Voodoo Economics

Recently, we have witnessed what we can only hope is the death throes of a political/economic mental illness that has gripped our country (and most of the world) for almost 30 years. In a moment of unusually prescient intelligence, George H.W. Bush defined this period in his unsuccessful campaign for the presidential nomination in 1980: he accused Ronald Reagan (with uncanny accuracy) of promoting “Voodoo Economics.”

A recent column by David Sirota described the consequences of this “Voodoo” process when he accused those who are clinging to this model despite its catastrophic failure as “zombies!” Around the same time, David Brooks provided a snarky, petulant column in the New York Times (“Ward Three Mentality”) lamenting the fact that “the rich no longer control the economy and its mores,” and Feb. 9 the Times published an astonishing article (“You Try to Live on 500k in This Town,”) about the travails of those who pay their chauffeur as much as $125,000 a year. Are we supposed to believe this stuff is satire?

A full page ad in today’s San Francisco Chronicle, proudly sponsored by The Cato Institute, signed by nearly 250 purportedly prominent economists, insists incorrectly that government spending played no role in getting us out of the Great Depression, when the fact is that FDR’s biggest mistake was that he listened to Wall Street in 1937 and cut back on government spending, thus sabotaging the New Deal. You have to wonder about those who still hate Roosevelt after all these years, when his avowed purpose was to save capitalism (from itself!).

For the record, even the Economist magazine, the Holy Bible of the “Free” Market Religion, has been forced by recent events to acknowledge that only massive government spending holds any hope of pulling out of the cesspool created by these economic anarchists.

Kudos to Sirota for epitomizing the politicians and economists who still don’t get it as “zombies.” After all, creating “zombies” is one of the primary goals of Voodoo, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, there is only one long-term solution to the devastation wrought by the Reagan/Thatcher Devolution: restoration of the fully progressive tax rates we had before the Voodoo economists rolled them back. First, a salary cap is appropriate in professional sports, but would be unenforceable and almost “un-American” if applied to the entire economy. But, though only older folks remember it, we didn’t need salary caps, in sports or in society before 1980, because the top tax rate on ordinary income was 70% and, for most of the 20th century, there was a 90% tax on “excessive” income! Since the economic elite would rather eat solid waste than give money to the government, they kept their income relatively low and found other ways to build wealth.

Of course, there is little likelihood that this solution will be implemented, because, as Bush Sr. discovered to his dismay (“Read my lips; no new taxes!”), tax increases have become the third rail of American politics. The Voodoo priests have “zombyized” the voters into believing that taxation is tantamount to theft of their private wealth. We have lost our collective soul; the common good is considered a foolish dream. The Radical Reactionaries (who pretend to be “Conservatives”) set out to prove that Reagan was right when he said that government was ineffective and corrupt, and they “succeeded” beyond their wildest dreams.

We can only pray that the current crisis will not be “wasted” (thank you, David Axlerod), that we will awaken from our collective slumber and that Obama will be able to create that super-majority he needs to marginalize the Cato and Hoover (aptly named, wouldn’t you say?) Institute economic anarchists and their ilk.

Shorey Chapman
San Francisco, Calif.

No Excuse for Rich Pardon

The pardon of Marc Rich by President Clinton was disgraceful and I could be easily persuaded that there was a deeper reason for it than political and other contributions from Rich’s ex-wife. But the vague and undocumented allegations by Mr. Conason [“The Real Reason Clinton Pardoned Marc Rich,” 2/15/09 TPP] do not meet the test of hard evidence.

I am well aware of Israel’s influence on our government’s policies and actions to the extent that our government seems to be subservient to the interests of Israel. If there is evidence to indicate that Israel played a role in the Rich pardon then let’s see it. It is a subject that deserves close examination.

If Mr. Conason’s allegation is true then it is just another example of our government caving in to pressure from Israel, the latest episode, which Ehud Olmert bragged about, was that he had forced Condoleeza Rice to abstain from a UN resolution which he did not agree with even though Rice had participated in writing the resolution.

It is nothing less than humiliating.

Henry Clifford
Wainscott, N.Y.

Obama’s No Reagan

Ted Rall’s question “That’s It?” (2/15/09 TPP) needs serious consideration if we want to avoid the present-day “right-wing” scenario, where they are busy painting Ronald Reagan’s presidency as being beneficial. Reagan had George H.W. Bush, a Republican loyalist, following him and who prevented any kind of “That’s it?” question from being raised—no questions regarding the failure of his trickle-down economy were raised (refer to Mr. D. Zweifel’s article (“GOP Clings to Reagan Myth), also appearing in 2/15/09 issue). Nor were there any questions asked about Reagan’s intense obsession with capitalism, for the defense of which he was ready to kill — and kill he did — in Nicaragua, El Salvador and also in his support of the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan. President Obama needs to answer, in the strongest term possible, the question raised by Mr. Rall—by declaring “NO IT IS NOT.”

G.M. Chandu
Flushing. N.Y.

Standup Guys

Regarding Ted Rall’s mourning for our lost America [That’s It,” 2/15/09 TPP]: the jig was noticeably up when Ollie North said, in effect, “I work for the King,” and Congress agreed. Thus America is run on the Mafia model with big rewards for “loyalty” and the code of lying.

And after Ed Hodges’ yearning for Israeli/Palestine peace [“Where’s the Outrage for Gaza,” Letters, 2/15/09 TPP], if the USA wants to be useful it ought to invade Israel and impose peace there.

