Don't Write Off Greens

As a proud subscriber to The Progressive Populist, I appreciate that this publication is a rare source of non-corporately filtered news and analysis on the real issues of the day. I also acknowledge this publication's commitment to reclaiming our country from the corporate ruling elite and advocating for policies which increase democracy.

But your exhortation that the efforts and votes of progressives should be spent in an attempt to "returning the Democratic Party to its populist roots" (4/01/02 Editorial "United We Stand") demonstrates a surprising confusion regarding the history of the progressive movement in this country.

Virtually every significant progressive gain in American history was originally proposed by an alternative "third" party (abolition of slavery, women's right to vote, 40 hour work week, unemployment insurance, worker's compensation, minimum wage, pure food and drug laws, abolition of child labor). When first proposed, these ideas were considered naïve idealism at best and were categorically rejected by the ruling elite of both major parties. Only when these earlier alternative parties earned 10-15% of the vote did these proposals become law. Progressive policies like universal health care, publicly funded elections, an end to corporate managed trade, and a living wage will all only be accomplished when GP earns 10-15% of the vote.

Lastly, you correctly urge progressives to support adoption of instant runoff voting as a meaningful electoral reform. (Check out the Center for Voting & Democracy at www.fairvote.org). But please note that in every jurisdiction where this reform is being seriously considered, there is an alternative party threatening the existing power structure: Green Party in San Francisco, Progressive Party in Vermont, Alaska Independent Party in Alaska.

Stated simply, there is a broadening and deepening democracy movement in this country and across the globe. The people are rising in open and growing rebellion. The Green Party is not "the movement," but it does represent its electoral arm. As such the Green Party is getting larger, stronger and better organized with every election cycle.

Whether you were formally a Democrat, a Republican, or never involved in electoral politics, you are welcome in the Green Party.

David Cobb
Houston, Texas
General Counsel, Green Party of the United States (www.gpus.org)

Nader Voters: Don't Complain

Thank you for your editorial in the 4/1/02 edition. Finally someone is saying what thinking people should have realized before the 2000 elections: A vote for Nader was a vote for Bush.

I listen to people now that voted for Nader saying they were voting their conscious and would do no different today. I hope that's not true, because these very same people are crying about everything Bush does and rightly so.

I am beginning to feel though, that it is much like the old saw that if you didn't vote don't complain. If you voted for Nader you might have well not bothered to vote.

I read an article in your paper where Nader was critical of the press asking him about his role in the Bush victory by saying something to the effect of "imagine the arrogance of them asking that question." I can't imagine the arrogance that Nader displays by not admitting that he helped to put possibly one of the most dangerous presidents we have ever had into office.

His answer is to continue as usual rather than trying to fix the problem in the next election cycle.

There has to come a time when we as "progressives" have to realize that we will never get a candidate that mirrors completely our view into the Oval Office nor will there ever be a member of the far right elected. So let's work to put the person there that at least mirrors most of our ideals.

So if you voted for Nader please don't complain. Read the papers and see what you have helped to cause and remember it next election.

Richard Dupuis
Wilder Vt.

Try Democracy

The headline in my local daily was, "Ag business outlook is dim." So what's new?

Remember when 160 acres were adequate for a farm family? I do not believe this was an economic anomaly. I believe this kind of thing can happen again.

Even ag economists know damned well what a family farm is not. It is not two brothers incorporating into an enterprise netting one million a year.

Supply and demand are always manipulated. If they can be manipulated to favor big bigger, they can be manipulated to favor small smaller. Economies of scale collided long ago with the law of diminishing returns.

True, the American Dream of excessive wealth for each is what drives our socio-economic pathology. It now affects the world and the future.

The numbers of the poor and impaired exploded. Terrorism was the order of the day.

The United States of America must be the designated problem solver here; but it cannot happen until political power is restored to the people. Aren't we supposed to be a democratic republic? That was the vision of Jefferson and Madison.

Walter O. Jones
Lake Crystal, Minn.

Health Care Facts

Opponents of universal health insurance are quick to point out the threat of expensive, cumbersome bureaucracy inherent in any governmental program.

Canada's plan is the best known and it is held up as a horrible example. Well, we spend over twice as much per capita compared to them. They spend 10% of GDP, we spend 15%. They should spend considerably more to get the facilities and personnel that is needed. We are starting to get dangerous personnel shortages here, largely due to government and insurance company under payment. There is a mass of misinformation spread around here as well as in Canada. One Conrad Black, a government hater, owns two-thirds of the newspapers there.

Per capita cost per year for physicians' billing and office expense is $102 [in Canada], here it's $430 (US dollars). For hospitals it's $68 there, $372 here. When Blue Cross was generally the only game in town, it paid out 94% of premiums in benefits. Now the big insurance companies and HMOs whine if they pay out 80%. The overhead for larger group plans runs 15%, for individual plans it will go to 40% and more.

Repeated studies show little difference in outcomes for care. We are ranked 37th by the World Health Organization mainly by the lack of access for a large part of our population.

