WatchSonoma Watch

GUEST OPINION: Uncle Sam is making the wrong choices

Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon is a former co-chairman of the Commission on a Green New Deal for the North Bay and is a Democratic candidate in the new 2nd Congressional District.

On a recent day in Petaluma, two very different events spotlighted grim results of upside-down priorities from the federal government.

Upwards of 600 people gathered for an early breakfast at the Veterans Memorial Hall to raise money for the Committee on the Shelterless (COTS), a nonprofit organization that last year sheltered nearly 2,000 individuals, served more than 127,000 hearty meals and distributed 800,000 pounds of food to the needy.

We heard moving stories about — and from — people whose lives have been transformed by active compassion, generosity and their own hard work. But, as speakers lamented, COTS must turn away many who need help.

Charities and other nonprofits are struggling to cope with deep economic wounds that have been festering for years. The dire consequences are far more widespread than private agencies can possibly heal.

Only government has the capacity to provide economic remedies for social distress of this magnitude. But government is failing.

Across the North Coast, elected officials speak of wanting to create local jobs. But city, county and state budgets are going from very bad to worse.

Only the federal government can use the Keynesian tool of deficit spending to bring down unemployment. But Washington is paralyzed by ideology. Job stimulus funding, inadequate from the outset, has dwindled. And the momentum is moving in the wrong direction.

The threats to working people are now even coming from one of our great public institutions, the post office.

Hours after the COTS breakfast, I went across town to a public meeting about a proposal to close both of the regional mail-processing facilities in Petaluma. About 230 employees would be directly affected.

Although enveloped in public-relations fog, the presentation from U.S. Postal Service management was all too clear. This is a national directive. In the name of becoming more “competitive,” the Postal Service is moving to severely damage its quality of service.

Postal employees and the public will suffer. Many jobs will be lost. And millions of us who depend on first-class mail will discover that one-day delivery has morphed into two-day or even three-day delivery.

This approach is aiming to make unwise changes irreversible. So, Ukiah has been facing imminent closure of its beautiful, functional and historic downtown post office. Some people in rural areas are on the verge of losing the only post office within reasonable driving distance.

Meanwhile, nationwide, plans are afoot to eliminate Saturday postal delivery.

A bizarre accounting method, falsely portraying the Postal Service as insolvent, provides a rationale for slash-and-burn “remedies.” Congress has failed to overturn a five-year-old requirement imposed by Republican leaders that cooked the books — mandating the extraordinary pre-funding of more than $5 billion every year for retiree health benefits.

This travesty is part of a pattern. While Wall Street flourishes, Main Street suffers — and powerful forces in Washington are opting for policies that normalize unemployment while undermining individuals, families and communities.

To the north of Sonoma County, economic distress is even more widespread. In Mendocino and Humboldt counties — whether visiting a health clinic, senior center, public transit agency, community college, student ecology project or veterans assistance center — I’ve seen ominous impacts of severe and protracted funding shortages that are tearing at our social fabric.

Uncle Sam is making bad choices. For instance, policymakers are squandering money — and taking lives — in a war effort that costs about $1 million per year for each U.S. soldier now in Afghanistan. The failure of Congress to enact a proposed one-quarter of 1 percent transaction tax on Wall Street is depriving the U.S. Treasury of $150 billion a year. And so it goes.

Our national funding priorities are out of whack. We must change them to revive our communities.

27 Responses to “GUEST OPINION: Uncle Sam is making the wrong choices”

  1. GAJ says:

    The PD Conservative?

    You can see in the link of the PD recommendations there was hardly a tax or bond measure they did not support.

    Hardly Conservative.

    Here are their recommendations for key political posts:


    U.S. Senate — Barbara Boxer

    U.S. House, 1st District — Mike Thompson

    U.S. House, 6th District — Lynn Woolsey

    Governor — Jerry Brown

    Darned Conservatives!


