Our letters section and your opportunity to weigh in and be heard. Send us your thoughts and profundities. You can contact us here.

The Newest Deal

Dear Editors,

Recently, a revisionist meme has sprung up in the local pundit community claiming that FDR-era New Deal programs not only did not lift America out of the great depression, but actually prolonged it, or even made it worse. Of all the silliness being thrown against Obama’s wall, this one wins the cupie for being at the same time most obviously wrong and most predictably asserted. 

The Great Depression ran from 1929-1941-ish in the U.S., and President Franklin Roosevelt was in office for most of it. FDR instituted a series of big spending “stimulus” programs in order to revive the economy. The programs were collectively known as the New Deal. Hence, the logic goes, if the New Deal was a dud, so is Obama’s “new” New Deal.

Problem is that the New Deal actually worked pretty well. Economic figures vary depending on source, but most more or less they agree that New Deal programs had a tremendous positive effect on employment, the GDP, manufacturing, and private investment, returning levels either close to or surpassing pre-crash numbers by 1941, when the U.S. entered WWII. The war definitely put a cherry on the recovery, and powered the launch of the economic juggernaut the U.S. would become, but it was not the Depression-buster some have anointed it. 

If there was any need to further kick the coffin lid down on this one, we could inspect the mini-recession of 1937. From 1933-36, Roosevelt was full speed ahead on stimulus programs, and the economy responded dramatically to the positive. Then, FDR began to listen to some of his more partisan advisors, and slashed stimulus spending. The economy tanked once more. As soon as he reversed course and instituted new spending, hey presto, the economy shot up again. That there’s a direct cause-and-effect thingy. But don’t take it from me. That economist guy Krugman said it, and he got a Noble for knowing about such things.

Lastly, we could ask some experts in economics and history. A 1995 survey from Economic History Services asked, “Taken as a whole, government polices of the New Deal served to lengthen and deepen the Great Depression.” Twenty seven percent of economist surveyed agreed, and 51 percent said, “You be smoking something.” The economic historian response was even more revealing: only 6 percent agreed. Seventy-four percent began gravesite pre-rolling in anticipation of being offed by revisionist questioning, and the remaining 20 percent fence-sat themselves into irrelevancy.

So where does this rather noxiously perennial claim of a market-busting, capitalism-tanking, red-loving FDR come from? Well, strangely enough, from the hard right, who have never really gotten over the fact that spending money on poor people and infrastructure actually makes the country work better. Specifically, a 2007 book by Amity Shlaes, a few university professors (I thought those guys were all liberal kool-aid drinkers. Who knew?), assorted economists, and that great bastion of fair balancing, Fox News, are the key offenders.

Fox needs no real debunking because they got their info from the other sources I mentioned. Shlaes’ book, the professors, and most of the other economists’ gripes are founded on cherry-picked statistics and have been thoroughly discredited on those grounds. As much as I hate to lay down a big old url, if you want more detail on this, go see www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2008125224/fox-news-historians-pretty-much-agree-fdr-prolonged-great-depression. There, you will satisfy your every wonkish desire.

Opportunistic revisionism like this oozes out of think tanks from both sides of the aisle on a regular schedule, depending on who’s in power. That said, the current spate of rewrites, led mostly by the angry teabag fringe, is particularly damaging to the GOP.

Debating the justification for spanking Bill Clinton is one thing, but balls-out nonsense, such as slinging mud at settled history from 80 years ago, or Bill O’Reilly’s recent claim that Nixon never met Mao Zedong, (they were photographed shaking hands, and yes, ol’ Tricky was smiling), is just further proof that the GOP is allowing radicals to dictate their policy. That’s not good. Principled opposition is key to a healthy democracy, and ideological revisionism of documented facts is the political equivalent of swine flu. Fortunately the vaccine is available: it’s called a history book. 

