Republican Tax Plan Bad for Me and US

I have upper-middle income, yet far from the 1%. The loss of Federal tax credit for state and local taxes hurts me. My taxes will go up.

I don’t mind paying taxes for government services like schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, health and safety inspectors, environmental protection and astronauts. But I am taxed MORE than should be because the top 1% of the top 1% isn’t paying their fair share. They have gotten tax exceptions written into the tax laws which enable them to amass most of this nation’s wealth. They benefited from previous generations of taxpayers who built the physical infrastructure and social institutions that enabled them to become so wealthy, yet they feel little responsibility to return the benefit to future generations.

The extreme concentration of wealth distorts the politics of our democracy, impedes the function of our free-market economy, and decreases our opportunities for “pursuit of happiness.” Republicans want to eliminate the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax that balance this inequality to a small degree. Excessive wealth amassed in one generation must be partially returned to the country rather than remain concentrated in hands of a few fortunate dynasties.

The tax plan proponents say that lowering taxes for the rich will create jobs. This is the trickle-down theory in which the poor, who subsist on table scraps dropped by the rich, can be served by giving the rich bigger meals. It is false and deceptive, and benefits only those who already have wealth and power.

Bruce Joffe, Piedmont, Calif.

Slippery Statues

In “Statutory Offenses” [10/15/17 TPP], Hal Crowther makes several arguments for preserving public statues of Confederate military leaders. One is the oft-heard “slippery slope”: demands for these removals will lead to taking away monuments to Gandhi or Mandela, to cite two he mentions. The reality is that months have passed since the controversy began, and there is some, but not a great deal of, attention to monuments beyond the original category.

Another argument Crowther makes is that these statues of Confederates “provoke nostalgia … because of their permanent presence in a world that’s changing too fast.” The reader wonders what kind of changes are disturbing Southerners: the Internet, smart phones and self-driving cars? (If it is, remove the general and just leave the saddled horse), or legal gay marriage, a black president, rights for trans people? Crowther writes, “If you’ve lived where the stone generals have always stood, they’ve become a piece of who you are.” What can that possibly mean for black Southerners whose ancestors were enslaved, or who suffered under Jim Crow? Very likely, they do not want these men - who personified the intrinsic violence of slavery by leading armies to defend it - to be “a piece of who they are.”

In the same edition, Wayne O’Leary expresses similar views in “Marble Men,” writing, “You can’t wish away history or airbrush it, nor should you try.” On the contrary, removing such monuments does not deny history. We remember history with writing (including the digital), documentaries, oral histories, archives, museums. Statues, monuments, place names, on the other hand, bestow respect, honor and glory. The message is that the subject is an exemplar of our highest aspirations. It implies not superhuman perfection, but the celebration of virtue and the exhortation to emulate it.

Furthermore, the Confederate monuments were not put up so that the Civil War would not be “airbrushed” or “wished away.” According to research by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of the such new monuments first peaked around 1910, almost half a century after the war, when the consolidation of Jim Crow had been completed. The next peak came in the 1960s, as the Civil Rights movement gained traction. The message, especially meant for Southern blacks, was: the South still reveres what these men stood for: keeping blacks down, by force if necessary.

Why should that message, or the monuments built to convey it, still stand today?

Marian Swerdlow, New York, N.Y.

Religious Hypocrites Amongst Us

Oh! Where is the brilliant philosopher, mathematician, physicist and inventor Blaise Pascal when we need him more than ever (1623-1662)? Yes, unfortunately his passing left the world with this disturbing and demonic reality: “Men never do evil so cheerfully and completely as they do so from religious convictions.”

This past century has produced more “religious hypocrites” from the political realm than any other sector of our society illustrated with the likes of Newt Gingriches, Bill O’Reillys and now Roger Aileses and Judge Roy Moores of the world who hold a great amount of power, with the ability for great harmful abuse and life ruination. Senatorial candidate Judge Roy Moore, like so many pedophile priests, had the unquestionable societal respect that enabled them to manipulate and abuse at the time of occurrence and continue forward to time of exposure with believing the perpetrators more so than the victims. The arrogant ideological ignorance attributable to religiosity is prevalent throughout multiple religious denominations and the absolute need for a new “Era of Enlightenment” inclusive of a worldwide “religious conclave“ is essential and urgent for civilizations continuance.

The likes of the aforementioned characters and the many additional who line the hallways throughout our national governance are many, and pose a threat to our Republic and democratic process with their suppositions of reality not supported with reason, truth or substantial fortified facts. Our founders determined that our nation’s citizenry is best served in a “secular society” where many religions have a voice; not a theocratic nation with singular authoritative adherence.

Religious zealotry has run amuck and poses a threat to democracy itself if not countered vigorously with facts/truth.

Frank C. Rohrig, Milford, Conn.

