One aspect of American life is becoming more evident each and every day. The propaganda that has been spread using the money of Right Wing billionaires and their corporations is becoming obvious to more people. The shining light of truth is finally reaching more and more Americans. The 2018 elections proved it emphatically.
A very large number of Americans now recognize the results of the hundreds of millions spent by the Koch brothers and other billionaires to divide and sabotage the middle class. They see through the $40 million a year paid to Rush Limbaugh or $20 million a year to Sean Hannity and similar amounts to others of the Right Wing media to lie to the American people. Each year their audiences grow smaller and sponsors fewer.
They were able to prop up the old George W. Bush and Dick Cheney regimes with their lies about “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, or great economic times (that were actually speculative times) that led to the Great Bush Recession. Bush and Cheney created more debt than all other Presidents combined.
After 8 years, they left us—and President Obama–with the nation’s second worst economic depression in its history. Americans lost $7.5 trillion in personal assets. We lost our homes, our savings, stock and 401k values. Ten years later some Americans are still recovering. Others never have. But the Right Wing media hid this from most Americans.
Then came Trump, the “great populist” as the Fascist Breitbart press and Kelly Conway would have you believe. He promised great things for the people. But he only really cut taxes for the rich. He promised great health care but demanded that Republicans repeal Obamacare and leave you with nothing–no alternative.
Trump and the Republicans promised a great economy (actually Obama’s leftover economy after 8 years of growth) but now they have created $3 trillion more debt. Trump’s “Populism” was a lie, like all his other lies. He brought in a Cabinet of billionaires to help other billionaires in the coal industry, the steel industry, and every anti-Middle Class industrial group he could help. He said drug prices were too high. He would bring them down. But it was a lie. Pharmaceutical drug prices have gone up. Some have doubled. And he has done nothing, zilch, zip, zero.
Trump is an economic Neo-Fascist, just like Mitch McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate. They never saw a lobbyist they would not fleece for a few extra million campaign dollars. But that is all going to change now.
Let’s go back to the point that President Obama took office. When he walked through the door in January of 2009, 700,000 people a month were lhadosing their jobs. Some would be unemployed for 2 years. But with the aid of senior executives in communications and energy and visionary manufacturing and digital development, President Obama, with no help at all from the totally Republican Congress, he cobbled together a new economic perspective, a new economy. When he left office, in December of 2016, the U.S. had an unemployment level of only 4.6%–or, in economic terms, virtually no unemployment.
Hillary Clinton, who would later be given the greatest presidential popular vote ever, was poised to take over. The Republicans were terrified, literally terrified of her as a Presidential candidate. They had for years been writing books telling lies about her. They produced propaganda movies against her, which only proved one thing: Hillary Clinton was guilty of no crime or even bad personal dealings. She was simply guilty of being popular with the average American. Even their phony Congressional witch hunt over Benghazi, a foolish exercise with no point whatsoever, which she emphatically and frustratingly pointed out to the committee, was unsuccessful in diminishing her image–except of course to nutcase Right Wing Republicans.
She lost the election. She had three million more votes than Trump. But she lost because of several things. One, because of the barrage of Republican email sites, combined with what we now know were millions of comments and posts on Facebook and Twitter. Paid Republican bloggers, often pretending to be Democrats, and paid Russian bloggers on supposedly U.S. sites on the Internet began to spread lies about her finances, her campaign, her voting record and her time as U.S. Secretary of State.
In addition, when states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania were completely taken over by Republican legislatures and governors largely funded by giant corporations and the billionaires that owned them, they began to eliminate voters. They instituted phony “voter fraud” restrictions on voting to diminish the voting rolls of elderly, the poor, women, college students, and minorities. Hundreds of thousands of voters in these states were challenged, whereas Hillary Clinton lost by fewer than a total of 100,000 all together.
