I take strong exception to Paul J. Gessing's letter last week [“Let Them Pay,” May 11-17] and his assertion that state government spending on the New Mexico Rail Runner, the film industry and the spaceport are “undeniably for the benefit of the wealthy.”
As a former New Yorker and current ABQ Ride customer, I can assure you that it is not the wealthy who are taking advantage of public transit. The Rail Runner will be a boon to middle- and working-class people living in Bernalillo, Los Lunas and Belen who commute to Albuquerque every day to work and are currently forced to spend $3 per gallon for their efforts. In the not-so-distant future, when gasoline prices will likely double and triple, New Mexicans will build monuments to honor Gov. Bill Richardson's forward thinking on state transportation.
The film industry currently employs countless creative residents of New Mexico, who in turn pay taxes on the money they get from running cables, lights, catering trucks, etc. These professionals also spend their earnings on food, clothing and shelter right here, where they live and work. Nearly every dollar used to support film production here gets cycled back over and over into the local economy. I'm surprised that Mr. Gessing didn't know this, since this concept is taught in Economics 101.
At first, I had my doubts about the soon-to-be-built spaceport because, yes, only the wealthy will be able to afford the ride into orbit. However, at the time I did not take into account the hundreds of thousands of additional tourists who will be coming here every year just to watch those rich folks taking off in their high-priced rockets. Yes, the spaceport will initially cost the taxpayers a lot of money, but we will get it all back and more from the throngs of visitors spending their money here on lodging, restaurants and supporting other tourism venues.
Mr. Gessing's organization, the Rio Grande Foundation (RGF), publishes position papers on their website (riograndefoundation.org) which come out against such progressive issues as increasing the minimum wage, allowing workers to unionize, investigating oil companies’ price gouging, and dropping the gross receipts tax on groceries. RGF's convoluted arguments lead me to believe that this organization is more interested in fattening their members' wallets than in giving a damn about the middle- and working-classes (never mind the poor).
[RE: Feature, “Losing It,” April 20-26] I am encouraged by your efforts to objectively report a story on a mental health crisis here in Albuquerque. I am equally encouraged in the fact that true, fair and objective journalism actually lives in Albuquerque.
There is another community facing a major crisis as well: the deaf/hard-of-hearing community. Sign language interpreters are becoming scarcer to find. Jobs are becoming equally more difficult to obtain and maintain. Employers are becoming increasingly adept at manipulating words, facts and job descriptions to avoid having to hire disabled citizens.
Not to mention the fact the deaf community has been neglected for so long that any cohesiveness is usually brought on by hearing persons who encompass a "God Complex" with deaf people in general. These people do not understand what being deaf is like and, therefore, make decisions which ultimately do not serve the deaf community.
In essence, deaf people in Albuquerque and New Mexico are the least represented and served group of citizens. While so many people are outraged regarding illegal aliens, it should be noted that many of the communicational barriers facing these illegal aliens are already accommodated by various social, law and judicial agencies.
That, unfortunately, cannot be said for deaf citizens. In an age where it seems illegal aliens have more rights than American citizens, it makes me wonder: Should I move to another country?
Thus begins the great paradox: Only in America do deaf people have fairly similar rights as the majority. In other parts of the world, children born deaf can cause entire families to be scorned into shame; in some countries, deaf people were forced to be sterilized; and walk across the border in Juarez sometime and you might find a deaf, unemployed, homeless Mexican begging you for money.
Damned if we do. Damned if we don't.
Anyway, if nothing else, kudos to the Alibi for not selecting to engage in checkbook or yellow journalism (unlike some other, larger newspapers in Albuquerque).
[RE: “From Gate to Plate: Life on a New Mexico Cattleman’s Ranch,” May 11-17] While the ranchers profiled in Laura Marrich's article may be an exception, there is a dark side to grazing in New Mexico. In the West, ranching is primarily done on public lands, including wilderness areas and other specially designated public lands. In every wilderness area in New Mexico, the Forest Service spends more on livestock management than they do on wilderness management. Ranchers with private holdings sometimes as small as 100 acres might control grazing allotments of over 100,000 acres of public land. If you have hiked in New Mexico's National Forests, you will no doubt have experienced not just cow patties and barbed wire fences, but also the devastation that cows have on our public lands. Livestock production is by far the most widespread destructive activity on the arid and semiarid western landscape. As a result of being consumed beyond their ability to renew themselves, plant and grass species are disappearing from our ranges. Cattle can denude land of vegetation, causing greater soil erosion. Hooves compact soils, resulting in reduced water infiltration. The destruction of vegetation exposes the ground to greater solar radiation, increasing the evaporation of moisture and leaving those plants not eaten by cattle at increased risk of dying from lack of water. The grazing practices of a renegade rancher in the Lincoln National Forest south of Corona are threatening species like the Mexican spotted owl and the Sacramento prickly poppy. In 2003, a federal judge ruled three times in five months that the U.S. Forest Service violated federal environmental laws when permitting livestock grazing in the Lincoln. I believe it would be a prudent and reasonable goal to make preservation of biological diversity and ecosystem sustainability the primary function of public lands.
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