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Letter to the Editor

Wed, Jun 22, 2011

TO THE EDITOR

Dear Ms. Hanney,

I was more than a bit surprised to read Amanda Elliot’s “Sammies award small government” article in the 5/4-10/11 issue. It stood out like a gold Rolex would on the wrist of one of your vendors. If the goal of the awards was “…national recognition for activists who retain the Founding Fathers’ spirit of limited government and no taxation without representation,” then I have some suggestions for next year’s awards.

General Electric deserves an award for achieving representation (through its army of lobbyists) while paying no taxation. GE is one of several corporations who have pushed this to the paradoxical level because they actually received a tax credit last year. British Petroleum deserves an award; they sure had limited government working for them with all of the safety violations which led to the death of the 11 men at the exploding oil rig in the gulf. BP, like other petro giants, are literally beyond the governmental reach of OSHA because the Deepwater Horizon is beyond the 3-mile nautical limit. And OSHA has its hands full on shore anyway; nearly one fifth of its attorney hours at its New York office were devoted to Walmart’s appeal of the $7000 fine it got for violating safety protocols that led to the trampling death of a temporary “associate.” So don’t forget an award for Walmart for staying the hand of the government. All of the “Too Big to Fail” banks deserve a Fearless award too, as they are even bigger now than before, from gobbling up competitors and government bail out funds. This is like gaining weight during a famine. The SEC and Justice Department deserve Foot Dragging awards for keeping the government off the backs of the scam artists who caused the sub-prime loan collapse, as no one has gone to jail yet. Even during the Reagan administration some people did jail time for their parts in the Junk Bond/Savings and Loan debacles.

Perhaps a followup article by Amanda can address some questions I have. While I understand the “limited government/no taxation” that many corporations are for, I just don’t get what this has to do with the Founding Fathers. As I recall they were against creating an American Aristocracy. Perhaps I read text books with a liberal bias. Also, I don’t get what the pro right wing Sammie Awards have to do with the homeless, when America’s poverty rolls increased from 31.6 million people in 2001 to nearly 40 million in 2008 during George W. Bush’s Compassionate Conservatism/Trickle Down Economics.

From Lakeview,
Paul Eizik

EDITOR’S RESPONSE

Dear Mr. Eizik,

Thank you for your witty letter about Amanda Elliott’s coverage of the Sammie Awards.

Given the ongoing recession, it is entirely possible that a downsized person could turn to selling StreetWise – while still wearing a gold Rolex watch. We would welcome him or her.

We chose to cover the Sammies because StreetWise is Chicago-centric and socially conscious. The Sammies are given by the Chicago-based Samuel Adams Alliance, which puts them on our radar screen.

Your points about General Electric, British Petroleum, and Walmart are well-taken, but the Sammies celebrated smaller actions by individual citizens. A Texas woman won a Sammie after she put her congressman’s face on a milk carton as someone who “went missing” when he refused to hold town hall meetings. Another Sammie went to two men who uncovered fake Tea Party members running as Democrats and forced their removal from the ballot.

The only real quarrel we had was the award to Virginia Atty. Gen. Ken Cucinelli, who calls the Obama health care bill unconstitutional.
There were also two Sammies to people who had battled bureaucracy that just makes life more difficult and expensive for individuals. One was a man who had moved wrapped guns from Colorado to New Jersey among household possessions in the trunk of his car. Another went to someone who helped towns in their opposition to red light traffic violation cameras. This winner also passed a Washington state initiative that required a two-thirds majority vote for tax increases.

We favor tax increases to retain human services but we are as wary of big government welfare as you are.

The issue of debt service in the US budget is practical to us as much as philosophical. The U.S. now has a AAA bond rating but the cost of paying interest on this debt will be 18 to 20 percent of federal revenue by 2018, according to Moody’s on Investors Business Daily online. That percentage, in turn, could push the bond rating down, which would mean higher interest rates for any new bond issue.

“The higher this ratio (interest/revenue) the more public debt constrains the formulation and delivery of other policies,” Moody’s analysts wrote, according to IBD.

We want to see smart spending that really helps human infrastructure, not wasteful spending. If conservatives can become activists to help liberals point the way, that would be a good thing.

