Allegations of political bias at Borders unfounded


To the Daily:

As general manager of the downtown Borders store, I would like
to clarify some of the misperceptions discussed in D.C. Lee’s
column, Borders employees, unfit for command (09/27/04). The
true culprit in the initial out-of-stock for “Unfit of
Command” is not Borders Group or my staff, but instead simple
economics — demand outweighed supply. Even before the book
was printed, the title was being promoted by the media. The
publisher had underestimated demand, and the first printing sold
out within several days. While the publisher immediately ran a
second printing, it took almost three weeks for it to go from the
press to the stores.

“Unfit for Command” is not the only title to
experience this. Recently, the bipartisan “9/11 Commission
Report” had similar out-of-stock issues. And we all should
remember the shortages of the Harry Potter titles over the last
several years.

In fact, we received enough requests for the book that we put up
a sign at our information desk explaining its delay. Once it
arrived, we displayed it prominently in various locations in our
front of store, including our best-seller section (where it still
is featured for 30 percent off), our political section and on our
new hardcover table. Contrary to the column’s implications,
our job is to sell books and not political agendas.

Keith Bearup

General Manager, downtown Borders


Oil and gasoline prices are not relevant to college students;
beer prices are


To the Daily:

I thought a recent article on the oil price increase (Oil
prices hit record-high
, 09/29/04) was well written and
informative, but as a bicyclist and proponent of public
transportation it failed to really strike a cord. I think Ann Arbor
and college towns in general are pretty pedestrian friendly, and
gas prices don’t affect a large number of the population. The
turmoil in the Middle East makes oil prices news every day, while
at the same time more attention needs to be paid to another
commodity with an even more outrageous price per barrel —
beer, something that affects every college student.

As stated in your article, the price of a barrel of oil has just
surpassed $50 a barrel whereas, if we look at beer, you are paying
at least $100 a barrel for “low octane” beers such as
Anheiser Busch, Miller and Coors products and well over $200 a
barrel for “high octane” beers like Bell’s and
Rogue. Thus, a barrel of quality beer is over four times more
expensive than a barrel of oil! Because most people don’t buy
beer or oil by the barrel, let us examine the price per gallon; a
gallon of unleaded gasoline hovers around the $2 per gallon mark,
whereas a half-gallon growler of beer costs around $8. So why is
the outlandishly high price of beer not getting any coverage in a
pedestrian-friendly, beer-drinking city, especially because beer
was part of the world economy thousands of years before automobiles
were even invented?

The sad thing is that the United States is home to the top two
hop-producing regions in the world, and is also the native home of
corn (a popular adjunct in macro-brewed lagers), so the only reason
for the exorbitant price of beer is the state and federal
governments’ “sin taxes,” intended to curb
alcohol abuse. These sin taxes do not prevent alcoholism —
they simply hurt the casual beer drinkers who make up the majority.
Sadly, an alcoholic will always be able to buy a cheap beer, but
discerning beer drinkers will not likely pay a small fortune for a
locally brewed beer. This in turn hurts the local economy. We
should learn from Bulgaria and utilize the brewing industry as an
integral part of our economy, not just something to tax into the
ground because a few people abuse it.

Zach Beckwith

LSA junior


Vegan lifestyle a viable alternative to carnivory


To the Daily:

Thank you for your excellent coverage of Paul Shapiro’s
lecture (Animal rights activist shocks with pictures,
09/30/04). The routine cruelty inflicted on animals
raised for food is shocking and unconscionable. I had to lower my
eyes during the screening of “Meet Your Meat,” but as
Shapiro stated, the animals can’t turn away or make their
suffering disappear. Their misery will end only when individuals
begin to reconsider the impact of their daily food choices on the
world around us. Personally, going vegan has given me the peace of
mind of knowing that I am no longer contributing to unnecessary
cruelty. Eating animal products is not necessary in this day and
age. Although we live in an age of agribusiness, it’s also an
age in which delicious, healthy and humane vegan fare is

Julie Rothman

LSA senior


Support the war? Why aren’t you serving yet?


To the Daily:

Wednesday evening, I passed Hill Auditorium, where opposing
clusters of demonstrators vented their opinions in advance of
Michael Moore’s appearance. A young fellow — late
teens, early twenties — rushed toward me and tried to thrust
a pro-administration flyer in my hand.

“Go to Iraq,” I said.

“How do you know I’m not going?” he

“Well, if you do, maybe I’ll respect you.”

We turned and separated.

Actually, what I should have said is, “Why aren’t
you there now? The war’s been going on for more than a year.
That’s plenty of time to volunteer. Drop everything, pick up
a gun and go.”

After dinner, I went back looking for the demonstrator so that
we might continue our argument, but he and the rest of the crowd
had disappeared.

Call me out of touch, but if the Iraq war were so important, Ann
Arbor would be a ghost town. There wouldn’t be a young person
in sight, because everyone would have volunteered to fight the Axis
of Evil. It was that way in my father’s day. There he was, a
15-year-old kid who showed up regularly at the Army’s door,
begging to volunteer to fight against the “Nah-zees.”
And they’d throw him out. And he’d show up again. And
they’d throw him out. Over and over, until Hitler blew his
brains out.

That was then. When privileged young guys — future
academics, businessmen and politicians — tossed their Phi
Beta Kappa keys to kick some fascist butt. You know the kind, what
are now derisively labeled “girly-men,” intellectual
types from places like Massachusetts and New York, who pronounced
it “Nah-zees” like Churchill and went on to save
civilization. I grew up revering guys like that, wishing I had been
born a generation earlier so that I could show my stuff. It was
probably my father’s only disappointment in life, that
he’d been too young to go. So when I met my friends’
fathers who actually fought, like the shrapnel-filled Harvard man
who climbed out of a London hospital bed against orders and dashed
across the continent to rejoin his brothers in North Africa,
I’d be awestruck. Talk about guts. Talk about glamour.

And now what have we got? A campus full of smooth, smart young
people, 80 percent of whom come from the top quintile of family
incomes and who let other young people — poorer, less
educated — do the fighting.

Maybe that young man and his friends will go to Iraq. But if
they really don’t plan to go and still pull the lever for the
administration, may they skulk into the voting booth, baseball caps
pulled down over their heads, Michigan sweatshirts up over their
faces and pray that the souls of more than a thousand dead American
soldiers can’t see them. Only then will they be able to
answer their children’s questions about what they did in the
war with the guilt-free words of Dick Cheney, “I had other

Roy Strickland

The letter writer is the director of the Masters in Urban
Design program at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban

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