MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

February 12 2007
MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

February 12 2007

MAIL BAG

‘Now we have another baby-boomer legacy: senior divorce. When is this generation ever going to grow up?’

LATE-LIFE DIVORCE

I THINK THE FEMINIST MOVEMENT has increased the itchiness of marriage (“The 27-year itch,” Cover, Jan. 29). Modern women are intolerant of subservience. Furthermore, marriage is a long-term relationship that requires work. This shouldn’t be a secret. Until couples realize that marriage needs at least as much maintenance as the family car, we will see more failed marriages. The baby boomers, as a group, are used to a disposable philosophy: they’re more likely to buy new than fix the old. Finally, two-dimensional relationships in an anonymous culture have become the norm. Where will marriages be in 50 years? My soothing for the itch is the concept I call reciprocal empathy. It may not save the 27-year club, but it may give hope to those people who are still interested in scratching each other. Dr. Ashok Bhattacharya, Oakville, Ont.

MY WIFE AND I are sorry about middle-aged couples who feel that they must separate after bringing up their children and sharing the joys and trials of life. After a 60-year partnership, we give thanks for our lifelong monogamous marriage. We accept it, as do many of our friends, as a gift from God. Leonard Griffith, Toronto

SO NOW WE HAVE yet another dubious babyboomer legacy to look forward to: senior divorce. Sixty is not the new 40. When is this generation ever going to grow up, or does everybody want to die bitter, angry and alone? Jeff Melchior, Calgary

THE NOT-SO-FAST LANE

HAVING JUST PURCHASED a BMW 3 series, I was bemused by the descriptions and stereotypes in your piece (“Bimmer madness,” Businessman. 22). While “shiny black” is a popular colour, it is too hot and too much work to keep clean for many of us. I think the vast majority of BMW owners opt for lesser powered (but still spritely) models than the 300 h.p. twin turbo. Also the socioeconomic variables you described were a real thrill for us. “Parvenu on the go,” “youthful new money image” and “young and monied class” is pretty heady stuff. However, for a couple of septuagenarian pensioners, “monied” is risible and “young” is just hilarious—my wife tells me that it prob-

ably won’t even help me pick up young women. I admit my new BMW is an extravagance, but we will be dead in a few years, so we might as well have a little fun in the meantime.

Robert W. Archibald, Brantford, Ont.

TAXING HEARTH AND HOME

COLIN CAMPBELL’S PIECE about North America’s property tax (“Unreasonable, unjust and wrong,” National, Jan. 15) was right on the mark. Why is it that real property is taxed, but other forms of wealth (as opposed

to income) with the exception of estates are not? Real estate taxes are typically determined by current market value (as if owners are buying their home each time their house is reassessed). In today’s real estate market, many people could not afford to buy their current homes. Instituting a system of income tax credits assumes that people have large enough income that they will obtain a significant offset benefit. Setting limits on the size of the increase is a step in the right direction. As a start, a fairer real property tax system would impose property tax only on homes assessed over $1 million, second (vacation) homes and rental properties. In Canada, in contrast to the U.S., where there is no income tax deduction for interest paid on homes, the problem is greater. Taxing real estate makes about as much sense as taxing stock portfolios.

Ethan S. Burger, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington

IN MY COMMUNICATION with city officials and the provincial minister responsible, it is apparent that they don’t care about the inequities in the present market-based system. If you complain, it’s because your home is worth a lot of money and then they don’t care if they tax you multiples of the average. There are many alternate tax systems that are more equitable than market-based, and many of these have the added benefit of being less expensive to administer.

Mark Wright, Calgary

NANNY-STATE NDP

ONE THING I HAVE NOTICED about Jack Layton and the NDP is that they are always encouraging more spending on social programs (“Jack’s back in the box,” National, Jan. 15). It should occur to them that an excess of that type of spending can result in a welfare or nanny state where people look to government instead of to their own initiative. Everything must be paid for. That is best done by a productive economy based on trade and commerce in a free market. Even though the New Democrats claim to be progressive, I never hear them promote progressive ideas. Here are a couple the NDP could promote: public-private partnership projects to enlist private money and expertise, the flat tax and a reduction in the corporation taxes, which in many countries has resulted in increased investment and wealth creation.

James Marvin, Toronto

CRYING OVER RAW MILK

I READ WITH INTEREST the article about farmer Michael Schmidt and the controversy over unpasteurized milk (“Pasture, check. Pasteur? No thanks,” Taste, Jan. 29). The story says that he takes great care with hygiene, and treats his cows with utmost care (but not with antibiotics). I wonder why the federal government makes such a fuss about this healthy food, while it doesn’t do much to keep us from eating mercury-loaded fish, vegetables sprayed with chemicals, and fatfilled fast foods. My husband and I grew up with raw milk. I say change the laws.

Miep Verkley, Thedford, Ont.

