A Letter To Congress

I sent this today to my Representative, and to both Senators. Feel free to copy and use it yourself, or use it as a template for your own thoughts.

The technical phrase is: I release this to the Public Domain. It belongs to the public.

Dear Senator/Representative,

I am writing about a deep concern regarding the future of our nation. I apologize for the length, but it is a deadly serious topic.

The United States is ripping itself apart, politically. This much is obvious. Other democratic nations have noticed, calling us a “backsliding democracy,” even questioning whether we are still a democracy. I question it, too.

This has happened at least twice before, in the 1850’s, and again in the 1930’s. In both cases, the Union was at serious risk of dissolution. We are now in a similar position.

The core issue seems to be the same in all three cases: the entitlement of the wealthy to increase their wealth to the detriment of the nation.

In the 1850’s, the issue was slavery, the right of the wealthy to own other humans, work them as property, trade them for profit as property, and pursue them if they fled as “stolen” property. In the 1930’s, it was the dominance of corporations and trusts, which sought to evade the new federal taxes, manipulate the stock markets, and monopolize entire industries to eliminate competition; to raise prices and lower wages, all with no concern for the harm it caused the workers or the residents near their operations or the nation as a whole.

The issue since the 1980’s, culminating in the 2010’s with the election of Donald Trump, has been the attempt to reduce the federal government to a tool for the wealthy to protect their “investments,” returning all other political power to the states, which may choose to nullify federal regulations and any pesky amendments to the Constitution that offend them. To “shrink the federal government until it can be drowned in a bathtub.”

We see the kinds of powers the states wish to exercise in the behavior of Governor Abbott of Texas, or Governor de Santis of Florida. We are headed toward Balkanization, interstate economic war, and (eventually) military conflict supported by state governments and militias.

The nation fell into civil war once, and avoided it the second time. I am not confident of our chances this time.

It is clear that the entire Republican Party is deeply complicit in this matter. They have packed the Supreme Court with “originalists,” a philosophy that enshrines the Constitution as Holy Writ, and carries the potential for disregarding any of the amendments to the Constitution, such as the 14th, which makes human slavery illegal, or the 16th, which allows a Federal income tax. Under this philosophy, even the 1st amendment could be ignored. Or the 5th. When in the majority, Republicans use the filibuster relentlessly to shut down debate, discussion, and lawmaking. They were deeply involved in, and have turned a blind eye toward an attempted coup of the office of the Presidency — a coup that very nearly succeeded.

It falls to President Biden and the Democrats in Congress to carry us through this time. The Republicans will bring us to dissolution and war.

I do not wish to see a civil war. I have grandchildren.

I believe that the dry wood fueling this fire is a disaffected, angry population, with one broad underlying problem. Put in simple terms, we all live now in a nation-sized company town.

I’m referring to the “company towns” of the big logging and mining operations of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, where you could go to make big paychecks, but found that the company store would take it all back with inflated prices that kept your pockets empty. You would make great money, spend it all on necessities or small pleasures, and walk away older and no richer. The Trump supporters call this a loss of “freedom.” But it is really a loss of opportunity, based on a loss of security. You cannot pursue an opportunity when you have no time to do anything but try to make next month’s rent.

US Americans have no security.

Medical care is catastrophic. I went through a medical bankruptcy, for colon cancer. I watched a man suffering a heart-attack decline care because he could not afford the ambulance; he died that night, alone and in pain. I was forced out of independent contracting, trying to keep up with medical insurance under the pre-Obamacare price-padding from the insurance companies. Drug prices are a scandal, even with medical insurance, due to open price-gouging.

Housing is increasingly inaccessible. Denver, Colorado, where I once lived, has been reported as approaching a $1M median house price. California housing prices have long been ridiculous. Where does all that money go? To the mortgage bankers.

Old age is desperately insecure. My first “stake” in retirement was wiped out by the 2001 tech-bubble collapse. My second would have been destroyed by the 2008 meltdown, had it survived the medical bankruptcy. Social Security is coming up fast on the “boomer” trust-fund cliff, and the Republicans have successfully blocked any fix to that since Reagan.

Income for many is capped at a level below a living wage by monopolies on jobs. Throwing money into the workforce can create new jobs, as Biden has demonstrated, but it doesn’t address the fact that many of those jobs remain below living wage.

Education is no longer a right, but a speculative commodity, surrounded by loan sharks. It is rapidly falling out-of-favor with the young, for the very good reason that it no longer makes any economic sense for them.

Few believe the US government will rise to the challenge of global climate change — I certainly do not.

The common element underlying all of these ailments is ultimately the failure of the Federal government to finish the job it started in the 1860’s. Back then, the ownership class owned people. Now, the ownership class owns everything except people. Food. Water. Shelter. Land. Labor.

The Democratic Party needs to stop dithering, and face the core of the problem: the ownership class. The American oligarchs, barons, investors. The wealthy. The systems of ownership that make them wealth, and keep them wealthy.

Both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have thought deeply about these matters, and while their solutions may need more work, the core idea is sound: we need to return ownership of the nation to the people of the nation.

If the Democratic Party continues to dither, telling the citizens that this is the best they can do, then the United States will fail.

I feel this in my bones.

One comment on “A Letter To Congress

  1. That’s an excellent, well-written letter.


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