Give Clean Money a Try

Congratulations to Jean Hay for collecting the 150 $5 "Qualifying Contributions" to become eligible, under Maine's new Clean Money Election Law, for full public financing in her race for the state senate ["Maine's Clean Election Donor Chase," 6/1/00 PP]. Variations of Maine's legislation have passed in Vermont, Massachusetts and Arizona, and this November will be the first time that the clean money concept is put to the test.

In Vermont, Anthony Pollina is running for Governor as a Progressive. (The Vermont Progressive Party already has four members in the state legislature). He needs to raise $35,000 in "Qualifying Contributions" of $50 or less from 1,500 Vermont voters, and he is almost there. The prize is $265,000 in public money for his election campaign. As with Hay in Maine, he cannot raise or spend any additional private money once he chooses public funding. The Democratic incumbent, Howard Dean, and one of the two Republican candidates, William Meub, are also raising Qualifying Contributions. Come November, Progressive, Democrat, and Republican candidates for Governor will compete on a financially level playing field.

Raising money in small contributions is difficult and undemocratic, Jean Hay says. She prefers a system in which public financing is available to any candidate who tosses his or her hat in the ring. I disagree.

Anyone who wants to run for office should have the opportunity. Ballot access laws should be simple and non-discriminatory. But getting money from the public till should require something more. It should not be a form of political welfare in which individuals with no record of political achievement run for office, get money, and, perhaps, only pretend to campaign. Practically speaking, public financing would not get public or legislative support if there was no qualifying threshold.

Candidates who want to run with public money should be required to prove that they have some popular support within their community. To be sure, the number and amount of Qualifying Contributions is not written in stone. It might well be that the period for collecting Qualifying Contributions in Maine is too short, and that winter is not the best time for raising money. One dollar donations, as in Vermont, should count as Qualifying Contributions, as Hay suggests. It's not the amount of money a candidate raises but the number of contributions that proves a candidate has popular support.

Collecting Qualifying Contributions should be a stretch. Candidates should have to raise the money from circles beyond their immediate family, colleagues and friends. Raising money from people in church groups, service organizations and labor unions is not pandering to special interests, as Jean Hay claims. The organizations can't give money. Only individuals can, and $5 isn't going to buy the access and influence that, elsewhere in the country, fat cats who give thousands get. Besides, raising small contributions is an exercise in grassroots organizing that should pay dividends on election day.

The Clean Money Election Reform has the potential to reshape our democracy. For more information on the Clean Money reform, call Public Campaign at 888 293-5755 or go to (www.publicampaign.org).

Brattleboro, Vt.

Editor's Note: As a member of the (now defunct) Working Group on Electoral Democracy (a precursor of Public Campaign), Marty Jezer helped draft the "model bill for democratically financed elections" on which the various clean money reforms are based.

TR No Hero

As a proud hardcore leftist, and admirer of Jim Hightower, Dan Perkins, and the other insightful analysts who put corporate greed and hypocrisy under the microscope in your wonderful paper, I was sickened by John Schmidt's May 15 letter. Imagine. Romanticizing Theodore Roosevelt into a radical!

Roosevelt did make a few token passes at populism; trust-busting, threatening to nationalize the coal companies, etc., but he was 100 percent committed to the needs of the ruling class -- his class. And we may be sure he never did any real damage to the wealth of the robber barons.

All American public school children are taken to plays glorifying T.R. -- the brave boy who fought to overcome asthma, and who was always honest, and clean. And, in the texts with which our teachers teach us lies Teddy was a war hero. Listen! This is the most important truth there is: There's no such thing as a war hero! When any young man from any land agrees to put on an ugly uniform, follow government orders, and kill humans with other uniforms, he is far from a hero -- he is a conformist, a coward, and a murderer. Wars are fought to further enrich the likes of Lockheed-Martin, and to insure a steady supply of cheap labor.

Teddy Roosevelt's actual character can be summed up in the following statements which he made: "I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are the dead ones, but I believe 9 out of 10 are, and I would not inquire too closely into the case of the tenth."

"Peace cannot compare to the glory of war."

And, when he heard his cousin Cornelius had married a French actress, "Imagine, marrying a commoner! The vulgar brute -- he's not worthy of the Roosevelt name!"

Theodore's father was one of the richest men in New York. When Teddy was at Harvard he spent more than three times what the average student there spent. He had a cook, a man to black his boots, and he kept his horses nearby.

Nearly everything we think we know about T.R. is myth, created by the finest spin doctors money could buy. We're told he was a fine boxer, but the Harvard newspaper records that lightweight C.S. Hanks gave Roosevelt a terrible beating, and "... showed mercy in not hurting him worse."

We've had some monsters -- George Bush, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan -- baby murderers all, but none tops Theodore Roosevelt. He epitomized everything the Progressive Populist exists to expose and combat. America is convinced it owns the world, and may do with it as it damn well pleases. Roosevelt, who tricked the people of Colombia so he could finish the Panama Canal for quick US Naval deployment, practically invented that arrogant America.


Stoneville, N.C.

