EDITOR, The Tribune:
Thank you to the hundred of you readers of the Tribune who responded with notes, e-mails, words, thumbs-up, hugs and letters to the editor following my March 2 column on Wisconsin and Washington state employees. Imagine my surprise the morning my in-box included a letter from Madison teacher Susan Stern, whom I had quoted as asking her first graders “Is this fair, or unfair?” (A relative had read The Lynden Tribune and sent a copy on to her.)
As those of you who know me are aware, I haven’t stopped asking “Is this fair?” From 2001 to 2008, some 40,000 U.S. manufacturing plants closed and 600,000 jobs disappeared while favored corporations had record profits and executive pay. The top 1 percent earners earn more than the bottom 120 million. The actual taxes paid by top earners is the lowest in my long lifetime.
But it was last week’s KGMI program “Moneytalk” by Bob Brinker that sent me to Google. Bob has helped me for 26 years while I lived in Iowa, Albuquerque and now Lynden to learn to manage our money conservatively and wisely. Bob hears people who save and invest for the long haul, but clearly we and he are getting tired of the way the laws are rigged against us. We knew that the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1998 removed controls, but he told how the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 has been disastrous to the American people. The act had been worked on by lobbyists throughout 2000, but it was smashed through in the confusion of the contested Bush-Gore vote count. This act deregulated derivatives so that traders need little reserves to back their risk-taking. This is a form of gambling, and in fact the act included the stipulation that no state could contest these actions by using its own gambling laws. As Brinker called it, this is casino capitalism. Since then, a few people have made vast fortunes. The rest of us lost homes or equity in them, jobs, retirement funds and respect from other nations that suffered from the meltdown in the U.S.A.
I am no banker or economist, but I know that as citizens we need to figure out how and why we are allowing things to go so wrong. If you also wonder, Google the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 and also the Frontline program, “The Warning,” an interview with Brooksley Born, who in 1998 foresaw the coming collapse. You will see many of the powerful people and forces that still control Washington, D.C., and Wall Street.
After you check those things out (or if you are an economist or banker) and you want to call me, we’ll have coffee at Woods to talk about how we are affected and how we are going to pull back the veil from the power of lobbyists and their politicians as our country did early in the 20th century. We can’t keep giving our allegiance to the greedy few who cause so much confusion and pain to the good, practical people of our community.
the letter here at The Lynden Tribune but you must be logged in to link to it.
In our globalized world, old-fashioned geography is not supposed to count for much: mountain ranges, deep-water ports, railroad grades -- those seem so nineteenth century. The earth is flat, or so I remember somebody saying.
But those nostalgic for an earlier day, take heart. The Obama administration is making its biggest decisions yet on our energy future and those decisions are intimately tied to this continent’s geography. Remember those old maps from your high-school textbooks that showed each state and province’s prime economic activities? A sheaf of wheat for farm country? A little steel mill for manufacturing? These days in North America what you want to look for are the pickaxes that mean mining, and the derricks that stand for oil.
There’s a pickaxe in the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming, one of the world’s richest deposits of coal. If we’re going to have any hope of slowing climate change, that coal -- and so all that future carbon dioxide -- needs to stay in the ground. In precisely the way we hope Brazil guards the Amazon rainforest, that massive sponge for carbon dioxide absorption, we need to stand sentinel over all that coal.