In "The Perils of Prosperity" [10/15/00 PP], Wayne O'Leary observes that "the bill for the boom-inspired spending-spree will eventually come due. Americans as individuals are deeper in debt than they've been in decades and the nation itself is maintaining a $30 billion trade deficit ..."
So where has all the money come from? A little understood fact of modern finance is that most of our paper money is created by debt, not debt created by money. Consumer credit, both decried and sought after, is a significant source of the money the rest of us hold in our bank checking accounts. This is clearly explained in the authoritative free 38-page workbook, Modern Money Mechanics ... by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Private banks are "printing" some 90% of US money as they extend credit -- make loans. The remainder is "real" money, the dollars the US Treasury prints. Corporations also get credit from banks but it is aggregate personal credit (debt) which drives the consumer market. It is debt, not savings, which power our economy.
To pay the interest on debt requires that more loans be made. How long can this go on? The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, in its annual report, expresses concern for our private banks. Comptroller John D. Hawke Jr. sent a memo to banks with the OCC report urging higher standards for loans. Private banks are at growing risk of making bad loans.
Two years ago several big banks gave so much credit (money) to the Long Term Capital Management hedge fund that when it collapsed, our Federal Reserve Bank had to intervene: too big to fail! Our trade deficit is supported on the faith exporters have that the paper money we give them for their merchandise will maintain its value. If this faith is lost the consequences may be more than our Federal Reserve Bank can manage. Until then let the good times rip!
ROBERT W. ZIMMERER
Sunday afternoon (Oct. 8) I was able to attend a Nader/LaDuke Rally with my Alliance for Democracy family at the former Boston Gardens (now called the Fleet Center after the bank). I was actually moved to tears by several things during that rally. These weren't tears of frustration for a change, but tears of gratitude and relief that a monumental movement is actually building in this country now!
I was moved by Howard Zinn (author of The People's History of the United States) speaking about real issues, real history, and reminding me that with electing the lesser of two evils, we still have evil! He spoke of when Eugene Debs, opposing WWI, said, "the master class has always brought a war, and the subject class has always fought the war," and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
I was moved to tears by film clips of Seattle where I saw Darth Vader-looking police spraying poison gas on people who were brave enough to just sit there in civil disobedience.
I was moved and very impressed with Winona LaDuke who, seeing things as a mother, compares "you may collect a lot of halloween candy, but that does not mean you may eat it all" to "the earth may have a lot of resources, but that does not mean we may use them all." A Harvard graduate, she lives on a reservation in Minnesota and her children attend school in trailers. She has five children living with her; three are her own, and she said, "believe me, I know how to budget!"
I was moved to tears by Michael Moore, known for using his humor so very well, when he spoke directly to the young citizens who will be able to vote for the first time. When he asked how many of the 12,000 folks there would go home and tell two people something about what we had heard, he inspired me to write to you all. He said he hears all the time, "Oh, Ralph can't win." Not being a college graduate, he asked academics if he was missing some kind of mathematical proof of that. He pointed out that Abe Lincoln won as a third party candidate and George Washington did not belong to any political party.
And of course there was Ralph Nader himself. He spoke from the heart about real issues -- our issues -- things we deserve like living wage, health care, quality education, clean air, clean water, clean elections. Things we don't deserve like corporate welfare and unrestricted corporate globalization. I learned the little known fact that the military does medical research on drugs for diseases like malaria at a fraction of the cost of what the pharmaceutical companies say it costs them to do research, so they can justify price gouging.
Ralph Nader has a history of caring about and protecting "we the people." Bush/Gore have a history of caring about and protecting big corporations and big money and NOT protecting the people. Nader "puts his money where his mouth is." He's for real. Bush/Gore and lots of other government officials are puppets for big money, shills for big corporations. Of course they couldn't let Nader in the debates, it would only reinforce that fact. ...
Granny D, who recently spoke in Indy, believes we're in a revolution. Now, I finally believe it, too, and I'm so proud to be a part of this monumental movement! Let's build strong coalitions. We can participate together locally, and join each others organizations nationally. Let's take our country back!
STEFANIE (STEVIE) MILLER
As I read about Gov. Bush's rant-ings against big government and its control over our lives, I wonder about the alternative, which is bigger and bigger corporations and their total control of our lives and of our economy. Certainly government is the only protection against the enduring power of large corporations, but both candidates receive such huge sums in campaign financing from the large corporations that they can hardly make the point. Or, maybe Gore will have the courage to say it before the campaign is over.
What power do we have to stop the growth and power grab of the corporations? I recently viewed a rerun of Ghandi on PBS, followed by their series on non-violence. It struck me that this is the ideal instrument for resistance. If a national one-day strike of working people were to take place, as Ghandi did against the British in India, it would demonstrate the power of the people, and their disgust with campaign finances, merger of corporations, the World Trade Organization, etc., and it would show the politicians where we stand.
