A different view of capitalism

For years, I have written letters to the newspapers and other media on the roles and relative value of competition and cooperation.

The following is a different angle of looking at it. Those who promote and practice free market capitalism often speak, though in a vague manner, of the great benefits that accrue to society through the business sector competing in all of its relationships for the sake of higher profits and greater market share.

I believe, however, that this great love and respect for competition is superficial and not basic to what is really at the root of what is truly being sought. I believe the truth is that they want to win -- to succeed. The competitive arenas they seek to maintain, often at the expense of cooperation, afford the opportunities to win but do not guarantee it.

Not succeeding, I believe, can dampen the respect one holds for the rules and ethics of the competitive arena. Our culture, for the time being, remains dominated by the capitalist paradigm.

When practitioners are threatened with losing, or simply crave greater success, their business practices can transform into cutthroat, crony, vulture, or some other form of corrupted capitalism.

This transformed version allows for lesser degrees of honesty, humility, generosity, reverence, and valuing of what is truly important. The results often include misery, destruction, cruelty, and enmity.

Ron Greenstein

El Cerrito

Israel is an apartheid state


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I am referring to Larry Waldron's Sept. 6 letter. Waldron is correct when he wrote that Israel is an apartheid state as per Bishop Tutu, President Jimmy Carter and others.

After visiting Israel-Palestine to see for himself, South African Jewish leader Ronnie Kasrils commented: "This is much worse than apartheid ... Israeli measures, the brutality, make apartheid look like a picnic. We never had jets attacking our townships. We never had sieges that lasted month after month. We never had tanks destroying houses."

Israel was established in 1948 and forced more than 800,000 Palestinian Muslims and Christians from their homes and destroyed 500 Palestinian villages inside its new borders. Israel declared itself Jewish and democratic, an obvious oxymoron.

Palestinians are the indigenous inhabitants, unlike the Jews who are mostly recent immigrants. From 1948 to 1966, Israel put its non-Jewish inhabitants (20 percent of the population) under martial law, while Jews were put under a civil justice system.

During these years, Israel confiscated more than 60 percent of the land and properties owned by non-Jews. Martial law ended for Palestinians in Israel in 1966 and they were granted citizenship.

However, Israel has no constitution guaranteeing basic rights for all. Instead, it put in place a series of laws that disenfranchises non-Jews and discriminate against them in many aspects of life, including family reunification, land ownership, the right of return, and municipal and educational subsidies.

The situation for Palestinians of East Jerusalem, the West bank and Gaza is unbelievably worse. They have been under military law for the last 46 years.

Marina Gutierrez

Kensington

Sowell trickery is predictable

In his Sept. 20 column, "Government again pushes minimum-wage madness," Thomas Sowell employs his predictable trickery.

This crocodile-tear missive contends advocates for increased minimum wages "seem to think" they won't reduce employment -- a straw man argument. Advocates know that hiring is determined by employers' head-count needs, not minimum wage.

Sowell ignores that wages are but one component of business costs, disingenuously distracting readers from recognizing that minor increases in wages have minor impacts on corporate profits.

It "seems" Sowell naively believes prices are set by labor costs but not record profits or excessive CEO pay. Readers understanding economics aren't so easily misled.

Sowell next asserts causality -- without substantiation -- between unemployment and minimum wages; but then admits "most nations today have minimum-wage laws," invalidating his red herring argument.

Sowell denies poverty, saying working-poor having washers, cars and phones, neglecting that they're obligatory for workers to be presentable and on time.

Unemployment is caused by lack of demand, not wages. Increase demand to increase employment. What Sowell and his ilk won't admit is that demand will increase when the minimum-wage increases.

Sowell advocating slave wages invalidates his avowed "compassion for the poor!"

Ed Chainey

Richmond

Cal supporters didn't show up

After 20 years of anger management classes, my psychiatrist downgraded my "road rage" to "road irritation."

I thought I had finally made progress in controlling my temper. But after the Ohio State Buckeyes showed up at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 14, I was transformed into a raging and ranting Mr. Hyde!

I would like to make one thing perfectly clear, my seething cauldron of rage was not directed toward the score, coach Sonny Dykes or my beloved Cal Bears. Nor was it aimed at the Ohio State team and its Buckeye fans.

No, my anger is directed at the Cal alumni and supporters.

It seemed like a home game for the Ohio State Buckeyes. And that is utterly unacceptable. The Old Blues were drowned in an ocean of red. Cal alumni let Dykes and the new era Golden Bears down. Cal supporters did not show up.

If Cal alumni can't come out and support their team and their university, then this is the sorriest day ever.

Ironically, Memorial Stadium cost more than $300 million. And Cal supporters can't afford a $60 ticket? Bull!

It's a little fishy that 60,000 Buckeye fans decided to take a weekend trip to Berkeley (2,423 miles) to watch their football team play. Or do 60,000 Ohio fans live here in the Bay Area?

Mike Anderson

Berkeley

Anderson is a Cal alumnus.

Darwin would understand

The United States is transforming into a nation only Darwin could fully comprehend: a nation of the haves and the have-nots.

We're becoming a nation that wages war on the disadvantaged and lavish praise and gifts on sparkly unicorns ... I mean, job creators. A nation that cuts from programs serving the elderly, veterans, children, disabled, unemployed, hungry, homeless, and the sick, in the name of fiscal responsibility.

Simultaneously, we're a nation of hypocrites. As we savage the needy, we gleefully protect tax breaks, deductions, loopholes and safe havens for the rich, big business, oil, agriculture, pharmaceutical, and the military industrial complex.

Our nation's roads, bridges, levies, schools, power grids, ports, and runways crumble, while the rest of the world passes us by into the 21st century.

Once-in-a-generation floods, droughts, storms, and heat waves ravage, bake and wash away all we know.

Can we, as a nation, open our eyes, ears and hearts in the face of new realities? Our future depends on it. Otherwise, Darwin will rear his head again, and instead of theorizing survival of the fittest, it will be survival of the richest.

Kylan Patterson

El Sobrante