I read with interest, but in disagreement, the lead article "Slip the Deficit Trap" [5/1/05 TPP]. I certainly agree that we need more government spending for education, infrastructure, environment, and research. I also agree that spending along those lines benefits the US economy and citizens. But ignoring the protracted long term deficit spending which our government is doing puts us at extreme risk of future times of great poverty and want.
Granted, limited deficit spending during economic down times not only softens the drop but shortens it's extent. But what we are facing now is not a limited debt which would be paid back in a few years. Today budget deficits are projected into the future with no end in sight.
From what I have gathered, about 11% of government tax revenue goes directly to interest. That's eleven cents out of every tax dollar that cannot go to social programs, schools, highways, environment or any other potential progressive program.
Where does that eleven cents go? It damn well does not go to the poor! Low income, minimum wage workers and retirees are not the social class which directly owns government bonds. It's the wealthy who own the public debt, in conjunction with about 45% owned by wealthy foreigners and foreign governments. Granted, the Social Security trust fund holds a good chunk of the public debt, but it won't hold it forever when the baby boom retirees start drawing from it.
What is going to happen in the future when foreign governments and wealthy foreigners insist we "privatize" our pubic parks, utilities, services to cover our debt like we do now demand of the poor countries of the world today? Will we one day be the great "Argentina" of the North?
This column by Hal Crowther ("Doughface Nation," 4/1/05 TPP] was the most articulate, passionate expression of what I suspect is the view of millions of Americans that I have ever read. While TPP is full of thought provoking, passionate and articulate columns that point to the damage being done to the democracy we love and to the capitalist system itself, this one stands out.
Didn't Teddy Roosevelt say during his trust-busting days something to the effect that unfettered capitalism would destroy itself? If my memory serves me poorly, which it often does, and he did not say it, he should have. The massive fraud of the Enrons, etc., the obscene salaries, bonuses and perks now given the CEO types, the growing disparity between rich and poor, jobs moving overseas, loss of productive capacity in the US, trade deficits, budget deficits and more, all point to a deteriorating of the nation's economic health.
What is now made in the US? The US is the home of the automobile, yet even in that area we are falling badly behind. Is there any major company that is still producing its entire product in the US? Henry Ford once said that he could walk from one end of his production line to the other, from raw steel to the automobile. To walk that production line now, whether computers, cars, whatever, the trail would probably go through China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Taiwan, to the finished product. The names of the old and honored companies that have moved overseas are legion: Levi Strauss, Florsheim shoes, Radio Flyer (a play wagon that I had as a child) are just a few.
Then we could of course add education, health, loss of faith in politics and politicians, all of which are vital to a nation's democratic and economic health.
Although the 4/15/05 TPP had many articles about the horrible class action and bankruptcy "reform" bills, none of those articles named the Democratic senators who betrayed middle and working-class Americans by voting for those bills.
The 17 Democrats who sold us out on the class action reform bill on February 10 are: Bayh (Ind.), Bingaman (Minn.), Cantwell (Wash.), Carper (Del.), Conrad (N.D.), Dodd (Conn.), Feinstein (Calif.), Johnson (S.D.), Kohl (Wis.), Landrieu (La.), Lieberman (Conn.), Lincoln (Ark.), Nelson (Neb.), Obama (Ill.), Rockefeller (W.V.), Salazar (Colo.) and Schumer (N.Y.), plus Jeffords of Vt.
The 18 Democrats who voted for the bankruptcy bill on March 10 are: Baucus (Mont.), Bayh (Ind.), Biden (Del.), Bingaman (N.M.), Byrd (W.V.), Carper (Del.), Conrad (N.D.), Inouye (Hi.), Johnson (S.D.), Kohl (Wis.), Landrieu (La.), Lincoln (Ark.), Nelson (Fla.), Nelson (Neb.), Pryor (Ark.), Reid (Nev.), Salazar (Colo.), and Stabenow (Mich.), plus Jeffords of Vt.
All Republicans, even so-called "moderate" ones, voted with big business, against the public interest, on both of these bills. Evidently, we citizens cannot take even progressive senators' votes for granted. If your senators are listed above, they need to hear from you. They need to hear that their behavior is unacceptable.
Also, to fulfill its responsibility of informing its readers, The Progressive Populist should name names when our senators betray us. Readers can look up Senate voting records at: (www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/vote_menu_109_1.htm). Roll call votes in the House are at: (clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/index.asp).
Editor Replies: In the 4/1/05 issue we printed the names of the 14 Dems who voted to shut down debate and allow the vote on the bankruptcy bill &emdash; when the Democrats, if they had held ranks, could have stopped the bill.
I greatly appreciated Alvena Bieri's thoughtful discussion of George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant in the 3/1/05 edition. I just read his book and like Bieri was overwhelmed by the insights that he provides in understanding Bush's rhetoric and its implications for the way our country is moving far to the right politically.