A Rigged Election and a History of Election Theft,
The theft of the 2016 election was not something new. It was the culmination of a forty-year effort by the Right Wing of the Republican Party, owned and operated by what can only be called sinister forces funded by billionaires to elect, first, Reagan, and then a succession of Neo-Fascist Representatives, Senators, Governors and now a President. Cheney was called a Neo-Conservative. In fact, we now know he was already a Neo-Fascist. Georg W. Bush, was hardly even a President. He was mostly the stooge and simpleton that most of us took him for. He set the country back a decade and cost us another $12 trillion in cumulative debt over 8 years.
Since the days when Richard Nixon’s gang of political thugs created fake memos on stolen Democratic office stationary, and when former CIA agents working for Republicans broke into the Democratic Party’s national offices in Watergate, there have been continuous, non-stop electoral “dirty tricks” at every level.
People like Roger Stone, part of the original Republican dirty tricks group, that included Lee Atwater and Paul Manafort, did their best to depress Democratic vote turnouts. They sent letters to Democratic voters giving them election dates that were a week after the real election. They staged demonstrations in the area where Florida votes for Bush-Gore were being counted, verging on riots, thus causing the vote recount to be stopped and guaranteeing the election of George W. Bush.
They created vicious, fake, bigoted television commercials against Democratic candidates. They created ads for Republican candidates with so many lies, successful in defeating good, honest candidates, that those kinds of television ads are commonplace today. As a result, Presidential candidate Trump was so emboldened with the success of lies in political advertising that he based an entire campaign and Presidency on a false representation of what he was and what he stood for.
These groups, working for the super-rich, like the Koch brothers, have created thousands of television commercials filled with lies and deliberate false positions on economics, civil rights, immigration, jobs, health care, and even abortion that have fueled the absolute moronic attitude of many American citizens. The coarseness and deliberate malevolence of a few, like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity lead the way every day for those on the Right who want to bully the majority of Americans into submission. And for those in the Southern states, the old Confederate states, it seems to have worked to create Republican majorities in those states. The old Segregationists seem to have returned to power. They vote their bigotry and religious fanaticism…in one large, seemingly mindless bloc.
Across the rest of the country the most egregious and surreptitious political activity of Republicans is being reported more frequently in local media. This often provides enough information for voters to listen and occasionally change their minds about people who have been lying to them for decades. One serious matter is the Republican lie about “voter fraud.”
The False Issue of Voter Fraud
Republicans have been screaming “voter fraud” for years, when in reality studies like the one by the Brennan Center which surveyed over one billion votes cast over a ten year span produced only 38 accusations of which only 7 cases turned out to be real attempts at voter fraud, rather than legitimate mistakes. It is about the same odds as being hit by a meteor.
Yet, in Wisconsin, approximately 5% of voters were actually challenged to produce a state-approved photo-ID, despite the fact that many had lived at the same address for forty years. This was thanks to a state with a Republican state legislature, many of whose leaders were members of the pro-Fascist ALEC organization, a Republican governor, Koch-brothers funded Scott Walker, and a Republican state Supreme Court appointed or elected with the support of the other two branches.
Trump won Wisconsin by less than 1% of the voter base, less than ten percent as it turned out of the number who had been challenged. The election was rigged. As usual the Fascists (Trump and the Republicans) using the traditional propaganda method, claimed, with no justification at all, that it was the Democrats who had rigged the election. But such is the education level of Americans that they blindly accepted it. In the end, the Republican Attorney General of Wisconsin, apparently riding a wave of arrogant, Right-Wing, Koch brothers-sponsored euphoria, admitted publicly that the tactic of suppressing the Democratic vote was what allowed Donald Trump to win. By 2018, Wisconsonites had begun to catch on and he was out of office.
The whole phony voter fraud issue is quite pervasive. It is more than just challenging a few poor and elderly voters. It is as we said, a sinister attempt to change Democracy. There was, for just one other example, the matter of University of Wisconsin students who have a proud tradition of voting in national elections. Governor Scott Walker and Republican legislature ID laws did their best to end that. Without a Wisconsin driver’s license, Wisconsin university students were granted only four locations out of the 13 college campuses to get state mandated ID cards. The state demanded that they show these special ID cards at voting locations along with a Voter Enrollment Verification letter proving that the individual was a student.
