Letters 11-12/02

Refresh my memory. Didn't you guys endorse Nader?

| November / December 2002

Lisa Simpson, the Most
Countercultural TV Hero Ever?
Your list of the top 10 countercultural television heroes ("The UR List," Sept./oct. 2002) left out one of my favorites: Lisa Simpson—vegetarian, tree-sitter, crime-stopper, and general gadfly (all before reaching the fourth grade)—who is the social conscience of what may be the most subversive show in history, The Simpsons.
Abe Fabrizio
• SAN PEDRO, CA

Green and Proud of It
I am a registered Green Party member and proud of it. During the last presidential election, my friends started blaming Ralph Nader, saying he handed Bush the keys to the White House. So I read with keen interest your article about Greens endorsing a candidate to run against Minnesota senator Paul Wellstone ("Spoiling the Party?" Sept./oct. 2002).
The problem is certainly not that Greens are taking votes away from Democratic nominees. Wellstone and other Democratic legislators like him are needed. However, they need to step it up if they are threatened by Green Party candidates.
John Pfaehler • HEMET, CA

Greens Should Shed Their Purity
Refresh my memory. Didn’t you guys endorse Ralph Nader in an election that had wider implications and narrower margins than your upcoming Senate race in Minnesota? Maybe Al Gore wasn’t all the Greens could have hoped for, but he was the most environmentally savvy candidate to come down the pike—ever! The Greens in 2000 proved that "the perfect" is the enemy of "the good."
Steve Schindler • NEW YORK, NY

Jay Walljasper replies: Utne Reader endorsed no candidate in the 2000 election. on our Nov./Dec. 2000 cover, we did advocate that whoever won the election should name Ralph Nader as attorney general. In my editor’s note (which was largely about genetic engineering), I praised the efforts of third parties—Greens as well as the Working Families Party in New York, the Mountain Party in West Virginia, and Progressive Maryland—for bringing fresh energy into our political system. A photo of several Nader lawn signs on a block here in Minneapolis accompanied the column, which might have been misconstrued as an endorsement.

Drug Price Article Misleading
You quote the exorbitant markups of various drugs based on the price of the active ingredients (Compass, "They Must Be on Drugs," Sept./oct. 2002). This is like saying the cost of a copy of Utne Reader is five cents for the paper and two cents for the ink, which implies that you have a 7,128 percent markup. It’s not fair to forget about research, distribution, sales costs, and so on.
Peter Frampton • WASHINGTON, DC



Humboldt State Students Are Back on the Grid—as Energy Producers
The Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT) featured in "Watt by Watt" (Sept./oct. 2002) is back on the grid. In the summer of 2001, after the Earth Island Journal article you cited was published, we received a generous donation of eight 300-watt solar modules from ASE Americas, along with two new Advanced Energy inverters. Because CCAT has always felt that energy conservation comes first, our home takes very little electricity to run. All of a sudden, we had a surplus of energy from these panels, and it made sense for us to send our excess electricity back to the grid. In october 2001, CCAT was tied back to Pacific Gas and Electric, and we watched our meter fly backwards. Since then, CCAT has sent almost one and a half megawatts of clean solar power down the lines to our neighbors. Home Power Magazine showcased our new system in its Aug./Sept. 2002 issue.
Jared Zyskowski, Co-Director, Campus
Center for Appropriate Technology,
Humboldt State University
• ARCATA, CA

Higher Education for All Who Qualify
While I appreciate the article ("A GI Bill for All of Us," May/June 2002) on my argument for federal payment of tuition and fees for the 85 percent of all college students who are enrolled in public colleges and universities (a paltry $25 billion per year at current rates), the article neglected to mention that argument’s key punch line: The Debs-Jones-Douglass Institute, the educational and cultural arm of the Labor Party, has initiated a national campaign to make this idea a reality. Already this campaign has been adopted by the Professional Staff Congress, which represents more than 23,000 faculty members in the City University of New York; the California Faculty Association, which represents a comparable number of faculty in the California State University system; the New Jersey Industrial Union Council; the National Conference of Black Political Scientists; the South Carolina Progressive Network, and a number of other union, community, and academic groups. Those interested in joining or learning more about this imminently winnable campaign can do so at the campaign Web site: www.freehighered.org.
Professor Adolph Reed Jr., Free Higher
Education Campaign Co-Chair
• NEW YORK, NY