Working with Immigrants

I feel lucky that I can assist many people in El Paso who have been born into poverty or made poor by circumstances, among them the so-called “illegal aliens” so maligned by the mainstream media. How can a person be illegal? Who makes those rules? They become my friends and, since I must return to the Midwest, my heart already is breaking at the separations to come.

So I want to remember:

• The man who sent all his money to his family in Honduras, then approached me looking stricken because he didn’t save back enough money to phone home to assure himself that the sum arrived there safely.

• The man about the age of my stepsons who shyly and hopefully suggested to me that perhaps my husband and I would be willing to ‘adopt’ him to sponsor him for US citizenship.

• The fatherless kids Pedro and Juan who accepted me every week as a sorta-grandmother: throwing kisses, playing patty-cake, and putting on little dramatizations with me much to the amusement of all the shelter guests.

• The skinny teen girl who arrived in the middle of the night—raped and impregnated during her migration trip—saying she was 19 but looking more like 15, and how she invented excuses to hover in my shadow.

• The man battling depression, passing ghostlike with unfocused eyes through the corridors, yet stopping me to say, “I may be sad, but when I see your smile it makes me smile.”

• The day two different people at two different times—independently of each other—took me aside to confide: “I don’t want to be here illegally. How can I fix this? What can I do?”

And I want to remember how helpless I felt in those conversations because there is no answer to that question. We don’t give them any option. The honest answer would be: “We don’t really want you to be equals with us citizens. We just want you here to do our dirty work.”

Billie Greenwood
Davenport, Iowa

Don’t Trust Dems

Re: Letter to the Editor from Ann White titled “Grow up, Dems” [11/1/08 TPP]: Ms. White tells Democratic voters to quit shooting themselves in foot. She should first tell Democratic politicians to stop stabbing their constituents in the back.

Voters elected a Democratic congressional majority a short while ago. Said majority has voted to continue funding the Iraq war despite overwhelming public support for the war’s end. Not enough votes to stop it they claim. B.-freaking-S. They can vote for enough funding to bring current troops home, or, filibuster to prevent bill from coming up for a vote. Or just block funding bill from coming out of committee for a vote. Pelosi and Reid have done this to prevent impeachment resolutions against BushCo from seeing light of day. Even if such measures failed, at least the public would know they TRIED to do what they were elected to do. Wall Street bailout? After a little ranting to keep up the “appearance” of opposition, Dems fell hook/line/sinker for Paulson’s bailout package that rescues more of Wall Street and banks than it does homeowners.

Good old Dems recently let the ban on offshore drilling lapse. 2005 bankruptcy bill that provided boon to creditors and bust to individual families? Would have failed without Democratic support. Patriot Act? Wicked wiretapping? Without so many Democratic votes, civil liberties wouldn’t be taking a beating right now. Healthcare? John Conyers’ Medicare for All bill has been hanging around for ages. Where are Democratic Congress folk and presidential contenders on serious consideration of this proven effective method of providing quality healthcare? Too busy collecting swag from Big Pharma and the insurance lobby, I guess.

Trade deals? A democratic president was head cheerleader for NAFTA. CAFTA, Oman, and other alphabet dupes get passed with many Democratic votes and contain tepid, ineffective labor/environmental safeguards. Great Savior Obama? Economic advisors chock full of free trade, deregulating, neoliberals—such don’t look so good for US labor.

Torture-monger attorney general and Supreme Court abominable nominees? It’s a breeze to get approval from Democratic senators who spend more time with 2-minute run-on sentences praising nominee instead of grilling prospect on opinions and viewpoints (this includes questions on corporate power, not just abortion and affirmative action).

Why drive a stake in Ralph Nader’s heart? Because he tells the truth? Has advocated for causes and positions that most Democrats (including the gang at TPP) and the public in general agree with? If labor, minority advocates, and other left leaners had the cojones to support Kucinich, Nader and Green Party candidates for the past 20 years, perhaps these REAL champions for change, justice, and fairness would be competitive in elections by now—or at least your Democratic corporate puppets would have had to commit to policies and legislation that benefits Joe Schmoe, not just Joe CEO, to get elected.

Don’t blame those with the balls to eschew the lesser of two evils philosophy and vote for candidates who truly represent their interests (or not vote at all—it is their right) for the mess that is America today. Your friendly Democratic party along with the right wing that scares lefties s**tless are equal partners in crapping up this nation.

Beverly Rice
Charlotte, N.C.

R’s Can’t Be Trusted

It is casting a revealing light on McCain’s character, distancing himself now from the Bush administration, where he was a good buddy and agreeable friend for eight years. He suddenly doesn’t want to have anything with them in common.

He is dishonest to a degree to disqualify him to be our president. He isn’t trustworthy.

I was told the Republicans will shy away from nothing when it comes down to the End-Spurt. They won’t shy away from distorting things or outright lies to achieve their goals. I can see now how true that is.

Lisa Zencoe
Lake Worth, Fla.

Saving Postal

Regarding Michael Moore’s “How to Fix the Wall Street Mess” [11/1/08 TPP]: Before 1965 we had a postal saving system. If it were restored people could get the money due them deposited directly into their account. It had no personal checks so people had to use cash or money orders. It may be updated to use debit cards and ATMs.

The largest bank in the world used to be the Japanese Post Office. You could open an account for eight cents. The money was lent to the government to build roads, bridges and bullet trains. It helped keep the Japanese a culture of savers. Americans may again become a culture of savers if our postal saving system is restored, this time with debit cards, direct deposit and ATMs: not available then.

