Letters to the Editor – April 22, 2010


Smoking ban is disrespectful

In response to Alex Belz’s op-ed on the proposed campus ban on smoking, I agree that areas on campus should be set aside where smokers can gather, but I have a much stronger opinion to offer.

Did you ever wonder why those students who are so offended by walking 30 feet past a crowd of smokers seem to have no problem walking 30 yards through a parking lot of cars warming their engines? Exactly whose fumes are the more harmful or “deadly”?

And have you noticed that the 30-foot limit assures that smokers have no overhead protection? So does the administration really care about the health of these students or does it prefer to scapegoat them by imposing sanctions against them that can best be described as downright cruel, considering that smoking is about to be abolished in bars as well?

And all this is going on in an atmosphere where “tolerance” and “understanding” are supposedly being taught. Smoking is an established social custom under fierce attack from those who would like to banish it completely, regardless of the consequences of criminalizing nearly a quarter of the adult population.

If this policy goes into effect, perhaps that day should be declared “Contempt and Disrespect Day” in recognition of NMU’s hypocrisy on the issue of which customs deserve respect and which deserve condemnation.

Jack Bowers

Kennecott Mine should be questioned

Alex Belz was spot on in his questioning of Rio Tinto’s human and workers rights record in his article last week, tough questions Rio Tinto has had the luxury of avoiding in our area.  He also raised solid questions about what the real economics of mining are.

Before the current recession even began, Michigan lost 79,000 jobs directly due to our trade relationship with China, Rio Tinto’s largest single investor and driver of new metal demand.  It’s simple:  we sell China raw materials, such as metals, and buy a manufactured product back.  In the process, we’ve lost millions of American manufacturing jobs.

And the plan is to let a foreign company mine our ore to send to other countries for processing, manufacturing and use?  No wonder the Economist magazine predicts Michigan will remain in the economic “Dark Ages” for another 15 years.

Currently, less than two-tenths of one percent of Michigan’s economy directly employs workers in “natural resources and mining” (mining, logging, fishing and some agriculture).  The only other listed sector providing fewer jobs is “rail transportation.”  It’s truly a crime that Michigan regulators and politicians are willing to continue strangling Michigan’s economy for the benefit of Rio Tinto.

Gabriel Caplett
Skandia, Michigan