FROM PAMELA CUTHBERT’S article I am assuming that Mr. Schmidt’s cows do not succumb to any other normal ailments that cows can get no matter how fastidious the

farmer is at keeping his animals healthy. Pneumonia, for example, can occur especially during damp winters such as this. Does Mr. Schmidt treat his cows with penicillin if this happens, or let them die? I would like to invite Cuthbert to visit our “industrialized” 21st-century farm. If she comes at chore time in the a.m., she will join my husband and me; at night, our children will be with us.

Andrea Wierstra, Cherry Valley, Ont.

WHY ANYONE WOULD forgo the benefits of a harmless and time-proven food preparation method like pasteurization boggles the mind. But I say go ahead. I hear that raw meat and old mayonnaise are great taste experiences too. Just don’t send me a bill for your hospital stay while you’re experimenting. Jim Wadleigh, Guelph, Ont.

HARD DRUGS IN LATER LIFE

LIANNE GEORGE’S PIECE on drug addiction (“A new kind of senior moment,” Societyjan. 29) would have us believe “every second baby boomer in our midst has experimented with some type of illicit drug in his lifetime.”

I guess I must be in the group who is just trying to make ends meet—paying the mortgage, the orthodontist and the grocery bill.

I don’t have any extra money or desire to experiment with illicit drugs, nor do I think this is normal, acceptable behaviour. I would suggest the white, middle-aged, well-to-do people she refers to might find their funds better spent on traditional recreation—playing soccer with their kids, shooting a few hoops with their teenagers, hiking the trails with their spouses. Growing up in my mind means maturing spiritually, morally and intellectually. It does not mean accepting society’s ills as inevitable or chic. Let’s recognize the use of drugs for what it is—a human tragedy that fuels prostitution and organized crime.

Connie Conrad, Moose Jaw, Sask.

FISH OIL FALLOUT

I JUST FINISHED READING Jonathon Gatehouse’s story about omega-3s (“The cure for everything,” Health, Jan. 29) and my stress level is now at maximum. As the mother of a sixyear-old child with a life-threatening allergy to fish/shellfish/fish products, this explosion of adding fish oil to everything from orange juice to bread to potato chips is overwhelming. Nowhere in the article did he discuss this aspect of adding fish oil to products or the proper labelling and identification required for an allergy alert. How is one to tell the difference between a product with omega-3s derived from fish versus plants? Marketing campaigns designed to minimize the fact that there is now fish in perfectly good foods such as yogourt can be very dangerous to people who have life-threatening reactions. How naive were my husband and I to think that we were lucky when our child was diagnosed with a fish allergy (versus peanuts)? We thought all we needed to do was not feed her fish. Our grocery list just got a lot shorter.

Susan March, St.John’s, Nfld.

THE PICKTON TRIAL

THANK GOD ROBERT PICKTON doesn’t have to worry about suffering the same fate that (allegedly) he brutally inflicted on his victims, thanks to the enlightened stand that Canada has taken in regard to the death penalty (“ ‘I’m just a pig man, that’s all I got to say,’ ” Crime, Feb. 5). Canadians can now take comfort in the fact that their substantial tax dollars are being put to good use making sure that he will be comfortable and well-fed for the remainder of his life.

Steven D. Torelli, Somers Pt., N.J.

SURELY THERE IS NO absolute right to a jury trial for every serious offender, and the Pickton trial illustrates how urgent reform has become. Having served as a juror myself, I know the seething frustration jurors may endure. I believe the Pickton trial will

The armed forces and their families do not deserve to be shortchanged*

end prematurely in a mistrial, because at least three of the original 12 jurors will have had more than enough by summer.

Garry Gaudet, Lantzville, B.C.

PAY FOR THE TROOPS

IT IS SHAMEFUL and embarrassing to see the government trying to claw back our soldier’s salaries and excusing its behaviour under the guises of computer glitches and bureaucratic regulations (“Danger and taxes,” National, Jan. 29). Due to the bravery, courage and professionalism of our forces, Canada’s flag is respected around the world. It is Canadian politicians and bureaucrats of all stripes who tarnish our image. The armed services and their families do not deserve to be shortchanged. Jacob Kasperowicz, Kirkland, Que.

REMEMBERING DURELLE

AS A NATIVE OF BAIE STE. ANNE, N.B., the hometown of boxer Yvon Durelle, I would like to set the record straight following his death last month (In Passing, Jan. 22). During his career, Durelle did not fight either Rocky Marciano or Muhammad Ali. He did fight Floyd Patterson and George Chuvalo, but is best remembered for the first of his two fights against the boxing legend Archie Moore, in which he came close to winning the World Light-Heavyweight Championship. Durelle was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1975.

Willie Gibbs, Ottawa

IN PASSING

Lorne “Gump” Worsley, 77, the short, portly Hall of Fame goaltender who helped the Montreal Canadiens to four Stanley Cup wins in the 1960s, and famously refused to wear a face mask until his 2lst, and last, NHL season in 1973-74Worsley died after a long illness in Beloeil, Que.

Barbaro, 4, the thoroughbred stallion that won last year’s Kentucky Derby, and two weeks later shattered his right hind leg in the widely televised Preakness Stakes. Owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson of West Grove, Pa., spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to save the horse over eight months, but complications from an abscess led to his being euthanized at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa.