Dance With The Devil

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Every week my family and I look forward to the column "¡Ask a Mexican!" by Gustavo Arellano for an educational lesson on the wonderful Mexican people and their fabulous culture. The well-researched information provides a wealth of invaluable reference facts, is always full of humor and is always a delight to read.

Lately, however, there have been letters by some Hispanics,
pochos , Mexicans born in the United States, who unleash their hate-filled wrath in objection to Gustavo Arellano’s columns. I have to surmise that the old adage "The pot calling the kettle black" was coined to describe them. They exhibit a self hate that drives them to deny their own racial identity and origins, that in turn makes them quick to attack their own people in the most contemptible works possible.

The letter "Bloody Mexicans" [Dec. 28, 2006-Jan. 3, 2007], by Corine Flores, should include "Bloody Americans." An appropriate title, in that Hugo Chavez labeled George Bush "the devil" for war crimes committed, hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians and 3,000 American soldiers now dead, at a cost of several billion dollars daily. Is that bloody enough?

I suggest to Corine Flores and other Mexicans who mirror a negative self image to stop the destructive, unfounded slander toward Mexicans. If that type of sick behavior is allowed to continue, it has the dangerous potential to fester a hate no less than the Nazi Holocaust, and worse than a contagious world plague.

Robber Baron Age

Pardon me for not responding to Mr. Andrews’ letter sooner [RE: Letters, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit," Dec. 21-27] but I had to wait until after Christmas to think about Scrooge being alive and well in our midst today.

Mr. Andrews assumes we are stealing from the rich to feed the poor. This is contrary to facts. Mr. Andrews makes the same mistake that our whole country is making, to the detriment of the poor and the profit of the rich. He does not deal with the total tax burden. Nobody does. He just considers the narrow range of taxes that benefit his argument.

The facts of the tax situation are laid out in
Scientific American , July 2004, Page 35. When all the taxes we pay are considered, the lowest 20 percent in income pay a rate of 2.2 times the top 1 percent that Mr. Andrews is so fond of. Of course, the tax cuts we’ve seen since then will push this number considerably upward. The figures don’t look too good for the middle income folks, either. I will also point out that the top 1 percent who pay 40 percent of taxes own way more than 40 percent of the wealth and income.

I could stop there but it seems like a good idea to turn to Mr. Andrews’ arguments in the light of this information. We may now assume that we are stealing from the poor (and the middle "class" folks) to protect the wealth of the rich and make them richer. These figures show just how much the rich control the law and lawmaking, gouging the rest of us. Quoting Uncle Milty was good because now we can see why the rich are so willing to spend any amount of our dollars to protect and enhance one of their dollars. That’s how we landed in Iraq. That is why we will stay in Iraq. That is why we still have poverty. The poor are poor for a reason, not because they are morally weak but because, in our competitive, steep "playing field" society, they are doing the best they can (some working two and a half jobs but still poor) and someone still has to lose. Misfortune may fall on any head.

Next bad assumption: That poverty is increasing when, in fact, poverty is going down in the good old U.S.A. and the rest of the world as well. Comparing us, now, to the era of the robber barons might not be such a good idea.

I am disabled but not poor. Thanks to incurring that disability on government time—in combat—I am middle class. I know people with the same disability who are poor. Try living on a $700 per month military "pension" or even less on Supplemental Security Income. These people are among the ones paying 2.2 times what the rich pay. Explain to me how those folks are deficient humans or morally corrupt? I could go on …

The argument that those who are well off have no obligation to that lowest 20 percent, while standing on their shoulders, is just so stark and immoral that it must stand alone, stripped naked in the light of day.

Buy the magazine, Patrick, read, reconsider, before your kind of thinking sinks us all.

Food Follies Of ’06

It’s been an interesting year for folks who eat.

We started the year in the grip of a bird flu pandemic scare. Originating in Asian chicken factories, the disease still threatens to kill tens of millions. In April, the Chicago City Council banned the sale of cruelly produced
foie gras , setting an important precedent for other cities.

All through the year, a dozen scientific reports linked meat and dairy consumption with elevated risk of colon, stomach, pancreatic, prostate, breast and ovarian cancers. A dozen more linked it with obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Last month, hundreds of Taco Bell and Olive Garden customers were sickened by produce contaminated by E. coli pathogens from livestock factories. This month, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization reported that meat and dairy production accounts for 18 percent of all greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. It is also the governing factor in water pollution, water use and land degradation.

There is a definite pattern here. It may be time to explore the rich variety of veggie burgers, dogs, deli slices, heat-and-eat dinners and soy-based milk, cheese and ice cream in our local supermarket, as well as the more traditional fare of vegetables, nuts, grains and fruits. Did I mention that it makes for a delicious, easy-to-keep New Year’s resolution?

