Views in brief

February 27, 2009

Tax the rich and make them pay

I WAS listening to Democracy Now! recently, and New York Times columnist David Cay Johnston was on, saying it's perfectly legal to raise taxes on the rich retroactively.

So it got me thinking. Why stop there? Bush gave away $1.3 trillion in tax cuts in 2001 to the super-rich --cuts that were never rolled back. Let's not just roll back those cuts--let's raise taxes on the super-rich retroactively by the same amount, $1.3 trillion. Poof, another $2.6 trillion to help the economy. That'll save a few teachers' jobs.

But let's not stop there. Remember, Bush also cut taxes on investments and capital gains for the rich for eight years straight. Let's not just roll back those cuts--let's raise them in the same amount. This alone would add in an estimated $1 trillion. That'll serve to restore many of those services cut under Bush.

But let's not stop there! Wall Street gave away huge bonuses to fat cats whose companies then went belly-up. Let's tax them in the exact amount of their bonuses. If the slimeball got a $10 million bonus, that's how much slimeball now owes. Pay up.

Corporations also got away with too much under Bush. Remember all those tax "incentives" given away to already super-rich oil companies? War contracts given to companies like Halliburton, who then walked away from them--as well as the people of Iraq (leaving half-built schools and hospitals in their wake)? Tax them all!

Retroactive tax increases for these slimy corporations to restore all those programs slashed under Bush and forgive all those mortgages held by those who can't afford to pay them back. And if the rich start whining about how hard it's going to be with all these tax increases, we can tell them that they can switch places with those in the food lines anytime they want.

So how about it, Obama? These are great ideas. Why can't they just get passed? (Note - I'm copying President Obama on this. I'll keep you posted if he replies.)
David Bliven, Briarwood, N.Y.

Fearing for my health

I AM writing in regards about how my health insurance was taken away. I am 19 years old and a full-time student at Kean University in Union, N.J.

I don't think that it is fair how they decided to take away my health insurance away and have my parents pay for health insurance monthly for themselves and my two little brothers. They took away my insurance because, according to them, my parents make a too high an income to meet the criteria to receive health insurance.

Personally, that is ridiculous. My parents are in debt. They barely can afford the mortgage and bills. How will they be able to afford another bill?

I'm the type of person that gets sick a lot. I need my health insurance. I'm also in the process of getting braces. Is it fair to be paying $200 a month to continue my dental plan? I don't think so.

I just hope that everything changes, because the United States is going downhill. I'm writing this because I read the article by Helen Redmond, "The fear of losing health care." Guess what? Fear is here already.
Marleny Sanchez, from the Internet

Prospects for rebuilding the left

A YEAR ago, Lance Selfa declared in the International Socialist Review that "Election year 2008 holds the potential of being equivalent for the Democrats what the 1980 election was for the Republicans"--that is, marking the start of a "new era" of U.S. politics dominated by liberalism.

While agreeing with the thrust of his argument at the time, I believed the analogy to be a poor one, since neoliberal conservatism came to power through a well-organized campaign led by a tiny section of bourgeois intellectuals over many years. Today, organized liberalism is an ideological shell of its former self, with its labor and non-governmental organizational components sclerotic, when not outright corrupt.

Though mass consciousness has generally taken a left-populist expression, has rightly highlighted the development of working-class consciousness in action.

However, we must not overgeneralize from this. In "What's changed and what hasn't changed," Selfa is right to emphasize the indispensable role progressive struggle must play to win demands. But what is our overall assessment of the state of such movements? Does the left have a program for coalescing them?

Considering such matters, it's obvious we have a long way to go, whereas Reagan's election was a culmination of conservative power in a way the Democrat's '08 win certainly is not.

The disarray of progressive social forces, the demonstrable incompetence of the new government to save its own system, and the devastation being wrought on our brothers and sisters internationally remains a very tough row for us to hoe. Our sisters and brothers whose fighting spirits were bent, though unbroken by, the long neoliberal reaction were hardened by it as well.

That discipline, experience and hard-won patience will be indispensable in the new political era we can now, in earnest, build.
Frank Couget, Astoria, New York

An unfair portrayal of the Church

THE ARTICLE "Welcoming in an anti-Semite" leaves out many important facts and therefore presents a very misleading picture of what is actually happening with regards to Bishop Richard Nelson Williamson.

His excommunication is being lifted, along with the excommunication of the other bishops ordained by Bishop Marcel Lefebvre, because it's been determined that the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) was founded as a matter of conscience, and that therefore, according to Canon Law, its creation is not really grounds for excommunication.

While these excommunications are being lifted, the Church is by no means embracing Bishop Williamson. The Vatican required SSPX to remove Williamson from his position in charge of the SSPX seminary in Argentina. He is being given no particular job as a bishop and is being marginalized within the church. This is the closest the Vatican can come to "firing" him.

I think it's also important to mention that anti-Semitism like Williamson's is in direct contradiction to documents passed during Vatican II and is thus contrary to Roman Catholic teaching.

Like any large global organization, the Catholic Church has its share of weirdos, idiots and bad guys scattered throughout its membership, and sometimes they get into positions of power. Pretending that these people are a fair representation of the Church that provides relief for the suffering on every continent, who advocates for humane treatment of prisoners around the world, and lobbies against capital punishment and for a fair working wage is disingenuous at best.

While you may have differing opinions with the Roman Catholic Church on matters like abortion, and even the value of religion, your portrayal of the Church here is unfair.
Mike M.., from the Internet

We need better nursing home care

NURSING HOMES today are being run like big business. We do not have enough staff or money to provide for our nursing home patients as we need to be.

There are vice presidents, CEOs and regional bosses who are making huge salaries and bonuses while we are running our staff ragged. We do not feel that our patients deserve this kind of living practice.

Instead of people slamming "nursing homes" as these "bad" places to live, they should look at "who is at the top" and stealing all the money.

We need more staff to take care of our loved ones and your loved ones. The nursing home industry has become an area of corruption and money profiting. Our regional VP drives around all day calling the nursing homes in his region (of which we are one) and harassing us into "filling the beds" and making more money.

This is just wrong. The more beds he fills, the better he looks the more money he makes. But for the nursing home, we see no more money coming back to care for the patients.

Medicare/Medicaid gives us funding, therefore, they have the right to come into our facilities annually to survey us for poor practices. Why do they not care about what their money is used for? Thank you for caring and watching out for "the people."
Betty Black, from the Internet