Won't be Intimidated

I really object to the tenor of Larry Siegel's letter (6/1/00 PP) wherein he accuses me of whining for PP balance and writing "the same kind of immigrant-bashing crap that we already get in the mainstream media". Certainly Mr. Siegel is entitled to his opinion, but to imply that my letter is nonsensical, immigrant-bashing crap (in my opinion) exceeds the bounds of civil discourse on the subject. I don't know, maybe I'm supposed to be intimidated by such rudeness, is that it Mr. Siegel?

And contrary to your comment Mr. Cullen, I do not blame the immigrant rather than the political and economic forces that attract third-world refugees to our bountiful nation. What I am saying is that throwing our borders open to 1,000,000 legal and untold numbers of illegal immigrants annually will not improve those problems. It will simply result in a race to the bottom for US wages.

It's my take on Gonzales and Rodriquez that they foster an open borders policy which I believe harmful to the US and that they, like Mr. Siegel, accuse those who disagree with them of being racist and resorting to immigrant-bashing. Therefore, it is impossible for anyone to disagree with US immigration policy with out being labeled as racist and an immigrant-basher. Notice that the liberals in our society fairly quake in their boots at the thought of such labels (whether true or not).

No, Mr. Siegel, I am not intimidated nor will I stop speaking out in opposition to articles written by Gonzales and Rodriquez when I disagree with them. It's obvious that the only opposition to their pro-immigration articles will have to come from the Letters to the Editor column.

Anacortes, Wash.

Wall Street Eyes Social Security Funding

WARNING! The moneychangers on Wall Street are concerned about our retirement. They are so concerned, they have unleashed the Chicken Littles to warn us that the sky is falling (Social Security going broke).

The normally anti-consumer, anti-labor and anti-democratic Wall Streeters want to start the privatization of Social Security to entice almost everyone to play in the Wall Street casino wherein the top 10 percent own and control more illusionary wealth than the bottom 90 percent. What they are not telling us is that they desperately need the steady flow of Social Security dollars to support the stock market bloat and to fund all those phony dot.con IPOs and tracking stock schemes that substantially enrich the insiders.

To exchange secured US currency for overvalued, unsecured corporate currency (stocks) in a manipulated system that is loosely regulated and self-policed defies all logic and common sense. Furthermore, the uncontrolled corporate currency is comparatively devaluing and undermining US currency.

The meaning of the word "security" is becoming a rarity in the land of manipulated spending machines and permanent debtors. In fact, during these "prosperous" times US household debt has risen to over 6.4 trillion dollars or 72 percent of the gross domestic product. Therefore, to achieve independence and security, wouldn't it be more prudent and wise to pay off debt rather than gamble in the casino? After all, debtors are not really free. They never were and never will be.

The Social Security system is the most successful government program in US history and will be secure for decades. But if the current trends continue, there won't be any monthly pension checks from secured, company defined-benefit retirement programs and a Social Security check will be the only monthly retirement check most will receive upon retirement for the remainder of their lives.

By the way, it was reported in the mainstream media that the Wall Street moneychangers paid themselves over 13 billion dollars in bonuses last Christmas. Do you know where your unsecured 401(k) money is?

Miami Springs, Fla.

Kansas City 'Up to Date'

On May 13, "The People's Rally" at Volker Park was a great success although the local media chose to ignore it. The student activist group SUN organized the rally. I am not sure what the initials stand for, but I would guess Students United Network. Estimates of attendance ranged from 300 to 400. At least 75 percent of attendees were under 30.

There was a voter registration table and displays by at least 16 organizations, including the Green Party (Nader for President petitions), Amnesty International, Western Missouri Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and the Greater Kansas City Fair Trade Coalition.

After a march through the Plaza and Westport areas, there were motivational speeches by leaders of various organizations. Plans are being made for more networking. The enthusiasm of the students is contagious. Populism is alive and well in Kansas City!

Independence, Mo.

Comfort the Afflicted

For comfortable souls offended by the look and manner of the damaged, diseased, distressed, etc., and for media wits contemptuous of the struggles of the underclass, eg., "Judge Judy" endorsing dirty needles for drug addicts (C-Span, 2/00) and Tom Brokaw recently maligning the homeless for sleeping late; I offer a reading of Jesus' comments on the witness of John The Baptist: "Did you expect some well-dressed, blow-dried, soft-spoken charmer, easing your spirits with familiar platitudes; or a hairy, disheveled stranger, living out of a dumpster and shouting in your face, painful things you didn't want to hear, but needed to know?" Shakespeare observed,

"Poor naked wretches,

That abide the pelting of this pitiless storm,

How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides

Defend you from seasons such as these?

(We) have taken too little care of this!

Take physic, pomp:

Expose yourself to feel what wretches feel,

That you may leave the surpluses to them

And show the heavens more just."

For those with ears to hear it, eyes to see it, minds to grasp it, and hearts to bear it.


Lawrenceville, Ga.

Develop sustainable energy

A million moms went to Washington to persuade our greedy politicians to work to save our kids from handguns.

Now we need a million dads to go to Washington to persuade those greedy politicians to save all Americans by shutting down all atomic power plants and replace them with solar power, PVs, wind and especially with hydrogen fuel cells to heat and light buildings and employer cars, trains, planes etc. and thus save our health. This would also be cheaper and safer.

Our foreign competition is developing solar energy.


Las Vegas, N.M.


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