Sincerely,
Suzanne Hanney
StreetWise Editor-In-Chief

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One Response to “Letter to the Editor”

  1. Paul Eizik says:

    Dear Ms. Hanney

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply to my letter. I think any of your vendors would find that a gold Rolex would be bad for business, even a fake knock off. I also would not expect a down-sized executive to do well selling Streetwise at his/her former country club, but I can’t speak from experience. I commend you for accepting anyone finding themselves in that situation however.

    I have no problem with the fact that Streetwise covered the Sammies, what I object to is the positive slant that the article gave this largely right wing event. The Texas woman who put her Democrat congressman’s picture on a milk carton seemed to draw a parallel to the missing representatives in Wisconsin. Perhaps some Wisconsin resident should put their governor’s picture on a milk carton, as he does’nt seem to be the same person who ran for election while never mentioning any union busting plans. It would be interesting to know if Watchdog Winner Jason Gillman (who uncovered the tea-party’ers running as Democrats) is a Democrat or a Republican. If the former, I wonder how comfortable he felt at this right wing event. If the latter, he really does deserve a Painfully Honest Award. I used to vote for moderate Republicans when they were cast as reformers (liberals according to the dictionary), but they seem to be an extinct species nowadays.

    I’m happy that we agree on the quarrel the right wing has with Obama’s health care bill. The U.S. is getting clobbered in the global market place largely because we are competing with countries who have universal health care. GM’s recent troubles were mainly from their inability to address their health care commitments. The Japanese car companies, who have plants here, will face the same problem in 10 to 15 years when their workforce starts retiring, as GM’s is now. Savvy businessmen should support universal health care because it would get this problem off of their backs. You don’t see this from the right wing though. Their latest efforts are to repeal the Obama bill, with its no pre-existing exemptions. At the same time they are trying to privatize Medicare so that many of the elderly will not be able to afford it, like in the pre-Medicare days. This was the reason for creating Medicare in the first place! It goes without saying that the lives of the homeless will improve with universal health care.

    The awards to the New Jersey gun guy and the anti-traffic light camera guy look sympathetic on the surface, but the traffic light guy is also supporting resistance to tax increases. When multi-billionaire Warren Buffet is paying under 18% of his income in taxes, and his secretary is paying 30% of hers, then why is the right wing complaining about taxes? Of the top 25 hedge fund managers and private equity firm managers, the average yearly income is a billion dollars each. These people pay only 15% of their income in taxes because they can defer their taxes as long term capital gains. Mitch McConnel said that “these people create a lot of jobs”, but how many maids, butlers chauffeurs and gardeners can you hire? To actually spend a billion dollars in a year, you would have to spend $490,769 an hour (with a 40 hour work week). A difficult job needless to say, but most of this money winds up invested back in the casino economy it came from.

    Your concern about the deficit is good, as the current deficit is unsustainable, and I think both sides would agree on this. About 30% of the deficit is due to the Bush era tax cuts, so it would seem obvious that to anyone who is serious about putting a dent in the deficit, then this would be the first target. I saw nobody on the right with this position when it came up. Instead we got Obama’s ridiculous plan to freeze the pay of federal employees. This will save, over the next couple of years, what the government spends in Afghanistan in one month! Someone should put Obama’s picture on a milk carton, as the reformer I voted for seems to be missing.

    I would really like to believe in your hopes that “If conservatives can become activists to help liberals point the way, that would be a good thing”. If you can point out where this is happening, I might take some comfort. Take a look at the Sammies panel of judges:

    1. The publisher of the right wing National Review.
    2. The executive director of the Ronald Reagan Centennial. During the Reagan administration the rich got richer, the poor got poorer, the crime rate went through the roof, and we had unprecedented deficits. Reagan was proud of the fact that he had limited the growth of government, as the government did not get smaller under him, it actually got bigger. And Reagan raised taxes after lowering them.
    3. Andrew Breitbart, who has funded James OKeefe’s various video hatchet jobs on right wing targets. The Acorn employee who gave OKeefe advice on his fake prostitution business was fired, and rightfully so. Another Acorn employee called the police on OKeefe, but this was not mentioned in the Fox News feature. OKeefe was sentenced to 3 years probation for impersonating a phone company worker during one of his stings.
    4. Brad Thor. I’ve never read any of his novels, but I would expect them to be less fantastical than what the right wing is actually doing in reality.

    Paul Eizik

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