Just over three thousand years ago, Greeks attacked the city of Troy. They could not carry the first assault. Nor the second. Nor the third. So they hollered at the defenders, "You win. We're going home." They left behind as large a statue of a horse as would fit thru the gates, and they sailed away.
The gleeful defenders of Troy celebrated by dragging that statue inside the walls. About 3 a.m., when the defenders had worn themselves out celebrating, about half-a-dozen Greek soldiers came out of that hollow horse and opened the city gates from the inside. Their companions in arms had sailed back in the darkness, and their entire army swarmed in through the gates and defeated Troy.
We could learn something from this.
There are men whose simple desire is to rule the world. Since they cannot conquer us all by force of arms, they offer us a "free trade treaty." It has nothing whatsoever to do with "free trade." It is not a plan to make us all prosperous by trading with each other. It is not a way to make it easy to do business with people in other countries. They lie.
Those who want us to drag the "free trade" treaty in keep telling us these lies, but the truth is easy to detect. There has been trade with other countries since the dawn of history. It has gone very well without the supervision of any "free trade" authority. In fact, even when local laws absolutely forbid foreign trade, it has gone on under the quaint name of "smuggling." (Furthermore, a real free-trade treaty could be written on a single sheet of paper.)
The latest incarnation of the Trojan Horse is a "free trade" treaty known as Free Trade for the Americas Area (FTAA). No doubt your favorite politicians will pretend not to have seen it, but they will promise to keep your views in mind should it come up for consideration. Contact them.
Editor Notes: Congress is expected to vote soon on the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which would expand the North America Free Trade Agreement to include Central America.
There is no need to solve the Social Security problems with a raise of taxes or a cut in benefits. There might not even be a need to raise taxes from those earning over $90,000. There is a better solution.
Get more tax money from those on the bottom of the pay scale. Yes, raise the minimum wage. The workers will appreciate the increased wages and the Social Security trust fund and Medicare will become solvent again with the increased payroll taxes.
Some 30% of the work force now earn less than $8 an hour. These are the people who can save the Social Security "crisis." (And they are the ones who benefit most from the Social Security checks later.) They haven't received a raise in eight years.
In New Jersey and Vermont they will get that raise. [See Dispatches, 4/15/05 TPP]. But why should those states, and our state, pay higher amounts into the trust funds, while those states that still have a $5.15 minimum wage, pay less? Aren't the Social Security checks distributed in an equitable manner? Write your congressman.
Our president's Iraq adventure turned into a stinking nightmare. Now he has another adventurous idea: changing Social Security into something unpredictable. It could be an adventure that also turns into a nightmare for millions of Americans who depend on Social Security for their [retirement] income. They could more probably than not wind up with nothing to support their already modest living. ...
We should have rejected the Iraq war. And now, we definitely should reject the idea of playing with our Social Security. Leave Social Security alone. Don't take gigantic amounts out of it to furnish government projects. It took a scare tactic to funnel us into the Iraq war. Now it is a scare tactic again to get us into the Social Security adventure.
Lake Worth, Fla.
In Parkersburg, W.V., on April 5, President Bush announced that federal bonds are not worth the paper they're written on. I'm sure the central banks of China and Japan are thrilled to hear that. President Bush denied the existence of a Social Security Trust Fund, saying "That's not the way it works." What then are all the federal bonds issued to the Social Security Administration since 1939, reflecting the excess of FICA taxes collected over monies needed to pay benefits? What really is going on here is that a problem looms for the federal government; in the not-too-distant future monies coming in through FICA taxes won't be enough to cover all the benefits due the people, the Social Security beneficiaries. At that point the Social Security Administration will have to redeem some of the federal bonds that it holds. However, because of his unnecessary war, his tax decreases for the ultra wealthy and his defense budget that is four times larger than the defense budget of any other country on the planet, George W. Bush has bankrupted our nation. He is seeking to default on his debts and the major debt he is seeking to default on is the one that benefits the most people, Social Security. He is refusing to honor the federal bonds held by the Social Security Administration. He would not need do this if he placed a fair amount of taxes on the ultra-wealthy and cut the exorbitant defense budget in half.
Editor Notes: Radio personality Al Franken has offered to take Treasury bills off the hands of Bush or other Republicans who are worried that they are holding "worthless IOUs." After several weeks, Franken reports, he has had no takers on his offer of 10 cents on the dollar.
In her column "The Washington Establishment Fails Logic 101" [4/15/05 TPP], Arianna Huffington makes the following statement about Timothy McVeigh and Mohammed Atta: "Each was driven by a fanatical ideology, not by a hatred of freedom and democracy."
