Rome Is Burning

Our nation's leaders continue to fight with each other about who slept with who or who raised money from which contributor, or who tripped over which law on the way to the forum. Their silly finger pointing inside the Beltway merits little attention among our citizenry because the common folk are engaged in their own battle for survival. The leaders that we elected and who are granted the power and authority by our Constitution to provide for the welfare of the citizenry are too busy with their childish food fight to even consider the problems of our nation.

Consider the rural areas of America and the people who reside there. The latest figures we have on rural poverty are from the 1990 Census. We will not have any more accurate figures until the 2000 Census. (For the 1990 Census figures click here.)

China has 11.5 per cent of its rural population living in poverty according to an article in the Wall Street Journal on December 7, l997. These United States have 10 states where the rural poverty level is above 20 percent, 14 states where the rural poverty level is above 14.9 per cent but below 20.0 per cent, and 12 states where the poverty level is between 11.5 per cent and under 14.8 per cent. Our nation only has 14 states where the rural poverty level is below that of China.

Rome is burning and our rural areas are in worse shape that those of China in many cases, yet our leaders continue to fiddle away their time in Washington D.C. and in many state capitals. They continue to deny that any problem exists in our rural areas. Denial is not in the Constitution, but promoting the welfare of the nation is. In fact it is in the oath of office of every federal official that he or she is sworn to protect, and defend the welfare of the nation. The agricultural crisis has hit hard in rural America. These figures tell the tale. Yet public policy refuses to address these problems. Our leaders are more interested in giving tax breaks and export subsidies to agri-business corporations than in addressing the farm crisis, rural poverty and its aftermath.

645 East Maiden St Ap.2B
Washington, Penna. 15301
Email lhamilt@cobweb.net

What's Going On?

Appreciating my new newspaper Progressive Populist! Nice to read what IS REALLY GOING ON in this country!

All of us finally got used to hearing R. Limbaugh guzzling away on radio but thought the far right was not too evident as yet on TV.

Well, latest discovery! Time Warner Cable here has a NEW station going full blast WNTO Channel 26 (in my county it is channel 18). They have a program called AMERICA'S VOICE chocked full of snide remarks about anything democratic. They give space to Oliver North and Robert Novak, to mention a couple. They advertise their magazine, The American Spectator, showing us the covers of many past issues.

I once read a copy of The American Spectator and it was really something. R. Limbaugh is quite mild compared to it! They holler how only they will tell us the TRUTH!

They take a lot of call-in calls which are quite something to hear, also. Not like the calls Larry King gets on his show!

Yours truly, and keep up the good work.

3613 Egret Drive
Melbourne, FL 32901

Stick to Alternatives

What is happening to you? In January you devoted two entire pages to a nauseating neo-liberal lullaby about the wonders of: "internationalization of trade"; "exciting interconnected world"; and "global high growth economy", by Gephardt, a status quo puppet of the corporate oligarchy.

At the very least you should have included the dollar amounts of his contributions from ADM, Monsanto, et al.

As Hightower says, some say we need a third party -- what we really need is a second.

Then in February, you come up with this crap from Holhut about Vermont Governor, Howard Dean for President -- how about the 'rest of the story'? Dean is of the Dean Witter Reynolds Deans, and right out of the capitalist corporate mold, ever the supporter of the rich and powerful, big business and growth, growth, growth (like cancer).

He recently brought in a huge Canadian factory that makes equipment to manufacture plastic bottles. To do this he got the zoning changed on the beautiful farmland around Arrowhead Mountain Lake (the very same lake mentioned by Hightower in that issue where dirtbag Dean approved the slaughter of swans as "aliens"). He agreed to provide the factory with an eight million dollar bridge across this environmentally sensitive lake to boot.

Then he brought in a Canadian industrial pork and egg baron, Lucien Breton; Dean and his hand-picked Commissioner of Agribusiness encouraged this guy to build a 700,000-bird egg factory and got it defined as a "farm". They grow nothing on the land, have caused enormous problems for neighbors and hurt family farms in the area.

Dean has fought on the side of Monsanto to make rBGH easily available and untraceable in the milk supply and announced that as an MD, he knows that rBGH is safe.

Dean and his Ag Commissioner support product disparagement laws (see Nader's column) with rBGH and Alar in mind, the really funny thing is that Commissioner Graves continually issues dire warnings against touching raw milk to your lips. In fact the PP ran a story a while back about Laini Fondiller, the goat lady, who was harassed and threatened for years because she produced cheese from eight or nine goats without approved, automated processing equipment.

Dean, Gephardt, and their ilk get plenty of space in big important publications -- please don't fill up the PP with them, they are not fit to stand with true thinkers like Krebs, Sam Smith, Hightower, Nader, Ivins and the rest of the people we look forward to reading in the pages of the PP.

We need you to write about true alternatives to the pseudo-democracy which we have permitted to devolve -- LOCAL food systems, LOCAL economies, raw materials, economics, generation of real wealth, environmental and social justice, tearing down corporate control and keeping the land in the hands of small farmers.

Spare us the rationale of the Democrats being the lesser of two evils. I'd rather look the Devil in the eye as a known enemy than be stabbed in the back by a two faced Clintonian ally.

