Each week we post a run-down of the best of our reader comments with the hopes of highlighting some of your most valuable insights and encouraging more people to join the fray. This week, blogger Greg Kaufmann delved into the comments and discussed readers’ reactions to his posts. It resulted in some interesting exchanges so we’ve included the best here. We were also excited to see that Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin took the time to share her thoughts on Roane Carey’s "Why Occupy AIPAC?"
As usual, let us know what you think—in the comments!
Yad061: I was really glad to read the first word of this article. What’s the matter with Arizona? The answer is: "nothing!"
It has been galling reading, over the years, about how some state or group had something "wrong" with them because they believed in something-or-other the writer disapproved of. The premise of these writers wasn’t that people were wrong about a particular policy as, for instance, President Obama was wrong about the stimulus keeping unemployment low or the necessity of closing Guantánamo or the need to let the Bush tax cuts expire or the projections of the size of the deficit.
No, the premise of these writers was that there was something "wrong" about the people concerned. But how do you deal with people who are "wrong?" Counseling? Institutionalization? Do you just brush them aside and get on with the important work that needs doing, ignoring their protests? Because if there is something "wrong" with them there’s no point to persuading them or submitting the issues to a vote or campaigning for office on a platform, is there?
So it’s refreshing to read someone who’s not putting down the electorate.
In response to Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto’s “What’s the Matter With Arizona.” February 28, 2012
Jacob Karolev: It truly was an impossible choice for the Grecian elite: default and be forced to leave the Euro, or accept that Germany will have its way and strip Greek sovereignty. Of course, the problems are societal as well as financial: nepotism and tax evasion was the game of the day, even with uncaring Germanic and Austrian banks feeding the boom. And as typical in capitalist societies, those who bear the brunt of pain are not the drug dealers—the foreign banks who provided the cheap credit and the bureaucrats who fudged the numbers, but the people who made the unforgivable choice of assuming all was well, and that they lived in a modern country. Unfortunately, with the death of Keynes in Europe, no slightest hint of compassion remains for the people, only the idol of austerity imposed by non-democratic rulers. Greece can survive this, even improve, but doing so would mean snubbing the established order by committing the gravest capitalist sin: breach of contract, especially through non-repayment of debt. Greece is bankrupt, its people even more so, the only fair and legitimate choice the state can offer its proletariat is simply by declaring the debts null, regardless of what the capitalist powers say—pulling an Argentina. It is a sovereign nation, beholden to nothing but itself and the constant bailouts only serve to reinforce the stereotype of lazy Greeks and undermine European solidarity by forcing the citizens of Germany, who abhor bailouts, to pay. Renege on the debts owed, whether it is to the IMF or the World Bank or any other predator (which by capitalist doublespeak are called creditors), and tend to your own peoples’ interest. It is not the fairest solution, after all, bankers and lenders are people too, but a government’s highest concern cannot be outside forces—it cannot be anything but the welfare of its citizens. The millions of ordinary Greek workers forced to live under the ruinous austerity imposed are the Greek state’s biggest interest. The consequences would be harsh, yet austerity is doubly so. And in forsaking debt, Greece can free itself of those premier enforcers of capitalist policy, the IMF, the World Bank, etc. Only that freedom will allow Greece to prosper, and its citizens and workers to thrive.
In response to Maria Margaronis’s “Greece in Meltdown.” February 29, 2012
Peggy Wireman: Have any of these people ever heard of the Peace of Westphalia? The founding fathers had, as they were about as close to it as we are to the civil war. It ended 30 years of religious wars that devastated Europe. They were also aware that the freedom to practice a particular religion was one reason people came to America—but it was a variety of different sects. Maryland was founded to give Catholics a place to go, Quakers went to Pennsylvania. And the founding fathers knew that there had been persecution of one branch of Christianity towards another in the colonies. When Jefferson wrote the statement on religious freedom for Virginia; under Common Law in that state, heretics could be burned. In the 20th century my aunt could not get a job in the public schools because she was Catholic and my father, Jewish by ethnicity, could not buy a home across the street. The founders put in the amendment for a good reason.
