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Home / Articles / Views / Letters /  Letters | Harmon Killebrew
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Thursday, June 2,2011

Letters | Harmon Killebrew

Harmon Killebrew

(Re: “A better time, a better hero,” Stew’s Views, May 19.) Thanks for your piece on Harmon Killebrew.

I also grew up in Minnesota at the same time as you and remember all of that as if it were yesterday. Herb Carneal, Halsey Hall, Zoilo Versalles, Earl Battey. I loved Met Stadium and afternoons in the sun.

It was so wonderful to see how many people remembered Killebrew and what a great guy he was. I thought your piece really captured the whole thing. After he retired, I remember Killebrew had a contest with someone, must have been in conjunction with the All Star Game or something, where they were trying to hit across the Mississippi. I don’t think they ever made it, but they kept trying.

Thanks for staying in touch with a time that was so important. And for reminding us all.

Ted Ringer/via Internet

Common security

The Great Recession continues to hurt the majority of Americans. People have lost jobs and had their wages cut. They’ve lost their homes, retirement and savings. Given this economic uncertainty and insecurity, the average American is worried and scared about the future. The American Dream has vanished, and people are traumatized.

The classic American myth is that each individual is solely responsible for his economic well-being — the myth of “individualism” and the “self-made man.” Instead of looking at the structural issues that have created our individual difficulties and demanding a system that meets our needs, we tend to turn inward and blame ourselves.

There are many societies around the world that are far more oriented to the well-being of their members. We can create one here.

To get there, we need a powerful collective response. Given the corruption of our system in which our politicians sell themselves to the highest bidders, we must build a strong, grassroots movement that demands that our politicians serve us, not Wall Street bankers, multinational corporations and military contractors. If we don’t do this, both our economic and environmental situations will continue to deteriorate. As Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”

Common security clubs (www.commonsecurityclub.org) provide a method for building a broad-based grassroots movement. In these tough economic times, they provide mutual support and offer opportunities for learning about critical economic and environmental issues. They build community and solidarity, and are networked together to achieve broad social change. And they’re open and free to all.

To get involved in a common security club, call the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center at 303-444- 6981, ext. 2, or attend an introductory session at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 15, at the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, 3970 Broadway, Suite 105, in Boulder.

Carolyn Bninski/Boulder

A clearer look

Let’s clarify a few terms that are being thrown around these days.

Fiscal conservative — Commonly used in the corporate media to describe those people who want to further enrich the top 1 percent. These people do not resemble the Republicans of my earlier days. At a fundraising dinner George W. Bush said, “You are my base: the haves and have-mores.” For all of Obama’s nice talk, evidence is that this is also Obama’s base. Under George W. Bush, the U.S. entered into very expensive wars, bailed out the financial industry with little benefit to the taxpayers who bailed them out, instituted tax cuts only for the wealthy, and turned a federal surplus into a debt. President Obama has only furthered those same policies and that debt.

Tax cuts — That sounds very appealing to those of us who work for a living and actually produce a service or goods. However those “tax cuts” are only for the wealthy and for large corporations. The ordinary person or small entrepreneur has not benefited from them. Indeed, we are burdened with hidden taxes. We entered into a social contract, an annuity, with the government in regard to Social Security, Medicare and public pensions. The government has repeatedly borrowed from these sources, claiming them as a revenue source, without repaying. If your uncle repeatedly borrowed from your life savings without repaying, those savings would also dwindle, regardless of how much you had set aside or how sound your saving plan was. When we pay into Social Security and Medicare and can’t collect from it, we are being dealt hidden taxes. When we bail out corporations and banks with taxpayer money, both we and our children will be taxed for that.

Tax cuts for the wealthy create jobs — If that is so, where are the jobs? This policy has been tried many times in the past 30-plus years and has never produced jobs.

