Views in brief

February 10, 2011

Whose interests matter in Egypt?

I JUST heard today on National Public Radio that Frank Wisner is a member of a law firm that has contracts with the Mubarak regime to handle the legal work required to privatize what were once government-owned services, such as education.

He is the man the Obama government sent to find out what Mubarak is thinking about the protests and the demands for his departure. He has a personal and business interest in this dictator staying in power.

What is Obama thinking about in sending such a man as an envoy? The man may have been the former ambassador to Egypt, but he clearly was not going to carry the administration's line.

It also seems that an Egyptian telecommunications billionaire is one of the "opposition" leaders involved in negotiations on the "transition" to a more democratic Egypt. He admits that he represents those who want Hosni Mubarak to stay until the elections, because it "takes time to hold peaceful and legal elections."

I would love to see make sure its readers are learning this kind of information.
Mary Deaton, Silverton, Wash.

Refusing to be a "team player"

REGARDING "LESSONS from a strike in Alsip": Good work, Rory Fanning! I just hope your boss doesn't seek vengeance by firing you and other "trouble makers" who would dare to demand their honest pay.

I worked in Corporate America before. We were promised annual pay increases and company bonuses when we were profitable.

The first year, it happened, though it was not nearly what they promised we'd get. The second year, nothing, even though the company brought in $68 million in additional revenue. The third year, we received a pittance.

When I inquired about raises and bonuses, I was usually ignored or "pooh poohed" by the boss. When I got more persistent about it, reminding him that promises are meant to be kept, not broken, I was frequently reprimanded for being a whiner and refusing to be a "team player." I ultimately lost the job because of "attitude" problems and sour grapes.

Sorry, but I don't work for my health--I work to make a living. Imagine that: work 45-50 hours per week, put up with abuse, kiss the bosses' and the clients' behinds, bend over backwards, increase production and field office profitability and wear five hats instead of three. Then, when you have the audacity to ask "Where's my portion of the wealth I created to help grow this company?", suddenly you have a "bad attitude" and are no longer "a team player."

This is all part of the ongoing employer's offensive that's been taking place these past 25 years, despite increased productivity and profits. Unless we continue to fight for what's rightfully ours--the wealth workers help companies make--before you know it, we'll be paying them to go to work.

No one would should have to feel "lucky" just to have a job, any more than one should feel fortunate for having food, water and a clean place to live. These are basic rights that humans in an abundant, civilized world ought to have. It's only profit and greed that keep us from having these things that we work for and which belong rightfully to us!
MBH, Chicago

The left should stand with Assange

IT WAS a shock at first to read the comparison of Julian Assange with Ben Rothlisberger that Lisa Seibert and Russell Pryor introduced in their critique of how the left has treated the rape allegations against Assange ("Defend WikiLeaks or Assange?").

However, three sentences in, Seibert and Pryor promptly retreated from the comparison, acknowledging this issue is nowhere near as sexist as the one concerning Rothlisberger. Maybe that means they acknowledge its appropriateness.

Still, they say they're making a point: that the left must express its serious concerns about the rape allegations, and that Julian Assange does not deserve uncritical support. I wonder, though, if the left should treat this issue as a "teachable moment" by expressing its concern with the rape allegations. Should left publications uniformly be expressing: we support an investigation of Julian Assange because we must challenge the sexist tendency to blame the victim?

No one can claim certainty about the facts of this case. Reasonable minds can be suspicious, but nevertheless, it's true that none of the reports about alleged inconsistencies in the case conclusively proves Assange's innocence.

But can Assange's innocence be "proven"? Is he going to get a fair trial?

Here is what we do know: the Justice Department plans to invoke or reform the very reactionary legislation that was used to imprison socialists in this country to prosecute Assange. Assange's detainment places him in peril of becoming a political prisoner, and you can count on many following him. The U.S. plans its revenge on all the WikiLeaks whistleblowers, not just on Assange. A frustration of this attempt is surely a victory against U.S. empire.

The left is rightfully expressing its support for Assange. This fact that Seibert and Pryor take issue with is simply inopportune.
Phillip Merkel, from the Internet

Further reading on race and class

REGARDING "RACE, class and Marxism": I'm curious, have you ever read any Lysander Spooner? Better known in his day as an attorney for the impoverished and an abolitionist activist in the mid-19th century, Spooner later achieved greater fame for his work in the individualist anarchist tradition. If not, I'd encourage you to check his work out.

I really enjoyed this article overall. While I wouldn't describe myself as a Marxist--I'm an anarchist first, and oppose any state on the grounds that oppression is an inevitable and usually immediate consequence of the existence of hierarchies such as the state--I definitely feel similarly about race issues and how racism was engineered to divide poor rural whites and poor urban Blacks, who often face very similar oppressive forces in Capitalist America.
Matt, Morgantown, W. Va.

Workers aren't to blame for the deficit

REGARDING "BLAME the billionaires, not government workers": This article is terrific, and the message should be appearing in mainstream press.

There is, however, from one important omission--states all these years have also been cutting taxes and shifting the tax burden down the income scale, especially in good times, and cutting programs in bad.

This has undoubtedly contributed more than pensions have to the deficit problem. Why does no one point this out?
Elizabeth, from the Internet