Letters to the Editor

Partnerships of the Ruling Rich

Letter to the Editor By Kwame M.A. Somburu

The plight of the auto industry has drawn attention from the White House and the incoming Obama administration in recent days, as well as among lawmakers.

Last week, President-elect Obama prodded the Bush administration to do more to help the auto industry, and on Monday, he raised the issue with President Bush in an Oval Office conversation meant to underscore a smooth transition of power.

Democrats and Republicans will bail out the auto industry. Since the founding of the United States, no governing political party at any level, local, regional, or national, or politicians of any ruling party, have proposed legislation to bail out poor whites, Native Americans (massacred, tortured, raped, imprisoned in Concentration Camps called reservations) workers, poor farmers, African and African American slaves, sharecroppers, families of lynch victims, homeless, unemployed, underemployed or migrant farm workers. Not one segment of the majority underprivileged have ever been bailed out by the ruling rich or their political flunkies.

In 1932, veterans of World War One and their families camped outside of Washington D.C. for a peaceful protest to encourage Congress to give them some or all of the bonuses they were scheduled to receive in 1945 (I assume that the ruling class and their political flunkies believed that many of them would be dead by then.) Instead of a bonus, they were attacked by General Douglas MacArthur. Major Dwight Eisenhower, and soldiers who drove them away, set fire to their tents and shacks, fired weapons over their heads, and caused a few deaths.

Also, before that, in January 1921, the U.S. government sent combat planes, bombers, chemical weapons, and 1500 soldiers against striking coal miners in West Virginia. Where was the bail out for these victims of the brutal exploitation by the coal companies? Where was the bail out for impoverished slaves after the Civil War? The present plight of tens of millions of U.S. citizens does not receive any similar concern from the twin parties of the ruling class.

Obama does not and will not have any representatives of the underprivileged in his cabinet, or as advisors. No working class leaders, no welfare folks, no homeless, none of the hundreds of thousands of veterans that have been denied decent care and consideration from the ruling class that they murdered for and suffered for in so many ways when oppressing peoples around the world for their capitalist masters. For those who need some evidence of this, I strongly suggest that they investigate what Major General Smedley Butler (who is in the Marine Corp Hall of Fame) had to say on that subject in the 1930s. Enter Smedley Butler in your search engine.

This is a government of criminals, by criminals, and for criminals, and Obama has succeeded in being elected president of the most lying, hypocritical, criminal, terroristic, murderous, dangerous, domineering, oppressive, militaristic, robbing government in world history. All of those that disagree with any or all of these statements of fact had better do some serious homework before attempting to refute them.

Formal education in the indoctrinational systems of so-called education, or relying on the mass media for your information, will make one an easy victim of the ruling rich of this country and their political representatives.

What is needed is the building of massive opposition to this government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich through the major instrument for real change—a strong united working class political movement that champions all of the oppressed victims of this criminal system.

We need a Workers’ Government, not Capitalist Government!

Here’s to People over Profits, and not Profits over People; and a government that is truly of the People, by the People, and for the People, and not this lie that has existed since 1789.

Bill Ayres’ Assessment of the Anti-Vietnam War Movement

Letter to the Editor By Cliff Conner

This letter was sent to the editor of the New York Times then to Socialist Viewpoint by the author. We wholeheartedly agree with his assessment of the Anti-Vietnam War movement as it applies to the movement today.

—The Editors

To the Editor:

I was glad to hear William Ayers rebut, in his own words, the mean-spirited and absurd campaign of demonization that the right-wing blogosphere conducted against him. I encountered Mr. Ayers many years ago in the movement against the Vietnam War and I would like to offer some context in which his retrospective evaluation of that movement can be better understood. Bill Ayers and I have opposing views about the effectiveness of that movement. He sees it as a mostly empty glass (it couldn’t stop the war) and I see it as a glass half full (it did stop the war, but it took many years to do so).

There were, broadly speaking, two very different and opposed “wings” of the antiwar movement of the ’sixties. Bill Ayers and I were on opposite sides. He was (again, generally speaking) in the wing that most people will remember because its leading figures, like Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, were very colorful characters who naturally became the focus of the mass news media. The other wing, to which I devoted several years of my young life, was much less exciting. Instead of dramatic pronunciations and spectacular actions designed to attract media attention, we went about the boring business of organizing mass protest demonstrations under the prosaic slogan: “Bring the troops home now!” Between 1965 and 1974, although the size of the demonstrations ebbed and flowed (mostly ebbing in election years and flowing in between), the general trend gave evidence of an explosive growth of antiwar sentiment in the general population of the United States.

