Thought provoking responses to David Brooks’ NYTimes Op-Ed, “The Class War Before Palin.”

The folowing are a few thought provoking responses to a very good Opinion article about ‘the class war’ waged between Republicans and Democrats and fires stoked by Sarah Palin, written by David Brooks, published in Today’s New York Times:

Re “The Class War Before Palin,” by David Brooks (column, Oct. 10):

Far worse than the prospect of class warfare is to suddenly wake up to the fact that we’ve been involved in class warfare for most of the last 40 years, and we’ve been losing decisively.

Can there be any doubt, when virtually all of the economic gains have flowed to those at the very top, while real wages have been stagnant since 1969?

Tax cuts that overwhelmingly favored the rich have led to wealth and income being more unequally distributed than at any time since 1929.

It is the Republican right that has pursued class warfare relentlessly since the days of Ronald Reagan. It is time that we recognize this and begin to claw back some of the losses we have sustained.

Terence Stoeckert
Hoboken, N.J., Oct. 10, 2008

The writer is an affiliate professor of economics and finance at Stevens Institute of Technology.

To the Editor:

David Brooks is right. The anti-intellectualism of the Republicans is astounding.

Average Joes and Janes want ideas from people smarter than we are, whether they come from the left or the right. With the recent collapse of our economy, the Bush administration didn’t ask “Joe Sixpack” for advice, but instead asked the best and the brightest — I hope.

Let’s stop the dumbing down of this country.

Elaine Gallinaro
Devon, Pa., Oct. 10, 2008

To the Editor:

David Brooks seems to acknowledge the blatant failures of the Republican Party — a party that favors fear-mongering and ignorance, and habitually supports candidates with limited education and worldviews.

This has led Republicans and this nation to ruin, and attracts the type of people who yell “kill” and “terrorist” and racial slurs at campaign rallies. They want a nation that disdains education and frowns on the educated.

We call the Navy Seals and Army Rangers “elite.” Shouldn’t we have someone who is elite, in terms of intellect and judgment, command them?

Robert Rundbaken
Ossining, N.Y., Oct. 10, 2008

$124.6 Billion Tax payer bailout of financial institutions payed from 1986-1996, ridiculous.

From Wikipedia’s article on “savings and loan crisis,” here:

…While not part of the Savings and Loan Crisis, many other banks failed. Between 1980 and 1994 more than 1,600 banks insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) were closed or received FDIC financial assistance. [13]

During the Savings and Loan Crisis, from 1986 to 1995, the number of US federally insured savings and loans in the United States declined from 3,234 to 1,645. [14] This was primarily, but not exclusively, due to unsound real estate lending.[15]

The market share of S&Ls for single family mortgage loans went from 53% in 1975 to 30% in 1990.[16]

U.S. General Accounting Office estimated cost of the crisis to around USD $160.1 billion, about $124.6 billion of which was directly paid for by the U.S. government from 1986 to 1996.

(/h2>[17] That figure does not include thrift insurance funds used before 1986 or after 1996. It also does not include state run thrift insurance funds or state bailouts.

The concomitant slowdown in the finance industry and the real estate market may have been a contributing cause of the 1990-1991 economic recession. Between 1986 and 1991, the number of new homes constructed dropped from 1.8 to 1 million, the lowest rate since World War II. [18]

A taxpayer funded government bailout related to mortgages during the Savings and Loan crisis may have created a moral hazard and acted as encouragement to lenders to make similar higher risk loans during the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis. [19]

Connecticut General Assembly overrides Governor’s minimum wage increase veto

The following was published at Courant.com, in the Hartford Courant:

HARTFORD, Conn. – With two votes to spare, the Democrat-controlled state legislature voted Monday to override Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s veto of a minimum wage increase.

It marked the second time that the General Assembly has overturned one of the Republican governor’s vetoes.

The override will ensure that the current minimum hourly wage of $7.65 an hour is boosted to $8 beginning in January, and to $8.25 an hour in 2010. The change will make Connecticut’s minimum wage among the nation’s highest.

“It’s a simple matter of equity,” said Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, saying low-wage workers need the $14 weekly increase as gasoline and food prices are increasing.

House members needed a two-thirds majority – at least 101 votes – to override the veto. The final tally was 102-39.

The Senate’s vote was 25-9, a one-vote margin above the minimum 24 votes needed for the override. Both votes were mostly along party lines.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Washington currently has the highest minimum wage rate, at $8.07 an hour. Of Connecticut’s neighbors, the minimum wage is $8 in Massachusetts, $7.40 in Rhode Island and $7.15 in New York.

An estimated 65,000 workers in the state receive the minimum wage.

Rell, who supported past minimum wage increases, called Monday’s veto override “a seriously shortsighted decision” that will hurt small businesses during a difficult economic period.

“Even as the national economic picture continues to darken, the legislature has opted to further cloud Connecticut’s business environment,” she said.

Most of Rell’s GOP colleagues agreed.

“Please, before you cast your vote on this bill, think about what you’re doing,” pleaded state Rep. Anthony D’Amelio, R-Waterbury, who also owns a small business. “What you’re doing actually is hurting the people you’re trying to help.”

D’Amelio predicted that businesses will cut workers’ hours to cover the pay increase.

Some Democrats called the Republicans’ concerns a red herring. Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said similar dire predictions were made when lawmakers increased the wage in the past, but they never came true.

Sister Teresa Fonti, co-director of the House of Bread soup kitchen in Hartford, said she’s seeing more poor people with jobs seeking assistance.

“Obviously, this salary is not getting them through the week,” she said.

Democratic leaders initially were unsure how many legislators would attend Monday’s veto session because of summer vacations and work schedules.

Let America Be America Again, a poem by Langston Hughes

halliburton says thanks, sorry about your kids
Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed–
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek–
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today–O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home–
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay–
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again–
The land that never has been yet–
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME–
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose–
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain–
All, all the stretch of these great green states–
And make America again!