County Commissioner Amy Lathen's opinion piece in the Jan. 28 Gazette ("Obama's principles at odds with liberty") became a tipping point for me. I'm sorry I voted for you, Amy. So sorry that I've decided to join the Democratic Party and will do everything I can to replace you in the next election.
In commenting on President Barack Obama's desire to "spread the wealth around," Lathen failed to include Obama's entire quote: "My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody. I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." When those on the bottom of the food chain have the ability to purchase goods and services, demand increases and jobs are created to fulfill that demand. Investing in people, not corporations, is our way out of this fiasco.
On the other hand, the Republicans' agenda pushes for tax cuts, using the argument that it creates more jobs. It actually results in exorbitant CEO salaries and golden parachutes, which they invest in each other's businesses instead of creating more jobs. Their sense of entitlement to feather their own nests at the expense of others' efforts to provide for their families' basic needs is appalling.
Lathen says, "He supports taking from one set of Americans to give to another set who did nothing to earn it." This elitist comment leads me to believe that she apparently doesn't think that the people who pick up her garbage, teach her children or style her hair deserve sufficient salary and benefits to retire comfortably.
What about those who don't have jobs? Last year, nearly 2.6 million jobs were lost, the highest total since the end of World War II in 1945. El Paso County's unemployment rate is now close to 7 percent. Those job losses are not because employees didn't work hard. Many are educated and highly skilled. Yet these workers are bearing the brunt of poor decisions by overpaid, prima donna CEOs. Does Lathen think those who had jobs but now do not are undeserving of unemployment compensation? Would she cut programs to the disabled who are unable to work?
In Lathen's mind, average folks don't work as hard as the CEOs who helped create our economic mess. For example, General Motors reported a $2.5 billion loss in the third quarter of 2008 and $38.7 billion in 2007. Yet the man at the helm still has his job, pulling in total compensation worth $14.4 million in 2007, unlike the thousands who lost their jobs because of his poor management.
And tell me: Just how is Bush's banking bailout free-market, since the same executives now managing the bailout money oversaw the industry's near-collapse? Is that the Republican way? Reward the incompetent? Credit unions, by the way, are doing just fine. They are owned by members, not stockholders.
The "free market" that Republicans promote is actually "anything is OK as long as you can get away with it." The past Republican administration inherited a prosperous nation, sent it toward bankruptcy and looked the other way when Bernie Madoff bilked billions from investors. Compounding that problem, capitalists don't want to behave as true capitalists, willing to accept consequences of their bad decisions along with the good ones. They want bailouts funded by taxpayers, aka socialism. If they'd played fair in the first place, we wouldn't be in this mess.
Lathen also says, "Of course we must oppose him," because these are "fundamental principles of freedom ..." and "I will never support a leader who openly chooses to further reduce and/or eliminate those liberties."
Would that include unwarranted wiretapping, spying on media, suspension of habeas corpus and torture? Do you think Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln would have condoned this behavior? I think not.
I agree with Lathen when she says supporting the president "does not mean that we blindly follow the occupants of these offices without scrutinizing their political philosophies and intentions." However, I didn't see any evidence of this from her during the Bush administration.
This country needs balance. The Democrats can't do everything for everyone and shouldn't. But the Republicans' free market must be monitored, lest those with fewer resources suffer to allow the extravagances of the greedy.
Lynne Bliss is a freelance writer and a 25-year resident of El Paso County (in Amy Lathen's District 2), and wants to see more common sense in politics.