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Letter to the Editor: Feel Free To Borrow and Rewrite [Revised]

twig's picture

The LA Times editor says they are publishing this letter, so I'm posting it in case anyone else may want to send something like it to their paper. Feel free to rewrite, improve, expand, whatever you like. But as Ralphbon notes in the comments below, cut-and-paste copying is probably not the best idea. If it starts looking like a form letter, it'll be trashed.

The Times only accepts pieces under 150 words, so this one is short. It's in response to an editorial entitled "Debt and Taxes in DC."

And here's the letter:

RE: Debt & Taxes in DC (9 November, 2012)

We, the Enemies?

The editorial “Debt & Taxes in DC” fails to mention proposed entitlement reforms that are being discussed in Washington right now. Cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will devastate the poor and sick in this country. For people already living on the edge of financial ruin, taking away even a small percentage of their income is a recipe for disaster. And yet that’s what both parties are discussing.

In the interests of honesty, let’s call this what it really is: The US government is imposing economic sanctions on its own citizens. As we have done to populations in Iran and other “enemy states,” a huge segment of American citizens will be unable to afford decent food, shelter, or medical care if President Obama’s Grand Bargain/Great Betrayal includes cuts to the social safety net.

So millions of people who have been paying into the system for decades will not get what was promised when they could use it most. At least now we know how the richest nation in the world treats those in need – the same way it treats its enemies.

Gotta go, ktxbai!

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CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

And actually I was just passing on a tweet in the matter of the $35 million. Assuming there is such a sum, I guess its being deployed from here. Pictures of Ed Rendell and a few of the other grass roots activists are here.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

real.

But the Fix the Debt page -- wow, thanks for that! It's like the Snidely Whiplash homepage. Or that awful video from the day after the election with all the ominous images and voice overs about how our children will all be working for the Chinese soon (insert maniacal laughter).

Actually, our children will be living under freeway overpasses if these a-holes have their way. And here's what really horks me off -- they've already done enormous damage to the economy and made out like bandits. But that's not enough, now they want even more!! Calling them greedy bastards is too good for them.

Submitted by jawbone on

title of this post, and maybe your post will come up when people google for Bill Black on the topic of "Grand Bargain equals Grand Betrayal."

Just a suggestion.

It should fit if LTE is used instead of Letter to the Editor. Maybe tweak the sharing part of the title.

Just a thought to help propagate and spread this great LTE template.

I'm really impressed with your letter. Succinct. To the point. And an interesting point, as well.

Submitted by lambert on

As DCBlogger tells us, the POTB actually do pay attention to LTEs (and not spammed ones, but original ones like this).

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

the next one will be on the topic of "only a fucking moron would think that less money in the economy (via entitlement cuts) will stimulate demand needed for a recovery." Although I probably won't word it quite that way ;-)

I mean, seriously -- food stamps (I read there are enormous cuts planned for that program), unemployment benefits (another one they hate), and SS go straight into the economy. Nobody saves or invests that money. Take that away, and we'll have a full-blown depression. I'm oversimplifying, so if someone has a better way of phrasing it, feel free to jump in!

athena1's picture
Submitted by athena1 on

"Who thinks increasing the homeless population will help the economy grow? Apparently the smarty pants at the ECB." (close paraphrase.)

Not sure how "in the loop" one has to be to get the joke, tho.
But the sentiment could be altered for the US situation, even though Bernanke isn't QUITE the quack the ECB folk are.

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

is a complicated game hypothetically played on four tennis courts by a dozen or more participants at the fictional Enfield Tennis Academy, an institution that is central to the novel Infinite Jest.

I guess it was as some sort of homage to the book's author, the late David Foster Wallace, that the Ph.D. economist Duncan Black, aka Atrios, named his progblog after the game.

