The Economic Squeeze Tightens

Could our economy be undergoing a reality check? Is the stock market finally undergoing a correction? Has anyone ever considered at what point we all have consumed enough? There is an oversupply of goods in almost all areas. Only those who have not enjoyed the "economic boom" are still in need of many consumer goods. Many of these people have the highest credit card debt and are now subject to the greatest likelihood of downsizing and unemployment. They also just happen to be in the 15% and 10% tax brackets that will get next to nothing in Bush's great tax cut!

Check out all those who have incomes of $50,000 and under -- look at the percentages, there are a lot of us. We have felt inflation for a long time in spite of government and media ignorance over the years. Look at the amount of credit card debt, the number of bankruptcies, farm foreclosures and small business failures across the country. Weigh these numbers against those who have incomes in the top 5 to 10% and this will explain where "consumer confidence" has gone. Low wage, debt-ridden, "temps" without benefits and downsized people cannot continue to support the economy through consumerism. To have continuous growth in consumer spending is also unrealistic. There is a saturation point, especially for those with non-expendable incomes. Higher unemployment may signal to stockholders that their excessively paid CEO's are cutting costs, but where will the consumers of the future come from?

Tax cuts for those with the highest incomes will not increase consumption to any great degree. The media has continually focused on how great the economy has been, and on the growing number of investors with a share in the wealth. ... Take a look at all the small businesses that are, or have, closed due to the super-discount stores like Walmart. Look at the suicide rate of small farmers put to ruin by agribusiness. Once your misleading "rosy picture" of the minority is eliminated, there will be no surprise at the current economic downturn and lack of consumer confidence! The reality is lack of ability of consumers to continue to support and economy that is no longer supporting them. This has not occurred overnight, it should not be a surprise. Our government representatives have placed themselves in the top income brackets, allowed themselves to be bought and paid for, and can no longer relate to those they pledged to represent. The media is controlled in its presentations by monopolies that want the public to believe all is well so we can continue to buy their advertisers' products.

McCall Idaho

Reinvent Learning

John Buell takes a giant step beyond the mainstream in his "Alternative Perspectives on School Violence" [5/1/01 PP] Hostility to the deeper inherent violence in American social ideals demands widespread debate beyond that of just that of guns in schools. A good place to start that analysis is in the schools themselves. We can't hope to have a non-violent society as long as the schools imbue future citizens with the values of self-interest, survival of the fittest, greed and materialism. Young people cannot be expected to become creative members of society as long as they are shut away from family, community, society and nature in schools during the most formative years of their lives.

The resentment of this imprisonment in schools is deeper than the occasional acts of violence that break through the veneer. One study of student attitudes toward school shows that by the 4th grade only 27% of the children believe that the school cares about them. By the 12th grade only 4% feel they belong in school. It is hardly surprising that when 96% of the future citizens are alienated by schools that 0.001% break through with violence.

Our current school system was installed in the 1870s by Horrace Mann and a few supporters with the specific aim or transforming an agrarian society to an industrial one. The national network of colleges of education and normal schools was to produce social engineers who would then train willing workers for a corporate/factory/industrial system. It worked well. American workers produced the highest level of material wealth ever known. The fact that the tools of production and the wealth was concentrated in a few elite owners is another topic.

Today the Industrial Age has passed. Only some 4% of American workers are now on assembly lines. America is moving into the Information Age. But the school system still imbues future citizens with the values and lifestyle of the factory whistle and the company boss. As every page of The Progressive Populist tells us, "people are more important than corporations, and the government should be of the people, by the people and for the people." If this is to happen we have to reinvent the way young people learn, the way they are introduced into society, and the importance of family and community in their lives.

Fortunately this is happening. Learning Circle, Homeschooling, Learning Communties and other self-learning programs are growing at a phenomenal rate outside of the government-controlled school system. Perhaps it is time that at least the progressive media gave some attention to this reinvention of learning.

Rangeley, Maine

Stop Moaning -- Stand Up

The American Revolution of '76 took hold when the colonists saw that they were not represented in the British Parliament.

It is common knowledge that the great majority of the people no longer have more than a few fair legislators to fulfill their vital needs.

I subscribe to The Nation, The Progressive, The Washington Letter and give support to other organizations concerned with civil rights, human rights etc. All the above reflect the complaints and gripes to the present administration. By now we know that "we the people" have been shafted.

My experience as a union organizer and as a tenant advocate has revealed that many people have forgotten how to stand up, for what they rightfully deserve and so Reagan was easily able to fire 12,000 workers without an audible protest. Our trade unions seemed to run out of courage. In France there would have been a general strike.

There has to be a better alternative than our two major political parties and the no-win Nader Greens.

It is time to stop moaning. We must find ways to combat corporate money with creative action of the American people. Perhaps a people's summit ... another continental congress or other organizing methods that readers of your publication can inspire.

Dover, N.J.

Make our own movement

Yes, I still think about him, too. Like a lottery player imagining what he might do with his millions, I fantasize about how things would be if Ralph Nader were in office right now. To think we could have had him ...

But he isn't our president because we didn't do our job. We're a bunch of yakkers, dinner conversationalists. We should have mobilized.

As late as September, a disheartening number of people did not know Nader was running. Shameful! Younger voters didn't even know who he was. And then there were all those people in November, kindly people, who would look at one of those Green flyers and say, "You know, if I thought he'd win, I'd vote for him." I hate that line.

News about Nader was never at my fingertips -- I had to send away for it. It wasn't until after the election, when I received my tape of the Seattle rally, that I finally saw what a wonderful platform the Greens had constructed. The pieces all fit in a commonsense, realistic plan that no one in his right mind could argue against. If only more people had known.

Our fault! Our most grievous fault!

