Friday, November 19, 2004

Reply from Stern

Keith Stern ran unsuccessfully as an independent for one of Vermont's US Senate seats with some very radical and politically naive, if not dangerous, ideas. He took this opportunity to respond to one of my letters and following is his response with my observations in blue.

First, I like to thank all of you who voted for me for US Senate. My goal was to show people that there are better ideas to make this country better and hopefully get people thinking about it when future elections roll around.

Secondly I want to respond to John Stettner’s letter last week. People I talked to pretty much decided who was the least offensive candidate, very few liked either choice. Considering that under W the national debt has increased to an extremely dangerous level while he gave his rich friends tax breaks and made no attempt to curb spending; pollution controls has been eased; his idea of alternative energy is to drill for oil in new places; we attacked a country unprovoked for the first time in American history while giving Saudi Arabia a pass for their involvement in 9/11; and used deception to sneak through a Medicare plan that allows for bigger profits for pharmaceutical companies, his re-election says more about the voters dislike or distrust of Sen. Kerry. It is safe to say that if Bill Clinton could have run again, he would have cleaned W’s clock.

First I think you are sadly mistaken about Bill Clinton cleaning anyone’s clock. When the Clintons rode onto the national scene decrying the economy of the eighties as the worst ever, they were flat out lying and they got a total pass from the mainstream media. They assuredly would get the same pass again, but the alternative medias that exist now would speak out loud and strong. You just haven’t been paying attention. Just about everyone Bill Clinton campaigned for lost, including John Kerry, whereas almost without exception everyone Bush campaigned for won. As to your “litany of complaints”, I have been addressing them for weeks now. The national debt is high, but it has been higher in the past and is not “dangerous” - step back from the superlative and explain how it’s so dangerous, please. Bush gave me a tax break as I am sure he gave you one. Simple question, Mr Stern: did you return your tax refund or did you keep it? Pollution controls have not been “eased” in the sense that you mean. If you did some proper research you would learn that, for example, the level of arsenic in drinking water was arbitrarily raised by the outgoing Clinton EPA Administrator, Carol Browner, to a degree that most town drinking waters would be considered hazardous. Arsenic is an important element for our health in proper amounts. The Bush EPA merely reset the level to what it had been before the change. Mercury is a similar story. In fact, the Clinton years were epitomized by an unchecked EPA and in 1997 alone it instituted air pollution rules with an annual cost exceeding $100 billion, the effect of which would have bankrupted businesses and destroyed the economy of the nation. All this with no oversight or requirement to support their analyses. The forest fires that raged out of control in the west these past few years are a direct result of the “hands-off” Clinton-Browner policy. Bush has opened some national forests for some responsible cutting, which includes clearing out the undergrowth which acts as a super-fire-conducter. As to alternative fuels, you just can’t support your claim - Bush is the first President to invest in hydrogen as an alternative to gasoline as well as several other alternative methods. The issue really is that he doesn’t support the Enviro-Movement’s pet projects: windmills and the like. I hasten to point out to you that Nazi Germany never threatened America, and Teddy Kennedy’s father, then Sen Joe Kennedy supported staying out of Europe. I don’t believe that Vietnam attacked America. I don’t recall the Indian Nations attacking the US first. I could go on, but what’s the point - you only choose the facts you like and leave out the uncomfortable ones. The health industry is a very complicated issue with many facets, so I’m not surprised to see it so often reduced to easy bumper-sticker thinking. I happened to chat with a pharmaceutical salesman during the campaign. Are you aware that out of 100 drugs those companies research and submit to the FDA only one is approved? That one has to pay for the other 99. Other countries have lower drug prices because they have price controls. Under Bill Clinton, at the suggestion of Hillary’s task force, vaccines became price controlled - to insure that all the needy got their shots. We went from 20 vaccine producers to 3 and this year the only one that produces Flu vaccine (not an American company) had a problem. Price controls, bad. Free market, good. By the way, the pharmaceutical industry does not rank even in the top thirty of Bush contributors, as is reported by the Center for Responsive Politics. The fact of the matter is that, while the Bush Medicare bill does include increased costs to seniors, the bill also expands benefits by about $400 billion, which is it’s largest expansion ever.

The two party system at the national level has failed us. Politicians are more concerned with sucking up to the wealthy, the political donor class, than representing us. Saying that one party is superior to another is akin to saying having heart disease is better than having emphysema.

The two party system has not failed us at all. What has failed is the American people to stay informed on the issues and actually vote. This country sports a smaller percentage of eligible voters voting than any other country. I am actually glad of that given how woefully informed many people are. In registering people to vote (regardless of party - I think everyone should vote) this summer, I met people who have never voted (my vote doesn’t really matter), people who wanted to know if there was a fee to register, or if they had to fill out another form to vote in the national election, I even met one high school grad who thought the Nazi’s had ended WWII by saving the Jews from the Holocaust! If politicians are not working for the people, then the people should replace them - and I mean immediately by recall, not by waiting for the next election cycle, we do have the right and power to do that. But no, we let the politicians tell us that “money in politics corrupts” so we need Campaign Finance Reform which amounts to abridging our First Amendment right to free speech and almost nobody bats an eye! Wake up! The moral relativism in your comparison may be pithy, but it is not accurate. Some things are better than other things. I think a party that places a value on human life that is higher than the joy of unprotected sex is better. I think a party that promotes personal responsibility and initiative over the redistribution of wealth is better. I think a party that believes education is about learning something rather than how a child feels is better. The best part is that I stand with the majority of the country. I think we’re on to something.

Keith Stern
North Springfield, Vt

1 Comments:

At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You talk about being well informed; you don't know that we entered WW2 because Pearl Harbor was attacked? We were in Vietmam to protect the South Vietnamese. Yes the pharmaceutical companies spend a great deal to develop drugs but that doesn't change the fact that the pharmaceutical industry has the greatest profits of any industry. Publicly financed campaigns would not inhibit free speech but rather increase free speech by allowing more candidates to be heard. The national debt is financed by foreign countries; Japan and China respectfully are the two top debt holders as you must be aware of. If for any reason countries stop investing in our debt (one would be because of the devaluation of the dollar, another is their lack of faith in the government's ability to repay), our government would be forced to print money to cover the debt and would lead to severe devaluation of the dollar. Someone as knowledgeable as you surely knows that both Alan Greenspan and former fed chairman Volker has said that and the latter has predicted a 75% chance of financial crisis within 5 years.
I don't know what your background is but I will put my record of being a sucessful businessman for over twenty years against your record. I am curious what ideas are "radical". Finally, I ran against Sen. Leahy to show people some new ideas. When am I going to see your name on the ballot? Keith Stern kstern1956@aol.com

 

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