Radical protest groups and our taxes
The article “Taxpayer watchdog says some protest groups get grants” (April 18), which highlighted a study I authored, seems to have rattled cages of some of the more radical protest groups in town. Maybe they could use a rabies shot.
Of the 24 groups listed in the study (21 of whom are listed as co-sponsors/endorsers on the protester’s of global capitalism official Web site www.A16.org), only three seem to dispute the study’s claims.
The New York-based Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) called me on the day the article appeared to “correct” my findings. The group’s verbally abusive manager of communications now claims that the organization took no part in the protests, which contradicts information I received from a spokesperson from that group on April 12. In a curious defense, the group also disputes my finding that 18 percent of its budget comes from federal grants by claiming 30 percent of its budget comes from government grants. This means that while, thankfully, most U.S. taxpayers pay only once, New York City taxpayers are asked to pony up to the GMHC three separate times: federally, statewide and then citywide.
The Environmental Alliance for Senior Involvement (which, along with receiving federal grants receives AmeriCorps Vista “paid volunteers”) now denies participating in the protests, but that’s not what a spokesman from the group told me on April 12 when he invited me to visit him and his group on the Mall on Thursday and Friday. In addition, the group has direct links on its Web site to one of the most controversial sponsors of the protest: Earth First, a radical environmental organization.
The most Clintonesque response came from officials at the Rural Coalition, who stated they were not “sponsors” of the rally but instead “endorsers” a distinction Webster’s Thesaurus does not recognize. The coalition relied on the discredited argument that any involvement in the protest is not related to the organization’s federal grants. Every federal dollar frees private resources to be spent on lobbying and advocacy issues. In any event, according to 1998 figures, the coalition received 85 percent of its budget from the government, a situation that certainly brings to question why it would risk being involved at all.
But not everyone in the article missed the boat. Friends of the Earth’s Brent Blackwelder is right to question U.S. grants to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Wherever taxpayer funds are being misused, be it a government entity or a nonprofit organization, questions need to be asked and answered hopefully to a greater extent than the other organizations involved in the recent protests.
THOMAS E. MCCLUSKY
Senior policy analyst
National Taxpayers Union Foundation
Israel shouldn’t look for handouts from U.S.
Hurray for Suzanne Fields and her April 20 op-ed column (“God bless America and Israel”).
Life is a series of choices. Israel is free to sell whatever it wants to whomever it wants (in this case, arms to China), but the United States is free to give its hard-earned taxpayer dollars to whomever it wants.
The suggestion that we owe Israel anything and should financially support a country that would create a threat to our freedom and American culture is moronic. Friends don’t let friends become endangered. That’s why we have helped to protect Israel for lo these many years.
Sell away, Israel, but don’t look for handouts from the United States in the future.
We have people here who could use the money, such as many of our own armed forces personnel who are on food stamps.
Oak Ridge, N.J.
Publicly demonstrating their childish nonsense
Having handled anti-war demonstrations as a D.C. cop in the early ‘70s (after five months in an Army hospital from combat injuries received in the Vietnam War), I note a few factors those valiant “demonstrators” had in common with this anti-International Monetary Fund (IMF) bunch.
It seems that only a handful of them have the foggiest clue what they are crusading for or about. The rest are just there to lend false valor and challenge to lives dreadfully void of the real kind.
Despite perfuming themselves with flowery rhetoric such as “nonviolent” and “peaceful” they actually love war.
They crave the ultimate competition that war offers, but they lack the conviction and courage to fight an enemy motivated and mandated to kill them, rather than merely contain them while they chant blather. Hence, they contrive a pseudo-noble, political street “war,” but carefully and against an “enemy,” the police, under strict orders not to hurt them if at all possible, and to inflict only minimum, non-lethal harm when force is absolutely unavoidable.
Thus, these brave “activists” can enjoy the team sport of war without any significant threat to their pampered behinds. Moreover, they can anoint themselves with sanctimonious glory for their selfless devotion to an “oppressed working person” they never met, and for their opposition to the capitalism that gave all of them the freedom and lifestyle they abuse so cavalierly.
The only working person who is getting oppressed here is the taxpayer, who has to foot the bill for the anti-IMF demonstrators’ nonsense.
Charles Town, W.Va.
Confederate flag decision could have rippling effects
I am sure that the members of the South Carolina Senate are quite comfortable with their recent surrender of the Confederate battle flag (“South Carolina Senate OKs bill to lower rebel flag,” April 13). After all, giving in to blackmail is an acceptable political practice today. As the flag opponents so loudly pointed out, flag defenders must be motivated by hate. They deserve to be publicly vilified, and their symbols must be torn down and hidden from public view. It is a reasonable sacrifice to the gods of political correctness, and it shows that the folks in Columbia, S.C., are mature, rational adults, right?
Well, what if the good residents of South Carolina disagree enough to vote for someone else in the next election? The majority of people who protested the flag can’t vote in South Carolina. What if the honest, hard-working, God-fearing residents are offended by the false accusations of racism leveled by people who, by and large, live in other states? Might they feel so disenfranchised that they choose to leave the Republican and Democratic parties to join new regional and state movements that hold to their ideals and heritage? What of the future of our nation if an entire region one day decides that it will no longer tolerate being classified as silly or backward, and demands respect for those soldiers who honorably and valiantly died for their homes?
I have no crystal ball to see the future, but I sense a deep disconnect that is being fired by the mindless destruction of Southern heritage. If it does not stop, we will be able to register the long-term effects in the swelling ranks of those new political movements. Politicians rarely consider anything beyond the next election, and those sitting in Columbia, S.C., are no exception. Without thinking of the consequences, they may have set the stage for their political demise and the end to their parties’ influence in an entire region of the country.
DOUGLAS J. KOUPASH
I am glad to see the flag issue is on its way to being resolved. I hope now that our elected officials in South Carolina can concentrate on pressing issues like health care and public assistance for people with disabilities.
I became physically disabled last year and have been rejected for assistance from every possible source. I am discouraged that our politicians spend so much time and money on something as trivial as a flag and neglect the needs of their constituents.