Doesn't that "fanatical ideology" sound startlingly like our president and his administration? It's hard to understand how so many otherwise sensible people can fail to recognize that fanatacism for what it is, so our military personnel continue to die and be maimed in order to carry it out.
Patricia M. Koster
Brainwashed Americans who voted for Bush are seeing the results of their folly, as George W and friends place all his pals and contributors in key government positions, roll back environmental protection gains, runs the deficit further into the stratosphere and tries to sell Americans a bill of goods on Social Security.
And that's just for starters. Who knows what other goodies they have in store for us?
If we survive this bunch will the next election be different?
As long as the rich, corporations and controlled national media are around, coupled with an apathetic, uninformed public, I wouldn't bet on it.
A recent survey showed that many Americans believe that corporations have too much power. That is wrong. "Corporations" have no power whatsoever. The power rests with certain super-rich human individuals who own and control the corporations.
However, the super-rich generally prefer to leave the tiresome duties of managing corporations and buying politicians to well-paid minions who have the simple function of guarding and increasing the wealth of the wealthy. Sometimes however, things get out of hand and the super-rich then act swiftly and decisively.
Some years ago a front-page story revealed that some directors of Gulf Oil Co. were involved in some sort of corporate scandal. A few days later the major stockholders of Gulf Oil, the Mellon family of Pittsburgh, surfaced, fired the entire board of directors of Gulf Oil, and sank back out of sight. End of story.
The American colonists and the French and Russian peasants at least knew the names of their rulers and where and how they lived. The colonists and peasants knew who they would have to deal with if they were ever going to change their system of government, but today's Americans haven't a clue. The identity of their rulers is hidden behind a wall of impersonal corporate names.
Richmond Heights, Ohio
I have two points to make: 1) Dan Rather's faux pas has Karl Rove's fingerprints all over it. Why hasn't anyone said so?
2) Social Security is as healthy as the economy. The more people working, the more money is coming in; the better the wages, the more money comes in. It could get better and better.
The best historical political book written is A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Next political book &emdash; The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast.
From knowledge gained from these two books, changes have to be made. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund were started in 1944 with simple mandates &emdash; to fund reconstruction and lend hard currency to nations in debt. In 1980 World Bank chief economist Larry Summers changed the rules. When countries come to borrow money, they first have to go through about 114 conditions known as Structural Assistance Plans. What this means is sell off all your assets, or privatize. If a country owned its waterworks, electric power, mines, industries, transportation, lumber, etc., it had to sell or privatize before money was given. Countries that went through this ended up worse off than before. The World Bank and IMF should go back to the original rules.
The USA should back out of the treaties with the World Trade Organization, NAFTA and GATT. Tariffs should be brought back to stop jobs from being performed outside the USA.
The USA should not recognize multinational corporations. A corporation should be USA all the way or other country, but not both.
I can assure you that no Republican president will make these changes; no true patriotism.
(Mr.) Clare J. Crowley
The nation sort of resigned to the fact that President Bush strongly believes that Jesus is coming soon and accepted his complete disregard for the environment as emanating from this kind of "doomsday" thinking.
However, since January of this year, it seems he has started to believe that "end times" has been postponed and he started to finally talk about future times specially in regards to future of the Social Security funds. It is not known whether this is mere posturing to get his agenda for privatizing the Social Security accepted or he has genuinely rejected the idea that apocalypse is upon us within less than 40 years. If the latter, then this is one big-time "flipflopping" and I wonder how the conservative Christians will react to this change.
New York, N.Y.
Adding another slant to the leading article by Jim Hightower [4/1/05 TPP] on Bush's strong tilt to autocracy is his secret support of counterfeit news. We are faced daily with gross disinformation about policies that he is proposing and wants us to believe in and support. In an interesting editorial comment on this issue, the New York Times (3/16/05) castigates the media for not investigating the false news reporting paid for handsomely by the government. However, the real issue for the country is to call Bush accountable for gross stealthy deception and manipulation of the public to achieve his goals without concern for the truth that borders on the illegal use of power in government.
Elkins Park, Pa.
Let me commend you on a really good issue on 2/15/05 with so many commentaries on the Social Security situation. Very few magazines and newspapers are handling the issue like that. They are going along with Bush in a lot of papers. However, there was hardly any mention of how President Bush's call to end Social Security as we have always known it will affect minorities, especially blacks. It has an underlying racial factor that is being missed. Only one of your commentators, Brian Gilmore, handled that issue. The end of Social Security will be devastating to elderly blacks and to blacks who have to work in low-end jobs or jobs that cause early disability or death. Again, race is being ignored in this issue. Other than that, I liked the issue.
Soulless ones in high places are destroying the miracle of life and freedom.