Backtalk March/April 2009
Fixing Wall Street
David Cay Johnston's article "Fiscal Therapy" should be sent to Obama's team in charge of getting our financial house in order. I agree with every single solution and change he suggests, even the ones that might impact me in an unfavorable way. If Obama has not considered any of these actions, he should, and seriously. Why? Because I believe a true patriot knows that no country or civilization can function very long without everyone contributing, and the main contribution is taxes. As long as they are just, and everyone pays his or her fair share, they are necessary.
In "Stimulus Is for Suckers," James K. Galbraith makes a sensible argument; however, some of his ideas, like raising Social Security benefits, might be combined with means testing and raising the income limit. Also, he doesn't mention military spending—I can think of better uses for tax money than some of those boondoggle weapons contracts Congress seems to love. So keep putting ideas on the table. Our economy needs restructuring, to be sure, and all of us could live more simply and frugally.
There You Go Again
I object to David Corn ("Who You Gonna Call?") suggesting that there's anything in Reagan's legacy to be emulated. Like all presidents, Reagan vowed to uphold the Constitution. But he violated that oath by creating a secret government within the government and by funding the Contras when Congress had specifically outlawed such funding. There is nothing in the Reagan administration worthy of admiration or imitation.
Kansas City, Missouri
Consider this quote from the February/March 1982 Mother Jones issue, "America Held Hostage!": "In Washington, the meaning of the Reagan Revolution is crystal clear. 'These are mean-minded, righteous people who have been out of power for a long time,' said a prosolar Energy Department official who is one of the few held over from the Carter years. 'They don't know how to govern, only how to smash.'"
Black and White and Read All Over
In "Class Is the New Black," Debra J. Dickerson has expressed so well a wish that I have cherished since my early teens: that the asinine color and/or race designations disappear from the human lexicon. I wish that every student—at every grade level, from the first grade on through university—could be required to read it.
c. victor gabriel
Portales, New Mexico
Fare Thee Welfare
"Brave New Welfare," by Stephanie Mencimer and photographed by Matt Eich, deserves a Pulitzer! How do we get someone upstairs to take note of this great piece?
Albuquerque, New Mexico
When I read Mencimer's article, I felt sick. Of course, the situation in Georgia's tanf system is horrible. However, just as unconscionable in my opinion was Mencimer's apparent disregard for the plight of her interviewees. She acted as an anthropologist, callously watching the "subjects" in their fight for survival. Why wasn't she referring Letorrea Clark to services that could help her or talking about what those eligible for tanf can do in Georgia once they are refused? Why didn't she spend more time talking about what can be done by those of us with better means? Her article would've been more optimistic and helped others fight back, which I think is the purpose of Mother Jones.
Spring Valley, California
Thank you for taking the time to learn about the real poverty issues in rural southern Georgia. Your article does an amazing job recounting the life of living on the edge there. I was especially moved since I grew up in the area and traveled with my father, a photojournalist covering the same stories in the 1960s. Even the photograph looked like one my father took. (It's housed at the Smithsonian.) Personally poignant for me was the fact that after my father's death, my mother raised six young children, and some of the survival techniques you recounted brought back vivid memories. I'm obviously biased in that I lived parts of your story and I work for Georgia Legal Services; however, being biased does not diminish my reality of poverty in rural Georgia.
skipper g. stipemaas
Raising the Bar
Jonathan Schwarz ("If Congress Doesn't, Who Will?") writes that torture-authorizing attorneys "could be indicted in federal court if they knowingly issued faulty legal opinions that led to criminal acts," or at least "face disbarment." These are eye-opener thoughts.
leroy j. pletten
Sterling Heights, Michigan