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Hooper Letter - 09/18/09

I have been reading the letters to the editor over the past week and have been gratified to see others writing letters regarding the political issues and concerns of these times. The electorate, which is who we are, must get more involved with our government at every level and most importantly the national level. There is much at stake these days, and we must be active participants, not silent bystanders. We have been doing that for far too long and that is why things are in such a mess. We must begin to hold our elected officials at all levels of government accountable. We have a tendency to do that better at the local level than we do at the state level, with an even worse job for those we send to Washington.

I don't write these letters too often, but there are times when things get me going, and I feel it necessary to share my concerns with my fellow citizens. The big fuss right now and the focus for the past few days since Congress has gone back into session (please note that I did not say back to work) has been the president's speech to our schools and his speech to the joint session of Congress regarding health care reform. I watched part of his speech and read the speech the next morning. I was encouraged and disappointed at the same time. The media has been giving him high marks on that speech. And we continue to focus on what the media tells us about what is important. But there is more going on that the media doesn't cover, or at least the mainstream media does not cover. Wonder why?

Do we need health care reform? Yes we do! But not a health care program run by the federal government. The current bill (I have read parts but not all of the current bill under consideration) adds several layers to the already huge federal bureaucracy. This has never resulted in efficiency in any federally controlled program. Allow me to provide an example. In August of 1977, Jimmy Carter was president. We were experiencing financial woes with inflation. Then the oil shortage hit, which was a major problem. I dealt with the gas lines and bet some of you did as well. It was ugly. The Carter Administration decided we needed to do something. They created the United States Department of Energy. It was approved by Congress in a flash! Its objective was clear and direct, lessen the United States' dependency on foreign oil. Given the times, no wonder Congress approved its creation in a flash. It is now 32 years since this assignment was given to this little department. It has grown to an agency of 16,000 employees, 100,000 contracted employees and an annual budget of $24.2 billion. Just how close are they to meeting their mission, their primary objective?

Our national debt is ridiculous. Do you even have any idea how much money we owe China? China just happens to hold a great percentage of our national debt. They were the only country who could afford to provide the loans. Our Federal Reserve is printing money faster than ever in this country's history, which for a very long time was stable and constant. That began to change in 1971, when President Nixon took us off the gold standard, which was then the basis for supporting the U.S. dollar. It was so strong that it became the basis for international commerce. When the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was created and based in Washington, D.C., the U.S. dollar was the basis for all of its assistance to developing and emerging countries to establish and stabilize their currencies.

The U.S. dollar was strong, dependable and provided the basis for international commerce. That is why you hear oil prices quoted in dollars per barrel. All that is about to change, and I bet that is news to you. I first learned about this on Thursday, Sept. 3. It was in a small news item on Bloomberg.com. I looked for a week for more information in other news outlets but found nothing. Let me share this bit of news with you. The IMF needs an infusion of money ($500 billion) to help smaller countries through this international financial nightmare that most nations are going through right now. China has agreed to buy $50 Billion in IMF notes, the first purchase of its kind, to help. However, these bonds represent a basket of currencies consisting of the U.S. dollar, the euro, the yen and the British pound. China and other countries like Russia, Brazil and India are all concerned about the dollar's downward value rating and want to lessen the U.S. dollar's dominance. This is historic and is another kink in the power and prestige of the United States.

The jobs report is abysmal. But the media would have you to believe we have bottomed out and recovery is on the way. How can that be? This country's Gross National Product is based 70 percent on consumer spending. Not manufacturing, not industry, but you and me spending money. If more people are out of work and more jobs are being lost, not just temporarily, but permanently, when and how can we begin to spend more?

My point is this, you have to listen and ask yourself if what is being said by politicians and reported by the media makes sense, and is there another side to the story. We have to begin to hold our elected officials accountable to us, the electorate. Technically it is us that put them in office. They tend to forget that.

John Hooper

Oxford