– Shan Wells, Durango 

Making ends meet in Durango

Dear Editors,

What is going on in Durango, Colo.? Where does this community get off paying the nominal to ridiculously low wages for their employees and then charging upwards of $300,000 to $400,000 to purchase a home, and even more in the “elite” areas of town? Seriously, community, what is going on? Is this a town so driven by greed that it will only allow outsiders to advance through continued high prices and gouging of employees by paying ridiculously low rates of employment?

Does anyone else in this town think that the prices of homes are ridiculous? The wages are frugal? A family can not flourish financially in this town, not due to the current economical status but due to the fact that business owners refuse to pay wages that are appropriate for the status quo in Durango. So, is Durango saying to its own people, “Go elsewhere if you expect to survive?” It seems so to me.

I am not an outsider with money, just someone who loved Durango and made the choice to move here with my family. I am now disgusted with the prices that this community has decided its homes are worth and what the community thinks their employees are worth; this is definitely unfortunately tainting my view of Durango. I look in the newspaper for homes and just feel sickened. I look in the newspaper for jobs and feel just despair. I still love the scenery and many of the people that live here. Tell me, though, how does a family make it successfully in a community that seems to value property over people.

Tell me how does a family justify spending a small fortune a month on rent or mortgage when they may only be making barely enough to get through each month’s bills? How do their children flourish when the status quo is so high? How do their lives progress when the wages are so low? What I have found for my family to flourish and progress is God. Believe it or not, that is your choice.

I am a woman with a simple yet determined and deep mind that chooses not to give up. I do believe what I have written here and know that Durango doesn’t seem to value its employees/people and seems to over value their homes. I know now that God has provided me and my family with some grand resources and the ability to see the gifts that are given and know when and where the right times to give and receive are as well as many, many miracles; I personally, have not shown my thanks to God as well as I should have over the years and instead put a majority of my faith in money and people around me and for that, I would like to apologize to God.

I would hope that this simple letter will not offend anyone, yet, help to open some eyes and ears and hearts and minds that may or may not have already been thinking the same thing and they will reach out to all the people that are around you in need, despair, confusion; and even those who have smiles on their faces and are happy, instead of looking into the eyes of happiness and feeling jealousy, sadness, please accept the happiness, smiles, love that they are offering you.

– Thank you for reading, Jennifer Prevost, Durango

One honey bee at a time

Dear Editors,

You can save the world. But you don’t have to put it on your shoulders. How on Earth can I save the Earth without another day in the week you might ask? By serving those who serve. I’m talking about the honey bees that are largely responsible for the seductive selection of colorful produce at the farmers market. In fact, one third of every bite we eat is somehow related to honey bee pollination. And those irresistible blossoms that are currently intoxicating all Durangatangs: each one has to be pollinated by a honey bee or some other pollinator to become apples, plums and apricots in fall.

What the bees need is a pesticide-free environment to work in. Colony Collapse Disorder has been running rampant in the whole world causing bee keepers everywhere to lose hundreds of thousands of bees, and now our dietary needs as well as those of every creature on Earth are threatened. Just about every food source needs to be pollinated, or no fruit or seed will come from the plant. Scientists have examined hundreds of pollen samples which indicated that almost all had traces of pesticides and some contained 17 different pesticides or herbicides. This means that the honey the bees make and feed to their babies likely has disease-causing agents. They are leaving in search of a pesticide-free environment.

Implications for humans are huge! It doesn’t take a scientist to tell us that these herbicides damage our nervous and immune systems, but scientists do, like in a study where a pesticide community and community up valley free of pesticides were examined. The children in the community that was not sprayed were able to easily perform tasks like catching balls and drawing distinguishable pictures of human beings, whereas the kids from the pesticide community had great difficulties. Also it doesn’t take scientists to tell us that our personal use of these toxins run to the ocean, creating dead zones (zones unsuitable for aquatic life) the size of Texas every year, but they do. Let’s make it a community faux pas to damage the lifeline of future generations by peacefully voicing to our beloved neighbors our preference for a cleaner environment and a harmonious coexistence with the useful and often edible weeds that we spray with toxins. It may not get through to all of our neighbors, but our children will hear this wisdom, and it will stick with them. Let’s celebrate these gifts that are put here year after year for a reason. Tear out your lawn, plant a garden, keep bees, yell to your neighbor “nice dandelions” and smile, and learn more at the Dandelion Festival this Saturday at Rotary Park from 1 - 9 p.m.

