Amid all the discussion about Social Security, some things should be obvious:
It was never intended to be an investment program. You can tell by the name. It was, and should still be considered as financial security for those who have no other recourse in their old age. If there is a "problem" with Social Security, the solution is very simple. It must be denied to those who do not need it. In a country plagued with pathological individualism, the younger generation has a moral obligation to provide for those elders who lack sufficient means to provide for themselves.
As for the "budget crisis" plaguing all levels of government, what we really have is a "social crisis," created by a user fee mentality which started with Proposition 13 here in California. "If I don't use it, or it doesn't benefit me directly, I shouldn't have to pay for it."
If it is really true that economic justice would bankrupt our economy, so be it. Moral bankruptcy is never an appropriate remedy for economic ailments. If your business will not survive by paying adequate wages and/or respecting the environment, you should close it and go get a job. The same is true at the macro economic level. If our economic system requires moral bankruptcy, we need to shut it down and reorganize it.
There is nothing inherently wrong with Bush's concept of an "ownership society." Any society that fails to provide equitable distribution of its fruits is ultimately doomed. But Social Security cannot and should not be the means of achieving this goal. The workplace and the market are already headed in that direction, with programs like pensions and IRAs, but they need to be much more universal.
Shorey H. Chapman
San Francisco, Calif.
I seldom write letters re: articles in any of the numerous media to which I subscribe. However, Alexander Cockburn's article ["OK to Blow Up Arundhati Roy, But Not the Governator?" in the 3/1/05 TPP] filled me with confusion. His comments on Ward Churchill's article, quoted in part, would raise no questions. However, why did he omit, and TPP accede to, an omission about Churchill's reference to the Towers' victims relationship to [Nazi war criminal Adolf] Eichmann, which has been quoted extensively in other printed media?
To me this omission tends to thwart the credibility not only of A. Cockburn but also that of The Progressive Populist.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
A long time ago a very wise little hobbit once said, "There is some good in this world and it is worth fighting for."
Is there anyone in the US government or in America that believes this? And who will make a stand against the soulless supporters of futile wars, of mass murder, torture, the lying traitors, the corrupt and greedy and those whose criminally irresponsible policies in both domestic and foreign affairs endanger us all and future generations of Americans.
Is there not one in the US government who will take up the weapons that our founding fathers gave us to protect us from these evil forces; the checks and balances that require the use of the impeachment process, criminal indictments and telling the truth to anyone who will listen about these soulless, corrupt ones in high places who care not how many perish or are maimed in futile wars, who pass bills to enrich the already rich at the expense of everyone else and who destroy the environment, national forests, parks, wilderness areas and the most enlightened piece of legislation to ever come out of the US Congress, the Social Security Program?
The soulless ones in high places are destroying the miracle of life and of freedom and no longer will compromise and negotiations work in this plutocracy (we hope that one day in the future that we will get back our democracy) for the soulless ones in high places are intent on serving their corrupt corporate masters, their Gods of greed, ignorance, intolerance, hate and fear and in so doing they will destroy this nation and who have already turned our democracy into a plutocracy.
Is there not one in the US government and in the land that will stand and fight for the good?
I am a 78-year-old vet with 27 years of active duty. I strongly feel that this country has a long way to go before we realize the freedoms we so loudly espouse. US history, for me, is a big case of "we talk the talk but don't walk the walk."
There has been a lack of freedom since the beginning of our history. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights was written by well-meaning men who because of their religion and education didn't truly realize that black people were human beings. Many, including at least one president, fathered children from their female slaves.
Various religious sects have disavowed one another from the beginning. Catholics were feared and mistreated until Kennedy was elected.
We screwed the Native Americans and many Mexicans out of their land. The only people who realized the American dream, until about 60 years ago, were white protestant males.
This is a great country and I love it, but it is not the one I really wish for.
We need to get religion out of politics. Religious faith has, and still is, killing more people than most serious epidemics.
We need to start, here and around the world, an educational system that teaches the "big bang" and evolution are real. When mankind accepts the fact that the supernatural start of this universe and mankind, is not the God of the Torah, the Koran, the Bible, or the Book of Mormon, we may be on the way to peace.
It is going to happen. Unfortunately it will take generations and millions more will die for their faith before it does.
Larry J. Kluth
Mr. Dave Zweifel's article "Bush folks don't bother with facts" [3/1/05 TPP] just about grazes the tip of the iceberg of hoaxes on which this administration operates. How they do it and get away with it is something the future historians will have a hard time writing about. They will grudgingly conclude that Americans, in spite of their so called sophistication, were fooled again and again by these Bush folks. One of the most difficult aspects of this period for them to comprehend will be the complete lack of follow-up investigations whenever "hoaxes" were unearthed. Why nobody complained and nobody came out in the streets will always be a mystery to the scholars involved in writing the history of this period. The biggest puzzle will be the attitude of the family of the dead soldiers who did not demand the resignation of Bush for killing their loved ones on the hoax of WMD.
The question, "can you really fool all the people all the time?" will be answered "You betcha" by those historians writing about this period.
