Dear “TMJ” Editor,
I am responding directly to Eli Stone’s meandering ramblings of 7-14-15, another of his columns most all of which I find rarely making a clear, or cogent point, since in his writings it seems to me that he is almost exclusively concerned with demonstrating he is free to write whatever he wishes than he is in seeking to enlighten, argue a specific meaningful point, or further any discussion or dialogue on the issues that are significant to our lives, government, economy, society, or anything else that seems to actually matter when people talk about what is important to them. In speaking about his writing I want to make it clear that I’m not seeking to impugn his character or personality, as I do not know him.
But even a “columnist”, which is what he only claims to be (perhaps so that he doesn’t have to be challenged with journalism’s “broader” perspectives and expectations), because all he wants to do, as he states, is use his opinion so he can “trample things and people’s feelings” (not exactly what one would ever consider the main reason for being a columnist, nor call anything near a worthy or even generally acceptable career goal, is it?)—though he does it in a newspaper, which, by definition, exists as an example and demonstration of journalism, so should he really have it both ways? Maybe he should just be assigned his own blog page and express his opinions there where no reasonable expectations of appropriate journalistic perspectives will bother him, and so he can “trample things and people’s feelings” to his heart’s content, and the rest of us won’t have to bother reading them, or even seeing them in the paper.
He also uses, in his column, a claimed “Canada’s Top 10 List of America’s Stupidity”, without any citation as to who wrote it, or where it came from. Even a “columnist” is expected to cite from where material he or she uses comes. It apparently first appeared in Oct. 2013, then in a revised form in March of 2014, with one more revision made in Sept. of 2014. There are even Canadians who claim there is no way a Canadian wrote that, with one even suggesting it had to be written by someone who watches only Fox faux News. Regardless of this concern, substantial though it is (substantial enough to deserve an answer), I write to refute each point in the order in which they appear.
10. $35,000 a plate dinner for any politician is chump change now, and totally irrelevant to the mega-millions they all receive from the billionaires to get them elected. The billions spent on the last election and the even more billions that will be spent on the next one is totally ridiculous, and the idea that a corporation has the same rights as a person is absurd. Something “born” in a lawyer’s office on paper cannot be, and never will be, a person.
9. The fact of racism is unquestionable—historically and now, right now, and hardly anyone claims the federal govt. discriminates against African-Americans, but they do rightly and appropriately speak of govt. discrimination in state and local govts., and with some officers in many police departments. It is a demonstrated fact and undeniable, regardless of what anyone wants to believe, or claim otherwise. That a few African-Americans have succeeded and done so wonderfully does not remove the reality or racism that most African-Americans still experience, and which we can see in so many horrible events of the last few years, as well as in the Voting ID laws aimed essentially at people of color, while claimed to address voter fraud that virtually exists absolutely nowhere in this country—as has been proven!
8. The first a Republican, appointed by a Republican, the second a Democrat elected by the people—and both were wrong and deserved the harsh public criticism they received.
7. Nowhere—NOWHERE!–did the media “primarily react by fretting that Muslims might be harmed by the backlash” after 9-11-01, or after any terrorist acts–the media overwhelmingly condemned the acts of the terrorists, and even the conservatives’ beloved George Bush had the decency to state that this was not about condemning all Muslims or the Islamic religion, and told Americans not to do so. So this claimed Canadian observation is simply a lie.
6. No one has ever proposed letting illegal immigrants just “magically become American citizens”—and we all know it—so this is another lie. But the reality is we simply, essentially have for years—decades under both Democrat and Republican administrations—not been willing to completely stop businesses from using illegals because they work for less, and the businesses make more profits and pay more taxes—so that we have reached the point where the economy would suffer greatly if we deported all illegals—and we really do not have a method to catch them all and deport them all anyway. So what do we do to find some way to solve the problem that makes real sense? Some path to citizenship is all that can now make any sense whatsoever, whether any of us like it or not.
