I urge your readers to read Notebook by Alan Tonelson in the January 2010 Harpers. It is an excellent analysis of the demise of our manufacturing base, a base that our leaders thought could be sacrificed in the interest of building a knowledge-based economy, a proposition that I have been railing against since that ill-conceived NAFTA became law.
But at the same time we were supposedly building that knowledge-based economy, corporate America was, and still is, busily outsourcing high-tech jobs.
The idea that such knowledge-based jobs could replace manufacturing as the producer of jobs that would ensure the survival of the middle class and produce a vibrant economy was a fools dream from the outset. It is thus a hopeful sign that manufacturing is suddenly all the rage, as Tonelson notes, though whether this will be translated into actions that will restore our economy is yet to be seen unless it is accompanied by the rise again of labor unions and a willingness to support a restoration of public education, from kindergarten through university, that is qualitatively excellent and affordable to all.
I have long argued that our problems as a democracy and as a capitalist economy are systemic, from the obviously undemocratic nature of the senate, to the notion that human nature will allow such entities as Wall Street and banks to operate without restraint, but we had managed to muddle through before the arrival of the mind set, fostered under Reagan that government is the problem, business could operate without controls, all taxes are bad, unions are bad, etc. and that anyone who professes otherwise is evil. Hence, compromise is unthinkable by the true Reaganite believers.
We should remember that the dramatic rise of the middle class following WWII was largely a result of a vibrant manufacturing sector, the GI Bill, the rise of unions, and the availability of an affordable quality public education system, none of which can be said about the present.
We might also remember that no less a figure than [Teddy Roosevelt] warned against unfettered capitalism.
After the 1929 stock market crash and start of the Great Depression a law called the Glass-Steagall Act was passed in 1933 to set in place strict banking regulations to prevent such an economic calamity from happening again.
But ten years ago Republican controlled Congress egged on by that champion deregulator, then-Texas Sen. Phil Gramm (R) passed legislation that did more to cause the present Great Recession than anything else, when they repealed the Great Depression-eras Glass-Steagall Act. And on Nov 12, 1999 President Bill Clinton signed the repeal into law. And this sanctioned banking and securities and insurance to be combined.
And now, as little American working people painfully learned, our government said these combined groups are too big to fail.
Both political parties are responsible that millions of Americans are out of work and out of homes because Wall Street purposely manipulated markets for their own greed.
The CEO of Goldman Sachs who received $68 million in 2007 and filled with his audacious sense of personal worth and entitlement said he was a mere banker, Doing Gods Work, and said commoners should be applauding their huge bonus payouts because it allows them to contribute to charity.
Americans should be out on the streets yelling in protest at these greed hogs and demand that these too-big-to-fail pigs are not too big to go to JAIL.
Now we read in the newspapers that Congress is working on regulations to curb future economic crises and President Obama said, We have a responsibility to learn from it and put in place reforms.
Thats not good enough; those responsible for the repeal of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, including former President Bill Clinton and the too-big-to-fail greed pigs, should have their ill-gotten millions seized, just like they do to criminal dope gangs, and give them a taste of what millions of people are facing.
When [Sen. Phil] Fox Gramm (R-Texas) and [President Bill] Cant Keep His Zipper Up Clinton repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, did either person do any research on why the Glass-Steagall Act was in effect? More than likely not; the only thing that was on their minds was how big were the bribes they would receive from Citibank. If President Obama would re-start the Glass-Steagall Act, there should be no loopholes of any kind in the Act!
Dennis H. Kuykendall
My point of view is that the duty of corporations is to make as much money for their stockholders as possible, and that the duty of government is to protect people and country by placing minimum restrictions on this activity.
Most of this crash was caused by corporations that were making money on borrowed money that they could not repay. Some of this crash was caused by senseless mergers made for the purpose of obtaining fees for advising and arranging mergers based on debt. These practices are encouraged by tax law that deducts interest as a business expense before computing the profit on which a corporation is taxed.
