Enough Growth Already!

The Dick Gephardt speech published in January in these pages calls for a higher-growth economy, claiming that growth is a precondition of fairness and opportunity. Perpetual economic growth is our national political obsession, despite the fact that nothing can grow indefinitely. Economic growth requires either more consumers or more consumption per person. Population growth and consumption both have inherent limits as well as negative effects on our environment. Official policy should discourage both, yet tax credits and deductions are given for kids and consumption is promoted through taxpayer-funded, world-wide ad campaigns for U.S. products. Even if we do succeed in saturating every market on Earth with our junk food, cigarettes and computers, isn't it obvious that we would then need to settle for a level economy? Why not make the transition now while there are still a few Pepsi-free pockets left in the world?

This same analysis applies to the old-growth forest issue; we know that, the way things are going, very soon the old growth will be gone and the timber industry will have to adjust to rates of cutting that are no greater than rates at which the logged forests can grow back. Why not make the transition now while there's still a few percent of the pristine old-growth left? Then when we have a stable, locally-based economy with meaningful work for all, reduced consumption and increased leisure time we'll have something more than a planet laid to waste by our mad desire to make stockholders rich at any cost. The sooner we make the inevitable transition the easier it will be and the richer will be our post-growth economy and culture.

It is up to us to bring about the transition to a level and local economy in our own communities. Don't expect any help from the government, since all successful politicians are bought and paid for by those very interests that would profit from squeezing out the last of the market shares.

1411 B Bath St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Contract Growers Forgotten Again

I read a brief copy of the speech delivered by Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman. It appeared to me that most of the comments were directed toward crop growers. Small farm contract growers were ignored once again. Poultry farmers were not mentioned in the part of the speech that I read. It appears that the Poultry Industry is not considered a part of agriculture and that poultry growers are not considered as small farmers. We have been ignored and forgotten over the last two years.

I agree that many of us with small farms are in need of monetary assistance. However, for those of us who are contract growers and in debt to lending institutions and the government, borrowing more money seems to be digging a deeper hole with that much more debt to repay. Without attention being given to a more profitable business arrangement between an integrator and contract grower, farmers with small farm operations in the poultry industry are facing welfare and food stamps and perhaps the loss of their farms. Our incomes are not comparable with today's high costs of utilities, insurance, taxes, repairs and the purchase of equipment and supplies that is required by the integrators.

In South Arkansas we have only one poultry processor, ConAgra. We are constantly being told that we need to up-grade our poultry houses and equipment. With only one processor in our area there is a monopoly. It is either do as ConAgra says, or shut down the farm.

Mr. Glickman has made the statement many times that there will be no monopolies in agriculture. Yet, we can look at the buyouts made by Tyson Poultry Co. and their recent acquisition of Hudson Foods. Isn't Tyson gaining a monopoly in the poultry industry?

With the overwhelming response to the USDA's request for information from contract poultry growers, I feel that Mr. Glickman should be more sympathetic to our needs and concerns and should direct more attention to helping contract growers in all phases of agriculture. WE NEED HELP!

TAJUANA STOCKS and GAYLORD STOCKS, Contract grower for ConAgra
152 Hummingbird Lane
El Dorado, AR 71730

Prefer Candidates with a Chance

I have just finished reading [Hank Kalet's] "Grassroots" article in this month's Progressive Populist. We can't get enough of those kind of articles. Keep it up.

I had a second thought, tho, when I saw the comment, "the reason is simple" in explaining why Hoffman didn't garner more votes. As I remember that race, it was a very close one between the two leading candidates. Had I been voting in that race, no way would I have cast my vote for Hoffman -- even to send someone a message. (I can do that with a post card.) I would have had to dislike both leading candidates equally in order to vote for Hoffman. It's too risky to cast your vote to a probable losing candidate and get stuck with the worst of two evils. Things may be bad, but they can get worse.

We had it easy here in Oregon. Clinton had it sewed up solid. It was a joy to be able to vote for a candidate I wanted -- Nader -- and not worry that Dole might get in. (And I could send that all important message to Clinton too). To top it off, I've got an excellent Governor in the state because the Republicans split their vote with a third party.

There is a system of voting called "preference voting". You can vote your first and second choice. If your first choice doesn't get elected, your vote transfers to your second choice. It seems to me that if all third parties, including the Green Party, pushed for this type of balloting, they might quickly have some victories, and for sure they would find out immediately just how popular they really were. Is it worth another column in the P.P.?

1401. E. 27th
Eugene, OR 97403

Edit Hal Crowther

If Hal Crowther was any kind of journalist, instead of cowardly or lazy, he might have called Mr. Seymour Hersh and asked him his motivation for writing The Dark Side of Camelot, and then report those comments, and THEN print his own opinion, as if it mattered. Did he read the book? One certainly can't tell from his column [in the February Progressive Populist].

I read it. Not a happy read, but a lot of our history isn't. Why is it so hard for people to not blame the messenger who interviewed four saddened retired Secret Service agents who witnessed and spoke for the record to John Kennedy's reckless, compromising thrill-seeking?

I have no reason to believe Seymour Hersh ever lied to me. I have every reason in the world to believe John Kennedy did, every day of his one thousand in office. That says a lot more about the cynicism of JFK and about the gullibility of the public and the press than Hersh's book does about the decline of civilization.

