Letters to the Editor

January 07, 2009

Reaganism the problem, not a solution

To the editor:

Michael Reagan is living in a fantasy world. He thinks his father, the Gipper, would have been able to handle the present economic crisis. He is wrong. It will take more than a sunny smile and cheerful optimism to get us out of this recession. Reaganism got us into this hole; it cannot get us out.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan came down to Washington, singing a siren song of dereg-ulation. "Government is not the solution, government is the problem." "Get the government off the back of the businessman."

It sounded good, and it fooled all of the people most of the time. Congress tore up the wisdom learned from the 1929 meltdown and set the stage for the present one.


In 1934, in the bottom of the Great Depression, Congress had wisely passed the Glass-Steagall act, which separated the commercial banks, where ordinary people put their savings, from the "investment banks," where speculators go to play games in the stock market. This law ensured that a crash on Wall Street would not destroy the credit and the livelihood of Main Street.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the deregulators said, "We don't need that anymore. We're smarter than they were. The free market will regulate itself." After nearly 20 years of Reagan propaganda, Congress bought in to this sophistry.

Led by U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm (Remember his "nation of whiners?") they passed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley act of 1999, which gutted the Glass-Steagall act, by allowing commercial banks to own investment banks and vice versa.

This meant that when the investment banks overextended their credit, they could go to the "other branch" and tap in to the savings of Main Street. From that time, a meltdown on Wall Street had the capability to suck up the money that small and large businesses use to finance their day-to-day operations. In 2008, that is exactly what happened.

The first thing the next Congress needs to do is repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley act, and re-establish the full intent and power of the Glass-Steagall act.

They must separate the investment banks, the playground of the rich, from the commercial banks, the lifeblood of Main Street. Wall Street will scream loudly, and throw their lobbyists into the fray to block this, but Wall Street has forfeited their credibility and their right to dictate policy, by their own incompetence.

It is time for us, the taxpayers who carry the brunt of this crisis, to saturate Congress with a flood of e-mails and letters demanding legislation to protect our economy, by separating our savings in the commercial banks from the greedy and incompetent operators in the investment banks. That won't solve the present crisis, but it's a good start.

Burr Loomis
Chambersburg, Pa.

Pay hike didn't serve the people

To the editor:

Here it is, Christmas just past, a season of giving and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

But our lawmakers are sitting with their families, rejoicing over their personal pay increase that they voted from the citizens, while other families are going without food and gifts.

Now that the West Virginia lawmakers have passed the "No Lawmaker Left Behind Raise," what additional services can we expect from them as our representatives?

It is a shame that in a time when unemployment is soaring that our elected officials took upon themselves to reward themselves instead of serving our state as a whole.

Some of our elected officials are lucky to pass through their districts town by town in their whole career.

Once in a while they stop here and there during election time, again looking for a donation for themselves and not the people. Each and every one of you have passed through the classrooms of many of the finest teachers in West Virginia.

However, your bounty to them this past year was not nearly as great as the one you handed yourself.

It is really nice when you have a position where you can control the votes and pass a raise without a vote by the people.

In 1994, a lone lawmaker from Marion County, W.Va., by the name of Joe Manchin, voted against the pay increase from $6,500 a year to $15,000.

Today, we have a few who voted against the pay increase, but some decided that they would not be stand-alone lawmakers, so they passed themselves a hefty 33 percent pay increase.

Once passed, they patted each other on the back and said what a wonderful thing we just did for the people of West Virginia!

You are about to go back for another 60-day session for the people of West Virginia.

Are you going to do the work of all the people of West Virginia? For once, look through eyes of others and not yours alone.

Then, perhaps you will see the folly of your own way in favoring yourself over others. That my friend, is a servant's heart. Are you a servant or a lord to your district?

Ron Payne
Hedgesville, W.Va.

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