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  2. mockingbird says:

    I kinda laugh at the posts that call the PD liberal and progressive. They do hit pieces all the time on liberal candidates. I will bet that Norm Solomon will not be endorsed by the PD and it is highly likely that Huffman will be as he is the more conservative candidate.

    As I have supported and worked for many progressive candidates I get really irritated at the the PD’s hit pieces that seem to be very one sided. Currently it’s all about public worker pensions. I know the PD has have already laid off many rank and file staff with most of management keeping their jobs. This was a major detriment to the quality of this newspaper. There won’t be any golden parachutes for the rank and file worker, I can tell you that. Like every other organization, private or public, the rank and file workers are the first to get cut or to go.

    However, I do like the comics. Cut them and I won’t buy your paper anymore.

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  3. Commonsense says:

    “Only government has the capacity to provide economic remedies for social distress of this magnitude. But government is failing.”
    Why? What historically or presently speaking establishes this statement? Where are the facts that support this position?
    Being a fairly educated and hopefully reasonable person, I seriously doubt that in this age and time, government is the ONLY thing that can remedy our situation. Mr. Soloman will not be getting my vote based on this poorly written article with few facts and even less commonsense.
    Why go on and on about the post office? Frankly, with all the other issues, the post office is the least of our worries. I can do without delivery on a Saturday and the use of technology was bound to affect the “letter” system of communication, doing business in the private/public sectors and everyday things like bill receipt/payment. The pony express was a great thing in its day, but its day passed, maybe so has the “old” post office model. Maybe we need a new model?

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  4. Anderson says:

    This piece represents a prime example of the kind of left-wing stupidity and ignorance that festers in some local politicians.

    Vote for this guy, and you vote for oppression, for never-ending deficits that will sink the country, and against personal freedom and liberty.

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  5. Poli Fish says:

    Solomon is part of the New Green Corrupt Deal and will be supported by all the supervisors who have bought into the “green” boogey man. Rabbit is an architect and McGuire is a business owner and developers friend. The other three are just tipsy and delusional believing their are saving the world. All architects and planners are “green” so they have the support of the organized builders exchange, union contractors, building suppliers, subcontractors, engineering groups and other professional building organizations with money and members involved in politics. They don’t care where the money comes from. As we are witnessing the supervisors are incompetent at solving the real problems facing the county residents and businesses.

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  6. Wesley Logan says:

    I find the name calling on this site very childish. Mr Solomon is not a “communist” (what kind of person still accuses people of this?)and his support for the post office shows again why he’d be an excellent congressman. The USPS is one of the things our country should be very proud of and they are not bankrupt, but have been hamstrung by ridiculous requirements in order to privatize them. Please educate yourselves.Mr Solomon cares about people and the environment- Does that make him a “Communist”? This website is a haven for right wing crazies like “Mr Miller” who obviously feel that calling names and making false accusations constitutes a political opinion. How sad if this is what our county’s political discourse has come to.

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  7. Bradley Miller says:

    Is it OK to say communist on this site, Ted? Progressive democrats are not democrats in my book. They have taken over the party though and have kids camping on lawns and talking like communits. You should hear them. Whenever you hear the word consensus you know that brainwashing has taken place. Consensus means going along to get along now. That’s not individual freedom. The ‘common good’ is another communist term. The ‘collective’ is another. They use facillitators for their rag-tag ‘general assemblies’. The last time I went down there, there were about 8 people including Lisa Maldonado having a meeting on the beaten-up city hall lawn.

    Norm is on the Green New Deal board with Lisa Maldonado. This group is backed by the Electrical Unions that want solar panel mandates so their union can get all the work at the beleagured homeowner’s expense. This new deal is no deal as far as I’m concerned. No mandates, it’s un-american.

    This guy is an operative, and should not be voted for.

