Thank you for Curt Guyette's informative article "Occupy: On the move" (Dec. 7). It was a much-needed overview of the movement and its plans for the future.
The movement has accomplished what many of us have been waiting for: a presence of protest on the national scene, a raising of awareness of the cruelty of inequality, and an effective, inclusive means of struggle that brings about a better life for all of us. These young (and most of them are young) people have put their lives on the line, risking bodily harm from the instruments of power to do all this. But they have brought into the conversation on TV, on the Internet and in living room discussions words like "occupy" and "1 percent," forcing us to think about the inequities of the capitalist system — something many of us in the older generation have been trying to do for decades.
Many have criticized the movement for not having a unified message. But as Greece's George Papandreou has recently said, they "are saying something very, very specific. That inequality, in the end, is an inequality of power and we need to redistribute power, not just money." The occupiers have risen to show us that. Now no one has to ask me what my "99 percent" button means. And that is a marvel.
But the words capitalism and socialism — they must be brought into living room conversations too. "The system" is far too vague. It was a catchword in the '60s, and I, for one, never questioned its meaning. But now we need to call it what it is. The capitalist system is broken and we must look for a more equitable system — socialism, anarchism (the people will decide) — to fix it. For starters, we might even want to take a look at our own U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. —Suzanne Antisdel, Detroit
Curt Guyette's cover story on the next phases of Occupy Detroit is flat-out awesome journalism. (Full disclosure: I'm part of the Occupy Detroit legal team.)
This piece accomplishes at least two vital things I personally haven't encountered.
First, it places the focus not on tents in public space or police brutality or ideological debates, but directly on an oft-neglected and absolutely crucial longer-term question: How could this global revolutionary uprising potentially become an integral part of the social and political fabric of life in a town like Detroit?
Second, it describes what Occupy Detroit's innovations and deliberations look, feel and sound like, to an extent that unites "the personal and the political" and makes it readily understandable to anyone who cares to. —Thomas Stephens, National Lawyers Guild, Occupy Detroit Legal, Detroit
It's time for a constitutional convention. The Occupy movement and the rest of us should rewrite the law to address the endemic problems of our political system, and to reaffirm and strengthen the Bill of Rights for human (not corporate) persons. If two-thirds of the state legislatures call for a convention, it has to happen. This could be done with a ballot proposal in state elections: "Should the legislature petition Congress for a Constitutional convention pursuant to Article V of the U.S. Constitution?" To ensure the convention truly represents the people the proposal must specify the way delegates are selected.
The usual objections to this course are that the ordinary people are too stupid to come up with a decent Constitution, and that government and business would be crippled by the uncertainty of having a new constitution in the works. The Occupy movement gives the lie to the first. As for the second, new laws always specify a date they go into effect, such that everyone can transition into compliance. In the meantime, I'm sure corporations will be more than happy to churn on as usual for as long as possible. —Jennifer Gariepy, Warren
Don't lump us in
Re: Jack Lessenberry's "How to deal with Troy" (Dec. 7), Troy Mayor Janice Daniels is no more representative of all white-bread Troy residents than the infamous Kwame Kilpatrick reflects all black Detroiters. In both cases, many people appear to have voted unwisely. Perhaps you need to be reminded that each and every person deserves to be judged on his or her individual merits, and not as members of generic ethnic, racial or residential groups. No one should be stereotyped in this way. —Elizabeth Breneau, Ferndale
The fall of Troy
Jack Lessenberry hit the nail on the head about Troy's mayor, who has since apologized for her slur (but only because she was pressured). I was shocked when Janice Daniels was elected. I sure didn't vote for her. I've lived in Troy 12 years now, one of the few lonely liberals, and yet continue to be surprised at the majority of the voters here. We sure deserve the national shame we've achieved (the mayor story made CNN.com). Sounds like our new mayor is also against building the new transit center, even though it will be federally funded.
I've walked my neighborhood handing out information about saving the library, only to be told, "I paid enough taxes while my kids were going to school. I'm done." I volunteer at the city's 100-acre nature center, which voters didn't care about enough to fund anymore, turning responsibility over to a new nonprofit that is desperately trying to keep the building open with donations. My husband and I go for walks on summer evenings, strolling the wide well-kept sidewalks outside huge homes, and seldom meet another person because everyone's indoors watching their big-screen TVs. I'd like to support my city by dining out here, but Troy's many steakhouses do nothing to tempt my vegetarian palate. Nor do I spend any money at Somerset, instead frequenting resale and consignment stores in neighboring cities.
The city's motto "Troy, the city of tomorrow, today" should be changed to "Troy, I've got mine, who cares what else happens?"
How much lower can we sink? I love my home and very much like my neighbors, but often I envy cities like Ferndale and Clawson, where there are more open-minded people who value community and diversity. As ashamed as I am right now to say I live in Troy, I'm going to stay here and do what I can to make it a more vibrant and positive place to live. I just hope next election the voters here make a better choice.
—Jennifer Beres, Troy
Bailouts for them, austerity for us?
Re: Jack Lessenberry's "Is an EM inevitable?" (Dec. 7), an Emergency Manager will only make matters worse for Detroit and the metro area. It will result in severe cuts for those already living under harsh conditions.
Detroit's problems are not the result of mismanagement. Whatever faults they may have, today's elected officials are certainly no worse than those who ran the city for decades. What has changed is the downsizing of its auto dependent economy and decisions to move jobs out of the city, state and country. In addition, a housing crisis, whose blame lies on Wall Street not Detroit, has resulted in foreclosures, vacancies and a further erosion of the tax base.
It might be better to ask why many cities throughout the country are facing deficits. We are not a poorer nation than we were 30 years ago; in fact we have more money. The problem is it is all concentrated in the hands of the 1 percent.
If we could bail out Wall Street (who did cause their own problems) why not Detroit? —John Rummel, Royal Oak
Thank you for your reviews of restaurants and bars downriver (Short Order, Dec. 7). Ever since I moved Downriver in 1995, I have been dismayed by the media's lack of coverage about anything downriver. I've lived in all three metro Detroit counties in the last 50 years, and by far, Downriver has the friendliest people, the least traffic, and the most reasonable prices. Thanks again! —Susan Eckert Pinkowski, Riverview
Off the map
Re: MT's "Detroit Music: The ultimate sightseer's guide" (Dec. 14), I see the Trumbellplex made the cut but no Graystone Hall, Freezer, 404 Willis or Grounds Coffee House (on the U-of-D campus)? These were all very important venues in the landscape Detroit's hardcore-punk history, and just as or more important than the before mentioned — a glaring omission on your part. —Michael Derrick, Detroit
I really appreciate your "Ultimate Sightseer's Guide" to Detroit Music — it's interesting and informative. And while I understand that you couldn't possibly include every venue, it seems to me that some were woefully overlooked. How couldn't you mention the Michigan Palace, where the infamous "Metallic K.O." bootleg album was recorded, documenting the last gig of the Raw Power-era Stooges? There's boasts, in the article, of the birthplaces of techno and hip-hop, but not a word about the Freezer Theater, where Midwest hardcore punk was born. Some venues, such as Harpo's, seem to have been included only because of some notoriety, but what about the original City Club?
Rather than just lament what could have been in the article, may I propose a part 2? —Don Handy, Mount Clemens