Gregg’s position flawed

I was among those privileged to attend the inaugural Walter Peterson Forum for Civil Discourse last week. Senator Gregg was the perfect choice to kick off what is sure to become a landmark series going forward. Monadnock Center Executive Director Michelle Stahl, Joni Doherty of Franklin Pierce University, and Monadnock Center Board President Gordon Peery are all to be congratulated on initiating and managing last week’s event.

I had hoped the Senator would provide a moderating voice against the tsunami of abuse coming mostly from conservative sources both in and out of government, which is helping to freeze progress in the Congress, but alas, it was not to be. Ideology and special interests raised their ugly heads even here. All was well and interesting as Senator Gregg spoke eloquently without notes of the machinations that drive Congressional process, but then, in listing what he sees as the four major causes of today’s gridlock, he included his view that President Obama was “dividing the country.” He offered no evidence in support of this contention except to note the anger being directed at the 1 percent, or the 10 percent, depending on how you count — the wealthy few who many see as driving the country toward oligarchy. Then, most disingenuously, he named as examples Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, Bill Gates and, God help us, the late Steve Jobs.

Huh? I’m not aware of anyone pointing fingers at these successful entrepreneurs. No. Senator Gregg well knows he needs to go east to the boardrooms of our major corporations to find the 1 percent that have raised CEO compensation in 2012 to obscene levels, resulting in the widest pay gap in the world: 354 times average worker’s pay to an average of $12.3 million vs. rank-and-file salaries of $34,645. JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, if the Senator wants to name names, took home $62.6 million over the last three years as his company writes down a $920 million fine in a world-class derivatives scam that helped push the housing marketing into the toilet. But of course, we have to note that the Senator is a senior advisor to Goldman Sachs and past CEO of — ready?— The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. Yikes! We’re asking the fox how things are going in the henhouse!

Then there are the wealth takers like the Koch brothers and wealth manipulators like Karl 501-C4 Rove who, along with Wall Street’s banker/hedge fund/CEO community feed the hand that feeds them by pouring millions into scurvy hate ads in support of right-wing candidates who will keep the ball rolling. I also noticed that in offhandedly mentioning “special interest” groups Senator Gregg named just AARP, which supports Social Security which the Senator says is “broken.” But I digress.

The Forum was — is — a great new addition to the Peterborough landscape and a fitting compliment to Walter Peterson’s memory. He would approve.

George Duncan lives in Peterborough.

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