Views in brief

Greek workers paying the price

IN RESPONSE to "How will the jobs crisis ever end?": I totally agree with this article. This is a quite representative description of what is happening in the U.S.

Meanwhile, there is also a need to describe what is happening in Europe and, specifically, in suffering Greece, where unemployment reaches 23 percent--and 50 percent for ages 20-40.

Many families are financially exhausted, because they still support their unemployed grown children. The German government and its supporters don't realize at all that this kind of austerity "medicine" won't ever heal the wounds of this crisis. On the contrary, the only result has been a rise in suicides and deaths. Don't take this as an overstatement. People are reaching their limits and there is the potential for a social explosion.

Our government, a three-party government, is striving to maintain political stability and to erase the danger of new elections, but these austerity measures don't seem to help. By continuing these policies, the European Union will face the danger that it tried--and finally managed--to avoid during the pre-election period.

The only result of this will be that a country that made huge sacrifices to be "led out" of the crisis will automatically face the start of its end. People and their lives are more important than fake amounts of debt. Social justice and humanitarian values must prevail against markets and their designs.
Theodoros Dimopoulos, Lamia, Fthiotida, Greece

A view of shop-floor solidarity

IN RESPONSE to "A view from the shop floor": Thanks for the thoughtful analysis. I was there, but in reading this I felt that you were there with me.
Gregg Shotwell, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Obama's hands were tied

IN RESPONSE to "Two friends of the 1 percent": I won't take too long in my response, but I just wanted to critique one point that was made, with some frequency, in the article. That is, I think that Barack Obama, when his party had strong majorities in both chambers of Congress, would have been an actual progressive--if the filibuster did not force him (and Sen. Harry Reid, et al.) to cater to the conservative members of the party in order to pass literally anything.

For instance, remember that in the health care debate the vote on the "public option" amendment to the Affordable Care Act got a majority, but then promptly failed because members like Sens. Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman joined the Republicans in a filibuster.

The same was true of the post-BP oil spill environmental bill, Dodd-Frank, and the economic stimulus package (way too small for a reason). Of course, conservatives (all elected Republicans) are going to stand up for their corporate masters, but not all Democrats are that way.
Jay Stephens, Clarkesville, Ga,

More to the story at Con Ed

IN RESPONSE to "Could the union have won more at ConEd?": I disagree with this. Con Edison has three unions: Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2, Local 3 in Staten Island, and Local 508 in Orange and Rockland (whose contract expired before Local 1-2).They are the ones that agreed to the two-tier pensions and sold us down the river. If they had fought for themselves, the company never would have come after Local 1-2.
Chris Meyer, Lindenhurst, N.Y.

A firebrand or an elitist?

IN RESPONSE to "An uncompromising critic of America's ruler's": As a novelist, critic and intellectual, Gore Vidal was one of 20th century America's heavyweights. But make no mistake about it: Vidal, especially toward the end of his life, was a nasty crank, a hater and a smug elitist of the highest magnitude.

Years ago, he left the United States to live in Italy because he detested American culture, finding the majority of this society stupid and lacking in values. Perhaps, deep down, he was right. Though his views were sympathetic to the left and to liberal causes, Vidal embraced grandiose ideas about humanity while he loathed most people.

Born in privilege, he was certainly no socialist or Marxist, and he had no particular love for the working class. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Vidal praised Obama as a potentially great leader and an intelligent man when compared to his predecessor. Then again, how hard could that be?

I can't comment whether or not Vidal was anti-Semitic, but as for his assessment of the "common folk," he looked upon the proletariat with disdain and contempt along with just about everyone else. I suppose such are the contradictions inherent in complex and widely traveled provocateurs like him.
MBH, Chicago