Detroit’s Still in Debt

John Nichols says that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s Detroit takeover plan is not what democracy looks like [“Snyder’s Detroit takeover plan isn’t democracy,” 4/1/13 TPP], but it’s definitely what Wall Street capitalism looks like. Nichols omits from his article the onerous financial obligations that figure heavily in Detroit’s plight. The interest alone for the city’s debt in 2010 was $597 million, more than twice the $220 million in reneged revenue sharing payments from the state.

A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit was filed on Feb. 14 on behalf of David Sole, a retired city employee and co-founder of the Moratorium Now! coalition to stop foreclosures, evictions and utility shutoffs. It seeks to release documents related to loans and bonds which the city is obligated to pay (ahead of all other obligations). The Moratorium Now! coalition maintains that these instruments are designed to keep the city in debt permanently. They also charge the bond rating agencies with complicity by repeatedly downgrading the city’s credit worthiness, thereby making the debt continuously difficult to repay.

Shades of Europe! As Detroit goes (once a beacon of American industry and economic success) so goes the nation — and the world.

Robert McAllister
Riviera Beach, Fla.

Colorado Is No Progressive Haven

Lest David Sirota’s paean to “progressive” Colorado [“How to Make Your State More Liberal,” 4/15/13 TPP] stampedes thousands of starry-eyed immigrants to our state, be apprised of the following:

Over several decades, Colorado’s flagship university has become so privatized that only about four percent of Colorado University’s budget comes from taxpayer monies. Its board of regents and top administrators are reactionary to an extreme. While its athletic department is as overfunded and corrupt as any in the nation, the university’s famed Shakespeare Festival is scratching around for public funds. In-state tuition has increased over 50% during the past six years alone.

Privatization is rampant in Colorado. Just the past week witnessed our highway department’s initial foray into privatization by its grant of a 50-year contract to a consortium to revamp and maintain an important stretch of road in the Denver-Boulder area; in other words, privatization at its worst. The consortium’s financial adviser is ... wait for it ... bankster giant Goldman Sachs.

Our state’s Democratic contingent to Congress, particularly Sens. Udall and Bennet, has a miserable track record scarcely distinguishable from their Republican counterparts.

As for funding education, Colorado has for years ranked near bottom among the nation’s 50 states.

And then there is the escalating battle between environmentalists and developers over access to scarce water.

Colorado may be making up some ground for nearly six decades of regressive environmental, economic, and social policies, but by no means is it a populist-progressive Nirvana.

Dave Morton
Longmont, Colo.

Thanks, Tomas

Thank you for printing Tomas Young’s message to Bush and Cheney [Letters, 4/15/13 TPP]. Just four days before the new TPP arrived, I had watched the documentary, Body of War, which chronicles Tomas’ life in the early years after he was severely wounded in Iraq. I was touched by the cheerfulness and devotion of his mother and young wife to his care and support, and their activism and work with [Iraq Veterans Against the War]. Doing their best to make lemonade out of some really rotten lemons, and help a lot of other people along the way. It is a compelling story of the mis-guided path this country is on.

Tomas, I believe your brave and strong spirit has shown the rest of us that we can and must fight back — boldly and loudly — against the illegitimate authority that has taken over our country.

Thank you. Best in peace and harmony.

Caroline Gardner
Freeland, Wash.

Obama Should Stop Talking Republican

Two obvious reasons why “Americans laud Republican’s economic management” are: Democrats are losing both the war of connotation and explication. E.g., when from the president on down (and all the media) refer to checks from the Treasury as “spending” and not investment, they are talking Republican. When earned benefits are “entitlements,” what goes through the mind of the self-righteous voter?

The president should explain to the country that (1) infrastructure maintenance and innovation are desperately needed; (2) our primary problem is jobs and only by creating jobs will we have an economy that can deal with debt and deficit; (3) money is as cheap as it will ever be and to delay infrastructure projects will only cost more later; (4) raw materials aren’t going to get any less costly.

A costly example of the president talking Republican is his conflating the separate and solvent Social Security with our debt and deficit problem. Now that error is in Obama’s budget proposal.

FDR was inclined to continue Hoover’s austerity policy, but he was pressured by Francis Perkins and Harold Ickes to “prime the pump” with a new way of dealing with depression. Obama should take heed and emulate, not the EU and the Chamber of Commerce, but the man who was “a traitor to his class” and, while saving the country also saved capitalism.

Jerry Bronk
San Francisco

Tax the Wealthy

Great. So the economy was trashed just in time for young people to lose their job prospects, have their tuition and interest on their student debt hiked out of sight, and enjoy lower wages and fewer benefits than our generation did on what jobs there are [“Talking ’Bout My Generation,” by Robert Kuttner, 4/15/13 TPP].

And suddenly it’s our fault for having had a better life: good jobs, benefits, and Social Security in our old age. And since we had it so good, now we’re expected to give it up to “strengthen” the economy and balance the budget for the future.

We must recognize this subterfuge. If we let them chip away Social Security now, there won’t be anything left by the time the young are old like us; it will have been stripped away. That’s because it’s not about the economy, young people or seniors at all, it’s really only about how well the wealthy are doing. And they’re doing fabulously now, compared to the ‘50s, when we were young. They are the beneficiaries of everyone else’s pain, and they want to keep it that way. For them it isn’t broken, so they say if we want it fixed, we have to do it.

I say, tax the wealthy like Eisenhower did in the ’50s. That would fix it, without adding to the pain of seniors or the young!

Nancy Churchill
Oregon, Ill.

