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From the week of November 23, 2000

Gas Pains

We want to pump you up! I know vertical integration is different from monopoly. Or is it? Still, since the feds have had our eyes directed at Microsoft, maybe we've not noticed the oil-company convenience stores that have sprung up on every street corner over the past ten years. I've wondered how this can be, since the good ol' boys in the oil patch have been singing the blues about oil prices and bein' broke. Bob Burtman's "Paying the Price," in the November 9 issue, gives us an idea of what has been happening.

Harry Spetnagel
via the Internet

Taking stock: Almost all of the oil companies mentioned are now owned offshore. Back when some were American owned and operated, they still engaged in gouge-the-dealer games as far back as the '50s, so my father tells me. "They want your wallet" (?) Of course they do! Cutting the dealer out of the picture is nothing new -- check out the travel industry and the airlines emasculating travel agencies. This happens in many industries. I'm not saying this is right, but as they squeeze them out, airline profits go higher: less overhead, less expense, less commission. I wish the current knife fight between dealers and oil companies showed up in stock values, but it doesn't. Somebody is making a pile of money, and it ain't me. (I'm a BP shareholder.) You have to be as aggressive as an alligator in business anymore.

Roger Fulton
Portland


Declaration of Independents

For crying out loud: While there are bound to be conflicts as the LoDo or St. Charles (which is much more original) area transforms itself from an abandoned-warehouse district into a real neighborhood (T.R. Witcher's "The F-Stops Here," November 9), I hope the new residents will keep in mind that diversity is what makes a neighborhood and, ultimately, a city great.

The area is what it is today because independent businesses, such as F-Stop, and independent-minded people make it interesting. Back in the '80s, one of the first businesses to open there was a nightclub, Rock Island. The tradition that began there has continued with the rebirth of old businesses and the arrival of new ones. One need travel no further than the 16th Street Mall to see what the city center will look like if left to Starbucks, Nike, Barnes & Noble and others who wish to impose the mind-numbing sameness of the suburbs on the city's center -- empty storefronts and empty streets.

In dismissing F-Stop and its habitués, the residents of LoDo have made their neighborhood a poorer place. Let's hope that the business that replaces it isn't another Gap or Chipotle Grill and that the people who frequent it are as diverse as those who enjoyed F-Stop. Finally, we should hope for all of our sakes that the residents of LoDo who complained the loudest complained because F-Stop was too loud -- and not because some of the patrons happened to be black.

Jonathan Staufer
Vail


Growing Resentment

Native intelligence: After reading the letters in your November 16 issue, I believe I have a simple, three-part solution to all of the metro area's problems:

1) No one moving into a neighborhood should be allowed to complain about any activities of any business already established in the neighborhood (meaning anything from music to airplanes).

2) An arbitrary date should be set and then, if you, or at least one of your parents, didn't live here on that date, you must leave the state immediately. Personally, I favor 1950, but I suppose 1960 would be a workable compromise.

3) There should be immediate military support and arms for prairie dogs.

Let's do this and, you know, see what happens!

Ron Wells
Lakewood

A capital idea: In answer to your letter in the November 16 Westword, Mr. Cassella, have you been asleep for the past twenty years, or what?

Communism failed. It failed! The stupid, childish, paranoiac "worker" vs. "capitalist" non-argument has been exposed for just what it is: a straw man. Hatred of the "evil upper classes" is, and always has been, simply a device to get peoples' minds off the despotic intent of those who would seize power for their own ends. The truth is that Communism/Socialism (your attempts to dignify the philosophy you espouse by calling it "democracy" are very transparent) will not work, because the philosophy is based on a set of completely false assumptions -- not to mention a naive denial of basic human nature. And for every excess that capitalism produces, Communism/Socialism produces at least two. True, both systems inevitably result in some people becoming obscenely wealthy. The difference, however, is that under Communism and Socialism, your precious "worker" is always poor, and the ones who get filthy rich are the inevitable party elite -- a situation that will exist under any Marxist system as long as human nature remains unchanged. At least under capitalism (which, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, might be called the worst economic system possible -- except for all the others), the worker who is industrious and willing to work has a chance of bettering himself and gaining access to the "upper classes" that you so despise.

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