Thursday, July 28, 2011


A few weeks ago the Sun published a letter from a reader claiming he reads the “letters” I write, but finds they’re “getting boring.” The reader says that I complain about Republicans, what they are doing, and what is wrong. He suggested that I change the format of my “weekly rants” to identify problems and how to fix them. Well, thanks for asking. Let’s do some problem solving – but first, let’s clear up a few issues of semantics.

There’s a difference between an op-ed piece and a letter. An op-ed is an opinion piece that appears on the op-ed pages of a newspaper. I write opinion pieces that appear every other week, and I receive some financial remuneration for writing them. A letter is what the reader sent in to the paper, for which he received no financial compensation. Language is important. It’s important that we all understand the definitions of the terms we use. I’ll skip the lesson on the difference between identifying problems and “complaining about Republicans”, since those of the far right spectrum find those two things to be one in the same.

Speaking of ideology, as long time readers of this paper are aware, I was a Democrat. I ran for the NH House in 2002 as a Democrat, and I was active in party politics. I am currently registered as undeclared. The Democrats have joined the Republicans in moving further to the right, thereby leaving me behind. I’m an unabashed and unrepentant lefty. The rhetoric from the right on Democrats is comical. Obama is as much of a socialist as George W. Bush. A socialist would not put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block, as Obama has done, during the manufactured deficit crisis. Obama’s another corporate stooge - one that, has done a rather remarkable job of doing the work of the GOP for them. Looking at the array of circus performers running for president on the GOP ticket, one can only surmise that the corporate interests that control the Republican Party are aware of that. Obama’s the best thing that could have happened to them.

Moving into solutions: there is no deficit crisis. The same people that are crying the loudest are the ones who created the problem. The biggest drivers of the deficit are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush tax cuts, health care costs, and Medicare Part D. Our health insurance system is a huge driver of debt and deficit. We spend twice as much on health care as other industrialized nations. A big part of that is because instead of regulating the pharmaceutical industry the way civilized countries do, we actually provide these very profitable corporations with taxpayer funding. (A form of socialism, by the way.) Regulating the drug companies and creating a single payer health care system would move us into surplus. A single payer system would eliminate the need for Medicare and Medicaid. And while we’re on the topic of socialism, we should immediately end taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil, the most profitable corporations on the planet. No more offshore tax dodges either. Corporate America should be paying their tax bills.

The next very simple solution is to cut the defense budget in half. The US spends more than the rest of the world combined on defense. End the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and our participation in Libya immediately. The US has somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000 military bases around the world. Shut ‘em down. Force the Pentagon to pass an audit, and account for the trillions that they’ve lost. The US is an empire in decline. Half of every tax dollar we take in goes to defense. If we don’t begin to invest in our own country, there will nothing here left defending.

Bust up the media monopolies. When giant corporations own the media, the press is not free. The free trade agreements need to go away, in favor of developing fair trade. We need to rebuild the US manufacturing sector. A vital economy depends on the production of goods. We need to regulate the financial sector. The deregulation that began during the Reagan years came to fruition with the collapse of our economy. Despite the heavy breathing from the far right and their media propaganda, librarians belonging to state employee unions did not destroy the US economy.

The most important thing we can do is put people back to work. At least 20% of the workforce is unemployed or underemployed. The far right ideologues can cut all the spending they want, but until there is revenue coming in, there can be no serious debt or deficit reduction. It’s simple: if people aren’t working, they aren’t spending. That spending is what keeps small businesses going. That spending is what creates jobs.

Congresswoman Mary Kaptur of Ohio is the sponsor of HR 494; aka The 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps Act. The original CCC was part of FDR’s New Deal, and was in place for nearly a decade. Those employed by the CCC built bridges and dams, planted trees, put out fires, and built 1000,000 miles of trails and roads. A revival of the CCC would be a huge investment in the future of our country, as well as an investment in US workers. There are countless bridges, roads, and dams in need of repair all over the country. A revived CCC could work on environmental projects: soil erosion, beach erosion, fighting insects killing our trees, and cleaning up our state and national parks. The new CCC could also refurbish schools, weatherize homes and buildings, and take on the project of wiring rural America for current and future technology needs. If we rely on the private sector to do that wiring, it will never happen. If the US hopes to remain at all competitive in an increasingly wired world, that wiring needs to happen. We’re already lagging far behind.

This bill is the best idea that will never go anywhere, because of far right ideology. The far right believes that only the private sector creates jobs, a mission they’ve been failing in since the Reagan administration. The far right is under the impression that only the private sector creates REAL jobs. Those folks who are unemployed (and the numbers are growing) tend to look at a paycheck as a paycheck. A CCC revival would also be a huge benefit to returning veterans.

It is not banks or military might that made this a great country. This country is great because of the land itself and the people who live on it. Investing in what has makes our country great will lead to creating those dreamy private sector jobs, and build a stronger future for all of us.

Aren’t you glad you asked, Carl?

published as an op-ed in the 7-29-11 Conway Daily Sun newspaper
© 2011 sbruce

1 comment:

DissedBelief said...

I'm glad Susan you responded very eloquently to the letter writer, by citing not only examples of our dire state of nation, but also solutions. Another op-ed recently by a Mainer had me in stitches. I have to wonder if the rightwingers would feel comfortable withholding paychecks, and in particular, health care from all those in the military, particularly once they have left the service of the military. Like it or not, most on the right are vastly responsible for the predicament we now find ourselves in. Killing others is costly business and I wonder exactly how capitalism figures in taxpayer funded oil corporations? We've edged our nation into Imperialism, whereby the serfs and peasants fund the bureaucracy of the elitist rich in their reckless investment games, warmongering and monopolies. It's about time the rest of the nation grew a spine, and refused to enter the military, refused to work for the TSA, refused to enter into jobs that demanded violating individuals (their friends, neighbors, families) civil liberties and just say, WE AREN'T GOING TO PLAY ANYMORE, now either get with the program or get out!