The best and the brightest — This is what they called the very people who created the financial crisis and cheated with ordinary people’s investments and with public funds. Yet we were asked to bail them out to the tune of $750 billion-plus so that they would not leave their positions with banks and Wall Street firms. Perhaps the term is fitting only in that they are the best and brightest crooks.

We have to tighten our belts — Only so that large corporations, CEOs and banks can loosen theirs.

Economic stimulus — Several Nobel Laureate economists warned that Obama’s “stimulus” would fail because it was not large enough to create jobs that would bring much-needed tax revenues and demand for goods and services. A small stimulus was worse than none, because it did not have a lasting effect and demonstrated that inadequate government stimulus to the economy does not work.

What if you had a disease for which your doctor prescribed a certain medicine, but you only took a fraction of that medicine? Would that mean that you did not use the medicine appropriately or that the medicine does not work?

Jobless-recovery — Now that is an oxymoron. There cannot be a jobless recovery. Ask someone whose income, Social Security or pension is reduced to the point of not being able to meet basic human needs or someone who lost their job due to down-sizing or outsourcing if there is a “recovery” in their jobless lives.

We need to be very vigilant and sensitive to the fact that corporate media is part of a larger plan to misinform and redirect our democracy.

Marketing strategies tell us that someone exposed to a slogan six times will believe it. The misuse of the above terms is much more frequent than that, and works with many people.

We also need to be careful not to fall prey to accusing our neighbor of not deserving just a little more than we have. That is a strategy meant to distract us from looking clearly at how this “crisis” was manufactured and who is benefiting hugely from it. The culprit is not the neighbor across the street who took a reduced salary in order to save a pension or who receives a meager Social Security benefit after years of paying into the system. Watch the movie Inside Job for a look at just one portion of the enormous robbery that has taken place.

And remember that we are our brother’s keeper. That is not only a moral injunction. It is also an economic one because, “We all do better, when we all do better.”

Padma Wick/via Internet

Medicare isn’t the problem

Both political parties are wrong to deal away Medicare, either privatizing it with vouchers, or cutting it by $400 billon over a decade as the deficit commission proposes. Rather than cutting, the best solution is improving and expanding Medicare to all to reduce the long-term deficit.

As Robert Reich writes, Medicare isn’t the problem, it’s the solution to economic recovery. Rising general health costs are the problem and could be reversed by extending Medicare to all ages, which would save $58 billion to $400 billion annually. Expanding the Medicare risk pool to include both healthy young and sick elderly, and changing payment from fee-for-service to payment-for-quality, would provide significant savings. Permitting Medicare to negotiate bulk drug rates (prohibited by Medicare Part D reform) would substantially reduce prescription costs for all.

Under Republicans’ “free market” pretense of vouchers, seniors will pay much more out-of-pocket, making health care available only to those who can afford to pay outright. Congress exacerbated the wealth shift upward by extending Bush tax cuts in 2010 and cutting Social Security payroll taxes, jeopardizing that program. Compromising away Medicare instead of improving it is more evidence that both political parties no longer serve working people, but rather the wealthy elite.

Michele Swenson/Denver

Loose lips sink ships

As a former naval officer who served a tour of duty as an intelligence officer, I am astonished at the covert information released to the media by the U.S. government. The operation against bin Laden is an example of this problem.

The media reported details of the military operation, including the designation of the units assigned to the task. They received access to information on a dog involved in the operation, the name of the dog trainer and the location of the training base. When President Obama visited the troops to congratulate them, the names and faces of many individuals were plainly visible on TV.

The media reported we captured bin Laden’s computers, CDs and telephone numbers with information on numerous al-Qaida terrorists and future plans of the terrorist group. It even received some access to bin Laden tapes.

One story reported the activities of the U.S. intelligence agencies and how they found bin Laden. They even reported on a CIA operation inside Pakistan.

And why didn’t we keep the death of bin Laden a secret while we mined the information we gathered and sought out al-Qaida terrorists?

Our loose talk and openness continues to aid the enemy.

Donald A. Moskowitz/Londonderry, N.H.

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