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Day 127 – The Wall Would Be an Epic Waste of Money, Mr. President. And a Failure

Day 127 – The Wall Would Be an Epic Waste of Money, Mr. President. And a Failure

Photograph by Gavin Stewart

Dear Mr. President,

Your Budget for 2018 has a lofty title – A New Foundation For American Greatness Fiscal Year 2018. I thought America was already pretty great, but I read on. There is a lot in it about not squandering our resources on the poor and disabled, and others whose occupations are students, artists, writers. You propose many spending cuts and outline lofty goals that include huge, new spending.

“This Budget, therefore, includes $639 billion for the Department of Defense—a $52 billion increase from the 2017 annualized continuing resolution level. This increase will be offset by targeted reductions elsewhere…”p.2

You are seriously proposing a $52 billion increase in defense spending, and in the same budget reducing our Nation’s citizens’ (I love how your capitalize Nation) access to health care, food stamps, education, the arts and humanities. I object to increased defense spending any time, and on this we will agree to disagree.

However, it is the money for the wall that really sets me off.

“The President’s Budget secures the borders of the United States by investing $2.6 billion in high-priority tactical infrastructure and border security technology, including funding to plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border as directed by the President’s January 25, 2017 EO. This investment would strengthen border security, helping stem the flow of people, drugs, and other illicit material illegally crossing the border.” p.18

Have you ever thought or read about the history of walls? Did they ever do what they were supposed to do, which was usually to keep out aggressors? Think of it – the ancient Mesopotamians built a wall. So did Hadrian. So did China. Theirs is now a tourist attraction. So are many castles and city walls, all breached at one time or another. Remember the Berlin Wall, built in your lifetime? The East Germans called it “The Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart.” Work began on it in 1961, and it was  torn down by the people in 1989. Such a lofty name and it no longer exists.

Perhaps walls worked for a while and made people feel a little more secure, but in the end they were a colossal waste of money, time, resources, and effort.

Walls do not work. This is a historically accurate fact. This is not fake news. So why are you proposing that we spend $2.6 billion of taxpayer money on such a folly? I go to your very own budget where you talk about reducing improper payments government-wide. A wall along the Mexican border fits securely with my definition of “Improper Payments.”

“Reduce Improper Payments Government-Wide. For the past few years, improper payments have been rising, and the Budget helps fulfill the President’s promise to crack down on these improper Government payments. Even though the majority of Government payments are made properly, any waste of taxpayer money is unacceptable. The Budget prioritizes shrinking the amount of improper cash out the door. Specifically, by 2027 the Budget proposes to curtail Government-wide improper payments by half through actions to improve payment accuracy and tighten administrative controls.” p.12

There, you said it yourself, “any waste of taxpayer money is unacceptable.” A wall along the Mexican border is a “waste of taxpayer money” to use your own words.

Mr. President, step away from the “spend-money-on-the-wall” button. And don’t ever think about it again.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

 

 

 

 

Day 127 – Help Those Who Need It. The Rich Don’t Need to Get Richer.

Day 127 – Help Those Who Need It. The Rich Don’t Need to Get Richer.

Photograph by Thomas Hawk

Dear Mr. President,

You have promised so many things. I have not seen much progress or any greatness yet. You promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but you promised during your campaign that you would not touch Medicare.

If your health care plan is approved, millions will be without affordable health care. Will that affect you and your friends? No. Will that affect the young, the old, the poor? Yes. Those are the people who will suffer for your greed.

Will it become a problem for my parents, my kids and grandkids? Yes. My parents have fixed incomes and preexisting conditions. My kids work full time and barely make a living wage. One of my kids has a preexisting condition and one of my grandkids does too. This one decision that you and your supporters make will likely have devastating consequences for at least some my immediate family. That does not count all my other family members and a vast number of friends that are in the same position with circumstances that they cannot change such as age, physical and other conditions, and living wage limits.

Many of my family and quite a few of my friends have served in the military. They are also hard workers, they volunteer their leisure time to noble causes, they have kids and grandkids. A few even voted for you. But after months of broken promises, of nonsensical tweets, of continuous firings, and embarrassing lies, we need change.

We need to know that you are making changes based on what will help the people that cannot afford to live without the benefits that they rely upon: the young, the elderly, the sick, the disabled. If you want to cut programs and budgets, take away from those that have more than they can use. Do not take away from those that cannot live without.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

Day 126 – A Reflection on You in Italy, Mr. President. Vroom Vroom.

Day 126 – A Reflection on You in Italy, Mr. President. Vroom Vroom.

Photograph by Mark Belokopytov

Dear Mr. President,

I heard that you followed me to Italy. I was enjoying a break from seeing you on news sites, but I suppose you are part of the world’s reality now, too. On BBC, national leaders shake your hand as if you are that father-in-law that they are forcing themselves to like; you’re part of some arranged marriage that they had no say in. I feel their pain.

My wife and I are on a bus tour called The Best of Italy. We are staying a couple of days in several cities including Rome, Sorrento, and Venice. We are learning about the rich and diverse culture of this region from our Travel Director, many local experts, and even actual Italians. One needs to keep an open mind and listen in order to learn from the wisdom that new places and people have to offer. My hope is that you have come to this part of the world with that same open mind and quiet, observant attitude. My fear is that you’ll keep your bull-headed status quo ways.

