Today's letters: High prices always hurt poor people (National Post)

Re: Milking A Sacred Cow, editorial, March 6. Even an amateur economist understands the less money a family earns, the more impact even small purchases have on its bottom line. If a family makes $3,000 a month, spending $500 on food is roughly a sixth of its entire monthly income. But for a family earning $5,000 a month, that same food cost only represents a tenth of its earnings.
This is where the paper to be published in the March issue of Canadian Public Policy falls short. It fails to acknowledge the same pattern is true for other costs: transportation, Internet bills, kids’ sports gear, take-out food – all non-supply managed commodities. All these costs are significant to lower-income families. This is not about supply management. When families have less money, all purchases cost relatively more than for wealthier families. So why blame supply management and not every food group?
Dairy farmers agree all families should have access to quality nutritious food. That is why they donate more than two million litres of milk across Canada to food banks. It is also why our farmers work hard, every single day, to put food on their tables and yours.Wally Smith, president, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Ottawa.
Revitalizing Edmonton
Re: How’s That New Rink Working Out, Edmonton?, Jesse Kline, Feb. 17. In his column on the Edmonton Oilers and public funding for arenas, Jesse Kline asserts the team’s owner, Daryl Katz, “screwed … the city’s taxpayers by strong-arming the municipal government into funding the bulk of [Edmonton’s] new arena.”
It is important to clarify the facts:
• Edmonton City Council voted to approve funding to build a new downtown arena, rather than spending significant dollars to renovate the 40-year-old city-owned Rexall Place.
• Revitalization of the city’s downtown was the impetus.
• Funding was based on council’s confidence there would be extra private-sector investment as a result of creating an arena district. The taxes projected to be generated from the new development will be used to pay for the city’s investment. The amount of development in the downtown now under way already exceeds expectations.
• At the time council approved funding, the Katz Group agreed to invest $100-million in the Edmonton Arena District over and above this contribution. Since then, it has announced plans to invest $2-billion – of which $1.4-billion will go on construction – to create Canada’s largest sports and entertainment district. The development includes two office towers and a major hotel.
‎The investment by the city and Katz Group is the catalyst that made this all possible.Rick Daviss, executive director, Downtown Arena, Edmonton.
Solutions to road hogging
Re: Move It, Lane Hog, Kelly McParland, March 6. Kelly McParland correctly identifies two highway driving skills about 80% of Canadian drivers seem to lack – lane discipline and proper merging.
One solution might be to force all drivers to take a one-day driving refresher course, with the added carrot of a slight reduction in insurance premiums. Proper training would almost certainly lead to reduced accidents, congestion, aggravation and even pollution.
Think it can’t be done? Take a trip to Germany, where the traffic mortality rate is 10%-15% lower than ours, even with the high speeds of the famous autobahn. On my last trip there, I didn’t encounter one left-lane hog in two weeks of driving.
This might be explained by a German-Canadian commercial airline pilot I spoke with recently, who said his driving test there was more difficult than getting his pilot’s licence. If you do go though, do the locals a favour – don’t drive like a Canadian.Marlon Schmidt, Fort Erie, Ont.
The most effective solution for left-lane hogging would be to periodically merge traffic back to the right by re-painting the left lanes to end briefly every 10 kilometres or so. It would force drivers to pay attention, and make the path of least effort the middle and right lanes.J. Francis Reid, Toronto.
Alberta’s day of reckoning
Re: Careful Prentice Clarifies Remarks, Don Braid, March 6. Premier Jim Prentice is right: Albertans consistently elect, in open elections, governments that keep taxes low and spend a great proportion of resource revenue, instead of saving, so, yes, we are responsible.
But, as has been pointed out by Jack Mintz in the National Post’s comment pages, the Progressive Conservatives have been wasteful, increasing the spending on civil servants far above inflation and population growth.
That is what happens when you spend like New Democratic Party, but tax like Conservatives. It seems Mr. Prentice intend to fix this.Pat Robinson, Calgary.
For many years, successive Progressive Conservative governments have used revenues derived from the sale of Crown resources to subsidize a regime of artificially low taxes in Alberta. They have done this with the full and enthusiastic support of residents, who have repeatedly returned them to government with overwhelming majorities.
When Premier Jim Prentice goes on CBC Radio and says Alberta has not built a revenue model that sustains the high-quality services residents enjoy, and suggests they need to take a look in the mirror, because “all of us have had the best of everything and have not had to pay for what it costs,” he is simply stating the obvious.
Albertans do not pay taxes commensurate with the value of the government services they receive. No meaningful reform of the province’s finances is possible without acknowledging this simple truth.Jonathan Skrimshire, Pincher Creek, Alta.
One family’s silver lining
Re: Family Loses Bid To Stop Feeding Of Woman, 83, March 4. In reading the article, I recognized my mother: “late stage Alzheimer’s,” “doesn’t communicate,” “eyes closed” and “curled up in a fetal position with stiff muscles and her hands in a claw-like position.”
My mother was a beautiful, strong and energetic women, then she developed Alzheimer’s and changed. It has been a difficult process for my mother, father and siblings. She would have been mortified to think of herself as she is today.
But there has been – there is – a silver lining. As a family, we have experienced compassion, generosity, courage and grace. In our loving response to our mother (or wife), it has been a life-affirming time for us all, including Mom. She is well looked after and will continue to be so until the time of her natural death.M. Soligo, Markham, Ont.
