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Wal-Mart's win at the Supreme Court; real books vs. e-books; drug wars in Colombia and Mexico

June 22, 2011
  • Harvesting: Hilberto Parra, 23, plucks ripe blackberries from the vine in a field new Wray, Ga. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)
Harvesting: Hilberto Parra, 23, plucks ripe blackberries from the vine…

Fields of dreams

Re "Fewer hands in the field," June 19

Americans have put themselves in a quandary, first hiring illegal immigrants to do our labor for us, then wanting to expel them from our country after they settle in our neighborhoods and attend our schools. Most of these illegal immigrants are de facto Americans because they have rooted themselves here and are less familiar with their native countries.

We must pay fair wages to laborers who pick berries, and we must support federal guest-worker programs. Having prisoners, probationers and long-term welfare beneficiaries pick crops is one of many solutions; that, or we must be willing to pay more for our groceries.

Brian Ong


Wal-Mart wins in court

Re "Wal-Mart bias case blocked by high court," June 21

The Supreme Court's decision to block a challenge to Wal-Mart's allegedly discriminatory employment practices was appropriate. As Milton Friedman noted, employers that choose to discriminate do so at a cost to themselves.

If an employer chooses to hire based on factors such as sex that are unrelated to productivity, then the employer stands to lose potential long-term profits. Moreover, firms that are openly discriminating will lose customers who are disdainful of their discrimination.

In this light, it is difficult to believe that Wal-Mart was engaging in sex-based discrimination. To the extent that such discrimination was taking place, the most efficient solution is to let the free market, with its free flow of labor and consumers, punish the corporation accordingly.

Abhi Sivasailam

Colombia, Mo.

Women should stop shopping at Wal-Mart. That's a "class action" Wal-Mart could understand, and one that could not be throttled by the Supreme Court.

Sandra Smith

Yorba Linda

Executives at Wal-Mart have one incentive: to maximize profit. Does a company as large and sophisticated as Wal-Mart really have an unwritten code of discrimination? If so, how has it been so successful?

Class-action lawsuits do little to change company behavior and provide almost no relief to employees. They do, however, make lawyers rich. Until these lawsuits are brought under control, unemployment will remain high.

Daniel J. Boyd

North Hollywood

Feelings about real books

Re "The dead trees society," Opinion, June 17

I couldn't agree more with Sara Barbour's statement, "Books have stories that reach beyond what's written inside."

If I may, I'd like to add three personal reasons we should preserve real books. First is the repeated reminder of my sixth-grade teacher: "Always use your marker to highlight significant sentences in a book assignment." Second is my paperback copy of Graham Greene's "Travels With My Aunt" that I read during a hitchhiking trip from Switzerland through Italy to Greece. Third are the books with my father's scribbles in the margins.

Only a real book can bring back my innocent student days, the fresh breeze of the Aegean Sea or the passionate voice of my father.

Do Huu Chi

Garden Grove

Newly retired, I am preparing to move to a smaller apartment. So I am sorting through my books to decide which I can keep.

This is a painful process. There are the books I have from my childhood, the books written by friends, the few from my first year as a nursing student in 1961, the books that demonstrate the development of my career, and the poetry books and novels that speak to me in a special way.

I reluctantly bought a Kindle. It is a useful "tool" that will allow me to continue my avid reading. However, it will never replace the feel of a book or create tangible memories.

If I lose the Kindle, I will not experience the unique sadness I am feeling today as I release the books I treasure.

Celine Marsden

Los Angeles

Barbour raises important questions about how we engage with the written word, but lamenting the decline of printed books is misplaced. She says that books "communicate with us as readers." I don't disagree, but it is the ideas in the books and not the objects themselves that engage and change us.

My bookshelves are jammed with years of purchases from countless bookstores, and I still patronize many in Los Angeles. I also have a Kindle. Both choices offer me that experience of reading that I can share with others, each in their own unique way.

Scott Burau

Los Angeles

Wrong target

Re "When free trade isn't," Opinion, June 21

Peter Navarro writes: "China uses unfair trade practices to wage war on our manufacturing base."

The simple fact is that the manufacturing base of the United States has been in a steady decline since 1980. There has been no discernable acceleration in that decline since China's emergence as an export powerhouse in 2000.

Indeed, steeper declines occurred during the 1980s and 1990s (blame Japan and Mexico if you like) than during the last decade.

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