A Guiding Thread

To the Editor:
If there is a guiding thread through the maze of incoherence and distraction created by the ascendency of Donald Trump to the Presidency, it points to a plan that America be governed not on democratic principles but as an autocratic fascist oligarchy.  With a Cabinet filled with retired generals, CEOs, and billionaires, it is no wonder the President so admires Vladimir Putin and the Russian oligarchs.  Further, the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United cleared the way for the unlimited power of wealth to influence American politics, which sits well with the Libertarian/Republican desire for a limited, deregulated “small government”.  This is a government not of the People but one by and for a wealthy elite.
Robert Porath

Capitalism Is Not A System of Government

To the Editor:
    Given the nature of human nature, history shows that the so-called “freedom” of unregulated, free-market capitalism simply does not work.  Further, “capitalism” is merely an economic system that allows wealth to be made from wealth.  It is not a system of government and is not, by its nature, automatically conducive to democracy and, in fact, seems increasingly a corrupting influence on our representative democracy. The joke about the Golden Rule, that those with the gold make the rules, demonstrates just how far from being democratically governed we are today in America.
    Important also to note here is that we are not dealing with absolutes.  Neither capitalism nor democracy is, of its own, intrinsically good or bad.  What seems lacking is a morality of discipline and self-government with a watchful eye toward a common good.  Edith Hamilton’s claim that Athenian Greece invented the freedom of self-government, rose to glory, then fell by succumbing to the lure of unlimited freedom and power should stand as a warning to all Americans that conscience is still an integral part of any social contract.
RP

Media Should Hold Government Accountable

To the Editor:
    The devil is in the details.  Insider trading for elected officials and their staffs, legislation written by lobbyists, campaign funding offered and solicited, kickbacks, perks, travel junkets, and who knows what other  shenanigans, all being conducted behind the scenes, accepted as normal behavior, and overlooked by mainstream media outlets; and yet it is precisely the details that are important and the devils in them need to be brought into the light.  Government can be seen as the problem, but it needs to be made clear the players and impetus for the legislative actions that helped precipitate the financial collapse,  Clearly Congress cannot be trusted to police itself.  It is up to the media, that fourth estate of government, to do the deed.
RP

Fear and Loathing

To the Editor:
 The explanation for the rising tide of Conservative economic theory in Congress lies in our modern Supreme Court rulings that money and free speech are created equal and that corporations have an unlimited right to spend money to influence elections.  Our politicians have become terrified at the power of money and, particularly, the power of money in media.  Despite overwhelming polling supporting raising taxes (actually returning taxes to the levels of earlier, more prosperous times) on corporations and the wealthy, raising revenue has never been on the table and the Grover Norquist/Koch brothers/Tea Party/antii-government/anarchist elements of the Republican Party have gained an improbable ascendency in Washington.  There is no longer a center in government, only the far right and the ultra for right.  Cutting government failed to right an economic collapse in the Thirties.  There is no reason to believe it will succeed today.
RP

Whither goest thou?

To the Editor:
Given China’s economic gains, the possibility rises that it may be following a business model superior to our current path.  Unlike here, the Chinese government has a firm oversight of its growing economy.  Compensation is regulated, profits benefit the entire nation, and corruption and mismanagement are severely punished, even to the point of death.  Here, on the other hand, corporate campaign money controls the government, with  lobbyists actually writing regulatory legislation.  CEO’s are compensated royally, profits go mainly to a small, already wealthy, elite class, and mismanagement is often rewarded with a year-end bonus. Tax breaks were even given to companies for taking their jobs and technical expertise overseas.
Further, China has generally relied on a traditional capitalist approach to gaining prosperity.  It is investing money (much of it American consumer dollars) in its manufacturing and transportation infrastructure, in education for its youth, and in peacefully securing resources for its industrial growth, while we in the West have gotten so bogged down in unending wars and occupation of oil-producing nations in the Middle East that our longstanding support for education, infrastructure, and social safety nets is now being termed, “no longer affordable”.  This seems an odd tale of two nations heading in vastly divergent directions.
RP