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Plenty of blame to spread around

October 11, 2008

Re "Mean St. replaces Main St.," Opinion, Oct. 4

Tim Rutten provided an extraordinary moment of clarity about deceptive politicians. Of course, everyone knows that politicians lie -- it's their stock in trade -- so we can hardly feign surprise when they exaggerate their accomplishments or disparage their opponents. What we tend to forget, and what this column reminds us, is that they lie all the time, about nearly everything.

They lied about why we went to war and what might happen if we didn't. They lied about the status of the war in Iraq, just as they lied about Vietnam. They lied to soldiers about how long their tours would be, and to their families about how they were killed.

Now they are lying to us about who we are, with their repeated comparison of Wall Street to a Main Street that no longer exists or may never have existed. Main Street is far more deeply embedded in American myth than American history. If there ever was a place "in which local business and financial institutions (met) local needs according to their own standards," it was, I suspect, a rarity, and it is long gone.

Bart Braverman

Los Angeles

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The Main Streeters are just as guilty as the Wall Streeters. When every Tom, Dick and Harry signed up for a 401(k) and invested his paltry paycheck in the stock market, every Tom, Dick and Harry wanted stock values to go up, up and up.

He didn't care how. He didn't care what the CEO got paid, he didn't care that illegal immigrants or Chinese slave labor were providing cheap labor, he didn't care that somewhere in America a child was hungry or had no healthcare because his dad lost his job.

Every Tom, Dick and Harry was bombarded with images of the lush life of the rich and famous and came to believe that he too deserved to live that life -- on borrowed money. Every Tom, Dick and Harry was told he deserved to own a house, so regulations were discarded, interest rates were kept low and lenders were pushed to throw out loan underwriting guidelines. And, when the whole scheme imploded, there was always Uncle Sam.

Yes, the romance of Main Street is alive and well, but everyone has come to believe that they are entitled to live on Park Avenue.

Stephany Yablow

North Hollywood

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