Your letters solicitation asks readers to keep their letters brief. May I suggest Crowther is one of your chronic overwriters. Somebody ought to edit him.

Waterloo, Neb.
Email: dickp@dtn.com

Regs Not So Bad

There is a lot of railing against the oppressiveness of regulation brought on by the laws of big government, but: laws against robbing banks are oppressive only to those people who would rob banks if there were no laws to prohibit it; and, laws which mandate that contracts be clear and readable are oppressive only to those people who would write contracts to be confusing for their own advantage.

Next time you hear someone complaining about the oppressiveness of the laws of America ask him/her which law is most oppressive. The answer will give you a fair idea as to what the complainer would be doing if there were no laws to prohibit it. Without laws his/her behavior may be very unfair and oppressive to other people.

904 Dallas Street
De Soto, IA 50069
Email willisw@worldnet.att.net

Maggots at Work

I am an 81-year-old retired union plumber and although rigor mortis is gaining on me I'm not dead yet!

Therefore I submit the following thoughts:

Like maggots a growing dictatorship of the moneyed elite is consuming the living body of our society with the collusion of their political puppets in high office. Campaign contributions my eye! Bribery for bigger tax breaks and undermining the environment is the order of the day.

We ought to post warnings around Congress and other legislative bodies -- Caution! Maggots at Work!

Yours truly,

Rt 2 Box 396
Tallahassee, FL 32311


"Man's merit lieth in service and virtue, not in the pageantry of wealth and riches" -- His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

The dictionary defines wealth as much money, riches, or possessions. Any thesaurus might offer such synonyms as: affluence, economic value, fortune, or cash. However, today's society seems to have confused the definition of wealth with that of success. While similar in context, the greatest difference in the definition of the two words is that wealth usually implies some sort of monetary or material worth and success deals with something far more spiritual and rewarding.

While I feel the word success is very positive, I find wealth extremely dangerous. What is even more alarming is how the values of this time use the two words interchangeably. A mother might wish that her son be successful, and when asked what she meant by this, might reply something to the likeness of, "I want him to be wealthy, have a nice house, a good job, and a beautiful wife." This may seem like a perfectly reasonable response, however, left out of her definition of a successful life were such virtues as: love, happiness, service to the community, etc.

After asking several questions to a group of my peers and their parents, I discovered that most of them felt that a wealthy president of a large corporation was much more successful than a virtuous social worker or teacher. I dare to challenge these beliefs that have somehow become commonplace in our society. When did material possessions become the gauge of success? We are constantly bombarded with clichés such as "money canít buy you happiness", and almost all religions contain parables or teachings concerning the abandonment of material goods in search of spiritual achievement. However, it seems no one has taken it to heart. Media has exalted the super rich, and religions are constantly granting recognition to those who proudly present them with large sums of money rather than those who humbly donate time and effort.

An essay cannot solve problems, it can only offer a small bit of knowledge to its reader in hope that he will put it to good use. A wealthy man denotes a man who has achieved a vast amount of money or material possessions. A successful man is one that has humbly given love to his family, served his community, worked for the sake of improvement, and subsequently, achieved happiness.

526 Satinwood Drive
Key Biscayne, FL 33149

Journalism of hope

Democracy, a challenge. Democracy, an aspiration for millions of people the world over. That your journal is too radical for some and not enough for others is an example of Democracy. Far from perfect Democracy involves an active and responsible lifestyle that seems to be at odds with society today.

As human beings we need to nourish our minds and souls with ever changing ideas to encounter an ever changing world. What ever difficulties come of it and from it, Democracy can open for us the chance to hear those new voices and take action within our own community.

The world today seems an unfriendly and hostile place. Sometimes cynicism and desperation run rampant. The idea of using society to my own advantage, preying upon others, seems to be the ethics that big business the world over is sticking in our minds. Government, sensitive to elite interests and corruption, strangles, on a daily basis, people's opportunities to work for a better society. And many a day our own intolerance and prejudice make us perfect actors in a scenario of hatred and ultimate selfishness and dismay.

The Progressive Populist gives me not only information and opinion, above all it "throws a lifeline to progressives who feel they are stranded in a sea of ..." not only conservatives, also journalists and journalism that salute the lights and glitter of consumerism.

I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the force of mega media, the plastic lifestyle it upholds, while hushing the dark and cruel economical laws that make it all possible.

Reading your November issue I agree with your editorial, it's time to demand social responsibility from the corporations. They change and many a time destroy communities all over the world. As a Latino, an immigrant, I also agree, with Jesse Jackson, that labor unions are a basic human rights struggle in today's world.

The possibility of speaking up and stating our opinion, organizing ourselves to make and maintain a world where we can live, laugh, love and believe in each other as human beings is still a very common right in the USA. But we mustn't think that freedom is free. It takes time and effort, as it has always taken, to keep the wells of liberty from running dry.

If I don't agree with everything The Progressive Populist publishes, that's cool. Having you guys around is basic, and using what you put out there to "get busy living" is a great starting point. Thanks for upholding a type of journalism that gives me hope towards a future that we build today.

By the way I'm finally subscribing, sincerely

Pompano Beach, Fla.

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