Notorious 47%

It is highly disturbing to witness the extent to which We the People are sized up and categorized by the Elite, corporations, political parties, advertisers, aspirants to public office, pollsters, et al. which recently reached its pinnacle, when 47% of our citizens were dismissed as non-tax paying, persona-non-grata parasites in the country’s political and economic realm.

Assuming this to be the case, it leaves but two explanations ... the absurd, that one-half of our citizens prefer to be disengaged, lazy, irresponsible non-tax paying leeches, or the plausible, which is more compelling and deserves closer scrutiny..

Over the past decades millions of our working (rarely acknowledged anymore) and middle class citizens have seen their businesses, futures, jobs, stability and means of employment destroyed by outsourcing to places like communist China (greed trumps patriotism) or suffered the indignity of losing their livelihood through downsizing, another clever scheme!

In addition, many were forced to accept significant reductions in hours, along with cuts in wages and benefits, not to mention the fact that millions were given no other choice, but to toil in temporary or dead end minimum wage jobs, which are unsuited for exportation. Yes, this is one part of the the maligned 47%!

Our industrial base, once pride and mainstay of the economy and a source of substantial dual (!) tax revenues, has been the object under both administrations, of systematic evisceration by the Elite, which now has the audacity to question the validity of the very citizens victimized by their reckless pursuit of profit.

Of course, it has to be acknowledged that a small percentage of our citizens gets away with taking advantage by criminally gaming the system, yet finds itself in good company these days. For instance, over the past 4 years, 26 of our largest corporations — GE, Boeing, DuPont and Wells Fargo among them — despite aggregate profits of over $200 billion, paid no taxes at all; instead, a number of them are on record as having received billions in government handouts and subsidies.

Let us not lose sight of those among us, who lost their nest egg and retirement funds on Wall Street. Millions barely getting by on Social Security. Our neglected veterans, the poor, infirm, handicapped destitute and homeless, the other part of the 47% ... an ongoing source of shame on the richest country and Leader of the Free World.

Folks, brace yourselves, a frightening scenario is lurking just around the bend in the form of austerity measures, guaranteed to impact the lives of additional millions (except you know whose) which will further add to the misery and substantially boost the ranks of our despised citizens to a level far in excess of 47%.

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff, Calif.

Euphemism Rules

If ever there were a professional oath to be extracted from journalists upon their appointment, James K. Galbraith’s article, “The Coming Debt Battle” (12/1/12 TPP) would be no less than a flagrant violation thereof.

Perhaps the first rubric of responsible journalism is to refrain from statements which may incite mass panic; in this case, the panic which triggers hyperinflation. To wit: “All the federal government has to do (when it runs out of money) is to write the (Social Security) checks, pursuant to law.”

What Jim is obviously suggesting here is that the federal government should simply print money to meet its obligations.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not the printing of money which causes hyperinflation, but the perception of this monetary policy. In other words, it is not until the public perceives that the government is routinely generating worthless currency that fearful actions begin. People will then run out and wildly purchase commodities as a hedge against inflation. The purveyors of these commodities will up their prices to meet demand and in response, the panicked public will throw yet more money at these artificially inflated prices. The final result – hyperinflation. Therefore, it can be said that the only way to truly protect the public from “fear itself” is to keep it somewhat in the dark.

Now, here’s a more responsible way for Jim to have made this same statement. From Wikipedia’s article: SS Trust Fund: All the federal government has to do is to “monetize trust fund obligations by transferring the treasuries held by the Trust Fund onto the Federal Reserve balance sheet.” Doesn’t that sound nicer?

Lately, there are those who will accuse the Federal Reserve of printing money in order to purchase large quantities of mortgage-backed securities for the purpose of making funds more available. However, Ben Bernanke would disagree. The Federal Reserve, he would say, is simply engaged in “quantitative easing.”

There, you see? Responsible!

Ron DiGiovanni
Easton, Pa.

Thanks for McGovern Appreciation

The things I know nada about fill the libraries of the US from coast to coast. One of them is newspaper editorship. I am of the opinion that Randolph Holhut’s column [“George McGovern: the Last Democrat,” 12/1/12 TPP] should have been on the front page of any newspaper calling itself The Progressive Populist. I helped get petitions during the 1972 campaign for McGovern in the Stroudsburg, Pa., area. I remember knocking on a door in a manicured middle-class neighborhood, and a middle-aged man answered, we shot the s**t for a couple minutes, and when he found out I was a native of Pittsburgh he said, “I’ll bet you are as lonely as a white person on Wylie Avenue (Hill District) circulating McGovern fliers in Stroudsburg.” I recall sitting at the bar at the Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap on election night, cemented in my delusion that despite McGovern’s blowing the Eagleton issue (he could have struck a blow for mental health by keeping Eagleton on the ticket) he was going to carry the student vote, the women’s vote, the peacenik vote etc. to victory. Thanks to TPP for printing the column, even if you did tuck it away on page 17.

Bernard J. Berg
Easton, Pa.

OK with GMO

I am a retired biologist who voted against the GMO-labelling proposition, Prop. 37, on November’s ballot in California. I didn’t do this because I wanted to vote for Monsanto and other corporations which were funding the opposition. I voted against Prop 37 because it was not a progressive initiative. It was instead a fear and ignorance initiative.

Let me give you an example of what I mean: A few days before the election, while seated in my doctor’s office, I got into a discussion with a woman who supported Prop 37. She told me, “Monsanto is putting pesticide genes into tomatoes.” I gently reminded her that pesticides are chemicals, not living organisms, so pesticides have no genes. “Well,” she retorted, “at least fish genes are being put into strawberries.” I had to remind her that there is no such thing as fish genes or strawberry genes or human genes, just genes, period. “So you believe in DNA?” was her final riposte. I was left gape-mouthed at her ignorance.

I think it behooves all progressives to learn as much as they can about genetics and evolution. I’d like to recommend the Coursera course on Genetics and Evolution that one can take for free on-line beginning in January, and apparently every quarter after that, too. We must not be fooled by the fear and ignorance that led anti-GMO campaigns in Europe several years ago, and in California this November.

To respond to your writers who mention GMO crops: there is no difference between GMO crops and traditional ones. The result is no different than one would get from selective breeding that humans have been doing on crops for the last 12,000 years. The result is just faster. There is no point in scaring people and saying that obesity, heart disease, asthma and other illnesses can be laid at the feet of these crops. I don’t like the pesticide-producing companies any more than you do, but of this they are not guilty. Take the course and find out.

Dianne Leonard
Berkeley, Calif.

Debate Silliness

Wayne O’Leary’s piece in your latest edition (Dec 1) is really revelatory, and I ought to know, as I have been the business of broadcasting going back to 1964. But the “debates” are really the tip of the election iceberg. It is the medium of television that picks the candidates, chooses the issues, frames the campaigns, defines the electorate, runs the polls, asks the questions, mulls the answers, and very much determines the winners and losers —- all while reaping MILLIONS along the way!

In terms of election fairness, what this nation really needs is much shorter campaigns, a real curb on the amount of money the political parties and candidates can actually spend on a given campaign, and total transparency on the entities responsible for the ads themselves.

Otherwise, the process will continue to be little more than a beauty contest sponsored by the unknown and totally manipulated by the messengers.

Finally, the arcane Electoral College must also be dissolved if the results of the reform are to mean anything positive for the process.

Perhaps writer O’Leary can take some of these things up in future columns – if so, I look forward to them, because his Debate Silliness piece was very, very well done.

John Winthrop
Cayucos, Calif.

From The Progressive Populist, January 1-15, 2013



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