Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Open letter to MoveOn.Org

Playing on the iPod: David Sylvian, something from "Brilliant Trees"
Meters swum today: None. 1650 yesterday though.

Letter from Noah Winer of MoveOn.Org follows:

Dear MoveOn member,

President Obama has a plan to create or save 3 million jobs. But did you hear what Rush Limbaugh said? "I hope he fails." Limbaugh might just get his way: he already helped convince every single House Republican to vote against the bill. Now his listeners are calling Congress to oppose the stimulus plan, and senators are mostly hearing from folks who oppose Obama's plan. The calls are scaring swing-vote senators—even Senate Democrats are saying they may oppose the stimulus.

The vote is expected any day. We've got to turn the tide quickly. Can you call and ask Senators Kay Hutchison and John Cornyn to support President Obama's economic stimulus plan?

Senator Kay Hutchison
Phone: 202-224-5922

Senator John Cornyn
Phone: 202-224-2934

Obama's stimulus plan will help real people, not the Wall Street banks. It's not perfect, but it's targeted on stimulating the economy immediately and investing wisely in long-term growth:
Millions of green jobs to double our clean energy production in three years.
Affordable health care for the unemployed...

Rush Limbaugh and other right-wingers don't think the government should help people survive tough economic times. And they don't want Obama to gain momentum for other progressive goals, like ending the war and making sure everyone gets health care. Please call and ask Senators Kay Hutchison and John Cornyn to support President Obama's economic stimulus plan.

–Noah, Ilyse, Matt, Tanya and the rest of the team

P.S. You can read the complete legislative text of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 at:

Want to support our work? We're entirely funded by our 5 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in here.

Jen here:

Dear Mr. Winer (that's an unfortunate name, by the way, have you ever thought of changing it?):

I wouldn't worry about Rush Limbaugh. There are always idiots like him ready to slam things he knows nothing about. But I personally have a real problem with the stimulus package, in general as well as How It Stands. I'm not so sure bailing out the banks is such a good idea, for one thing. We've already dumped $125 billion in aid into four of the largest banks and today they're worth $437 billion less than they were before they got the money. Second, I'm all for anything that'll help working families, especially the COBRA assistance which is something we should have done years ago, but where is this money coming from? We're borrowing against assets that may or may not materialize. If they don't, we'll be in much worse shape than we would be if we just let things lie.

Recent stats show that the savings rate in the U.S. is finally increasing (it was -2% last year) and that a lot of people are taking a hard look at how they're spending their money. I sure am, and I can live without quite a bit. Naturally, if people are spending less, the economy will not improve - but THAT JUST MAY BE THE WAY IT HAS TO BE FOR A WHILE. If we're going to stop pillaging the planet's resources, slow down global warming and avert the next big oil crisis, we will need to get away from this idea that a continuously growing economy is a necessary thing. Does this suck in a number of ways? Yes, but these are the decisions we should have been making in 1946, when WWII ended, instead of leaping headfirst into the arms race and suburbia and the culture of the car and the era of conspicuous consumption that got us into the mess we're in now.

Statistic: The United States consumes 25% of the resources produced by the entire planet, every year. Statistic: The United States has less than 5% of the world's total population. THIS IS NOT A SUSTAINABLE SYSTEM. There's a whole rest of the world out there (thank God President Obama has figured this out) and everything we do is going to affect all 6.3 billion of our fellow citizens. We can make responsible spending decisions now, or we can get a shovel and dig ourselves in even deeper.

Hey, countries go bankrupt. It's happened to several Latin American states. California, which would have the world's eighth largest economy if it were its own country, is teetering on the brink right now. Which is worse, bankruptcy or mass starvation? Bankruptcy or a vast increase in the flood of illegal aliens crossing our borders because things are better here at the expense of almost everywhere else? Bankruptcy or a surge in terrorism directed against the West, caused by lots of 18 to 25 year old men who can't get married and start families because they can't get decent jobs or purchase workable land? (Here's a cure for terrorism: Wives. Trust me, you don't blow yourself up near as fast if you have six kids at home to feed. El Al figured this out years ago.)

But look: We don't have to go bankrupt. We can, instead, choose to stop spend money we don't have on stuff we don't need. Therefore I suggest, and will suggest to my congresspersons, that we do the following immediately:

  • Close all our foreign military bases. I guess we can leave the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan for a while longer, but Germany, Japan and everybody else will probably be happy to see us go. It'll get a little crazy out there for a while but it'll settle down.
  • Quit making weapons of mass destruction. We can already kill every living thing on the planet some ridiculous number of times - we don't need any more nukes.
  • Quit funding any and all R&D for weapons of any kind. We're okay for things that kill people. We can always go back to making smarter bombs in a few years, if we still need to.
  • Make friends with Iran. They could be a powerful ally in the Middle East, and they're a natural trading partner with Iraq. (I'fact, Iran and Iraq used to be one country.) If Iran quits being the enemy, we won't need most of our foreign troops (see above). I bet if we apologized for the 1953 coup and the 1970s thing with the Shah, they'd come around.
  • Raise the tax on gasoline until it costs at least $4 a gallon, then adjust it accordingly to keep it at that rate. Last summer proved that when gas gets expensive, people drive less. Less driving, less pollution; less oil is required; less wear and tear on damaged roads and bridges. Besides, its' a good source of revenue.
  • As long as we're taxing stuff, tax the hell out of cigarettes and alcohol. They do it in Canada and it pays for most of their health system. A beer will run you about eight bucks at a bar in British Columbia. What's wrong with that? Besides, these are optional products. You don't wanna pay the tax, you can choose not to drink or smoke.
  • Legalize marijuana, too. We could also tax hell out of that, put a lot of criminals out of work and save big bucks in law enforcement.
  • That's about all I've got right now. And I will contact my congressional reps, but I'm not gonna tell em what you told me to tell em. But thanks for writing anyway. Cheers!


Junkill said...

viz, taxing the hell out of alcohol. Hey, don't you not drink? Let's tax something YOU like instead.

(sticks out tongue)

Jen Ster said...

Yeah, let's tax butter toffee!! :)

Actually my aunt thought that was a good idea too - tax anything cream-filled, made by Hostess, or otherwise lacking in any nutritional quality apart from fat and calories. I could get behind that. I wouldn't like it, but I could get behind it.