Letters, Thursday, September 27th, 2012

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Some home truths about Marxism

I PRESUME from what Steve Colborn wrote (Letters, September 11) he wants me to explain why he is wrong in being some kind of Marxist.

Well, Steve, if you were to put the estimated number of those who were shot trying to escape from Marxist East Berlin in one column and make another column with the number of people trying to escape from the capitalist West Berlin, although I don’t know the exact numbers myself, I think you will find the greater number will be from East Berlin and that pattern from one divided city you will find the world over – from Cuba to China.

Anyone who talks about the equal distribution of wealth is either a fraud or a fathead. There is no such thing. There never has been nor ever will be. You can only have an equal distribution of poverty, not wealth. In a population of 50million, £1million divides into 2p each, which means you will need £50million to provide everyone with £1. So Steve, for your enlightenment, multiply by £50million to get the sum which you think everyone should have.

Then, in your philosophy, how will you solve the problem of those workers who think they are worth more than somebody else? In football, for example, every team plays by the same rules and risks yet I doubt if the players and manager of Hartlepool will get the same as Sunderland’s manager and players and, in the days when Sunderland had shipyards, one group of workers would go on strike for parity of pay with another group and when they were given parity of pay the other group would then go on strike demanding the restoration of the differential.

There is more sense and science in astrology than Marxism, for Marxism is a creed of those who mislead the credulous with a lot of sophistry.

In recent months I’ve read quotes of Mao Zedong in which he said he was perfectly justified in causing the deaths of some 35million Chinese by famine in order to pursue his economic policy. I’ve also read an interview by a Russian woman who moved in the same circles as Bulganin and Khrushchev in which she stated that some 40million died in the USSR.

I’ve no idea as to the truth of those views so, Steve, you can take a census of the corpses in all communist states and you can publish what you discover to be the actual figures and, if you are still a Marxist after that, it means you are either a sadist or a masochist.

J. Young, Alexander Terrace, Fulwell, Sunderland

Law not enforced

MAY I reply to the letter from Peter Graham (Letters, September 20) with answers to his questions.

First let it be said that the disturbing trend of blatant of non-enforcement and highly selective law enforcement has been going on since 1960 ... as I far back as I know.

I believe it is obvious that numerous law enforcement agencies are so compartmentalised in their remits that passing the buck is considered normal. Every law enforcer presumes that law breaking is the remit of some other department.

The UK politicians have ordained that various degrees of criminal activity are dealt with by “specialists” e.g. police, the Serious Fraud Office, Financial Services Authority, the HSE, the HSC, various ombudsmen (with no authority to prosecute wrong- doing.)

Our MPs and council insulate themselves for any responsibility for wrongdoing by appointing consultants for every project .and decision making.

Ron McQuillan

Wonderful ward

I HAVE just been discharged from the Royal Hospital, Ward Bay 4 B26, a very busy ward with a lot of elderly ladies who are quite poorly.

It is very refreshing to hear our young doctors with so much kindness and interest in patients. One of the doctors, Dr Sakir Ahmed, spoke to his patients asking if he could do anymore to help or if they had any questions they wanted answering. Such great interest, his attitude was very reassuring.

The other doctors were the same but I did not get their names. Could I please say a big thank-you for the wonderful work they all do? I would like to mention Paul Young, Trudie Baxter, Cora Yap, John Thomasson, Tracy Walton, not forgetting Carol our tea lady. Sorry for any names I’ve missed out.

Valerie Bird, Shoreswood Drive, Silksworth, Sunderland

Mistaken demand

I HAD the misfortune to receive a letter from Durham County Council demanding payment of a substantial amount in council tax arrears from 2009 or face up to 90 days in prison.

Happily for me I have receipts from this period to show this bill has been paid, but what is frightening is that this is the third time this has happened to us and how can the council just lose large amounts of cash like this?

Ralph Arnold, Parkside Crescent, Seaham

Sewage problem

FOR many years, Seaham Environmental Association has called attention to the presence of untreated sewage in seawater and on beaches at Sunderland (and consequently also at Seaham), something denied by Northumbrian Water (NW) and the Environment Agency (EA).