Due to the wonders of Google, you can usually come up with a link to the exact quote of anything you've read online:

Failures

I'm not sure how you save any economy by expanding your homeless population, but I'm sure some smart kid at the ECB has an answer. [NYTimes link]

Submitted by jawbone on

out of her apartment by the authorities.

Wonder how those authority figures felt.... Probably justified their actions as 1) following the law and 2) only way to keep their paychecks coming.

I figure self-immolation on the WH lawn might get some attention, but, as with this woman's death, it would soon be forgotten. Or the person self-immolating would be labeled a kook.

We'd need a whole lot of Burning People to make any kind of impression on the Powers That Be. And even then, many of the Serious People would continue to bemoan the lack of civility of the people who burn then themselves to death --or, worse, into burn units for a long and costly revocovery and rehab, adding to the cost of covering the uninsured-- and criticize their lack of patience...or something.

Or...would the MCM merely ignore the Burning People?

Since Austerity demands that people Hurry Up and Die.

ralphbon's picture
Submitted by ralphbon on

Fantastic letter, and the meme of austerity constituting "sanctions" on the American people deserves spreading.

I mean, Obama's cutting a deal that will treat Grandma like she's enriching uranium or something.

That said, for heaven's sake, don't invite people to copy your language in whole or part. Concordant language in disparate published letters will inevitably be spotted, and then the story becomes "Who's distributing this form letter?" rather than the excellent messages within.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

The POTB don't care about the poor, but most people care about Grandma. Stretching your own household budget to now take care of your aging parents is another recipe for disaster for working people aka most of us. Sanctions on Grandma and the Orphan Kid? Bad idea. Good letter.

athena1's picture
Submitted by athena1 on

The point would resonate more strongly if the poor had internet access more frequently. I've personally already had Grandma sleeping on my floor (alternating with me sleeping on the living room floor.) It's pretty common in my hood. And this is PRE Grand Betrayal!

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

The proposed agreement seeks to equate entitlement spending with tax cuts to billionaires. Since when are Social Security payments to the elderly (who have paid into the system through decades of hard work), assistance to the disabled, food stamps to the working poor, etc. the same as extra pocket jingle for some fat cat? The former will go right back into the local economy, the later will probly g into a bank in the Caymans or a sweat shop overseas. Anyway, who are we "bargaining" with after all? Basically the exact same people who have been torturing us with these offensive, and borderline racist, political ads for months, including the recent bogus ad where some fictional evil future foreigner is schooling laughing students about how Americans are now "working for them". Regarding the so-called debt crisis. The US is not Greece, or did we somehow give up control over our own currency? The US government makes US dollars, if they want to pay off the "debt" all they need to do is print the dollars, or more accurately, change the digits and move the decimal places on the treasury's computers, and the debt in US dollars is paid in US dollars. Problem solved. This is an artificially manufactured crisis.

Pretty much what I got done writing. We get 250 words.

Submitted by jawbone on

Thanks for sparking ideas here.

The proposed agreement seeks to equate entitlement spending with tax cuts to billionaires. Since when are Social Security payments to the elderly (who have paid into the system through decades of hard work), assistance to the disabled, food stamps to the working poor, etc. the same as extra pocket jingle for some fat cat? The former will go right back into the local economy; the latter will probably go into a bank in the Caymans or a sweat shop overseas.

Great opening graf.

Perhaps you could mention that since the Tip O'Neill/St. Ronnie Bargain people have been "paying forward" their SocSec taxes. The idea was to prepare for the bulge of the Baby Boom generation by having them pay more FICA taxes. Thus, the SocSec fund would be ready to pay out regular SS amounts when the number of retirees rose in relation to the number of workers.

That bargain was broken by using the SS Trust Fund monies to fund current tax cuts and wars, among other things.

Anyway, who are we "bargaining" with after all? Basically the exact same people who have been torturing us with these offensive, and borderline racist, political ads for months, including the recent bogus ad where some fictional evil future foreigner is schooling laughing students about how Americans are now "working for them".

