Republic at Risk

The time is here for all of us, progressives, conservatives, the indifferent, to face the reality that is before us in our late, great, lamented republic. The wheels have come off. It is over. The experiment begun more than two hundred years ago is at an end. The Cossacks are no longer at the gate, they are in the court-yard killing the wounded. Why is our timid Congress not vigorously opposing these stealers of elections, fascists in judicial robes, the Goebbels clones of electronics and print? I conclude they perceive all too well what has come upon us and hope to avoid the trains to the barbed wire pens by keeping their heads down. Am I overstating? Perhaps. But, can anyone doubt that these people, having seized power, will do whatever it takes to keep it? Some will say that I am unduly pessimistic. I hope some are right. The appointed president rides high in the polls. The media whores anoint him as a peerless war leader, repeating his pious platitudes, ignoring how he and his gang stealthily picks the public pocket with one hand and strokes with the other. Peerless and fearless warrior, indeed. Are we to forget how he scurried about the country in Air Force 1, hiding for a time in a hole in Nebraska, until men of greater resolve persuaded him he must come out? War leader? The war is being run by professionally trained soldiers, not a chuckle-head who failed to stick around for his National Guard obligation. What are we bombing, anyway? Sand dunes and mountains? We are told those folks did not have much infrastructure to begin with. After the Soviets and civil war what is left for us to tear up? But, don't worry. There will be billions of bucks for Brown and Root and others to go in when the smoke clears and put stuff back together.

And what about us? What can we expect as our corporate masters consolidate their control of the country? There will be bolder attacks on the Bill of Rights. More tax cuts for the wealthy. Further control of the universities. More in-breeding in the media. Will The Progressive Populist, The Nation, and like voices of dissent be allowed to continue? Probably. The illusion that the First Amendment is intact must be maintained. If they are to be shut down, it will be covertly. Unaffordable postage rates, problems with newsprint, subtle harassment of contributors.

In the long sweep of history, nations, empires, governments, bloom, flourish, and fade away. I have no idea how long this phase in our national experience, that began after World War II will endure, but, it too, will pass. Nor do I speculate what comes after. My favorite fantasy would be for someone, sometime in the future, to pass my tombstone, and say: "Hey, old man, you got it wrong. Good men did prevail. The Republic stands."

Don Baker
Alvarado Texas

Just Vote No

"How do you know when a politician is lying?" "His lips are moving."

Over and over people seem to be bewildered by the fact that Bush loudly proclaims one thing while doing something else; claiming to be "The Education President" while gutting support for education; listening to him swear that Enron got no help from the administration; watching while Abraham destroys Energy Policy, and proclaiming that we cannot afford one vital program after another while spending billions of dollars in destroying a country which was already destroyed. (How many children could you raise up to Harvard standards for the cost of ONE "Big Blue" daisycutter bomb?)

What people don't understand is that Bush's total political philosophy is informed by two factors; first, that his grandfather Prescott was one of Adolf Hitler's chief financiers; without him and Montague Norman, Hitler would never have come to be the power he was, and so not have been the force behind a lot of problems -- but Bush still apparently believes Fascism to be a good idea (Ashcroft, etc.), and second, the Ronald Reagan Government Program philosophy, which can be summed up as follows: "Appoint avowed enemies of a program to head it; if it survives, it deserved to." Only Bush has carried it to absurd extremes -- extremes Reagan never dared to, because he did not have a Congress of pussycats, as Bush has. And therein lies the problem. What we are supposed to have in this country is a system of checks and balances; what we actually have is a system of checks; bearing signatures like Ken Lay, or officers of Wyeth, Merck, Sharp & Dohme, ADM, Exxon, etc. We have a government of the acquiescent by the corrupt, and I have no simple solution for it except to suggest that if we made it a policy to routinely vote AGAINST anyone who has been in office more than four years, because it takes that long to become fully co-opted, we might get better government!

Edward G. Robles
Franklin N.C.

Who are the Terrorists?  

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, they had maps showing where our military barracks and officers' quarters were. So they could have killed our fighting people. Instead they chose to bomb our ships.

When we dropped atom bombs on Japan in August 1945 we had maps showing the location of their naval bases, their army bases and their air force bases. So we could have dropped the atom bombs on legitimate military targets. Instead we chose to drop the bombs on their cities so as to kill the most innocent civilian women and children. Both nations were successful in their targets.

(If in 1945 we would have dropped the A-bombs on military installations the Japanese are not dumb and they would have gotten the picture that the next one could have been on one of their cities so that their surrender date would have been the same and thousands of lives would have been saved.)

Currently we are wringing our hands about those terrible terrorists. Since August 1945 America has. been the world's biggest terrorist nation.

One of the greatest minds America has ever produced is that of Gore Vidal, cousin to the man who in 2000 received 51 million votes to be president of the United States which is at least a half million more votes than anyone else who has ever run for the office. Gore Vidal learned about Washington politics from the knee of his grandfather who was a United States senator. Currently he is living in Italy. His latest book has been published in Italy and is selling like John Adams. The problem with Vidal is that he tells the truth and as a group Americans are not ready to hear the truth about themselves. American book publishers know this and so far have refused to publish his new book. This enables us to keep our heads buried in the sand. When we do such things as ignore global warming and promote more population for an already overpopulated world then we can think that maybe we can keep our heads buried long enough for us to destroy the world.

