Wednesday September 26, 2012

Class warfare
vs.common sense

Editor of the Reformer:

In his attacks on President Obama, Mitt Romney is fond of using the term "class warfare." Local New Hampshire Republicans like Charlie Bass and John Sununu can’t answer a question without referencing the pejorative term. In their eyes it’s un-American to talk about things like income distribution or economic justice. So what are we to make of the latest news that America’s 400 wealthiest individuals now control l/8th of the nation’s wealth? Think about this staggering statistic. In a country of over 300 million citizens, 400 of them claim over 12 percent of its riches. Sobering, isn’t it?

It turns out the rich are getting richer. Meanwhile the middle-class shrinks, and the poor class grows. If this isn’t the most pressing issue of our time, what is? And what is the Republican response to this? First of all, you aren’t allowed to talk about it, and if you do, you’re fomenting class warfare. Romney’s response? He lambastes the working poor, unemployed, underemployed and the elderly for not paying federal income taxes. Isn’t it odd that Mr. Romney had nothing to say about the thousands of millionaires who pay no federal income taxes? Or about profitable corporations like GE who pay no federal income taxes? But a single mom earning minimum wage? Well, she’s not taking responsibility for her life; she suffers from a sense of entitlement and victimhood.


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Other great Republican ideas for dealing with this new gilded age in America? Lower taxes for the richest Americans, as if they don’t already control enough of the country’s wealth. Oppose attempts to raise the minimum wage. Change the progressive nature of our federal income tax rates to a flat tax rate. I wonder who would benefit most from that?

Republicans must be the only ones in the country who haven’t figured this out yet: the class wars are over. The rich have won. While the average American has lost wealth, the richest Americans have gained it. They’ve destroyed the private unions, and now they’re going after the public unions.

Instead of class warfare, maybe we should be talking about the terms of our surrender. For starters, tax dividends like earned income. That way we could put working for a living on the same footing as investing for a living. Next, raise the minimum wage so workers at the bottom have a better chance of making a living without government support. The gap between the pay of the grunt worker and the CEO has never been broader in American history. Would the CEO of any corporation enjoy his bounty if the underlings didn’t do their jobs? It’s time for Republicans to stop giving lip service to the value of work and to start making work valuable to the lowest workers and not just to the CEO. Since they have benefited the most during these tough times, we shouldn’t feel guilty about asking the wealthy, who can most afford to, to pay more in taxes. It’s not class warfare, it’s common sense.

Tim Thompson,

Westmoreland, N.H., Sept. 21

Liberty for all,
or just for some?

Editor of the Reformer:

The entire basis of Civil Liberties as an idea is that is applies to and is guaranteed for everyone. However, throughout the short history of the United States there are myriad examples of this not being true.

Civil liberties -- freedom of speech, the right to privacy, the right to be free from unreasonable searches of your home, the right to fair court trial, the right to marry and the right to vote. These are what are often referred to as our inalienable rights; rights that cannot be taken away or repudiated. Looking at that list it is obvious that many minority groups and parties have had to fight to acquire these rights.

Women’s suffrage in the United States was achieved gradually, at state and local levels, during the late 19th century and early 20th century, culminating in 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

Similar to woman’s rights but even harder to make commonplace was the idea of rights for African American citizens. For a period of time ending only recently with the passing of the Jim Crow laws in 1965, African Americans were barely considered citizens at all.

Even today, with our government being known as the standard and forerunner in freedom for its citizens, we are still struggling, as a nation, with certain moral laws that are argued profusely. For example, written in as a civil liberty is the right to marry. One of the most heated "moral" discussions across the nation right now is the debate about same-sex marriage. In 1920 the people who argued against women’s rights believed that allowing women to vote would be morally wrong, and that the law promising voting rights simply didn’t apply because of women’s lower status in society. Before 1965 the people fighting against African American rights believed that it would be morally wrong for them to have a place in society because as people of color they were inherently less than those people with paler skin. These were common beliefs of each time period. Now we look back on such times in awe, most wondering how anyone could ever have held such close-minded opinions. Today the idea of same-sex marriage sends many people into fits of indignity with claims that it is immoral. They claim that these guarantees to the rights of marriage were not written to apply to same sex couples just as that guarantee to the right to vote was not written to apply to women. Though we fight through difficulties with inequalities every day, and improve upon the laws governing our nation in many ways, there are still cases were civil liberties do not apply to all. I hope that sometime in the future, there will be a time when these inalienable rights, these civil liberties, will truly be enjoyed by everyone, no matter gender, race, or sexual orientation.

Zoë Perra,

senior, Brattleboro Union High School

Sept. 16

She’s not dead

Editor of the Reformer:

If any online readers of the Reformer looked at the database of recent obituaries online, they would see the erroneous report that I am deceased. Not so.

Like Mark Twain, the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated. It is my mother who passed away on Sept. 17 and whose obituary appeared in last Wednesday’s newspaper.

Deborah Lee Luskin,

Williamsville, Sept. 25

Editor’s Note: We’re very sorry for that error, and have contacted people at Legacy, the website which houses those obituaries, to correct the error.

On circumcision editorial ...

Editor of the Reformer:

I strongly take exception to your anti-circumcision editorial stance ("Not all traditions are good traditions," Sept. 20).

This practice, described in the Bible, was performed by Abraham on his son Isaac, and on all succeeding generations until today. Jews, Muslims, various African tribes and many other peoples practice this tradition, which as you note, the British Health Service and the American Academy of Pediatrics have both stated that the benefits outweigh the potential dangers of the operation. Therefore, since this it is not a medical issue, I can only assume you’ve taken an anti-Semitic stance on this point.

That you sought and found comfort in reportage by Die Welt, FT Deutschland and other German sources should surprise no one who has not been in a coma since 1933. Nonetheless, Mrs. Merkel has already proposed legislation to overturn the Cologne court’s ruling and make circumcision legal for religious purposes.

When I look about me and see so many people with tattoos, piercings, ringed neck extensions and other bodily manipulations, I find your concern for children’s bodies farfetched. Circumcision is not mutilation, but a sign of the eternal covenant between God and his people. In a country such as the U.S.A., founded by those seeking religious freedom, and in our liberal State of Vermont, your arguments ring hollow.

Harvey S. Traison,

Newfane, Sept. 24

Editor’s Note: Just to clarify, we wrote: "In addition, the British National Health Service and the American Academy of Pediatrics have both stated that the potential benefits of circumcision are outweighed by the potential dangers of the operation." Our opinion has no basis in religious beliefs.