SINCE 1759

Free alert to Candide's Notebooks
Your email:


The Letter-Writer Surprised
(Gabriel Metsu, 1629-1667)







"Eventually economics will be viewed as the alchemy of our time."
--Frank Colbourne

Responses to the January 10 column about what economic numbers don't tell us:


The underlying cause of differing interpretations of economic success—which you point out in your piece—lies, I think, in the falseness of economic indicators. GDP growth isn’t necessarily a positive for many people; change in interest rates dont control the economy etc.

The Economics of Innocent Fraud, a recent essay in book form by JKGalbraith articulates this case you haven’t read it.

I believe that eventually economics will be viewed as the alchemy of our time.

Frank Colbourne.

I just read your article “What Numbers Aren’t Saying About the Economy Most Live In”, and could not agree more with your observations. Since resigning from a government job with decent pay in summer 2002 I have not been able to find a job even remotely approaching it’s modest salary of $35,000 with benefits. I have literally applied to hundreds and hundreds of openings, and have moved to three different cities in different states. It doesn’t matter where I go, I can’t find work. I am rapidly going through my savings. I have two Bachelor degrees, but that doesn’t mean anything to employers it seems. I go to career support groups and there are people with Maser’s degrees, old folks, young adults in their 20’s or 30’s...and all are finding the job market to be terrible. And even though we are all unemployed and stressed out about it, it IS validating to see and hear other people stuck in the same miserable boat.

And, like you mention, the newspapers are harsh, insulting and totally ignoring the plight of millions of underemployed, homeless, or ‘working poor’ Americans with their endless articles spouting off about the so-called “wonders of the robust recovery”, the “ever so low unemployment figures”, blah blah blah. What a bunch of lies! The nation’s major newspapers like the WSJ or NYT are pure propaganda for the business elite as far as I’m concerned. It’s very embittering to read their crappy articles that deliberately ignore the yawning gap between rich and poor. I think journalists today cannot write the truth about the terrible job market because they risk losing their jobs if they do speak the truth.

I came across your article on the ‘Common Dreams’ website, which is one of a few websites I trust for accurate and relevant news articles such as yours. These are terrible times we live in when our newspapers have turned their backs on the people and ignore this ongoing national unemployment crisis.


Letters responding to "The Sham of Homeland Security," Jan. 4, 2006


I couldn't agree with you more. I'm the "new" Homeland Security Coordinator (8 weeks) for the State of Missouri. I come from a rural Ozark background, although the last 35 years I've been out in the "make believe" world we find ourserves in. I appreciate your common sense perspective....

Paul H. Fennewald
Homeland Security Coordinator
Missouri Office of Homeland Security

Nice to see somebody questioning the profiteering without safety, as well as comparing workplace injuries to the terror toll. If you're interested, here's a piece I did a few years ago on the theme:

Michael Jackman
Copy Editor
Metro Times/Detroit

I grew up in W. Va. Most of my relatives and friends seemed to work timber or in the mines. That was the only good paying work, and if you complained they had a hundred people to take your place. You signed on when you were young and felt bulletproof, and by the time you saw and knew the dangers it was all you knew how to do. In a way those miners were trapped before they walked into the mine that day. Notice that not one miner would speak to the press during the vigil? All they would say is the Co. said not to talk to the press.

But in the mist of all the speculation and blame game your clear insight hit the nail on the head. Until any miner can walk out of an unsafe mine and knowing that he won’t be fired and can still feed his family next week. Until any safety inspector can shut down a mine (with out fear of ending his career) till the problem is corrected. Until the Co. bosses know they will be held accountable. It will keep happening. As a West (by God) Virginian, I thank you for really getting a handle on this problem and speaking out.

Curt Campbell

you r a stupid leftist idiot. [sic.]

Allen Garner
Humble, Texas

I appreciated your article “The Sham of Homeland Security: A West Virginia Tragedy”. I have called West Virginia home since the 1980s. My husband and children were all born there. We moved to Ohio 8 yrs ago to try to make a better living, but WV is still “home”. This past week my heart has been breaking as I see familiar faces and hear familiar names on national TV.

In the late 80s I was a newspaper reporter (one of two!) at the Record-Delta in Buckhannon, WV. Several times I wrote articles on the mines and their many safety regulations (and infractions). I think your article is right on target when it comes to the money games that keep safety regulations from being followed, but there is more to it than that.