New York, N.Y.
Mokhiber & Weissman are quite right in implying that our government is acquiring all the hallmarks of a neofascist state ["Kennedy on Fascist US," 2/15/05 TPP].
It is possible, even probable, that a Democrat will occupy the White House in 2009, but unless that person is a reincarnation of Ralph Nader, the problem will remain: the tyranny of powerful interests &emdash; mainly corporate.
This tyranny has usurped our voting franchise and made inevitable such outrages as the two-party dictatorship of the election process, the Electoral College and election-day fraud. It has foreordained America-as-Empire even as it trods on most of us.
A minority of us vote, giving the illusion that ours is a democratic republic.
Thomas Jefferson's vision of an enlightened electorate guiding this country remains a dream.
Walter O. Jones
Lake Crystal Minn.
Received the 3/15/05 TPP today and read Jim Hightower's comments on page 3. And, wonder why he didn't include his commentary "Frist Takes a Bath" listed on page 3 of his March 2005 issue of Hightower Lowdown? Jim reported that Sen. Bill Frist invested left-over campaign funds with Charles Schwab & Co.and lost over $460,000. If a man such as Frist, with his resources, cannot avoid loss in the financial market place what chance does average Joe Doaks have?
President Bush flies around the country on borrowed money to sell his proposed changes to Social Security. He's the current shepherd boy crying "WOLF" and that the "sky is falling."
The letter you published from M. Neven Du Mont, Pleasanton, Texas ["Rebranding Made Easy"], accurately portrays President Bush as the puppet of big business/corporations. This president must be resisted to the bitter end.
James R. Bird
The USA used to be king of the hill. Bush has taken "we the people" down but fast. Bush raised the US debt by $1,988,814,013,325.51 to date.
It was just reported that the euro, which had been worth less than a dollar, is now worth more than a dollar. Most all European countries are left-wing liberal with socialized medicine. Apparently, that's the way to go.
Bush's thinking that it's a good thing to have our corporations move their manufacturing outside the USA is wrong, wrong, wrong. It's time our Congress woke up and put tariffs on finished products being shipped back to the USA &emdash; tariffs large enough to eliminate profits. This would cause our US corporations to manufacture here in the USA.
Good paying jobs would be all over the place. The USA would be close to the top of the ladder instead of the bottom. With our manufacturing being performed elsewhere, today we could not fight WWII again. On Dec. 7, 1941, we had shipyards, foundries, machine shops, fab shops, forge shops, etc. standing by ready to shift to overdrive to build a huge war machine.
(Mr.) Clare J. Crowley
I find many people misusing the English language. For example, the gang now running the government are called "conservatives." What a misnomer; they are reactionaries, seeking to turn the block back to the Robber Baron days. And, what's worse, they may well be effective. We may well experience in the country, God forbid!, an internal collapse rivaling that which occurred in the Collapse of the Soviet Empire; one so sudden and unexpected that not even the renowned CIA could foresee it!
Needless to say it needs the services of every progressive, straight-thinking liberal to prevent it. I'm 86 and have seen a lot so far, much I didn't want to see, and I sincerely hope the above nightmare never occurs.
Could it be that ole George is a closet socialist? All this talk of wanting Americans to be an ownership society sounds like he's saying that workers should be the owners of the means of production.
But then there doesn't seem to be much correlation between what Bush says and what he really means, like wanting to save Social Security being a good example.
Earl F. Miller
Donald Kaul's grasp of recent American history is appalling. He writes in his 3/1/05 column: "There was one president who did actually conduct a foreign policy with the promotion of human rights and freedom in the forefront of his aims. That was Jimmy Carter." The reality is far different.
Continuing along the path set by his Cold War predecessors, President Carter provided support to regimes &emdash; all over the world &emdash; with deplorable human rights records, regimes that imprisoned dissenters, engaged in torture and committed mass murder (Indonesia, Iran, the Philippines, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala). In Indonesia, Carter stepped up military aid to the Jakarta regime as it continued to murder East Timorese civilians. By the time Carter left office, approximately 200,000 people had been slaughtered.
And how about Afghanistan? Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's national security advisor, confessed in a 1998 interview that the US began aiding the Islamic fundamentalist Mujahedeen six months before the Russians invaded in 1979. Expressing no regrets for this action, Brzezinski called it an "excellent idea ... we [had] the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War." Blowback, anyone?
It's a shame that many of today's journalists are guilty of distorting history.
You always have articles that I find interesting, but there were three in the 3/1/05 issue that were outstanding:
Gerald Albert on John Adams. I'd like to add another Adams quote: "America is the friend of all freedoms of the world. She is guardian of only her own."
Mary Jane Fowler on David Shays. This is of special interest to my wife, Morrene, and me as her four-greats grandfather was born and raised in Pelham, Mass., as was Shays. They were also in the same Massachusetts Line in the Revolutionary War and he was with Shays in his Rebellion afterward. Morrene likes to think her defense of the downtrodden can be attributed to these genes.
And Jane Kelley's "Apple Picking" was a blast. It helped to shorten our long winter.