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December 20, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Middle class, poor getting a raw deal

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Webster’s definition of a lobbyist: A person who tries to get legislators to introduce or vote for measures favorable to a special interest that he represents.

Would I be wrong to say that these special interests would have something to do with the rich people of America? Who are the lobbyists for the middle class or poor? “Oh,” you say. “They are the politicians in Washington. They represent the rich, middle class and poor.”

If that is the case, why do the rich need lobbyists? My generation worked in a form of harmony with the rich to the benefit of all.

Today the rich work in harmony with other rich; that excludes any harmony with the classes below them.

Do not look to the two-party system, made up of millionaires and people on their way to becoming millionaires as they get re-elected.

We, the middle class, are along for the ride. When the crash comes, guess who will survive the impact?

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  1. John Tominsky is one of the very few letter writers I've seen make a comment about lobbyists. Congratulations!

    Too many letter writers and too many Americans believe that either the R party or the D party are actively trying to destroy the middle class. Nonsense! Both parties are neck deep in the lobbying game and that game works like this:

    The Federal Government is huge, powerful and wealthy and it makes legislation in the Legislative branch (Congress). If a person or group wants that legislation to advantage them, they need lobbyists and they employ armies of them. Our representatives in Congress want and need to be re-elected and that takes huge sums of money... which are provided to each and every rep and both parties in direct proportion to how close they stay to doing exactly what the people and groups employing the lobbyists want.

    It is a totally corrupted system and it corrupts every member of Congress and both parties. Any other conclusion as to why we get what we get as the middle class is just wrong.

    If we want representatives who represent those with and without lobbyists, we cannot leave a system in place that requires our representatives to obtain the huge amount of money and support offered by lobbyists to have a decent chance of keeping their very lucrative and long 'career' as a 'public servant'.

    Term Limits / Public Financing of Campaigns / Lobbying Reform.

    Michael

  2. Future,

    The poor and middle class have no lobbyists. Our representatives in Congress are not so stupid as to not realize that you need to keep the masses content with 'something', while you continue to play the 'lobbyist' game to keep your lucrative, long 'career' as a 'public servant'.

    And there are huge private industries and the government itself that make huge money off of all the 'programs' for the poor and the middle class. Believe me when I tell you that these groups do have lobbyists and they use them very effectively. They lobby to benefit themselves; not the poor and middle class. They have no lobbyists.

    We should not and cannot expect our representatives to represent all of us when the only ones that have and provide what they need to be re-elected are those with lobbyists. The rest of us either sit on our hands or foolishly believe that one party or the other actually represents those of us without lobbyists.

    Michael

  3. Here are the 'cards' dealt to every member elected to Congress:

    You now have a very lucrative, powerful and potentially long 'career' as a 'public servant'. To keep it you must: do the bidding of the powerful interests with lobbyists, so you get money and support come election time. You must also create programs for the poor and middle class (paid for or not), because if these groups get pissed off and mobilized, they 'can' kick you out of office and end your career.

    If any of us were elected to Congress and dealt those cards, what would we do? We'd do exactly what our representatives do.

    If we want better results, we must change the cards these elected representatives are dealt.

    Michael

  4. Follow the money! While there are some lobbyists pursuing social, political, and environmental agendas, most seem to be protecting and enhancing economic advantages. The latter have influence disproportionate to their numbers and indifference to the wellbeing of most of us.

    The undue influence of money in our political system is the greatest threat to our freedom and our future.

  5. In truth, the schism between the rich and middle class has widened under the Presidency of Obama not diminished. That is the legacy of a progressive liberal President [like Obama] and his policies. More Americans on the dole, more are lazy and willing to live off the support of others. In fact they are by the generosity of their government encouraged to. And by so doing, the middle class get squeezed betwixt [rich and poor] and can't ascend economically.

    Carmine D

  6. I have no use for lobbyists. I rank them somewhat below ambulance chasers, politicians and most leftist organizations. However, Tominsky's rant is just another in a long list of those who practice the "politics of envy." Generally, in this country, the ones who work the hardest, take the chances and are just a bit more intelligent, rise to the top. Yes, there are those, like the Kennedy's, who got there because of inherited wealth, but they are in the minority. If those, green with envy, had spent their time on fruitful pursuits, they, too, could have risen to the top instead of being mired in the bottom.

  7. CarmineD - "In truth, the schism between the rich and middle class has widened under the Presidency of Obama not diminished. That is the legacy of a progressive liberal President [like Obama] and his policies."

