By Readers


Democracy dead On Jan. 21, the U.S. Supreme Court nullified limits on the amount of money a corporation can spend in support of or in opposition to a political candidate. The decision turned on the rights of all Americans to freedom of speech. Congress, according to five members of the court, may not restrict a corporate entity’s right to express its opinion during a political campaign.

Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of our democracy, and the one that I value most in my work of trying to create social equity across race, class, gender, and other forms of difference. This is, however, the first time I have seen freedom of speech equated with the freedom to spend money. With that equation established, the Supreme Court has essentially decided that the power of one’s voice in a democracy is directly proportionate to the amount of money one can use to broadcast it to the world. With the enormous capacity that popular media now has to influence voters with unsubstantiated and emotionally charged claims, and the enormous reserves of cash that multinational corporations can now wield in stoking those messages, what chance remains that truth and reason will govern our affairs?

Money talks. Unfortunately, it doesn’t listen. Democracy — in the U.S., at least — just died. Inequity is now our primary national value.

— Doak Bloss Lansing

Spare animal control It has come to my attention that the Law Enforcement Committee of the Ingham County Board of Commissioners will be meeting on Jan. 28 to discuss proposals on the table as options to balance a $3 million shortfall in the 2010 county budget. Two of these proposals involve the Ingham County Animal Control (ICAC): one is to eliminate the shelter and the other is to eliminate enforcement.

I realize in such times as these budgets have to be cut, but I feel that making such deep cuts in animal control would have dire consequences for the people of Ingham County.

There is enormous support for ICAC by the residents of Ingham County — in terms of people who volunteer at the shelter, people who foster homeless animals until they can be adopted, and people who donate thousands of dollars a year to the shelter. If the shelter were to be eliminated, one can only speculate that all stray animals would be held for the mandatory seven days and then euthanized. Last year 5,000 animals went through the shelter — that would be a lot of dead pets.

Further, ICAC responded to and filed reports on over 345 dog bites last year. What will happen if no one is available to quarantine the dog for rabies observation?

ICAC issued over 1,900 summons and almost 100 warrants for abuse last year. Without enforcement, there would be no prosecution of animal cruelty and abuse cases, such as the recent Australian shepherd case in which a resident was found guilty on six counts of animal cruelty.

What about dog fighting? There have been several dog-fighting convictions in the past several years. Do we want dog fighting in our community? And who will local police officers call on when assistance is needed to apprehend dogs at a crime scene? Yes, it happens in Lansing.

ICAC operates a nationally recognized shelter, which has been built up over the past several years to what it is today. I feel that should it be targeted for elimination, it would be missed by all its supporters in Ingham County, and the consequences of more non-spayed or neutered animals on the streets would be felt by everyone.

— Sarah Gilmour Mason

Don’t change medical marijuana Aren’t Republicans supposed to be for less regulation and helping small businesses? In these tough economic times, a legal caregiver could bring in extra income while helping someone in need. If a patient can and wants to grow their own medicine, why should they be forced to spend extra money for it? Odds are they are already paying a lot of money in insurance costs, doctor bills and for other medication.

Furthermore, the terminally ill may lack employment and thus have limited funds. And who decides what companies will constitute the 10 providers and what strains of product they will provide? And if a patient’s local pharmacy refuses to stock the product, what then? This “solution” seems preemptive and not very well thought out. That said, a legal grower who sells or distributes illegally should have their certificate revoked and prepare to face prosecution.

— Theodore From