Faith In Fitzgerald: Your Letters
Re: Concealing The Suburban Nightmare by James Howard Kunstler
Thanks for this great article. Sadly, I expect there is a very large, SUV-commuting sector of our public who have committed themselves to seeing the "Toll Brothers" version of reality, and will continue to put folks in power who subsidize this sort of short-sighted planning. They will do this until reality (like Darwin) kills their ability to perpetuate it. It's great to see someone calling it out.
What the Times article also missed was that the amount of pavement that the Toll Brothers and others are laying down in coastal watersheds is strangling the creeks, rivers and coastal estuaries that receive the untreated storm water. States are trying to control growth and make it more compact, so that the amount of "impervious surfaces" doesn't grow at a logarithmic rate. The NYT article would have been far more interesting if it probed why states and localities, which have land use control, have largely failed to Faith In control the building industry and sprawl development, in spite of the public's distaste for sprawl, poor water quality, closed beaches during rainstorms, etc. I was really disappointed that such an important public policy issue (the environmental impacts of poorly controlled growth, i.e. the success of Toll Brothers) was ignored by the article's author.
Sarah Clark Stuart
I would add that the cost of getting people to and from work who live in the suburbs will make us uncompetitive with the rest of the world. The rest of the world lives in urban areas with efficient means of transportation.
Faith In Fitzgerald
Re: Fitzgerald's Historic Opportunity by James Moore
With all the rants, pro and con, surrounding Plamegate, this article was a great read. It really placed into context what is at the heart of most Americans: the lack of true representation of the common man within our government. It's time we as a republic are presented with candidates that would make are forefathers proud rather than those that "spit on their graves." Let's hope that this blemish on our history can be overcome and we our able to refocus on what made this country great, "Liberty and Justice for all ."
I wonder why James Moore suggested that destiny had a hand in putting Patrick Fitzgerald in the special prosecutor's role. Why not say that God did it? Bush has claimed that God wanted him to be president. Maybe God realized that She had screwed up big-time, and sent Fitzgerald to fix it.
I put the Bill of Rights in my literacy classes, arguing that if we are educating our citizens for American democracy, we begin—or have as the spine—the fundamental laws that govern us in the nation. We read one amendment and related landmark court cases per week, and talk about the relationship of the law(s) to our thinking as educators. The James Moore piece is a potent argument for doing just that, and it sickens me to learn of this administration's usurpation of law for their power. What goes around comes around, and I hope Fitzgerald kicks out the doorjambs on this one—and brings justice to we the people. Long live the republic, and let jurisprudence, not ideology, rule.
Robin Hooding The Rich
Re: Robin Hood In Reverse by Beth Shulman
As someone in the now-you-see-it, now-you-don't middle class, aside from my repugnance at the ideology of the neocons, I also have a personal concern about the Republicans' desire to starve the poor into submission and that is this: We are becoming the new poor, and we can see the future! Compassionate conservative? Almost funny, but not.
The Republicans, who are running the Grand Old Party, have never seen a tragedy that they could not turn to their advantage. The bodies had not been interred on the Gulf Coast before they stepped up to the trough to feed.
No-bid contracts to rebuild. Cuts in wages to those who will do the work. Suspension in EPA laws that protect the environment. Subsidies to the oil companies to rebuild refineries, that they closed down before to raise gas prices. And cut programs to the poor and middle class to pay for it all. Robin Hood in reverse: Take from the poor and give to the rich.
My Republican friends and neighbors are not like that. I know from talking to them that they are good people who would not wish misfortune on anyone. They are for the most part good Christians who believe, as Christ instructed, that we must be charitable to those who are in need. I don't believe that they voted to take from the poor.
The Republicans have been blinded by the need to win at any cost. We all like to win, but if we give up are ideals, what have we won? Put another way, we gain the world, but lose our soul. The Grand Old Party has won the government, but has lost its soul.
Re: Diagnosis For America by Jonathan Tasini
The $64 billion question is how do we pay for universal health care? Not by increasing the regressive Social Security or Medicare taxes, which also handicap American-based corporations. Here is my solution: Replace the Medicare and Medicaid programs with a universal health care system modeled after that established for Federal employees. Also abolish the Medicare tax. Finance the new universal health care system with a Value Added Tax (VAT). The beauty of the VAT is that it applies to all goods sold in the United States (save those necessaries exempted from the tax such as basic food stocks), regardless of where they are made (whether manufactured in Detroit or a Chinese forced labor camp). Thus, industry would not be able to escape it responsibilities for the social safety net of this country by outsourcing!
I could "talk myself blue" as I have in the past about the need, albeit the urgency, of a universal health care system in this country but this writer says it so well and so succinctly! Our "non-system" is primitive at best.
How can we, as individuals, go forth with the pursuit of those things granted to us in the constitution without such a system? It doesn't take a genius to realize that everybody will ultimately be better served—even the big corporations (with the possible exception of the mega health insurance companies).
The Good In Giving
Re: Finding Justice In Charity by Bill Moyers
Wonderful article. However, I have a problem with the term "charity." I think what Bill Moyers is talking about is contributing to infrastructure, thereby giving the means and tools required for people to take care of themselves such that they can embark on the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. In contrast, to me, charity is giving a starving man in the middle of the road a bowl of soup and then leaving. He may not be hungry for that moment, but basically he's still in the same boat. As a former welfare mother, I know this. It wasn't the little food baskets I received from local churches that allowed me to change my circumstances, although their heart was in the right place. It was the child care I got from the local community college so I could attend school, the counseling I received from a local non-profit that helped me deal with such difficult circumstances, the friend that took my children when they were sick so I could work, the mechanic that fixed my car for free so I could get to work, the student loan programs that allowed me to go on to a four-year university, and the undying faith of my instructors. I am now in a successful career as an engineer and have two children in college. I hate to think where I would be if I were in the situation I was in today.
One thing Bill Moyers did not address was the only thing I agree with the right about. Simple giving creates simple one-way dependency, a hero giver and a victim receiver. Trade creates two-way dependencies. Check out www.timedollar.org for a new model of philanthropy that turns givers and victims into partners. The giver spends an hour doing something for the receiver, who must then spend an hour doing something for someone else.