The First Socialist

In June of 1992 Mikhail Gorbachev was quoted in London’s Daily Telegraph. “Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind.” Along with embracing the benevolence of sharing, Jesus dedicated his life to feeding the multitudes, curing the ill and helping the oppressed. Assuredly he would have approved of food stamps, Medicare, Social Security, a national health care plan and any social programs that benefit mankind. As the Romans were opposed to the beliefs and teachings of Jesus, the Republican Party has shown no compassion for the poverty-stricken and those disenfranchised by the plutocrats who control America.

Can you follow Jesus and politically support the Paul Ryans and John Boehners of the GOP — pseudo centurions whose dedication is to strip the entitlements of the indigents of Americans, including food stamps? Of course Americans don’t go “hungry” anymore — they have “food security” issues. We are all painfully aware of the fierce opposition of the Republican party against a single-payer insurance health insurance care plan for all Americans. More GOP pain — shift Medicare to the private sector and Social Security to Wall Street.

There are legions of Republican fundamentalists who claim they are Christians, yet support and vote for the GOP, which is diametrically opposed to the humane doctrines of the Trinity.

Ed Hodges
Washington Island, Wis.

Give Bloomberg Credit

David Sirota is absolutely right on to point out this country’s ugly export policy of weapons. For sure we sell them to dictators and repressive regimes and then reserve the right to bomb them when they get out of hand. But Sirota has it all wrong blaming Mexican obesity on our “industrialized food system.” Having traveled to Mexico extensively for decades, long before NAFTA, the greatest problem has always been the food and not just bouts of turista. There is absolutely nothing to be bought that’s packaged, canned or processed that is not laden with sugar, corn syrup, trans-fats or salt. Combine that with a predilection for pork and fried food and what do you get? Fat Mexicans, just like you get fat Americans fed on the same junk diet. Hopefully Mayor Bloomberg will find another life south of the border real soon teaching Mexicans good nutrition.

Carl Rosenstein
New York City

GM Was Never That Good

In 1953, when GM President Charley Wilson expressed his opinion that what was good for GM was good for the country, he was widely ridiculed for his dim witted, self serving admission. The other part of his point that what was good for the country was good for GM was disregarded as too obvious to mean anything.

Seeing this famous faux pas referenced in the 6/15/12 TPP as evidence that corporate America was kind and generous back then was startling. It betrays the absurdity of Professor Lasonick’s argument that corporations have only turned ruthless in recent years.

Bob Weissman
Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Obama’s Failure

We are blessed with a wonderful rhetorician in the White House, our own President Obama. He is now trying to reprise his successful 2008 campaign of Hope and Change. And, of course, political pundits and Democrat stalwarts are as gullible as ever despite the myriad failures of Obama to bring us the much touted Hope and Change. So how long will the American public tolerate the abuse perpetuated by the duopoly parties? Check Newsweek article of May 14, 2012, “Why Can’t Obama Bring Wall Street to Justice?”

Denise D’Anne
San Francisco, Calif.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Goethe’s brilliant parable of monstrous evil spirits called out, and then turning on the conjurer himself, seems to be uniquely applicable once again, alas more than two centuries later.

While the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down, the Military-Industrial-Corporate Complex, which has become an indispensable component of our economy in all 50 States, seems to replicate such monster, which demands to be fed, lest the conjurer himself and his economic survival be imperiled.

Witness China, a curious hybrid of communism and capitalism, our #1 source of cheap, extremely profitable and highly addictive consumer goods, to whom we owe in excess of a Trillion Dollars, trotted out as the new adversary and bogeyman, in an effort to justify continued excessive spending on the war machine, a bottomless pit, yet dire economic necessity.

US military bases are located on the Chinese border in some of the former Soviet Republics ending in ’stan, our long established presence in Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, daily stealth overflights, our navy patrolling the China Sea, etc., has now been supplemented with first-time bases in Australia and re-appearance of our military in the Philippines. The eventual plan is for the bulk of our naval forces, including 6 carrier groups, to be deployed in that part of the Pacific region.

The growing encirclement has compelled Beijing to increase its military budget, which has now risen to 20% of ours and is likely to further escalate; however their present per capita outlay amounts to no more than 5% in comparison. 

To put things in perspective, if the shoe were on the other foot, how would we react, if Chinese spy planes were flying in our air space, an aircraft carrier (they just launched their first) patrolling off our coast, and an array of missiles pointed at US cities from their bases in Canada and Mexico?

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff, Calif.

Arianna’s Carbon Copy

Just a straight forward simple question: why is [Arianna Huffington] given space in something called The Progressive Populist? [Re: “Let’s Not Fret Over Who is More Macho,” by Huffington, 6/1/12 TPP]. Obama didn’t “kill” bin Laden. He ordered his murder. No trial by jury, no evidence, no nothing. This spineless tool of capitalism is not “courageous” for ordering a murder carried out by an SOC 6 team member. Neither was the team member. Maybe you should consider changing the name of TPP to Arianna’s Carbon Copy, since just about every other article has “first appeared” in Huffington Post. Karl Kraus back in the 1930s wrote the definition of journalism which applies to her: “No ideas and the ability to express them — that’s [Arianna Huffington] (only he said “that’s a journalist”).