    Bull crap! The middle class has been taking a beating for more than 35 years, with Reagan accelerating the process by firing air traffic controllers. It's now at a peak because of policies set many years ago under a "phantom trickle down" design. When under Reagan 3,000 savings and loans collapsed, the market crashed in 1987, and it wasn't the wealthy who lost their savings. The crash of 2008 lost 401k plans and investments made by the working class, not the fat cats. Even now those on Wall St. suck rates out of normal investors 401k plans and pocket that cash leaving far less for the average investor. "Too big to fail" is bigger than "too big to fail" and 93% of finances gained through this recovery went to the top 1%.

    Lobbyists go to Washington to distort, bend or twist congressional votes on health care for profit, banking, big oil and coal, tobacco industry, the pharmaceutical industry, gun manufacturers, outsourcing American jobs, etc., etc., etc. I'm always reminded of John Boehner handing out lobbyists checks on the floor of the House after a vote in favor of the tobacco industry.

    Working and middle class people can only represent themselves through a vote and most will vote against their own best interests because they are ignorant of the facts.

  8. El_Lobo - "The demise of America's middle class continues and it's only a matter of time until we no longer have a middle class....." "Once the middle class is gone, we will no longer have a democracy..."

    El_Lobo have you ever watched the 1927 silent film Metropolis? That is exactly where we are headed. The wealthiest living in ivory towers (they already live in secluded encampments) and the rest of us shoveling fuel into boilers to provide power.

    Hey Future? Did Planned Parenthood exist before the coming of the antichrist Obama? You are stuck on another one of your delusional tirades.

  9. "Bull crap! The middle class has been taking a beating for more than 35 years,"

    ...And entitlement minded Americans living on the dole have increased during this time, exponentially. Resulting in large part in the middle class squeezed betwixt [rich and poor] and not rising but falling.

    Carmine D

  10. I agree with the letter writer and with Michael Casler's comments.
    Although I can also agree with Mr. Freeman and Mr. Fink that the well off became that way by hard work, both gentlemen appear to blame the poor for being so.
    In my opinion what is lacking in the rich and powerful (and I include in this group all politicians) is a genuine empathy for the less fortunate, and therefore a lack of any desire to share the wealth.
    Corporations have perfected this selfish point of view, striving only to maximize shareholder value, which is as far as I'm concerned just code for making the rich even richer.
    I was a lawyer here in Canada for decades, and over the past 25 years I watched my legal profession get corrupted as lawyers mimicked corporations and began putting their own interests ahead of their clients as the lawyers got on the bandwagon of maximizing profits and became billable hour freaks.
    I don't much like the way society in both of our countries has evolved, but I do criticize America for pushing the envelope on financial inequality. Wealth is being accumulated in the hands of fewer and fewer and that reduces the possibility of creating a just and caring society.
    America has always been years ahead of Canada in trying out new ideas. Unfortunately this current experiment of yours to eradicate the poor and middle class is one of your most destructive experiments.

    Donald W. Desaulniers

  11. CarmineD - "And entitlement minded Americans living on the dole have increased during this time, exponentially."

    That is exactly what happens when you don't pay a fair wage for hard working people. For example the majority of Walmart workers apply for food stamps because they don't make enough to feed their families properly. There are people working full time in large cities like NYC earning less than $20,000 annually. How are they to live on that salary without help from the government? All across this country there are people being paid at mininum wage who can't afford health care or other forms of insurance. Texas harps on how great they are doing but their workforce is unskilled low wage and well over a third of their residents have zero health insurance.

    Since Reagan Republicans controlled the White House for 20 years versus 12 years for Democrats and Congress is about a 50/50 split. There is no evidence that Democrats caused our financial problems. Government spending has exploded under Republican control.

  12. John, you might consider that the middle class has been playing games. They lobby for more money for K-12 and higher ed thinking the "rich" will pay but it turns out that the middle class HAS TO fund the same benefits for the hordes of illegals and career-indigents / refuse-to-work-parents. The middle class has lobbied so effectively that college tuition debt is second only to home mortgage debt. And, the likelihood of a college grad with $35K or much more in student loan debt is NOT going to have a good credit rating, not going to run out and buy a starter home, a new vehicle, consumer goods. So instead of a free market we have a stilted market where low to moderate income kids pay for the promise that higher education will ensure them high-paying careers. AND we now have this tradition of tax-funded colleges for everyone who doesn't need them. Why should a WORKING class adult pay more taxes for you or your kids to go to college? Why should anyone? The hype and promises have fallen flat and into a sinkhole of the misrepresentations of K-12 and higher ed pundits who sell and sell that an "educated workforce" brings prosperity for all.

  13. Donald,

    I believe it to be a myth that there are groups in America that 'seek' the destruction of the middle class and the poor.