So the issue of whether or not there was election rigging in Wisconsin is not even a close debate. Trump won by stealth. Nor is it merely exaggerated boasting by Republicans. The “Nation” magazine study says that they have evidence of 200,000 voters who were advised that they would need special voter ID by the Republican-run state government in Wisconsin and could not, or felt that they could not, either provide the necessary records or were not able to physically get to one of the limited number of outlets available to obtain a voter ID.
The Fraudulent Issue of Voter Fraud–A National Disgrace
It’s not just happening in Wisconsin. Other studies, by the Democratic Party, by Priorities USA, by the Brennan Center and even by the Government Accountability Office show consistently that phony “voter-fraud” programs reduce the vote on average by 2%. Further studies show that the reduction in turnout is largely among poor voters, students and African American voters. These are all heavily Democratic Party voters.
How many cases of voter fraud do we see nationally? In one study, from 2002 to 2005, the number was an average of 8 per year. Eight cases of actual voter fraud out of a voter total of more than 120 million voters. Yet, how great is the problem of Republicans trying to steal the elections for their rich, white, billionaire supporters? Over 87 different bills in 29 Republican-controlled states were submitted to state legislatures in 2017 alone. Does that say something about how fearful the Republicans are of the democratic process? Of course it does. They are funded by a handful of billionaires, who appeal to religious fanatics and white supremacists and hangers-on, and the simply greedy and the uninformed, Fox News propaganda followers. Not enough to re-elect themselves without gerrymandering and reducing the number of legitimate voters.
One might say that all this hard work, cheating Americans out of their votes, did not prevent Democrats from winning the House in 2018. But when even the majority of gun owners say that they are for greater restrictions on hand gun ownership and 80% of Americans after Sandy Hook basically said…no more automatic weapons…the Republicans beholden, for example, to the National Rifle Association, had to curtail the number of people who could get to the polls. In 2018, it did not work. But even in 2018, too many Republicans were able to cheat, lie and steal their way into office. And remember “Good Republicans” those old moderate or honestly conservative Republicans had long been weeded out of Congress in Republican primaries all over the country.
States themselves have surveyed the problem of voter fraud, often as a result of Republican efforts to create more restrictions and Democratic efforts to force them to prove it. A Minnesota survey showed only 9 allegations of fraud out of 2.9 million votes. New Mexico’s election board sent only 9 allegations to the Attorney General for review out of 1.2 million votes. In North Carolina, a state known for using poll taxes and other methods to suppress Black votes, in the ten years from 2005 to 2015 and out of more than 19.5 million votes cast, only 58 accusations of voter fraud were made against possible non-citizen voting.
As far as illegal immigrant or other non-citizen voting, surveys from Iowa to Minnesota to national surveys reported in the New York Times or the Washington Post find that levels of accusations, not convictions, for voter fraud amounted to numbers between .0001 and .0009. Hardly a wave of voter fraud.
Furthermore, understand that honest mistakes are not voter fraud. If a student votes where he or she goes to college rather than where he or she lives, his or her vote may or may not be accepted. A person who has recently moved into or out of a state may make a legitimate mistake in casting a ballot. Voter rolls are purged all the time for legitimate reasons. People die; they change addresses. The term “voter fraud” is a red herring, a lie, a term of art by vicious lying cretins like radio hosts Michael Savage and Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh. They tell and re-tell the lie, sponsored by hugely wealthy corporations owned by Right Wing billionaires who do not want to pay taxes. Voter fraud at its roots is basically about Right Wing billionaires wanting to keep more of their money. Of course, the fake issue of voter fraud isn’t the only lie or even close to the worst lie sold to the American public.