PO Box 551
Hardwick, VT 05843

Editor Replies:
Thanks for the other side of the story. The Progressive Populist is a tool for democracy, but we serve progressive Democrats (and progressive Republicans, if any of them survive) as well as alternative political movements. We think progressive populists from all political camps should talk with each other and find common ground, which is why we ran Gephardt's speech and why we're interested in who might be in the running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

History Won't Absolve Us

Noting William Blum's letter in the January issue, I checked on the long list of U.S. Goveznment assassination plots he listed at the end of his book Killing Hope, over thirty plots against world leaders and other "troublemakers;" and find neither there nor in the text itself any mention of the U.S. Government's ~successful conspiracy in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

E. Martin Schotz's History Will Not Absolve Us (Plough Publishers, Spring Valley Bruderhof, Farmington, PA 15437) offers documents to show that the Kennedy Assassination is not a mystery. Clearly, it had to be "a conspiracy and that it was organized at the highest levels of the CIA." The documents in this book add up to certain knowledge of the goverment's acts in the slaying of its President.

The documents include Kennedy's speeeh at American University some 5-1/2 months before his murder. Here Kennedy spoke of real world peace witn total disarmament and peaceful relations with all nations. Here, Kennedy was ahead of most Americans, a true leader and therefore exposed to destruction. Also included was Fidel Castro's long analysis of recent events, of American policy toward Cuba, one day after the murder. Other vital evidence, this uncovered by Vincent Salandria, was an internal documentation showing the premature identification of Oswald as the lone assassin. The document was a letter from Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach to the Johnson White House that advised: "The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large. ..."

Your paper is worth the trees.

7362 Walker Road
Fairview, TN 37062

Tax Whiners

It doesn't seem to have occured to Cullen [see Editorial, 3/98 Progressive Populist] that the simple reason why it is inappropriate to confiscate Bill Gates' resources is due to the remarkably simple fact that he legitimately owns them and, as usual, the whiners do not.

(no address given)
Email: cy@mr.picker.com

Still Striking in Detroit

My name is Barbara Ingalls and I am a member of Detroit Typographical Union Local 18 (Detroit Newspaper Chapel). That makes me a member of the CWA (Communications Workers of America) as well. I joined the union on July 5, 1994, one week and one day before the newspaper strike began. I was hired as a part-timer, and was one of four people hired after a 20-year hiring freeze. (There were more part-timers hired two months after I was.)

I was a Macintosh operator in the composing room, making all the ads that went into both the News and the Free Press. I am a trained graphic designer and enjoy the work very much.

There were approximately 115 union printers in the department at the start of the strike. This was an area hardest-hit by the computer revolution. There were hundreds of printers in the hot metal days and all of my union brothers are survivors of the cuts due to technology. Most of them have over thirty years experience and have worked at the newspapers since they were very young men. This is how the company has thanked them, after years of concessions and arduous retraining. Most of my union brothers (and one of the sisters) have been called back to work under the unconditional offer, but their work is greatly diminished and they are given almost nothing to do. Most of the real work is being done by scabs in what they call "Marketing Services." They give the busy work to the real printers.

Five of our union crossed the picket line -- two older printers and three part-timers. I am very ashamed of them. About 10 of our union have been fired, mostly for an act of civil disobedience enacted on Labor Day of 1996. My brothers and sisters in Detroit Typographical Union have suffered greatly, and I am incredibly proud to stand with them.

Since the beginning of the strike I have been very active. I worked in the Community Services program we began the second week of the strike, organizing the food bank, counseling services and financial aid. During that time, I helped publish the first strike paper, The Detroit Union; and I worked on the first of many many benefits organized to help the strikers. In January of 1996 I moved over to the Sunday Journal, where I work today, in the Classified Ad department. Since January 1997 I have been involved in a group known as the Road Warriors, who -- under the guidance of the Corporate Affairs department of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters -- traveled the East Coast raising money, consciousness and hell. Many of the Board of Directors of Gannett and Knight-Ridder live and work out there, and we made a point of stopping and saying hello at their offices, homes and places of entertainment.

We also attended the Board meetings of both companies. If things go right in the next few months, we will be able to resurrect the program, which I think is one of the most effective activities we have done.

I have been married for 19 years to Bob Ingalls, UAW Local 182; a Ford Motor Company electrician. We have no children. If it were not for his support and encouragement, I would not be able to do my work. He has been more active in this strike than many strikers! He has been beaten by goons and cops and together we have seen the kind of violence we thought went out of date in the 1930s. It has only made us more determined to win this horrible thing. My only regret on this trip is my husband will not be with me -- he is something.

In 1853, Elizabeth Cady Stanton said, "For the present, we must let these narrow-minded and unfair critics rage. They cannot put down our ideas, and we will have our day in the end." As Bruce Allen says, the world is our picket line.

In Solidarity, Barb

(This was written for a West Coast tour in support of striking Detroit newspaper workers. To subscribe to the Detroit Journal in support of the strikers, at $15 for 3 months, call 313-964-5655 or write 450 W. Fort, Detroit, MI 48226.)

Home Page

News | Current Issue | Back Issues | Essays | Links

About the Progressive Populist | How to Subscribe | How to Contact Us

Copyright © 1998 The Progressive Populist