To the editor:
Over the past few weeks after a letter I submitted in defense of our president ended with a broad question asking about socialism and socialists, there have been two responses. Both were definitely anti-socialism, identifying it with communism. The communist philosophy is basically "from everyone according to his ability, to everyone according to his needs." Any second-grader can easily see the stupidity and unworkability of this thinking. The tag "communism" was used most famously by Lenin and Stalin in the USSR and Mao Tse Tung in China to identify their viciously totalitarian regimes. The Chinese version brutally forced industrial and agricultural labor to benefit the government. The USSR version did the same, although one would argue a little less bloody. But Stalin did murder 20 million of his people in order to implement his complete control. Accurate records do not exist enumerating the totality of the loss of people in China during the middle and later part of the last century. The present regime appears a little less brutal.
Although Karl Marx was obviously very wrong-headed, this German philosopher, living in England in the 1800s, would be very surprised had he survived and witnessed the implementation of his communism in Europe and Asia.
Anyway, Mr. Brittain asked an interesting question: Just what am I? What is my political philosophy? I am a registered Democrat and have been for 50 or so years. I am an avid feminist supporting women's rights and object to the intrusion into their health and medical issues by our male-dominated power structure. I am pro-labor, having been active in my union while employed by the commonwealth. I also consider myself an avid environmentalist. My long career as a conservation officer is a big influence.
Those that disparage labor unions fail to realize accepted benefits such as hospitalization, unemployment, vacations, the 40-hour week, overtime pay, holiday recognition, safety regulations, etc., etc., are benefits realized solely because of the efforts of organized labor in the early and middle 20th century.
Without doubt, there are abuses. Recent times have shown examples of unreasonable demands and achievements. For instance, take the ongoing turmoil involving teachers. The teachers' unions want to preserve the existing tenure system that protects teachers dependent on their years of employment and not their performance. Good teachers should be rewarded, and poor performing teachers should be eliminated. The "last hired, first fired" philosophy is a stupid concept. Education is so very important to our culture and future. Excellence should be strived for at all costs. The future of our country and culture depends on this.
One of the most highly held American values is fairness. We all hold to the concept that everyone is treated equally. Gov. Romney's tax plan cuts the taxes for the highest "one percent." He admits to having paid a 14 percent tax rate last year. I imagine many wealthy people that can afford really good tax experts and accountant enjoy a similar rate. President Obama proposes raising the tax rate on the wealthy. I think it applies now to those that earn $250,000 annually. The Republicans vehemently resist this proposal. Many also say its rewards would not really affect our deficit problem. According to the Wall Street Journal, there are 3.1 million - that's 3,100,000 - millionaires in the U.S. If each one of these folks would pay an extra $1,000 in tax for just one of the millions they have, it would provide over $3 billion to help in our financial ills. Not small change. this would leave $999,000 in the pockets of those 3.1 million Americans. Is this too much of a sacrifice to ask for? I assert that with the country in a financial crisis, it is incumbent on all of us to share the burden. This is the American way.
Regarding just one aspect on the environment: The position of the Republican Party and Gov. Romney is that climate change is a sham being pushed on us by environmental extremists. Here are three hard facts that are not in dispute and leave me wondering why the Republicans are in such denial.
1. The arctic ice sheet is at its lowest size in recorded history.
2. Glaciers around the world have shrunk to record sizes.
3. The past 10 years have included nine of the highest temperatures ever recorded in the U.S.
There are other equally dramatic facts with similar indications. This should be of serious concern. I will unlikely live to see drastic consequences because of the global warming although things seem to be progressing much faster than initially feared.
Finally, with respect to the community providing help to the needy, I think Mr. Brittain and I are on the same page, but what composes a community? What are its boundaries? Is it the immediate neighborhood, the county, the state, the country? Why must it be restricted in size? I greatly admire the ethic of the Amish that stress hard work and individualism, but in time of need, their community bands together to build the destroyed barn or provide aid for the seriously ill group member. Why should this metric be applied to only a small group? Are we not all a member of the larger community that might need help from our brethren? Of course every effort should be made to weed out the undeserving. I would work shoulder to shoulder with Mr. Brittain to achieve this. But the important question is: In the interest of saving a few dollars, do we harm the many truly deserving individuals by eliminating or severely limiting a program just to punish the miscreant group scamming the system?
We spend trillions of dollars on nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, aircraft, etc. to fulfill the responsibility of protecting the American people. I am a vet and fully support our military and want to preserve its strength. But why do we then want to scrimp and cut when it comes to protecting the same people from illness or mending their injured bodies?