Not long before taking cyanide to avoid his public hanging, Hermann Goering observed that it is trivial to manipulate large masses of people to do whatever you want. One simply needs the will for such manipulation and appropriate propaganda.

Not long before taking cyanide to avoid his public hanging, Hermann Goering observed that it is trivial to manipulate large masses of people to do whatever you want. One simply needs the will for such manipulation and appropriate propaganda.

During Reagan's presidency, he and his cohorts manipulated most Americans into accepting economic policies that turned out to be disastrous, under the aegis of "trickle-down economics." By the end of his tenure, it became very clear exactly what "trickled down." It is worth observing that those policies have not abated up through the present day, but only grown worse.

Most recently, those in the Bush 43 administration manipulated nearly the entire United States population into supporting an illegal, unilateral war of aggression against Iraq that has left 1.3 million Iraqis dead and provided billions of dollars' profit for Bechtel, Halliburton, Lockheed-Martin, General Dynamics, Parsons, Fluor, Perini, ExxonMobil, Blackwater and many others.

I cite these few examples in order to make very clear how widespread the efforts of the few to manipulate the many are. It is an ongoing fact of life that can only be countered if people become clearly aware of the threat. This threat also exists at the local level.

In the recent Ashland election, a group calling themselves the League of Ashland Voters manipulated the public to throw out a city councilor with a solid record of supporting social and environmental responsibility and often offering very critical evaluation of development plans, and replacing him with a planning commissioner whose record indicates he will rubberstamp any development proposal that comes before him. LAV did the same thing last election, ejecting Cate Hartzell, a councilor with a similar set of values.

It is not just LAV that is involved in this particular bloc, but also most of the Mount Ashland Association and others. These people often characterize themselves as representing the "business community" and being "pro-development." For shorthand, let us call all these like-minded people the "ubermensch." They are extremely aggressive and want to run Ashland. It is important to make distinctions here, and sort out who is who. To begin, the ubermensch certainly do not include all those doing business in Ashland. Nor are "business" or "pro-development" the co-opting positive adjectives they intend.

Al Capone was a businessman, actually quite a good one, with very diversified interests. And our recent experiences with the Federal Reserve and Wall Street should have disabused anyone of the laissez-faire notion that "market forces" are the only necessary cure for malfeasance and immoral exploitation. The tragic havoc wrought by multinationals in countries all over the world should also make this clear.

So each business and/or development project must be evaluated on its own merits, on the basis of a thorough and critical evaluation of the consequences.

I hope the Ashland population, and the City Council in particular, keep these moral criteria in mind.

Aaron Corbet

Ashland