Tying access to health care to your job is totally irrational. Rationing care on the basis of ability to pay instead of need is barbaric. We may have the best care in the world IF you have the money, live in the right place and are medically sophisticated. Otherwise, you're out of luck.

Frederick C Sage
(retired health care administrator)
Boulder, Colo.

Fuel Cell Tailpipe Dreams

News of the fuel cell car keeps reappearing in the media. Think of the benefits it would bring clean air to breathe, possibilities for cheaper fuel, less damage to the environment, some Islamic countries would not have to contend with us setting foot on their holy soil and they could go back to peacefully riding their camels again.

But on the other hand think of the problems it would bring to us. Would the changes in material production, shifting of labor be too much of a blow to the sacrosanct controlled market? Then too how could we give the hydrogen fuel the artificial scarcity that we give some other products and services, with water being so plentiful? If the production of this fuel became so simplistic, how would we keep the same rich people rich?

Some people might be wondering if the government or industry would actually start a crash program for this car's production. Considering the above problems I'll bet the answer is "No," but do not despair, the media will keep our morale up in its next reports on this car by finalizing its program with the words, 'its production is ten (or 20) years away." The time frame for their prophecy lands on such round figures. Its amazing, they must have given it a lot of thought.

Yours respectfully,
R.T. Johnson
Belton, Mo.

Don't Have a Nice Day

Listening to a talk show once, I'll never forget what a woman said regarding her experiences on Prozac. She said her house was a mess, but it was OK. Her boyfriend became a jerk, but it was OK. She lost her job, but it was OK. After she stopped taking Prozac, she realized her life was a mess. Remember the time when "Hello" used to suffice for greeting a customer and "Good-bye" when bidding them farewell? Now greetings and good-byes seem to have a Prozac quality to them. You know the routine, the clerk says, "How's it going?" and you reply, "good." Then you say, "and you?" and they reply, "good."

Lest this farce be aired, the agreement is: Many aren't making a living wage but it's OK. We are all over worked and have little time to spend with our children, but it's OK. In the last presidential election, we voted, they didn't take the time to count all our votes and the man who didn't win is now in the White House making tyrannical rules, but it's OK. This administration is considering first-strike use of atomic weapons against seven countries or more yet the cold war is over, but it's OK. We the people no longer have a say in our Democracy, but it's OK. Have a nice day! God forbid you reveal the truth! God forbid that you be outraged!

Well, I for one will not oblige with pat, conforming, replies. My reply to, "How's it going?" is, "I'd be doing a lot better if Nader was president, and you?" or, "Considering my tax dollars are being used to spread suffering around the world, not good, but other than that, good, and you?" Your reply can contain sincere good intentions, but also information of use to the community dialogue. You are the man, woman or child on the street. For some, my responses are a refreshing break in their routine, for others, food for expanded thought, still others, learn that not everyone in America is blinded by the flag wrapping deceptions of the Bush Boy Tyranny Team.

Charles A. Robinson
Boulder, Colo.

Who Was in Charge?

President Bush made this statement today [in a 3/13/02 news conference]! "[Osama] was basically running Afghanistan." I don't think Osama was running Afghanistan after Sept. 11! He departed for the hills before the attack! Just when was Osama running Afghanistan? When President Bush was giving the Taliban $43 million in US foreign aid? When did this president know "Osama was basically running Afghanistan"?

Gary Lee
Roanoke, Va.

Wake Up from Stupor

Most Americans overeat at Thanksgiving. Some may have so much to eat and drink that they get into a stupor. Recently I have been wondering if we ever get completely out of the stupor or if we stay in a semi-stupor state all of the time. William Safire was a speech writer for the president when criminal Nixon was in the Oval. For nearly 30 years now he has been a prominent writer for the New York Times. Recently he wrote in his column that a president of the United States has just assumed dictatorial powers which allows him to jail or execute the people that he doesn't like. Isn't this the type of behavior that mankind fought against for a thousand years? Why does our bought Congress allow this to happen? Are they in a full stupor? Since most of our large media is now owned by huge Republican conglomerates is it fair to say that the people no longer have any protection from large media?

Robert Parnell
Waco, Texas

Send Nuke Waste to Nevada

I like MOST of what Jim Hightower proposes. BUT -- his rejection of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste disposal [3/15/02 TPP] smacks of knee-jerk anti-nukes. If Jim wants to knock a plan, he has to provide a good alternate. In this case the travel thing is a nightmare, as he says; but the alternate plan(?) that we are living with is worse.

I don't blame the Nevada folks for being upset, but the danger to them is a lot more far-fetched, I think, than what Jim says it is. I hope Jim can take another look, and find a truly viable plan.

But then; what could be better -- if this goes through, the folks in Nevada get a few more jobs and no bad effects, AND they vote Democratic -- then we have the best of all worlds. No harm done and the R's get the blame anyway..

Good luck on this one

Frank Hancock
Madison Ala.

Editor's Note: The General Accounting Office in December enumerated many remaining uncertainties about the Yucca dump site, including the fact that it sits on 34 seismic faults.

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