Re: “Driven to destruction” (Metro Times, June 16), what utter nonsense Keith Schneider has unloaded on Metro Times readers from his roost in northwest Michigan, free of Detroit commuting, about which he obviously knows nothing. Only those who have lived in metro Detroit as adults for the last 50 years and regularly travel to other big cities will realize that his many misinterpretations of the city’s modern history are contrary to actual fact.
As one who once commuted on the Grand Trunk Railroad, it is worth noting that it died for lack of riders, ditto the Ann Arbor commuter line. And Woodward buses generally appear to be mostly empty.
The reason is that Detroit’s employment centers are scattered like fall leaves all over southeastern Michigan, defying any rational mass transit system such as Washington’s.
However, if one were to crank up such a system here today, the only viable initial route would run between downtown and Metro Airport. Keith mentioned this, but then strayed from the subject.
One final note, road construction and maintenance are paid for by user taxes on automotive fuels, not from income or property taxes. Of course, social activists have long itched to get their hands on that pot of gold for almost any other purpose. —Mike Davis, Royal Oak
Between the article on the transportation ideas for Detroit and Jack Lessenberry on education (“Is our educators learning?” Metro Times, June 16), you have a superb paper this week. I grew up in Detroit in the ’40s and would move back there in a heartbeat except I am now handicapped and broke and stuck in the country. Here our small towns are losing all their downtowns to Wal-Marts and Meijers, who pave over our beauty and nobody seems to care. Our education system is as bad as yours. Young people barely know who the president is, can’t make change unless the register tells them how much you have coming back, and only think of racing up and down the road with a “boom-boom-boom” coming out their open windows and littering our roads with empty bottles. So the problems follow out of Detroit and into the little towns too. I hope I live long enough to read of great things in your city. —Beverly Mohler, Scottville
Wrong about Reagan
I enjoy reading Lessenberry’s column every week, but this time (“Learning from Reagan,” Metro Times, June 9) I feel he went a bit awry. The Reagan I remember was not adored or loved when he was in office. True, he won his elections by landslides but that was in response to Cold War fear, the same type of fear — this time of terrorism — our current president will use to try to get re-elected. My proof? I was in my sixth-grade classroom when the news that Reagan had been shot hit. My class stood up and cheered.
As sad as that act was, it was also telling. We were just children reacting the way we thought we should based on the mood of the country we knew. What’s more, this happened in the forever conservative and Republican state of Nebraska. Let’s remember Reagan as the man who ended the Cold War, put us trillions of dollars in debt, said, “It’s a tree, how many do you have to see?” threw the Russians into a rage, employed “trickle-down economics” where he helped the rich and hoped they would help the poor, and subverted many foreign governments not for the spread of democracy but to support American business interests. —Christopher Schneider, Hamtramck, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reagan: Union buster
It would be nice if one Reagan commentator remembered PATCO — how Reagan smashed the air traffic controllers’ strike, the beginning of the sorry decline of the labor movement, from which it has never recovered. I don’t remember once being impressed by the Teflon president, but he did make me realize that Americans would accept a president who didn’t hide the fact that government represents the interests of big business. We seem never to learn from history; the fact that the media has such a difficult time analyzing the past certainly contributes to this problem. —Elissa Karg, DetroitSend comments to email@example.com