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  8. Dan W. says:

    Progressives such as Norm are unbelievably dangerous. He actually believes that the only way to get ourselves out of this deficit is to create more deficit in order to create jobs. Even John Maynard Keynes, someone I would never advocate for, believed that rainy day spending needed to be used with savings, not the printing press or borrowing money from Communist cesspools.

    What is his deal with prioritizing saving the post office? It is an outdated system that the market has rid itself of a few times. They always whine about having to save $5b each year to use for future pensions because they want to be like every other government agency and deficit spend the public-backed pensions. Do they have a PAC donating to Norman?

    Thankfully, Norman would be just 1/535th of Congress spitting out his wacky liberal crap just like Marxine Waters, Woolsey, or Kucinich do right now. If someone like Norman had real power he would potentially be able to crash the system with in ten minutes using his borrow and spend idealogy. I wish that the crappy progressives didn’t gerrymander congressional districts in this state so I could potentially vote against this socialist.

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  9. Beef King says:

    How is it possible that any serious voter would cast a vote for another whacko like Solomon?
    Isn’t Noreen Evans enough of a whacko?
    Haven’t we already met our whacko quotient with Woolsey and Wiggins and the gang?
    Enough with the insanity, please don’t vote for Solomon. Vote for anyone else on the ticket and spare us another term of destruction.

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  10. Canthisbe says:

    “but many public sectors are being attacked with unwarranted regulation”

    Who do you think is imposing those regulations that you consider unwarranted on the public sector? The private sector? You complain about the government imposing over-regulations on itself and then argue that the answer to all our problems is bigger, more intrusive government?

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  11. Canthisbe says:

    One thing that would help the Post Office is if the law was changed so that the Congress people that send us junk mail without having to pay the Post Office anything would have to start paying the Post Office first class mail rates out of their own salaries.

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  12. The Oracle says:

    After reading his post, I’m trying to figure out if Won’t Get Fooled Again is a Huffman staffer, Chris Smith, or someone who actually finds their Fox News-style rhetoric insightful. Either way, thanks for the chuckle.

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  13. Michael Aparicio says:

    Another insightful diagnosis by Mr. Solomon. Indeed, our government’s spending priorities not only are unjustifiable, but many public sectors are being attacked with unwarranted regulation (e.g., NCLB). Fixing these two problems won’t, by themselves, balance our budget; but fixing them and creating a fairer tax system (e.g., one that taxes capital transactions such as financial transactions more and labor less), could balance the budget and be a fairer, more democratic society. Are we, the average persons of this country ready to demand that our leaders do this? Will enough of us who want this turn up at the polls and vote for an articulate candidate who will bring this message to the halls and chambers of our country’s capital? If so, we will elect Norman Solomon. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I wish Solomon was running for President. I’m thankful he’s running for Congress.

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  14. Follower says:

    He is just doing what has to be done to get elected. He’s promising to steal money from your neighbor & give it too you.
    And you will vote for him because you want more.
    You don’t care were it comes from.
    You don’t care who earned it.
    You don’t care what sacrifices were made to produce it.
    You don’t care what sacrifices will need to be made by the victims, you just want your cut.
    So you will vote for him.
    Unless of course some other candidate promises you more, then he will lose.

    You will walk into the voting booth and do your part to bring down a once great nation.
    And when you emerge all your greedy friends will pat you on the back & tell you how wise you are for defeating those dumb, evil conservatives.

    But then one day you will wake up to find that there is no more money.
    The people who used to produce the wealth you voted to steal have stopped trying.
    There’s no one left to tax.
    When you check your mail there will be nothing there.
    To your relief you will find that the Post Office had to lay off the postal workers. Surely you just need to go to the post office & get your check.
    But it’s not there either.
    There are no more checks.
    And when your neighbor comes to take what you have there will be no police to protect you.
    And you will blame it all on those dumb, evil conservatives.

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  15. Won't Get Fooled Again says:

    Norman Solomon does a good job yelling about what ails our country. Unfortunately he has zero experience actually getting anything done. The North Coast has serious problems that need addressing in a real way not from a theory.

