Jr.: Hope dies hard and yet springs eternal
From the 7-25-99 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
11-22-2012 and 11-24-2012
will laugh again, but we will never be young again.
said the future senator from New York back in the winter of '63 when
it felt like the world would freeze.
He was wrong.
As a nation, we have
been forever young. In many respects, we have yet to progress beyond
adolescence. Last week, we showed signs of maturity.
The citizenry's deeply
personal reaction to the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr., represented
a hopeful sign not so much for what it said about him, but what it revealed
It appears that the
people of this country still harbor the same undiminished American Dream.
As the nation kept
a prayer watch over the Atlantic, those old aspirations shot to the
"I've been feeling
like part of my family passed away," retired longshoreman Benjamin E.
Dias, 51, told the New York Times.
"They're the type of
family you fall in love with because they're not out to get you, they're
out to help you," he added.
The president's son
personified our hopes. Only hope is strong enough to both die hard and
yet spring eternal.
The United States
of America peaked five years after Pres. Kennedy's assassination. People's
earnings have never bought as much since. In today's dollars, 1968 minimum
wage earners made about $7.50 per hour.
The tax system was
progressive in the Eisenhower-Kennedy-Johnson years. The rich paid higher
taxes because they could afford to. Spreading the wealth fueled the
strongest economy the world has ever seen.
The Vietnam War started
reversing all that.
In 1966, economist
Pierre A. Rinfret pointed
out that nations had acquired the rough tools with which to manage their
Spending money on
war constituted the equivalent of throwing dollars into the ocean, Rinfret
said. Taxpayer-built tanks did not produce any goods or services as
a return on investment. Warbucks only fueled inflation.
Rinfret proved correct.
"Remember the wonderful
saying of my mentor: peace is bullish," he wrote me recently.
Federal Reserve Chairman
Paul Volcker broke the back of the inflation of the seventies by causing
the great recession of the early eighties.
Concurrent with efforts
to combat inflation came tinkering with the tax code to benefit the
The election of Ronald
Reagan in 1980 brought discredited, Roaring Twenties trickle-down economics
back into vogue. Cut taxes for the rich and they'll benevolently spend
the extra money to the benefit of everyone, the Reaganauts asserted.
Never worked, never
When Sen. Eugene McCarthy,
D-Minn., declared his candidacy in the 1968 New Hampshire primary against
President Johnson, I thought McCarthy committed political suicide by
saying there was nothing wrong with the tax code.
McCarthy was right.
We were reaping the harvest of progressive taxation which congress and
corruption promptly began to erode in 1969. (See "America: Who Really
Pays the Taxes?" by Barlett & Steele, Simon & Schuster, 1994.)
The regression of
the tax system began by perverting a 1962 proposal by President Kennedy,
signed into law by President Johnson in 1964. Kennedy had wanted his
tax cut to be revenue-neutral by simultaneously broadening the range
of taxable income. (See Barlett & Steele, page 48; and "Why JFK
Cut Taxes" by Herbert Stein, Wall Street Journal, 5-30-96.)
part was soon lost. Interlarded into laws shamelessly promoted as help
for the poor, cutting taxes for the corporately rich became business
as usual with the introduction of the Tax Reform Act of 1969.
Families felt the
reverse flow. Only the working wife kept middle-income families close
to breakeven in the 1970s. The Reagan Revolution which began in 1981
was closer to robbery than rebellion. Reagan's "Tax Reform Act of 1986...gave
wealthy taxpayers the same rate as middle class Americans," Barlett
and Steel wrote. (At page 91)
As a college student
in 1968, I supported Sen. McCarthy. He deserved it, having knocked the
president of the United States out of the race. I considered Sen. Robert
F. Kennedy, D-NY, a cynical political opportunist for his late-starting
Bobby Kennedy defeated McCarthy in the June '68 California primary,
he became the only hope of maintaining a progressive government with
fair taxes. Kennedy was murdered the very night of his Golden State
sweep. McCarthy didn't have the power to wrest the nomination from Vice-President
Hubert Humphrey who went on to lose to Richard M. Nixon.
Milhous began an unbroken
string of leaders who escalated screwing over the little guy to benefit
the rich. JFK admirer Bill Clinton lets babies starve while he does
PR tours of poverty-stricken regions.
Our politics have
become more and more sold out to the highest bidder. The voters see
it, hold their noses and wisely split government power between "two
Republican parties separated by the issue of abortion," as commentator
Mark Shields recently noted.
the madcap Ross Perot and the moderately refreshing Jesse Ventura have
become viable presidential candidates in a two-tiered America of haves
Which is why the death
of JFK, Jr., hurt so bad.
"An unwavering commitment
to the poor, to the elderly, to those without hope, regardless of fashion
or convention, is the greatest reward of public service," he told the
Democratic National Convention on July 19, 1988.
JFK the Younger alone
possessed the name, fame, fortune, education, image, independence, articulateness
and sensibility which could have galvanized America as his father did
a generation ago. The public watched him and increasingly judged him
worthy of respect and responsibility.
Alas and alack, outrageous
fortune cut his youth in twain and there is no one to take his place.
For the fourth time in four decades, hope has died a violent death and
spring seems an eternity away.
Be well. Raise hell.
F. Kennedy's 2013 inaugural address
Barbwire by Barbano / Daily Sparks Tribune / 11-22-2012
better life today had President Kennedy lived
by Barbano / Daily Sparks Tribune / 12-28-1997
Nevada journalist and historian Dennis
Myers advises that the Moynihan quote is incorrect. It has undoubtedly
been oversimplified over time but that has enhanced its impact in
much the same manner as H.L. Mencken's famous "nobody ever went
broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."
Mencken sorta kinda said that, but the simplified version remains
better and much more memorable. Perhaps a better example lies in early
Spanglish rock 'n' roll. Richie Valens' unexpected 1959 double-sided
hit (Donna b/w La Bamba) never would have gotten that
way had he tried to translate the Mexican folk song La Bamba's
lyrics, which are nonsensical, even in Spanish. A sage commented that
"La Bamba is a song of emotion."
"The (Moynihan) quote is slightly incorrect. Moynihans
own version, from page 110 of Pierre Salingers compilation
of essays A Tribute to John F. Kennedy (1964), is as follows:
'For some of us youll say it wont be the same in other
ways. Mary McGrory said to me that well never laugh again.
And I said, Heavens, Mary. Well laugh again. Its
just that well never be young again.
1999, 2012 Andrew Barbano
Barbano is a member of Communications
Workers of America Local 9413. He is a 30-year Nevadan, editor of
U-News and head of Casinos
Out of Politics (COP). In 1998 he served as gubernatorial campaign
manager for State Senator Joe Neal,
D-North Las Vegas.
Since 1988, Barbwire
by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune, where
an earlier version of this column appeared on 7/25/99.