Thursday, September 23, 2010


The Panthers are dedicated to creating a humane society where the needs of people are put over profit.

As the tax-cut debate rages through the Senate, the House, and among the prospective candidates for public office, the Gray Panthers are firmly committed to their stance that tax cuts for the wealthy must end.

Bucking the Tea Party and Right Winger presidential wannabes Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, and other advocates for the super rich at the expense of all the rest of us, the Panthers have issued a proclamation outlining their proposals regarding tax cuts. Among their many resolutions is one demanding that the progressive taxation system practiced in many other developed democratic countries be adopted here.

Progressive taxation, as I'm sure my well-informed readers know, is a tax system in which those who earn higher incomes pay a higher percentage of their income than those with lower incomes. A graduated tax is one example. Seems very logical, doesn't it? If such were the case, then the current system of granting tax cuts to those earning $250,000 or more annually would be obviated.

Susan Murany, Executive Director of the National Gray Panthers, wants to know, “We do have to ask ourselves - as Americans- Is it fair that the rich continue to benefit from our financial policies while the people who are poor, the working poor and the middle class continue to suffer? Because as most of us continue to experience the recession, the number of millionaires continues to increase. “

The gap between the wealthiest Americans and middle- and working-class Americans has more than tripled in the past three decades, according to a June 25 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities." Murany says, “It’s no surprise that over 60 percent of all income growth since 1979 has gone to the top 10 percent.”

According to this information, it would certainly seem that eliminating their tax cuts would hurt the pocketbooks of the rich a lot less than eliminating cuts for ordinary folks, doesn't it?

In addition to recommending a progressive taxation policy, the Panthers offer a number of other suggestions to reform the tax system. Among them, they advise the elimination of tax loopholes which support consumption and accumulation of wealth by corporations and wealthy individuals at the expense of ordinary wage earners. They also call for laws and policies which hold corporations accountable for delivering social benefits (living wage jobs, pollution controls, environmental protection, workplace safety and more) to states and localities which compete for corporate investments in their jurisdictions.

The Panthers further state that they oppose war, and believe it would be less likely if it were not funded with debt but with current taxes, and therefore counsel Congress to enact a separate, dedicated and progressive tax sufficient to cover the costs of war in Afghanistan and each and every future war.

The Gray Panthers are tired of such statements as that of, for example, Newt Gingrich, "I think to raise taxes on people who create jobs in the middle of a 9.5 percent unemployment rate is, frankly, crazy." Inasmuch as more and more corporations are transplanting jobs to low-wage workers in other countries, that comment seems a bit disingenuous. Our history has shown more than once that expanded wealth at the top does not trickle down into the pockets of the less fortunate. Such pronouncements are simply not true and it is sort of mind-boggling to imagine that ordinary people would swallow them.

The Gray Panthers have committed themselves to working for social and economic justice and as such, see the extension of tax cuts for the rich as a justice issue. The well-to-do have been getting richer for decades. They now have the responsibility like all of us to contribute their fair share for the benefit of all.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Michael Moore just posted an article on various web sites, "NEVER FORGET: BAD WARS AREN'T POSSIBLE UNLESS GOOD PEOPLE BACK THEM," in which he argues that the leading liberals of the time and the liberal media were largely responsible for the Iraq war by supporting rather than opposing it. Moore also details the public abuse and threats he took as a result of his principled anti-war stance. I felt moved to write a response.

Dear Michael Moore:

I applaud you for opposing the war back then when most people, including liberal big leaguers, were so gullible and cowed that they actually supported the Bush crime syndicate's sinister plot. I know you were razzed and attacked for speaking out and I am certainly sympathetic for the hard times you endured, knowing as you did how correct you were. But today at least you have the satisfaction of knowing that the world knows you opposed the war when others didn't dare to, and that you were right and they were wrong. You are now, justifiably, a hero to millions.

As you state, you weren't the only one, though your anti-war stance had the advantage of being widely noted, thus having the possibility of persuading people to rally against this iniquity being jammed down our throats. For instance, a group of us old New York City grandmothers, calling ourselves the Granny Peace Brigade, knew the war was wrong, too. We also never believed for one moment that there was any reason to invade Iraq. We read the New York Times and we, too, didn't believe. We heard that Hillary Clinton agreed we should attack Iraq, and we, too, still didn't believe. Our hearts broke when Al Franken went along with the program, and John Kerry, and Chuck Schumer and all the other Limp Liberals, and we didn't believe them, either.

And, Colin Powell, a man supposedly of impeccable character. Huh! We didn't believe him for one minute, either, as he shuffled all those maps in front of the cameras claiming they were proof of the WMDs. We knew there would be terrible consequences and that thousands of innocent people and our own military kids would die and be horribly wounded, physically and mentally. We knew it was a complete crock.

We trembled with outrage as CNN whooped it up during the hideous, unprovoked "Shock and Awe" bombing of Iraq as if it were the latest action movie. For shame!

