Kudos to Jeff Reifman for his article on investing with a conscience ["Investing for Change," Jan. 26]! With so many people now involved in the stock market through 401(k) plans, etc., more information needs to be available and more thought needs to be put into what our investments allow corporations to do in our names. It was great to read such an informative and frank article reminding us of our responsibilities to our communities. I'd love to see Seattle Weekly publish another article along the same lines, but with an emphasis on consuming. Maybe a typical month of consumption for someone, with impacts and alternatives described.
Living the Dream
I am from an upper-middle-class family and graduated from an Ivy League university with a master's degree. I was all set to start a life on the fast track until I decided to take time off to volunteer and travel. Through working with the poor and educating myself through nonmainstream authors, I have come to realize that my values were the root of many of the problems in the world.
I can't conscionably follow the path that's been laid out for me. Yet I have been raised to believe I need the security of a lot of money. If I don't grab all I can, won't I die starving in a gutter? What if I make my millions first, and then retire to a world of activism? But what kind of guarantee do I have of becoming wealthy in a climate where money is being funneled to fewer and fewer people? And isn't hoarding money against the values I'm embracing?
Jeff Reifman's story intrigued me ["Investing for Change," Jan. 26]. He is exactly where I dream of being. He's got the bucks and the activist lifestyle. I'd like to ask him: Is the money really necessary?
I need little in the way of material goods, substituting instead art, friends, and community. However, it's expensive to own a home and raise children, and unless we start winning some battles against corporate interests, it's only going to get worse. Naively embracing poverty is not the answer.
Is there a third option? Has the activist community grown to the size where I can work within it and still make enough money to be secure?
I am shocked at the hypocrisy, arrogance, and lack of sensitivity in Jeff Reifman's article ["Investing for Change," Jan. 26]. Most disturbing is that he thinks he has the credibility to suggest how others should invest their money. In my opinion, a person who becomes wealthy as a result of working for a company that avoids paying state taxes, has exploited the temporary workforce, and employs anticompetitive business practices to crush smaller companies has no platform from which to speak about socially responsible investing. His position is classic, "Do as I say, not as I do."
Reifman, similar to a corporation, took more pay/reward than was likely justifiable or deserved, while others at Microsoft, including temporary employees, worked without comparative benefits or job security. In addition, the company that compensated him so richly used its financial clout to unfairly drive competitors out of business, likely causing many hardworking people to lose their jobs. Lastly, Microsoft was better able to compensate Reifman and employees like him partially because they (using Reifman's words) "avoid paying more than $55 million annually in Washington taxes."
Reifman worked for Microsoft for eight years and walked away with $5 million. Is this someone that the common man can identify with? My wife and I make more than the average U.S. income, have a lot of equity in our home, and have sizable savings and retirement accounts. If I am annoyed by Reifman's arrogance, I can't imagine what a person who is barely squeaking by thinks of his self-importance.
No Defeat for GOP
How is a mere delay of two weeks a loss for Rossi and the GOP ["The Trials of a Revote," Jan. 26]? Yes, it will take two weeks longer to go through the discovery process, but it is more a wash for both sides. The GOP didn't get the discovery process expedited, but the case proceeds on.
Democrats bought two more weeks, but they lost as the case is moving forward. The new media of talk radio and blogs predicted the mainstream media would spin this decision as a GOP loss only . . . more reason why more people are turning off KIRO, KOMO, KING, and the major papers.
Slots Over Votes
Thank heavens that at least one local media outlet has treated problems with touchscreen voting as news ["The Minus Touch," Jan. 26]. Congratulations on being the first.
More important than the question of whether the statistical facts reflect deliberate meddling or some kind of unanticipated malfunction is that there is no way of doing a real recount and finding out one way or another without auditing the machines, and this is made unnecessarily difficult because the relevant technical information is proprietary. This is an absolute outrage in light of the fact that slot machine manufacturers are required to have the details of their mechanical design plans and software on file with the gaming commission. Why do we value random quarters out of our pockets more than our votes?
The only way to have fair elections is to have transparent elections. Electronic elections, by definition, are not transparent. If you haven't personally seen the software (and even if you have seen it but aren't enough of a computer expert to understand it), you can't really control your own vote using it. You are like a blind person asking a friend to cast your vote. Your friend may be a trusted open-source programmer or a sleazy partisan hack of a closed-source programmer—either way, you yourself aren't doing the voting, and every election is a beta test.
Martha K. Koester
Proof is in the Software
Thank you to Rick Anderson for writing about this ["The Minus Touch," Jan. 26]. However, it is not accurate to say that the allegations cannot be proven. The proof lies in gaining access to the machines and having computer experts examine the software/source codes. Given the supplier's legal position that an examination would reveal its trade secrets, and its contract with Snohomish County prohibiting such examinations, it will take a lawsuit to impound the machines and have this testing done. Unfortunately, since the Democrats are involved in the revote litigation, it seems to me that it is not in their interest to raise these issues, as the Dems must argue in the revote litigation that the problems with the election were minimal and no revote is warranted.
Raising this issue would only add steam to the revote movement.
William R. Spurr
Run, Bobby, Run
I was 13 when Robert F. Kennedy motorcaded through my blue-collar, working-class neighborhood in Hammond, Ind., just before the 1968 Democratic primary in Indiana [Mossback, "The Next Bobby Kennedy . . . ," Jan. 26]. The crowd that day was full of people of every stripe. Even some of the better-off from West Hammond were there.
I followed his motorcade all the way up Columbia Avenue to Ukrainian Hall, where we sneaked in long enough to hear his speech, then back along the route before it headed off to City Hall. I shook his hand so much that near the end, RFK asked me if I was on the track team. I just looked stupid and kept running.
A few weeks later, he was gone. My RFK signs came down, soon lost to history. But he left a legacy, one that cannot go away.
I hope RFK Jr. will run, but I worry about him. His father was the last great leader we had. I know where his son is coming from.
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