Trump, Taxes and Inequality
In 2017 President Trump and his top advisors, all billionaires, decided that the rich were not taking home enough of their pay. How much are they taking home? Well, we have a very good example from a man who is purported to be a solid, tough-minded businessman but honest. Mitt Romney ran for President and had to (and did) release his tax returns. Now Romney is not as rich as some in the Republican Party, but his income that year, the year he ran, was about $14 million and he paid an income tax of about $1.9 million or about 14% actual outlay, that is, the out-of-pocket money he paid to the IRS. As I said, Romney is not close to being among the wealthiest Republicans, with a net worth estimated at something between $190 million and $250 million. But he pays what would be considered probably a typical amount for the very rich.
To be even fairer to the rich, Romney is at the upper end of those who are able to maximize their tax deductions and lower their annual average rate. He paid an average of something like 17% in taxes over a long period of years. So we should not lose sleep over how much he or any other annual millionaire paid in actual taxes before the Trump tax cuts. We don’t believe that a person making a million dollars a year should have felt oppressed by a tax rate that allowed that taxpayer to keep almost eight and one half dollars out of every ten. Especially when an entire host of people—paying a lot more as a percentage of their incomes–worked hard to make it for them. In short, the rich were not over-taxed before the Trump tax cuts.
Yes, the rich do pay a lot of taxes in absolute-dollar terms. Even Romney, on his low tax rate, paid taxes of over a million dollars. But, let’s take the average family with income of about $100,000. Depending on the state in which you live, assuming you are married and filing jointly, your take home–after federal and state taxes–will range from about $75,000 down to about $67,000. So from about $6,300 a month down to about $5,500 a month, doesn’t sound like $100,000 a year does it…five or six grand a month? If you were paying Romney’s rate, you would have taken home over $80,000.
So what is the problem? Is it big government eating up all our money? Actually, it is big government cutting its own revenue, then wasting your taxes on things that you don’t want, and ignoring things that you do need. Forget for a moment what you want. Government is not there to provide what you want—a bigger house, a better car, or tuition for your kid to go to Dartmouth. Those you have to get for yourself. What you need…and currently do not get (as Europeans do for their tax dollars)…is, first of all, a lot more security. For example, in the U.S., you don’t have security in your health care. What if you lose your job? What kind of security does our government provide?
Let’s stop for a minute and examine just one cost that billionaires would like to eliminate. Health care for average Americans. At one point, the brilliant Alan Grayson, a House member from Florida said on the floor of the House, in frustration, that the Republican health plan was: “If you get sick, just die!” Of course he was making the very serious point that the Koch brothers and other billionaires had funded huge Neo-Fascist “think tanks” and pseudo-intellectual groups, to find endlessly more complicated rationales for reducing government spending and therefore justify cutting their taxes. Health care, especially Obamacare, which would solve many health problems for 30 million people and guarantee health care of some kind to virtually all Americans, healthy or sick, was one of those policies that billionaires vowed to end at all costs. As major stockholders in both the health insurance corporations and the pharmaceutical corporations, they spent hundreds of millions of dollars supporting Republicans who would battle against the Affordable Care Act.
So what does health care security mean? What happened before Obamacare? Let’s say you lose your job, your executive position, and with it, your employer-paid health care. Well, before Obamacare, you’d better find another job in a hurry. Because, while you can keep your old employer health care…that’s the only guarantee…for up to 18 months…there’s a catch. You pay the whole thing. Yes, you’re out of work, unemployed, and now you pay double what you used to pay when you had a job. You now pay your half and the employer half.
It’s called COBRA and it is what the Republicans came up with and forced down the throats of the Democratic Party as health care “security.” It’s crap. You can thank the rich, Right-Wing Republicans and the Tea Party for that. What Obamacare has tried to do is to say that, if you lose your job or if you want to strike out on your own, that portion of the tax-subsidized health care bill that your employer now pays will be paid by government…which is only fair…and you would pay the balance. It’s not perfect. Remember…you’re out of a job, or you’re starting a business with no income. So you still have to protect your family somehow.
