Letter to the Editor

Response to recent letter by Dr. Thompson

Friday, September 4, 2009

To the Editor:

Dr. Thompson wants to blame "liberal" Democrats for our economic situation. Real progressives understand that Obama and most Democrats have never been economic progressives. Rather, they have been bought by the same corporations that buy Republicans and they support economic policies that favor the wealthy at the expense of the public. For example, much of the money being spent to prop up large banks simply props up the elites that run or are invested in those banks.

Next, he says, "Social Security and Medicare are some 60 trillion dollars beyond anticipated revenues." Conservatives like to lump Social Security and Medicare together because it makes the Social Security look bad. Social Security is currently running a surplus, can pay all scheduled benefits through 2037, and can then pay 75% of scheduled benefits through 2083. Minor tweaks in the system make it sustainable indefinitely. The problem is that the Social Security surplus is being applied to the federal operating budget and our corrupt politicians have no intention of returning the surplus to the Social Security trust fund.

Thompson then claims that an overall tax rate greater than 40% reduces tax revenues. Where the tax rate line should be drawn to maximize revenues is contentious, and varies with income level and economic conditions. A black and white number like 40% is just propaganda.

Then Thompson makes misleading claims about the healthcare systems of Canada and England. Life expectancy in Canada and England is about two years longer than in the US, and the infant mortality rate is far lower. The US has the most expensive healthcare system in the world. Healthcare costs per person in Canada and England are 60% of the costs here. If Canada's and England's healthcare system are in fiscal crisis as claimed then ours must be a catastrophe. The reality is Canada's and England's healthcare systems are superior to ours. Japan's and France's are better yet. Admittedly, since most politicians have sold out to the healthcare industry, a first-class system will not come out of the current debate.

Thompson then questions whether global warming is man-made. There is an overwhelming consensus in the scientific community that current global warming is mostly a man-made phenomenon. The only scientists that believe otherwise are the kind of scientists that will still tell you that cigarette smoking is harmless.

Thompson claims that nuclear power is the answer to the world running out of fossil fuel. This is a view cultivated by a power industry wanting to profit from large-scale highly centralized projects. Nuclear power advocates lack imagination. There are myriad ways to generate electricity cheaply cleanly and sustaining (e.g., low temperature geothermal and high altitude wind power).

Finally, Thompson extols the virtues of Reagan. Reagan ran gigantic budget deficits, cultivated the idea that debt is okay, and advocated deregulation of the financial industry. There is a reason Reaganomics was called voodoo economics, and as we are about to live in the curse.

Bruce Sanders