Airport links work
I read the visionary article "Trains, planes and (fewer) automobiles" (Metro Times, March 8) with much interest. It seems to me that it would not be difficult to connect Metro Airport to downtown Detroit by rail. The rails are there, most of the way, and a junction and spur near the airport would get trains close to the terminal buildings. Make it a "Y" junction and maybe you could have service to both Detroit and Ann Arbor.
My organization, the International Air Rail Organisation, spreads good practice about rail transit to airports. From our data I can tell you that people are willing to ride trains to airports. They need to be reliable, they need to be frequent, and they need to be of reasonable quality (look at the quality of the cars in the airport parking lots). But if a train is there, people will use it.
More than a third of passengers going to and from Oslo airport ride the train. You see similar ridership patterns in London, Stockholm, Vienna and Hong Kong. You do not see similar numbers in North America yet because there are no links of similar quality. This is changing; there are very exciting plans for both Chicago and Toronto to have a real airport express, and when they come along, Americans will use them, just as they use them in Europe and Asia. Maybe Detroit needs one too. Andrew Sharp, International Air Rail Organisation, London, United Kingdom
A modest proposal
Re: Jack Lessenberry's "Proof Darwin was wrong" (Metro Times, March 15), I would propose that all proponents of intelligent design or any others who question evolution be administered such vaccines as they request from stock left over from previous years, thereby leaving the new batch for those of us who believe living things change over time. Margaret Rhodes, Novi
Re: "War of the wages" (Metro Times, March 15), why not have minimum wage at $50 or $100 an hour with free health care on top and a gas allowance? The reason unions want the minimum wage to go up is so they can say that if the minimum wage is $8 an hour, then their workers need to get a raise because they are much better people than minimum-wage earners. Then we can watch more jobs go out of the country. Marc Adels, Clawson
Feeling the squeeze
In your article, "War of the wages," one major point is being missed. Even with this wage increase, it still fails to address the underpaid service industry workers in Michigan. Waiters and waitresses still make a measly $2.65 an hour, and this is supposed to be because they make up the difference in tips. I was a waiter for five years before a new job this past September took me out of the server game, and to be blunt, I barely survived through the beginning of last year. Gas prices increased, jobs diminished, and in addition to the middle-class chain restaurants' numbers going down, the percentage of your average tips also went down. First and foremost, things will not be truly fair until all service industry workers are treated to a raise as well. Until then, be a sport, tip 20 percent. Anything less is just cheap. Nick Papcun, Clawson
Putting it all together
Jack Lessenberry captured the illusions and delusions of people and leadership when he challenged his readers to face reality ("The economy: Things fall apart," Metro Times, March 8). It's a reality that challenges the economic American Dream of the 20th century, which was built upon empire and consumerism, and has resulted in global warming, unemployment, wars for resources and global isolation.
The 21st century challenges us to create sustainable economies built upon local production with a dedicated commitment to creating community and security. We need an economy for the 21st century that moves beyond jobs that will inevitably pay lower wages with fewer or no benefits. The 21st century requires a new American Dream. Our journey starts with a commitment to begin answering the questions: How and where will we grow our food? What can we produce locally and regionally? How will we heat our homes? How will our work create safe communities? What kind of transportation will we create?
When we begin to define ourselves as citizens rather than only as producers or consumers, we will then begin the conversation to create a new economy that includes us all. Only then can we have the discussion about making a life and not only making a living. Rich Feldman, Huntington Woods
A case of consumption
As more occupations vital to the U.S. economy outsource labor for slave wages abroad, I feel it's appropriate to point the finger at the American public. The positions of power possessed by the selfish owners of Electroflux, Delphi, Ford and the like are attained as a direct result of the purchasing habits of Americans. Yet we neglect to boycott these products that are not only derived from the exploitation of laborers worldwide, but also at the expense of domestic jobs.
When "Buy American" is no longer an option we must force government regulation upon these corporations. If the import tax on goods manufactured abroad was higher than the domestic taxes on good produced here, it would not benefit the money-hungry capitalists to outsource our labor to those willing to work for next to nothing.
In a nation where we have the right to demand "this is the way we want it," why do we sit as silent as a schoolhouse on a Sunday while our economy swirls faster and faster down the drain? Thomas Plummer, Dearborn Heights
I wonder what the reaction to this column would have been in the '70s. It's been 15 to 20 years since this happened in Flint, and I remember the whole "Buy American" campaign in the '80s. This doesn't seem like a new problem. It doesn't appear that there's going to be a hero that shows up and fixes all the social inequities in the world. Since everyone already knows this, and nobody has any ideas that are actually going to happen, what are we going to do? The only thing I can think to do is to pay off my adjustable mortgage before interest rates go up and then enjoy the show. Victor Ventimiglia, Saint Clair Shores
Errata: Last week's News Hit, "Abridging the law" (Metro Times, March 15), incorrectly stated that the Detroit International Bridge Company owns and operates the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. The tunnel is owned by the cities of Detroit and Windsor and is operated by the Detroit and Canada Tunnel Corporation. In the same issue, our story on the Greencards ("Distant calling cards,") misstated the name of the group's second album. It is titled Weather and Water.Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org