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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 11, 2009 at 5:00 PM

Stimulus debate

J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press

Dawn breaks over the Capitol in Washington, D.C., where members of the House and Senate debate on the economic stimulus package.

WWII proves spending is not doomed to fail

Editor, The Times:

During the recent debate in Congress over the stimulus bill, I have been struck with how congressional Republicans, along with conservative pundits and critics, have repeatedly argued it was not the New Deal that ended the Great Depression, but the beginning of World War II.

Even though their assertion that New Deal programs had little or no positive impact on economic growth is debatable, they are quite correct in pointing out that the beginning of the war was the impetus that ultimately led to the greatest increase in production and employment, finally signaling the end of the Great Depression.

The lesson that we should draw from this example, they argue, is that any attempt by any government to spend its way out of any recession is doomed to fail.

But, what they either fail to recognize, or simply choose to ignore, is that the money used to buy and build all of the machinery and materiel used for the war itself came from the government.

Do conservatives really suppose that industry and businesses started hiring workers to make all of those bullets, rifles, tanks, jeeps, bombers, ships and uniforms without any impetus from the federal government whatsoever? Such an assertion is dubious at best.

Clearly, the war prompted the federal government to inject even more tax dollars into the private sector, the results of which led to victory.

Along with the subsequent U.S. “bailout” of war-torn Europe and Japan in the form of the Marshall Plan, direct government investment in the private economy has proved its effectiveness during times of exceptional necessity. It led to nothing less than the emergence of the U.S. economy out of depression and war, and it was the most dynamic and robust economy in the history of civilization.

— Stephen Crotts, Edmonds

Can’t afford wasting water in saving the house

David Storm in Sunday’s Northwest Voices [“Putting out the fire,” Times, Feb. 8] uses a metaphor of firefighters arguing over how to use water when fighting a house fire. He suggests the firefighters put the fire out with any means possible, even if some water is wasted in the process.

This is the most misguided and ill-informed example I have ever seen printed in The Times.

Firefighters, like our lawmakers, need to go into a fire with a well-thought-out plan of attack: a stimulus package that actually stimulates the economy, not a Democrat “wish-list.”

If not, the house is not saved (the economy goes into a real depression), the firefighters die (lawmakers lose re-election bids) or worse the whole neighborhood goes up in flames (a global depression).

What we need, as a nation, is business and citizen tax cuts allowing the U.S. to keep more of our earned income, which will encourage us to spend the money we have in the pursuit of the American dream. Anything other than a well-thought-out and implemented plan will be like firefighters peeing on an inferno, not soaking it down.

May I remind Mr. Storm about the rushed bank bailouts just a few months ago and how “wildly successful” they were.

— Nate Morse, Anacortes

Back away from the brink

Washingtonians need to contact Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., immediately, urging them to vote against the stimulus bill in its current form. National polling shows a large majority of the public opposes this unprecedented, massive spending bill and increasingly more do as they learn more about it.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports, due to the massive increase in national debt and the crushing drain on our economy that will result from servicing such debt, the economy will be better over the next decade if we do nothing versus passing the stimulus bill.

In short, Congress blew it.

President Obama ran on a platform of hope and change. Things were going to be different; the politics and practices of old, bringing us to the brink, were over.

What’s happened? Where’s the change?

Spending more than we could afford got us into this mess. How is spending more than our children can afford going to get us out? Why not just give at least 16,000 people in each state a million dollars because that’s what this bill costs.

Call our senators and urge them to vote “no” for the sake of our children and our country.

— John Clifford, Bellevue

Conservatives, don’t be heartless and insensitive

Historically, Americans have had a gross fear of central government dating back to the days of the Revolution and War of Independence.

However, we are now experiencing an economy most of us have not seen in our lifetime.

This calls for extraordinary measures.

The job of government is to help its people in time of crisis by alleviating some of the economic misery caused this time by the banking industry and the economic policies of Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton and Bush 2.

The stimulus or spending package before the Senate is the beginning of a long road to revitalize this country. The package will provide money for states to continue to fund social programs and thus prevent further hardship to its citizenry — a citizenry that has lost jobs, homes and is now struggling just to put food on the table.

To block such proposals is both heartless and insensitive. It shows that conservatives still cling to the belief that unemployment is the fault of the individual, when, in fact, most of the recent layoffs have been a direct result of banking decisions made in an unregulated financial market.

To those who believe the only role the federal government has to play in the American experience is to provide a strong military, I say: What kind of country will you be defending if your middle class is without jobs, homes and schools for their families, and all you have is a nation of broken people and broken dreams?

— Stephen Dunmore, Seattle resident living in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Topple the paper castle

Maybe our economy should collapse.

We do not reward work; we invest in debt. Every dollar is an IOU. The rich do not support the poor; the poor support the rich without getting paid.

Anonymous hands of Third World peasants or migrant workers harvest each coffee bean we grind, each grape pressed in our wine, each tomato in our soup. The poor actually make things — they make everything but money.

Investors make the money, yet manufacture nothing — nothing but debt. Banks feed on debt and love to watch it grow. And the more we owe, the richer they get. This they call productivity.

It’s time to invest in labor, pay real money for real sweat. Yet, our economic-recovery plan gives the money to banking elites in a paper castle.

So, we watch the wealth we never really had dissolve into the emptiness it always was. This crisis demands more than recovery; it demands revolution.

Replace corporations with cooperatives, dollars with energy units of real labor and the federal banking system with interlocking grids of local trade and barter, governed by bio-regional necessity, not by corporate or federal oligarchs. Vital economies are never imposed from top down. They grow from bottom up.

“Economy” comes from the Greek words “eco” and “nomos,” meaning law of the home. Our economics must begin with neighborhood entrepreneurs.

Forget Washington and Wall Street. Forget national leaders. Be neighborhood leaders. Translate global problems into local solutions.

Begin at home. You are the stimulus.

— Fred LaMotte, Steilacoom

Comments | More in Barack Obama administration, Economic stimulus bills

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