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April 18-24, 2007

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Letters to the Editor

What Economists Won't Tell You

Re "Chain Reaction" (MetroNews, April 3): It was disappointing that you offered no counterpoint to the economics school orthodoxy of San Jose State professors Powell and Stringham.

Powell defines people merely as consumers, whose only say over community commercial development is the money we spend. In this view, citizens should not attempt to create vibrant downtowns, support local entrepreneurs or deliberately integrate commercial districts with public spaces. We take what the forces of corporate capitalism give us.

Confirming the cliché about economists living in a world of theoretical models, Professor Stringham spoke glowingly of corporate chains' "efficiency," but never mentions the real-word advantages chains enjoy: corporate subsidies, tax-evasion schemes and externalizing business costs onto taxpayers.

Meanwhile, the San Jose government is subsidizing renovations for a Peet's Coffee chain outlet, placing the independent Taza Bistro and Cafe across the street at a competitive disadvantage. Though ignored in most economics textbooks, these scenarios are all-too common.

Coincidentally, at the same time "Chain Reaction" ran, the Palo Alto Weekly reported on the formation of the new Mid-Peninsula Independent Business Alliance—the latest among dozens of such regional alliances to help independent businesses compete effectively and counter market-distorting power of chains.

Perhaps it's time for citizens and business owners in Santa Clara County to take similar action and not wait for corporate chains and decidedly un-free markets to eliminate more local entrepreneurs.

Jeff Milchen, Bozeman, MT, co-founder, American Independent, Business Alliance

No counterpoint? Hmm. Our reporter quoted a senior fellow at the National Federation of Independent Business, the California Association of Independent Business, and the owners or employees of several independent businesses competing with chains.—Editor

Unfair to Eric

Re DeCinzo cartoon on Eric Clapton (March 14 print edition): Congratulations to the cartoonist for joining the ranks of braindead hacks like Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh who make their living insulting other people. I am not particularly a fan of Eric Clapton and I don't own any of his work, but I do respect his contribution to the world of music. As a father, I can only imagine what he went through after his son died. What is so wrong with an artist writing a song about a major, very traumatic event in his life? As for the fact that Clapton is highly paid, that simply means people are willing to pay a lot to listen to him. Maybe DeCinzo doesn't care for "Tears In Heaven." So what? If the song truly sucked, I doubt he would be making tons of money from it. I also doubt that DeCinzo, given the chance, would refuse to be paid large sums for his "art."

Bill Hildebrand, Sunnyvale

Sounds Of Silents

Steve Palopoli's article on silent film music ("Silent No More," Cinequest Coverage, Feb. 28) was really exceptional. His explanation of the different facets of this unusual art form was detailed and all too rare to see in journalistic coverage. I would only comment that there are other types of musical accompaniment than theater organ being done today. The article gives the impression that there are only six people in the world who make their living doing this. There may be six organists, but I can name several dozen people who are kept quite busy doing piano, synthesizer, vocal and instrumental accompaniment for silents these days, to say nothing of the orchestral accompaniments that seem to be cropping up more and more here and abroad.

Those interested in following these activities can find more information at and Thanks again for a great read!

Donald Sosin, Lakeville, Conn.

Progressive = Gun-Friendly

Re Pink Pistols (MetroNews, March 28): Shelly Prevost asks the rhetorical question: "A safer society sounds better, doesn't it?" Unfortunately, she promotes the theory that criminals will just go back to their car and get their own guns, escalating a cycle of violence. This is a common misapprehension that highlights how reality becomes obfuscated in the rush to politicize the right to life. Looking at 2005 FBI crime data, one can easily see that states that were required to issue concealed handgun licenses to law-abiding citizens averaged a 44 percent lower murder rate and a 28 percent lower violent crime rate than states like California, where such licenses are available only to the rich and well-connected. This last point is what the Pink Pistols and other pro-gun-rights groups draw attention to. Shall-issue laws are more democratic in their application, so that "regular" folk can protect themselves against violence that arises so quickly that retreat or 911 become untenable. California prides itself on its progressive, democratic views, does it not?

Howard Ross Nemerov, Bastrop, Texas

Now you've done it, Howard. Even as we speak, the city's publicity machine is mobilizing an outreach effort to you, the last person on Earth to whom they have not declared that San Jose is the safest big city in America.—Editor

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