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Reading Room

Corporate Socialism – Ralph Nader, Washington Post, 7/18/02

Say what you will about Ralphie, sometimes he can be absolutely brilliant — and in this OpEd piece, he is dead on. If you think what we have here today in the U.S. is good old capitalism, and free markets, and a democracy “of the people, by the people, and for the people” — then you are one delusional individual. Nader details exactly what a sham our supposedly “capitalistic” society has become.

For Richer – Paul Krugman, New York Times Magazine, 10/20/02

This is a very long read — but it covers a rather complicated subject, one that is very important. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the middle class is disappearing. Those are facts that can not be denied. But just how big a deal is this? Right now there’s plenty of wealth to go around, and even as real incomes stagnate or even shrink for many families, their standard of living is still incredibly good. Long-term, though, is a plutocracy really what we want?

Dividend Voodoo – Warren Buffett, Washington Post, 5/20/03

Warren Buffett is the second richest person in the world (according to Forbes Magazine anyway). And unlike so many of the wealthy in this country, he actually “gets it”. He understands that his financial success is as much about the luck of the draw as it is about anything he personally did. He was lucky enough to be born in America, and lucky enough to be born with natural skills that allowed him to become so successful. And that’s why he has no problem with paying his fair share of taxes. Tax cuts that benefit solely the rich are nothing more than welfare for the rich. Buffett understands this.

U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott on the Common Good – Jim McDermott, Veterans for Peace 2003 National Convention, 11/8/03

One of the founding principles of this country, one of the cornerstones of the U.S. Constitution is the concept of “the common good”. And for many years it was a guiding construct behind everything we as a country did, both domestically and internationally. But over the last 50 years or so, we have strayed far from this notion. Rep. McDermott does a great job here outlining just where we went wrong, and how we can get back on the right track.

Cold Turkey – Kurt Vonnegut, In These Times, 5/10/04

No one understands our society better than Kurt Vonnegut. From the hypocrisy of today’s so-called Christians to the nut cases we put in the White House to our addiction to fossil fuels — Vonnegut exposes us for what we really are.

The Fight Of Our Lives – Bill Moyers, Inequality Matters Forum, New York University, 6/3/04

This is another longish essay, but like pretty much everything Moyers writes, it hits home hard. If you don’t think there’s any such thing as “class warfare” in the U.S., you simply aren’t paying attention. It’s a war that was started by the wealthy and the big corporate powers way back in the Reagan administration, and it’s a war that the average American is losing badly. As Moyers says, it’s way past time to get mad and do something about it.

A Democrat Knows That the Leaf Turns – Garrison Keillor, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 7/20/04.

A pretty good short essay on one of the key differences between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats believe in a “social compact” that binds us all together, Republicans don’t. It’s that simple.

America’s Disease Is Greed – Andrew Greeley, Chicago Sun Times, 8/20/04

It’s dangerous to try to oversimplify anything, but if you could sum up all that ails this country today with one word, that one word would be “greed”. It’s what drives unconscionable tax cuts for the rich and corporate welfare, it’s ultimately what got us in to the Iraq War, it’s at the root of all the ongoing Congressional scandals. As Greeley notes, we’ve become one very, very greedy society.

Greetings From Idiot America – Charles Pierce, Esquire Mag, 11/1/05

This one is rather longish, but definitely worth reading. Pierce mainly goes after creationism, but he also addresses the overall “dumbing down of America” that we have seen over recent years. More and more, facts and reality don’t matter to Americans. Too many people live in their own little worlds, where they believe simply what they want to believe, with total disregard for scientific facts.  And that can’t be a good thing, can it?