I’ve noticed “you” on the streets of Italy. You are the impatient, aggressive motorcyclists that zip dangerously between cars and buses. You fit in spaces you don’t belong, surviving inches from death on either side and constantly endangering others. You’re more than an annoyance. Your Italian motorcyclists mentality is a detriment to society. In an age when rules and boundaries are less clear, our kids don’t need one more poor model.

I understand that you had an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis not too far from us in Rome. I saw on BBC that you tweeted “Honor of a lifetime to meet His Holiness Pope Francis. I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world.” I want to believe you (both the honor part and the determination part). I keep seeing you, though, zooming between semi-trucks and passing bus loads of tourists on curves. And just as a side note, capitalizing the word peace seems like shouting it, which is confusing and ironic. My sense is that you still just don’t get it — “it” in this case is that you have enormous opportunities to do good in the world. And that the people in the nations you are visiting are real people with lives that matter. Peace matters to all of them, too. I pray your determination for peace doesn’t translate to more increases in defense spending; that’s not the same thing.

You’ve been away from Mar-a-Lago for days now. I’m sure you miss being home. Traveling is an education, though, that benefits each of us (you, especially, given your upbringing).

Peace and joy on your journey.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

 

Day 125 – Your Budget Won’t Stand, Mr. President. And Noah Cross is Not a Good Role Model.

Day 125 – Your Budget Won’t Stand, Mr. President. And Noah Cross is Not a Good Role Model.

Image from WordPress blog by Josmar Lopez

Dear Mr. President,

In your phone call last month with Rodrigo Duterte, you praised him for the “unbelievable job” he was doing with his nation’s drug problem.  Duterte’s government has sanctioned deadly attacks on suspected drug dealers.  He has made the suspicion of selling drugs a capital offense, the punishment to be carried out without a trial.  And you congratulated him on this, even inviting him to visit the White House “anytime.”

As jaw-dropping as this news is, it’s overshadowed, for me, by your latest budget proposal. This proposal, somehow titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” seems to take as its model of greatness not an America of middle-class opportunity and prosperity but a Gilded Age of radical wealth inequality, a near-total absence of social safety nets, and an utter disregard for the well-being of the vast majority of the nation’s citizens.  It proposes ridiculous cuts in Medicaid, disability benefits, and nutritional assistance programs, to say nothing of the government subsidies that make it possible for our country’s poor to attend college.

The reward for the nation if this budget becomes law?  Although not specified in the budget itself, the reward appears to be lower taxes – “one of the biggest tax cuts in history,” according to the White House.  Assuming that these cuts include last month’s proposed 20% cut in the corporate tax rate and the elimination of the alternative minimum and estate taxes, your proposal will enrich the already wealthy at the expanse of the rest of us.

Now look, everyone knows that your budget, as it currently stands, has no hope of passing.  But your budget is a statement of intent, a statement of your philosophy of government, and a clear revelation of what (and who) you find of value.

Toward the end of the film Chinatown, private investigator Jake Gittes confronts the fantastically wealthy and deeply corrupt Noah Cross over his crimes. “Why are you doing it?” Gittes asks. “How much better can you eat?  What could you buy that you can’t already afford?”

In a response chilling for both its implications and the empty geniality with which it’s delivered, Cross answers, “The future, Mr. Gittes. The future!”

Though the film ends on a supremely pessimistic note and seems to suggest that the common American stands no chance against the corruption of the rich and powerful, I still believe that Cross is wrong.  He’s deluded.  You cannot buy the future.  It’s one of the few things that none of us, no matter how wealthy, can do.  Yes, your money and your fame may allow you to sexually assault women with little consequence, perhaps even, as you said, to “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody” without losing support.  But your riches and your recognition, your wealth and your notoriety will not allow you, or even Noah Cross, a lecherous, incestuous criminal, to buy the future.

No matter how your budget might claim otherwise, America’s future belongs to all of us.  We refuse to allow you to mortgage it for the sake of a few extra billion in your pockets or the pockets of your cronies.

If there has been any consolation in these first 125 days of your presidency, it has been watching your fame become infamy and your name become synonymous with boorish insecurity, scandal, deceit, and ignorance.  This is your future.  And you will not live it down, no matter what else your billions might buy.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

 

 

 

Day 124 – Kiddo Letter: Don’t Let the Russians Boss You Around

Day 124 – Kiddo Letter: Don’t Let the Russians Boss You Around

Image by Chris Plascik

Dear Mr. President,

I don’t like you, how you get pushed around by the Russians, and how you do really bad stuff for them. And I don’t know why you owe them billions and billions of dollars, but say no to them for once and maybe you will be a better president and better man. But now that you chose your path, people think you’re a bad man. I think you should say no to the Russians because they might make you do something really bad and destroy the USA.

I think the president should be fair and equal, not care about the color of your skin or if you are a woman or a man, and not care if you’re gay or not, and help people get well in hospitals that are injured, sick, or have a disease.

Also, I don’t like the color of your hair. And I don’t like how you cheat on your wives. And I don’t like how you use your millions and billions of dollars to do bad things.

Sincerely,

Liam, age 9 ¾

 

 

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