Red, White and Brew

Nothing could be more satisfying for many of us, than kicking back after a long day’s work with a frothy glass of good old American Budweiser beer, a case of pride ... red, white and blue, which also provides a way of showing our appreciation for their coverage and sponsorship of an array of professional sporting events at home and abroad from baseball to football, rodeo, boxing and the Olympics. In fact, it has been adopted by many as another true American icon, along with good old apple pie and Chevrolet, and often an inspiration for patriotic fervor and jubilation, including joyous shouts of USA! USA!

It might come as quite a surprise to some, but a few years ago Anheuser Busch was unceremoniously sold for $52 billion to InBev, a beverage company which is headquartered in Belgium. Black, yellow and gold anyone?

As an alternative, why not switch to Miller beer, another well established US brand, famous for the introduction of a low calorie light variety some decades ago? Surprise! The company is firmly in the hands of South African Brewing Co. (SAB)

However, there is still hope. Certainly, the Coors family of Colorado, co-founders of the John Birch Society and well known for its patriotism, will stand firm, abide by its principles and provide us their Silver Bullet free from outside influence and interference. Unfortunately, they have also succumbed to the lure, and merged with the Molson Brewery of socialist Canada.

This is just one particular, albeit egregious example, pointing to the fact, that we are not only outsourcing jobs and our manufacturing capacity to other countries, but ownership of our US-based corporations as well.

Even at the peril of redundancy, it is difficult having to acknowledge once again, that greed keeps on trumping patriotism, with no end in sight.

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff, Calif.

Fat Chance of Liberal Pope

Re: “Will the Next Pope Embrace Liberation Theology?” by Mark Engler [4/1/13 TPP], although the new pope should indeed, in my opinion, embrace the theology of liberation, Engler’s comment, “fat chance,” is right on! I share his pessimism that it will ever happen.

The main architects of Liberation Theology, Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutierrez and Bishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, took their inspiration to fight for social and economic justice from Luke 41:18-19, where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me …He has sent me to … release the oppressed.”

What could be more Christian than that? Yet the Catholic Church condemns Liberation Theology as Marxist!

That church never fails to baffle me. Its stance against birth control and abortion has certainly contributed to human misery. Despite the fact that nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus condemn birth control or abortion, the Church has taken it upon itself to condemn both by its own authority!

The Catholic Church is a relic of the Dark Ages, and no longer in touch with most of its followers. (Consider, for example, the numerous studies showing that a huge majority of Catholic married couples in America and in Europe practice birth control.)

Therefore, its notion of having a monopoly on God’s word is no longer taken seriously – and for that reason, many people sense that its days are numbered.

David Quintero
Monrovia, Calif.

Monument Won’t Make Iraq War Right

Arianna Huffington’s four column history of our war-mongering 10-year criminal enterprise in Iraq [“10 Years Later: Looking Back on the Iraq War,” 4/1/13 TPP] has just about all the famous clichés babbled by the Bush gang (did I or she miss the Downing Street memo?). So how then does she justify the intro to the last paragraph? “No doubt there will someday (RIGHTLY???) be a monument to those who bravely fought and died in Iraq.” No matter how many lies were told to fix the policy, let’s build another wall to commemorate our criminal war of aggression against the people of Iraq, to stand next to the one commemorating our illegal, immoral bloody aggression against the people of Vietnam. Long time passing and when will we ever learn?

Maybe it would help Arianna to come to another conclusion in her piece if she remembered the Catonsville Nine. Their action in May 1968 was explained in their statement to the press: “We apologize dear friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children.” Had more citizens of the US followed their example, draft boards from coast to coast would have no records from which to conscript in the “front parlors of the charnel house.” (Dan Berrigan)

I take it Arianna’s field of expertise is journalism and as the masthead of a Scripps Howard newspaper of many years ago used to say, “Give light and the people will find their own way.” (The Pittsburgh Press). The problem I have with the conclusion she draws is that it won’t wash in any sane moral theology. In his eulogy of Tom Lewis (one of the Nine), Father McCarthy made it very clear that “there is not a scintilla of difference between throwing a thousand children into a fire, and throwing fire from an airplane on a thousand children. Murder decorated with a ribbon is still murder.” He drew an analogy that might be helpful to Arianna to make the subtle distinction: It may take daring and bravery for one warring don to assassinate another and his family, but we don’t build a monument to him.

Bernard J. Berg
Easton, Pa.


I, Satan, Fallen from God’s Grace and holder of all souls lost to the Lord, thank you for your words, deeds, and passion of heart in spreading the confounding of the Lord’s Word. The hate in your heart which moves you to denounce all those that arouse it, your claims to be a holder of God’s Truth and your condemnation of those whom you deem are in violation of it, are My right arm and the rock of My Church.

Go therefore unto all nations and peoples of the Earth and tell them of the sins of others and of the failures of others to follow the one true road to salvation which only you and others of like mind are on. Pray for God’s Judgment against those whom you hate, seek comfort in your hard earned riches while condemning those who would feast off your fallen crumbs.

Give your gold not to the poor but to those who would place the Lord’s people into high office for the glory of God.

Place your trust not in the wisdom the Lord has granted you but in the ancient texts of an ancient people, lest you take responsibility for your own thoughts and actions.

Remind others of your Covenant with Christ, indeed Proclaim it to the World, take pride in it, cherish it, remind yourself daily that those without it are doomed to My keeping for all Eternity. Do this not in My Name but in God’s Name, for it is in the confounding of the Word that My Name is exalted.

Where there is imperfection, poverty and sorrow, sow judgement.

Where there is disagreement, discord and anger, sow hate.

For it is in these things done in God’s Name that your deeds are truly done in Mine.

And you’re doing one Hell of a job.


From The Progressive Populist, May 15, 2013



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