Swans Commentary: Letters to the Editor - letter216



Letters to the Editor

(May 23, 2011)


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Strange Planet: Gilles d'Aymery's Blips #110

To the Editor:

It seems, at least to this reader, that the author thinks that putting more burdens on the taxpayers will solve our spending spree. He is, of course, entitled to his opinion. The means to increase revenues, however, is to grow the economy. On the spending side let's return to an era of personal responsibility: privatize Medicare and public education, reduce Social Security benefits (but for the most indigent), cut the defense budget by one-third, and get rid of all subsidies.

The reality draws a very different picture. The economy is not growing and the country is broke. How long will it take for the author to face that reality? Finally, it can be argued that the documents he uses to make his case show his own "confirmatory bias."


Darrell Johnson
Tempe, Arizona, USA - May 12, 2011


Strange Planet, Indeed: Gilles d'Aymery's Blips From the Martian Desk

Dear Sir,

Blips #110 of Gilles d'Aymery in Swans May 9th reminded me of another Frenchman, Montesquieu, author of the Persian Letters (Lettres persanes) of 1721. Far-fetched? Maybe. I'm thinking of Aymery's pose as a Martian visitor to our strange planet. Montesquieu follows two Persians visiting France and being struck by realities that the natives fail to see, blinded as they are by accepted ideas.

Aymery notes that most of the population goes along with the notion that corporate America is overtaxed and has its very existence threatened by a tax bill that grows every year. He then shows clearly that the opposite is true. Corporate tax is lower than in most of the 34 countries of the OECD and corporations are paying less every year. Indeed they are even paying less than they did in the 1950s, and today they enjoy additional loopholes. Moreover, their existence isn't under threat. Their greater-than-ever profits continue to entrench them.

In this instance and so many others, the man-in-the-street has been blinded by the miasma of conventional wisdom. Plain folks can't seem to grasp the plain facts that determine their lives. In Blips #109 of April 25th, Aymery refers to Michael Yates's Ten Years on the Road. Yates recalls the bright outlook of his youth and how, "Today the good times are all gone." And so, alas, is American exceptionalism. But that's something our man-in-the-street, hard as his life has become, isn't ready to admit. It's like his belief that those corporations are overtaxed. Will he ever achieve a Persian or Martian view of his own condition? It seems not. But some, like Bill Bryson, have managed to do so:
When you grow up in middle America you are inculcated from the earliest age with the belief -- no, the understanding -- that America is the richest and most powerful nation on earth because God likes us best. It has the most perfect form of government, the most exciting sporting events, the tastiest food and amplest portions, the largest cars, the cheapest gasoline, the most abundant natural resources, the most productive farms, the most devastating nuclear arsenal, and the friendliest, most decent and most patriotic folks on Earth. Countries just don't come any better. So why anyone would want to live anywhere else is practically incomprehensible. In a foreigner it is puzzling; in a native it is seditious. I used to feel this way myself. The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America, Page 270-1.

Peter Byrne
Lecce, Italy - May 18, 2011


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Published May 23, 2011
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