Share the Pie

We repeatedly hear that the only way to cut the deficit is to cut Social Security and Medicare, because there is not enough money elsewhere. This is demonstrably false.

For starters, Social Security has a $2.7 trillion surplus. Although this surplus exists only on paper, it must be repaid to Social Security. If the “full faith and credit of the government of the United States” extends to international bankers, or to China, then surely it extends to our own citizens. How would you like to pay into an insurance policy for X number of years; then be told, “Sorry, we spent the money.”

There should be taxes on certain types of investments. The United Kingdom raises over $40 billion per year with a tiny tax on specific investments. The USA could easily raise $100-200 billion, or much more, per year with a miniscule tax on hedge funds, credit default swaps, derivatives, or whatever form of institutionalized thievery is currently in vogue. This would have the additional benefit of curtailing wild, speculative gambling (with our money) in the Wall Street Casinos.

Offshore tax havens should be closed. 18,000 companies are registered at one 2-story building in the Cayman Islands, in order to evade billions in US taxes. These companies should be punished, not rewarded, just as individual US taxpayers are punished for tax evasion.

Federal estate taxes should be reinstated and expanded. As more and more wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer families, our country is looking more and more like a Banana Republic. While plans are being discussed about which country to attack next, whether it be Syria, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, North Korea, Somalia (oh, sorry: been there, done that), we could save thousands of lives — and trillions of dollars — by stopping our useless, unnecessary wars. If we want to raise some real money, we could even return taxes to the rates under (Republican) President Eisenhower. Wow!, now we have enough money to pay back all the money that has been stolen from the Social Security Trust Fund AND to double Social Security payments — AND to lower the age for Medicare to 0 or at least 55.

The point is that the pie out there is bigger than ever. Alas, some gluttons don’t just want the biggest pieces — they want the whole pie.

Eugene Carlson
Owatonna, Minn.

Don’t Burn Forest Dwellers

Re: “Ending the Fire Zone Subsidy” by Dave Sirota [1/1-15/14 TPP]. Dave – it’s an easy trap to fall into – picking apart what amounts to shared risk in the interest of lower-risk people. Who is safer? The people on the seashore who have chosen to be near storms and high tides? (How foolish). The people in the Midwest who are on a floodplain for one of the major rivers? (why build there?). Those in the known path of most of the tornados we have – like the entire state of Kansas? (That must be dumb!) So, shall we reward the people who choose unwooded, non-seaside, un-rivered, and calm wind places like, say, Arizona? What about the cost to irrigate these areas? The cost to ship in lumber and water to drink? And when their aquifer runs dry, who is to blame for such a poor choice of place to live?  On still another front, should we insure those who choose to live in high crime metropolitan areas? Should we provide transportation systems at great expense to those who live way out in the ’burbs? This whole tack, “let’s get the people who choose x instead of y” is misguided and divisive. Insurance and common funding of joint needs (even if some don’t apply to me in particular) allows us to make choices in spite of all these risks (no one WANTS their house to burn) because the truth is we need people to live on the oceans for seaports, we need people to live near forests for lumber, we need people to live on floodplains for farming and the food we eat and to live in and commute to the cities for general commerce – all of these involve risks – let’s not begin characterizing some choices as “frivolous” because that is a slippery slope – we all live where we live for a reason – lower-cost housing, job proximity, family, occupations, and yes, in some cases, the sheer beauty of the place. 

Bob Magnani
Evergreen, Colo. (Yes, a beautiful fire zone)

Obama Owes Wall Street

Of all the speculation by Wayne O’Leary [12/15/13 TPP], as to why “Obama leans so heavily in the direction of Wall Street types …” O’Leary missed the prime reason. Because Obama from the get go was in the pockets of Wall Street where he got more money for his first campaign than even his Republican rival, John McCain. In 2008 he received $28.2 million and as of April 2012 he and the Democratic National Committee collected $14 million from the securities and investment industry (Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2012).

Denise D’Anne
San Francisco, Calif.