Every time you turn on the lights or microwave a cup of water you are creating a demand for more coal to be dug—and when you dig for coal, a flammable substance, you dig up a Pandora’s box of environmentally unsafe substances in the form of gases, dusts, acid drainage, to name a few. It’s not that mine safety regulations aren’t being followed: Coal mining itself is inherently dangerous. It’s not just the greedy money grubbers in D.C. who are guilty. We all are. Our demand for an easy, flip-the-switch, push-a-button, throw-it-out kind of life has the have-nots all over this earth risking their lives in mines, in factories, in jobs that don’t pay enough to feed their families—so that Americans can live with electricity, confortable temperatures in their homes, Easy-Mac, pretty hair, etc. As long as there are coal mines there will be deaths in the coal mines. There isn’t any way to make them safe.

So go ahead and point fingers at Washington. You’ve got a point. But think about it the next time you turn on a light.

Ellen Thomas

Part of the problem is that the media conspired to make sure Americans missed the point of 9/11, which was an attack, not on the US itself or our culture, but the mechanisms of world “trade” and its Pentagon enforcement arm.  This should be made plainer in writing about Al Queda and 9/11.

Also, analyses of Al Queda by non-ideologues reveal it to be a fairly loose knit collection of various groups, hardly an organization, even if Uncle Osama has so bucks to finance a few of them.

So we’re not exactly out of danger, but we should at least suspect at this point that Osama is a one-trick pony.  And while various intelligence agencies no doubt have a microphone up the tookus of every Muslim immigrant in the US, another point rarely made is that they had every bit of information they needed with the powers they had at the time to make the bust prior to 9/11, but dropped the ball due to the sheer corruption of their work by bureacracy that made drug war busts more important than paying attention, and ideology that kept them focused on antiwar activism and other forms of protest.

We need to keep hammering these points home.  I recently attended an NBA game and was appalled at the rabid cheering during and after the Star Spangled Banner was sung.  And it was not the “play ball” cheering I was used to hearing, it was a blind, and perhaps desperate, patriotic display.

Considering the cost of an NBA ticket, perhaps the class of people who can afford to attend such events are more patriotic than average, but even at that it is clear that they never got the information they needed to make them question such rabid, blind patriotism.

Jim Cronin
Portland, OR  

Especially enjoyed the “latent, obscene desire to shine in time of crisis, to extract heroism out of the rubble” (apologies for paraphrasing).

Yes, I think you hit the nail on the head there!  Those words helped me to get a little closer to understanding what really lies behind the “rabid patriotism” and blind vengeance so prevalent in American society today.  We are unworthy!  We have met the enemy, and it is us!  We have no idea where we are going as a society, and absolutely no idea how we got to the place we find ourselves in today!  We have lost our moral compass!  Perhaps we have an unsettling feeling, a desire to be whole and wholesome again, to wake up, to recreate ourselves as the Americans we believe we once were, and could be again!  Perhaps we feel that many years of self indulgence and waste, of vanity and ever-growing arrogance, of all-consuming greed and a lack of concern for the less privileged, have finally robbed us of our “Americanism”?  We want to be good.  We want the world to love us.  We hate it when those ingrates criticize us!  But, whatever we do, it just seems to get worse!  Who was it that said “Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels”?  We have become scoundrels; rabidly patriotic scoundrels.  And we know it.  We just can’t figure out how the heck to correct the situation.  We don’t know what to believe anymore.  We have a Democratic Party that cowers in a corner while some of the most outrageous scandals in American history appear on our TV screens – and are promptly forgotten.  Today at least a hundred more Iraqi people died, shedding their blood alongside five U.S soldiers.  Who cares?  When and how can this insanity end?  What have we become?  I fear that it may be possible for us to regress even further into this abyss of ignorance, self hate and anger.  Where do we go from here?

Michael A. Hill                 

Enough to make my flesh crawl. But it is the truth. We are headed for oblivion because of unconcern , disinterest,  greed and corruption.

Richard Smith.

Well thought out exigesis of the huge cottage industry spawned from the hulking Homeland Security apparatus.  And none of it will keep us any safer. Meanwhile, the Bush administration and his puppets in Congress keep gutting programs that actually do keep Americans safer.  What will it take before the dots are connected?

 Al Krulick

Theatre/Cultural Arts Director
Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando

Very pointed article. would not terrorists look at the allocation of funds amongst cities and if inclined select the least protected cities to attack? why waste efforts on high profile/well protected targets. Let’s reallocate all of these funds to develop and implement an expedited exit strategy which includes real peace efforts for the people of Iraq and a safe return of our youthful armies to their families as soon as practicable. Let’s all work to end this occupation and end the war. While we mourn the innocent miners in WV, what about the innocent war victims and their families in Iraq? Don’t they deserve our sympathy in their time of death? Why don’t we visit their mosques and interview them, show their faces, show the bodies of our youthful casualties, show  the bloodshed juxtaposed with the evil war profiteers? There is ample muck for our muckrakers-but we need more: more intense,  more graphic revelations of the evil of it all, and more integrity in the press/media.. Our humanity cannot survive under the growing mound of lies and deceit. Where are the men and women of God? The pulpits have been hijacked!    

