"Dear Mr. President:
"Your tax deal with the Republicans is an abomination.
"It adds to our debt, rewards the bullies and fattens the piggies, who are fatter than they've ever been in American history."
"Who are the piggies?" Buddy asked.
"The rich," Uncle Chet said. "The ones who take too much."
"And the bullies?" Hon asked.
"Republican senators; the errand boys for the billionaires."
"I think Obama blew it," I said. "He was on the right side of the perfect issue -- `Should the rich get richer?"'
"That's what drove me to write," Uncle Chet said as he waved his missive.
"He'll never see it," said Hon, who was at the chop saw, pausing between boards as we listened to this rant.
"I'm sending it the paper," Uncle Chet said as he held up the typed sheet.
"But let me read it once, then you get back to work." I said as I laid down the hammer and leaned against the wall in Buddy's room, where we were installing an ash floor.
"Dear Mr. President," he read again. "Your tax deal with the Republicans is an abomination.
"It adds to our debt, rewards the bullies and fattens the piggies, who are fatter than they've ever been in American history.
"Your deal is short-sighted politically: The rich will use their extra billions to buy the next election and make their tax cuts permanent.
"Your deal is a loser economically. The rich won't spend their extra loot on groceries, appliances and cars. They won't create jobs or increase demand for anything, except a few more butlers.
"But your biggest failure is ethical, as you've surrendered without a fight in a battle that should have been won," Uncle Chet read as he looked over his half-glasses.
"As the middle class disappears, the rich are gobbling up the country, and most people want it to stop, but we need a leader. Someone to stand up to greed, not pretend things will be better because workers will collect unemployment benefits for another half year before retesting the jobless recovery.
"This country needs fundamental change, not window dressing; manufacturing jobs, not unemployment extensions; living wages, not food stamps; and an end to interminable war and obscene military budgets. We need economic democracy, not rule by the corporate elite from Halliburton to Monsanto to BP.
"I know you know all this, Mr. President, or I wouldn't bother to write. Many of us have long been disillusioned by the Democrats' timidity and the Republicans' sense of entitlement. Then you came along, talked of change, and from the enthralled crowds in the arenas you know how people yearn for someone to address the central injustice of our time: the ungodly gap between rich and poor.
"All societal evils descend from this central corruption. Everyone feels it, though it's obfuscated by the propaganda that passes for news. Many are living through it, straining to keep their heads above water. Others sense they're only a misstep from disaster.
"If, instead of 50 states and 300 million citizens, the United States were 20 people in a lifeboat in the South Pacific. If we were far from shore with the sun beating down and one of our citizens had 10 gallons of water, a second had seven gallons, while the remainder had earned a pint apiece and were growing thirsty, pulling on the oars, the greed of the super-rich, and a reasonable course of action, would be obvious.
And with a fairer distribution of assets, that crew would be stronger, healthier and might make it to shore.
"In the real world, the lessons are fuzzier, but this is one where people can see through the bull, Mr. President. No matter what the GOP threatens to do or undo unless the rich get a tax cut, we should not cave in to bribery or blackmail. We are citizens, not mendicants.
"Sincerely yours, …"
Cooperstown bureau Reporter Tom Grace is traveling with his Uncle Chet, who he says is imaginary. Grace's column appears every other week. For more of his columns, visit www.thedailystar.com/tomgrace.