Hillary’s Politics

I would like to heartily endorse and thank your publication and Matt Wuerker for the cartoon regarding Hillary Rodham Clinton’s political affiliation [12/15/13 TPP].

I have long suspected her political leanings. I put her in the same category as Mr. Obama. That is, at the best a Blue Dog Democrat, and at the worst (probably) a closeted far right wing shill for the uberwealthy ... of which she is a member.

She spouts what I consider to be the progressive-populist platform using semantic obfuscation (a la John Boehner and ... oh, so many Republicans) so we don’t know what she’s really saying, but she practices the far right wing platform and accepts great gobs of money from corporate sources ... to whom will she owe allegiance if elected? I have a better idea: Forget about nominating and/or voting for her in an election. All we’ll get is cheney-bush deja vu “all over again ... just like Obama!”

Please excuse the following caps, I’m not shouting, I’m speaking FERVENTLY: ELIZABETH WARREN FOR PRESIDENT ... and if he’d take the job, Bernie Sanders for veep! It’s time for jail for the (corrupt?) captains of the corporate plutocratic oligarchy!

Gerald T. Hovis
Saginaw, Mich.

Second Thoughts on First World Nations

With reference to the 1/1-15/14 TPP article “Retrograde Trade,” I don’t see how Wayne O’Leary can say that Chile and Mexico are “First World Advanced nations.”

I don’t want to demean these two countries, but let me give you a few statistics:

In Chile the minimum wage, made by millions, is $200 per month.

The cost of one night in a hotel (Marriot, for example) is the same as in the USA, namely $200.

According to the CIA Book of Facts (hardly a “commie” outfit) the GDP per capita per year in Chile is $15,363. For purposes of comparison, it is $38,000 in Germany, $31,000 in Spain and $26,600 in Greece, yes, Greece, according to the same source (2013 figures). Also let me point out that wealth and income is less well distributed in Chile than in the USA.

I don’t think I need to say any thing about Mexico. So, please, tell Mr. O’Leary to check his facts.

Happy New year. I enjoy TPP (not the “Trans-Pacific Partnership” but your wonderful publication.)

Rafael M Iñigo
Charlottesville, Va.

Editor Notes: “First World” originally referred to US allies during the Cold War. Since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, “First World” usually refers to the wealthier industrialized democracies. There is no official list, so membership is largely in the eye of the beholder. The argument could be made that Chile and Mexico are more Second World than First, but the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development has 34 relatively developed member nations committed to democracy and the market economy, and it includes Chile and Mexico — for what that’s worth.

Bipartisan Lackeys

I write to take exception with Bob Burnett’s op-ed, “Polarization” [12/1/13 TPP]. Bob states “on critical issues, Republicans & Democrats can’t agree because their woridviews are influenced by economic inequality.” PROPAGANDA! Both the Republicans and Democrats are the lackeys of the oligarchy/plutarchy that seek to reduce us to peasants and serfs, grateful for the crumbs that fall off their tables.

William P. Lovelace
St. Louis, Mo.

Don’t Trash TPP

A Letter from the Editor (“Help Wanted,” 1/1-15/14 TPP) helped jar my memory as to how I first came upon this journal.

I found a copy which someone had left behind in a laundromat in Frenchtown, N.J. This is why I rarely throw it out when I’m finished reading it.

When I’m done, I’ll first leave it in the front seat of my car. Then I’ll watch for an opportunity to leave it behind in a place where people are waiting around and bored, like a doctor’s office, a DMV, or a pizzaria. After a while, if nothing comes up, I’ll just find the nearest laundromat. However, a word to the wise.

If you leave it in your dentist’s office, most definitely remove the mailing label and don’t let a member of his staff see you doing it. Otherwise, if your dentist turns out to be a closet teabagger, you may find yourself in the dental scene from the movie Marathon Man.

Look to the left, look to the right and ask yourself the same question that Larry Olivier kept asking. Is it safe? Is it safe?

Ron DiGiovanni
Easton, Pa.

From The Progressive Populist, February 1, 2014


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