Before the Andrew Jackson administration we only had a Bank of the United States that was owned by the federal government. It was established to pay off the Revolutionary War debt to Europeans who knew Thomas Jefferson and trusted him. If they had to collect it from 13 states they may send an army to do it. Jefferson is said to have said that if the bank was ever privatized then by inflation and deflation it would steal people’s property.

Joseph J. Kuciejczyk
St. Louis, Mo.

Bad Dreams

Victoria Samson has called placing of the missile shield in Eastern Europe a dumb idea [11/1/08 TPP] reasoning that besides angering The Russians we will be spending millions of tax dollars for a “system that does not work against a threat that does not exist”. Such small irritable details MATTERS NOT to President Bush. He wanted to fulfill the ‘star war’ dreams of his hero, Pres. Reagan, and he went ahead and did it — exactly like he followed Reagan’s flawed policy on unfettered market economy. Continuing this hero worshipping trend Bush’s ardent fan, Secretary Rice, called this deal with Poland a ‘great achievement’. Logic and reasoning? IT MATTERS NOT TO THIS ADMINISTRATION.

G.M. Chandu
Flushing, N.Y.

Expand the Choir

The two main articles in your 11/1/08 issue (“Let the Rich Bail Out Wall Street” by Sen. Bernie Sanders and “How To Fix The Wall Street Mess” by Michael Moore) were worth a year’s subscription! Too bad they can only preach to the choir. It would be nice to believe that someone would manage to put those pieces in front of Obama on one of his cross-country flights, and (less likely) that he would take them to heart.

The best news would be that he had hired Sanders and Moore as his closest advisors. (Even less likely!) Given Obama’s embrace of Clinton era free-market advocates like Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, who promoted deregulation legislation that played a major role in the current financial mess, and his increasingly “centrist” rhetoric, it seems unlikely that meaningful change is forthcoming. I sure hope I’m wrong.

Shorey H. Chapman
San Francisco, Calif.

In Defense Of High Taxes

It’s a scam. All this talk about the pitfalls of increasing taxes ignores a fundamental: every expenditure must eventually be paid for. You can pay up front or you can mortgage your future and pay later. If you are the government you can pay by printing more money and watch inflation devalue your economy into third world status, borrow money from other countries until they own all your assets, or you can collect taxes that balance expenditures. Demonizing liberals and condemning earmarks may feel good but it doesn’t pay the bills.

Some people say that raising taxes discourages entrepreneurship. Nonsense. Poor people are willing to work extra hours for minimum wage in order to buy a few luxuries. Rich people are equally willing to put in extra effort for less than astronomical compensation to buy expensive goodies to show off to their pals.

The recent costly Wall Street Circus has resulted in a call to limit the pay of those executives responsible for the disaster. This would be difficult to do in our modern world of deregulation, blame shifting, and creative accounting. Imposing high income tax rates on high incomes would be simple and furthermore would benefit our economy. If an executive induces his company to pay him $10 million, a deducted 80% tax would leave him with $2 million. Not too bad in a country where most people live on $30,000 per year. The company and its executive should not feel distressed about paying an $8 million tax bill. After all, it is only in a stable country with a free enterprise economic system that someone can acquire and keep $2 million without using a gun. If our government has enabled someone to enrich himself it deserves a share of the winnings.

This principle works throughout the rest of the developed world. It worked well here after World War II when it enabled us to prosper while helping the rest of the world rebuild itself. It will work well now. We need high taxes on high incomes.

Arthur Robbins
San Diego, Calif.

Yes, it’s a Conspiracy?

I believe I have discerned the reasons for the sorry state in which America finds itself. Yes, greed is a part of it, but only as a tool, not a cause. The collapse of the financial system and its aftermath were predictable in a deregulated system. It is no accident that our civilian manufacturing capabilities have been destroyed through “Free Trade” deals.

It is no accident that America spends more money on the manufacturing, export and use of weapons than all other nations combined anymore than it is just an unpleasant historical fact that America is always at war with someone somewhere. The Military-Industrial (Financial-Political) complex President Eisenhower warned us of in 1961 rules America. They cannot exist without continuous war and the machinery and manpower it requires.

To ensure a continuous supply of both an enemy is needed. If none are currently available one can be manufactured. Easy! One needs to make non-military means of social advancement increasingly difficult. Higher tuitions, outsourcing of jobs, lowering wages work well. Done! Most importantly is a militaristic culture that glorifies war, deifying our dead and maimed and rejoicing in the killing and maiming of “The Enemy.” Not so easy; 80% are not buying their “Memorial Death Cult.” Let Peace be their mortal wound!

C. Paul Ames
Eureka, Utah

House Divided

What an amazing fete by the Elite! While the Country is in the process of unraveling and sliding into bankruptcy, it remains even more divided than ever before.

In times like these, one would expect the citizens to unite; after all, the upcoming hardship will befall people of both political persuasions. Instead they are busy pointing fingers and blaming each other for the malaise ... even resorting to threats.

Obviously, this atmosphere has been bred into the system by those who have brought us here, which gave them unfettered opportunity to enrich themselves to the detriment of us all.

Ponder the sage reminder: “United we stand, divided we fall” and realize that we are the living antithesis to it.

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff, Calif.

Dow Jones Dive

Been hearing a lot lately, in your publication as well as others, about how the Dow Jones Industrial Average) has crashed. Well, now, let’s take a closer look at the history. Go find a good graph of this index and look at the trend line from about 1935 to about 1990 ignoring anything later. Extend that trend line to 2008. Turns out, your new extended line hits 2008 at just about where the “crashed” index is right now. The part of the graph from 1990 to 2008 which floats way up above the trend line is called, I believe, “irrational exuberance”.

Claud Price
Larkspur, Calif.

From The Progressive Populist, December 1, 2008

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