What we should have done, and what we MUST do the next time, is get the information out. I now realize that news does not travel; it is directed by people with agendas. What a revelation it was to have two-thirds of my informative letters to the local paper ignored. (The guy who vents his outrage of abortions gets a letter in once a month. Nader stuff was too radical to qualify.) And it was so frustrating to hear no reference to Nader on network news, week after week -- until those last days of proclaiming, "Don't throw your vote away." And the worst was exclusion from the debates, potentially the best way for voters to understand the candidates. We were railroaded. Squelched.

We can't forget these things next time. We can't stand around yelling like a gang of kids down the street. We have to go on the march, like ants, with one purpose, a unified intention, and cover every inch, every porch, every library. Every single voter must know there is a choice, a people's movement, and that they are voting along with millions who have a sense of the common good, televised or not.

Can a mere 3% of the population reach the other 97% without the help of conventional media? Can you plant a garden without a tiller? Can you cross the country without a motor? It takes dedication and actual sweat and sore muscles, not just flapping jaws, but by Granny it can be done. And we're the ones who are going to have to do it.

I wouldn't blame Ralph if he decides not to put himself through campaigning again. As a lifelong servant to us all, he is already the epitome of a true leader. Most especially he is a teacher, showing us what to do through example, at a time when we have a desperate need to be awakened and re-taught. He is an American hero.

Toronto, Ohio

No Regrets on Nader

H. Rosenfeld's 4/1/01 letter stated that Nader voters "refuse to accept the wrongness of their vote and blame everything, but their folly." How sanctimonious and judgmental can you get! In this country, I thought we still have the freedom to choose for whom we wish to vote? Why do Gore supporters find it impossible to allow me the same right I allow them, which is to vote for the candidate that best represents their vision?

Gore supporters need to understand that no one owes a candidate or party their vote. A vote must be earned by standing for issues important to the voter. As a progressive, I overwhelmingly supported Nader, because he is against the death penalty, NAFTA and the WTO, "Star Wars", the inhumane sanctions and bombings against Iraq, and is for strong campaign finance reform, single-payer universal healthcare, and rehabilitation over incarceration for non-violent drug offenders. How could I possibly vote for Gore/Lieberman who steadfastly hold opposing convictions?

If one must play the blame game, why doesn't Rosenfeld blame Gore's "loss" (he didn't lose, you know) on the corrupt Florida election or the sleazy maneuverings of the Supreme Court? Where is his ire toward the 300,000 Florida Democrats that voted for Bush over Gore, which would have made a 600,000 vote difference? Where is his current froth over the spineless Democrats in D.C. who refuse to fight Bush's extremist agenda or ticket into The White House and are now wavering on the McCain-Feingold bill?

I have absolutely no regrets voting for Ralph Nader and still support him wholeheartedly. The only folly I see in an election is voting for a candidate I do not believe in, because someone else thinks I should so that another candidate might lose

Columbus, Ohio

Something Has to Go -- Why Not Robber Barons?

The phony energy shortage is just another ploy by the new Wall Street and Washington, D.C. Robber Barons to extort billions of dollars from a vulnerable public, as they are already doing in California.

The scenario is the same as the phony '70's oil shortage crisis. A close friend worked for the largest oil company as a computer unloader for incoming oil tankers in Florida. During the entire "shortage," tankers were lined up for months waiting to unload oil. The storage facilities were all crammed full for the entire phony planned crisis!

Today we have the same contrived crisis to:

1. Frighten the public

2. To push for nuclear power (a total environmental horror)

3. To drill in the Arctic Refuge (ecological horror)

4. To raise the price of power to astronomical levels (a possible real killer of the poor and vulnerable).

These Robber Baron Charlatans must understand that their cruel policies can lead to a revolution or massive energy boycotts by the victimized public. I, for one, will be willing to turn off the power, living with cold water, wood heat, candle light, and canned food, and I am 70 years old. I can also walk or ride my bike. But many of the most vulnerable in our society will not survive, if these cruel policies proceed.

The Robber Baron scare tactics only involve vital human services, such as Social Security, welfare for the poor. We still have no national health system for all, as other, more humane countries have for their people. Of industrialized countries, only the USA and South Africa are lacking this vital public service. The authorities will make sure that there will never be a future collapse of the tax-funded profit-driven enriching weapons industry and its Siamese twin, the Pentagon,

The Bonneville Administration has no right to threaten the public with mammoth increases in utility bills. Bonneville was built with tax-payer monies. It is a public utility and should remain so. Pirates should not be allowed to operate it. Will a phony food shortage be the next scare tactic?

Something HAS to go and, hopefully, it will be all of the Robber Barons.

Yours truly,

Bend, Ore.

No confidence in the people

American progressive/leftist activists may prevail against ruthless multi-national corporations.

They may prevail against amoral, corrupt politicians.

But American progressives will never prevail against the great mass of the brainwashed, abysmally ignorant American electorate.

An electorate that chose the likes of Richard Nixon to be the leader of the American people.

An electorate that twice gave the presidency to Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of American reactionaries.

An electorate that consistently elects "public servants" who consistently betray it.

An electorate that has now given the presidency to George W. Bush, a lackey of American plutocracy.

Regardless of what happened in Florida, Bush could never have claimed the presidency if many millions of Americans had not given him their vote.

It has been said that Americans get the sort of government that they deserve. They certainly do.

Richmond Heights, Ohio

Confused and befuddled

I guess since the Republicans are totally in charge it should not be so surprising that we are in a totally hypocritical state. As President Bush is selling his tax cut for the rich, saying that they have paid too much in taxes over the years, Federal Prosecutors are spending millions of tax dollars trying to get Marc Rich for tax evasion from years ago. It seems that HYPOCRITICAL DAYS are here to stay for a long, long time!

Monticello, Ark.

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