Protect Public Services

Michael Moore is right! [“Dear Gov. Snyder, you have to go to jail,” 2/15/16 TPP] Rick Snyder, governor of Michigan, should be put in prison as a treasonous criminal enemy of the people of Flint.

Water supply is a public service, not a private business, so your cover story [“Government run like business poisoned Flint,” by Dave Johnson, 2/15/16 TPP] is also quite correct. Public services are not supposed to be operted like a business, to make a profit for the owner. They are supposed to be operated for the benefit of the public, and paid for by taxes on whomever can most afford to pay!

The situation in Flint should be looked into in more detail. Has Mr. Snyder been getting “campaign contributions” (also known as bribes) from water bottling companies (such as Poland Spring, etc)?

Any economics text book, used in any college in any city, state or country anywhere on Earth, will tell you in great detail about the difference between public and private goods. That is why I find it hard to believe the Republicans don’t understand it. Public goods are the essence of economic prosperity, the essential ingredient that makes a country prosperous and distinguish it from poor backward undeveloped countries. They are such things as water supply, sanitation, trash collection, schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, airports, highways, health care, immunization against Ebola or other viruses. Without them, we are poor, backward and undeveloped.

Mr. Snyder is not the only one. Our media is full of lies and propaganda by vicious, treasonous enemies of the US, enemies of civilization, who hope to profit from corruption, such as Grover Norquist, Jerry Falwell, Trey Gowdy, Ted Cruz, Sam Brownback, etc. They all make a lot of noise, wave the flag and call themselves “conservative” or “Tea Party” or “evangelist” or “libertarian.” They are all phonies, traitors and enemies of the American people, enemies of all forms of civilization, the best friends of ISIS and other criminal terrorist groups. The last place they should be is in our government!

Harvey Stoneburner
Brooklyn N.Y.

Cheap Food vs. Family Farms

It is interesting the narratives that are nurtured to justify prejudices. Froma Harrop’s article, “Government keeps rural West going” [3/1/16 TPP], asks “… If a shoe factory in Massachusetts can’t profit it closes. Why are the rules different for Western agricultural business?” For a magazine based in Iowa, I should think that the editors of The Progressive Populist are well versed in the complex consequences of 70 years of the “cheap food” farm bills and could have answered that question without my intervention.

One consequence of the “cheap food” policy is that food is cheaper than ever — both in cost and in nutrition. Every citizen of Iowa should know all about their economy’s dependency on the government checks sent to corn farmers. The Western grass-based ranchers’ version of ag subsidies come in the form of inexpensive pasture for their cattle and sheep.

The “cheap food” policy has been a very successful war on family-based farming and ranching favoring instead corporate models of production. This has resulted in the consolidation of all of the firms that service farming and markets food. The next phase will see the merger of “Big Ag” into just one vertically integrated production-retailing system. Then we shall see what food will cost.

So have Western rural communities been subsidized with cheap grass and cheap trees for lumber mills, or have America’s consumers been subsidized with cheap food and cheap lumber to build more urban sprawls? Now that we no longer log the forests, they burn and the government spends billions saving homes built where they don’t belong. Meanwhile ranchers fume at cuts in grazing allotments and curse the wolves and grizzly bears killing livestock. Societies priorities have shifted from subsidizing the work of ranchers and lumberjacks, to those that value the aesthetic aspects of mountain scrapes and wildlife – so who is getting subsidized now?

Ranchers may not have been paying a whole lot for the right of graze public lands, and timber companies may have had inexpensive access to trees, but they did pay something. I don’t see hikers, anglers, hunters, bird watchers, lovers of Bambi, and partisans of predators contributing much of anything at all for enjoying the aspects of public lands that they value over its ability to provide food and shelter.

Gilles Stockton
Stockton Ranch
Grass Range, Montana

Voting for My Aunt

A few years back during Thanksgiving dinner at Dad’s house in Charleston, Arkansas, I was given a very important lesson in politics. The table talk naturally turned to Sen. Dale Bumpers, because it was Charleston, hometown of the Bumpers and my stepmother. Aunt Myrtle, who had lived in Fort Smith for years, made one of the most remarkable statements I had ever heard. She said she had never voted in a primary. I was astounded. In all the family gatherings over the years, the talk of politics, and Dale’s campaigns, and she had never voted for him in a primary. Wow! And yet, no one else at the table seemed in the least surprised, because they already knew that Myrtle had worked for a company that did not favor its employees voting for Democratic candidates. That moment taught me how much power corporations have over our elections.

