Numerology?

It occurred to me that from the end of George Washington’s presidency (1800) to the end of Lincoln’s (l865) is 65 years.

From the end of Lincoln’s to the beginning of FDR’s (1932) is 67 years. From the end of FDR’s presidency (1945) to 2008 is 63 years.

Does it take roughly three generations for our country to make major corrections in its political alignments?

Betty Smith

New York NY

Gay rights

My brother, an electronic engineer, and his life-mate should not have to avoid places in the USA because of homophobia. When will gay people stop being discriminated against? I certainly wonder.

Veronica Ruth Haskin

Via e-mail

Medicaid alert

Gov. Jon Corzine of New Jersey is considering making all people on Medicaid pay copays and deductibles every time they go to a doctor or hospital. He is also very serious about reducing funding for state programs that help the poor and the disabled. I recently called the governor’s office at 609-292-6000 and voiced my opposition to his plans. What is so incomprehensible is that he refuses to raise taxes on the rich to balance the budget. Instead he would rather take it out of the hides of the poor. This plan to make Medicaid recipients pay out of their limited income (in some cases as small as $40 a week) would bankrupt most. I urge your readers to call the governor’s office and say no to copays and deductibles for Medicaid recipients. His office is keeping a tally of people who are for and against this mean-spirited scheme. If enough people call in and voice their opposition, it will be taken off the table.

Gary De Santis

Via e-mail

Palestine

I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed and appreciated Susan Webb’s article on Palestine (“Collective punishment,” PWW 2/2-8). The level of understanding and empathy has been a long time coming. Thank you for bringing it to our paper.

Carolyn Trowbridge

Tucson AZ

Gas schemes

According to Webster’s dictionary, to conserve means to use less. So one would be reasonable to assume that working people caught in the clutches of this capitalist-induced economic downturn and trying to conserve their resources would be saving money. Right? Wrong! Not if you’re dealing with Peoples Gas.

Citing declining revenues due to lower consumption through conservation by its connected customers, or zero consumption from its 40,000-plus disconnected customers, the utility is calling for an increase in everyone’s bills to fund infrastructure improvement and repair (no mention of its high-paid executives).

A five-member commission ruled in favor of Peoples Gas.

The scheme that Peoples Gas came up with to increase its revenue is a two-tiered fee added to all customers’ bills based on their expected use instead of their actual use! The utilities would have a new baseline fee in months warmer than the average over the previous 12 years. During months chillier than the average, the utility would issue a credit.

Add the reality of global warming and it’s a win-win for Peoples Gas. Use less and you pay more. Since average temperatures are on the increase you would never receive a credit. Of all the schemes hatched by the ruling class to part the working class from its hard-earned money, this is one of the more outrageous. Although the ruling will be appealed, it most likely will not be eliminated, only scaled back. The financial burden for the working class will continue its upward march. Only with real alternatives such as public ownership can working people be freed from these corporate predators. Is it pie in the sky? Just ask the people who got their electricity from Los Angeles County or the Tennessee Valley Authority, outside Enron’s clutches.

Bill Mackovich

Chicago IL

Response on climate change

A reply to Ted Pearson’s letter (PWW 2/16-22):

As I wrote in my article, “advanced nuclear power” was an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change proposal and had some very important caveats, the main one being that it must generate less nuclear waste. Personally, I have my doubts that this is possible with the technology currently available. I also reported some other IPCC proposals that may or may not be feasible under the restrictions capitalism imposes.

While there are things that we can and must do this side of socialism, we need to do all we can to get socialism on the agenda. Will it be easy? No. But we need to ask ourselves, just how much more capitalism and imperialism can our life-support system stand?

Writer Arjun Makhijani sounds utopian. He is certainly free to advocate what he sees as effective measures to take, but market forces and our present capitalist system is what got us into this mess. Can we trust it to get us out? Several European countries have “greened” capitalism to a degree. That has been due to the hard work of communists, socialists and eco-socialists (“Greens”). Capitalists, with their WTO, put up fierce resistance to attempts to control some of the worst features of their system. How does Makhijani propose that we overcome that resistance?

Capitalism is overdue for retirement. It needs to be replaced with something better. We need to start a national dialogue and powerful movement about how we can get there.

Dave Zink

Steilacoom WA

Labor in Virginia

Last week, 250 representatives from the Virginia State AFL-CIO and local affiliates met state legislators to put forth a worker-friendly agenda in one of America’s battleground and most staunchly “right to work” states. The timing was crucial: it occurred just before “crossover,” the point where state Senate and House votes are reconciled. Most of the delegates wore buttons which read “300,000,” the number of union members who voted in the past Virginia election. U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, a staunch “out of Iraq” leader, won his Senate bid by a 5,000-vote margin. That cemented Virginia’s position as a state that is becoming the newest “blue state.” Obama won the Potomac Primary with an overwhelming voter turnout.

Labor presented four primary legislative objectives. Most important was passage of the Payday Lender Bill. Gov. Tim Kaine addressed the assembly, emphasizing the significance of the 2008 election and recent advances of progressive voices in the state Senate and House. Kaine, an early supporter of Obama, and potential short list candidate for the VP position, thanked organized labor for its overwhelmingly successful get-out-the-vote efforts. Edwards’ withdrawal from the race, Kaine’s support for Obama, and the successes of the labor movement and its grassroots allies were topics of downtime discussions among the union reps.

Barry Weinstein

Washington DC

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