Bad Economy Good for the Rich

I’m two-thirds of the way through TPP’s 5/15/12 issue, learning from Wayne O’Leary the in-depth history of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and it hit me: this is why I read progressive literature. It educates me! Because O’Leary, Margot Ford McMillen, Jim Hightower, Dean Baker, et al, do their homework, I am highly informed!

I learned from John Buell that all the elements that lead to our recent financial crisis are still in place, and from Mark Weisbrot, in the article just above, how following Argentina’s lead could get us out of it (just imagine the apoplectic howls from the right at the thought of the US following Argentina’s lead!).

Which brings me to Tina Dupuy’s “The Paradox of Mobility in America”: “Americans have mobile phones with immobile socioeconomics.” It’s plain that the solutions Republicans have been spewing for years, like cutting taxes on corporations (the so-called job creators), deregulating businesses, gutting government safety nets (because they make people lazy), and making college unaffordable, will only make the situation worse for middle class mobility.

It becomes plain to me that the Right parrots these false fixes over and over because they simply don’t want the economy to recover. After all, this crisis has been a windfall for the very wealthy! Why would they want a recovery? Recover from what, their boom times?

They want people to become so desperate they’ll be at each other’s throats, accepting less and less pay and benefits while putting out ever greater productivity (further enriching the rich), and maybe even rioting in the streets (which I can’t help but think they were trying to get the Occupiers to do).

It’s their signature tried and true tactic: Swift Boating. You know, what Republican operatives did to John Kerry in the 2004 presidential contest, when they took their opponent’s best asset (his stellar military record) and used lies to turn it into a liability in people’s mind. They were able to broadcast the lies loudly enough and long enough without allowing a defense to air that people began to believe it, and ended up voting for the charlatan that secretly skipped combat duty entirely.

I say, they know it’s a lie that tax cuts on the wealthy will create jobs. They are raising the cost of education because they don’t want our young people to get good educations or good jobs. They want state budgets to shrink so that teachers, police and firefighters will lose their jobs. They intend to shrink the federal budget to nothing and privatize everything in sight. There is no other explanation.

But fortunately, many Americans are smarter than they are. We are informed, thanks to progressive literature that educates us. Let the mindless and the deluded soak up regressive lies, we are armed with the truth! Thank you, Progressive Populist!

Nancy Churchill
Oregon, Ill.

Don’t Let Them Get Away with It

Reading the 5/15/12 TPP, I was struck by the extent to which right-wing blathering is not challenged, either in the media or, too often, by citizens. First in Joan Walsh’s piece, there was the description of Third Way complaining that fairness is such a downer. Somebody — whoever they said that to — should have asked, what exactly don’t you like about fairness? and kept asking, not letting them waffle their way out of it. Broken record technique can be very useful.

Then Robert Reich quoted a conservative economist who said the people at the top are the entrepreneurs. Where’s the evidence? What percentage of the 1% actually have created businesses, how many jobs were involved, where, and do they still exist? And what percentage of new enterprises in the past ten, or twenty, years were actually created by people in the 1%? Anyone who wants to claim the 1% are job creators had better be able to answer those questions, or be accused of being a fraud.

But too many in the media do not ask, more shame to them, and too many citizens do not realize the claims have not been tested. Some don’t seem to understand the claims ought to be tested; that’s partly a failure of education, but partly, as they are now adult, a failure of responsibility on their part. It’s our job as citizens to use the brains God gave us for the preservation and improvement of our country. If we don’t, we may lose it, as Ben Franklin warned.

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam
Baltimore. Md.

Overpopulation is the Problem

Stephanie Paige Ogburn writes (“Sodbusters plow up the northern prairie,” 5/15/12 TPP): “... uncontrollable factors like [weather and] population growth.”

There is only one environmental problem: human overpopulation; all other EPs (global warming, habitat destruction, poaching, polluted air and water, depleted soils, bovine methane, etc.) are secondary effects. As long as the bulk of people agree population [growth] is an uncontrollable factor, or worse, think human population should be even more huge than it is, the environment will continue to degrade. (Indeed it is already certain to continue getting worse for a long time.)

Economists (and almost everyone else) assume benign climate as a given. But BC depends on a) leaving fossil fuels where they are in the ground, b) land masses mostly forested, and c) oceans largely undisturbed. All three of those generators have been violated, hence climate is now ‘going south.’

Even to mitigate the coming catastrophe population would have to be rolled back fast. For a few generations everybody would have to restrict him- or herself to one child: every person become the father or mother of only one natural child maximum.

But indeed, essentially no one understands that and almost all would consider it a breach of “freedom” to restrict their procreation to one. (Though stop-at-one is easily justified by the Principle of Universal Generalization as put forth by Immanuel Kant: (simplified) “Do nothing that would cause harm if everyone did it.”)

So, Armageddon will come. It will be horrible, terrifying, make the Middle Ages look like a picnic ... and will go on and on.

Bruce R. Henry, Ph.D.
Pittsfield, Mass.

Cash Machines

It is quite interesting to observe some of us old timers attempting to equate their college education and consequent successful career, with such decidedly different, extremely difficult conditions faced by freshmen of today.

