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Home / Articles / Views / Letters /  Letters | Put it in perspective
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Thursday, March 17,2011

Letters | Put it in perspective

Correction: A March 10 In Case You Missed It mistakenly referred to sexual harassment at IHOP instead of the Original Pancake House, where the incidents were actually alleged.

Put it in perspective

(“Revolution comes to the Midwest,” Danish Plan, March 3.) Paul Danish expressed concern over the average teacher salary of “$87,000 dollars.” I scrolled the Internet trying to determine where he got those figures. The only ones I came up with were $49,051 for 2008-09 and $52,644 for 2009-10, with starting salaries of $20,000.

I just finished reading Deadly Spin by Wendell Potter, a former PR exec for CIGNA health insurance turned whistle-blower. As you might imagine, he has some fascinating insights into the corporate health industry. He says the former CEO of this company, 53-year-old H. Edward Hanway, made $28.82 million per year before retiring last year, and when he did he left with a $110.9 million compensation package. Considering that there are approximately 45 million Americans without any form of health insurance (and that according to a recent Harvard University study 45,000 Americans die every year for lack of health insurance) all those millions (from just one exec!) could certainly go a long way toward helping these folks. Frankly, I think we should be more concerned about these obscene salaries than about an incomparable average yearly salary of $52,000 for a teacher.

Ellen Stark/Boulder

If I have this straight, in the conservative eye, public employees who have worked for years at modest pay and have built up modest and hopefully comfortable retirement plans provided by their employers are the villains in the economic downturn.

Who’da thought?

Robert Porath/Boulder

Shipping jobs overseas

I am a new follower of the Boulder Weekly articles and letters and a first-time responder. I am impressed with the quality of your journalists and letter writers. Please excuse the fact that I am a relatively uninformed, liberal novice whose facts and research come primarily from Bill Maher, biographical documentaries and old movies, but this is “like, just my opinion, man.” (The Dude from The Big Lebowski).

In response to Jim Hightower’s article in The Highroad, “Plenty of American jobs” (March 3), first I must say, “Bravo” for his insights and telling it like it is. However, I am going to play devil’s advocate and make the case for big business, just for a moment, so please humor me as I will come back around to what I believe are a couple of pragmatic solutions.

In the Caterpillar example, they might argue that in order to stay competitive globally, they have to lower their production costs vis--vis foreign factories and cheaper labor. One could say they have a point. And quite frankly, they have a legal responsibility to maximize shareholder wealth, according to the laws governing corporations. Pure capitalism dictates that they have no duty to help America or its workforce. As Steve Martin so aptly stated in the movie, The Jerk, “Ahhh, so it’s one of those profit deals.” I mean no condescension, as I am sure Jim understands this concept better than I do, but I digress.

Our government has been subsidizing big business through tax breaks for a long time. Supply-side economics theorizes that giving companies like Caterpillar tax relief lets them take that extra money and re-invest it in things like new factories on American soil and create jobs for Americans. This creates growth for America and more Americans with money to buy Caterpillar’s products. Also, creating a greater amount to tax so the government still gets its revenues to spend on defense, social programs etc. It’s win-win! What an incredible theory!

This trickle-down effect might actually work if the corporations kept their end of the bargain. We’ve been trying this since Reagan, and it doesn’t seem to be happening. The corporations take the tax relief, and then in order to maximize shareholder wealth, invest it overseas so they can make more money. Meanwhile, our country loses jobs, our deficits grow, contributing to more national debt and so on. Then the politicians start arguing about miniscule cuts to social programs, education and infrastructure programs.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see where we are headed. Look south to Mexico to see what happens when you squeeze out the middle class and create a country of haves and have-nots, and a government completely beholden to the haves. Why not just stop giving corporations tax relief, since they have proven they won’t keep their tacit agreement of what to do with the relief?

How about charging extra taxes on those overseas-made goods when they come back here? With those extra revenues we could perhaps fund unemployment and re-training for those workers to do something that is profitable to make in America.

We’ve tried this approach for 30 years. Can we agree it doesn’t work? Why do they adhere to it so resolutely? Could it be because they are determined to satisfy the moneyed interest that gets them re-elected? I suspect, but don’t really know. I do know this. Right now in America, the 400 richest CEOs make more than the poorest 50 million Americans. Two of our biggest growth industries are gated communities and prisons. I would argue that you can’t build walls high enough to protect you from millions of angry, hungry people.

Louis the XIV, Czar Alexander and the dictators of the Middle East would probably agree. In the words of Charlie Sheen’s character Bud Fox, to the immortal Gordon Gecko, “How many yachts can you water ski behind? How much is enough”? Where will these haves be safe from the have-nots if they continue on their path of greed?

John P. Flood/Lyons

Jobs, jobs, jobs

When Republican candidates were running last year, they all promised to “create jobs,” or “put Americans back to work,” or “jobs this, and jobs that,” and, of course, we can’t forget, “jobs are our first priority.” Thanks to the Citizens United decision and Koch Industries, they were successful. Well, it seems that for the first three months of 2011, their “first priorities” have changed, as they’ve not introduced, proposed or even men- tioned “jobs” legislation. What they have done is attempt to destroy unions and voter-registration efforts, revive the “drill baby drill” chant, and to appease their extremist base by de-funding women’s health care clinics. To paraphrase Grover Norquist, what they really want is one-party- rule and to make government small enough to fit in a woman’s uterus. I have faith in my fellow Americans that this is certainly not what they voted for in November.

Tommy Holeman/Niwot

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