So we, too, went out on a limb and tried to stop it. Soon after the war began, eighteen of us elderly grandmothers ranging in age from 60 through 90 went down to the Times Square military recruiting station and tried to enlist. We figured we'd had the good fortune to live long lives and we hoped to replace the kids so they'd have the same opportunity.

They didn't want us, though. In fact, they locked the door on us. So, we laboriously lowered our sore old joints and bones to the ground and sat. The cops came and asked us to move, but we wouldn't budge. We knew we were within our rights to hold a peaceful demonstration. Strangely, the police weren't as well acquainted with the Constitution, and they arrested us and took us to jail where we old ladies languished the afternoon away.

After that, we had several court appearances, always pushed along to the next one until finally we were put on trial in criminal court for six days. Wow, isn't it a credit to the City of New York that they caught us dangerous criminals and tried to convict us so the city would be safe?

Well, we were acquitted. We got some notice in the media, too, although it was short-lived. We decided to take advantage of our fifteen minutes of fame by doing everything within our power to try and alert the public of the folly, the immorality of our occupation of Iraq. We girded our over-the-hill but still kicking selves into one action after another. We began a weekly vigil in front of Rockefeller Center, called the Grandmothers Against the War vigil, which has continued without missing a single one through today no matter what the elements throw at us -- pouring rain, debilitating heat, freezing cold. We didn't incur national wrath, as you and the Dixie Chicks did, but we had to deal with our share of hecklers passing by, especially in the first few years.

We did parades across Brooklyn Bridge, a 10-day trek to Washington DC stopping at cities and towns along the way to spread the word. We wrote and performed shows with skits, comedy monologues, songs, and dramatic readings. We traveled to Europe and Central America to speak at peace meetings. We organized a national action wherein 100 grannies descended on the Capitol to lobby 100 senators for peace. We did a song and dance in the middle of Times Square. And more and more.

But, it didn't really do what we hoped. The war went on and on, and then our new President, who most of us old broads supported eagerly, went and increased the troops in Afghanistan. Yes, he had indicated during the campaign that he was going to focus on Afghanistan, but either we were too dazzled by him to notice or we figured once he was in office he'd see the light and bring them home. So, now, we are struggling to end TWO wars. Don't think for a minute we are hoodwinked into believing the war in Iraq is over. Uh uh! Fifty thousand troops is not chopped liver, and they are dying, too, in smaller numbers, to be sure, but that's immaterial to a worried parent.

So we go on and on without much applause or acknowledgment, because we HATE what we have done to Iraq and Afghanistan. We DEPLORE threats to Iran and Pakistan. We DESPISE every goddamned criminal war act we commit, always trying to justify them with phony rhetoric about democracy and safeguarding the homeland and all that blarney.

President Obama may not know about us. Our senators and Congress people may not, either, nor much of the media. But, we will go on and on even if nobody but passersby on the street see us. We will go on and on as long as we can stand up. We have our grandchildren to consider, you see. We must try to leave them with the world a modicum more peaceful than it is now. If only we had a lot of years ahead of us so we could keep on keeping on until that is achieved.

But, unfortunately we don't. And, it looks, sadly, like this state of war and chaos is going to continue for a long, long time. We urgently hope there are patriots out there to replace us when we are unable to continue.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Please read this wonderfully articulate and insightful response to the blog I posted immediately before this (see below), as follows:

A Young Person
Posted September 8, 2010 at 10:58 PM
Dear Ms. Wile,

I think you are absolutely right to remark on the apathy of the young in modern times. You may find it revealing that despite the size and location of a campus like NYU, the students at large are vastly apathetic. The largest campus political club are the College Republicans (a tragedy) and even they are not especially well-populated.

I think most young people accept a state of war as a common feature of the political landscape. I was 13 during 9/11, so in the crucial years when one strikes out to form an independent view the default state of the world was one of war.

Perhaps more importantly, it is a state of great detachment from the realities of war. I am sure you are well aware of the US government's policies about keeping caskets and dead bodies off of the air waves. I believe this explains the shock that accompanied the release of Wikileaks' video "Collateral Murder," which was not especially graphic given the sort of imagery that war so often creates. I cried when I saw the video, not just because it was disturbing, but because I (and many, many more like me) routinely play video games that simulate this sort of activity with great accuracy. Our so-called "brave men in uniform" murder indiscriminately using an interface (and with the same sort of sanitized, black-and-white feedback) that I can experience at my desk at home. I've even read that Playstation controllers are being used inside APC's because the youthful machine gunner recruits are already acclimated to the control scheme and attuned to staring at screens hosing human forms with bullets.