Subject to many complications to accommodate existing conditions, the best proportions for each industry, unrestricted foreign companies, etc., I propose this: Restrict payouts from corporations of significant size when their debt exceeds a specified low multiple of their capital, and prohibit their payment of dividends when their debt exceeds a specified risky multiple of their capital. Such law would base corporate expansion on retained earnings and avoid panics by creating a capital cushion for ups and downs.
A second subject, lets promote the slogan:
TOO BIG TO FAIL;
TOO BIG TO EXIST.
George Ross McCombe
Jersey City, N.J.
Capitalism as practiced in this country by the major financial institutions and corporations is basically a scam. Corporations are not interested in providing goods or services. Their primary function is to make profits that determine the value of the company in shares of stock to be traded in the stock exchange.
Being only interested in profit margins, the primary method of keeping production costs low is to underpay workers and reduce safety standards that might raise the cost of production. The automobile industry stoutly resisted every safety feature we now have with cars because it threatened the profit margin.
It is also in the interest of the controllers of wealth to have a large pool of unemployed persons both to draw on for occasional employment at low wages and threaten employed workers with the fact they can find someone to replace them at lower pay. From the corporate view point it is also in their interest to reserve education for the managerial and technical staff families and make education difficult for the ordinary laboring family so as to keep them more docile in their roles.
The current war on health care by the health care industry is based on the concern that if ordinary folks have a right to health care and this is supported by law, people may start to want other rights legislated into law.
Richard W. Pike
Stevens Point, Wis.
Profits before people. Nothing better illustrates the fundamental problem underlying the criminal enterprise posing as a healthcare system in the United States than the H1N1 negligent homicide victims wrongfully killed by deliberate profitable neglect. Back in July the federal government contracted with 5 pharmaceutical companies to have 160 million H1N1 vaccines ready by the end of October. Instead there were only 28 million. Why?
Well, the inconvenient truth is that Big Pharma is just not all that into vaccines, traditionally preferring to manufacture drugs for such profitable plagues as erectile dysfunction, social anxiety and societal depression, and restless leg syndrome. Vaccines go out of style with every seasonal viral mutation, so there is no time to get a profitable patent. So it should have been no surprise that Big Pharma refused to divert the resources necessary to fulfill their contractual and ethical obligations away from more profitable enterprises, using instead a 50-year old technology already in place involving the production of the virus in chicken eggs, a method long since abandoned by Europe and China.
Chicken eggs are great for omelets, but they are an inefficient growth medium for the viral seed strain used to make H1N1 vaccine. Alternative cell culture methods that were developed with government funding produce the vaccine much faster, but would require an investment of start-up funds for re-tooling the means of production.
As is the case over and over again with our failed for-profit denial of healthcare system, the American people suffer. This will continue to be the case until a real alternative is offered, as opposed to merely regulating catastrophic failure into a more acceptable less atrocious (but still profitable) failure. Every person that died from not getting the H1N1 vaccine, often children, is a possible negligent homicide that may have been prevented.
Like Connie Schultz wrote in her article, Nobody Can Take Christ Out of Christmas [1/1-15/10 TPP], I, too, have heard many Christians parroting the notion that sinister elements in our society are plotting to take Christ out of Christmas.
And Im sure that if they continue listening to the demagoguery of Bill OReilly and Christian Fundamentalist leaders, by next Christmas they will be convinced that thousands of Christians are being rounded up and taken to the Coliseum to be torn apart and devoured by lions!
I wish those Christians would stop believing, as gospel truth, the ravings of the likes of Bill OReilly, James Dobson and whoever else inflames their suspicions. Instead, they should use reason and common sense to reflect and observe and not permit others to tell them what they should believe.
And I also wish they could meet people who represent different ideologies, or who have other faiths or no faith at all. They would be surprised to discover that we are not bad people, and that we dont want to take away anyones cherished traditions.
Temple City, Calif.