5. Bush famously called the Constitution “just a piece of paper”–look it up if you don’t believe me. The Republicans and ultra right folks were just fine with the Supreme Court—an essential part of the Constitution—when it decided that Bush won the election, the first time ever the election of a president wasn’t decided by a full count of the votes—and they were just fine when they decided Citizens United meant a corporation and super wealthy individuals could spend whatever they wished on getting people elected—something the founders of the country and writers of the Constitution could not have begun to even possibly consider or think worthy of the Republic or any democracy, since they were seeking to assure that no one with “kingly” wealth and buying power could ever “rule” over the rights and freedoms of others—but now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and that the right to marry whoever you love is a constitutionally protected right we have any number of Republicans and ultra right folks claiming that “activist”, unelected judges should be removed—even though everyone knows it is a conservative dominated court—and even that the Supreme Court should be abolished—which absolutely violates and destroys the separation of powers that the Constitution established, because the writers of that document, and those who voted to approve it—all essential to the founding of this nation—knew that the only way to prevent any one branch of govt. from running amuck was to have a judiciary that couldn’t be controlled by either of the other two branches. So who is really sticking to the Constitution? And economists have known and taught for years that there is really no such thing as a completely balanced budget, and if there was it would destroy the economy.
4. Needing a driver’s license ID for cashing a check is based on a privilege, not a right, and is required by the bank or business cashing the check to assure they are not giving money to a person who is not supposed to be getting it, and thus possibly losing money themselves, not by the US govt. Buying alcohol is also a privilege not a right, and while it is a federal law as to the age necessary to make such a purchase, thus the need for some ID that proves that age, it is so because it has been a societally accepted belief that people under a certain age can be harmed by the effects of alcohol consumption, and because they most often do not use alcohol as they should, and actually abuse it to their and others detriment. Voting is a constitutionally guaranteed right for every US citizen 18 and above, not a privilege, and using a driver’s license for an ID, since it is not a requirement for every citizen to have a driver’s license, is unconstitutionally restrictive and limiting of the guaranteed right to vote.
3. Gouging is something that is always a possible problem in any capitalist economy, and everyone knows that. The cost of gasoline always affects millions more people than the cost of tennis shoes, so the comparison is irrational and irrelevant on one hand, while the reality of gouging through gas costs has a major negative impact on millions.
2 & 1. Since both of these are about taxes I put them together. While the US may collect more taxes than ever in recorded history, we also spend more on the military to “protect” our corporate, business, and individual profits, rights, and freedoms than any one else in recorded history, and spend more right now than the next five biggest nations and economies in the world combined! And the US Congress has even forced the military to accept very costly weapons’ systems that the military doesn’t want, or need. That’s just one of the areas where we spend so much money that causes the need for so much tax revenue, but the major one that means we spend more than we collect.
The reality that the poor don’t pay taxes is simple—they don’t make enough to pay any. The reality of the rich paying more taxes than others is simple—they have the money to pay it. If everyone making $36,000 and above pay 97% of all taxes as this statement claims, how is that a bad or wrong thing, since they have the capability of actually paying it, when the poor do not? So answer this question—when Eisenhower was president and the highest tax rate was 90%, and that didn’t stop any millionaires from being millionaires, nor stop them from increasing their wealth—and it didn’t stop corporations from becoming corporations or from becoming bigger and better—and we could send GIs to college, from which we all benefitted, and build interstate highways from which we all greatly benefit, and grow the biggest middle class the world had ever seen, and grow the economy to the levels never before seen in history, then why is it so hard to understand that the rich should pay more so that all benefit—including themselves? The fact of income inequality is proven, and it is also proven that it is limiting the growth of our economy and decreasing the size of the middle class which most grows our economy—so, yes there does need to be a greater spreading around of the wealth. And the claim that 86% of all taxes are paid by the richest among us is not the full and complete story about taxes—and Stone and everyone else knows it!
Rodney Noel Saunders
United Methodist Pastor, Retired