The Mail

May 17 1999

The Mail

May 17 1999

The Mail

Society ’s children

Once again, tragedy has struck the lives of our young people (“The lessons of Littleton,” Cover, May 3; “Tragedy in Taber,” Canada, May 10). We discuss the topic ad nauseum, but I fear we are unwilling to come to grips with the answers. Here in Canada, government makes it increasingly difficult for single-income families to exist. Leaders speak in derogatory tones about women being “barefoot and pregnant,” as if motherhood is some sort of disease. Feminists rail against anyone who might suggest that the mother-child bond is crucial, fearing that women might actually feel inclined to stay at home. The movie industry continues to

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crank out the most crass, vile garbage, and recording artists spew out their lyrics of death, destruction and suicide unimpeded, with no thought of how they might affect people. Corporations exploit the children of other nations so our kids can spend exorbitant amounts of money just to wear their labels. Finally, the politicians and the media who now so sombrely invoke the “prayers of the nation” are the very same people who ridicule anyone who dares to suggest that faith in God is an important part of ones life. If morality is relative, if all things are available because we have the right to see or do what we want, if God doesn’t exist and parenthood is meaningless, then we should not be surprised when young people commit such soulless acts.

Susan Virtue, Toronto

In media reports, the stories of Littleton, Colo., and Taber, Alta., are followed, in the breadth of a heartbeat, by an update on the latest movement of weapons and forces to the Balkans. Where do young people get the idea that the most effective solution to their problems is an irrevocable act of violence? I wonder.

D. M. Jackson, Armstrong, B.C.

Respected journalists seem to be engaging in a sort of magical thinking in which if some inanimate objects (i.e., guns) are eliminated, violence in our society will end. Did anyone notice that those twisted students in Denver employed quite an arsenal of bombs? Guns are just one potential tool for violence, not the cause. If we really care about our public safety, we had better face up to the fact that the problem is the emotional health of our citizens. The fevered gun-control rhetoric is a red herring. In recent years, we have cut the funding to police, education, health care and social

Dubious immigrant

Hats off for providing an insight into another example of the ineptness of our immigration system, with the revelations about Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic crony Bogoljub Karic, who wants Canadian citizenship (“Knocking on the door,” World, May 3). The article also pointed out shortcomings in the judiciary system, as evidenced by Judge Walter Borosa’s remark at his original hearing that Karic was just the kind of immigrant Canada was looking for. In all fairness, one must give the judge some credit for at least reading Macleans and reversing his decision.

Willard H. Ellis, Kitchener, Ont.

services, while at the same time spending more than $300 million on gun control. How much safer might we all be if that money was spent on community policing, violence intervention in the schools, shelters for abused spouses and mental health. It’s time to wake up and stop the fear-mongering.

R. Bruce Morrison, De Winton, Alta.

Bob Levin’s “Casualties of the right to bear arms” (Column, May 3) hit a chord with me. Family friends, born in Canada and employed in the United States, one day faced one of those lifealtering events that forces us to look way deep inside and examine our value system. An apartment building right next to them in New York City was bombed. Our friends just went on with their lives for some days, until they began questioning how they could have become so numb to such a horror. Fortunately, they woke up, made mammoth career decisions, and moved to the peaceful lifestyle of Southbury, Conn. They never forgot, however, how close they were to being anesthetized to that horror. My wish for the millennium? That none of us ever becomes so desensitized to the horrors of one child dying senselessly that we simply say: “Hmm, too bad; well, I guess that’s life.”

Linda A. Radcliffe, Winnipeg

Caltech of the North

President Martha Piper’s goal of making the University of British Columbia a “high-end research oriented

institution,” as reported by Peter C. Newman (“Turning UBC into a Berkeley or Caltech,” The Nation’s Business, April 26), is exciting, enlightened and probably destined to fail. Research at U.S. institutions such as Harvard, Caltech and Stanford is supported largely by deep-pocketed federal civilian and military funding agencies, any one of which could buy and sell the underfunded Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada several times over. Added to those external resources are the private endowments of these schools, some of which are larger than the GDP of many small and medium-sized countries. So where should UBC and other Canadian universities go for the required long-term investment? Certainly not private industry, as seems to be Piper’s direction. The financial cycle for industry is, at most, 12 months long. The time required for building a world-class research institution is considerably longer. No, I would suggest that if Canadian taxpayers want a Caltech, they will have to pay for it.