Even Obamacare did not work this out as efficiently as it could have…thanks again to the lobbying efforts of the many branches of the health care industry everything from implement manufacturers to doctors. If you lose your job or strike out on our own, you now can look for health insurance in the health insurance marketplace in your state, but, thanks to Republican fiddling with the system, you may not find one. If you do, the rates may still be very high, depending upon where you live, your age, your potential income, and your health. While you cannot be denied coverage, insurance companies will always find ways to make you pay the maximum they can charge.
Yes, indeed, in the final analysis all this is about cutting taxes on the rich. No one should believe any longer that there is any Republican working on behalf of his or her constituents. That passed into myth years ago. Your Republican representative voted (because they all did) for a return to pre-Obamacare rules that said you could be denied health care if you had a pre-existing condition, which could be almost anything, in some cases even pregnancy. Many people who had experience with health insurance before Obamacare know from cruel experience. Over 500,0000 people a year (not exaggerating) before the ACA, went bankrupt every year from health care related costs.
Ronald Reagan and “Deficits Don’t Matter.” (As Long as You Don’t Tax the Rich.)
But let’s go back to taxes. There is a very good case to be made that the rich were grossly under-taxed—paid far lower taxes than they should have–during the entire period from Ronald Reagan’s first tax cut until today, even before the disastrous and foolish Trump tax cuts.
We had very high costs running World War II to save the world from Fascism. (And now we see it returning, even here in the United States, under Trump.) So after the war, we hiked income taxes on everyone, especially the rich, because, coming out of the Great Depression, they were the only ones who had any money. President Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson cut those top tax rates which had been as high as 97% on the top income of the richest Americans. Having said that, you had to be pretty darn rich to get into those brackets and those people, now third and fourth generations—as many of you might expect—are still very, very wealthy. You had to be in the top one percent of earners or higher to start paying those kinds of rates, although, the amounts, in those rarified economic atmospheres, are substantial.
When Ronald Reagan came along in 1981, his public attitude was that taxes were still too high. To create a more favorable attitude, he simply said that the government was useless anyway. Of course, being the “great charismatic leader” he didn’t need to offer any proof. He simply made declarations such as that the nine most dangerous words in the English language were: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Well, that sounds good on a campaign slogan or in a speech to wealthy Republicans, but it was a lie. What would an aging widow say to someone who came to bring her a Social Security check? Or an aging veteran, finding a place to rest in a government sponsored home. Or a small boy, like Republican Paul Ryan, whose father died when he was young, and his family lived on aid from the government (although he turned his back on the principal of government assistance when he became a Koch brothers lackey.)
It should be noted that years earlier, in a speech for Conservative Republicans like Barry Goldwater and the American Medical Association (of which his father-in-law was president) Reagan had said that Medicare should not be passed into law or it would turn the U.S. into a Socialist country. How did that work out? We now have under 4% unemployment and the most vital purely capitalist economic engine in the world…with Medicare. And all the Democratic Capitalist countries of Europe have total, 100% medical care for all their citizens. All emerging economies follow their methods, not our limited health care system, which many countries do not even recognize as a medical “system” at all. We rank lower than 30th on world rankings for health care delivery systems.
Had Ronald Reagan not worked for the executives at General Electric, the largest and most conservative corporation in American at the time, and instead worked for the American people, he would have reduced middle class taxes and dropped the top rate not to a bankrupting and absurd 28% but left it at the Kennedy/Johnson top rate of 74%. Or if it were necessary to reduce it at all, he could have left the top rate at the initial top rate he created, 50% on the highest income bracket. But it was not an economic decision, it resulted in tripling deficits immediately and took our country from under one trillion to a current total of $21 trillion, higher than our annual GDP.
