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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 9, 2009 at 3:27 PM

National politics

It’s up to you

David Sirota’s column [“New Deal gets a raw deal when conservatives rap FDR,” syndicated columnist, Jan. 5] noted that conservatives incorrectly believe that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s massive government spending, intended to end the Depression, actually lengthened it.

Sirota also noted that economist Paul Krugman believes FDR’s attempt to balance the budget from 1937-38 further impacted the economy. It did a lot more than that. It is true that the ’37-’38 recession was caused by an attempt to balance the budget, but what is left out of the column is, while FDR cut spending, he raised taxes.

Conservatives assert that, between 1934 and 1940, unemployment averaged 17.2 percent with the lowest unemployment in the 1930s being 14 percent. Liberals, noting that the unemployment figures used by conservatives do not count people working in government-relief programs, measure the unemployment rates as low as 9 percent and as high as 16 percent. Should these people be counted? You decide.

Unemployment declined when America began selling war materials to nations engaged in war, and went away completely when America joined WWII. Hopefully, President-elect Obama’s team will keep the lessons of history in mind when they develop policies to resolve the current economic crisis.

— Bill Armstrong, Port Orchard

The deep pocket-less

How ironic that the chance to witness history up close should come down to money. In “Big donations: That’s the ticket” [local news, Jan. 8], the implicit argument is that if you’re wealthy enough, you, too, can purchase a ticket to the inauguration of Barack Obama through a $50,000 donation. Yet again, the myth of equal opportunity is shattered.

I do not resent the individuals whose wealth affords them this opportunity, nor do I resent President-elect Obama because I know that his team must raise private money to make the inauguration possible. But, have we forgotten about the ordinary Americans — those without $50,000 to spare — who helped elect Obama?

I was an organizer for the Obama campaign in Boston. I worked 20 hours a week, without pay, while simultaneously attending graduate school and working part-time. In the week before Election Day, I campaigned 16 hours a day. Many others volunteered even more time. We made sacrifices because we believed — and still believe — in Obama’s vision of change.

I am traveling to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration because I want to be part of this historic event. But, I will consider myself lucky to stand outside and watch Obama on a JumboTron with the huddled masses.

— Jessie Babcock, Renton

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