    Instead, what has evolved here is a governing system where members of our legislative branch cannot be re-elected and keep their lucrative 'career' as 'public servants' going without doing the bidding of wealthy and powerful interests with lobbyists in exchange for the cash and support they need at election time.

    These wealthy and powerful individuals and groups have little interest in destroying the middle class or the poor. Their sole interest is protecting what they have and advantaging themselves. Unfortunately, as our legislators do what they must to further their careers, the end result is a transfer of wealth from the middle class and poor to the wealthy and powerful, thus eroding the middle class. Both our major parties are neck deep in this system.

    We have to change the system so that 'public service' cannot be a lucrative long term 'career' and even more important, we must provide a way for people to run for office, be elected and possibly be re-elected that does not make them 'depend' on the money and support from powerful interests with lobbyists.

    Making any such changes will run up against the argument that such changes infringe on freedom of speech... and they do. That admitted, if we do not make the required changes, the middle class will continue to shrink, not because people or groups specifically want it to, but because our system, as now operated, results in a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the rich and powerful.

    Michael

  14. Vernos: a fair wage is what the market says it is. Again, let's go back to the British Industrial Revolution--sweat shops were a vast IMPROVEMENT in the lives of the workers--even though working conditions were sometimes fatal and usually difficult. The peasants that became workers were no longer STARVING IN THE FIELDS. Sure you can look for and find things that could be improved but that's an infinite process. The thing to do is look at ways to INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY so wages can go up in parallel. Have you not heard? Businesses are more profitable now that they've cleaned house of the less-productive (former) employees. Sure a lot of productive employees are gone too but the net result (whether I like it or not) is higher net income. Continuing to increase the DRAG ON PRODUCTIVITY by taxing the life out of everyone and every business is dragging down what's left of the economy. TURN IT AROUND by reversing the inclination to give it away. Insist that anyone and everyone, whether on assistance or not, be productive.

  15. My only thought is that it is sad that Michael believes: "If any of us were elected to Congress and dealt those cards, what would we do? We'd do exactly what our representatives do." I still prefer to think that there are people who would not do that, although I suspect that not many of them would ever venture into politics or get very far if they did. But too many politicians do trade what is right for what it takes to stay in office. Maybe the think that somehow they will make up for it over time, but when you have to sell yourself every election cycle, you just cannot. And since the poor and middle class have the votes to bounce them every time and do not, they seem to be good at selling them on the idea that they are the better (or least bad) choice. But if people actually paid a little more attention to what politicians were doing and how it impacted them, it would make a huge difference.

    How do term limits help? Does knowing that you only have six or eight years in Congress mean that you will focus on doing your job or does it mean that you will work harder to score points with the big interests that will hire you when you leave? Some have argued that in places like California that have term limits, it only pushes members to score more quickly for themselves since they know that their time is limited. And then when you leave you can take that job with the special interest whose interests you helped.

    It would be great to see someone truly define what is meant by 'public finance' for elections. It ends up sounding like we are going to give control over the money to the same people who we believe to be causing us problems. Perhaps there is a way that it can work, but it seems like it could be more trouble than the current system. And there are studies that show that money, in and of itself, is not a clear determinant of victory. Part of this is that money tends to flow to people who are expected to win, possibly to curry favor. Incumbents have an advantage to begin with and so it helps if the challenger can use money to help overcome that.

    Lobbying definitely seems to be in need of some sort of reform. There too it would be interesting to see proposals for how to do it. With any changes, they take legislation and it is hard to imagine them doing anything that would hurt the interests that support them. They could not even stand by the relatively weak insider trading legislation they passed, so who knows how this would get done.

  16. One thing that probably helps is smaller government. If the government is doing fewer things, it is easier to tell if it is doing them well and doing what we want. Like when Steve Jobs came back to Apple in 1997, one thing he did was cut the number of products that they were making so that they could focus on making fewer products better. His thought was that it was better to make 10 products well then 100 products mediocre. But in government we often seem to reward failure since it is often argued that we just needed to spend more to succeed. And so it grows.

  17. "VernosB replied - "That is exactly what happens when you don't pay a fair wage for hard working people. For example the majority of Walmart workers apply for food stamps because they don't make enough to feed their families properly."

    As do the majority of married military and government civilians at entry level. What is key to Wal*Mart is that while the entry wage is low, 70-80 percent of the Wal*Mart managers and executives come up through the ranks. The low wage is temporary. The same can be said of the entry level military and government civilians. The majority, if they make the government a career, will advance through the grades and ranks and pay.