I agree with Bill Ayers that the wing of the movement he represented was ineffective. I would go further and say it was counterproductive, because its sophomoric ultra-radicalism tended to discredit the antiwar movement and alienate most of the American population from it. But the movement as a whole nonetheless persisted and, in my opinion, eventually played an essential role in ending the war. From handfuls of protesters in its early days, the movement grew to being able to bring hundreds of thousands of people into the streets. Those demonstrators were not, for the most part, radical students, but ordinary people from all walks of life. Once the message of the antiwar movement began to take hold among the general population, its spread among those who were sent to fight the war could not be prevented. And once the GIs in Vietnam themselves turned solidly against the war, it was only a matter of time before it ended.

Cliff Conner is author of A People’s History of Science

A Specter is Haunting Cleveland

Letter to the Editor By Jay Rothermel

The link to the PDF of the Case Western Reserve University foreclosure study may be of use to you. You can access it on the Internet at:

I am also including an article about the study from the December 9 Crain’s Cleveland business newspaper [immediately below]. Speculative real estate sharks and financial parasites are buying property at sheriff’s auctions in North East Ohio at rock-bottom prices; I am sure this same study would generally pertain to other cities, too. The study is easy to read and has
useful diagrams.

Some neighborhoods in Cleveland I have recently been through while looking for a job look like some kind of “ground zero.” Yesterday in the deeply depressed areas off East 55th and Grand Avenue I saw an excavator demolishing an abandoned home that had burned. Out in the street were three Black men with grocery store shopping carts ready to salvage electrical wiring and copper from the site. There are two metal and wire salvage companies within half a mile of this residential work site. Recently the State of Ohio has taken to running a TV ad that says “Don’t let your tombstone say: ‘I died stealing copper from an empty dwelling.’” The precious metal from catalytic converters in cars goes for about $40.00 locally; one person at my old job didn’t know theirs had been stolen from their car until the car failed an EPA test required for license renewal.

The sunrise in this dark period is rising with Chicago’s sit down strikers, though.


Jay Rothermel

Ohio Moratorium NOW! on Foreclosures, Evictions, and Shut-Offs

Case Western Reserve University Foreclosure Study Paints Bleak Picture

By Stan Bullard

A high-volume, low-margin business trading lender-owned properties after foreclosure is slicing and dicing Cleveland and several of its suburbs to an incredible degree, according to a just-completed study by The Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development think tank at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU).

As the volume of bank-owned properties increase, lenders are shedding properties at startlingly low prices to investors who promptly resell them for gains from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. The report says that in 2005, 2.6 percent of foreclosed homes in Cuyahoga County sold for less than $10,000, but by July of this year the volume of such “extremely distressed sales” increased nearly twelve-fold to 42 percent.

Sales and repeat sales of foreclosed properties are ravaging Cleveland property values, as 63 percent of the properties in the city were sold for less than $10,000 between 2005 and July 2008. The study finds that 75 percent of lender-owned properties on Cleveland’s East Side were sold for $10,000 or less, while 32 percent of lender-owned properties on the West Side sold for similarly low prices.

The center’s study also identifies the ten largest financial institutions shedding foreclosed properties in the county over the three-year period. Deutsche Bank National Trust sold 19 percent of the foreclosed properties, disposing of 44 percent of them for $10,000 or less, followed by Wells Fargo of San Francisco, which sold 18 percent of the properties, 39 percent of them for $10,000 or less.

Meantime, ten investors or investment groups bought 481 of the properties, or 18 percent of the lender-shed properties, for $10,000 or less.

The CWRU study did not look at the effectiveness of buyers in returning low-valued properties to productive use, but it noted several efforts are taking shape.

One, the study said, is the proposed Cuyahoga County land bank of foreclosed properties, the Cleveland Housing Network’s program to lease rehabilitated foreclosed homes to low-income buyers and market-oriented land contract and lease-to-own efforts by some individual sellers.

—Crain’s Cleveland, December 9, 2008