Mega-Mergers Limit Speech

I was pleased to see my old friend Peter Franck (April issue) making the linkage between mega mergers in the mass media and the need for alternative radio.

The situation has got even worse, in another field of media, since that issue: Random House, one of the biggest publishing conglomerates in the U.S., was bought out by an even bigger one, Bertelsmann A.G. of Germany.

According to a Newsday story printed in our local daily, the merger "will create the world's largest English-language book publisher."

"It will combine the worldwide operatians of Random House and its well-known sister companies, including Alfred A. Knopf and Crown Publishers, with Bertelsmann's Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group," Newsday re-ported.

Savor the irony: The world's largest publisher of English-language books is German.

The CEO in-waiting of the new empire promised Newsday that each division will have editorial autonomy. Anybody want to bet against this mega-merger's influence on the bottom line? Book publishing, which once was an industry for people who were readers, and made a decent living at it, is now an industry for people who merely want to make piles of money. The result, inevitably, will be more lowest-common-denominator sleaze -- just as with conglomerate radio -- and less real reading matter available, except from small presses and independent bookstores.

Alpha Farm
Deadwood OR 97430

Social Security Scam

The potentially simple solution to the problems of Social Security can be seen on the front page of the AARP Bulletin for March. Pictured are two of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who do not pay their full share of Social Security taxes. These two pay no Social Security taxes on half of their salaries. (Bill Gates pays on only a tiny fraction of his.) The average American, in lower tax brackets, pays the larger percentage of his income. Let's level the paying field. That's all that is needed to assure Social Security's solvency for the entire 21st century.

The article accompanying these photos speaks irresponsibly, erroneously of "insolvency in 2029." Talk like this of a crisis when baby boomers retire is a smokescreen to hide the real agenda -- which is to destroy Social Security and to use the Social Security (FICA) taxes you and I have paid -- (in my case, those I've paid for my employees as well) -- to pay a commission to "brokers" to gamble with the Social Security Trust Fund.

The Bulletin concludes with photos and statements by a Senator and an "economist" and the AARP's NLC -- all advocating this, the greatest scam of the 20th century. The Trust Fund belongs to all Americans, not to a few self-appointed wizards to play with.

P.O. Box 1658
Coos Bay, OR 97420

Remember Ron Carey

Teamsters president Ron Carey was banned from a rerun after a relatively clean, government overseen election. (Politicians held to the same standards would all be in court.) That's probably the last the public has heard of Mr. Carey, but he has never yet experienced due process.

Granted, reformers originally welcomed the government with open arms to the Teamsters, but now the government, not the mob, is standing in the way of reform. Washington, aligns with business, and militant labor is not profit maximizing. It's okay to strike as long as you don't win.

Mr. Carey was the first Teamster president ever elected by the rank and file, and his work in the first term catered to the common workers, not the union boss, not the company boss, and not for personal gain. It's sickening and disheartening that the government can take away my right to vote for the candidate I choose without having proven him guilty of something. I've been voting for the lesser evil all my life, and his was one election I truly enjoyed.

Socialist Action, a periodical from San Francisco, has printed Mr. Carey's appeal. The government's case against him is weak and based primarily on the word of a felon plea bargaining for leniency. Washington Post reporter Frank Swoboda commented on last month's (IRB) Independent Review Board action. "Lawyers following the case have noted the 'Alice in Wonderland' quality of the hearings, but they don't want to talk about it on the record for fear of retribution. Some privately likened the board to a kangaroo court. Some lawyers say the proceedings before the board operate under rules of law alien to American jurisprudence. Individuals charged by the board are seldom confronted by their accusers. Instead, the board relies on statements and affdavits from the FBI to make its charges. And under board rules, 'reliable hearsay' is admissible as evidence."

This unreported news story could rally working folks together in public outcry, but the media and union activists are ignoring it and moving on. "Presumed" guilt is not the American way. Politicians are presenting bills that would further cripple unions. Workers, including reporters, need the conviction that the government and many campaign-financing corporations are gunning for unions just when we need them most. Business outspent labor 17 to 1 in the last election cycle, yet politicians are trying to restrict union campaign donations. Beware government intervention in your union and workplace affairs, eventually they'll take away what few rights you have.

But what do I know? I load trucks at UPS part time. Not all union jobs are worker friendly. We desperately needed a friend at the top. I trust the guy still, and though reform may continue, they'll have taken some of the heart out of it. After a victory on the picket line, I assumed things would get better for us. But now Ron Carey is being railroaded by the U.S. government and no one takes notice.

Might be time for some good old fashioned investigative reporting about something that matters. Walk away from Lewinsky trivia. It's time for the media to start reporting on the stories that matter to the majority of Americans who are out there working their butts off and being dissed by corporations, media, politicians and now the judicial system. It's a travesty that most of the papers are owned by giant corporations. This is still a democracy, isn't it?


Teamsters Local 597
6 Park Street
Underhill, VT 05489

No Honor for Reagan

I have recently heard news that Congress is intending to name the D.C. airport after Ronald Reagan. I was so outraged to hear this that I wrote my first letter to a congressman. I think that this man will eventually go down in history as our worst president. Despite his glorification by the media, his stupid and superficial personality could not be completely hidden. I think that he was the closest to an idiot in an elected official that the U.S. has ever seen. The damage that he did to unions and working people in the U.S. was only exceeded by the harm that his murderous foreign policy inflicted on Central America and Grenada. I think enough dishonor has been inflicted by naming the FBI building after our late unlamented Heinrich Himmler. It is disgraceful that anyone would be insane enough to think of memorializing the Reagan name to posterity.

248 E 2nd St
Mount Carmel, PA 17851-1523

Arrogance of 'Clean Elections'

Please stop pushing Clean Elections style as a Campaign Finance Reform worthy of populist support. Have you actually read the TWENTY EIGHT pages of bad law that C.E. has vomited up? If this "reform" were to be enacted, the only effect that it would have would be to set real CFR back.
Touted as THE way to provide public campaign funds, the C.E. plan would dribble away the public's money to many fringe candidates and leave the privately financed candidates with grossly underfunded opposition.

The arrogance of these "reformers" is disgusting. Their plan is design to replace Government by the Rich with Government by self appointed do-gooders.

It will fail.

TOM STRONG (aka tolemy)
Phoenix, AZ
Email tolemy@idsweb.com

P.S. Hurray for the People, and screw the Rentier Class!

Editor's Note: A Rentier, according to Webster, is "a person who receives a fixed income (as from land or stocks).

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