Yours truly,
Robert Parnell
Waco, Texas

Letting Corporations Call the Shots 

Let me get this straight. Mr. Bush's economic ëstimulus' plan is set to give a tax rebate in excess of 250 million dollars to Enron, a company that has paid no taxes at all in four of the last five years. Now I know Dubya doesn't really understand the intricacies of the tax codes. But most certainly the multi-millionaires who surround him understand it quite well enough. If we citizens do not get involved, educate ourselves and insist our government distance itself from big money and begin running honest elections, we are in for a very bad time, indeed.

Steve Warren
San Marcos, Texas

Stop Homeowner Tax Break 

Why should renters provide subsidized housing for homeowners with $110 billion per year in the form of mortgage-interest deductions, capital-gains exclusions and property-tax writeoffs?

These tax gimmicks are supported by three powerful special-interest groups: real estate, banking and the homebuilder/contractor.

Families with yearly incomes of more than $100,000 receive the major share of the subsidized housing benefits.

The main economic effect is to inflate the price and size of homes while diverting investment away from other sectors of the economy.

The home-mortgage interest deduction costs renters and the federal government more than twice as much as is spent on low-income housing assistance and low-rent public housing for the elderly and disabled.

There are no limits or restrictions on it -- the deduction applies to ... homes in Aspen and beach compounds in Key West. It's worth about $5,000 a year, on average, to individuals making more than $200,000.

There are no facts that support the real estate industry's contention that these taxing gimmicks promote home ownership.

Canada has the same rate of home ownership as the United States without the benefit of tax subsidies.

Help stop the renter's penalty! Abolish all forms of subsidized housing for homeowners!

John Cassella
Denver, Colo.

Try a Negative Tax

Restructuring income distribution is a first step in improving the capitalist system.

The poverty line in the USA in 2001 was $8,590 for a single person and $17,650 for a family of 4 people.

We get a simple illustration of the unfair distribution of income when we note that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person in the USA was about $27,000.

One idea of what legislation should then be passed is a bill authorizing a negative income tax to work as follows. One person in each family holding a job would receive the difference between his/her wages and the GDP per person, and the family would pay no taxes at all unless the total income of the family exceeded the GDP per family

All persons not incapacitated would be expected to work on a job which would be one on a government-sponsored societal need.

This would be paid for by a progressive tax on all those families whose incomes exceeded the GDP per family.

Economists will have to figure out the taxation schedule, but it should not be far different from present rates because about three-fourths of present GDP would be going to the taxable families.

This structure should ensure a steady demand for goods and services that should mitigate tendencies towards recessions.

Herman Epstein
Wood's Hole, Mass.

Media Alert Project  

Kudos for the useful and informative article by Professor M.L. Bates ["We're Stickin' to the Web" by Margaret Lewis Bates, 2/1/02 TPP].

. I was disappointed that she didn't mention the Media Alert Project website and media alert letter writing and education projects.

During the five years of our existence the subject of drug law reform has gone from "can't touch it" to a "legitimate subject of debate" in America's mainline newspapers' editorial pages. MAP has been no less than an assistant mid-wife to bringing in this radical change. Furthermore, as an resource of objective facts and reporting, pro and con, about the Drug War MAP has no peer. No reporter can write a fully researched article on the Drug War without visiting MAP's website.

There's no better source for help in letter writing on this and related subjects. [In my humble opinion] the success of MAP is the "story behind the story." Anyone, progressive, moderate or conservative, who passionately cares about the never ending drug war should consider visiting MAP website at www.mapinc.org.

Gerald M. Sutliff
Oakland, Calif.

Sue the Biopolluters 

Re: your page 5 story ["Carefree Wonder" by Margot Ford McMillen, 2/15/02 TPP] about the Canadian farmer sued for biopiracy because his canola crop was contaminated by a genetically-altered crop:

Why not counter-sue for biopollution? For failure to contain and control a patented gene? Surely farm states have liability laws to cover such intrusions as a neighbor's bull breaking down a fence to breed your prize heifer. If they don't, how about getting some laws passed banning biopollution?

Judith Nicolson
Wellesly, Mass.

End Nepotism  

Yes to Mr. Tim Barrows [Letters, 2/1/02 TPP], there is somebody listening!

Nepotism ... see www.pro-rev.com/family.html on oligarchy families in America. Congress is full of sons, wives and daughters, husbands, etc., etc.

Article 1, Section 1 [of the Constitution makes] Congress responsible for all laws. Therefore Congress is to blame for Enron, prevention of such cases, oversight responsibility rests on all 535 people.

The blame game I hear from these hearings is sickening.

If this is not terrorism, what is?

There are many kinds of terrorism -- economic, military, government, propaganda, religious (Utah), racism, etc., etc.

The enemy of the worst kind comes from within.

I cannot afford Internet but I can go to the library.

Thank you,
J.E. Smith
Salt Lake City, Utah

Index All Pensions 

I know from personal experience that a lot of people are not under Social Security. My wife was a school employee in southwest Ohio. My daughter in law was a postal employee at one time and wasn't under Social Security.

So it boils down that most tax supported jobs have plush pensions paid for by US taxpayers. So index all new hires in these jobs and let their unions and employees adjust pensions accordingly.

This would take care of it for years and years, at no extra cost to no one.

In another vein, anyone that doesn't believe in separation of church and state, that believes every one should have a right to carry firearms, are against big government, that doesn't believe in women's right to choose, doesn't believe in a living wage, doesn't tolerate unions or the environment movement, and is against paying taxes, move to Afghanistan and see if they are happy. I would be, if they would.

David A. Ausman (retired UAW auto worker, World War II vet)
Felicity, Ohio


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