    Carmine D

  18. William,

    I don't like to believe what I believe but unfortunately, there are examples of what happens everywhere and very few exceptions.

    As for public financing... that is unlikely because it would restrict freedom of expression (speech). In order to be effective, no other money except the public finance money could be used fund campaigns. Media, using the public communication channels would have to be required to provide a 'set' and 'equal' amount of time to each candidate with no more allowed than the set amount. Public money would also be allocated equally.

    If all that could be done, lobbyists would still offer positions after people left office as bait and that would have to be restricted as well. This would be a huge undertaking and would be fought tooth and nail by: Freedom of Speech activists, powerful interests that use lobbyists, lobbyists themselves and the representatives we elect... because the system in place works very well for most of them.

    I don't expect to see term limits or public financing, but I find it amazing that more Americans do not see how corrupted this system is, how neither major party is immune and how its continuance year after year facilitates the concentration of wealth and power to fewer and fewer people, which damages our middle class and the country as a whole.

    Both major parties do a great job of ignoring the cesspool they operate in and worse, are able to convince about 90 % of Americans that pay any attention that all the problems are caused by the 'other' party, which should laughable to most Americans.... but instead is taken as an article of faith.

    It's sad and it's scary.

    Michael

  19. Have all the Unions stopped lobbying members of Congress?? I must have missed something.

  20. Peter,

    Of course Unions, as well as other powerful business interests and other interest groups of all types lobby Congress. That's the problem.

    Michael

  21. Jeff,

    Good comment regarding media ownership but this can be applied throughout our entire country in just about every area. Entities are too big and too concentrated and that includes both business and the government. Entities that large are unaccountable, too big to fail, can be run horribly and stay in business, can treat employees poorly, can provide bad service or a bad produce and get away with it, can keep other from entering the market and destroy smaller players that succeed, etc.

    But I say again... the reason this has been allowed to happen is because our elected representatives are held hostage by powerful interests with lobbyists that offer money and support in exchange for legislation that advantages them.

    We can all see the results clearly but the cause remains murky to many of us.

    Michael

  22. Roslenda - "let's go back to the British Industrial Revolution--sweat shops were a vast IMPROVEMENT in the lives of the workers--even though working conditions were sometimes fatal and usually difficult."

    And even then there was no middle class, it didn't exist. The middle class came into being at the end of WWII. Especially in this country due to union membership, which was almost 40% in the private sector.

  23. "Of course Unions, as well as other powerful business interests and other interest groups of all types lobby Congress. That's the problem."

    Michael,

    If unions were successful at lobbying, why are they losing the battle and the working class is being beat down? They are losing because contrare to popular belief they can't financially compete with BIG BUSINESS. In a country which had almost 40% union membership, the private sector is now under 7%.

    You people are missing a huge part of this scenario. In the 1920's we had a problem with financial disparity. The wealthy held the wealth of the country in their hands and gambled at their hearts desire on Wall St. Boom! The wealthy became so indifferent and greedy they killed the market causing the Great Depression. We are again at that moment. The wealthy who are getting billions in subsidies are gambling away, setting new records on Wall St. When they gamble our economy away who in hell will end up paying for their greed? As noted by a previous poster, capitalism can be defined as: privatizing profits but socializing loses.

  24. Vernos,

    That's a much too simplistic view. For one thing, the areas where Unions were the strongest was manufacturing, much of which is now done outside the US. Why? Unions negotiated high salaries, and benefits and foolish work rules in many cases, so when the poorer parts of the world were finally able to offer to do what was done here, but substantially less expensively, our manufacturing could not compete and was ended up overseas. Unions and their jobs were lost.

    You completely ignore the fact that public sector (government Unions) are thriving, are extremely powerful and do lobby quite successfully.

    What actually killed the Unions that you and others long for was technology and the global economy. When union shops just competed against non union shops here in the US, their model of high wages, high benefits and work rules that added costs to goods was a model that could survive and flourish, because most people in this country, union or not, would not work for very low wages and benefits. When competition was opened up globally and the competition included people who would work for low wages and benefits, Unions needed to change and they refused, somewhat understandably. Result? What we see today. Unions morphed into the public sector, where there is no competition.

    No conspiracy killed private sector unions. What killed them was technology, 2nd and 3rd world competition, business looking to lower costs and maximize profits and an American public who wanted and was willing to buy cheap goods and services and reap of benefits of increased shareholder value.

    I saw the enemy and realized that the enemy is me.

    Michael

  25. "If you want to see the residue of this horror, read the daily rants of Future and CDF."

    Most especially over the last 8 months about Benghazi, Libya.

    CDF