Plutocracy Replaces Democracy

I really enjoyed your article [“The New Corporate Totalitarianism,” 8/15/12 TPP]. For the first time someone in our Country had the courage to call the things by the proper name.

I have many years of experience under Soviet occupation, and can see how detrimental are the changes in the USA and how much we start resembling the system which we were fighting for so many years.

There is one thing which we still do not want to see, because of our infatuation with the Old American Dream. This country is not any more a Democracy. Rather a word, Plutocracy, would fit. How can we call a country a Democracy if anybody and anything can be bought with money? It is only question of how much. Even most of our newspapers compare the presidential candidates not by what they stand for, but how much money they collected.

Something has to be done. Probably the way we are appointing the judges of superior court would be the good beginning. It is definitely a non-democratic way to be nominated by a existing president. It rather reminds of a roulette.

Thaddeus Swiecki
Tempe, Ariz.


Mandatory Insurance Not a Good Start

With amazement I read the “Editorial” of-the 8/1/12 TPP on “ACA [being] a Good Start.” So I kept looking in vain on what this “Good Start” was to be followed by and found nothing in the editorial. Perhaps in one of the following pages I would find my answer of what is to follow the “Good Start”, but again ... nothing!

Well, that did not reassure me on the worth of “ACA,” the Affordable Care Act, especially since after its full implementation by 2019 there would be at least 26 million Americans without “coverage,” whatever that means.

After reading Gene Lyons’ tract [“Ignorance of the health care law is no excuse”], I know now that those at least 26 million Americans without private insurance will be considered not-virtuous “free riders,” adolescent deadbeats, Americans sitting on their lazy keisters, and just plain ignorant Americans who do not buy health insurance, and will create problems for the rest of the country.

Why does this Gene Lyons stop at forcing Americans to buy private industry health insurance as totally within the requirements of the Constitution, and the most efficient health care system? Why stop at this transfer of government responsibilities and duties to the private sector? Let us just disband all our military branches and transfer them to the private sector: surely, it can do all this much better than Leon Panetta ever could, or for that matter Robert Gates. And we can privatize even government itself and give it to the corporations to run. As these lazy Americans do not even take their responsibility to vote seriously, that will eliminate another problem. No doubt, all that “voter fraud” will be eliminated by elections through privately-held voting machines.

Any Progressive Populist supporter should see the simplicity of it all! Either that, or slide Gene Lyons into the side-pew as a reliable acolyte on the Limbaugh Program, where he will be much more appreciated.

Enrique Gentzsch
Minneapolis, Minn.


Excuuuse Me

Gene Lyons’ 8/1/12 TPP article on “Understanding Health Care Law …” had great sardonic value (as usual) but his closing paragraph was wanting of tact. To wit: “Many of you have mistakenly trusted carnival barkers like Limbaugh and Sarah Palin.”

Well, excuse the hell out of us, Gene, but I strongly doubt that any of us (let alone many of us) who would spend time reading your column are likely to listen to (let alone trust) Mr. Limpblob or Hockeymom.

Thanks anyway for the insult.

Ron DiGiovanni
Easton, Pa.


Betting Against US

My Republican friends tell me that Mitt Romney wasn’t their first choice but they’re still going to stay with him because he’s a Republican. Their problem is though, even though he’s rich and has a lot of money, how did he make it, which was in private equity? It’s similar to just exactly how a hedge fund dealer operates, which is betting on trends.

That’s what took place in an article in the June 22 issue of the Monroe (Wis.) Times, “Bad Reports Dip Dow.” “The outlook turned so bad that a Goldman Sachs analyst told clients to place bets against the stock market. ... After the market closed, Moody’s Investor Services lowered the ratings of 15 the world’s largest banks, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, saying their long-term prospects for profitability and growth were dimming.”

You’ll notice three of the biggest investment banks, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, got bailed out by retiring President George W. Bush and incoming President Obama, with taxpayer money known as TARP. The problem is, though, the banks really didn’t change their mode of operation at all, concerning the big banks known for their reputation of “too big to fail.”

Their attitudes, particularly JPMorgan are downright arrogant. When the Senate and House Banking Committees held hearings where Jamie Dimon [CEO of JPMorgan Chase Bank] testified, he still thought the banks didn’t need any new regulations and the fact that he thought he earned his huge salary and bonuses. One of JPMorgan’s London traders lost possibly $9 billion and they can’t explain where it went to because a lot of our big banks are investing into the European economy, like Greece, Italy and other European countries.

These practices got so bad and the unemployment grew so severe that Greece, which had a low suicide rate, went to one of the highest, which averaged one a day, according to the article, “Europe’s ‘White Widows,” from the June 25 issue of Newsweek written by Barbie Latza Nadeau. Greece can’t figure out how they’re going to get their bills paid and it’s the same for us.

This is exactly the same question Mitt Romney, who’s in private equity, is going to have to answer in the coming months if he expects to become president. Warren Buffett, who’s a hedge fund dealer, feels you have to raise income taxes on the top 1% to help our growing debt.

LaVern F. Isely
Monroe, Wis.


Shine, Baby, Shine

I enjoyed “High Noon for Solar” by Randy Udall (8/1/12 TPP). It is amazing that the big publications don’t publish more articles of this type. Here is some additional information: The 5 leading countries in solar panels installed power are

1. Germany, 9,785 MW

2. Spain 3,386 MW

3. Japan 2,653 MW

4. USA 1,650 MW

5. Italy 1,167 MW

This is 2010 data. It does not tell the whole story. The interested reader can calculate the installed power per inhabitant. Another factor to be taken into account is the climate. In Mr. Udall’s state, Colorado, the sun shines about 300 days/year. On the other hand, in Germany it is cloudy most of the time and when the sun shines it does so weakly which isn’t surprising because more than 3/4 of Germany is at a latitude higher than the north border of the USA.