Or course the entire country was delighted. We were lied to. We were told by the Republican Party and by supposedly honest brokers like the Nobel Prize winning economist, Milton Friedman, and others in the Mont Pelerin Society of arch-conservatives, that no taxes would work out just fine. The economy would provide. There would be more jobs and we would not need social services. Of course, the billionaires and the corporations in which they were majority stockholders played it to the hilt. And by the time Reagan’s charisma had played out, we had tripled our debt and the Right Wing had firmly inserted its foot in the door. Reagan eliminated the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, opening the door for Fascists parading as clowns and “populists” to the numbskulls and racists of society to lie about anything on which their masters, the super-rich, instructed them to rant. It has been a long journey to an actual Presidential sequential liar in Trump. But it was only the culmination of first, a handful of Right Wing radio commentators, then a hundred, then literally hundreds—all paid huge sums to support the tax-cuts-for-the-rich philosophy that demeaned and trashed government for the people.
So, in 1982, not only did the average family get a tax cut, which they were falsely told was actually going to cut the deficit but, additionally, if they ever did somehow become rich, they saw that they could keep almost all their money. It was supposed to be a “win-win” situation. But it was, in fact, a lose-win situation. The Middle Class lost and the Rich got enormously richer. They then used those riches to buy up politicians to make them richer, while reducing jobs and wages to eliminate the Middle Class.
With deductions and deferrals and schemes to keep money abroad, tax free, the truly rich became obscenely rich. In fact, it is a fact that you will not see many bar charts that accurately depict the ratio of the incomes of the rich as opposed to that of the middle class and the poor. Why not? Because the bar for the rich is so enormously high that it literally runs off the top of the page, or makes the other bars so small that the chart is meaningless.
There’s Rich; and There’s Obscenely Rich.
In 2017, three (3) Americans held as much wealth as the bottom half of American families. But the twenty-five (25) richest families had more wealth than that of half of all Americans, over 176 million people. In the meantime, we have almost 50 million Americans who live on a household income of less than $24,000 a year and, on average in recent years, over 4 million homeless and 16 million children on food stamps. The American Society of Civil Engineers says our country is falling apart. The survey of our infrastructure…roads, bridges, public buildings…which prior to Reagan, often got an “A” has, for the last dozen years, continually worsened from a warning “D” to a grade of “F,” meaning, they say, that our country is in many areas, simply dangerous to inhabit, in others nearing rubble. That is what continuous tax cuts for the rich tend to achieves.
Reagan also praised and advanced the careers of conservative economists, and many who merely called themselves economists. Their principal theory seemed to be that the main objective of any economy is merely to increase incomes for corporate owners and top managers. That resulted in CEO incomes going from 40 or 50 times the average wage, still a very high income compared to the average worker…to 300 to 400 times what the average worker made. And that is still true today. If the average worker salary is $50,000, the average CEO makes $15 million…a year, every year. Even health insurance corporations, where one would expect a semblance of restraint on executive salaries that contribute to higher insurance premiums for the average working family, paid their CEO’s an average of $14 million a year and in some cases, the cumulative executive suite salaries were equivalent to 40% of premium costs. Compare that to Medicare’s 3% administrative costs.
Economic inequality has continued to grow, year after year, with the super-rich funding the political campaigns of Republicans from the state legislatures to the Presidency. Beginning in the early 1970s, the Koch brothers spent segments of their oil and chemical profits to start think tanks like the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity and bribe universities like George Mason to install their Neo-Fascist courses and professors. They created the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC, which literally bribed Republican state legislators (only one Democrat in the entire country, according to ALEC’s own records) to create legislation that countered anti-pollution regulations, or to inhibit competition of other firms with their corporations. Or they would simply cut state taxes on wealthy corporations or individuals. It worked, and Republican lawmakers became more and more pliable and corrupt.
The economic consequences on the rest of us are palpable. For example, have you noticed that college education is now more expensive? It is therefore more accessible to the wealthy who have both more money and living in areas where property taxes create better intermediate schools, better high schools and prep schools, giving their children another advantage. The burden of educational costs does fall on the individual and tuition goes up. But, as we have seen, the truly wealthy have more money to spend on education.
