1% Has Big Plans For Us

After reading the articles by Edward McCelland [RIP: Middle Class” and Thomas Frank [“The Conservative Plan is Sabotage,” 11/1/13 TPP] I have come to the conclusion that the plan is sabotage, and actual death is the wealthy right’s plan for the masses. Let’s face it, seven billion humans is not sustainable and the working masses have built a pretty comfortable world for the world’s wealthy and now all they need is enough of us to take care of them.

Realize that most of the now not working masses is only concerned with the price of a gallon of gasoline and staring at their smartphones while driving cars. None are concerned with the Amazon rain forest while eating fast food hamburgers that they have purchased while sitting in these running cars in a drive thru. While I feel that I’m progressive, I am starting to have a hard time feeling sorry for them.

A couple of weeks ago a coworker was bemoaning the fact that his take home pay would be cut by 12% a month due to the Government shutdown and the loss of his National Guard check. My coworker then picks up his smartphone to check messages. I ask him how much the smartphone costs him and he tells me that between him and his wife the bill runs $150 a month. My coworker’s wife is a stay-at-home mom and his pay is so low that he qualifies for a housing subsidy. Maybe smartphones aren’t so smart after all.

My wife is nursing faculty here at the University of Vermont and she routinely has to deal with students who cannot pass a basic arithmetic test that will allow them to safely distribute medicine. Can someone tell me how these people get out of junior high let alone into a university? Students complain about their debts, but I see them eating at expensive restaurants in the area. Maybe if they were better at arithmetic they would not be in the mess they are in.

For myself I do without a cell phone, cable TV, and Internet service, yet I seem more informed than the connected masses. Banks don’t have much power over me since I carry no credit card balance, have no car payment, and have paid off the mortgage by paying extra every month. I buy a considerable amount of food from local farmers’ markets and am probably somewhat healthier for it. I wrote this letter on a 20-year-old computer/printer that works fine and hasn’t leaked poison into the water table yet, and the postman still has a job because of people like me.

Science tells us that the human race has to trim its carbon output by 80%. I get the feeling that the wealthy right’s plan is to cut carbon by 90% by getting rid of the bottom 90%. Seven hundred million of us should be enough to take care of the new 1% (seven million). We are told that it is really the top 1% of the 1%.

So the population will be reduced in the classic time-honored fashion. War, for cheap oil. Disease, from eating those Chinese chicken nuggets you told us about. And, famine from climate change. All these things may happen without notice because the masses have been hypnotized by some wealthy young women’s backside on their srnartphones.

James Bosek
Essex Junction, Vt.

Newt and Ted

Jason Stanford (“Learning to Love Ted Cruz, 11/1/13 TPP) either misremembers or misreports political history. Newt Gingrich did not resign “after leading his party to a historically rare electoral loss” as Stanford says. That would have been an act of some humility. Gingrich showed no humility. He resigned when his party, in the House, decided they no longer wanted him for Speaker. That was an act of childish pique, and a betrayal of the constituents who had elected him to serve them. Of course, serving them was never on his agenda; perhaps that is another parallel with Ted Cruz.

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam
Baltimore, Md.

Get Left

With all due respect (that phrase is usually followed by negative comments from way out in LEFT field), I suggest you change your masthead to “The Progressive Moderate,” for the reason that, with few exceptions (Ralph Nader, Dave Zirin) your contributors never go far enough in their analysis, and end up “crying (pitifully) in their beer.” I think your pages would certainly benefit from some fire-breathing from Chris Hedges with his call to get into the streets a la Arab Spring, or the Spanish workers, or the students of Quebec and Argentina. The Populist movement at the turn of the 20th century was a radical movement which got the farmers and workers marching with “pitchforks.” The Farmers Union of Oklahoma (yes, that Oklahoma) segued into the strongest Socialist Party in the country. The vital question: “What’s to be done?” was answered on every street corner under the banner of true Populism — a movement away from monopoly capitalism toward social democracy. In your 11/1/13 issue, Hank Kalet serves us the usual pie in the sky by saying, “Essentially, Christie (Gov. of N.J.) is one of us and for us ...” Say what? Prior to that he labels Obama a “relatively cautious left-centrist.” Tell that to the people he has murdered by remote control, or the patriotic whistle blowers languishing in jail. This timid discourse, sorry to say, muddies the waters, and plays right into the hands of the plutocratic status quo.

Al Salzman
Fairfield, Vt.

Support Church Schools

The title in one of the letters in the 11/1/13 issue should have read “Destroy Religious Liberty” instead of “Protect” it. Donald D. Meyer uses the info that 36 states forbid aid to sectarian schools  but he fails to mention that this is because they passed the Blaine amendment in the 1800s which was an anti-Catholic amendment to stop any aid to Catholic  schools and was supported by the Klu Klux Klan, the No Nothing Party and the Nativist movement. He probably does not realize he is in that illustrious, anti-religious company. Happily there is a movement now that is asking the Federal Government to declare those amendments unconstitutional.

Robert M. Monti
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Editor’s Note: The constitutional amendment proposed by Rep. James G. Blaine (R-Maine), which would have prohibited the use of public money for sectarian schools, was passed by the House in 1875 but did not receive the necessary two-thirds vote in the Senate. However, 36 states adopted similar amendments to their state constitutions barring state funding of religious organizations, including religious schools. Many of us support schools of our faith but we don’t want our tax dollars paying for other cults.

Redistribution of Wealth

“[T]here is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents ... There is also an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth. ... The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provision should be made to prevent its ascendancy.” (Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, Oct 28,1813.)

Redistribution of wealth was fought for and achieved by the writer of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson fought for and achieved the abolition of primogeniture. The practice had kept large estates intact by allowing only one child to inherit an estate. Jefferson was able to end the practice in Virginia. This helped break down the size of estates as each generation divided estates into smaller parts. Jefferson knew that large estates based on banking and corporations were a threat to democracy, and as such he sought to control them by redistribution of wealth.

Today we have a moneyed aristocracy that is in control of the government. They use their personal wealth, and corporate wealth to get politicians elected and the politicians do their bidding. The law makers provide tax breaks and dodges for both their personal and corporate wealth. We have experienced a huge debacle with the banking crisis that has left large numbers of Americans struggling, while the wealthiest among us have increased their wealth by a huge percent. This is the kind of mischief that Jefferson feared.

There are things that can be done. Break down large estates by high inheritance tax rates on the extremely wealthy. Moderate growth of such estates by higher income tax rates. Under FDR the highest residual rate was over 90% and the rate stayed above 70% until Reagan. From Roosevelt’s time on we had a prosperous and expanding middle class. What do we have now? Low taxes for the wealthy, and a middle class that is disappearing into the depths of poverty.

David Schroeder
Farmington, N.M.

From The Progressive Populist, December 1, 2013


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