In summary we should, instead of “drill, baby, drill” have a motto: Shine, baby, shine. We will long be gone when the sun finally runs out of power...

Rafael M Iñigo
Charlottesville, Va.


What About Militia

Hello. I was glad to read your most recent editorial about gun laws [“No Time for Gun Reform,” 8/15/12 TPP], but I have one complaint: the Second Amendment starts out with a noun clause referring to “a well-regulated militia.” This means that the well-regulated militia is the subject of that amendment. The writers of the Constitution were concerned that Great Britain would invade them, which they did in 1812, and that the government would need to call up a militia to defend the country. In this context, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged.” Unfortunately, that context and the clause at the beginning of the amendment has been completely ignored, and the courts think that people should be able to own assault rifles, people-killing devices like cannons (see Justice (sic) Scalia), and everything except what is needed to defend the country in case of invasion.

If we were invaded, would handguns be any good? Of course not. They are only good to kill civilians in non-invasion situations. Why the heck do we keep letting right-wing groups like the NRA get away with this? I am also concerned to read about what, in this increasingly militarized society, the local police departments are getting to deal with the citizenry. My city, Berkeley, Calif. (yes, oh-so-liberal Berkeley), almost got an armored car, which they admitted they had no use for, but planned to use against citizen demonstrations in the city and on the campus of UC Berkeley. Thankfully, they changed their minds. In this context, doesn’t a well-regulated militia sound like a good idea?

Dianne M. Leonard
Berkeley, Calif.


Regulate Gun Markets

Having killed another man in a war zone when I was little more than a boy, I hate the thought that this nation I love continues to have people like James Holmes who kill merely because they can.

We ought to know he was mentally disturbed as there seems to be nothing in his background that would even suggest he might be capable of such a heinous deed. But who are we to judge another’s motives. Perhaps a jury or a judge will do that for us.

What troubles me more than all the talk since that fateful day is that it seems to ignore reality.

I was grateful to have an automatic weapon at hand. Otherwise, I might have been the victim, but automatic weapons have no place in the possession of individuals in a civil society. They are weapons of warfare. I support our gun laws allowing individuals to possess them to protect their families and their property, but such needs do not require automatic weapons.

I hope you will consider these thoughts and work with others to close down the marketplace for such weapons. Yes, I know there will be “black markets,” but to allow any person to walk into a store as Holmes did and walk out with one is in one word — “insanity.”

Sherwood MacRae
Cookeville, TN


No Slack for Penn State

Dave Zirin, in his 8/15/12 TPP article on the NCAA’s injunction against Penn State following the child abuse scandal [“NCAA’s Sanctions Against Penn State are Just Dead Wrong”], is the one who’s “Dead Wrong.” Zirin writes that Penn State did not perpetrate any type of infringement against NCAA regulations. This is nonsense. By not reporting the child rapist, and indeed hiding him in the showers to molest more boys, Penn State reaped the rewards of continued successes in recruiting, the accumulation of monetary donations to the sports programs, and every other intangible that comes with these circumstances, all in order to keep the divine football program free from indignity. Had Penn State done the humane thing by reporting this demented monster, one can only surmise at the damage it would have caused to high and mighty football. That alone constitutes contravention. How can this not be a football issue?

Zirin also believes that by taking down Joe Paterno’s statue, Penn State “did more to confront this culture of reverence” to football than anything the NCAA did by leveling these sanctions. Again, this is drivel. That Paterno’s statue remained standing for so long only shows Penn State’s “culture of reverence,” Penn State’s incompetence to act, and that the university would only succumb to outside pressure, for if there was not any external coercion Paterno’s effigy would still be roaring triumphantly, oblivious to the myriad damaged lives.

Finally, that Penn State is a publicly funded university is only a matter of coincidence. If Penn State was a private school we should expect the same sanctions. It just so happens that this was a scandal that occurred at a public university. The NCAA needed to act. Without a doubt, this was also a football scandal. By keeping silent, Penn State reaped the rewards for over a decade. They must now pay, with Penn State assuring the taxpayer that this, ultimately, will not cost them a penny.

Joseph Malatesta
McAdoo, Pa.

American Nightmare

Dreams are ephemeral. But the ”American Dream” is used as a metaphor for success. The American Dream could not be conceived without hundreds of millions of people dying both here in the US and around the world so that we could claim land, resources and labour to perpetuate the “Dream.” For most people faced with the colossal US military, the American Dream is a “Nightmare”.

Maybe we could find a more realistic metaphor for people’s legitimate aspirations for a better life without exploiting others lives and resources.

Denise D’Anne
San Francisco, Calif.


Building Bridges in the Mideast

So, there are no funds available for re-building highways, bridges, nor anything else in the US Homeland. But unlimited for building military bases, complete with drones, in Africa, Arabia, and anywhere else, deemed necessary by the CIA, and Pentagon. Even in Australia. How soon can we expect Fox News to report that our brave troops are marching off to another killing field, in order to “Protect our freedoms, and way of life.” Or, “Fight ’em over there, so we won’t have to fight ’em over here.” Isn’t that the reason we were given for being in the Mideast war? Next time, how about sending all the “chicken-hawk” war-mongers and profiteers hanging around America’s Mustang Ranch on the Potomac [a.k.a. the Congress]?

Of course Junior Bush said that God told him to strike in the Mideast. Uh huh. Sure, He did! Wonder what advice has He given Junior, lately?

Lamar Wray
Eupora, Miss.

From The Progressive Populist, September 1, 2012



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