"Dear Mr. President:
"Your tax deal with the Republicans is an abomination.
"It adds to our debt, rewards the bullies and fattens the piggies, who are fatter than they've ever been in American history."
"Who are the piggies?" Buddy asked.
"The rich," Uncle Chet said. "The ones who take too much."
"And the bullies?" Hon asked.
"Republican senators; the errand boys for the billionaires."
"I think Obama blew it," I said. "He was on the right side of the perfect issue -- `Should the rich get richer?"'
"That's what drove me to write," Uncle Chet said as he waved his missive.
"He'll never see it," said Hon, who was at the chop saw, pausing between boards as we listened to this rant.
"I'm sending it the paper," Uncle Chet said as he held up the typed sheet.
"But let me read it once, then you get back to work." I said as I laid down the hammer and leaned against the wall in Buddy's room, where we were installing an ash floor.
"Dear Mr. President," he read again. "Your tax deal with the Republicans is an abomination.
"It adds to our debt, rewards the bullies and fattens the piggies, who are fatter than they've ever been in American history.
"Your deal is short-sighted politically: The rich will use their extra billions to buy the next election and make their tax cuts permanent.
"Your deal is a loser economically. The rich won't spend their extra loot on groceries, appliances and cars. They won't create jobs or increase demand for anything, except a few more butlers.
"But your biggest failure is ethical, as you've surrendered without a fight in a battle that should have been won," Uncle Chet read as he looked over his half-glasses.
"As the middle class disappears, the rich are gobbling up the country, and most people want it to stop, but we need a leader. Someone to stand up to greed, not pretend things will be better because workers will collect unemployment benefits for another half year before retesting the jobless recovery.
"This country needs fundamental change, not window dressing; manufacturing jobs, not unemployment extensions; living wages, not food stamps; and an end to interminable war and obscene military budgets. We need economic democracy, not rule by the corporate elite from Halliburton to Monsanto to BP.
"I know you know all this, Mr. President, or I wouldn't bother to write. Many of us have long been disillusioned by the Democrats' timidity and the Republicans' sense of entitlement. Then you came along, talked of change, and from the enthralled crowds in the arenas you know how people yearn for someone to address the central injustice of our time: the ungodly gap between rich and poor.
"All societal evils descend from this central corruption. Everyone feels it, though it's obfuscated by the propaganda that passes for news. Many are living through it, straining to keep their heads above water. Others sense they're only a misstep from disaster.
"If, instead of 50 states and 300 million citizens, the United States were 20 people in a lifeboat in the South Pacific. If we were far from shore with the sun beating down and one of our citizens had 10 gallons of water, a second had seven gallons, while the remainder had earned a pint apiece and were growing thirsty, pulling on the oars, the greed of the super-rich, and a reasonable course of action, would be obvious.
And with a fairer distribution of assets, that crew would be stronger, healthier and might make it to shore.
"In the real world, the lessons are fuzzier, but this is one where people can see through the bull, Mr. President. No matter what the GOP threatens to do or undo unless the rich get a tax cut, we should not cave in to bribery or blackmail. We are citizens, not mendicants.
"Sincerely yours, …"
Cooperstown bureau Reporter Tom Grace is traveling with his Uncle Chet, who he says is imaginary. Grace's column appears every other week. For more of his columns, visit www.thedailystar.com/tomgrace.
"Dear Mr. President:
- Tom Grace
The future of news: video on the Internet
COLUMBUS _ "Well, I'm going to do it, retire tomorrow," I told Uncle Chet last Thursday, then pulled on the thick braided wire that ran up and down the chimney.
Uncle Chet advises little miscreant
COLUMBUS _ The little miscreant is off to college this month, and we had a dinner in her honor at Uncle Chet and Aunt Alice's log cabin Sunday.
Here's to everyone paying their fair share
COLUMBUS _ Buddy and I were working on the woodpile at Uncle Chet's house, stacking about 10 face cord of pungent ash, maple and cherry. The sun was beating down, and the pine needles crackled underfoot. Everything around us was tinder dry, that is, except the wood we were moving.
Easy fixes for education, drilling debate
COLUMBUS _ "I know how to resolve this fracking controversy," Uncle Chet said, then sipped his second glass of red wine.
Handicapping the 2012 race in a dust cloud
COLUMBUS _ The little miscreant was graduating from high school, going to college. We were having a party here in just four days, but we were power-sanding in the kitchen, making a dust cloud that filled the room, coating everything as it sank to the floor.
- Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Spackle can only do so much to fix problems
COLUMBUS _ "This ceiling reminds me of my face," Uncle Chet said, standing on the eight-foot stepladder, cutting in with a sash brush.
- Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The rich are getting richer, more powerful
COLUMBUS _ "You know, there's only one thing wrong with the world," Uncle Chet paused, then dropped a log onto the stack.
- Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Facing down the dreaded colonoscopy
Colonoscopy. Cousin Bruce talked me into it. He's a decade younger and if he was doing it, then coming from the same gene pool, so should I, I reasoned in February and made an appointment.
- Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Wounds left by Osama still healing
COLUMBUS _ We were lying down, reading, ready for lights out when the phone rang late Sunday night. I looked at the caller I.D. before answering, "You're too old to be up at this hour."
- Tuesday, April 19, 2011
The rich are thriving in country's class warfare
We sat in the basement cafeteria Friday night, eating off sectioned plastic trays, as students have done for generations.
- Tuesday, April 5, 2011
There's still one job we haven't shipped overseas
"Where are the French?" Uncle Chet asked from across the table where we were having coffee.
- Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Obama strikes oil with assault on Libya
We were on our way to the dump Saturday, three across the bench seat, when we heard the news.
- Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Caught between tanking dollar, rising oil prices
COLUMBUS _ "Got to get some wood in; it's gonna snow," I said as I rose from the couch Saturday afternoon.
- Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Conversation on the trail to rock stardom
SCRANTON, PA. _ It was a cool, sunny morning in late February, and we were tooling down Interstate 81 in the silver pickup.
- Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Cheney's chum about to get his walking papers
The snow piles were becoming tall white walls and the paths between them were narrowing as we cleared the driveway again Sunday morning.
- Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Taxing wealthy would give us rich future
COLUMBUS _ "The state of the union is deplorable, and I hope he says so, because we ought to do something about it," Uncle Chet said, then lowered an armful of logs into the wood box.
- Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Poll will show what people are thinking
COLUMBUS _ "I have to go, but I want to do it myself," Buddy announced from the recliner.
- Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Target within sight; summit within reach
It was snowing and windy, and the road was icy, running between desolate, snow-covered fields in the town of Plainfield. We were climbing a long hill, up in God's country, looking for a microwave tower.
- Tuesday, December 14, 2010
- Tuesday, November 30, 2010
GOP's denial is all about bottom line
COLUMBUS _ The little chair was a blessing to the back, but the pipe at the front of the canvas seat pressed under my knees, and my legs were numbing.
- The future of news: video on the Internet