Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Off with their heads
. . . .

Off with their heads

Robert Downes - February 22nd, 2010
Off with their heads...?
In 1649, King Charles I placed his head on a chopping block in London and
had it removed “in one clean stroke” of a broadaxe.
Charles had made the mistake of becoming too big of a pain in the neck for
his subjects (pun intended). In addition to demanding more revenues from
Parliament under the notion that he was divinely ordained, he also
inflicted immense suffering on his people by embarking on two civil wars;
not to mention a great deal of religious meddling at a time when that
resulted in rivers of blood.
In the hubris of kings, he thought of himself as being “too big to be
allowed to fail.”
But during the second English Civil War, King Charles was captured and
tried for high treason. His execution sent a bad case of the shivvers
through the royalty of Europe; presumably they felt a curious itch around
their own collars.
Maybe it’s a stretch, but couldn’t this lesson from history be instructive
in our own troubles with the bankers who play the role of kings on Wall
Last week, President Obama made the point that 2008’s bailout of $787
billion for our biggest banks was necessary because it kept our country
from being plunged into another Great Depression. Who knows how many
people would be unemployed now if the government hadn’t taken that
politically unpopular step.
As it is, the disaster visited upon us by the irresponsible lending
practices of America’s biggest banks has been cited as being responsible
for the loss of 8.4 million jobs.
Perhaps that‘s not “high treason,” but it seems close enough for Congress
to start fetching some kind of axe.
President Obama’s remarks came on the heels of a bombshell story in the
New York Times which revealed that Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and
other banks had concealed their reckless loans to Greece, allowing that
rickety, antique country to borrow far beyond its means with no
conceivable way of paying back investors.
Now, those bad deals are coming back to haunt America because they’ve
undermined Europe’s currency: the euro. When the value of the euro goes
down, it raises the value of the dollar, which means that U.S. products
cost more overseas. This means that the actions of Wall Street bankers
have once again created a situation where American jobs are lost, and just
when a recovery seems at hand. And that undermines the entire country,
with fewer tax dollars to pay for programs such as education and Social
As a result of hiding its borrowing from investors and regulators, Greece
now owes $300 billion. Waiting in the wings are similar disasters in
Portugal, Ireland and Spain. And again, the outcome will mean another
slam at America’s unemployed.
This is not to mention all of the billions lost in the 401k retirement
plans of American workers whose investments are continually jerked around
by the irresponsible actions of firms such as Goldman Sachs.
When is someone in Congress going to step up to the plate and say “Off
with their heads!” for the royalty of Wall Street who seem to feel they
have the divine right to wreak endless harm on America?
Not in a literal sense (satisfying though that might be), but it seems
high time to consider breaking these banks up the way that the monopoly of
“Ma Bell” AT&T was splintered in 1984. Or at least, tax these bandits and
their bonuses until they‘ve got nothing left but their underwear.
The banks argued that they were literally “too big to be allowed to fail”
when they sent one-third of the world’s economic value up in smoke. But
the latest betrayal in Europe makes you wonder if they are “too big to be
allowed to exist.”
Northern Michigan offers a model for a bank that succeeded by doing things
by the book: Northwestern Bank, which has branches in 18 communities,
didn’t need any bail-out funds because they resisted the urge to make
shaky loans and dubious mortgages at a time when that was all the rage.
They held to the principles of good business practices and today are
widely considered to be the most solvent and successful bank in Northern
We need to demand that same integrity from the largest banks and
investment firms in America because jobs and retirement funds are on the
line here -- not to mention the ramifications for Social Security,
Medicare, education and social programs which will go begging as a result
of this continuing disaster.
Footnote: Getting back to good King Charles... Oliver Cromwell, who
became dictator of England after the king’s death, was so kind as to let
relatives sew Charles’ head back on his body so that he could be
presentable for his funeral. Perhaps a similar courtesy could be extended
to the kings of Wall Street.

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