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Letters to the editor

January 28, 2005 | Page 8

How to fix Social Security
Don't fall for Astroturf groups
Airline unions' losing strategy
This country is so right wing

Don't buy the right's lies

Dear Socialist Worker,
I must take issue with the views expressed by Perry Cartwright ("What should the left do?" January 21). Cartwright says that while leftists should support civil unions "or something" for gays, we should stop short of supporting gay marriage, on the grounds that anti-gay marriage initiatives passed in several states by wide margins.

The fact that these anti-gay marriage initiatives passed does not prove that people cannot be convinced to support gay marriage. All it proves is that convincing them will take longer than a single election cycle.

What Cartwright needs to understand is that all dissident views--including support for gay marriage--begin as minority views. Such views take a good deal of time, energy and concerted activism to spread. Did he really expect a majority of Americans to suddenly and spontaneously embrace the idea of gay marriage within the space of a few weeks?

Cartwright also claims that the "degradation of the ghettos" is doing serious harm to race relations. Not only does Cartwright let racism completely off the hook here, he implicitly justifies it.

He should keep in mind that every attempt Blacks have made to end their own "degradation" has been met with staunch opposition by whites. White majorities opposed Brown vs. Board of Education, the Voting Rights Act of 1964, the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. They continue to oppose affirmative action programs today.

Segregation in today's public school stands near pre-civil rights movement levels. Attempts by Blacks to move out of the ghetto and into more integrated neighborhoods have consistently been met by redlining, white flight, commercial abandonment and public divestment.

Perhaps Cartwright should spend less time worrying about the pathologies of ghetto residents, and more time questioning pathologies of the people who created and maintain ghettos in the first place.
Dennis Fritz, Laredo, Texas

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How to fix Social Security

Dear Socialist Worker,
Index Social Security to median wage growth instead of average wage growth, and retirement benefits will not rise beyond inflation for foreseeable decades--as the American median wage looks to be going nowhere for a long, long time.

Hourly wages up to the 70 percentile mark stand virtually unchanged since 1973. Progress in yearly income in hourly hike-free decades was eked out working longer and longer hours only. It is a safe bet that overstretched toilers cannot devote much additional time to work--nor is a stock market boom about to raise hourly rates close to the pace of productivity gains again any time soon.

A kinder, more gentle approach to retirement system solvency--than indexing benefits to wages which won't rise--would be to restore fair and balanced paydays, where most wages keep pace with growing labor productivity. But first, Congress would need to drastically reset the power balance in our labor market by something on the order of broadly mandating collective bargaining.

The unfeeling approach to (de)funding Social Security remains matching frozen majority pay with frozen retirement payments--even as overall income in America goes on expanding at four times the rate of population growth for foreseeable generations.
Denis Drew, Chicago

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Don't fall for Astroturf groups

Dear Socialist Worker,
The article "Stadium Swindle" (January 21) lists the "Hell's Kitchen/Hudson Yards Alliance" (HKHYA) and the "New York Association for Better Choices" (NYABC) as groups opposed to the Jets Stadium plan in New York City.

Ostensibly, they are against the stadium, but in reality not so much. These are "Astroturf" groups--"fake grassroots" groups organized and controlled by politicians looking out for their careers.

NYABC is funded by the owners of Madison Square Garden (corporate name Cablevision), who are protecting their $11 million per year corporate welfare tax abatement and oppose the competition of a stadium. NYABC and HKHYA are essentially the same people. Most community groups do not belong to this group. The few that do are controlled by poverty pimp developers who have made deals with Mayor Bloomberg to promote the wider zoning.

That's because the stadium is the smaller story. This is about bulldozing 60 blocks of the Chelsea/Clinton/Hell's Kitchen neighborhoods for skyscrapers. The politicians who control HKHYA are doing this to further their careers.

