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Reforms would move capitalism the right way

Regarding "Filmmaker Moore Brings Populist Message to Hollywood on-the-Mon" (Sept. 15): Michael Moore's new movie makes common sense. Capitalism's engine -- financing -- isn't off the rails, it's rolling in the wrong direction. The genius of capitalism was that it raised and then invested unprecedented amounts of money in productive enterprise -- manufacturing and services.

Now Wall Street reaps trillions (literally) betting on the failure of companies and currencies. It sells insurance against financial disaster that has no value. It insulates itself from government oversight through lavish campaign contributions to key politicians and the use of experts who convince and confuse both politicians and the people.

The cocksure pre-eminence of those on Wall Street was reflected by their demand for bailouts in the face of their own failure and then flaunting their good fortune with bonuses that are unimaginable for 99 percent of us. Mr. Moore's right: The incentives race the wrong way. Without far-reaching reform, the currency traders, the derivative dealers and the hedge-fund hogs will crash our whole system.

TOM O'BRIEN
Mt. Lebanon


It benefits Moore

I had to laugh when I saw Michael Moore condemning capitalism, wearing one of his shabby ("I am one of the people") outfits and rallying the troops to outrage ("Filmmaker Moore Brings Populist Message to Hollywood on-the-Mon," Sept. 15). Like lambs to slaughter they blindly followed him.

I guess he didn't tell them his net worth is in the multimillions. He's complaining about the very thing that made him rich. What a joke.

HANK BODAMER
West View


A union message?

If a drug dealer came to my house party because he felt it was a good opportunity for him and wanted to participate in my festivities, I'd really have to wonder about the theme and guests at my party.

So doesn't Michael Moore's choice to premiere his new "I hate America" documentary at the AFL-CIO convention tell us something about the message of this organization?

While I doubt that the average union member I meet around the city agrees with anything Michael Moore promotes, shouldn't the AFL-CIO members at least be wondering why he felt comfortable at their leadership's party? Is this what they vote for when they go pull that Democratic lever as instructed by their union leadership? I seriously doubt it, but it doesn't appear that any of them think about the consequences of their actions.

ENRICO T. BRUSCHI
North Fayette


PG behaved badly

While applauding the rebuff of Rep. Joe Wilson ("Rudeness Rebuffed," Sept. 17 editorial) for behaving badly, the Post-Gazette should examine its own standards of decency, which permitted publishing Rob Rogers' cartoon "The Father ... Son ... and Holy Mackerel" in the Sept. 14 paper.

Rep. Wilson may have behaved badly and "crossed the line of basic civility." I submit the editorial page editor of the Post-Gazette performed badly and demonstrated disregard for common, basic decency when he approved an editorial cartoon that demeaned and insulted a sacred tenet of the Christian faith.

Please don't claim the offensive cartoon was satire within acceptable standards of decency. It was not.

Rep. Wilson apologized. I look forward to the public apology of the Post-Gazette, according to your masthead: "One of America's Great Newspapers."

DAVID M. CURRY
Fox Chapel


Their D.C. waste

Inherent in our rights as citizens of the United States is the prerogative to assemble and voice our opinions on issues ranging from the social and economic to the military and judicial. It is an essential part of change and reform. But at what point does this show of support begin to deteriorate in significance? When it turns violent? Absolutely. But what about when participants are provoking the very problem against which they are protesting?

Sept. 12 marked the date for a massive march on our Capitol, by thousands who believe our government is spending way too much, in wasteful ways, with unfounded reasoning. I was in Washington, D.C., that weekend visiting a friend and was struck not by the significance of what these people were saying, but by the massive piles of trash they left in their wake. Waste cans were overflowing with signs, banners, T-shirts and food. Propaganda was strewn across the streets of a normally spotless section of D.C. Birdbaths, even, were mounded with the protesters' materials.

And I wonder how many extra workers, trucks and hours it took to clean all that up, once the demonstrators migrated home? And how many extra tax dollars? Wasteful spending is an issue that our government should give a high priority to. But when the very people urging responsibility fail to show responsibility, I lose all respect for their arguments.

HEATHER A. ENGBRETSON
South Side


Your G-20 soul

Howard Zinn, World War II combat veteran, historian and author of "A People's History of the United States," has said that he feels as if he lives in an occupied country. The people of Pittsburgh, with the G-20 meeting in town, will be able to relate to Mr. Zinn's feeling. Pittsburgh, like Baghdad, will have its very own Green Zone, a military-like guarded camp separating world elite occupiers from average people in the streets. I wonder what insulting epitaphs the occupiers will use for the local residents? Maybe, "Steelheads"?

The question each of us who are shut out of the Green Zone must ask ourselves is: Where do our souls reside? Does your soul reside within the Green Zone with the elites whose policies impoverish us while enriching themselves and who send our children to fight in their noble causes while their children enjoy safety and great luxury? Or does your soul reside with those in the streets who are fighting for the freedom to participate meaningfully in the great decisions that will affect their lives and the lives of their children and future generations? Understand the issues and choose wisely.

SANFORD KELSON
Conneaut Lake


Protesters a priority?

Due to the G-20 summit, my husband, who works very hard and has to work, is being forced to take off without pay. However, a bunch of protesters are being permitted to come to the city.

My husband simply wants to get to his job and isn't a threat at all to security, but can't. Meanwhile, protesters, some of whom are known to become violent and be a major threat to security, will be taking over the town and it's OK for them to be there.

Oh, and the piece de resistance? That would be Pittsburgh paying for a parking lot for the protesters to use, one that cost more than $28,000. Meanwhile, the people who truly matter -- the working people of Pittsburgh -- are being kicked out.

It's appalling to know that protesters are being given priority over my husband and others like him.

VIDA V. BURNELIS
Crescent


Afghanistan illustrates the struggle of good vs. evil

As a lieutenant in the Marines I am constantly besieged with questions such as, "Is the fight in Afghanistan worth it?" "Do you view it as another Vietnam?" "If the Russians couldn't win, do you think the United States can win?"

Though I cannot possibly start to answer all these questions with 100 percent certainty, I do know this with absolute certainty: There are good and evil individuals in this world, and Afghanistan illustrates this.

It is our burden, as Marines, to protect the weak even at the cost of the strong. Evil will never be uprooted from this world; however, it can be constrained by the strong. If the strong give up, the evil will have won.

So as the debates continue and the politicians argue about the morality of the war, the strong will go into the abyss of the unknown and fight the evil that lurks within it; for if we don't, the evil will have won and the good will have been defeated.

2ND LT. MICHAEL J. SIMPSON
Peters


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We welcome your letters. Please include your name, address and phone number, and send to Letters to the Editor, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222. E-mail letters to letters@post-gazette.com or fax to 412-263-2014. Letters should be 250 words or less, original and exclusive to the Post-Gazette. All letters are subject to editing for length, clarity and accuracy and will be verified before being published.



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