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Web Letter

One critical first step to getting any changes made is eliminating the obstructive power of those senators who place loyalty to corporations before service to the people.

Show your support for ending the filibuster!

Peter Schurman

Portland, ME

Feb 6 2010 - 8:42pm

Web Letter

"Oust the oligarchy!" is the title of a suggestion I posted to change.org in their Civic Engagement section.

The text of the suggestion is:

We need a new Constitution that vests supreme power in the hands of the people rather than in the hands of an unelected supreme court. Because we cannot hold our elected officials accountable during their terms of office, we do not have a representative democracy. We need a participatory democracy so that we can have honest elections, eliminate corporate personhood and get corporate money out of politics, join with every other developed country in the world in having a national health care plan, end our wars of aggression, and have a real voice, rather than an uncounted vote, in government. The way to accomplish this is to stop being apathetic and voting in elections where the popular vote is not the final say and can be overridden by the Supreme Court if we don't select the candidate the corporations prefer, stop delegating our power and granting our consent of the governed to a government we cannot hold accountable, stop legitimizing the oligarchy, and withhold our votes until we can have a truly democratic form of government.

You can vote for it online. Although this just a suggestion, change.org actually does count the votes--unlike our own electoral system. And the comments that people have posted when voting for it make interesting reading.

Mark E. Smith

San Diego, CA

Feb 3 2010 - 4:46am

Web Letter

This article states the problem succinctly. There is too much power in the hands of too few people, organizations, corporations, etc. Changing this dynamic under current economic and political conditions is pretty much impossible.

However, I think a postulate of systems theory may give us a path forward. Simply put, we, as citizens, need to withdraw our energy from the larger corrupted economic and political systems for a while.

This can be accomplished by first, withholding our political consent by writing in "None of the Above" for all federal elections; and second by agreeing to a clear set of demands for the return of our consent (public financing of elections, strict rules on lobbying and corporate access to government officials, explicit rejection of corporate personhood, etc.).

Seems to me there is a set of demands that individual citizens on the left and right can agree on that will create a more level playing field for us to fight out our policy differences. Right now the playing field is so tilted to the advantage of The Powers That Be that we (both left and right) can't even make it onto the field of play.

Sid Cullipher

www.radicalnota.wordpress.com<br />Brevard, NC

Jan 25 2010 - 11:51am

Web Letter

Chris Hayes has made a compelling case and I actually found his article soothing in an odd sort of way. It correctly diagnosed the tension in my neck after hours of phone banking on yet another tax referendum as the result Robert Michels's "noble, endless, Sisyphean endeavor." What was so helpful in the article was that Hayes helped us to see the rock that we are pushing uphill as corporatism, promoted by both the Democrat and Republican oligarchs.

I found myself disagreeing with only one point in the article, Hayes's skepticism about the realignment of left and right populism into a new political force. It is difficult indeed to imagine coalescing with the hatemongers on the air waves or in the health care Town Halls. But there are many others attracted to the vague notion of a "Tea Party" who are neither shrill nor hateful but simply frightened and alienated. The "socialism" they decry is the very corporate socialism that the left should be railing against as well, the socialism that turns trillions of public dollars over to Goldman Sachs, Citicorp, AIG, Big Pharma and the health insurance companies.

The very notion that our government would "mandate" that we buy health insurance from a private health insurer is the essence of the protection racket that Hayes presents as such a useful metaphor. Yes, I would reject the anti-immigrant scapegoating that often accompanies the right-wing populists' rant, but I would join them in railing against the loss of jobs due to Bill Clinton's (and now Obama's) "free trade" policies, the same policies that have driven desperate Mexican workers to our cities looking for work.

It won't be easy to form the new populist alliance, but we have no choice. That is the soil we have to till.

Barbara Dudley

Portland, OR

Jan 22 2010 - 5:21pm

Web Letter

The collapse of the economy was caused, in total, by a candidate for the presidency pledging to raise the capital gains tax from the 15 percent rate set by Clinton and Bush to a rate of 28 percent.

As this candidate's chances of wining the election progressively increased, the economy progressively tanked. Any investor who had a profitable investment cashed in their positions (be it equities, bonds or real estate) as the chances of Mr. Obama's election became more certain. This cashing in was to keep from paying twice the taxes they might have otherwise had to pay. Only fools sat tight.

This money now sits on the sidelines--a direct cause of the credit crunch and will not reappear until the capital gains tax is set at a rate that encourages nvestment.

Mr. Obama, like yourself, has never had to work for a living and has no understanding of the economy.

By the way, what in the hell does an ethnicity Ccoordinator do in the way of generating some sort of product of value ?

Bosko P. Dewlapp

Galveston, TX

Jan 20 2010 - 9:23pm

Web Letter

The basis for good governance has to be sound economic policy. Good economic policy insures a steady and predictable stream of income to government. Once in place, that stream of income provides government services as agreed upon by elected representatives.

Our problem right now is that we have inadequate income with which to provide for the services we expect. Our challenge is to increase government revenue to assure that the services we have mandated through our elected officials will in fact be delivered.

Good government policy provides for adequate revenue with which to fund government services. Right now we don't have that. How to increase revenue for government--that's the primary challenge we face.

Bud Ilic

Bloomington, IL

Jan 19 2010 - 5:07pm

Web Letter

Thank you, Chris. We are, finally, responsible for our destiny and we can recapture some of what our ancestors left in sweat equity if we can overcome the fracture and stop screaming past each other.

The shrieking extremes will not really be of any use because they don't have enough energy left to do any of the heavy lifting needed.

The major mystery to me is why this president took such a sharp turn down Wall Street. Listening to his rhetoric recently, though, he seems to be rethinking that strategy--I hope.

We still appear to be having that great Maslow/Skinner debate between human needs and motivation through fear of dying and Pavlovian conditioning.

james l. pinette

caribou, ME

Jan 18 2010 - 11:15pm

Web Letter

To carry Chris Hayes's "parish priest/protection racket" analogy a little further: I think most of us thought in November 2008 that we were "voting" for the cops, FBI or some other law enforcement entity to show up and chase the mobsters from the neighborhood.

Instead, we were invaded by the equivalent of dirty cops on the take.

Our "cops" (the Obama Administration and ConservaDems) are demanding their share of the "protection money." Heck, a number of those "cops" even came from the ranks of "mobsters."

Our meager "protection dollars" now go to make the mobsters even stronger, and the collection of those dollars is enforced, not just by the usual mobster threats, but by the cops (IRS) as well.

This is America?

Donna Middlehurst

Kula, HI

Jan 18 2010 - 6:32pm

Web Letter

Some years back, Honda had a choice between building a plant in the United States or Canada. They settled on Canada, because their government-run health plan would save them money. While the drug companies and the health care industry will make a lot of money out of healthcare "reform," it will drive up costs for other business interests.

The economies of "developed" Western nations are supported by the disposable incomes of ordinary workers. Since the purpose of "free trade" and "neoliberal economics" is to drive down wages, they are destroying their market and their wealth.

The economic elites are very stupid, and will destroy themselves along with the world's economy!

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Jan 18 2010 - 2:26pm

Web Letter

""Dissipation is actually much worse than cataclysm." A prophetic Neil Young put it more succinctly back in 1979: "It's better to burn out than it is to rust."

Paul Goode

Redmond, WA

Jan 18 2010 - 12:05pm