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Subtle but important

In your recent article on Morro Bay’s sewage outfall, you stated that even if the Water Board votes 4-3 to turn down a waiver, the EPA has the authority to issue a permit for a waiver during the sewage plant upgrade. This is not correct. I said that EPA has discretion to reissue the permit if the Water Board does not take action. This is a subtle but important difference. I must also point out that EPA is waiting for the Water Board to take action, and will not likely exercise its discretion to reissue the permit. We are in close cooperation with EPA on this matter.

Matt Thompson

Regional Water Quality Control Board

Central Coast Region

San Luis Obispo



Something smells

I’m late in responding, but I got a kick out of last week’s “Street Talk.� When people who were asked what sense you could do without, three out of four said smell. I felt compelled (as an aromatherapist) to enlighten readers to the fact that smells actually create the strongest, most long-lasting memories in your brain! Meaning you can actually even “reprogram� your nervous system through your sense of smell. Anyway, there’s no right or wrong answer, of course. My vote goes to taste: maybe we’d cut back on our food consumption!

Constance Hart

Baywood


Feed on greed

Thank you so much for the insights into the machinations behind Atascadero’s wooing of Wal-Mart (“Opponents face off in Atascadero,� May 4-11). And not just a “regular� Wal-Mart, but exponentially worse: a Super Wal-Mart!

I recently finished reading a book (American Mania by Peter C. Whybrow, M. D.) that describes the founding of this country around the “free-market� principles of Adam Smith. Those principles depended upon a local community’s ability to exert its considerable social pressure to ensure that its business people—also local—served the common good.

Without this dynamic balance between market forces and strong local communities, Adam Smith and his contemporaries feared that a devastatingly greedy feedback loop would arise between the short-sighted profit motives of businesses and their customers’ craving for more, more, more.

As a company with a net income of more than $10 billion last year, Wal-Mart is simply providing much evidence that the 18th-century economic theorists knew what they were talking about. More than any other multinational company, Wal-Mart feeds on its own greed for greater profits, and our greed for prices that momentarily appear lower—until you factor in the incredible costs involved at every level that really matters.

Maybe Atascadero residents will see how high the stakes are and pull together to keep this travesty from happening.

Mickey Reilly

Atascadero



Couldn’t be more wrong

I take offense to Ed Cobleigh’s assumption that, if you are against Wal-Mart, it is because you are just a loser who is jealous of their success. He couldn’t be more wrong.

Wal-Mart has a set mission to destroy small mom-and-pop business competitors. It is not uncommon for a Wal-Mart to drive local businesses into bankruptcy by taking losses on their products (called loss-leaders to those not in the retail industry) and then raising prices once the competition has been destroyed, leaving no other options for the consumer.

For manufacturers, they place specific and stringent guidelines on their products. They will make a small producer create a completely separate product for their store, order 10 times what they actually plan to sell and require 100% returns. The costs to retool products is enormous and, along with lack of promotion, can cause a company to end up with over 90% of the original order returned with no market for the specialized product they were forced to produce. I know this first-hand, since I worked for a local video manufacturer who had this happen repeatedly until they were almost bankrupt, while sitting on thousands of extra products. We worked closely with Wal-Mart to get their exact specifications correct and to suggest specific marketing plans (such as categorizing video by type to increase sales) to no avail. Wal-Mart makes the manufacturer jump through hoops just to get on the shelves, then it sets them up for failure by haphazardly placing and marketing the product.

None of this is good for our economy. If Cobleigh thinks that we are too stupid to use our brains to understand the macroeconomics, therefore, we can’t possibly oppose Wal-Mart on any legitimate point because we are just losers jealous of the winners, he is completely wrong. I understand the macroeconomics and that is why I oppose them. I do not oppose them for being winners; I like winning companies who play fair and I will reward them with my business. There are thousands of examples of good companies, such as Target. I would prefer to give them my money any day, even if it costs me a few cents more, rather than to support the anti-competitive, anti-manufacturing bias of Wal-Mart.

Another economic issue I understand, but Cobleigh obviously does not, is that Wal-Mart purposely hires part-time workers to prevent paying benefits. Many employees are on welfare because they can’t earn a living wage, work longer hours or receive medical benefits.

There was a news story recently about a woman who worked for Wal-Mart and was paralyzed in an accident (unrelated to her work). She sued the responsible party for damages and won. The settlement was for a little more ($35-50K) than the total of her medical expenses to date ($400K). Wal-Mart decided to sue her to reimburse them for all of the medical expenses they paid on her behalf. The amount they sued for was MORE than the amount that she won in the settlement. Therefore, not only did this woman lose the money she received to pay for her future medical expenses, Wal-Mart reneged on her heath benefits and she now has to come up with about $35K additional to pay Wal-Mart for the cost of her medical care.