Fred Grygiel

Would you take your security-industrial analogy further, and envision a day where most mining/manufacturing jobs exist only in developing countries, and the American miners/manufacturers, like those in WV this week, are all employed in both public and private security jobs? We aren't losing people, and manufacturing proletariat jobs are vanishing. That could be destabilizing, so replace those jobs with more proletariat jobs in security. It's a relatively clean industry compared to manufacturing. It tracks the economy's shift toward services over production of goods. It even allows more concentrated human environments, which we know are more resource-friendly. I say all that tongue-in-cheek, but to the extent there is corporate control of the political-economy, won't this reflect the long run trend?

Dennis Foldenauer

Last year I attended a large political event and had my Swiss Army Knife confiscated by Homeland Security. I looked down into a giant box-full of hundreds of sharp objects, which the very important looking security guy told me would soon be placed under a crusher and destroyed. Yeah sure. With several pawn shops down the street and that handy-dandy EBAY close by, I'm going to believe that?? Anyway, thanks for connecting some of the dots. Now if we can just get that Dot-head and his Dot-cons out of office, maybe our country can begin to move forward. I'm not holding my breath

Melinda Rose

Kudos for your column astutely pointing out the relevance of the Sago (predictable and preventable) disaster in the context of deregulation and illusory "security."

The other day, Sago became a killing field. Yet, there's no outrage and few complaints that the employer was allowed to kill workers without true remorse (tho' it was CEO Hatfield's "worst day of his life"). Short of workplace death is a daily terror of working in physically unsafe work environments. (Mega-investor buyout king Ross who created ICG in 2004 appeared on CNN and made the false claim that "inspectors are on-site daily at the mine," implying that MSHA inspectors are there, despite having only 4 inspectors (I think) to cover all U.S. mines.) Family members of the victims tell of the ever-present fear each miner experienced daily, choosing to work to support their families in a world that presented no real alternatives. Our work at the Workplace Bullying & Trauma Institute is about dangerous work environments of a psychological nature. The founder of the international movement, in Sweden in the 1980's, spoke of "psychological terrorization" at work. We knew if we spoke of terror, we would have been ridiculed when we began our work in 1998. So it is "Workplace Bullying" that afflicts 1 in 6 U.S. workers daily.

There is rising awareness backed by research. We get good press. Dateline NBC will feature our work sometime in January. But you can imagine the difficulty we have proposing legislation state-by-state in the current political climate where pro-corporate agendas trump human costs and even lives. We, too, see West Virginia as ground zero, a litmus test for the public's tolerance and acceptance of however corporate spinmeisters distract us from the industry's lethal negligence. for research and education on the topic
for tracking legal reform progress
to see what employers could and should do about psychological violence at work

Gary Namie, Ph.D.

Letters in response to the "Iraq, Ourselves" column that ran in the Dec. 15 editions of the News-Journal:


I enjoy your commentaries from my perch on the opposite side of the world. I think you’d enjoy my perspective, surrounded by people who genuinely like and admire Americans but detest America. They are perplexed; how can such nice, intelligent, helpful and kind-hearted people do such nasty, stupid, destructive and vicious things? How can they choose such a leader? Of course I can mumble in embarrassment about the corporate media and the fact that no one imagined that the President would lie so blatantly, but I’m as perplexed as they and far more distressed. It’s good that there are a lot of people like you, articulate voices of reason and truth. As I tell my students, that is the real America. Keep it up and remember that, as Dr King reminded us, light overcomes darkness.

 Dr. B.C., Nepal

Gimme a break! A so-called holy book with a main chapter devoted to the "Spoils of War" isn't merely oxymoronic, it's moronic. Perhaps that's why the moron and barbarian Bush keeps extolling Islam as a "religion of peace" - his kind of peace.