The Israelis show few signs of being able to cooperate with anyone, so why not let’s help them clean up their shortcomings?

Problem is, the Israeli Defense Forces might kick our butts.

Charles Scott
Whitefish, Mont.

People Power

In his famous Gettysburg address, President Abraham Lincoln spoke of “...government of the people, by the people, for the people ...”

But, “the people” of whom Lincoln spoke, have no more real say in what their government does than did Russian peasants under Josef Stalin. Moreover, most of “the people” are either unaware of or indifferent to this situation.

“The people” are more concerned with how their baseball team is doing than with what their government is doing.

Gus Mirsalis
Richmond Heights, Ohio

Keep Up the Clamor

Re: “Coward’s Idea of Toughness,” by Gene Lyons, 2/1/09 TPP: My fingers are numb from writing to my elected representatives pleading that they bring our homegrown war criminals from the Bush administration to justice, including George W. Bush himself.

I have also written many letters to other publications, and to the opinion pages of my local newspapers, to express my indignation about the crimes of the Bush administration.

I had almost abandoned my efforts in that regard, until I read Gene Lyon’s “Coward’s Idea of Toughness,” in your 2/1/09 issue.

If Mr. Lyons can keep his human principles and his unwavering trust in his country, and can continue to care enough to restore this nation’s honor from the mire of the last administration—so can I.

David Quintero
Temple City, Calif.

Regret Obama Vote

Thanks for your editorial in your 2/15/09 TPP (“Obama’s Fast Start”). Also for Nader, Hightower and Sirota.

I am sorry I voted for Obama but it was the party of the people and good government I was supporting. The grassroots centrists, civil-service reformers (to make it more accountable and pure public and more human), semi-conservatives who see the need to use our Constitution to protect trade, jobs and sovereignty. It was my hope they still existed and would steer this president away from the rich minders who donated so much to his campaign.

[George] Soros and the nationless globalist elite are dictating austerity programs and zero growth in US economy ...

Thank God for some unexpected GOP turnarounds. [John] McCain is a changed person as opposed to his half-hearted campaign persona.

Thanks for [Rush] Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs for putting the brakes on “stimulus” spoils payback. South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham as well. [Pat] Buchanan and [Ross] Perot were right about NAFTA, had 83% negative public support for unconstitutional WTO “free trade” but the media shoved it through, thanks to Bill and Newt and Tom at the bankrupt New York Times! Flathead globalists. Stimulus too secretive. No to green pork.

Robert Periano
Augusta, Ga.

Adam Smith, Populist

Sam Uretsky (“The Neo-Feudalists,” 3/1/09 TPP) shortchanges Adam Smith, who based his conclusions on rational analysis of available information. Not only is that a habit we ought all to cultivate, some of those conclusions still hold. A sample of one of these appears at the end of Book I of The Wealth of Nations:

“To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can serve only to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens. The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.”

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam
Baltimore, Md.

Bush vs. Manson

While discussing the Republican lock step loyalty to an obviously failed philosophy and failed leadership with someone I quipped that, “they would vote for Charles Manson if he ran as a Republican.” Afterward I got thinking about that statement and decided that it was a poor analogy because they had voted for George Bush who, although he had no swastika carved into his forehead, has been responsible for many thousand times more deaths than Manson.

Charlie is not known to have killed anyone. The Tate-Labianca murders were done at his direction but he remained behind at the ranch. The murder of a defense attorney occurred after he was jailed. George W. Charley stayed at headquarters and issued orders for heinous crimes that were carried out by others. Bush didn’t kill anyone either. He sat in the White House and issued orders, for what any reasonable person can only conclude were war crimes, to be carried out by others.

Charlie Manson, responsible for the murder of several people, will no doubt spend the rest of his life in prison. George W. Bush, responsible for the murder of tens if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and over 4,200 American soldiers and probably hundreds of civilian contractors will no doubt spend the rest of his life being paid handsomely, have a library dedicated to memorializing him, have streets named after him, and there will probably be a movement to have his likeness carved into Mt. Rushmore. Such a scenario was in a novel a decade ago the book would be found in the fantasy section of the library but today it would be in the American History section.

Go figure

Charles Roger Leach

Lynchburg, Ohio

Government In Crisis

Truth, Justice, and The American Way. If or when these are gone, what will be left of this grand experiment in democracy and self-governance? Powerful leaders lying through their teeth, violating our Constitution, international law and treaties, and the law of the land. Is this The American Way? I say not only no, but hell no!

We must have transparency and accountability, based on our cultural values. This sort of behavior is bound to happen when the perpetrators believe they can get away with it. I hope the small but growing ripples of demand for investigation into the criminality of the Bush administration grow into a tsunami exposing the entire sordid mess, and that where justice demands, penalties are paid. If we fail to call these people to account for their crimes, their kind will continue to behave exactly as they wish without regard for law, the values of our culture, or morality.

And what’s up with today’s Republicans? They remind me of the kid who takes his ball and goes home when the others refuse to play by his rules. I have to strongly suspect there are talking points out there for them and the right wing talking heads to drop the “ic” off the end of my Party’s name. Altogether too many of them are calling it the “Democrat Party” for this to be a coincidence. Juvenile! It’s high time to call them on it and and admonish them to grow up.

Thomas Stumbaugh

Camino, Calif.


Spare Change?

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From The Progressive Populist, March 15, 2009

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