To move forward, abandon competition in favor of cooperation

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I always have been curious, asking questions – not necessarily directly and openly, but within my own mind. This is a place of complete privacy where I do not have to be hypocritical in my thinking. I can let it all flow. It is the safest place for me to lay it all on the table, without fear of retribution or any inhibitors getting in the way.

In my mind, I can go places that I would otherwise be forbidden to go in my body. I can be on Broadway in New York City; on the beach in Savannah; or in one of the most expensive suites in Las Vegas. I could even be in Buckingham Palace, or in Israel where so much of Bible history was made and still is being
made.

YET SO MANY of us deny ourselves that last vestige of freedom – thinking – and leave it to others to do it for us. And believe me, others are doing it for us.

Take political advertisements as an example. We are told what to do with so little information provided in assisting us making credible decisions. We usually get what I call “catchphrases.” That liberals like to “tax and spend” is just one of them. Nobody wants to be taxed and nobody wants to be taxed so that liberals can spend it on wasteful social causes. So attaching the simple phrase “tax and spend” to liberals causes people who do not think to believe what they hear, and not what they have taken the time to know.

If we would take time to use our heads for something other than a hat rack, as my mother used to say, we may find that there is very little, if any, substance in what we hear from people who are trying to win us over to their side. When we have a government that is put up for bid every four years, what else can we expect to hear? We have a competitive system of government, which I tend to believe is not the best system.

JUST THE OTHER day, for instance, I thought about how life would be if we would make a paradigm shift, 180 degrees, where we – instead of being competitive with one another, especially in politics – would be cooperative. Consider the resources that would be saved and could be used to fund other needed endeavors. Working together produces a better product than working in competition with one another.

If not working together across the board, at least there should be a noncompetitive environmental market in areas where the quality of life is affected – i.e., food, clothing, shelter, security, health, etc. All efforts in these areas should be cooperative. These are necessities that we cannot have market-driven. Most likely, someone is ready to call this socialism. And maybe it is. Our government always has had elements of socialism. Everybody knows this. I cannot imagine what life in America would be like if it were not so.

AN ECONOMY driven purely by markets, without regard to what happens to those who fall through the cracks, is an economy heading toward ruin. No one pushes this kind of economic philosophy other than those greedy investors and business owners who stand to gain at the rest of the country’s loss. You can count on them doing everything to maximize their returns on investments, disregarding the implications that such an economy will bring on those who are at the bottom already.

Do we want to end up like other countries where the sick, hungry and destitute are sleeping on the streets? The poor always are going to be with us. The question is how are we going to deal with them, not how well we are going to treat the rich. Will it be about compassion or about numbers?

What I am hearing from some in this political race for the presidency is frightening. In essence, their solution is to make the poor and middle class poorer and the rich richer. Somebody is going to have to pay for balancing the budget. The poor do not have any money. So, they will pay their part, as suggested by the Romney campaign, doing without essential programs – i.e., food, health care, educational assistance, etc.

The rich have lots of it – some say more than 40 percent of the wealth – and that is just 1 percent of the population. Nevertheless, the people who are trying to win the presidency are telling us that we need to give them a tax break. So who is left to pay the taxes?
You guessed right: the middle class – who, by the way, is out
there fighting for the rich to get in office.

Now explain that to me. It is one thing to be taken advantage of when your eyes are closed, but when they are wide open it indicates that somebody is not thinking. Instead, they are wrapped up in the emotions of the issues, not the substance.

WE DO NOT yet have a complete government “of” the business world, “by” the business world and “for” the business world. But what if we put people into office who espouse the ideas now floating around – that business knows best how to solve the political and economic problems facing this country; and that the middle class will no longer exist – just the rich and poor?

I have no political party preference. However, I know that I do not want to live under a government that puts more tax burdens on the middle class and poor who can least afford them. These are the proverbial ones “behind the tree” who have been taxed to death. And the ones still spewing, “Don’t tax him, don’t tax me; tax that man behind the tree” are the greedy rich. Their solution is what is quoted in Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions: “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” – “Let them eat cake.” They are that far from reality and understanding the problems of the middle class and poor.

I SAY IT IS time for the rich to be taxed in proportion to their earnings. Why should we assume that they would reinvest the billions of dollars we give, through tax write-offs and incentives, back into the economy? Some of those dollars may end up in secret bank accounts, where they do the country no good whatsoever, or in overseas investments at the expense of American workers. Who knows?

In some political circles, it is all about the numbers, not the people.

(The writer is a former Augusta City Council member and a retired labor relations manager from Bechtel Savannah River Inc.)

Comments (7) Add comment
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willie7
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willie7 10/06/12 - 11:40 pm
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Grady , a great column
Unpublished

Grady , a great column. I wish more people would use their head rather than listening to "Money Making Talk Show Hosts". The "Man" can fool the rank and file just as he did to maintain slavery.

Conservative Man
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Conservative Man 10/07/12 - 01:51 am
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Mr. Abrams remarks are.......

.....always interesting. If for no other reason than that they are intelligent, and well put.

Even though your positions are sometimes opposed to mine..

Where to begin?....Grady..I understood your argument until you used the word "greed"...