Rationality in short supply
Re: The Problem With Life Sentences, Andrew Coyne, March 5. Andrew Coyne argues locking “heinous” criminals in jail for life without parole is – my interpretation of his words – irrational, “not logical or reasonable.
But, what does he suggest is rational? Obviously not the 35 years of the government’s proposed standard, but why not 40, or 20, or 16.5 years? Of course, there is no rational formula for fitting a punishment to the crime of murder. An “eye for an eye” is too menaced by error to be trusted. Rehabilitation brings no comfort to the surviving victims of a murder, the families, friends, and loved ones. And so without reason we act arbitrarily.
Imprisonment is meant not only to punish the assailant, but also to revenge a wrongful death, to bring some type of satisfaction, some end of the ordeal, to the living victims of a murderous death. It might seems harsh and unmodern to suggest this traditional view, but that is the only rational anyone can suggest for locking a human in a prison for life.Douglas Bland, Kingston, Ont.
The Harper government’s proposed “life sentence for murder” legislation appears to be soft on some modes of killing.
The premeditated negligence that led to the deaths of 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, Que., isn’t “brutal” enough to put a corporate executive in jail for life. Repeat impaired drivers who kill innocent victims in crashes over years are not heinous enough for life in jail. Industrial tragedies that kill three hard-working Canadians every day as a result of dangerous working conditions, safety-neglecting work procedures and inadequate training are not grievous enough to put an operations manager in jail for life.
Some deaths are just the cost of doing business for the Harper government.Derek Wilson, Port Moody, B.C.
Third World War looms
Re: Iran Taking Over Iraq, Saudis Warn, March 6. Iran is getting closer and closer to getting nukes. Whether you support U.S. President Barack Obama’s deal, or the one Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu valiantly proposed to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, one thing is sure: Iran must be kept away from a nuclear weapon at all costs.
Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear bomb poses a threat to Israel and the rest of the world. Other major military players in the region, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan will begin their quest for a nuclear weapon that could lead to a Third World War.
Iran, with Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank and Yemen, will make up the Shiite side. On the other will be Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and, yes, Israel. These countries, with the exception of Israel of course, are Sunni Muslim. Eventually the big players, the United States and Russia, will enter, leading to a full on nuclear war.
This is why Iran must be kept as far away as possible from a nuke.Josh Benjamin, Toronto.
Addiction by any other name
Re: Keep It Charged, Rebecca Tucker, March 5. I love the Internet and I know to some extent I am addicted. But it is not the saviour of mankind. For all its good, it is a tool of distraction. How do you feel when you want someone else’s full attention and they are distracted by an email or text?
Many years ago, Neil Postman wrote we have to remember technological advancement is not the highest expression of human achievement. The Jewish ritual of the Sabbath may be the reason Jewish civilization has lasted 4,000 years.
Ms. Tucker’s inability to shut off her Internet access for even two days a year is laughable, if not a true sign of addiction.David Burstein, Toronto.
Backing the chimp
Re: Fighting The Next Election, letter to the editor, March 5. Despite what letter writer Kenneth T. Tellis said, many Canadians would prefer the chimpanzee against the race horse that is Prime Minister Stephen Harper, someone who holds Parliament, the leaders of the parties opposite, his backbenchers and Canadians in general in complete contempt.William Brunow, Stouffville, Ont.
No place in academe
Re: UBC Backs Freedom Of Vaccine Researcher, March 5. In science, one must have proof to claim something. Vaccines have been proven. Those questioning the veracity of such claims must have proof of the validity of such questioning. It is not up to the vaccine purveyor to counter questioning. The University of British Columbia is wrong to accommodate baseless speculation.Douglas L. Martin, Hamilton, Ont.
Islamism the enemy
Re: The Islam Taboo, Robert Fulford, Feb. 28; Jihadi John’s Father Labels Son A ‘Dog,’ March 4; Jihad On Campus, Maajid Nawaz, March 5. The recent revelations about Jihadi John, the article by Maajid Nawaz, a former Islamic extremist, and Robert Fulford’s piece on Graeme Woods’ investigative reporting into the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham should finally put to bed the notion poverty and historical injustice are the root causes of terrorism and that, as U.S. President Barack Obama argues, Islam has nothing to do with terrorism.
Like the other major religions, Islam contains multitudes – multiple sects and points of view – that are supported by the texts. In the same way, one cannot say Christians opposed to gay marriage do not have support from the Bible.
Many ISIS recruits are from the educated middle class – Jihadi John has a degree in computer science. Recruiters use “entryism” tactics based on religious Islamic ideas. Stating the obvious does not make one an enemy of Islam but of Islamism, the desire by a minority of Muslims to impose their religion on the rest of society.Daniel Martin, London, Ont.
Einstein nodded?
Re: Star Seen Exploding Over And Over Again, March 6. What if light wasn’t being bent because of gravity, but because a star’s atmosphere, i.e. refraction? As Albert Einstein said, if one of the proofs fails, the whole construct must be given up.
Dr. Pierre-Marie Robitaille shows us the Sun has an atmosphere, but this is never considered by members of the cult of Einstein. Stephen Crothers has also shown Einstein made major mathematical blunders in developing his field equations for relativity, but physicists are too frightened to challenge him. Dark matter, dark energy and black holes have never been observed.
The taxpayer is expected to swallow this nonsense and continue shoveling billions of dollars to these cranks who have measured with satellites, then call it the cosmic microwave background radiation from the Big Bang. Much of what physics has to tell us about the universe is utter nonsense.Greg Gribbon, Bradford, Ont.
National Post