No Quarantine

Amen to Roberto Rodriguez, “germs, viruses and diseases do not discriminate nor do they ask for legal documentation” (“Neither Walls Nor Moats Can Hold Them Back,” 10/15/09 TPP). I live across the street from Sherman Park, also known as the Cote Brillante Indian Mound. It was built by the Mississippians who lived here from 800 A.D. to 1300 A.D., when a mini-ice-age wiped them out. Rodents fought with them for the same food. The rodents had fleas that had the Bubonic Plague — Black Death — that decimated the population. A 14th century Scandinavian Rune found in Minnesota tells of a Black Death and a Red Death. They seemed to have died out as well.

I sponsored an undocumented Mexican immigrant in the successful 1986 amnesty. Those on the road to citizenship filed their income tax forms and their employers had to cough up the taxes withheld but not turned in. He was in this country because he looks Aztec and would be discriminated against in Mexico as a result. In the USA he has become a productive citizen and upwardly mobile as well.

The United States needs another amnesty for Mexican immigrants here because of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that prevented Mexico from imposing tariffs that would let her take care of her own people. The United States used to run at a profit off of tariffs. It should again.

Missouri is a caveat emptor (buyer beware) state. NAFTA should go into the dustbin of history so that Mexico and Canada can be such nations as well. Right now NAFTA and other FTAs with nations without weapons of mass destruction have secret tribunals that fine governments that pass environmental and labor protection or safety laws that might reduce the profits of private investors. It seems like the private investors want to have their cake and eat it, too.

Should amnesty produce 12 million to 20 million new US citizens they would be within the nation’s health system.

Joseph J. Kuciejczyk
St. Louis, Mo.

Let Rich Pay Their Share

I find myself in the unusual position of disagreeing with an editorial by James Cullen in The Progressive Populist (“We Need Fighters,” 10/1/09 TPP). Mr. Cullen apparently finds nothing wrong with taxing the hard-won benefits of America’s workers and cutting Medicare to pay for Baucus‚ bill. Also, the Populist appears to find it acceptable that this bill only eliminates one half of the “donut hole” in prescription coverage for senior citizens.

One part of Baucus’ bill that the Populist remains silent about is the $3,800 fine that it would levy on any citizen who didn’t purchase insurance. Notice that this would put all of the penalty on the individual citizen and give all of the benefit to the insurance corporations. This is morally wrong and economically foolish. If the government then subsidizes the insurance (as Baucus’ bill does), it becomes a gigantic taxpayer-financed corporate welfare program for the insurance corporations.

Most importantly, who is supposed to be excited about getting this bill passed? The low-income citizen who is threatened with a $3,800 fine if he doesn’t do business with a thieving corporation? The senior citizen threatened with a $400 billion cut to Medicare? The worker whose hard-won benefits will be taxed? Where are the “fighters” going to come from?

It is time to face some blunt truths. Max Baucus is a rich man’s son and although there are many notable exceptions, as a rule these don’t make good Democrats. Baucus is no exception to the rule.

The wealthy and the corporate elite have had a party at the expense of the rest of the country for the last 14 years. It is time to impose a surtax of 35% on any portion of an insurance executive’s salary (or bonus) that exceeds $500,000. If that doesn’t raise enough, include executive salaries on Wall Street. If that doesn’t raise enough, increase the percentage to 70%. If that doesn’t raise enough, lower the exemption to $100,000. If that doesn’t raise enough, make it cover all executive salaries in every field.

It is absurd to allow Republicans, and Republican wannabes like Baucus, to define the parameters of the debate on financing health care reform. It becomes even more absurd when they want to make the victims of the present system pay to make business more lucrative for the thieving corporations that created the problems we have now.

Paul Schwietering
Cincinnati, Ohio

Editor Replies: The 10/1/09 editorial didn’t endorse taxing insurance benefits or cutting Medicare benefits. We’re not satisfied with the 50% discount of the “donut hole” in prescription coverage, but it is 50% more than seniors get now. The main thing we urge is that the Democratic majority merge the best features of Baucus’ plan with Ted Kennedy’s bill and pass the dang bill.

