No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
In “The IRS Mess” [June 3], The Nation mentions allegations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted groups with the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their tax documents. Since it is well-known that the Koch brothers have used Tea Party groups as fronts for funneling money to right-wing causes, I believe the IRS did not overstep its bounds in directing extra scrutiny toward them. The IRS was just doing its job. Shame on the Obama administration for caving in to right-wing pressure and on the Justice Department for opening a criminal investigation.
When will we admit that sorting “charitable” from “political” causes, and figuring out the amount of any budget attributable to each, is impossible? Then we can take the next step: abandon all charitable deductions! This would be a jolt to many churches and causes I support. But why should I subsidize others’ charities and causes, and they mine? Let taxes be paid by the public for public purposes. Let private causes be supported by all who believe in them, without that Pandora’s box of deductibles. Period. Think of the hypocrisy, parsing, agonizing and bureaucratic salaries this would save. And some of that savings would go to the causes we cherish—money honestly recruited, spent and accounted. Why not?
Smashing the Glass Ceiling
In “Why I’m Voting for Her” [“Body Politic,” June 3], Jessica Valenti writes, “Like most politicians, a woman president could be just another disappointment. So why not a female disappointment? Equal representation of jerks is still equality.” Equality for what? Equal opportunity to continue the same inequality? Look at recent female power figures—put in place, of course, by men: Madeleine Albright, who thought it was OK to starve hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children; Condoleezza Rice, who did the criminal bidding of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld; or Margaret Thatcher, who shmoozed with a mass killer, General Pinochet, and whose cruel legacy still haunts Britain (and the United States). Change the system, not the gender!
New York City
Those who will vote only for a woman in 2016 should start mounting a campaign for Senator Elizabeth Warren. She would not only be the “game-changer” Jessica Valenti hopes for; she will stand up for the interests of all of us, not the banksters, whom Hillary Clinton’s husband elevated to the status of gods.
JOHN L. HAMMOND
The Dollar Rules the World
A revisionist myth pops up in “Empire States” [June 3], Thomas Meaney’s review of books on the modern history of relations between developing nations and the West. The explanation of why the aspiring New International Economic Order (NIEO) flamed out in the 1970s is often cast in terms of the willingness of third world resource cartels to sacrifice their political solidarity with the poor for the allures of Western compound interest. The central narrative is that the West “broke the trade union” of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) by persuading its members to “join the capitalist system” through major investments in Western banks. In turn, the banks promised to recycle these oil monies back into loans to generate development for poor nations, which didn’t pan out because high oil prices in these borrowing nations ate up the bulk of the loans, leading to massive debt crises in Latin America and Africa that lasted throughout the 1980s. During the early Reagan years, this conventional analysis created historical amnesia on both the right and left. The actual circumstances deserve a deeper look.