His idea that the language we use influences and may indeed dominate our perception of reality is not new but Lakoff shows us how the Republican Party has used the way the issue is framed to hide disinformation in order to manipulate and deceive the public is an essential but scary eye opener into Bush's mind and those who pour material into it &emdash; like James Dobson, an extremely influential Protestant religious writer whose philosophy of leadership and governance is modeled after the idea of a strong resolute father image. Bush, taking on the persona Dobson has created, like a good actor uses all the dramatic tricks to portray himself as the machismo image of a resolute strong father of our country. Therefore we can see that in every policy Bush expects us to behave like docile obedient children in a family who do not challenge the father and accept that he knows best, he is good, he is THE sole decision maker, and we need him to protect us from harm from without. Dissent from his iron clad rule as tough punitive father leads to punishment and ostracism.
We need to think of what Bush stands for in every speech, in every policy, that he brings up because they represent underlying spin in favor of those who agree with him and are the only ones worthy of concern and monetary reward. We need to evaluate every time whether we can trust this man with such a limited and distorted view of governance to lead our country. If he is betraying the public trust that we have placed in him as the leader of our country then we have to think of ways to remove him from office..
Elkins Park, Pa.
The Big Question now is the same as with Jane [Fonda] back then, what are we doing in their country killing and maiming their people?
Neither North Viet Nam nor Iraq attacked us. We attacked them.
Chris L. Gray,
MSgt. USAF (Ret.'89)
I must admit that I have been perplexed for some little while. It seems that nearly every issue of this magazine has some letter on the letter pages from a reader upset with the magazine's "hostility" to Christianity. In vain have I searched the pages of your magazine for a hint of hostility, and it simply perplexes me what these readers could be seeing. In addition to giving ample space to letter writers proclaiming their Christianity and bewailing the fact that it is not more visible on your pages, every issue contains at least one writer who professes some level of spirituality, usually identifiably Christian. Over time, I have begun to see this trend spreading to all the other magazines and papers that I subscribe to, until it becomes obvious that secular news is all but disappearing from the American media choices.
I write this letter to you not in demand that you express greater tolerance toward atheism or agnosticism, which I expect will continue to be absent from your pages. I write to share the solution I have arrived at to combat my feelings of helplessness. From this day forward, every time I see the profession of Christian faith intertwined with the political news in a politically-oriented magazine, whether in the works of the columnists or on the letter pages, I am going to donate a dollar to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non-profit organization working to realize the ideals that the Founding Fathers enshrined in our famous, precedent-setting First Amendment.
If you are in any way interested in any further information on this subject, I encourage you to check out the website of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, or to visit the article I wrote on this topic at www.FaulkingTruth.com. Thank you very much for your attention.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Editor Replies: We sometimes get blamed for things that are published in other magazines, but in this case we think most of our letter writers are objecting to articles in other liberal publications where they perceive hostility to Christian or other religious beliefs.
We agree that the USA is supposed to be a secular democracy, but we cannot ignore the fact that nearly 90% of Americans have some religious affiliation, 84% of them are Christians and two-thirds go to church regularly. We criticize religious leaders but we also try to give our readers a sense of how they can argue with Christians on their own terms.
It occurred to me the other day how much we trust each other. In January of 2002 I had total hip replacement surgery. I spent five days in the hospital, with excellent results.
My point is I was helpless while recuperating. I trusted that everyone from the initial check-in at the hospital to food services, maintenance, the surgical nurses, of course, the surgeon, post-op nurses. I trusted everyone, and they were strangers, distant service providers at best. They all did an excellent job because we possess a strong sense of personal responsibility.
We trust each other to obey traffic laws, trust rubbish men to do their job properly, policemen, court reporters to provide an accurate record. Without personal responsibility, our society would collapse.
The many investigations and ethical questions swirling around Tom DeLay may soon become very serious, resulting in criminal charges. I think he should step down while he is being investigated. He has proved to be a rank political opportunist, influence peddler and possible felon. Tom Delay is the poster boy for the Bush administration corruption.
I have just finished reading The Record of the Paper by Richard Falk and I believe it to be the most important book of the year. The record of the New York Times is abysmal. But the book is far more than a review of the Times news and editorial policy. The book reads as an indictment of our government, our "free" press and our nation.
If our government and papers of record have no interest in international law and constitutional standards, then we have truly become a rogue nation and all of us, war criminals. What an insightful read, but I would expect nothing less from Richard Falk. Please read this book. I cannot overstate its importance.
How can we as a nation continue to allow our leaders and our newspapers to distort and rewrite history without learning from our mistakes?
Gary S. Nater
Regarding Peter Phillips' "Afraid to Scrutinize 9/11" [4/15/05 TPP]: There are a lot of questions. Why did Tower 2 come down in 56 minutes? Why no complete investigation? How could a fire burn 19 hours in 38-story Meridian Plaza in Philadelphia, Pa., and the building still stand? Why a small hole in the Pentagon? If Building 7 (5 o'clock in the evening) came down in conventional demolition, what's the difference in towers?
Send $12 for DVD or $13 for VHS, 9/11: The Great Illusion [by George Humphrey] and see for yourself.
Common Sense, PO Box 5772, Austin, TX 78763; www.fearorlove.com.