Teachable Moment

Thank You! Thank You! Mr. Crowther, for taking on the racism issue another time! (“Teachable Moment,” 9/15/09 TPP)

Maybe some, like me, have a sense of loaded racial bias, but lack specific knowledge of experience to confirm (name) it as racism.

President Carter has since named it, publicly, but Mr. Crowther TAUGHT us with back stories and southern ethos.

I’m saving his essay, and sharing it with friends and family (even more than the usual sharing of TPP).

Miriam Wells
Fountain, Colo.

Conspiracy Nuts

I confess: I am now, and have been for seven years a card carrying member of the Conspiracy Nut Network, or CNN. Although my comrades and I are now labeled “truthers,” by right-wing worthies such as the exceedingly truculent Charley Krauthammer, I prefer to be called a CNN’er. Charley, forgive me, for I have CNN’d.

On 9/11/09, columnist Charles The Krauthhammer had this to say: “But on the eighth anniversary of 9/11 — a day when there were no truthers among us, just Americans struck dumb by the savagery of what had been perpetrated on their innocent fellow citizens — a decent respect for the memory of that day requires that truthers, who derangedly desecrate it, be asked politely to leave. By everyone.” Do I detect a hint of violence here?

Sorry Charley, but what really needs to be asked is, what are you afraid of? The 9/11 Coverup Commission has been exposed for the insider fraud that it is. The fact that we were lied to by the FBI, CIA, White House and NORAD is what “derangedly desecrates” that day. We are not going to leave no matter how “politely” asked, so bring it on.

Of course, conspiracy nuts are not condemned because conspiracies do not exist (Conspiracies have always existed, just ask Julius Caesar.), but because we doubt the one true conspiracy theory of 9/11 (state dogma) revealed to us by Our Great Decider. It is only a theory and goes something like this: Once upon a time, religious conservatives (living in caves built by the CIA) who “hate us for our freedoms” decided to hijack airplanes in Boston, Newark and Washington, D.C., and crash them into buildings, one of which is the most heavily defended building on the planet. Now because these conservatives prayed a lot, they were amazingly successful in their evil doing. The “veil of protection” over America was lifted by Amerigod, as his anger was kindled by the usual suspects (you know who you are): gays, women liberators, the ACLU and Charley Sheen. The conservatives managed to fly, without knowing how to fly (Was Allah their copilot?) remarkably into most of their targets, including the Pentagon. Americans were “dumbstruck” as they watched three buildings in New York City fall in a perfect footprint of themselves at virtually the speed of gravity. Building #7, not hit by a plane, came down in the same way at 5:20 in the afternoon, by the power of prayer, no doubt. And so it came to pass, dumbstruck America invaded two countries and killed thousands of innocent people who had nothing to do with 9/11, but coincidentally were “swimming in oil.” And the war profiteers lived happily ever after.

Many of us conspiracy nuts claim that the government’s dogma is not just absurd, but impossible. It would have required more miracles than the amazing voyage of Noah’s Ark. Verily, I say unto you, believing in the impossible is a bad habit. While our government expects us to strain out gnats and swallow camels, and “believe what we know ain’t so,” we are calling for a real independent investigation. Let’s roll!

Gary Walker
Campton, N.H.

Compost Mentis

Margot Ford McMillen’s column, “Change Food Habits, Save the Children,” [10/15/09 TPP], is to me like an inspiring homily by a minister who cares not only about her flock, but also about the land and Mother Earth.

After reading Ms. McMillen, I will return to the good path from which I had strayed, and again patronize the hardworking farmers who sell their produce at our local weekly farmers market.

And she has also reinforced my faith in the holy trinity of compost, compost, compost.

David Quintero
Temple City, Calif.

