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A New New Deal? > Letters

Web Letter

As long as we have a long umbilical cord from wall street to Pennsylvania Avenue and parochial interests of our representatives ruling the country, we will continue the ever-increasing slide into a Third World-status country.

We need to stop cheering for the loosing team and finally admit that this isn't a game, but, rather, survival.

JAMES PINETTE

Caribou, ME

Jan 4 2009 - 3:19am

Web Letter

The key to recovery is to empower workers through purchasing power transparency and wage bargaining power.

Ever since the basket-of-goods method of determining the Consumer Price Index was abandoned in the '80s, worker pay has fallen farther and farther behind living expenses.

Recently a contracter indicated to me that he, his wife and their daughter are "working two jobs just so we can continue to live as we have been." Another way of visualizing this loss of purchasing power is to look at what a Social Security check can buy today compared to twenty years ago--less than half, even though it has been supposedly indexed for inflation.

The current economic crisis has resulted from a futile attempt to compensate for falling worker purchasing power by providing ever-looser credit. Now that the reality of falling worker purchasing power has been laid bare, it is apparent that the 65 percent of the GDP they represent can not be sustained.

The cure consists of two parts:

Provide a resource so that workers can track their purchasing power.

Use the card check program to allow formation of a new type of union dubbed a "wunion" that only negotiates for wages. This will preserve the meritocracy needed for today's competitive, nimble and flexible corporations.

Robert Goldschmidt

Sarasota, FL

Dec 28 2008 - 7:00am

Web Letter

New New Deal? Let's hope not. FDR was a leader the nation embraced during WWII, but his economic policies to address the 1930's depression were not effective.

Hugh Maguire

New York, NY

Dec 26 2008 - 6:13pm

Web Letter

It is far too easy blame the failure of roads, bridges and sewer pipes on the conservative movement.

Building and maintaining basic infrastructure has been and continues to be the responsibility of state and local governments. The taxpayers have paid the taxes necessary to maintain the roads, the bridges and the schools. The state and local govenrments have taken the money and and funneled it to their cronies in the government workers' unions.

If your kids school is falling down but her teacher retires with full pay at age 52 the problem is not the federal government, conservatives or your failure to pay enough taxes!

If a bridge fails, killing inocent people, and the average DOT worker retires before age 55 with full pay, it is not "Bush's fault" or because you failed to pay enough taxes.

Blaming Bush or conservatives for the massive failure of state and local government may win elections but will not solve the problems. As public employee retirement and compensation continues to grow and government servies continue to decline, the real cause will become apparent to the average taxpayer. Eventually they will vote to stop the bleeding.

Blaming Bush or conservatives for the massive failure of state and local government is only going to hurt President Obama. If Bush "broke it," he is going to be expected to "fix it."

James Torguson

Vancouver, WA

Dec 26 2008 - 11:58am

Web Letter

Aldous Huxley pointed out fifty years ago that brevity, "the soul of wit," can also be the body of untruth. With this in mind, it is at once sad and frustrating that The Nation continues to publish articles that discuss public policy using a "conservative" versus "progressive" model. Previously, before the label "liberal" became a pejorative term, the paradigm was "conservative" versus "liberal." Cable television news now describes the supposed opposing poles of public discourse as "left" versus "right."

Borosage and Lotke argue that "conservatives refused to invest in our in our future (i.e., infrastructure, jobs and environment). If a reckless disregard of planning for future viability is the earmark of only conservative policy then, for all my adult life, the United States of America, has been a conservative-dominated nation--across the entire governing political spectrum. Unfortunately, erroneous and oversimplified thinking, born of brevity and carried forward by labels, is not helpful to understanding the present situation and the possible solutions to the myriad of problems that confront working people. Identifying "conservatives" as the source of the problems is a primary example of such unproductive thinking.

There is no dispute that public roads, buildings, waterways, open space, air and government are in disrepair. However, it is a disservice to the readers and conservative political thinkers to lay the blame solely at the feet of "conservatives." To understand reality, stereotypical labels need to be laid aside. Indeed, the situations that the authors decry is every bit as much a product of so-called "progressive," "liberal" and "left" elected and appointed officials.

For as long as I can remember, profit-making businesses have increasingly taken over governmental functions, at the national level. At present, it is doubtful that the United States government could actually provide essential governmental services without its entourage of independent profit-making contractors. The United States is run by a tightly integrated public-private organization that blurs or eliminates the line between profit-making and public enterprise. It is now almost impossible to discern where government stops and for-profit enterprise begins. Our nation does not merely have a government that is friendly to business. We have a government that is business. The United States government is a mere shell that enacts business friendly laws, sets business friendly policies, collects taxes, maintains a military to enforce its business-friendly overseas adventures and hires privately owned and operated profit-making organizations to perform governmental services.