– Sage Peterson, Durango

Shotgun economics?

To the Editors:

The Obama Administration is throwing many hundreds of billions of dollars at a multitude of programs, hoping for economic success. It appears the thrust of the policies encompass Rahm Emanuel’s philosophy of “not letting a crisis go to waste.”

Instead of concentrating on creating jobs to spark the economy, President Obama’s proposed budget is diluting our limited resources. It includes a prospective national health care system ($634 billion), promoting alternative energy sources, and making college more available to low-income students. Alternative energy is important and it will create jobs, and other programs might be worthwhile over the long term in a burgeoning economy, but they pose a drain on us in the current recession. The $3.6 trillion budget will provide a deficit of $1.75 trillion in FY 2010 and annual deficits of $1 trillion for many years to come, and our national debt will go from $11 trillion to $23 trillion by 2019.

There are somewhere around 8,000 pork barrel earmarks in the proposed budget worth an estimated $8 billion. They include $2.1 million for the Center for Grape Genetics in New York, $1.7 million for a honey bee factory in Texas, $1.7 million for Mormon cricket control in Utah, $819,000 for catfish genetics research in Alabama, $650,000 for beaver management in North Carolina and Mississippi, $2 million for astronomy studies in Hawaii, $167,000 for the Autry National Center in California, $238,000 for the Polynesian Voyager Society in Hawaii, $200,000 for tattoo removal to help gang members forget their past, and $209,000 to improve blueberry production in Georgia. These earmarks should be axed. It looks like and smells like the same pork barrel politics of prior administrations, except the weight of the thundering elephants has been replaced with the misguided socialistic wanderings of the donkeys.

President Obama plans on paying for half the health-care costs from increased taxes on families earning more than $250,000 per year, and these families will see a significant decrease in allowable itemized tax deductions for charitable contributions and mortgage interest. These actions will depress charitable contributions during a time of great need and will hurt the housing market. The programs are a means of redistributing money from more successful families to the less successful, which runs counter to our free enterprise system. They should not be implemented.

The Administration has to cease exploiting our economic fears, including the media campaign to the American people, which is designed to enable it to implement very expensive domestic social programs. Long-term social programs should be debated after the turnaround of our economy.

– Donald A. Moskowitz, via e-mail 

Dennis Pierce chimes in

Dear Eds,

Memo to Sue Kuhn: I’m a very happy person! The fact that theTelegraph prints my letters warning of the march to socialism by this administration says a lot for publishers Will Sands’ and Missy Votel’s integrity.  I’m old, on Social Security and Medicare (just wait until you get single-payer government medical insurance) and I’m very concerned about the $30,000 + of debt that every child coming into the world this year will inherit due to the tax, spend and borrow policies of this administration.

Again, if you’re going to drink the Kool-aid, put a little spiced rum in it and it will help you ignore the realities of creeping socialism.

– Dennis Pierce, Durango

Illegal deliveries

To the Editors,

The U.S. Postal Service appears to have “jumped on the bandwagon.” It’s difficult to believe, as reported in the news, that USPS CEOs have been buying up very expensive houses from some of their special employees who wish to transfer to other areas, taking huge losses on same. Of course, it follows that postal rates may go up once again and deliveries may be curtailed. The audacity of those who believe that “we the people” will allow such illegal, unethical and irrelevant practices to continue must have their heads in the clouds, or sand.

Yes, it is once again time for all of us to contact our government representatives to put a stop to this type of theft (it’s a numbers game).

The pen is mighty!

– Evelyn Stacer, Mancos