Big Debt

Much has been discussed in the last year on the financial crisis and recently it has been said that economic recovery is on its way. Unfortunately until we address the issues of a current account deficit (which we have run since 1971), trade deficits and structural problems in our general economy recovery is unsustainable. The poor financial stewardship in the Executive branch over the last 28 years (20 of those years Republican) and which saw the growth in the national debt go from $1 trillion to $10 trillion as the Obama Administration came into power in 2009 has not helped. Deficits do matter as former Reagan administration Budget Director David Stockman once advocated and got fired for telling the truth. Regulation has to be restored totally to the system and lastly we need to look at one last thing: We can not continue to outsource the heck of the economy and expect to have a system where 70% is based on consumer spending and 30% on production. It is unsustainable, shortsighted and if not reversed we will head into oblivion as a nation.

Tyrone Segarra
Wheatfield, N.Y.

What About People With Real Clunkers?

Who did this cash for clunkers idea help? The auto industry which received billions of bailout tax dollars. And some car dealers had more buyers than they could sell vehicles to.

For sure the price of used cars for poor people who could not buy a new car will go up.

And what about people with real clunkers? The people who bought new cars turned in good-running, well-taken-care-of cars that had to be destroyed.

If President Obama was really concerned about little people why didn’t the clunker idea offer those decent vehicles as tradeins to people with real clunkers? People who are homeless may live in their clunker cars, many of them with children. And people needing a decent car to get to work. That would have taken some real clunkers off the road and made highways safer.

President Obama and his gang had better start using some common sense in their deficit spending and bribery programs.

With 10% unemployed, that stimulus money should be applied to needed projects like fixing crumbling roads and bridges and something like the 1930s Public Works Program and put people that are unemployed to work instead of paying out unemployment payments to people sitting at home or in a bar waiting for the next unemployment check.

And how many public work jobs could be created for people who have no unemployment checks if that tax money would have been used to create jobs instead of those billions of dollars that went to those banks that gave out million-dollar bonuses to those who caused the economic mess.

Al Hamburg
Torrington, Wyo.

Corporations Can’t Bear Grudges

While I whole-heartedly agree with your editorial stance against conferring personhood on corporations (“Reject Corporate Personhood,” 10/25/09 TPP), I was surprised to find that your Dispatches editor apparently did just that just 21 pages later.

On page 23, there is a Dispatch article titled “GM GRUDGE AGAINST MOORE,” which goes on to state that “... GM insisted that [Michael Moore] could not be in attendance [at his own movie]” Unless it is somewhere stated in the Articles of Incorporation or in the By-Laws of General Motors, the corporate entity can neither hold a grudge nor bar Mr. Moore, or anyone else for that matter, from a corporate-owned facility. Executives of GM, however, may hold a grudge and issue orders forbidding Mr. Moore entrance to such facilities.

By the way, this is also a common practice when referring to the actions of governments and government agencies. Such entities cannot take actions; only human beings can do that. It is unfortunate that the media appears to be in collusion with the bureaucrats as they attempt to avoid personal responsibility by conferring personhood on the government.

I wonder how much more powerful reporting for social change would be if journalists involved took the time to research and actually name the names of the real people who make and, perhaps more importantly, implement the decisions that affect us all.

Paul Badu
Hicksville, N.Y.

Editor Replies: Corporations can’t hold grudges? Tell it to the Supreme Court! (And see Jane Anne Morris’ article on page 10.)

What Drives Cons Crazy

What I keep missing in the coverage of the [health care reform] debate is the central fact that we are all using a word guaranteed to send conservatives into a fury: choice. Conservatives have hated the very idea of choice ever since the Roe v. Wade decision. If the American public at large are given choice on their health care insurance, then the slippery slope guarantees that American women won’t be allowed to be denied choice on part of their health care, either.

Georgianna Henry
Duluth, Minn.

From The Progressive Populist, November 1, 2009


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