This is a classic trigger used to disarm any opponents of your particular argument and is employed to have the same effect as the word "racist" or "homophobe". A "cheap shot" at best and intellectually lazy at worst...
Secondly; you were quick to decry the use of "catchphrases"
against liberals,..i.e."tax and spend".. but were silent or ambivalent on the same tactic being used on conservatives....i.e. "mean spirited, hate all poor people, etc".

But then (of ALL things) the words..."I have no political party preference"
were a part of your LTE?.........Really?

To say you have no "political party preference" is to negate every argument in your letter...because every argument you make in this LTE is a political statement...

Mr. Abrams, those of us who read the Chronicle and follow these forums, would prefer to see statesmanship, rather than rhetoric.

This LTE is rhetoric....plain and simple......

Young Fred
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Young Fred 10/09/12 - 02:15 pm
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A long drawn out straw man

“An economy driven entirely by markets” is a straw man. W. F. Buckley, who many would call one of the fathers of conservatism, warned against the “excesses of capatilism”.

NOBODY, NO NOT ONE, is arguing for an unfettered free market. This is not 1912 in the meat plants, in some Sinclair novel. No matter how much you people try to say it's so.

On the other hand, you have people arguing for an omnipotent state. “They” know what's best.

Is that what you want?

soapy_725
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soapy_725 10/07/12 - 11:41 am
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Even Stalin relaxed the totalitarian collectivism
Unpublished

every "Five Years" to allow capitalistic markets to exist, for a short while. This was the only thing that kept the Soviet Prison State alive and feed. That and massive American tax dollars in aid.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 10/07/12 - 11:46 am
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Pure Communism
Unpublished

Everything common and shared cannot be managed by flawed greedy humans. It does not work. With God as the "master" of all things it can and will work. It is all a matter of who is in charge.

Sweden espouses a system where all are treated equally, without regard to financial status. Everyone gets everything. Sweden does not defend itself. Sweden does not provide world policing. Sweden has a population where, because most are productive and contribute to the "fund", there is a minimum of sharing.

slowpitch
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slowpitch 10/08/12 - 08:13 am
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this column is written by someone with no econ literacy

The ideas expressed in this article are actually dangerous. Pretending the poor and middle class are not well-served by markets or capitalism flies in the face of the entire 20th century. What happens when we substitute planning and rule by committee for markets? Real, major-league grinding poverty and suffering.

Mr Abrams may be greedy and envious of his wealthy neighbors, but apparently he's also blind to the fact that the low income households in the US are doing better now than they have at any time in US history and better than almost anywhere else on earth. Household income spent on food is not only far lower than it has ever been in the US, it is of higher quality than it has ever been (ie, year round access to all variety of fresh produce). Low income households widely have access to the same quality of life enhancements that wealthy families do (cell phones, internet, cable, air travel, etc). Clearly there are hardships, but the solutions are largely introducing more choice and more markets, not the opposite!

Paul Krugman and certain liberal ilk may like to glamorize the postwar decades, but fail to acknowledge whole groups of society in the US existed as a permanent underclass!!

Face it, if a low income family were given a choice to try and make it it any decade or in any country, the modern US would be the no brainer choice. Not that things couldn't be better, electing national leaders dedicated to increasing employment would be a great start. But your fantasy examples offer the status quo compared to Never Never Land, not the status quo compared to what's possible in reality.

Example: airfare chart 1980-present, prices plummeted even as input unit costs (labor, gas, jets) have risen greatly: http://www.aei-ideas.org/2012/10/even-with-baggage-fees-the-miracle-of-f...

Gage Creed
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Gage Creed 10/08/12 - 09:17 pm
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"I have no political party

"I have no political party preference."

Mr. Abrams, one only has to review the plethora of letters and columns you have written over the past years to see that your statement quoted above is disingenuous at best, and more realistically, mimics something a fisherman would hesitate to repeat for fear of rejection.

Why not state your case and stay true to your cause?

Bizkit
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Bizkit 10/09/12 - 01:58 am
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In my mind, I can go places

In my mind, I can go places that I would otherwise be forbidden to go in my body. Ding, Ding, Ding. He lost me after that. One can only imagine were he goin' with all this. I hope he's not a smoker because he's standing in a patch of strawmen and would likely catch on fire. Strangest letter. I wonder if he's an active member of the Communist Party USA. Which once again supports Obama 12' just like Obama 08'. Ya gotta love the freedom of America.

par 3
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par 3 10/10/12 - 11:59 am
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Do we have to attack? Can we dabate?

I was hoping to create debate on some of the issues facing us today. Yes, my mind is not locked in to any philosophy, whether economic, religious, social or political. I am still searching and growing and allowing myself to be open to new ideas, even if they are not in agreement with mine. Today, you may like what I write and tomorrow, you may hate it. You may even call me a communist or a socialist. You may do anything to close my voice off. I do not write to satisfy people; I write to engage people in discussion. Who's to say that I am right and you are wrong, or you are right and I am wrong? Bottom line, we ought to be able to talk without demonizing one another. Right? Can we all just try to get along with those with whom we disagree without getting down and dirty?

Butterbean
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Butterbean 10/13/12 - 06:50 am
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Have you ever noticed

that it always seems to be the "other side" that will not compromise on issues? Basically, if one does not agree with my way then they are not capable of compromise. Just an observation.

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