Readers Write: Help for middle class helps US; Appreciation for Budge Sperling

Letters to the Editor for the October 7, 2013 weekly print magazine: 

Too many lawmakers cannot see that increasing the share of wealth at the top by weakening the middle class leads to less spending, lower profits, and a slower economy.

Reading the recent tribute to former Washington, D.C., bureau chief and Monitor Breakfast creator Godfrey "Budge" Sperling Jr. was like a warm and vivid visit with Budge himself.

Put money in hands of middle class

After reading the Sept. 9 cover story, "5 lessons of the Great Recession," I was particularly interested to come across a statistic that US income inequality is the worst since 1928.

The fact that income inequality, which has been steadily rising for the past 30 years, culminated in the second worst economic panic in the nation's history, followed by an anemic recovery and unprecedented weakness in job growth, should cause policymakers to consider what has happened to the American middle class.

The Great Depression was followed by unprecedented growth for nearly 40 years. With strong labor unions and federal programs such as the GI Bill, a thriving middle class was created, and growth was evenly spread through all economic classes. But in the early 1980s, unions began declining, wages stagnated, tax policy encouraged outsourcing and offshoring, and tax breaks were skewed toward the wealthy, culminating in the Bush administration tax cuts.

With an economy that is 70 percent driven by consumer spending, the only road to economic prosperity is to get money back into the hands of the people who will spend it – the middle class. In 1914, Henry Ford nearly doubled the wages of his factory workers, reasoning that he would sell more cars if his workers could afford to buy them.

It is a mystery to me that some in today's wealthy class and too many lawmakers cannot see that increasing the share of wealth by weakening the middle class leads to less spending, lower profits, and a slower economy. This is not class warfare; it is simple economics.

Rick Soule

South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Appreciation for Budge Sperling

Thank you to David Cook and to all at the Monitor for the exceptional Sept. 23 tribute to former Washington, D.C., bureau chief and Monitor Breakfast creator Godfrey "Budge" Sperling Jr. ("Pioneer of newsmaker journalism"). It included such wonderful quotes. Reading it was like a warm and vivid visit with Budge.

Elizabeth Selover

Santa Barbara, Calif.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.