In response to John Nichols’s “The GOP Theo-Cons Hop on Board the Crazy Train.” February 29, 2012
Sean Gillhoolley: The truth is that there needs to be some open debate about education policy, not just over whether there should or should not be an education department. As a teacher I find some of the policies that have been put in place are detrimental to education in general. Standardized tests are ridiculous on several levels; teachers with special knowledge may not be able to bring that into the classroom; teachers teach the test, since that is the way that a teacher is being assessed (teachers have to consider job evaluations just like everyone else); standardized tests rely heavily on rote learning, which does not lead to comprehension or help with critical thinking. I also think we are completely missing the boat when it comes to the issue of bullying. Schools should be smaller, and teachers need to become more involved in keeping an ear to the ground to know the relationships of the students. A teacher needs to be able to walk down a hall and spot the difference between some friends engaged in horseplay and a group of bullies picking on their target of the moment. The education system is extremely rigid, and that seems counter-intuitive to me.
In response to Dana Goldstein’s “A Brief History of the Education Culture Wars: On Santorum’s Legacy, the GOP and School Reform.” March 1, 2012
Medea Benjamin: Amazing, wonderful piece, Roane. Yes, AIPAC has such exaggerated power for representing such a small community and narrow interest group. In DC, they have the politicians shaking in their boots—always fearful that they might be the victims of AIPAC’s wrath. It’s outrageous that our nation is even talking seriously about yet another war after the past disastrous decade. Thanks, Roane, and thanks to The Nation for taking such a courageous stand and joining us to Occupy AIPAC!!! (See Occupy AIPAC. We’ll be live-streaming and you can hear Roane talk at the summit).
In response to Roane Carey’s "Why Occupy AIPAC?" March 1, 2012
Exchanges between blogger Greg Kaufmann and readers:
Sean Gillhoolley: This type of article bugs me. Can we all just agree that people are being helped by this? No, not all people. Nor is the environment being saved, or Iran being put in its place, or are banks being forced to separate their investment branch from their deposits branch. No one claimed that was the purpose of this particular bill. It was to extend unemployment benefits for the unemployed. Period. End of story. Isn’t that enough for one bill to accomplish?
Greg Kaufmann: I think the unemployment system was developed during a bygone era. I think the proliferation of low wage work and decreased job security with globalization demands that we look at the system anew. And it’s just not true that the bill was meant to "extend benefits for the unemployed"—it’s meant to extend benefits to SOME unemployed. Yes, some people are being helped by this, and some aren’t. And I think it’s the job of the media to look at the particulars and the ramifications Rather than just gloss the surface and that’s what I’ve tried to do here. Though I disagree with your assessment, I appreciate you reading the post and giving it some thought!
In response to Greg Kaufmann’s “This Week in Poverty: Deal on Unemployment Benefits Leaves Out Poorest.” February 23, 2012
Dad_of_Marine: I commend Senator Sanders for bringing up, again, a health problem, a big health problem because that is exactly what this is. As noted, improper care of dental work leads to serious other medical problems such as diabetes, oral cancer, gum disease and just the tremendous pain of a tooth ache would be enough to seek help. But as stated in the article, the people who suffer from lack of dental work are the poor, the elderly, children of the poor and another group that is not being mentioned much, military veterans. The vets do well in helping mental disorders today as well as typical medical health issues, but not dental work. Unless the tooth or teeth problems arose from a military duty issue, the vet is on his own after leaving active duty. So, it is a problem that needs a lot of attention and just bringing this up so people are aware of this, is a huge step forward.
Greg Kaufmann: Thanks for reading and your comment. My cousin is a veteran, he was a helicopter pilot in the Army. He’s often bringing veterans issues to my attention too. I’ll keep this in mind when I look further into this issue. And thanks to your son or daughter for his or her service.
In response to Greg Kaufmann’s “Taking on the Dental Crisis: A Q & A With Bernie Sanders.” February 27, 2012