Thank a Progressive 

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It was a surprise to see a letter by that notorious schemer Jack Abramoff, aka Casino Jack, in the City Weekly [“Washington Needs a Utah Hero,” April 19, 2012].

I give him credit for publicly admitting his role in the worst aspects and affects of the lobbyist system, and agree 100 percent with his assessment of the revolving door in D.C., but find great fault in whom he blames for these affects.

Within the conservative world view, Jack’s included, it is a given that the excesses of American predatory capitalism—corruption, fraud, irrational self-interest, scamming and scheming—that have led to this second Great Depression are not inherent flaws of that system, but somehow the results of so-called socialists and progressives. Somehow even when totally excluded from the political spheres of influence (socialists for 100 years; progressives for 30), they are the cause of everything going wrong.

And what of this horrid “nanny state” those evil progressives foisted on the Republic? If you can support your family with a single job, if your grade-school-age children do not have to join you in the mines, mills, road crews, garages, stores and assembly lines to keep the family afloat, thank a progressive. If you acquired a higher degree without also acquiring a lifetime of debt, thank a progressive. If you get overtime pay for overtime hours, thank a progressive. If you have a secure pension and retirement benefits, if you can collectively bargain for safer working conditions and enjoy a living wage, thank a progressive. If you have used or are using unemployment benefits, thank a progressive. If Social Security is the only thing keeping you from living under a viaduct, if Medicare and Medicaid have allowed you to keep your home during and after an illness, thank a progressive. If your bank works for you in a fair and equitable manner and does not seek to defraud you out of your assets, thank a progressive.

And thank a socialist, too, while you’re at it, as these are also socialist ideals and we are better off for them. None of these concepts originated in a corporate boardroom. If they had their way, most peoples’ lives would mirror that of a Charles Dickens character.

And finally, Jack’s apparent agreement with Utah legislators seeking to obtain title of federal lands in Utah ties in nicely with the very astute analysis of Stuart McDonald’s “More Like Corporate Rights” [March 9, City Weekly]. Jack and his cohorts seem to believe that anything residing in the public sphere is an abomination. These are the heroes Casino Jack wishes for: those who would sell every resource and public space to their friends for a pittance and let the most powerful trample and destroy the rights and dignity of everyone else. Despite his incarceration and fall from grace, he still has not learned the right lessons.

Clee Paul Ames

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