In the 1/1-15/10 TPP, Connie Schultz points out her mothers definition of a Christian as someone who fixes him or herself and helps others. Incidentally, I agree; however, a very large amount of that 76% to 78% of our population who is Christian do not fit this model. They are the holier-than-thou bullies for Christ she mentioned. The very base thats always in a race to see how far they can push the perversion of what might have turned out as an okay religion. Not to mention, trying to ram it into government.
I think anyone who bitches about taking the Christ out of Christmas should have to take and pass a course on all the pagan folk customs their priests embedded into Christmas and their other festivals because the word of Christ itself wasnt swaying too many people. Before they start crying about taking the Christ out of Christmas, they should take the Yule out of Christmas and look less ridiculous.
Ted Ralls column in the 1/1-15/10 TPP, The Empty Gesture of Copenhagen, is absolutely correct about the fact that both sides of the debate are lying (whether they realize it or not). However, the results of runaway CO2 production is clearly not settled science, nor is the conclusion of androgenic causes to global warming. I would suggest the interested reader look at Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf Tscheuschners Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within the Frame of Physics, updated in January 2009 to understand why conclusions about CO2 build up may not add up.
Ted Ralls supposed scientific resources that (unanimously?) conclude that CO2 build up is going to cause an uninhabitable earth does not, I believe, hold up. A big factor in my doubts is that CO2 really isnt that big a deal in the earths greenhouse-gas profile, constituting something like 1/4 of 1% of the whole atmospheres absorption. (The balance consists of water vapor and rounding-error gases.) A bit like throwing another sheet over the six heavy quilts on your bed. Also atmospheric CO2 apparently used to be vastly (several hundred to several thousand percent) more dense than it is now, pretty much any time prior to 50 million years ago and life on earth seems to have done pretty well back then.
Should we stand by as a global society and do nothing? Absolutely not, as we are going to suffer devastating consequences to our heavily dependent civilization as we begin to run out of fossil fuels, which will happen long before any significant climate effect, caused by CO2 buildup or any other scenario, happens. Just the fact that we send $350 billion to other countries every year to service our oil addiction should be enough reason by itself to do something.
Although I have seen a great deal of wonderful commentary in TPP on health care reform, it seems to me that some vitally important topics are missing from the conversation. Though I admit to not having gone over every relevant article with a fine-toothed comb, I am nonetheless amazed that more or your writers have not focused on the fact that incremental health care reform is actually worse than no reform at all, for two cogent reasons:
1. It will give Congress and the President the opportunity to be self-congratulatory about having taken such a big step, and thereby avoid the real reform which must take place for health care ever to be affordable and available to all.
2. Even more important, without true reform, which means virtual elimination of profit-mongering insurers, health care will rapidly become such an expensive budget item that Republicans will be able to report with glee that the tax-and-spend liberals have broken the bank once again. This is not a minor consideration; I would not be surprised to see both the Democratic majority in Congress and the Obama White House directly imperiled by such claims.
I firmly believe that progressives should oppose the current health care reform legislation as no such thing, and press onward with calls for true reform. It has been amply demonstrated that only some form of single-payer health care system has any hope of recouping enough savings in elimination of bureaucracy and profit-taking to make a comprehensive system anything but an invitation to bankruptcy. Anything less is a chimera, and over the long term is actually a threat to the health and well-being of all people living in this country.
In writing and doing my recent ghost town books, I have learned much of the value of money - gold and silver and the like.
In the quest and goal to save our country, we must return to a stronger dollar! How and why? F.D.R. took gold and value from our dollar and Richard Nixon took silver away. We have tried to live with printing press money to a sad and negative end.
President Obama could be a winner - by returning value, gold or silver backing to our dollar - as it was under our American founders.
Did you ever wonder why the Spanish pieces of eight lasted and were traded for centuries? They had intrinsic worth and were respected by the world over... and still are today!
El Paso, Texas
From The Progressive Populist, Febuary 1, 2010
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