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LETTERS: How are we doing, America?

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How it’s going

Mark Weisbrot’s op-ed “Concentration of power bad for democracy” [Nov. 19] is an excellent study in irony. What historical facts, not misinformation, clearly show is that the worship of debt is bad for democracy. The Biden Administration’s “Build Back Better” package was a wonderful, feel good, generous grab bag of unpaid-for programs proposed during election season. This continues a well-honored tradition of American politics, but does not really ensure a great future for the average citizen who will pay in the long term through higher prices or unemployment brought on by recession or depression.

As to support of the bill by West Virginia citizens, it seems somehow implausible that the residents would be knowledgeable and supportive about all of the details of the “Build Back Better” bill but somehow were so knowledge-deprived that they did not support the legislation that Sen. Joe Manchin blocked. Is it possible that the citizens of West Virginia weighed the costs and benefits of the bill, looked at Uncle Sam’s current debt tab and said “no”?

Weisbrot notes that 73% of private sector workers are worried that they will not realize their Social Security benefits, but that “this is no more in the realm of the possible than it has been for the past 80 years.” But check out the Social Security Administration’s web site where the actuarial reserve depletion date is now 2035, after which payments would have to be significantly reduced. Forbes estimates the net worth of all of the U.S. citizens who are billionaires at about $4.7 trillion. Total U.S. national debt is estimated to be around $25 trillion dollars, but that doesn’t account for the present value of unfunded future promises, such as Social Security, drug benefits, federal employee retirements and benefits, and on and on. Not to mention possible upcoming “loss and damage” reparations the U.S. will owe to undeveloped nations for environmental damage. And we still want to provide tax credits to high income citizens to purchase electric vehicles.

As for making a social media site take responsibility for the actions of its users? Egad, how un-American, suggesting anyone should be responsible for anything.

It is probably true that social media will be the downfall of civilization. The ability of all citizens, including the good, the bad and the ugly to shout very, very loudly and not be recognized presents grand opportunities for abuse. It is, however, very ironic that some of the people most concerned about such use of social media by (in the words of Leona Helmsley) the “little people” are so very focused on very large, very powerful, very unfunded top-down government programs where one size must fit all.

Ever since the first human beings began to settle in agrarian communities such as Sumer, some 6,000 years ago, the human population has been governed by some combination of the good (Abraham Lincoln), the bad (Genghis Kahn) and the ugly (Adolf Hitler). The general population is often buffeted and battered by those of great ambition and arrogance. The authors of the Constitution of the United States of America attempted to create a structure where the power could never be accumulated in an all-powerful central government. How are we doing?

Charles DeVere Cook, Waco

Why The U.S. Has A Debt Ceiling, While Most Other Countries Don't: Congress recently approved raising the debt ceiling by 2.5 trillion dollars. But how exactly does the debt ceiling work and why do we have it in the first place?

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