W. Grant McGimpsey, professor, department of chemistry and biochemistry, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Mass.

Taxing disagreement

In her attack on taxes, Diane Francis exposes the shallowness of her rightwing rhetoric (“It’s high time to cut the fat—and taxes,” Column, May 3). She compares our per capita government spending on health care with that of the Americans, but ignores key factors. Their private-enterprise medical system puts much government money into hospital owners’ pockets, not medical care. And Francis leaves out the fact that ordinary Americans must pay huge amounts for health care above and beyond government spending, rendering her comparison meaningless. Putting her best right foot forward, Francis asserts that “the business of Canada is business.” Wrong. The business of Canada is allowing all citizens the chance to have a happy, peaceful and fulfilling life.

Val Patrick, Stoney Creek, Ont.

Diane Francis’s column couldn’t have been more correct. The lie from the left that tax cuts will destroy our precious social safety net is nothing more than a scare tactic designed to frighten people

into voting for the Liberals. There is a serious problem with our system of taxation when it penalizes those who work. Conservatives today want to give people real value for their tax dollars and open up real opportunities for people to better themselves, not the fake kind Liberals peddle when they throw money at problems so that they can add to the power they have over other people.

Ray Ferris, St. Williams, Ont.

Charles Gordon is right (“The myth of Canadas ‘tax hell,’ ” Another View, April 26). Tax hell is all relative. My tax rate here in New York City totals 34 per cent. That doesn’t count my union dues that pay for my health-care plan, which pays only 80 per cent of my bills. A routine physical exam costs me almost $300 out of pocket and that’s assuming I’ve met my yearly deductible. Then, there’s education. Tuition at a basic state college is going to cost about $20,000 a year; about $100,000 at a top school. I’m sure my actual tax rate is the same as I would pay in Canada if I figure in the hidden costs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy I came to the United States. But I would rather pay more taxes here if I could eliminate the profit motive in health care and education. You’re only better off in the United States if you’re going to make significantly more money than in Canada.

Shawn Rosvold, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Charles Gordon does not understand, in my opinion, the relationship between tax policy and wealth creation. Federal and provincial governments should do all in their power to increase the wealth of the nation as this will increase the tax base upon which to levy reasonable taxes and help provide for Canada’s cherished social programs. A country’s wealth or ability to create wealth comes in a number of forms that include an environment whereby motivated individuals will receive ample after-tax compensation from hard work and risk-taking. Their success will increase the tax base of the country. Unfor-

tunately, in Canada, taxes are punitive, which has contributed to the reduction in the country’s ability to create wealth. Visible evidence of this is seen in our declining standard of living.

Nicholas LeMoine, Vancouver

Full-bodied error

The Maritime Beer Company is a new craft brewery and we are extremely proud of the brands that we brew and sell in the Maritimes. In “A nation and its beer” (Special Report, May 3), Macleans incorrectly identified our Black Pearl brand as the product of another brewer (another high-quality craft brewer and our friend, Granite Brewery). While it was an honour to have Black Pearl included in “A case of the best,” we were disappointed in this misidentification.

Harold H. MacKay, President and CEO, Maritime Beer Company, Dartmouth, N.S.

Inuit survivor’s art

I object to Inuit art promoter James Houston making personal remarks about my father, sculptor Andy Miki (“Northern grace,” Art, April 12). It is true Miki was one of the survivors of the famine that spread across the Keewatin in the 1950s. He also survived many relocations of the Ahiarmiut by the federal government, from their ancestral homeland to the Hudson Bay coast. Miki was a quiet man, a good family man and a good father. My father’s carvings cannot be appreciated at one glance and neither can his persona be understood on the basis of little contact. Curator Maria von Finckenstein’s comparison of Miki’s work to a Romanian modernist raises some questions. How long will Inuit artists and their art suffer at the claws of Western comparative thought? Why this insatiable need for Western culture to compare everything with its own standards and achievements?

David Serkoak, Iqaluit, Nunavut