Those Were the Days
Thank you so much for your fond farewell [“Farewell, Betsy & Judy,” Jan. 26]. Yes, as reported, in days of yore The Nation “was pasted up on boards” (“cut” and “paste” were literal and involved real knives and glue—or hot wax). But no, the boards were not “sent to the printer by mail.” More horrifying, the boards were handed to an intern, who took them to the Port Authority terminal and put them on a bus. The boards traveled about two hours into the wilds of Pennsylvania, where they were tossed out into the night to be retrieved by the printer. After one intern missed the bus (or put the boards on the wrong bus, I can’t remember which), and after a driver forgot to toss the boards out into the night and they wound up next morning back at Port Authority, The Nation hired a messenger service.
sag harbor, n.y.
It’s Not Mutual
Many thanks for Jamie Raskin’s timely article “The Republican Governors Thank You for Your Donation,” [Feb. 2]. My wife and I both are teachers who have contributed to the same funds mentioned in Raskin’s exposé of how retirement funds bankroll “dark money” groups and Super PACs. Well, we don’t like it, so after thirty years, we will be moving our money to a more progressive entity.
Bruce and Nancy Badrigian
morro bay, calif.
I’m going to try and relieve the author’s moral anxiety. First off, your mutual fund is an autonomous, independent legal entity that is separate from its investors—that would be you. And since you are apart from the entity, you are separate from its investments. Rest assured, you are not “invested in every single one of the generous and politically active corporations” that you list.
But, of course, you are onto some larger moral complication. That is, to be morally sustainable you must stay away from capitalism and its schemes. I know the difficulties and appreciate the compelling temptations. At least in our democracy, we have choices: stick it in a mattress.
Shareholders certainly have no ability to affect the spending of retirement accounts and shareholder assets for covert political purposes. However, I suggest the regulation Raskin proposes will be equally ineffective.
Wealthy corporations and individuals influence the election of our government representatives and the content of legislation. In this climate, regulation is a fool’s errand, because (1) it is crafted to be ineffective from the start; (2) people find new ways to circumvent it; (3) penalties are so small that it is ignored; (4) it accelerates the drive to monopoly, because the expense of compliance is so great that large corporations use their economies of scale to comply nominally, while small companies fail or are bought up; or (5) all of the above.
Today’s economic and political disorder will be unaffected by more regulation. Limit the accumulation of wealth by a graduated tax on income and estates and break the monopolies. Then the people and our representatives will be able to address our economic and social problems.
The School-to-Prayer Pipeline
Why is this an issue? [“Church and School,” Feb. 2] We cut funding for schools, do not allow ballot initiatives to raise funds, call teachers overpaid union thugs and wonder why schools might rent out unused space on the weekend? Get over it! I don’t care if it’s a mosque, the Church of Satan, a Moose Lodge, a sports league, a Klan rally or anything else. It’s unused space, participation is voluntary, and no one is indoctrinating kids during the week. If atheists believe what they say they believe, this organization is just a group gathering and nothing more. You want tolerance? Why not act that way?
That this is going on in 2014 just shows how far backward we’ve gone. Most people reading here probably agree that sometime after the ’60s or ’70s, conditions for fundamentalism, mixed with fascism, became incredibly ripe. It is not going to happen nationwide, not here in California, probably not in most states. The fact it is happening in even one state is impermissible.
Bad Good Guys
Julia M. Klein’s article about the memorial landscape in Berlin [“A Memorial Landscape,” Feb. 2] certainly deserves praise, as it offers a useful and critical overview of the memorials in the German capital. However, I must differ as to her judgment about the “blueprint…for a post-Hitler…constitutional government.” The military officers who organized Operation Valkyrie had always been and remained to the very end embedded in reactionary and anti-democratic politics. Their disillusionment was entirely directed against Hitler’s person and his continued interference in “their” war strategy. There is no evidence that they would have accepted a democratic form of government instead of their preferred authoritarian regime or that they would have relinquished their imperialistic, militaristic and aggressive approach to Europe, Eastern Europe and Russia. They had not the slightest intention of implementing progressive and emancipatory social politics as formulated by many of the other smaller resistance groups, including many radical unionists. Monuments to the progressive and emancipatory resistance groups can be found in many local museums and memorials scattered in small towns and cities throughout the country, many of them established against the wishes and political memorial policies of the federal government.
Thanks very much for your close reading and comments on my essay. As I mentioned in passing, but did not detail, many of the officers involved in the 1944 assassination plot had “checkered pasts” that included “earlier enthusiasm for National Socialism and its war of aggression.” What they would have countenanced or advocated had the plot succeeded is a matter of speculation; no doubt there were political differences among the plotters, who were a diverse lot. In any case, my information on the democratic blueprint for a post-Hitler regime is drawn directly from the exhibition at the German Resistance Memorial Center.
Julia M. Klein