GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

November 20, 2012

Letter: A plea to our president for change


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

I am writing this as an open letter to our president:

Dear President Obama,

The theme of your 2008 campaign was “change,” and it won you the support of the American people.

Now, more than ever, major changes are needed. The problems listed below are too serious not to address them aggressively. We need your dynamic leadership to avert a dismal future.

What humans are doing to our planet threatens its ability to support even the present population, let alone the anticipated increase. If an environmental disaster is to be averted, the U. S. must cooperate with the rest of the world to address global warming and the spoliation of the environment.

The difference in incomes and wealth between the top and the rest has grown to bizarre proportions. The CEO of United Healthcare is paid more than 100 times what you receive. The Wal-Mart heirs have an income of about 100 times that of the CEO of United Healthcare, or 10,000 times that of the president of the United States. Meanwhile, incomes of the middle class have been declining and poverty has increased.

The very rich and powerful have enormous influence both on legislative action and on elections. Since WW II, they have succeeded in lowering their taxes drastically and propose to lower them further. If they paid an additional $1 trillion in taxes, the deficit would be eliminated and they would still be rich. Even at present tax rates, their incomes are far higher than what they can spend, leading to inadequate demand and continuing unemployment.

Taxes on the super-rich must be drastically increased to save both the economy and our political system. That can only be done if the election system is reformed so that voters, not money, determine who is elected and so that legislation is designed to serve us all, not just the super-rich.

The stability and growth of the economy in the decades following WW II were facilitated by federal regulations, which limited the harm that the business community could do in its quest for profits. As deregulation proceeded, economic instability returned and economic growth declined. Financial institutions are indulging in the same kinds of speculation that led to the Great Depression and to the Great Recession. A return to tighter regulation is clearly needed.

Even with Obamacare, our health care system is terribly inefficient and many health problems go untreated. Every other industrialized nation has a health care system that is more cost-effective than ours and covers all of its citizens. With a system as cost-effective as that in the U.K., for example, we would save over $1 trillion per year.

We are falling behind other countries in education. Higher education is difficult for able middle class students to afford. Our infrastructure is deteriorating. We spend less than 3 percent of our Gross Domestic Product on it. China spends 9 percent. A gradual erosion of our civil rights is continuing. Our criminal justice system is archaic.

All of these areas need significant change. Trying to negotiate with your political opposition hasn’t worked and is not likely to work in the future.

Our only hope is for you to exercise dynamic leadership, go to the people, convince them of the need, and in this term achieve the change that America needs to regain the moral and economic leadership of the world that it once had.

MILT LAUENSTEIN

Gloucester and Exeter, N.H.