G.T., Canada


     Have you actually read the Koran or are you just repeating the repetitions of repetitions of the left assuring us that Islam is a "religion of peace"? Back in my early college days in the late 80s, long before it was fashionable to blather on about "peace loving muslims" I had to read the Koran for a political science class. Crack the cover and read all about beheadings and opression and wife beating and institutionalized rape.
     If you have spent any time in a supposedly civilized muslim country, you will see the curious phenomenon of the guest worker, virtual slaves imported from other muslim countries to do the work in rich muslim countries. A specific verse in the Koran (Sura 70:29, the Ladders) allows employers to rape their guest worker employees.
those who guard their private parts, 30 except for their wives or the (slave girls) whom their right hands possess, for they are not to be blamed
The legalized rape of female guest workers is well entrenched in the most "civilized" muslim countries. I have always pitied the poor housemaids who do not know this is the case. To my knowledge there has never been a successful prosecution of such a crime, though some maids commit suicide rather than endure this treatment.
Of course we could go around and around about beheading of one's enemies, slaughter of entire villages by the armies of Mohammed, but from someone who has read the book to someone who hasn't, there isn't much point. The Koran is a book of evil and brutality. There is quite a bit of that in the Old testament, too. However, we do not base our society on a book such as that (if we did, homosexuals would be beheaded in the US, just like they are in muslim countries, instead of starring in bad TV sitcoms).
I do not justify an wrongdoing the US does, and I truly hope I do not get a third tour in the evil middle east. I personally hope they all kill each other and be done with it so we have no reason to interact with the "religion of peace" and its adherents.
Bottom line, the Koran is a barbaric book and a billion people take it literally and use it to guide their actions.
Mike, an army officer just back from Baghdad.

In light of the controversy over the issue of habeas corpus and the related decision to hold individuals in custody without charge, due to whatever classification the Department of Justice can utilize to justify their detention, I am reminded of Prime Minister Churchill’s thoughts on the issue of how long the executive branch of Great Britain’s government would retain the power to suspend habeas corpus and to hold individuals without charge.  In the appendices to the fifth of his six volume work of the history of his involvement in World War II, titled Closing of the Ring, Mr. Churchill published a number of his letters to the appropriate minister of government that detailed his thoughts of how to return the power to hold people without charge back to the House of Commons and whether it was time to start releasing people who had been deemed dangerous to the war effort.  The year was 1943, and the fascist governments had not yet been defeated.  Nonetheless, Mr. Churchill felt it time to prepare Great Britain for its return to the values that set his government apart from that of its enemies.  I believe you would find these letters interesting reading.


It is a shame that your obvious writing talent is encumbered by such a warped mind, but what should we expect from the News-Journal but very worst of liberal venom?

K.C., Florida

[...] It takes guts, these days, in the world of the faux patriots and their perversion of American principle, to say what is so apparent to me and millions of others. Every day, when I open the paper (The Oregonian), I shake my head and mutter and obscenity. What new abuses? What new indignity from this White House and its lap-dog Congress? yesterday it was spying. The day before, a defense of torture. The day before, a funding bill designed to trim the deficit by limiting programs for the least-privileged among us. The day before, a denial of rendition and offshore torture, despite EU findings of fact that it has indeed happened. The day before, ...

S.W., Washington State

[...] You strike right to the heart of this matter -- which is the total decay of the true heart of America, and the world in proportion with America's vast influence. Even when I very-first heard people speaking out publically against torture, I became scared. I knew that if they had to actually STATE rationalizations against torture, that it was a very ominous sign for the state of things. Your columns are richly-written and show a slightly more transcendent vision than the rest. Thanks again! Yours,

D.A.C., US

Just finished reading the above excellent article online in the "Information Clearing House." i agree completely with your synopsis about how america has descended into a hellish nightmare of its own making. The article should be required reading for the Bush WH. i doubt that will happen, since the usual suspects in the neo-con world are again up to their tricks, trying to incite another illegal war against Iran. Case in point: Last night, the History Channel showed one of the most skillful pieces of propaganda i've ever seen, entitled, "IRAN-The Next Iraq?" They did an excellent job of cherry picking the facts to support their unabashed enthusiasm for another blood bath. There are way too many falsehoods to outline in this letter, so i urge you to catch a viewing of this manipulative piece of media. Will comment on one of their misleading items: One of the so-called Iranian experts interviewed was Kenneth Pollack, who played stenographer for the Bush White House when he wrote "The Threatening Storm." As you know, that book helped increase the clamor to illegally invade Iraq; A clamor based on lies. The show doesn't mention that or the fact that Pollack is a fellow at the neo con inspired Brookings Institution. Please try and watch the show. Just be sure to keep pen and paper handy to help document all the lies. There are way too many to try and remember.

G.B., Missouri

Bookmark and Share


Read Pierre’s Latest

The Latest Comments

Add to Google Reader or Homepage Subscribe in NewsGator Online Subscribe in Rojo   Add to My AOL Subscribe in FeedLounge Add to netvibes Subscribe in Bloglines Add to The Free Dictionary