Dear Corporate America -- I have had it with you. In light of the most recent display of greed and deception, (i.e., American Airlines), I conclude that until you prove any different, I am lumping all of you immoral, lying, old, soft, balding white men in one category: The enemy.
The irony: your gluttonous goals have done you in, and you don't even know it. Your nation of $7-an-hour service positions has created a nation of $7-an-hour consumers, who cannot afford to purchase what you sell. The great experiment in democratic capitalism, as it was conducted in our country, has been infected, corrupted and killed by egomaniacal greed-machines engaged in creeping and catastrophic subterfuge.
As an American, I have puzzled over why so many nations dislike my country and me. I realize that it is a combination of influences. However, when I see what Enron, WorldCom, American Airlines and other big corporate entities have attempted to do here within our own borders, where there exist laws and guidelines as well as a watchful media, I am certain that corporate America is running amok in other countries.
At the very least, consider yourself warned. I foresee class warfare.
Stars Burning Out -- Pity the poor celebrities who opposed the war in Iraq ("Play Ball," 4/17/03). To the chagrin of the anti-warriors, the war to topple Saddam's regime has turned out quite well for the coalition forces, and for those in Iraq finally free of his terror. Now these celebrities find there are consequences for speaking out. Tim Robbins and his paramour, Susan Sarandon, are losing engagements. The Dixie Chicks' feathers are being ruffled by erstwhile irate listeners. And the approval ratings of TV's fictional West Wing pale in comparison to Martin Sheen's real-life counterpart.
The First Amendment protects loudmouths from governmental intrusion into free speech, but not from public wrath over criticizing our country in times of war. If proof is needed, just ask Jane Fonda, who discovered that even during the most controversial conflict since the Civil War, the public is slow to forgive those who protest a war at the same time our warriors are giving their lives.
Free Country, Free Race -- The organizers of the Bloomsday race are offering military personnel a break on their entry fees. I think this is a nice gesture, to a point. If they really appreciate the time these men and women gave to their country, I would waive the entry fee entirely. To me, this would say to them that we really appreciated their commitment to keep peace at home and in the world.
Remember, they were willing to give their lives so we can have an event like Bloomsday.
Too Negative -- I think it is great that someone is writing stories about big changes in Spokane. Who knew that Spokane could do what it is doing? Spokane people don't do well with change, which is sad; they don't know what a good thing they have. Seems that there's always something slowing down Spokane, whether it is the mayor or city council, high taxes and rent or the media.
I think the media can be the biggest problem or the best thing for Spokane. For instance, when picking up this week's Inlander (4/24/03), I was very disappointed by the cover showing "Empty Spaces," and wonder what kind of message that sends to the people of Spokane and future developers? To me it says, "Wow, there is nothing going on downtown -- guess I won't go there." How wonderful would it have been to see "Spokane Thriving."
The articles inside were great, but they only touched on new big business. I always wonder why they don't touch on the little guys -- the small businesses and what they offer to Spokane, what they are doing to help Spokane grow. I wonder if the editors really leave their office and walk around downtown Spokane to see what is happening and all the small business owners trying to make it. Those risk-takers are the foundation. If it weren't for them being adventurous and risky, with everything to lose, there would be no revival.
Making a Grand Entrance -- Spokane is a beautiful and magnificent area. So what leads from that to limited vitality and public cynicism about Spokane? Dave Hamer's "Fewer Studies, More Action" in last week's "Empty Spaces" article (4/24/03), is right that an embarrassing entrance to the city is part of the problem.
Right now, the major entrance to the city from I-90 onto Division Street offers an uninspiring promotion of the city's identity. Instead of a safe and attractive landscaped boulevard, the view is one of car and truck rental lots, panhandlers with signs and a circling flock of seagulls. An aging pink hamburger stand may be a landmark in some folks' minds, but visually it is far from attractive.
What we can enjoy are the landmark buildings of the First Covenant and St. John's Lutheran churches. Each Saturday and Wednesday summer morning, the Spokane Farmers' Market takes up its activities in the First Covenant parking lot. These attractive and pedestrian-friendly features should be enhanced.
Landscaping with planters, shrubs, ground cover, water elements, etc. along the off-ramps and near the churches would go a long way toward creating an attractive, colorful entrance into downtown Spokane.
Publication date: 05/01/03