Neo-Nazi rally in L.A.; Iceland’s volcano; going after Goldman Sachs

Fighting hate

Re “White supremacist rally draws violent protesters,” April 18

It’s hard to buy that a display of pure ignorant hatred like Saturday’s neo-Nazi rally is preserving our freedom.

It’s one thing to express views about an actual right, issue or law; it’s another to march in honor of wiping other races and religions off the planet.

If marching in anger to no end but violence is considered free speech, perhaps we should rally in support of throwing these neo-Nazis into the Icelandic volcano? At least we’d make the best of a natural disaster.

Nora Zelevansky
Los Angeles

As one of the organizers of the anti-Nazi protest, I was appalled by The Times’ report.

We believe that at least 2,000 anti-Nazi protesters showed up on the sidewalk and lawn of City Hall to denounce the Nazis and their hateful message.

Were the anti-Nazi protesters angry? Of course. Were they militant in expressing their anger? You bet. But were they “violent” and were they a “mob”? Absolutely not!

That a tiny fraction of protesters, contrary to what organizers had urged, beat up two men in no way turned the counter-protest into a “violent counter-protest,” nor did it turn 2,000 peaceful counter-protesters into a “mob.”

I was proud of the people of Los Angeles for coming together to confront the Nazis. I can only wonder how history might have been different if the German people and press had taken the Nazis seriously earlier in their rise to power.

James Lafferty
Los Angeles
The writer is executive director, National Lawyers Guild/L.A.

The SEC versus Goldman Sachs

Re “SEC targets Goldman Sachs with fraud suit,” April 17

The civil fraud charges filed against Goldman Sachs may generate headlines and be an embarrassment to the company, but they’ll do little to change the way business is done on Wall Street.

Even if the company is forced to pay a few billion dollars in fines, that’s little more than a slap on the wrist to an industry that regularly writes salary and bonus checks in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Until criminal charges are brought against these companies and some of these CEOs are thrown in jail where they belong, business will go on as usual and Wall Street will continue to have the last laugh.

Stephen Bulka
Los Angeles

Re “Fraud case helps Obama,” April 18

You wish. Clearly, the case against Goldman Sachs is a political one, brought solely for political gain.

George W. Carlyle
Newport Beach

More than just counting

Re “The census as scare tactic,” April 15, and " GOP takes on census critics,” April 14

The problem with discussions of “the census” is that there are two of them.

I have filled out both. One is short and simply asks, “Who is living in your house?”; the other (the American Community Survey) is long and detailed and could be considered invasive by some.

If I were somebody who was suspicious of “big government,” my teeth would really be set on edge by the ACS.

A. Victor Stern
Long Beach

When volcanoes do bad things

Re “In Europe, travelers’ plans still turn to ashes,” April 18

I’ve read a lot about the effect on air travel of the Iceland volcanic eruption, but I have yet to see a dateline from Iceland.

How are the Icelanders coping? What sort of devastation is taking place there? Reading the news reports, one might conclude that Iceland is an uninhabited island.

Harrison Stephens

If we are really committed to “saving the Earth” and passing a global cap-and-trade agreement, how do we handle the egregious crimes committed this week by Iceland?

Shouldn’t Icelanders take responsibility for the filth they are belching into our atmosphere?

While we are on the subject, why haven’t I heard more reporters giving the real dirt on this event — how much carbon is the volcano emitting?

I’ll bet it is releasing more carbon in a month than the entire population of the planet does in a year.

Will we survive? It seems to me someone really should pass a law.

Konrad Lau
Sedro-Woolley, Wash.

When is the U.S. government going to help its own citizens?

My partner and I are stuck in London.

The U.S. Embassy tells us to hang tight. How can you when you are running out of money and no one will help?

It’s amazing that our government helps everybody and their mother but refuses to help stranded Americans.

Aaron Smith
San Diego

China’s profitable yuan

Re “Let the yuan be,” Opinion, April 15

Dan Griswold argues that China’s pegged yuan poses no problems for the United States because since 2005, U.S. exports to China have increased some 69% — about $28 billion.

Griswold neglects to report that China’s exports to the United States have increased some $53 billion over the same period, and China’s sales to the United States exceed its purchases by a 4-1 margin. It enjoys a $227-billion trade surplus with the United States. That imbalance costs Americans millions of jobs.

China is the fastest-growing economy in the world, and it needs U.S. technology to modernize. Chinese purchases from U.S. businesses will grow under any circumstances, but U.S. exports to China would be much larger and U.S. imports somewhat smaller if China let the value of its currency be determined by market forces, as other major trading nations do.

Advocates of currency reform merely want free trade in goods to accompany free trade in currency.

Peter Morici
College Park, Md.
The writer is a professor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland.

Doing something about bags

Re “Paper or plastic or neither,” Editorial, April 16

Kudos for recognizing that single-use shopping bags wreak havoc on our environment and taxpayers’ pocketbooks.

But your suggestion to place fees on their use rather than an outright ban is a political nonstarter in Sacramento. The notion of an added “consumer tax” has become kryptonite to legislators in the current economic climate.

So rather than do nothing, or hope that every retailer is as enlightened as IKEA, Assembly member Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) has taken a bold step, introducing Assembly Bill 1998 to end our state’s addiction to single-use plastic bags.

San Francisco has banned them for several years and residents seem to be coping just fine. Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties recently announced they were moving forward with a ban. There is no reason the entire state can’t do the same.

As far as dog poop goes, I suggest reusing those pesky plastic bags that arrive on our doorsteps every morning to wrap The Times.

Kirsten James
Santa Monica
The writer is water quality director for Heal the Bay, which is sponsoring AB 1998.

Several California companies make biodegradable bags. Let’s replace plastic and paper with these. Charge for the difference in cost, if necessary.

People could still reuse them as garbage bags or pooper scoopers.

Shirley Powell
San Luis Obispo