The fly in governance by the merged interests of state and corporate power is that the mission of a corporation is to make maximum profits. This is accomplished by spending the least possible amount of money on materials, labor, engineering and waste disposal. Every dollar spent to actually accomplish useful work is a dollar that cannot be distributed to the shareholders. Every dollar spent to safely dispose of toxic waste is a dollar out of the pockets of the owners and managers. Every dollar paid to workers, or spent on their healthcare, is an inefficient use of a potential profit. Repairing the commons is a questionable activity from the standpoint of profit-making businesses, because tax money spent on public works and government employees represents dollars that cannot be spent on direct "incentives" for private business.

Once these simple truths are understood, it is not surprising that the physical manifestations of government are crumbling, as is the United States' government itself. The lack of public investment stems not from political thinking but rather from the implementation of so-called free-market economic thinking by a government that is heavily infiltrated and influenced by business. The quasi-religious faith in the inherent benefits of unregulated for-profit enterprise so permeates the thinking of elected officials that its harmful role in society has become invisible to both political commentators and critics. Adherence to and espousal of this doctrine has become a prerequisite for filling election campaign war chests. Therefore, no "serious" candidate would challenge a national policy based upon these doctrinal underpinnings. By definition, no "credible" journalist questions the assumed wisdom of the existing system. Therefore, only a handful of political candidates are asking the right questions about the system itself. By definition, these candidates are not "viable." Therefore, they are belittled, marginalized, excluded from debates and ignored by the corporate-owned and -controlled communications media .

Those that believe that Mr. Obama is proposing Keynesian solutions to the United States' economic problems may be in for a rude awakening. The widely held assumption is that the Obama administration is planning for a replay of the New Deal. However, we need to realize two things: First, that the New Deal distributed money to government agencies in order to hire workers to perform socially useful work. Given the new vision of the role of government, as the subsidizer of private business, it is entirely reasonable to expect that private contractors will be hired to perform tasks designated by a business-dominated government to perform public work that will improve the profitability of business. In other words, government contracts to subsidize business at taxpayer expense. An evaluation of the "reconstruction" work in Iraq performed by private contractors should provide ample forewarning of the results of such a policy. Second, the Roosevelt administration opted to use its money for civilian works. On the other hand, the Third Reich spent heavily on rearmament of the German military. Both the US and Germany were snapped out of their depressed economies by war and the need to replace spent ammunition and demolished military hardware. It is not unreasonable to believe that defense-related businesses will demand a huge share of the so called "stimulus package." I leave the reader to draw conclusions as to what this spending will ultimately stimulate.

This analysis does not point a finger at any political ideology but rather identifies the villain as the widely held, dogmatic belief that unregulated business corporations can and should use government tax moneys to solve all of humankind's problems. In the United States, this belief is held by politicians across the entire spectrum of corporate-influenced main stream politics. Because this ideology is all-pervasive, the problem of deterioration of the public sphere is not going to be solved by the election of a "progressive" president, or any by events that do not recognize and address the systemic nature of the problem.

Robert H. Ballan

Norwood, NY

Dec 25 2008 - 1:32pm

Web Letter

Robert L. Borosage & Eric Lotke have laid out a grand plan for the revitalization of America. The trouble is, that trouble is upon us now. By the time these plans come to fruition, funding and more importantly, actual expenditures, the United States will already be an economic basket case.

We have lost over 1.2 million jobs in the last quarter alone. At this rate we will have lost more than 6 million jobs by the time the bulk of this spending gets into the rest of the economy. That's 3 million more jobs lost than will eventually be created. In the meantime, tens of millions of people will be harshly impacted by this economic downturn. What progressives need to build on is putting a platform underneath the American public for the coming onslaught of hard economic times.

We can start by enacting Medicare for All. This alone would save millions of jobs, jobs that don't have to be created, critical jobs that are already there but for the lack of funding will be gone. Police, fire, teachers, nurses, day care and social workers all about to be laid off at the very time they are needed most.

How does Medicare for All work to keep people in their jobs in the public sector? Medicare for All would take over healthcare payments for states, counties, cities and school districts, allowing them to keep personnel and programs in place. Excess monies would be mandated for unemployment funds and replenishment of pension funds.

How does Medicare for All work to keep people in their jobs in the private sector? Medicare for All would replace existing healthcare, allowing companies to retain more employees by establishing a thirty-two-hour work week. The Medicare for All payment would replace the lost wages.

Medicare for All would also make our businesses more competitive at home against imports and abroad against companies from the G7 that already subsidize their companies with healthcare coverage.

The question isn't if we can afford it--we cannot afford to go without it. Our healthcare system spends 17 percent of GDP to cover but 85 percent of our population. The other G7 countries spend an average of 10 percent of GDP and cover virtually all of their population and most cover tourists as well. That's 7 percent of GDP that's wasted. Medicare for All would put everybody under one umbrella, where drastic reform could be implemented across the board. Records, diagnosis and treatment all rationalized to the most effective technology, methods and standards.

The article does indeed present a bold plan for the future, but we don't live in the future, we live in the present where tomorrow comes before the promise of the year after next.

Michael McKinlay

Hercules, CA

Dec 24 2008 - 8:46pm

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