A movement of this sort could be organized by a coalition of the labor unions and progressive organizations and could be very effective. Feedback and forwarding is appreciated.
Lake Hill, NY
On the whole I am impressed with The Progressive Populist ... I do not agree, however, with promoting the Nader candidacy at this time.
It is extremely important that the Republican Party which dominates all the important news media and main TV stations lose control of Congress and the White House.
Nader will take votes from the Democrats only and can get Bush elected.
A liberal party must work in the states only until they acquire national significance -- I mean for state offices only.
If the pro-Nader forces want to build up the Green Party, I would suggest they a) run candidates for various state legislatures and b) run candidates for Congress where Republican incumbents are running without opposition, as in some areas in Colorado and Florida. They could have a real impact in those areas.
As useful as it ever was:
If not us, who?
If not now, when?
ROBERT C. SOMMER
New York, N.Y.
Thank Goddess for Molly Ivin's ingenious voting strategy which is for anyone who thinks "A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush!" Instead of voting our fears instead of our hopes (voting for Gore instead of Nader) we can actually vote for Nader without "voting" for Bush! Here's how!
Remember that presidents are elected by the grand total of each individual state's subtotal of electoral votes -- which result from the most popular votes cast in each state. How you vote in your state doesn't affect the electoral or popular votes tallied in other individual states.
Watch the election returns on TV and wait until late on election day to vote when most of the votes have been cast -- and after you know for sure who your state will choose.
If your state will choose Bush, he will get all of your state's electoral votes -- so you won't make things any worse by casting your popular vote for Nader! On the other hand, if your state will choose Gore, you can still cast your popular vote for Nader and not hurt Gore's chances -- since Gore will get all of your state's electoral votes!
Santa Cruz, Calif.
Editor's Note: Most election-day exit polls are not released until after the polls have closed, so you might have to rely on polls leading up to election day.
I'm telling you, this progressive pessimism is killing me! Quit yer whinin' and go do the Deep Democracy that our man is telling us to do! This is a golden opportunity. We can't let Nader get away. We can't give up on rounding up that silent majority who are so disgusted with politics they don't even bother to vote.
I don't know about you all, but I'm writing letters to the editor of my local paper about Nader, because that's practically the only information this area is getting about him. He spoke 20 miles from my home, and there wasn't a peep about it in the paper. Many people here still don't even know he's running! It's disgusting how unfair campaign coverage is, another example of the breakdown in the checks and balances we used to have before corporations became such mighty consumer entities.
We just have to combat it ourselves, get the information out to the people who, if they only knew, would rush to vote for him. We have to work the magic. In every conventional, conservative, mainstream spot you can think of, post or publish the VoteNader.org web site, Project VoteSmart's web site [www.vote-smart.org], Ralph Core's phone number [213-747-6345] to order videos of Nader's speeches, and the address of the co-chairmen of the debates. We can work the system. Democracy is ours, right?
And don't you dare "throw your vote away" to something you don't believe in! Where is your own sense of integrity? Work instead with all your might to roust the sleepers and get them to vote with you for honor, for the end of political bribery, for fairness, for the Earth. Get up! Go out! Let's do it!
I would like to thank Ray Teeple of Davenport, Iowa [Letters 10/1/00 PP] for reminding me what a great President Harry Truman truly was. I was 14 when Truman ordered atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Mr. Teeple disapproves of this action, why, I have no idea. Perhaps Mr. Teeple would have preferred tens or hundreds of thousands more American men (and even more Japanese) to die, in a horribly prolonged war, rather than a comparatively small number in the atomic zone. My thanks to Harry Truman. Because of his gutsy decisions, WWII was over by the time I got to draft age.
Thanks to his choice of George Marshall, Europe recovered much faster than might have been the case. Thanks to his good judgment, the US did not plant the seeds of another war by seeking vengeance on our defeated enemies. The Marshall Plan was a great humanitarian idea, worthy of a great president.
While I did serve during the Korean War, it was a comparatively limited engagement. I'm tremendously grateful Henry Wallace never became President. The benefits from his good ideas weren't worth the price we would have paid for his bad ideas. He would have been a disaster.
Harper's Index reports "Amount of the $5 billion that Exxon was ordered to pay in punitive damages in 1994 for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill that it has paid: 0.
Estimated amount that Exxon has earned by investing this money in the meantime: $5 billion.
So wha'sup with this?
Perplexed in Wimberley
PHILIP H. COE
Editor's Note: The National Association of Attorneys General in 1999 estimated that each year Exxon delays payment of its obligation it earns an estimated $400 million from the difference between the 6% statutory interest rate on judgments and the company's internal rate of return of about 14%. The US Supreme Court recently denied an appeal by Exxon, but a spokesman said the company will pursue other issues on appeal.
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