More to be Told of Vietnam

I just finished reading Wayne O’Leary’s column on “Ken Burns’ Vietnam War” [11/15/17 TPP] and I am amazed that even a TPP columnist doesn’t mention President Eisenhower’s ignoring the call for elections to unite North and South Vietnam (Geneva Accords of 1954). This was the primordial cause of our involvement because Ike’s advisors knew Ho Chi Minh would have won by an 80% plurality. So much for the “Sweet Land of Liberty.” Also, ignored by O’Leary as well as Ken Burns was the raid on the Catonsville, Md., draft board led by Phil and Dan Berrigan in 1968. I will never forget Dan Berrigan’s comment to the FBI agent who put the handcuffs on him as the nine stood outside the draft board building watching the draft records burn with homemade napalm. (The nine preferred burning paper instead of children.) In disgust, the FBI agent, on learning the Berrigans were Catholic priests, said, “I’m going to change my religion,” and Berrigan replied, “I hope so.”

Several years ago, a Vietnam vet came home to the Allentown area to praise, black-slapping, “well-done, son, we’re proud of you.” His reply to the Morning Call reporter who wrote the feature story was “What I had just ‘done’ was the most abominable thing I ever did or ever hope to do.”

I just can’t help myself wondering why O’Leary overlooked some of these sentiments. The Berrigans and their seven followers did some heavy time for their Catonsville raid. As a newly ordained priest from the first class out of Pope John XXXIII National Seminary (1968), I can’t recall what my reaction was at the time, but ultimately their action was a contributing factor to my feeling, thoughts and way of life thereafter. As the coach said in Jason Miller’s hit play, That Championship Season, “The Jesuits were the scholars of the Church.”

Bernard J. Berg, Easton, Pa.

Progressives Will Continue

All during this year of shock and awesome dismay, there have been some really great articles in TPP dealing with the deplorable Cabinet choices made by the present “administration.” They all tended to sabotage each department all down the line. Although our so-called POTUS went along with the nominations, he was not the “expert” who chose them. It was all done strategically by anonymous duplicitous renovators. We’ve all seen it happen as a deliberate destructive movement to obliterate the US Constitutional State as we know it. Steve Bannon came out and bald-faced admitted it! As we’ve seen, some of the Cabinet members and other offices have had to leave those jobs due to expert investigations. But most of them remain and are dutifully responsive to the Billionaire Oligarchy that has been germinating for many decades. When a congressperson comes out with stupid and silly rhetoric, they are simply indicating that the constituency audience has the mindset of pitifully narrow concepts and personal insecurities. The entrepreneurial wingnuts also seek them out in service to congressional Tea Party monkey business and self-serving over-ambition. However, they may soon find that a growing majority of US citizens are not from the shallow end of the gene pool — as are the Trumpites and their dear leader.

We can always count on intelligent, free-thinking, observant, intuitive real patriots who can overwhelmingly outnumber that dysfunctional, primitive voting bloc which has been exploited and used so flagrantly. The progressive journey of the USA will continue on in spite of the power grabbing and greedy thievery that all civilizations and cave clans had to deal with since humans began walking on their hind legs.

Helen McKinney, Sapphire, N.C.

Dystopian Future

Two recent events offer a sobering and concerning outlook for civilization. These two events include Scott Pruitt’s proclamation that the EPA will gut all science panels and replace them with members who harbor more “diverse views”. “Diverse views” means replacing true scientists with corporate oil company propagandists and hacks who spend their waking hours trying to con the population into believing that global warming is nothing but a “liberal hoax”. This is hauntingly similar to the tobacco lobby “scientists” a half century ago who sold a then unsuspecting public on the health and benefits from cigarette smoking. Pruitt is gutting the EPA like a fish and muzzling this neutered environmental watch dog from even uttering the words “Climate Change.” The other event is the announcement that the US’ planned 30-year, trillion-dollar “nuclear modernization plan” now has a burgeoning price tag of $1.2 trillion. These twin developments confirm that US planners have no regard for the future of our children or the survival of the species. Contrast this with many indigenous peoples who carefully planned for the welfare and health of the upcoming six generations. The comparison is damning.

We have to ask ourselves what has occurred in American culture where a dystopian future of Hell on Earth is accepted as the inevitable byproduct of human civilization and “progress.” Perhaps the impact of endless commercialization that promotes mindless consumerism has taken a toll that has yet to be fully realized. That mired and embedded with the toxic hubris and propaganda of “American Exceptionalism” and a growing and relentless commitment to endless war and militarism has perhaps robbed us collectively of both our intellectual and moral integrity. How else can we explain a government and a nation systematically and with intent adopting policies and strategies that, left unchallenged, with certainty wreak havoc on all humanity and the planet? It is neither shrill nor exaggeration to define the strategies and philosophies of both Pruitt and our nuclear planners as inherently evil. Left unchallenged these twin forces of environmental catastrophe and nuclear war will inevitably end civilization as we know it. It will be, as Khrushchev once prophesied, “The living will envy the dead.”

However there is hope and enormous possibility with people embracing reason and science and finding a renaissance in political action and democracy. Our future does not need to be a dystopian Hell where all we can offer our children is a poisoned ruined planet or a nuclear wasteland. To build that future we will need to see a level of activism and commitment not seen since the civil rights movement. Collectively and by working together we can make this happen.

Jim Sawyer, Edmonds, Wash.

From The Progressive Populist, December 15, 2017


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