Publisher Judy Hodgson recalls how in the 1950s we had rapid economic growth and a strong middle class ("What's it All About?" Nov. 24). She infers it was economic growth that "narrowed" the differences in income and allowed the middle class to prosper. It's not that simple. In the 1950s we had a very progressive income tax (a top rate of 90 percent then, 36 percent now) and an estate tax that was steeper and affected smaller estates.
A healthy middle class is not a natural byproduct of a strong economy. The normal result is a small, landed, very rich aristocracy, a large underclass and a small middle class dependent on the wealthy for its relative prosperity. History is full of landowners and serfs, nobles and peasants, masters and slaves. Only where wealth is constantly recycled can a large and vibrant middle class emerge.
We flattened our tax structure with the Reagan and Bush tax cuts and were told the increased wealth would "trickle down" to the rest of us. As Hodgson points out the wealth trickled up. The rich got richer while the rest of us stagnated or became poorer.
Changing the situation will be very difficult. A congressman spends half his time raising campaign funds. His days are spent with people who have money to give. It is their concerns he hears and in the end represents.
At a meeting in Eureka, Congressman Mike Thompson opposed raising taxes on persons earning more than $250,000 a year. He said he knew families earning $250,000 a year who were struggling. Of course, everyone struggles. But these are not the struggles of the mother working at McDonalds, the unemployed husband whose house is under water, the college student whose tuition is ever increasing.
We now have a government where corporations are persons and publicly financed political campaigns are unconstitutional. Even Obama's pathetic tax increases go nowhere. It has become a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. A government where the heart of a Democratic congressman bleeds for the poor family earning only a quarter million dollars a year.
Doug Ingold, Arcata
Could someone please explain to me what it is that the CEO of St. Joe's does for over $500,000 a year that someone else wouldn't do for less? Same question goes for the rest of them. I just wonder what special talent or what that they have.
Edith Smith, McKinleyville
Ryan Burns' search for our local 1 percent was interesting, but while the 1 percent / 99 percent description makes a powerful slogan, it hardly points to a literal cutoff.
For starters, as has been pointed out in many places, the more accurate description of our U.S. wealth divide is really 99.99 percent to 0.01 percent. Check out the IRS for the characteristics of the top 400 tax returns to see the more accurate division (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/08intop400.pdf).
But far more important is the true nature of the "division." I take it not to separate out 1 percent from "the rest of us," but to identify an attitude toward life and money that has badly failed us. Our society has been on a disastrous path. The people telling us this path is fine are "the 1 percent" -- a small subset of our population that has brainwashed a larger minority into thinking that the best, happiest people are the ones with the most money.
When someone is morbidly obese, we don't admire them for their ability to add still more pounds. We don't try to emulate them. But because money buys advertising and advertising is a very effective means of mind control, we've developed a politics and media that is owned by and run for the morbidly wealthy. This political system is willing to sacrifice everything -- even our children's future -- to the broken and insatiable desire of these folks for more money for themselves.
That politics must end, for the sake of all of us: the 100 percent.
Mitch Trachtenberg, Trinidad
It is Thanksgiving Day and I am feeling grateful. Gratitude being such a nourishing feeling, I have no desire to consume too much food. Instead I am compelled to speak my heart and mind.
Transformation is in the air; can you feel it?! I am speaking of transforming a world based on domination and greed to a world based on cooperation and love. The kind of world we would celebrate every day.
The definition of Utopia is: "An imagined perfect place or state of things." Well why can't we have what we can imagine? I say that it is possible. Together we will figure out what gets in the way of our living lives as most of us would prefer to live.
I long to live my life fearlessly. I should not have to be afraid of those people who claim to speak on my behalf while they destroy all that I hold dear. Are we going to believe them anymore, friends and neighbors? Theirs is not the sort of thinking that concerns itself with what benefits the next generation -- let alone the seventh generation.
Is it as obvious to you as it is to me that we must stop relying on "our leaders" to save us? Have you ever heard the word "love" come out of any of their mouths? Do you feel loved or cared for by the authorities?
No. We must take matters into our own hands. And we are. This Occupy Movement has arisen from an imperative need for change. I am in my seventh decade, and for most of my life I have hoped for what this uprising is bringing about. This is about loving ourselves, each other and Mother Earth enough to do whatever it takes to free ourselves from the rule of the heartless. We know who they are.
The Occupy Movement is the last frontier we have to save ours and many other species. Please find a way to align yourself with the Movement.
Maureen Kane, Arcata
There's a nice photograph of Jack Nounnan displaying the Declaration of Independence on page 12 of your Nov. 24 edition.
I had seen it at the courthouse Occupy Eureka encampment several times. I'm pretty sure the declaration is on display on the second floor of the courthouse, too. And I still have a copy from my school days.
Still, when I looked closely at the photo in the NCJ, I had to squint and look again. Maybe it was the attempt at a faux Olde English Script. Or maybe I was still woozy from having my head split open after being shoved to the pavement, entirely unprovoked, by an EPD officer.
It appeared to read:
"We hold these truths to be self evident," by which I think is meant -- "duh," "... that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their creditor (emph. added) with certain inalienable rights ..."
Well, a closer look helped. Critics of the Occupiers might take a closer look as well.
Roger Parshall, Arcata
Your paper has put forth much appropriate effort on this most significant development nationally and locally. I find it objective, forthcoming, appropriate and commendable. Might I offer one addition that I find significant:
These occupiers are frequently asked what they are about, why such struggles and long hours. One answer came through clear in some of their General Assemblies. In fact, the Arcata and HSU chapters put forth resolutions on it. They resolved to go on record as opposing any further use of electronic voting machines or electronic vote counting machines in any future elections.
It was the unanimous belief of these Occupy chapters that these easily invaded and controlled apparatus are a primary means by which the 1 percent has managed to gain control over the 99 percent. I found myself most encouraged and relieved to find us, the people, gaining such awareness and calling for such a much needed step.
David H. Goggin, McKinleyville