See our newsletter archives at and
John Fisher, West Side Coalition, New York City

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Airline unions' losing strategy

Dear Socialist Worker,
The airline industry's unions continue their methodology of resistance that is leading toward a union-free state. They have taken every failed strategy of the trade union movement and have implemented them, leading to a vicious result, particularly for the weaker elements in the industry, such as the flight attendants, who can make less then an average Wal-Mart worker.

Airline union workers are divided into puny, sectarian unions. Each union, when negotiating with its respective company, does so irrespective of any other union. Unions show no concern for each other and are crassly insensitive to each other.

Treatment of non-union workers' interests is held in far lower regard. Not only is there no outreach between unionized labor, even within common parental unions, but also no attempt is being made at the non-union airline companies, which are driving unions out of the airline industry. No attempt has been made to appeal to the general public for support, much less fellow workers, organized or not.

That the power of the federal government has and is being used to destroy airline unions seems to be of no importance to the overall guild movement. Hidden in the supposedly vital factors of the increase of oil prices and fear of Taft-Hartley anti-union solidarity law is a complete state of passivity on the part of the AFL-CIO in the face of this onslaught in the airline industry.

Irrespective of brave talk from Andy Stern concerning Wal-Mart workers, not the least effort has been made to generalize the resistance.

The airline industry survived a far worse crisis during the Arab oil embargo when the price of oil in real terms was higher than it is today. Airplanes today are also more fuel efficient then they were then. For all the cowardice the AFL-CIO displays in front of Taft-Hartley, it has never been the tradition of that massive guild to strike in interests of other unionized workers, much less unorganized workers.

The original logic behind restrictions on railroad workers striking was that the economy would stop on its tracks if they were to strike. However, the AFL-CIO has not been able to convince even its own Democratic presidents to stop using this law against the airline unions (Note how Clinton used the law).

It is simple pandering to a selfish middle class that has paralyzed the AFL-CIO into inactivity. When it comes to the AFL-CIO leadership, this kind of pandering extends to its own class interest. Rather then appealing to the larger working class, which does little pleasure flying, the AFL-CIO prefers to let its airline workers unions die a lonely and slow death.

All that it would take to stop the hemorrhaging is a general strike to force unions into the non-union airlines. Under no circumstances is the financial integrity of the AFL-CIO financial empire ever risked in the interests of winning a strike. Neither the billions of dollars in real estate nor the massive pension funds are ever used in strike support or union organizing.

What Benjamin Franklin said hundreds of years ago is even truer today: "Either we all hang together or we will most certainly hang separately!"
Richard Allen, from the Internet

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This country is so right wing

Dear Socialist Worker,
I agree with what I read and really like the ideas in your paper. It's very sad that Bush got re-elected. It makes me even madder that he and his people and all those corporate fat cats are going to have a big party and wear expensive clothes while more and more soldiers are dying in Iraq.

This country is so right wing. It's been like this here for so long. These right-wing nutcases are trying to take over this country, and it's up to people like us, not to let them. Radical leftists have to stand up to them and show them that they're not going to bring us down. It's time for us, to wipe away our tears and get ready to fight racism and sexism.

We also have to stop these right-wing creeps from writing discrimination into our Constitution. The Constitution was put there to give us rights, not to take them away. We have to stand up for civil rights.

It's really important that we do this. We can't let these right-wing fools win. Bush doesn't care about the working class. His tax cuts went to the wealthiest people. Bush did not do anything for those who are most in need. I think a lot of people are going to suffer under this administration. It makes me so sad.

He also led the country into a trillion-dollar deficit that's going to be paid back through the generations.

Bush was giving government money to crazy Christian fundamentalist groups. These conservatives also want to ruin our separation of church and state. These nutcase Christian conservatives want to turn the government into a theocracy. If that happens we'll really be in trouble. The thought of these people taking over really worries me.

I still feel Bush stole the election. The sad part is, he's going to get away with it again.
Laura Paolucci, New York City

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