Maybe tone down the political approach for this part of the LTE. Or make this a separate topic for anoher LTE.

But the idea that, yet again, the higher FICA payments would be rewarded with lower SS payments and years without full SS due to so many older people being laid off, downsized, and those monies going to the UltraRich is extremely bad policy needs to be made.

Regarding the so-called debt crisis. The US is not Greece, or did we somehow give up control over our own currency? The US government makes US dollars: If the government wants to pay off the "debt" all they need to do is print the dollars, or more accurately, change the digits and move the decimal places on the treasury's computers, and the debt in US dollars is paid in US dollars. Problem solved. This is an artificially manufactured crisis.

Excellent point, which is so often lost by the MCM reporters and pundits. And by the pols who want to raid SS and Medicare.

A mention of "Shock Doctrine" might fit into this LTE. Maybe get more people to read Naomi Klein's book....

This point does need to be made, over and over, in LTE's. Perhaps the thrid letter? Or others can pick up some of these good ideas and write under their own names?

Thanks for the rough draft, Ok.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

okanogen and jawbone!! I'll revisit them shortly. Another deadline today :-(

But maybe we can create a whole file of letters on these sort of points that people can rewrite for the local papers. I'm just worried that with the holidays coming, people aren't going to be paying attention and they'll do this quietly and quickly so they can celebrate their victories while the rest of us are trying to figure out how to keep the Christmas lights on.

Submitted by jawbone on

the major year end holidays were deliberately chosen, don't you? All the better to slip things in under the radar.

And, of course, Obama could have let the Bush tax cuts expire last year, but extended them to make them the Bush/Obama tax cuts for the rich. What a Dem, that Obama guy.

I love the file of LTE's idea. But people must rephrase, use own language as much as possilbe.

BTW, I googled Bill Black + Great Bargain equals Great Betrayal + first usage and got a 10/30/12 essay by Black.

Usage of this phrase should perhaps mention Prof. Bill Black, with links if possible, so that others will realize he's an important voice on these issues.

What is Move On doing about this Great Betrayal? Anyone know? They apparently were invited to the WH to be co-opted by Obama, along with labor leaders.

Submitted by jawbone on

known. In the case of SS FICA taxes (and they are called FICA taxes), people were asked to pay more out of concern for the effect of the Baby Boom demographic bulge on the soundness of SS financing. Which we all did, albeit, I'm sure, with most of us never ever dreaming we would not work until WE wanted to leave the workforce.

Ha. Gotcha, there, you Boomers! Of course, this will eventually affect non-Boomers as wel. Eveyone will face possibly many years between actual employment and ability to receive full SS payments.

Now, who dreamed the Repubs and their wannabees would shift all that paid forward money to the Uberwealthy? Whodathunkit?

Bad moon risin' for us all. A bad prez presidin' over our futures.

Now, the O'Neill/Reagan pact made it "acceptable" to talk about raising the SS full retirement payment age even higher, as Obama has been talking about doing for years now. And at a time when the longevity of the lower econ quintiles is actually dropping. People who don't make as much money are actually dying at earlier ages now than in recent decades. Stress? Lack of good health CARE? Whatever, it is happening, while those in the wealth bubble tend to live longer.

I never dreamed I would be downsized so early, and then get that old devil cancer which scares the bejeebus out of employers, along with, well, age, to make emplyment every more difficult for the aging among us.

Lower real wages since Reagan, lower longevity for many since Reagan, lower expectations for the coming generations, and, now, thanks to Obama and his Republican bent, lower SS payments, lower Medicare coverage.

Such a deal!

Now, the question is will the Dems allow Obama to destroy the Democratic Party entirely....

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Really good points. I think you are right that this letter rode two ponies, I should have simplified, removing that bit about the politics.

Submitted by jawbone on

The guy campaigned using the language of the FDR-LBJ Democratic Party, and now intends to use his victory to put in place the St. Ronald Reagan decimation of the middle class. Or reather the Pete Peterson Decimation of the Middle Class (PPDMC).

