Ron Ross misread “The Broken State” in his reply last week (“Don’t Blame Reagan,” Oct. 29). The lead article did not admit that “cutting taxes and slashing government regulation will spur private sector economic growth,” nor did it call for complete economic equality, as he asserts.
In fact, the illuminating article Ross attacks simply reports the growth of economic inequality over the past 40 years. It stresses the increasing concentration of wealth and power in the hands of highly organized business interests with enormous influence over public opinion and policy. They fight environmental and consumer movements as well as organized labor and advocates for the poor.
Apparently, all Ross can see is a “growth” whose only measure is profit, not human fulfillment in a healthy environment. He ignores the reality that government is the means by which society defines the rules of economic activity and serves a wide spectrum of essential human needs beyond markets, not the least being national security.
Free market ideology is really a cover for control of government by powerful business interests that make massive use of tax money for their own purposes. That’s what “The Broken State” is all about — showing how California came to its present disgraceful budget crisis.
Chuck Harvey, Fieldbrook
Well, Ron Ross, who did get us in this mess? You have not given us any hope on this front. My family were all teachers, and Reagan, you see, was bad news to education. That equated to bad news for children in school. Somehow you must have missed this part of the story.
Reagan’s trickle-down economics really worked well if I recall. Get real. It worked about as well as deregulation of the phone company. Now phones last about one year instead of 25. Same story with airline deregulation — way better service and no troubles or bailouts now, right?
Speaking of service, that’s exactly what our kids will be doing as this great state’s education system has benefited so well from Regan economics. With the lack of educational opportunities our kids will be working extra hard. When I was a kid our state had one of the best educational systems; now it’s at the bottom of the list. If you think Reagan had nothing to do with this decline you are wearing blinders to history. But I’m sure Fed Ex can send some new blinders that will keep distorting the truth — maybe, just maybe, for 44 cents.
Mark Cortright, Arcata
Again, wonderful job getting varying perspectives on an important issue of the time. While reading Ron Ross’ article defending Reagan-era slashanomics in California, I couldn’t help but gag at a number of arguments he made. In particular, I want to focus on taxes. Ross writes, “The fantasy that corporations are capable of paying taxes is one of the most naïve beliefs of the left. In the real world, only humans are capable of paying taxes.”
The theory behind taxes is that the government requires cash in order to create and maintain infrastructure, including roads and bridges, and a safe environment (i.e. the military and police). Unless I’m mistaken, corporations, in order to engage in regular business, either use roads or require that people use them in order to patron their establishments. They also depend on law enforcement to protect their businesses from being robbed or destroyed by criminals. Is Ross suggesting that corporations shouldn’t pay their due like every other person using the same services?
Speaking of persons, does Ross forget the concept of corporate personhood, advocated by large railroad and oil companies in the 19th century, that elevated corporations to a status of virtual godliness in our society? Once the courts accepted the premise, a corporation acquired the same rights under the U.S. Constitution as a “person,” including the right to engage in free speech, the right to due process and the right to sue. Since corporations are people in the eyes of the law, and people have to pay taxes — so should a corporation.
Believe me, I want to tear all of Ross’ arguments apart, but this rebuttal alone will suffice to counter Ross’ elite-driven propaganda that the public does not have a right to govern, for the well-being of all Americans, the often profit-driven, if not destructive, practices of large corporations.
Remember, when this country was founded, corporations were subservient legal entities bound to serving the public interest, and if they didn’t, goodbye charter. We need to bring those days back.
John C. Osborn, Arcata
Sweet Spot:* Chuck Harvey wins a Bon Boniere sundae for sending our favorite letter of the week.*