    He should stick to his writings, appearing on KPFA and palling around with Sean Penn. But what do you expect from a guy who endorsed and actively campaigned for Ralph Nader in 2000? Nader even endorsed his candidacy a few weeks back. Lord help us if this bozo gets elected.

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  16. Missy says:

    Is there a reason we keep giving away tons of money to illegal aliens yet we’re closing the post office?

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  17. Jay Behr says:

    Norman Solomon is the real deal progressive for Congress. He understands that we need to preserve the public sector institutions, like the Post Office, which would be doing fine if it were not being constantly undermined by systematic underfunding and ideological attack by the privatizers who want to convert every public service into some rich guy’s private money-maker.

    Norman also understands that the 1% and the corporations have used their political influence to slough off their fair share of taxes onto the working class and the middle class. Our budget deficit was caused by the unfunded Bush tax cuts, the massive tax shelter abuse by the largest corporations and wealthy individuals, two unfunded wars, and the indefensible miscategorization of capital gains at half the tax rate of regular folks income tax.

    We could fund a national jobs program with a financial transaction tax, and that’s what we will do when we elect Norman and a big batch of progressives in the next Congress. Then we’ll get the change we want!

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  18. Social Dis-Ease says:

    Restore the adherance to the Constitution.
    Set the Free Market free.
    Identify and purge Agenda 21 from our World…
    identify and purge Socialist/A21 change agents like this man from a position in which he can damage us further.

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  19. The Fish Speak says:

    I will ride my environmentally friendly, made in China bicycle, many miles next November to vote against this marxist. Only in the colony of California do we find old marxists like Norm still pedalling this rubbish.

    It is all a bit Orwellian from the old Soviet or North Korean model. Only big government has the answers to the current social ills. And only big government can solve these ailments. All power to the government.

    These views went out of style years ago with the fall of the Soviet Empire. Only here can you still see the red banner waved and the old rhetoric troted out.

    Capitalism and representivative democracy will right the ship of California in spite of its self. Norm and his free spending views have bankrupted California and nearly bankrupted the local cities and counties.

    I am following the old adage, “anybody but Soloman.”

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  20. The Oracle says:

    It’s nice to see my favorite WSC commentators didn’t disappear while I was on my holiday vacation visiting the grandkids. Your comments are as entertaining as always. I applaud my fellow WSC commentators’ abilities to stick to personal attacks and fantastical stories and avoid the impulse to research actual facts. It’s not easy to rationalize the ways our country’s plutocrats have co-opted the political process and horded our country’s wealth. Job well down!

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  21. Graeme Wellington says:

    Please, please, please Sonoma County don’t elect this guy. If we taxed millionaires and billionaires 100% it wouldn’t make a dent in the debt. Just stop spending. This guy wants to spend more and says we didn’t spend enough. No one with this view can possibly be elected again. This kind of politician is the problem. Fix it. Don’t vote for this type again. Sonoma County… it’s YOUR fault if you vote him in.

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  22. Canthisbe says:

    I have to agree that the government is making bad choices, not just at the Federal level, but at the state, county and city level as well. However, the solution to those bad choices is not to make worse choices. Socialism, historically, has not been a good choice. The government has been a major contributor to the current economic situation. Mr. Solomon’s argument that only massive increases if Federal deficit spending can solve our economic problems tells you that what you will get if you elect him to Congress is someone who will vote to increase the national debt so that the Federal government can dole out billions of more dollars on the special interests that will kick back millions to the politicians. Mr. Solomon must not have noticed, but the US is broke. We are selling our souls to China so that the Washington DC can live high on the hog. The fact that he chooses the Post Office for his poster child for bigger and bigger government shows how out touch he is with reality. The Post Office is bankrupt and is the model of government inefficiency . The Federal government collects money from you, it takes a big cut for itself off the top and sends you back what’s left over. Stop and read all of the articles about the freeways , the Smart train, and all of the other projects that are talked about. They all claim that they cost almost nothing because they will paid for by Federal grants. The Federal government cannot make something out of nothing , but it has repeatedly shown us that is can make nothing out of something. We need a more responsive, more efficient, more responsible government, not a bigger spending government, to allow the economy to get back on track.