Bernard J. Berg
Easton, Pa.

Editor Replies: Huffington is one of more than 40 columnists whose point of view we think is worth sharing. The referenced column, for example, has to do with the differences between Obama and Mitt Romney — and is critical of Obama’s continuation of war in Afghanistan.

Zen Economics

The field of Economics has come full circle. Almost all of the Nations of the World are in debt. The Zen student asks: “To whom are the debts owed?” The Master replies: “To the Banks.” The student asks: “Why was the money borrowed?” The Master replies: “To lend to the Banks to rescue them from bankruptcy.”

“Banks and National Governments are interdependent,” he continues. “Banks support Governments,” he continued. “They buy Treasury Bonds, permitting Governments to spend more money than they take from their citizens in taxes. Governments support Banks by lending them money at near zero interest rates when Banks totter on the edge of bankruptcy. They then permit Banks to lend this money to Consumers at exorbitant interest rates.

Government agencies buy Banks‚ toxic assets at near face value instead of market value if those speculative investments plunge in value. They support Banks indirectly by allowing Banks to value their assets at face value instead of their lower market value, permitting them to report reserves that are legally required but do not exist. Banks rarely pay taxes.”

A financial circular firing squad has been created. Bank A lent money to Nation B who lent money to Bank C who lent money to Nation D who lent money to Bank A. Participants worry: “Who could be first to pull the trigger of default?”

How to fix the problem? The Economists propose that the People of the World engage in “Austerity.” By reducing their wages and giving up their health care and retirement benefits they can provide the money to pay the debts. The Zen student asks: “Why should I deprive myself of the plentiful goods and services earned by my labor in order to participate in the imaginary financial creations of the Economists, the Banks, and their Political henchmen?”

The Zen Master has not yet replied.

Arthur Robbins
San Diego, Calif.

The Real European

In his 6/1/12 TPP front page commentary, “Mitt: The Real European,” Andrew Leonard writes of government austerity doggedly forced on European nations. Other TPP articles continue the theme of austerity: governments spend too much money and their citizens spend too little.

Nations joining the eurozone cede sovereign power to print legal tender to the European Central Bank and accept the resulting common currency, the euro, for their legal tender. Eurozone nations must then borrow euros from private banks just as their citizens do and pay what ever interest is demanded.

But private banks “print” euros through the magic of Fractional Reserve Banking empowered by deposits of legal tender from the European Central Bank. The ECB loans legal tender to private banks but is not authorized to loan legal tender to governments. This is similar to the US situation where our Central Bank, The Fed, can loan billions to Goldman Sachs but not to California.

If the ECB loaned directly to Eurozone nations, renewed government spending for public services and vital infrastructure would quickly put euros into circulation reviving a failing eurozone economy. Employed citizens spend wages and pay taxes. Keynes would applaud!

Robert W. Zimmerer
Beaverton, Ore.

Take a Thorium

Forget what you know about nuclear energy. I want to tell you about a different kind of nuclear energy: thorium nuclear energy. Speaking of a nuclear plant run on thorium, Kirk Sorensen, NASA engineer, had this to say: “The reactor has an amazing safety feature; if it begins to overheat, a little plug melts and the salts drain into a pan. Because the reactor operates under atmospheric pressure, you can’t have an accident like the one in Japan.”

And there’s more. Within 10 years, 83% of the waste is stable, the rest in 300 years. Sure, that’s a long time. But compare that with how long the waste is unstable with the nuclear power plants we now use. Plus, a thorium reactor eats up the waste from old nuclear plants. How’s that for getting rid of the waste no one knows what to do with?

So why did we not use thorium in the first place? Because in World War II, we wanted a bomb, and you can’t make a bomb with thorium. With so much money spent on the Manhattan Project, no one was interested in looking at thorium anymore. But now China is, and we should be, too. Sure, all forms of nuclear power have their downsides. Like who wants to be anywhere near nuclear waste? But compared to the reactors we now have, a thorium reactor would be like a day at the beach. Let’s be fair and at least talk about it.

David Raisman
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Selenium Not Toxic

As Jim Hightower states, the toxicity of selenium can be bad (“J.R. Simplot’s Two Headed Trout,” 5/15/12 TPP). Selenium is a nonmetal, not a metal as reported in the article. The Handbook of Chemistry and Physics describes selenium, “as an element it is practically nontoxic and is considered to be an essential trace element; however hydrogen selenide and other other selenium compounds are extremely toxic, and resemble arsenic in their physiological reactions.” Hopefully the toxic effects will be limited to trout, and necessary steps will be taken to end the pollution, which could harm not just trout but also other animals including humans.

James H. Cooley
Troy, Idaho

Beware Quicksand

This is in reference to Alex Seitz-Wald's article, “Occupy Activists Run for Office,” in the 5/1/12 TPP. Anyone and everyone can run for any office they want to. But remember when you enter the arena then you have to play by their rules and should you survive the first round you still have more rounds to go and you still have to play by their rules, and you’re getting deeper into the quicksand. You will drown and it will spit you out and nothing has been done.

So beware, don't walk on ice and don't walk on quicksand.

Saul Einhorn
Tampa, Fla.

From The Progressive Populist, July 1-15, 2012


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