2007-04-20 / Columnists

The Progressive

Commentary By John Paul Culotta

Commentary By John Paul Culotta

People, Places and Things

My wife was frantic. Our three cats may have been at risk. Did the veterinarian prescribe one of the recalled cat foods? We called the hot lines. We checked the Internet every day. Many pet owners use quality pet food products or prescribed pet food only to be shocked to learn these same products could cause their beloved family members injury or death. Our federal government appears to have an opportunity to recognize that our food delivery system needs to be reexamined to safeguard the people and pets of our nation. Does anyone remember the spinach scare of last year?

Again, we are faced with the horrors of weak regulation of industries that are vital to the safety and health of Americans. The conservatives say government is the problem; progressives understand government is an important component of a civilized society. Our health and safety needs an examination of how the food delivery system can best serve the people of this nation- not the interests of the Monsantos or ConAgra's. Corporations will search for the cheapest method of food safety delivery. Our supermarkets have fruits and vegetables devoid of taste. Our soft drinks are full of chemicals. Local grown food products can only be found in specialty markets. Family-run farms are becoming extinct. We often do not know the source of our produce. Again, does anyone remember the spinach scare of last year? When will the Democratic congress begin to serve the interests of consumers and call for a thorough investigation of our food delivery system? Where is the courage and insight of Theodore Roosevelt who believed in free enterprise and government regulation when needed?

Are you aware the United States, one of the eight most powerful western economies, is the only one without a national health care delivery system? Corporations now are calling for a nationalized health care system. Our industry cannot supply employment with health care and compete. Our health care system means hospital emergency rooms are the primary care system for our less fortunate-putting all of us at risk. From personal experience I witnessed excellent medical service and competence in France. France has a nationalized health care system and many consider medical care in France to be the best in the world. Many medical breakthroughs came from France- AIDS research, face transplants for example. Speaking of Theodore Roosevelt- he advocated nationalized health in his last campaign for the White House. His cousin Franklin, Harry Truman, Johnson, Nixon, and Carter - all saw the need. Again, our Democratic congress needs to address this problem.

A recent BBC News report announced the United Steel Workers union is seeking to merge with the British union Amicus. This would be the first truly international union. Will our government have as laissez faire attitude as it does when corporations merge? Will corporations attack the international aspects of such a merger? Time will tell.

Jimmy Carter, through the Carter Center, is trying to prevent the disease of millions in third world countries- river blindness. With Colin Powell and Sam Nunn, President Carter helped negotiate the departure of military rule in Haiti. I know one Haitian American who is grateful. The Carter Center observes elections overseas in fledging democracies. President Carter is not a man seeking only to enrich himself and his family. He is not a former President who just sits on corporate boards and takes on only popular causes. He works on the issues that matter and are not flashy. He is truly a man to be admired. He may not have been our best or most popular President- He is a great former President.

The attacks on Nancy Pelosi and her trip to Syria by President Bush and his minions are laughable. Republican congressmen have made trips to Syria for fact-finding purposes. Bush receives opposition leaders of other countries in the White House. There is no confusion about policy or messages. My criticism of Pelosi is if she was asked by the Israeli Prime Minister to relay a message to Syria is that she should have informed the State Department as how to proceed. She in not negotiating for our nation - but fact-finding is appropriate.

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? Unfortunately, many former residents and others in the Gulf Region know what it is to miss their former homes. Our nation's pledge to rebuild appears to be worthless. Almost two years have passed since the hurricanes ravaged the Gulf and the levees are not at the level that is necessary to prevent another calamity. Meanwhile American citizens feel their nation has abandoned them. Our Democratic congress needs to address this issue and force Bush to recognize the plight of the people who miss New Orleans and the Gulf region.

Our nation has witnessed the partisan abuse of our judicial system. It is imperative that congress investigates that situation.

Our continuing occupation of Iraq has caused this nation to bleed lives and fortune. Congress has an obligation to question, investigate, and propose solutions. Our nation's infrastructure needs repair and Americans cannot afford the situation in Iraq to continue.

Americans are increasingly puzzled by the growing increase in wealth inequity. Our middle class, if trends continue, will become non-existent. There is no greater threat to our democratic way of life than grinding poverty and extreme privilege being the norm. Our society is based on wealth being distributed in a way that guarantees a decent life for most of us.

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