During the caucuses in Nevada the other day, I thought about my Aunt Myrtle when thousands of union workers were herded into the caucus sites by trail boss Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his ramrod union leader. Boss Reid also had 100 drovers (“organizers”) who were at the caucus sites to “make sure people know what they’re doing.” This power play within the Democratic Party was somewhat different from my Aunt Myrtle’s experience, but the outcome was the same, and in some ways more egregious. As Sen. Dale Bumpers bluntly put it in one of his numerous debates with Sen. Reid, the mining companies “own all the senators here.”

So to my Aunt Myrtle and all the Aunt Myrtles past and present, this primary vote is for you.

Janis K. Percefull
Hot Springs, Ark.

Libs Must Vote for Clinton

Ms. Connie Schulz, did you actually write this sentence which ran in your 3/1/16 TPP column [“This liberal doesn’t need your lectures”]: “(I)f you tell me, should Sanders lose, you won’t vote for Hillary Clinton, then stop calling yourself a liberal or a progressive or anything other than someone invested in just getting your way”? Do you realize how your demand is a vivid and internally ironic example of just what you are commanding of Sanders supporters? Your demand is precisely why the Democratic Party long ago left progressives and has been (for more than 20 years) passing off neo-liberals like the Clintons and Obama as “progressive.”

It is the leaders of the Democratic Party such as Wasserman-Schultz, Pelosi, Reid, Schumer, Feinstein, and, yes, your own husband [Sen. Sherrod Brown], who have rigidly fixed the nomination process (super-delegates, NFL-night “debates” scheduling, etc.) so that Sen. Clinton is a lock for the nomination. It is the Democratic Party that publicly ignores the painful reality of two reputable national polls that show (as of mid-February) that Clinton loses to each of the final six Republican candidates — and Sanders beats each of them. I can hardly better describe than Ralph Nader, Ted Rall and many others why Hillary is so loathed by progressives and old-style Dems for all that she is and represents, so I need not do so here.

The fear we have is not Donald Trump as President, because any Republican President offers one last opportunity for the old Democratic officeholders to finally show some backbone. If Clinton becomes President, this country will continue its rightward tilt unabated, as the values of workers, middle class, environment, and Constitutional freedoms continue diminish as they has under Reagan, Bill Clinton, the Bushes, and Obama.

John Moon Samore
Albuquerque, N.M.

Taxes Wasted on Tobacco

All of our legislators are strumming the harp of “keeping America safe.” Yet, when you look into their backgrounds a good share of them support and take money from industries that are the greatest over- the-counter destroyers of life in the world -tobacco and alcohol.

Tobacco kills an estimated six million people annually worldwide. America’s share of this government-supported genocide is 435,000 dead people each year. Deaths caused by tobacco usage are protracted and expensive. The cost to our health care system and lost productivity reaches $200 billion dollars a year.

There are 750,000 arrests yearly in the US for using marijuana and zero arrests for using and possessing tobacco.

In the last agricultural budget, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) inserted a yearly provision that pays tobacco growers approximately $37 million a year in crop insurance, and our Congress and President approved that budget.

Sens. McCain and Feinstein introduced legislation to eliminate tobacco insurance from our agricultural budget — it was DOA and never got a hearing. …

Sometime ago all advertising of tobacco products was banned with the exception of a few adult magazines. You have probably noticed ads for cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars and snuff are starting to appear more frequently. Even USA Today succumbed to this mission creep. I wonder how much they got paid for their recent cigar ads. …

So the next time your “for-sale” legislators toot their horns about keeping America safe, ask them why they waste our tax dollars financially backing an industry that has killed, and continues to kill, more people than all war, famines, plagues and natural disasters since mankind started using tobacco.

Ed Hodges
Appleton, Wis.

We Don’t Need Another Ronald Reagan

It seems that Sanders supporters are delusional and look at him thru rose colored glasses like Katrina Vanden Heuvel does.

What planet does Vanden Heuvel live on when she compares Sanders to Reagan [“We need Bernie Sanders to redefine our politics—just like Ronald Reagan did” 3/1/16 TPP].

I loathed Reagan. He was demented old fool who destroyed this country, But he was a handsome, well-known movie actor and a former two-term governor of California.

Vanden Heuvel should look at Sanders as he really is a pathetic doddering old man, who in his 74 years of life has never demonstrated any leadership ability. He is has alienated his colleagues with is holier than attitude and that is why no Senator has endorsed him.

Only someone who resides in a leftwing crackpot bubble could ever compare Reagan to Sanders.

Reba Shimansky
New York, N.Y.

From The Progressive Populist, April 1, 2016


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