Which brings us to another economic complication for the middle class. The rich are not stupid. The top .1% comprise only about 300 000 people and in terms of families that is only about 100,000. So, even though 2,000 families per state may sound like a lot, just trust me that the extended families of those top families, in the one percent of the one percent, are fewer than that and are in extended rich families, many of whom you will never encounter in your entire life. Their entire communities are–economically speaking–walled off from yours. They fly far more frequently in private planes. Many attend small, private schools with the sons and daughters of other very privileged children. In many respects, there’s nothing wrong with it. It is just the way it is.
But the leaders of the top ten percent of one percent, many of them, have spent their adult lives…sometimes 60 or 70 years…and certainly, in many cases, the last 40 years, creating a society that divides the white, educated class, and especially the white educated class with some inherited worth, from all other classes. Some people call it the top 9.9 percent, i.e., everyone under the top .1 percent down to the top ten percent.
But let’s you and I make a broader distinction. Even if you grew up working on a construction crew or in a grocery store and saved your money and earned scholarships and struggled and carried debt for a long time and crept into the top ten percent, you are still part of the “problem.” It means that you and your wife or you alone, have an income that allows you to live in an area where your child, if he or she is in the top rank among students in your local high school can go to either a private college or the leading state university. You probably live in that kind of an area and your home equity, which grew over the two dozen years you lived there or somewhere similar gave you the wherewithal, plus perhaps a well-positioned 401K, to pay for a hunk of your kid’s education.
Now other people in your class, whose parents were already in the Middle Class and who had professions that could withstand the downturns of 1981-1983, 1991-1992, the Stock Market blip of 1987 and the Great Bush Recession of 2009-2012, they also retained their positions in the top ten percent. And their kids, should they agree to accept their privilege with hard work, will also easily enter the Middle Class because you will loan them the equity to buy into the neighborhoods at the junior level perhaps, but the neighborhoods where their kids will continue in the same manner. It is a self perpetuating system.
It is called the American economic system or more accurately, the American Economic System for White People. Because—without casting aspersions or making accusations—we all know our history—African Americans make up about 1.9%, Hispanics about 2.4% and all ethnic, non-while identifying groups together, come to only 8.8% of the top ten percent economic percentile. Each year the wages of the educated go up slightly and those of the uneducated (those without a college education) remain static. Thus, the rich create a supportive group among those college educated now forming the top tier. It is a simply matter of creating two classes and pitting one against the other.
As the Fascist governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, told one of his billionaire contributors, on videotape, it was a simple matter of “divide and conquer.” In his case it simply meant persuading the stupid people in Wisconsin to vote Republican. He gambled that there were enough stupid people who would believe that teachers, who made $46,000 a year, were getting rich at the expense of all other citizens and therefore should be forced to abandon union membership, along with all other state workers. He turned out to be right.
When excess profits go into the hands of a few thousand super-wealthy individuals rather back into society, the cost of running government goes up or services shut down. We have seen the result over that last several decades. Bridges falling down. Roads go unrepaired. Schools fall apart. And higher education is priced out of the income range of most working class Americans. This means that those who do find their way to a higher education must consider the higher paying job—in order to return the costs of an education—rather than a lower-paying job which they might otherwise have selected, and one which might have filled an urgent need in society. After all, we know that we can never have too many teachers and likely already have too many brokers.
Even with Obamacare, health costs which should be spread across all citizens, are so high that most people feel stressed by them. The rich, using their enormous tax refunds, use that money to pay Republicans politicians (because they are the only ones voting against more popular health care measures) to suppress votes for any kind of universal health care. The rich are also concerned to protect their investments in for-profit hospital systems, health insurance companies and hugely-profitable pharmaceutical companies.
