Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor


LettersToTheEditorDear Sir:

Bill Frayer’s “We Are Stuck In The Past” (El Ojo del Lago, April, 2013) is a plea for rebuttal. Frayer tried to bestow a false equivalency upon conservatives. But the definition of fair-minded does not include treating failure and success as though they were equal.

Frayer says that “Liberals today focus on the government-based benefits put in place after the New Deal. . . .” Benefits? Those programs are political achievements that have been successful. Conservative policies, by contrast, have failed, and we must defend liberal gains against the retrogrades.

Frayer committed a double mistake when he said, “The old system cannot afford to provide lifetime security any more (sic).” It never has provided “lifetime security.” Unemployment benefits don’t provide “lifetime security.” Social Security doesn’t offer “lifetime security.” Social Security is solvent for years to come, until 2037, and even then the projected deficit will be small. All that is needed is a slight increase beyond the present $106,800 taxable limit. That’s a small price for the safeguarding of a pillar of civilized society. What we cannot afford is to let conservatives like Paul Ryan ravage the “old system.”

Programs like Social Security are not “gifts” from the government, as Mitt Romney suggested. Workers have an investment in these programs through payroll taxes. Conservatives favor the word “entitlements,” but it seems like a misnomer. Indeed, government has borrowed from the Social Security fund – not contributed to it.

Frayer is illogical when he says, “Yet the political focus of liberals is to shore up these old systems by increased taxation of the rich and some redistribution of wealth to the middle class. . . . But it’s not working.”

Quite to the contrary, it’s the tax cuts for the rich that are redistributing the wealth to the top 1% and destroying the middle class. He makes a strange differentiation between “working” people and government workers. Does he not think that government workers have jobs to perform? Public sector employees have been hard hit with layoffs, including cops and teachers.

What Frayer is talking about, without naming it, is ideologically driven “supply-side” economics vs. academic Keynesian economics.

What he calls “big-government, New Deal-type programs” that he says are “unsustainable” are precisely what are needed today, but which conservatives block. Those New Deal “big-government” programs were successful and pay dividends to this day. I retired from a school building that has a plaque at the front entrance that says, “Built by the WPA, 1938.” Vast areas of the United States are supplied with electric power because of the Hoover Dam and Tennessee Valley Authority, both federal programs. Only “big-government” could have financed nuclear research, the space program, and countless other projects, with all their beneficial spin-off for the economy.

The Keynesian economics of investing in the infrastructure, investing in education and green energy, and putting people back to work, would raise wages and stimulate a vibrant economy. The conservatives have blocked this. Instead, they preach austerity, low wages, and more wealth for the “job providers,” a cruel joke meaning those who are so rich that they are off the charts. And they don’t create jobs, by the way. There is no equivalency – either moral or academic – between supply-side economics that favors the wealthy and Keynesian economics that provides the greatest good for the greatest number.

Fred Mittag

Bill Frayer Responds:

I appreciate my friend Fred Mittag’s response to my April column.  He suggests that I “bestow a false equivalency upon conservatives,” when I criticize both the right and the left of outmoded thinking.  In fact, both sides are defending a world view which needs to evolve. 

Although I am receiving a government-based pension, as is Fred, it’s not difficult to see that with the huge number of people retiring, and fewer workers to support them, that medical and retirement programs will need to be adjusted to accommodate the new demographics.  Europe is in the process of facing the same problem on a larger scale.  As economies and populations change, as poor countries seek a more equitable standard –of-living, it only stands to reason that medical and retirement programs will have to accommodate new realities. 

At least the left understands that people will continue to need assistance.  The right seems blind to this.  But simply digging in, resisting any change, is just a recipe for more gridlock.  We need to consider more creative solutions.

Ojo Del Lago
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