Grand Bargain will indeed be the Great Betrayal.

In truth, Obama let us know bacv in 2007 that he was hell bent on "changing," aka cutting, SocSec and Medicare. He told the Des Moines Register the same thing this election. He does telegraph what he intends to do. The MCM (Maintream Corporate Media), however, does not trumpet this to the public. They instead underplay such relevations, the better to get the only politician who can make such cuts into office. They work for their Corporate masters as Obama does.

Welcome to penury, America's lower econ quintiles! The way Obama is managing things, there will be an ever greater chasm between the truly rich, the Dot Zero One Percent, and the rest of us.

Banana Republic economics for us, too.

We are so fucked, and Wall Street paid for Obama to challenge Hillary and win the most winnable of all presidential elections for a Democrat. (Hillary, I still believe, could never have broken her promises the way obama did and get away with it. Dems wouldn't haven't put up with it.) Consider how well their investment paid off for them, at least for the richest of them.

Boy, has this nation been snookered.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

I doubt it. To me, the toughest part of this is convincing people that the debt isn't the problem. If you can stand to watch any news shows, there is not even one pundit countering the idea that the federal debt is ruining the economy, not that I've seen anyway.

Propaganda works! They talk about cutting here, here, or here. But no one says, you don't need any cuts because the debt doesn't matter. You need to get more money into the economy.

And if you think about it, why would federal debt prevent the economy from thriving? Or to put in their terms, owing money on a credit card does not prevent me from earning (or in the US's case, creating) money to pay it off. But clearly the network and cable media people are on board with this, because they never ask any common sense questions. It almost seems scripted to avoid even the tiniest little bit of "debt is not the problem" thinking from entering the picture.

I want to be optimistic, but it's getting harder every day.

Submitted by jawbone on

over the Fiscal Cliff on last Friday's show. Or words close to that. Reality-based much?

Made me furious that a science reporting program would resort to such unscientific and false language. But that's what happens to people who work in the media. This show comes out of NYC via WNYC, where the major influence on reporters is the NYTimes with all its issues, strengths, and propaganda faults.

So, what happens is that their reporters are caught in some kind of tunnel vision and can barely see any issues or approaches which are not within the Serious People's talking points made OK by the Times.

Amazing that Krugman doesn't get the benefit of being OK by appearing in the Times, eh? How often is he even referred to, other than as a "liberal economist"? Such very closely watched limits to what can be considered "serious" journalism.

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

so why argue on neoliberal grounds, even if you believe you're countering the neoliberal beliefs. Every poll around shows that the majority of people of all political persuasions don't want the so-called entitlements cut, do want to raise taxes on the rich, and do want to cut back on military spending. I don't want to spend arguing energy explaining to them that the U.S. can do it all, since I want taxes raised on the rich and military spending cut back.

The thing to do is to let congresscritturs know that if they vote for anything that facilitates the cutting of social programs, we will hound them with it until the cuts are at least reversed. Letters to the editor will mention for the next two years that they voted to cut Social Security. We'll hang that vote around their necks until they're defeated.

A problem of the left is the tendency to let up pressure the minute a Congressional vote is taken. We should plan not to do that.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

Reference: A problem of the left is the tendency to let up pressure the minute a Congressional vote is taken. We should plan not to do that.

NWLuna's picture
Submitted by NWLuna on

There's enough for multiple LTEs on the Grand Betrayal. Off to paraphrase....

NWLuna's picture
Submitted by NWLuna on

There's enough for multiple LTEs on the Grand Betrayal. Off to paraphrase....

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

letter prepared which I hope to get out to several regional papers, after Thanksgiving.

Kudos to everyone who takes time to write their local newspapers. I admit that I do too little of it. But will try to get better at doing this. Couldn't think of a better time than now. :)

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