Dear Ms. Matsui,

I wish I could open this letter with a thank you message, but in light of your continued support of funding for the illegal occupation in Iraq I can only say how disappointed I am. This is not about supporting the troops, this is about upholding your duty to the oath you took when you accepted the great responsibility of being our Representative in Congress.

It could not be clearer that not only is the occupation illegal, but support for it has dwindled to the few that are profiting from it. Yet you persist in handing the Bush administration a blank check to escalate rather than end the biggest mistake in American history.

I have not sent any letters lately because your form letter responses seemed to indicate you shared my feelings and were intent on seeking an end to this travesty. Instead I learn today that you voted yes on HR 52 to continue funding indefinitely. Honestly, betrayed is not a strong enough word to describe my feelings.

Now I must beg of you to look carefully before singing on to HR 53, a measure introduce by Rep. Walter Jones that seeks to revise the constitution and the war powers act so as to legalize the now illegal invasion and occupation in Iraq. Look deep into your heart and decide whether or not you are patriot or just another shill for the defense and energy industries. Prove me wrong.

Sincerely,

Tim Castleman

What owns who?

A recent report says the average car payment has jumped to $514(1) per month, or $6,168 per year, on a rapidly depreciating asset.

Add to this the actual costs of using the car of $9,641(2) and we see that the average American worker is spending $15,809 of their annual income for their car.(3)

The average American worker earning $31,858-41,386(4) per year must pay at least 20% as income tax ($6,371-8,277) leaving $25,486-33,108 to pay for the car and living expenses. That means the average American is probably paying more for the car than they are for all the rest of their living expenses!

To help offset this cost a $.48.5 cent per mile government subsidy is available to every car owner in one form or another. This is in addition to the other subsidies for infrastructure and to the oil industry for exploration and development.

It is also important to note there are 191 million Americans drivers but there are 201 million vehicles. Drivers are actually outnumbered by vehicles! Manufacturers are building cars that wear out faster in ever increasing volumes. Massive plots of ground are paved over for parking lots, driveways and garages keep getting bigger as yards, open space and sidewalks shrink, all to accommodate the growing population of cars.

So what owns who here? Do you drive a car? How do you feel about working 4 hours each day to pay for that car? Is it really worth it?

Lately there has been a lot of talk about ‘green’ technology and ‘reducing dependence on imported oil’ but consumption is up and the price is falling. Lip service will not change this, what is needed is fundamental change in American society.

We need to remember that public roads existed long before private automobiles and pedestrians have always had the right of way. This important fact has been forgotten and today the public roads have become killing fields, both for those actually in a motor vehicle and for those simply walking or riding a bike on one.

Culturally we have allowed our addiction to comfort and speed to blind us to the harsh reality of the world we have created. Cars dominate every aspect of our lives, including the ability to make a living. Rare is the employer that doesn’t openly require workers to have a car. A person who chooses not to participate in this madness is put at a gross disadvantage not only economically, but also in terms of safety and peaceful living. They are vastly outnumbered by millions of addicted bullies made into potential killers behind the wheel of a car.

As with all addictions, the first step to recovery is admitting the loss of control and damage caused by the addiction. Next in the recovery process is total abstinence, and for the oil addicted this has proved to be a real stumbling block. While noble, individual efforts will not be enough.

Needed now are more leaders that will lead by example. This is not to excuse individuals from action; in fact, people with vision will begin immediately to change their personal consumption simply as a strategy for life of comfort, joy and ease, despite the inevitable disruptions in the supply of cheap oil. However, responsibility for the tragedy unfolding for future generations rests squarely on the shoulders of those who have taken leadership roles, not only in government, but also in our business and family life.

On this anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11/01 Americans have an opportunity to change course.

We can begin by rescinding all forms of government subsidy for energy resources and infrastructure. This includes the $48.5 cent per mile IRS tax deduction, funding for oil wars, highways, the FAA and airline industry, the motor vehicle industry, industrial farming, and any other energy dependent activity.

Legal reform regarding corporate law is also required. Stockholders and corporate officers must be held fully accountable both civilly and criminally for the actions of their corporations. This simple change will have an immediate effect because ownership benefits of big business will equal their liability, thus making small, local business the preferred approach.

Monetary policy reform will include outlawing usury except between businesses, and even then the usury charged may only be used for public benefit projects. The IRS should be abolished and gold should be the standard measure of value. Government may never mandate insurance of any type nor may government own any property other than the minimum needed to efficiently conduct its lawful business.

Political reform should include 100% public finance for campaigns, strict term limits, and abolishment of the Electoral College system in favor of direct democracy.

This may all seem like a tall order, so if discouraged, remember the children.

Tim Castleman

Notes:
1) Average Car Payment over $500, term length below 60 months, BY SARAH A. WEBSTER, DETROIT FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER. http://automotive-advertising-marketing.blogspot.com/2007/08/average-car-payment-over-500-term.html
2) AAA Exchange http://www.aaaexchange.com/Main/Default.asp?CategoryID=3&SubCategoryID=9&ContentID=23
3) AAA data includes average 6% interest on auto loans
4) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States#Income_and_social_class