Nov. 7) missed the single most contagious of all – your own children. They wipe their noses on their fingers, they play in dirt, they’re in daily contact with dozens of other little creatures just as unsanitary as they are. You can’t even disinfect them, since it could burn their skin. Your only defence is to never touch a child or anything a child has touched. Or, you could try not to be so Howard Hughes around the house.

Christopher Lepock, Edmonton

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Chaffed by wheat

As a Western Canadian farmer who grows wheat and barley, I am appalled that anyone would take my money without my consent and use it for a cause that is in direct opposition to my beliefs (Wheat Board Takes Fight To The People – Report on Business, Nov. 5). This is what eight directors of the Canadian Wheat Board are doing. They have repeatedly insisted that the CWB returns all proceeds from the sale of grain, less administrative and marketing costs, to farmers. So where does its $1.4-million steamroller advertising campaign fit in?

This campaign doesn’t help sell a single kernel of grain. Instead, it is political, designed to prevent Prairie farmers from gaining our marketing freedom.

Kevin Bender, president, Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association

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Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz is certainly “putting on the ritz” as he orchestrates the demise of the Canadian Wheat Board (‘Beyond Big Brother,’ Ritz Says Of Wheat Board – Nov. 5). Mr. Ritz’s history as an ostrich farmer leads one to think that he believes that we all have our heads in the sand in not knowing the full impact of the end of the Wheat Board. His comments of “beyond big brother” masks the fact that a major portion of the grain trade will fall directly under the control of a very few large transnational grain companies such as Cargill and Viterra.

Canadians both rural and urban should be concerned about the production, processing and quality of the food we produce, and the impact on the Prairie economy with the loss of the Canadian Wheat Board.

Don Kossick, Saskatoon

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Animal, human

The life of a pig farmer cannot be an easy one. Negative portrayals of pigs and pig farms abound, from Napoleon and his comrades in Orwell’s Animal Farm to Stinky Finn, the pig farmer in the film Waking Ned Devine. Perhaps we can agree to give pigs and pig farmers a break by not including the term “pig farmer” each of the many times the name of Robert Pickton is printed.

Laura Urrechaga, Ottawa

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Retention troubles

Re How Alberta Can ‘Retain’ Its Recent Arrivals (Nov. 7): An entire op-ed piece about Alberta retaining recent arrivals without once mentioning that, one day last year, Edmonton was the second-coldest place on the planet? I look forward to an article about Siberia being the new mecca for young professionals.

Alan Rutkowski, Victoria

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