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Stewart Dean

In this vein, I wrote the letter below to my offspring, daughter (42) and son (29). I entitled it Some words to my children about governance and commonweal. It is an expression of how I see that....and an attempt to put my oar in about things that were much clearer in my salad days, perhaps because the times were less desperate.


Government that isn't tyranny is founded on myth. To put it another way, governance is a dream, a vision...and one that we all shape, some tugging it one way, some another, some trying to smash it to bits.

In the depths of the Depression, virtually everyone had come to the end of their rope. My myth/belief says that at that searing time of universal vulnerability, FDR tried a whole bunch of stuff (he wasn't an ideologue, rather he tried stuff and if it didn't work, he tried different stuff) and created the New Deal which included Social Security and eventually expanded to include Medicare. In that particular part of the New Deal, money would be set aside to provide widows, orphans and the elderly a safety net. There was nothing before. It had become clear then that unless the country pulled together, people were going to drown in droves as the ship went down. Fear stalked America then, and people listened riveted to FDR's Fireside Chats about what he was doing to fix it, about the fights he had with the Right to do it, and in one speech, he made it simple: "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself." So the country financed its own recovery, building infrastructure, and later in fighting WWII.

When FDR died, his train went from Georgia to Washington...and people lined up five and ten deep along the tracks to mourn his passing. That was the New Deal and its successor Liberalism that the Right has been demonizing (one man's dream is another's heresy) all these years and is now closing in on killing. Not because America wants it killed, but because there's been a steady drumbeat of fear and bigotry from the Right scaring people, and because the Right has gerrymandered (rigged) the voting districts to assure a GOP Congress. Trump talks about his landslide victory and mandate, but that bullshit: though he won the electoral vote (we are the only democracy in the world with the electoral system, a hangover from the early days of this country), he lost the popular majority vote by 2.5 million to Hillary .

And there are other little dirty secrets:

there are far more white people on welfare than black...but it's always castigated as being the free ride of immoral layabout Others.
we didn't have a second great depression because of the New Deal safeguards put in place
that things were as bad as they were and are can partially be blamed on safeguards that have been dismantled by the Right
President Obama had to fight tooth and nail with the Right to do the things that made economic recovery possible.

Aaron said to me in passing that he's finds it onerous that over 25% of his pay check goes to the government.

I further know that many of your generation don't think that Medicare and Social Security will be around for them, so why contribute to it and support it?

The problem is that we all swim in a sea of benefits we've come to take for granted, like the air we breathe. In the work I used to do, if I did my job really right, nobody knew I'd done anything. So it is that if government does its job well, we take that for granted, bitching about the things we dislike and hardly being conscious at all (or much appreciative) of the benefits.

It's selfish of me, I know to be worried about SS and MC....but you see, when I was your age I paid into because it provided dignity and a safety net for the vulnerable. I believed in that dream...and now that it's my turn at that end, the GOP and Trump are after destroying that...because it isn't their dream (which is getting to keep everything and screw everyone else). The Right says everybody should hold and invest and manage retirement themselves. Empowerment! B.S. One, that's pretty much happens with 401Ks...and most people saw them tank when economy died. Two, I don't know anyone who's every struck it filthy rich that didn't have some inside information; most people playing the market lose their money. Ask yourself: If being knowledgeable and managing money, why are there people at the stock brokers? Why haven't those people, who have all the inside info there is, made a bundle (and not for you!) and gone off to live on a yacht in the Caribbean? Yeah, you can invest and do OK over a lifetime, but most people don't have the smarts and the knowledge....most people are way better off at least having the guarantee of Social Security.

Aaron, there were Pell grants that paid for some of college outright and there were low interest loans for the rest. Also some of what you see as taxes are actually set-asides for SS and MC. SUNY New Paltz is as cheap as it is because of taxes.

The Right will make the argument that SS and MC are broke and that they take in less at the present than they payout. What they forget to mention is that during the employment years of the baby boom, my generation paid way more than was being paid out then and that excess was invested in US Bonds and Treasury securities specifically so that the money would be there when the time (now) of the baby boomers' retirement. Of course, another way of looking at that invested excess in bonds is that they are debt and obligations of the US (they are). And so the Right would wipe out that debt by getting rid of SS and MC. After all, 50% of the federal budget is paying out for Soc Sec and Medicare, redeeming those Treasury securities. Wow, our taxes would be so much less if we just walked away from that investment/debt of the past and present. After all, that's how Trump does it: welshing on contracts and declaring bankruptcy
BTW, the GOP changed bankruptcy laws so us little people can no longer bail out...but corporations and business can still welsh on contracts and debt through bankruptcy; that's the Golden Rule: Them what has the gold makes the rules.