Hound Them

[RE: News Feature, “Intolerable,” Dec. 28, 2006-Jan. 3, 2007] I was here when Marcy Britton began her valiant and unrelenting work to improve conditions at the city’s shelter. I remember city officials demonizing her and accusing her of 1) being mentally ill 2) working for the "radical" animal activists," 3) having political ambitions and 4) trying to make money off the city. She took a lot of crap from our so-called civic leaders and, yet, stuck to her guns and is still fighting the good fight in 2006.

Albuquerque people need not put up with this "intolerable" situation. Demand change. Boycott the shelter. Don’t take animals there, tell others not to take animals there, don’t volunteer there. Financially support the private nonprofits that have sprung up in defense of the animals, volunteer at animal organizations, visit the shelter and take a tour, notify your veterinarians of the conditions there, hound (sorry, I couldn’t resist) your city councilors about the conditions at the shelter, make your city councilors declare their position on the shelter conditions, call Mayor Marty (repeatedly), spay and neuter your animals, call Gov. Richardson, pay shelter workers a living wage, show up at Council meetings whenever animal issues are discussed, require training for all shelter workers, monitor each and every hire the shelter makes. Do anything and everything to get the message to the city that this abuse of our animals will not be tolerated and keep doing it.

By the way, I have applied for work at the shelter, with nearly 30 years of nonprofit management experience and more than 25 years of volunteer work with dogs in shelters and rescuing and rehabbing pit bulls. Received form letters: No thanks. Could it be that the city does not want qualified people overseeing the work of the shelter?

Finally, give a great big thank you, and an apology on behalf of the city, to the likes of Marcy Britton and the others who have been strong and steadfast in their work.

A City Shelter

This letter is in response to Christie Chisholm’s news feature [“Intolerable,” Dec. 28, 2006-Jan. 3, 2007]. As a city employee charged with the processing, care, feeding and cleaning of Albuquerque’s, Bernalillo County’s, Sandoval County’s and a majority of Rio Rancho’s lost and unwanted pets, I feel it is necessary to clear up some misconceptions I read in Ms. Chisholm’s article.

I was hired in 2003 as a kennel worker/animal handler. At that time I witnessed the “inner workings” at Animal Services, as it was called then. [It is now called the Animal Care Center.] It is true that we did not have enough staff to adequately clean and take care of the huge numbers of animals that came through our doors and we would be forced to euthanize animals to make room for more. When the Westside animal shelter was built in 1986, it was supposed to replace the Eastside shelter, but there were so many animals, that never happened. We are still understaffed, mainly due to hiring freezes and budget constraints, especially the vet staff.

However, I have seen changes for the better since I was hired. Employees that did not have the animal’s care utmost have been transferred out, the vet staff does make more of an effort to care for the animals medically. All of the staff has had more training in compassionate euthanasia and
marketing in order to adopt out more homeless pets (and, yes, the kennel workers also counsel citizens for adoption). The hiring freeze can’t be changed, so Animal Services has hired temporary employees from Westaff to help with cleaning. This winter, the kennels on the Westside are half empty because of many more adoptions than last year. We only euthanize animals that are unadoptable due to disease or aggression now.

Ah, the misconceptions! I almost forgot. We are not a shelter like, say, Animal Humane Association of New Mexico. We cannot pick and choose which animals we take in. We
have to take them all . In 2005, we took in 28,000 animals. L.A. County (Los Angeles, 6 million people) took in 30,000. Something is wrong with that. With the passing of the HEART ordinance this number will go down. Also, kudos to Denise Wilcox. She does a great job as a manager. She couldn’t tell what had changed but I can. The dogs all have beds and blankets and toys (mainly due to the Alliance for Albuquerque Animals), our cleaning procedures are light years ahead of what they were three years ago. What the mayor referred to as “intolerable” was the fact that the vets were reluctant to euthanize animals even if the animal was in great pain. The reason for that is because the mayor has put a huge amount of pressure on Ms. Wilcox to become a “Live Exit” shelter. This is not going to happen. We are the animal “garbage dump” for this region. We get everything. Some of the animals that come in are “feral” (look it up), dangerous, have contagious, killing diseases or are dumped with us because they are aged or hurt and the owners don’t want to deal with it.

In conclusion, the Humane Society of the United States graded the Animal Care Center as if we were a small shelter that gets to pick and choose who we take in, and has an unlimited budget and staff—
we aren’t . And unless Albuquerque taxpayers are willing to pay more, we never will be.

Letters should be sent with the writer’s name, address and daytime phone number via e-mail to They can also be faxed to (505) 256-9651. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium; we regret that owing to the volume of correspondence we cannot reply to every letter.

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