Mourning in America
As much as I appreciate the sentiment stated in the latest column by Jack Lessenberry ("How this came to pass," Dec. 28), the premise behind it is flawed.
As Mikhail Gorbachev says in a post I read online in The Nation, "Since the breakup of the Soviet Union 20 years ago, Western commentators have often celebrated it as though what disappeared from the world arena in December 1991 was the old Soviet Union, the USSR of Stalin and Brezhnev, rather than the reforming Soviet Union of perestroika."
The war on the unions, on the middle class and on the poor, that which is being fought-back via the 99 percent movement, wasn’t given a green light, as is suggested in Lessenberry’s piece, in 1991, with the fall of the USSR. While I am no historian, its beginnings could more plausibly be placed 10 years earlier, in 1981, when Ronald Reagan fired more than 11,000 striking air-traffic controllers. Indeed, earlier this year, when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker thought he was speaking to David Koch in a (prank) telephone conversation, he specifically mentioned Ronald Reagan’s action regarding the air-traffic controllers, saying of it, "That was the first crack in the Berlin Wall and the fall of communism." It’s not too big of a stretch to see that the nation’s employers in 1981 saw that, if the leader of the free-market world could fire an entire union, that they wouldn’t face much opposition in union-busting themselves.
We must also not forget that it was the action of a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who really undermined the middle class in this country, by signing into law the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). —Donald Handy, Mount Clemens
Against both parties
Jack Lessenberry is at it again! Blaming the Republicans for everything, while the Democrats are not to blame for a single thing. You see, it’s sad when people like Lessenberry — a teacher, writer, scholar — act like this. The entire government is to blame — everyone. The Democrats had a supermajority for almost two years and couldn’t pass a thing. Every Republican could have voted no on everything the Democrats wanted, yet they stood still. Republicans flip-flop — some admit it, some don’t. Democrats can’t admit when they are wrong ever. Yet, Lessenberry writes a propaganda piece trying to blame the right for our country’s woes. Here is the real problem: laziness. Sure, there are lots of people out there who aren’t lazy and are looking for work, but many people on entitlements feel that they should always have them. If you get $600 every two weeks from unemployment, and more than two years have passed and it’s going to run out, I’m sure you will start looking for a job. Taco Bell is hiring, and that’s not a negative jab at a fast food worker. In my mind a fast food worker does a tough job, and if you work 40 hours a week there, you can make about the same as unemployment, but the difference is that you are contributing to society. See, 50 years ago, men wanted to work for their pay, and if they couldn’t find a job, they kept trying. A lot of people still do that today, but many more people just expect the government hand to feed them. I just wish that such an intelligent man like Lessenberry wouldn’t have such a one-dimensional opinion, because this isn’t just one party’s fault. Taxes for everyone need to be lowered, jobs need to be created, and entitlements shouldn’t be limitless. Both parties play the blame game and it’s old. Wasteful government spending needs to be stopped and this country needs to get back on track. Seriously, what has the government done right lately? —Mike Conte, Roseville
Transit helps all
Thanks for "Don’t Rail Against Buses" (Dec. 21). One common prejudice is "make public transportation available and it will hurt new car sales." In fact, Detroit would be like New York City if we had it. New Yorkers have multiple forms of public transportation, but try and find a place to park! One source indicates the Big Apple in the last decade has more people taking public transportation to work, but in the same period the rate of automobile ownership increased 1.7 percent. People will spend some of the money saved on public transportation by replacing the old clunker with a new car. —Kurt Thornbladh, Dearborn
More Trojan war
Re: Jack Lessenberry’s jabs at Troy, via its Mayor Janice Daniels, Daniels won by a slim majority. I was always poor at math, but I do believe that — out of around 14,000 votes, 47.83 percent of which went for the only other candidate — this shows we did try "to find a better mayor."
Remember the 2000 presidential election? Based on your thinking, the approximately 49 percent who voted for Gore should be labeled as idiots, because the other 51 percent elected Bush. Too bad you are drawing conclusions about a subject you have an inadequate cross section of evidence about. You know, the same kind of generalizations that racist thinkers use. What a foolish little blurb of an article from a man who often destroys his own credibility. I used to really respect your opinions — not so much anymore. —Dan Levitt, Troy
I’m a former Wayne State Tartar, played fullback 1966-1969, and must say the Wayne State Warriors made tens of thousands of former football players and alumni extremely proud in their quest for a NCAA Division II championship. Though the championship was not to be, Coach Paul Winters, his staff and especially the players should hold their heads high, stand tall and be proud for what they accomplished and the positive light they have shined on the city. —Thomas A. Wilson Jr., Detroit