Young people are also generally spoiled and materialistic. Many young people do not hold jobs and have never held a job; but instead of using this fortunate position to improve their thinking and thus the world, most seem content spending all of their time indulging their vanity by buying designer clothes and slouching around coffee shops talking about foreign films. This appears especially true for the "radical leftist' types that, perhaps in a past era, one would expect to be kicking over the traces to end the war. Instead they study social work or write dissertations on airy notions of "social justice' to get a perpetually secure union job working for the government -- the same institution that perpetrates the greatest injustices towards peaceful society the world over.Many smart students are also siphoned off into high-paying military jobs or into the massive network of private firms that support the military. Two young people that I knew as a child, both of high intelligence and associated with religious pacifism growing up, now work for the military doing high-level computer science.

Perhaps a draft would interfere enough with a young person's life that the opposition would become audible. Or maybe young people would simply look at it as another opportunity to be cared for from cradle to grave, with all of life's troubles taken care of by a mysterious paternal force. At least until the bullets started flying!

Young people also know almost nothing about the history of American imperialism, nor do they know about the rich (and bipartisan!) antimilitarist tradition in America. Years of government school has only served to leave Uncle Sam looking strapping in his camouflage. This is probably why inanities like "they hate us for our freedom" have such currency in America.

Finally, most young people are more interested in remaining in the good graces of those around them than learning about the world. Despite all the adages about youthful folly and boldness, many young people do not have any opinions whatsoever: not even bad, ill-thought out ones waiting for mature reflection. War and peace? That sounds like a topic that would require reading a book or talking intelligently to adults -- I might even form an unpopular view if I entertain these ideas! Pshaw! Pass the Heineken!

A Young Person.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Dear Grandson (a senior at New York University):

Those of us actively engaged in the anti-war movement have had a spectacular lack of success in bringing the current wars to an end. We can’t help feeling that if the youth of America were part of our movement, things would be vastly different. Unfortunately, we’ve seen little signs of student involvement or even, to be frank, concern. To us, it seems as if there is tremendous apathy among our youth as to caring about or even noticing that your peers (in age) are dying and suffering horrendous wounds every day in wars which we among the anti-war people deplore as unwise and unconscionable, as well as unproductive in terms of making the U.S. more secure.

During the Vietnam War, there was a massive student movement opposing that conflict. I don’t have the expertise to analyze how large a role that played in bringing the war to an end, but I suspect it may have been one of the key (if not THE key) factors in persuading President Nixon and his cabinet to withdraw from that trouble spot.

Of course, as we all know, there was a draft at that time, which probably fueled the huge numbers of students protesting the war. Or, were there other reasons, also, for student participation? Was there a difference in political consciousness or even character in a young person of the 60s and 70s … or what? Would a return of the draft now have a similar effect? Would it mobilize you and your ranks to revolt against the wars in numbers large enough to stop the occupations? Or would it simply add to the carnage of young people being slaughtered in Iraq and, now, particularly, in Afghanistan without effecting a change in policy?

Those are the questions I pose to you. I hope to provoke you to pay some attention to this matter, and, in so doing, stimulate discussion among you and your friends which will assist us in understanding your attitudes. Perhaps, then, we can figure out ways to engage you in our struggle.

It really is more YOUR struggle than ours — the trillions being spent to fund these wars decrease assets for education, housing, health care, and most pertinent to your needs, JOBS. And, I don’t want to alarm you, but in years to come, perhaps there will be a conscription and your lives will be on the line. Not a happy thought.

If you oppose the wars, as do I, then I should expect you to have some interest in trying to stop them. If you support them, I wonder if perhaps you are at all motivated to volunteer to fight in them. Tell me, I want to understand. Maybe you are so despairing about citizen action having any discernible effect that you just want to concentrate on the things at hand — your studies, your fraternity, your college-related activities. If that’s the case, I don’t blame you, certainly. I am very discouraged, too, and sometimes think, “What’s the use?” I also realize that you haven’t got the time, in all likelihood, to add protesting to your schedule. I remember college well — that feeling you’re always lugging a hundred-pound weight on your back as you try to do all the required reading, write the essays, and prepare for the tests. Ye gods, what pressure!

Manhattan Congressman Charles Rangel has introduced a bill every year since the beginning of the invasion of Iraq to bring back the draft. Part of his reasoning is that there would be such a giant student uprising that the wars would be over within a few months. What is your opinion about that?

I queried some of the people in my anti-war groups -- Grandmothers Against the War, Vets for Peace, Peace Action, the Granny Peace Brigade, et al -- regarding the draft. Some feel it would not achieve the same results today as it did in Vietnam and that creating jobs and a better economy are what is needed. Some feel it is the missing ingredient in our unsuccessful quest to bring the troops home. Others, like me, are uncertain.

I really want to know your thoughts and earnestly hope you and your fellow students will think a bit about the questions I’ve raised and let me know what your conclusions. We grandmothers and other older people amongst the war opposition groups will not be here much longer to fight this fight. At some point, you will have to take on the battle yourselves.

Or not?