A number of decades ago, higher education was provided either gratis or made affordable in an ongoing national effort to promote a stable economy, future growth and prosperity.

Employment and career opportunities for graduates were practically assured by a veritable smorgasboard of choices, in which business,es and corporations competed, in an effort to snag the best, brightest and most qualified candidates for themselves.

Today, higher education has joined the growing throng of cash cows and rip offs for profit. New so-called schools, colleges, institutions, universities et al., seem to be springing up daily, evidently allowed to operate without the imposition of any restrictions or accountability, and empowered to bilk and fleece aspiring students at will, which includes many of our veterans, who certainly deserve better.

The total bill for these shenanigans? A cool trillion dollars plus, which actually exceeds the combined outstanding balance on all our existing credit cards.

According to latest statistics, the average millstone around the neck of a graduate is the the tidy sum of $30,000. Most disturbing, however, is the fact that 55% of them, our next generation of potential leaders, shakers and movers, is either unemployed, or underemployed, and often relegated to perform work which in no way would require a college education.

It seems to be uniquely American these days, to feature the most highly educated debt ridden burger flippers, in the world, unable to afford a decent living, let alone positioned to pay back their colossal debt.

To further aggravate the situation, the interest rate on student loans is scheduled to double on July 1, from 3.4 to 6.8 percent.

Is there no end to such avarice and exercise of boundless predatory greed, which has infested our whole system and lives, way beyond the realm of higher education, where human endeavor, hope and aspiration has been commodified in the shameless pursuit of profit?

How does it feel having to acknowledge that oligarchs, plutocrats, banksters, kleptocrats and Wall Street tycoons have been allowed to convert once proud American citizens into their own highly exploitable two-legged bottom-line-cash providing ATM machines?

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff, Calif.

College Cost Clarification

There’s a small error of fact about the captioned subject in your 5/15/12 editorial. I was on the UCLA faculty beginning in fall 1963, having come there as a raw PhD. My last semester in grad school at Michigan, I paid $128 in-state tuition. At UCLA, “tuition was free,” but there was already a “student fee” of about $150. I remember this vividly as being fraudulent and ironic — “free” cost more in California than “tuition” did in Michigan (in-state in both cases, same year). The university community fought Ronnie the Reeg [Reagan], trying to keep “free” tuition, and lost, as you recorded, in about 1968. (This happened while I was visiting another university, trying to get out of California. It wasn’t all flower children, particularly in its southern region — Nixon country and worse.) Once you call it “tuition,” the sky’s the limit — and it didn’t take long for the students to need oxygen masks. But it wasn’t really “free” when I got there: my feeling is that “free” was a wonderful slogan in its early incarnation, but one that turned around and bit the California boosters in the ass in the ’60s.

So I got tenure in 1969 but left in 1970 anyway.

(By the way, the guy who hired me later wound up in the all-university administration. He watched Reagan operate as an ex-officio regent and said that he didn’t think the governor was following the proceedings or the discussions in regents’ meetings. One will really never know when that Alzheimer’s set in, it seems.)

Bertram Walsh
Traverse City, Mich.

Union Organizing

Jim Hightower’s story about the usual suspects (Big Corps.) taking bribes in the form of State withholding taxes to entice moves to other States, brought to mind a conversation I had with a local yesterday (local person, not union). She and her sister both worked for 20 or 25 or so years at a local printing company. When the company demanded that the union make concessions or it would shut its doors, the union refused, and both sisters are out of jobs, along with all the now former employees of the printing company. She was not pleased, to say the least. While I sympathized with her plight, I said something like, well, if there hadn’t been a union what would your pay check have been all these years? It felt like a lame response. My feeling is that if there is no third party to negotiate for the worker, there is only one party, the boss. She agreed but it didn’t make her jump for joy at the union’s bluff being called by the boss. I just wonder what (assuming there are any real unions of the caliber of the old IWW around today) a union organizer would tell a prospective member during the next campaign to unionize somerwhere in the USA? The preamble to the constitution of the IWW reads, “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.” Big Bill Heywood used to counsel that “If someone made a dollar they didn’t work for, somebody else worked for a dollar they didn’t get.” What say TPP and Jim Hightower? Just asking; I don’t know what response I should have made to the sister.

Bernard J. Berg
Easton, Pa.

Let Occupy Be

Now to Danny Schechter's article, "Another Battle for Occupy's Soul" (5/15/12 TPP): Let Occupy go at its own speed, for it is a learning experience. Mainstream media counts how many people are there or how many people aren't there. But what about the people that are there? What did it do for those people? This is not dogmatic, nor is it a piece of ideology. It is resistance ... and one may give money or whatever but it is up to those who are there that make up the soul of Occupy Wall Street. [The Port Huron Statement] and SDS [Students for a Democratic Society] are precedent to Occupy. No leaders, no ideology. Just doing it doesn't do things for me or for you. It follows conscience. So remember, you can't buy Occupy. It is not for sale.

S. Einhorn
Tampa, Fla.

From The Progressive Populist, June 15, 2012


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