But Social Security and Medicare is something we paid for and are paying for; although it's called an entitlement (with a sneer from the so-called conservatives), it's not: as one person said about Medicare: “You’re damn right I’m entitled to it. I have been paying for it out of my paycheck for years and, once I get it, I will still be paying for it out my Social Security check.”. Both Medicare and Social Security come out of your paycheck (or self-employed filings)...they are insurance investments so there will be money and medical care there when you get old. It's something we invest/invested in for the future...which does come, though if seems impossibly far off right now. If we all hold fast to sustaining that dream, it will be there for us and our children in the future. Governance and how we see our country and its future is a dream of sorts....or if it isn't the country is in big trouble.

One thing I know for sure: when you and your country descend into "I'm alright Jack" and "the Devil take the hindmost (the "dream" of the Right and the Libertarians who think they have made it on their own and the rest of society are useless layabouts), sooner or later it comes for you. We are all vulnerable, every so often during life: as children, as suddenly fired and unemployed, as injured and sick and worried about paying for the family's food and roof. Sue's father died when she was maybe 8...and all of a sudden, her mother, who'd come from a well-to-do family (that pretty much disowned her for marrying down out of love) had to shift to make some kind of living. She worked for the first time in her life...but the family only made it because of Social Security Survivor Benefits.

If you build, not just sustain, the liberal dream, you'll make it your own and make a brighter future.....however threatened it may seem now. The payoff may also be in more intangible, but very real, benefits like tolerance of minorities and people who are seen as evil or perverted by the Right. But the Left has fought for their rights and legal protection. The great horror of the Right is when it's at least somewhat safe for these minorities to come out of the closet, everybody else finds out 'Hey, they're just people" and "Don't bad mouth gays, my cousin's one and a a more decent, hard-working sort you can't find". First the legal protections, and then acceptance....and it's started by the Left and is another part of governance as a dream and vision of good will for all men and women.

About Trump ditching Medicare

...but first, Obamacare:

Liberals, liberalism and the Democratic Party get dissed a lot these days, but here is what they fought for and achieved down through the years, sometimes with support from the Right but most often opposed by them:
> • The Democratic Party has a long and cherished history of trying to do the most good for the greatest number of people.
> • Social Security
> • Medicare, Medicaid, Healthcare Reform, Food Safety
> • New Deal, Great Society, Peace Corp, Vista, Job Corp
> • Civil Rights, Women’s Right to Vote, Equal Rights, The Voting Rights Act, Equal Pay Act, Motor Voter
> • Consumer Protection, FDIC, Banking and Wall Street Regulations, SEC, Federal Reserve System, Anti-trust Legislation
> • Funding for Science, Medical and Engineering Research, Space Exploration, NSF, NIH
> • Support for Public Education, Head Start, School Lunch and Breakfast Programs
> • NLRB, 8 hr. Work Day/40 hr. Work Week, Overtime, Unemployment
> • Protection for the Environment, Increased Numbers and Support of National Parks and Wilderness Areas, Endangered Species Act, FEMA
> • Veterans’ Benefits, GI Bill
> • UN, NATO, Marshall Plan
> • Vehicles Safety Requirements, Reduced Emissions, and Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE)
> • TVA, Federal Loan Program, PBS, NPR, the Internet
> • Economic Growth (Democratic Presidents: Roosevelt through Obama)
Funny thing is, relative to that last, even though the Right bills itself as the party of business, growth and fiscal sanity, almost invariably that gets worse when they're in power

Another list
> 1. WomenÂ’s Suffrage Movement
> 2. Securities Exchange Act of 1934
> 3. Social Security Act
> 4. Unemployment Compensation
> 5. Rural Electrification Act
> 6. Federal Home Loan Program
> 7. 40 hour work week
> 8. Minimum Wage
> 9. Over Time
> 10. GI Bill
> 11. School Lunch
> 12. Marshal Plan
> 13. NATO
> 14. Peace Corps
> 15. First manned moon mission
> 16. Civil Rights Act
> 17. Medicare
> 18. Medicaid
> 19. Voting Rights Act
> 20. Head Start
> 21. Guaranteed Student Loan Program
> 22. Family & Medical Leave Act
> 23. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Evil, evil government...............

I don't think any of you voted for Trump...that's not what this is about. This is about believing in a government for all, in a civil civilization....and paying the price of taxes, involvement and support of a vision of a government of good will.


In a moderately long and fairly well-travelled life, I have known plenty of annoying liberals. You know who they spend their time annoying? Fellow liberals. They are rarely in a position where they can annoy non-liberals about their culinary choices or other such stuff because the non-liberals don't hang with them.
Why are conservatives so pissed off about experiences they aren't even having?

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