Beware Propaganda

When I first read Robert M. Monti’s reply [“Support Church Schools,” 12/1/13 TPP] to my letter to the editor in the 11/1/13 edition [“Protect Religious Liberty”], my reaction was somewhat less than cordial. “How could anyone equate favoring separation of church and state as being anti-Catholic?” I asked, but then I remembered a never-to-be-forgotten experience when I was a guest of a farm family in western Germany during the summer of 1955, the summer between my undergraduate and post-graduate years at Cornell University.

Although I am not Lutheran, my sojourn was arranged through the Lutheran Church representative at Cornell, possibly because I speak German and because my German hosts spoke no English. Indeed, my hosts were as good a people as we shall find in this imperfect world of ours. They were the type of people who would be a credit to any community: hard-working, God-fearing, family-oriented. Indeed they had lost one son on the Russian front, while the second son spent most of WWII as a prisoner of war in a Canadian camp, where, incidentally, he told me he was well-treated.

1955 was ten years after the termination of WWII, and by then there were ample revelations of the horrors of Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau and other concentration campus throughout Germany and the occupied territories, revelations which continue today.

In the centuries-old, Tudor-style farmhouse lay the master dining room, which was opened on Sundays only for the main meal. As one walked into the room one saw immediately on the opposite wall a picture of their hero: Adolf Hitler. You couldn’t miss it.

My hosts — these good people — had been brainwashed through Hitler’s effective propaganda, and just as they had been manipulated, so could it happen to us. Let us not deceive ourselves. Propaganda is all around us, and we must be on guard.

D.D. Meyer
Labadie, Mo.

Survival Tips

Observing, as your paper so capably does, the state of our present society, I am convinced more than ever that my approach to survival on this collapsing planet has ben pretty appropriate.

Here’s the formula, if you aren’t rich, or inclined to predation of your fellows:

1) Steer clear of parenthood. This is the most important decision you can make. No need to rear, at much cost, any more cannon fodder/serfs for the greedheads in charge. Besides, it helps curb overpopulation.

2) Save every nickel you can via grubbing/investment. Live cheap. I realize this was easier in my time, before the New Deal was scratched. So good luck!

3) Avoid Bible Thumpers. Try boning up on scientific subjects instead. A certain connection with reality may be helpful in salvaging what’s left of the planet. Getting outside for a walk in the sticks helps, too. Get some exercise and note the beauty around you before it disappears.

4) Never-ever-ever vote Republican!


Judy Redding
Bellevue, Wash.

Reform Entitlement Funding

John Nichols’ article, “Paul Ryan’s Peddling a ‘Shock Doctrine’ Cure” [11/15/13 TPP], does not go far enough. He justly criticizes Rep. Ryan’s proposals that simply savage Social Security and Medicare, but he fails to take the necessary next steps.  First, he doesn’t acknowledge that Social Security and Medicare have funding problems. Second, he doesn’t propose liberal reforms that would fix those problems.

Attacking conservative proposals without offering a liberal alternative is simply playing defense that offers no hope for progress. The Social Security and Medicare funding problems need to be fixed soon by choosing and promoting one or more of several possible solutions. For example, for Social Security we could increase the annual amount of earned income that is taxed, but this does nothing for Medicare and, standing alone as a Social Security solution, it increases double taxation borne by middle income bracket taxpayers. We could simply increase the Social Security and Medicare tax rates but this would weigh heavily on those in middle and low income brackets. (Also, increasing Social Security and Medicare taxes paid by employers should always be avoided because it makes little sense, i.e., why tax employers for employing people?)

A solution that liberals should favor would recognize that Social Security and Medicare taxes the same earned income stream that is also subject to federal personal income tax without so much as a deduction on one’s income tax return for the entitlement taxes actually paid. We should at least allow such deduction, but it would be far better to allow a refundable credit on a taxpayer’s income tax return for all Social Security and Medicare taxes actually paid. With the refundable credit, we could increase a worker’s Social Security taxes from the present rate of 6.2% to 7% (while annually increasing the base taxed to keep pace with inflation) and increase the worker’s Medicare tax from the present rate of 1.45% to 3%. If the refundable credit were only 1/2 of the total entitlement taxes paid, the worker would be paying less for entitlement taxes (a maximum total of 5%) after the increase than before it when a maximum total of 7.65% applied.

Mounting a campaign for such a solution — a true reform — should be far more productive than simply criticizing a conservatives radical idea.

James Van Vliet
Oswego, Ill.

Can GOP Get Free of Tea?

Perhaps I’m dense, and if so, please enlighten me. Many of the stories in the 12/1/13 issue refer to tea party Republicans continuing to hold the country hostage to their views. But is it not true that the popularity of the GOP is at an all-time low, caused by its kowtowing to its tea-party members? Why would a more moderate Republican fear a challenge from the tea party now? Isn’t this reason for hope that the GOP will take a more moderate line? Or is there too much big money lined up to cast its negative campaigns against the moderates? I can perhaps see that fear, but isn’t even the big money now wishing to distance itself from the unpopular tea party?

Michael Scherer
Silver City, N.M.

Snowden, American Hero

No matter his background and motives, Eric Snowden is an American hero. Ultimately, he’s brought truth to the American public. Why else would the United States government and mainstream media be trying so hard to besmirch his character and deeds? Forget charging Snowden with treason, he should be presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our country’s highest civilian award recognizing individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States.” Snowden is a protector of the American public.

After all, the breadth of the NSA’s spying program isn’t startling “news” to other foreign governments, friends and foes alike. What’s shocking is the extent to which the NSA is spying on the American public. There can be no clearer violation of a person’s 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures than the U.S. government’s spying on its own people. The protection the NSA truly aims to provide is that of the U.S. government against its own people, not any foreign threat to the country.

There should be no United States program, court, government body, or office operating outside of the framework and intent of the Constitution. Any President or other government official who has known of or sanctioned these violations of the public’s constitutional rights should be convicted of treason.

Joseph Lovece Jr.
New Rochelle, N.Y.


Help Wanted

This is the time of year when we check the bank balances to see how we’ve been doing. We were a little disappointed to find that our revenues for the year through Sept. 30 are down about $41,000 from the previous year. Since our advertising revenues have never been much more than negligible, we suspect that the primary reason is that many of our subscribers have failed to respond in a timely manner to renewal cards and letters from our circulation department.

For whatever reason those revenues have declined, we must make up the shortfall, and unfortunately our offices, salaries and expense accounts have never been lavish. That leaves our promotion budget — which normally accounts for about one-third of our expenses — as the most prominent target for cuts. The promotion budget mainly goes toward sending out sample copies of The Progressive Populist to potential readers — which probably is how you became aware of our journalistic enterprise. If we don’t send out sample copies of The Progressive Populist to find replacements for the subscribers who fail — for whatever reason — to renew their subscriptions, our circulation will continue to decline, and that won’t be good for any of us.

We hope you will help us make up that shortfall by 1) renewing your subscription. and 2) buying a gift subscription for a friend or relative during this holiday season (see page 24 for details). If you wish to provide additional assistance above and beyond the cost of subscribing for yourself, your friends, your family and perhaps your public library, donations are welcome to help us promote The Progressive Populist to the general public, and also to help us subsidize the cost of subscriptions for readers who are on fixed incomes or who are going through financial difficulties while we get this Great Recession sorted out. Don’t leave the many progressive potential readers to rely on the corporate media and never find out that they’re populists! Send your check to:

The Progressive Populist
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Jim Cullen, Editor

From The Progressive Populist, January 1-15, 2014


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