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  23. Lo Sbandato says:

    “Only the federal government can use the Keynesian tool of deficit spending to bring down unemployment.” This is so wrong it’s hard to know where to begin, but the easiest riposte is, all government spending is transfer payments. It doesn’t create jobs, it just reshuffles the distribution of existing jobs.

    Yes, prefundng pensions is a much, much worse idea than promising huge benefits, expecting unrealistic returns (from what? Oh, yeah, those Wall Street crooks), then pleading for more taxpayer money when pensions are underfunded by billions. How irresponsible! (By the way, I’m far from happy about you frocing me to agree with the Repukican).

    The transaction tax income is a rounding error on the deficit, just like the muich-vaunted “automatic sequestering” imposed by the predetermined failure of the ‘Super’ committee. In fact, it only slows the rate of growth in the deficit, it doesn’t reduce it.

    Uncle Sam’s biggest mistake is following the ridiculous drunken-sailor-in-a-brothel spending that fools like you are STILL advocating, despite it’s utter failure to work, ever.

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  24. Reality Check says:

    “Only the federal govt can use the Keynesian tool of deficit spending to bring down unemployment. But Washington is paralyzed by ideology.”

    Over the last 3 yrs the federal govt has borrowed 35 to 40 cents of every dollar it spends. And Solomon thinks paralysis prevents the Keynesian tool from being deployed! Speak up Norman, what you you have us borrow, 50 to 60 cents of each dollar?

    Solomon is specific about a single thing: a one-quarter of 1% Wall Street transaction tax. It would raise, he thinks, $150 billion. But his laundry list of spending proposals has already spent that several times over. I hope not, but the 2d district has never let a few flim-flam promises get in the way of electing someone.

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  25. Steve Humphrey says:

    Oh great. Here we get another stellar candidate for public office.

    How can anyone in their right mind find a defensive position for the US Postal Service? After years of a monopoly on delivering packages and mail, they have allowed themselves to become an institution for the third class bulk mail business. They were led by those who could not foresee a day when packages would be delivered more efficiently, and cheaper, by private enterprise. FedX and UPS run circles around them both in cost and efficiency of delivery.
    The internet has opened up a whole new way of delivering and recieving what used to be stacks of first class mail, at virtually no cost.
    And now, this candidate wants to defend them? Please, let’s move on. I look forward to the day when my dog no longer barks and I don’t have to fill up my recycle bin so much.

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  26. Money Grubber says:

    I really wish the Press Democrat would stop providing free advertising and photo exposure to its favored political candidates under the guise of “guest” author.

    Norman Soloman spewed the usual hype without offering any solutions at all.

    Anyone can point out problems, Norman.

    But its not as easy to provide solutions, is it ?

    Aside from propping up the failing post office with billions of tax dollars each year from now on, what is YOUR solution to the post office falling customer base?

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  27. Skippy says:

    Okay, Norm.
    With a $15 trillion debt, the thing to do is spend more money we don’t have…fast!
    Is every liberal/progressive/socialist on drugs?
    Is spending other people’s grandchildren’s money the only solution they ever have?
    Big Govt is never satisfied until every citizen(the illegal invaders are excused)has been crushed.
    I submit we take a national regulatory and tax holiday.
    No fees, no taxes, no permission from politicians and judges, no EIR’s and no lawsuits for one full year.
    When the serfs see how Big Govt’s removal from their lives translates into freedom and prosperity, soft tyrants like Norm will have to look for real jobs.
    More cowbell, Norm.

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