There are two standards for measurement of seawater pollution – “mandatory” (minimum, and overdue for replacement) and “guideline” (markedly superior).

With “guideline” superior and thus deemed advisable, then “mandatory” must not only be inadequate, but indeed dangerous.

Yet testing is still only to the mandatory standard, and the award of a Blue Flag is to that poor standard.

NW claim to have fitted larger screens, enabling quantities of sewage solids to be sent, by tanker, to Bran Sands, in Yorkshire, there to be processed into pellets and sold for use as farm fertiliser.

Any evidence of visible sewage solids on beaches gives no clue to the undeniable fact that, following separation, huge quantities of liquid sewage are discharged to sea.

Much sewage by-passes treatment when the plant at Hendon is overwhelmed, thus allowing untreated sewage to go straight into the River Wear. Where then? – straight out at the mouth of the River Wear, inevitably with some back on beaches – hence Blue Flag failures.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) relies on the EA for its information. Meanwhile, the EA fails to do anything effective about untreated discharges and the very real need for institution of higher (“Guideline”) standards.

During May to October, the EA tests seawater. But when a test result for one sampling is outstandingly different (a test failure), the EA claims to be allowed to expunge that figure and substitute a “better” figure from an extra test taken 24 or up to 48 hours later.

The European Commission is aware of the deficiencies at Sunderland, but is opposed by Defra, which takes information from the EA (still generally regarded as a “public watchdog”).

This would be laughable were it not so serious.

Harry Clark, Executive vice-president,

Seaham Environmental Association

Bus services

DR Cameron Marshall has put forward the most spurious argument yet in support of the power grab of public transport in Tyne and Wear (Letters, September 20).

In defence of the grab, or the so-called quality contracts, he states that the short-termism of the bus operators by not operating an express service from Doxford to the city centre “is responsible for the reduction of the travelling people using public transport for commuting, shopping and leisure”.

He goes on to say: “The result is a decrease in the footfall in our city centre”.

There are a couple of points that need raising here.

First, Park Lane bus station is, since it opened in 1999, the busiest bus station outside London. It is full of buses run by the bus companies that would not be operating without passengers.

Second, if people don’t want to travel into the city it is because there is nothing to travel in for – it is not the lack of opportunity to travel.

With a poor overall retail offer and a leisure centre in the latter stages of a planned decline and closure, what shopping and leisure is there for people to travel in for?

Hilary Johnson, Washington

Cyclist’s thanks

I FELL of my bike at Blacks Corner and was taken home, together with my bike, by a passing motorist.

Very many thanks to him. I would appreciate it greatly if he would get in touch with me on 0191 536 2066.

Robert Newmark, Woodland Road, Cleadon

Seafront fun

I AM delighted about the upcoming revamp of Seaburn. I have have many happy memories of the coast when it was a decent place to visit, especially the fairground.

I always envied the youth who used to hold on to the pole connected to the dodgems. He used to have an acne-covered face and a tattoo of a eagle on his arm. He was always chatting the lasses up who were swirling around in the dodgems.

He used to think he was a hard case or a movie star like James Dean, but I soon realised you were better off owning a fairground than working on the rides.

Let’s hope that they bring back the donkeys and maybe introduce a fortune teller, similar to what South Shields had. Madam Zeena was her name and she operated from a room in Ocean Road.

However, it doesn’t matter how much they spend on the revamp, the Blue Rinse Brigade will still sit motionless on the promenade staring at passing traffic. And why do they wear top coats in August?

There will still be people visiting who are too mean to buy fish and chips and will bring with them cheese sandwiches which will be too gritty to eat when the sand blows into them.

This never happened to me. My nanny used to bring a wicker picnic basket with a sorts of good food and ginger beer in it. A truly gastronomic delight and we had a spiffing time on my weekends off from boarding school.

Having said all that, I still prefer putting on my plus fours and visiting the countryside.

Mick “The Pen” Brown