Wal-Mart has the most anti-competitive, anti-employee policies of any large company that I know. I am sure there are many other examples of companies that are not quite as public, but this is a company that markets itself as “family friendly,� when in reality, they could care less about you or your family. Profit is their only motivation—people, their concerns and all other “touchy/feely� issues be damned.

I am not a loser jealous of a winner. The only problem I have is when winners cheat and are rewarded for the behavior. Like Barry Bonds, Wal-Mart puts on a confused face and asks “Who, me?� when it is very clear they know exactly what they are doing. I am a highly educated consumer who prefers to do business with companies that show compassion for their employees and have a sense of fair play in the marketplace.

Julie Hansen

Los Osos



War against Wal-Mart is a class war

The senseless attacks on Wal-Mart are actually attacks on the low-income people of America. For instance, an anti-Wal-Mart video shows that there have been attacks on customers in Wal-Mart shopping center parking lots, conveniently ignoring that there are attacks on customers in all shopping center parking lots. Soon after the opening of the Sears store in the Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights in the late1980s, a pre-teen was kidnapped and later murdered there. The mall contains many of the kind of high-priced boutiques and shops that the Wal-Mart attackers frequent.

In addition, while the hatchet video points to places where items sold at Wal-Mart are being made in sweat factories, again the video makers ignore that all foreign-made items, no matter what retailer sells them, come from the same places. All the ills they point out about Wal-Mart, many of which are exaggerated or completely false, apply to all other retailers as well.

No matter how they cloak it, the attackers of Wal-Mart are actually attacking low-income people in our communities, who are the main Wal-Mart shoppers and employees, and who are apparently considered low-lifes because they can’t afford to pay $95 to $500 for a pair of jeans. That’s what it comes down to. It’s a class war against the low-income people of America.

Roy Berger

Arroyo Grande



This land is my land

Illegal immigration is bad for illegal immigrants, Americans, and immigrants. If the supply of illegals filling jobs is high, then the demand to fill those jobs is low, and the result is low wages. The influx of illegal immigrants is depriving illegals already here, and Americans desperate for work, out of higher wages. This is a very emotional issue for many people, and apparently for the students who participated in the walk out. The fact is, when you make a decision or action from emotion, logic doesn’t even enter the picture. Can there please be some common sense? Always make the distinction between immigrant and ILLEGAL immigrant. One common language is the glue that holds a nation together. Immigrants who wish to assimilate with America aren’t doing a very good job, by waving the flag of another country. I’ve seen pictures of illegals holding signs that say this land was stolen from them. They should read about the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Greg Larson

San Luis Obispo



Distressed about it all
 
If Los Osos wants to get a waiver on building the sewer, they must go to a Higher Power: Chevron. Perhaps they could offer to let Chevron empty its pipeline into the back bay. Morro Bay and Cayucos, in asking for a waiver for their sewage outfall into Estero Bay, have the support of Chevron behind them. That’s because Chevron is dumping selenium and other toxic chemicals into our bay. Meanwhile back in Los Osos, the water boarding of 45 Los Osos residents is taking place. If Los Osans don’t give in, these 45 hostages will be drowned in septic tank pumping fees, which are going up for the purpose of profiteering. After these 45 people are run out of town because of a huge debt, who will be next? Developers, get in line to buy all the distressed property. YUM!

Sharon Eckardt

Los Osos



Guard something else

I heard that we are going to deploy the National Guard to protect us from incoming illegal aliens. Isn’t there something else that they could be doing which might have a more positive impact on our country, such as protecting our nation from some of the horrendous gang activities in our cities, or perhaps following up on information regarding methamphetamine and other drug production in our neighborhoods?  

Instead of watching the aliens, how about using some of our high- tech equipment to watch some of the incoming drugs that seem to always find their way from other countries to our children? It seems as if the police departments are unable to control street corner drug distribution effectively. Perhaps this might be a good project for our nation’s guard.

Jon Jaqua

Orcutt


Fuel cost alternative

With record fuel prices and our inept government doing absolutely nothing to help (besides more investigations), the time has come to consider alternatives. I propose building a new bicycle path between Morro Bay and Los Osos that is safe for all ages to use. I do not enjoy riding a bicycle on South Bay Blvd with cars zipping by my head at 60 mph. I believe a lot more individuals would use a bike path and commute this way if a safer path was built. If George Bush will not help us then we must help ourselves.

Eric Zatt

Los Osos

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