Shills for corporations, like Senator Marco Rubio, introduce legislation, pretending that to be against ”subsidies for insurance companies” but in fact pulling the health insurance out from under citizens in Iowa and many other states who needed those government subsidies just to find health insurance in their areas. (Of course, the Neo-Fascists, the Republicans…they’re all Right Wing now…blamed Obamacare when they should have blamed themselves. That is how Fascists work their propaganda.) Scumbag Rubio and his Right Wing, Koch Brothers-sponsored pals, are, in fact, supported by the excess dollars that the rich are able to keep after tax cuts from Reagan, then Bush II and Cheney, and now the liar and deviate, Trump.
Income and Social Inequality
And what about the average man or woman? Aren’t they doing better? After all, are we not below 4% in unemployment? Yes, we are experiencing low unemployment but the average worker is not better off. Wages have been reduced in a number of ways. First of all, the minimum wage bears no resemblance to what a “minimum” wage should be. The minimum wage was depressed and maintained at a low level by the Republicans for decades because of the demands of global corporations and lobbyists for the economic aristocracy. They do not want to see the differential between the value of their dollars and your dollars shrink, so the minimum wage has been held at $7.25 since 2009, at which time only a major battle in Congress increased it from a long-time $5.00…almost a third-world-country minimum wage. In fact, in some states the minimum wage is still not $7.25 per hour. In Alabama, it is $5.25 an hour, in Dick Cheney’s Wyoming it is $5.15, in Montana $4.00 and in some southern states like Georgia and Louisiana, there still is no minimum wage.
What does the minimum wage indicate? Is it the minimum hourly wage that someone can live on? Not according to many major economists. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, has developed something called the “living wage” calculator which, although it varies from community to community, shows that a national average of about $16 per hour is necessary to support a family of four, with two people working.
In other words, in calculating the average wage that a family needs to live, the number is more than double the current minimum wage. And even the “extravagant” minimum wage suggested by Senator Bernie Sanders, of $15 an hour, adopted in some areas of the country, phased in over several years, does not meet the minimal requirements, according to many economists and the MIT study.
Life for the average American worker is not getting better. Retail jobs pay less and are totally insecure these days with huge employers like Toys R Us and Sears and Payless Shoes and a myriad of other smaller retailers going out of business. In the meantime, Internet retailers like Amazon, while now offering a slightly higher minimum wage, still presents a handicap to local governments. While low paying jobs provide some tax revenues, they also result in a burden on local welfare services.
Other outlets like Wal-Mart and McDonalds and Target (all retail stores of one kind or another—low paying jobs) continue to burden society with a large number of their employees already on food stamps to survive. With the slowdown in brick-and-mortar retail stores, many others will be on unemployment completely.
So, the inescapable conclusion, by almost all economists is that the state of inequality in this country damages our economy and our future. (We are third in the world on the Gini scale, even higher in inequality than the oil-rich Muslim states.) Of course there are a few dissident economists like Steven Moore and Larry Kudlow (now Trump’s chief economic adviser) and Douglas Holtz-Eakin who work for the Super–rich and naturally have a dozen different ways to rationalize another tax cut for the rich, or no taxes at all.
The idea that we cannot tax the rich 70% of all their income over $10,000,000—which is a proposal by some far-Left Democratic candidates—is absurd. We have done it many times before when we needed revenue. Post WWII, the rich were taxed over 90% to top income levels and even under Kennedy, and up to Reagan, the rich paid 74% as the rate on their very top earnings. So we would not even be returning to the affluent era with a with a top rate of 70%. Not even close, because, in those days, the top income bracket started at a far lower top income than would be scheduled today. In short, the rich paid far more than they would today at 70% on top income.
We need to understand the facts of the worker economy in this country. During the Great Bush/Cheney Recession of 2008-2012, wages for seven out of ten people, at the very bottom of the income ladder fell, were reduced. And others were unemployed for over a year, some for two years. All during this time, production began to return. Over that period production went up 77%, which means wages should have risen but did not. From 2002 to 2006, even before the Bush Recession, productivity went up but while incomes rose about 5% for the top twenty percent the wages for the bottom twenty percent stayed almost the same.
The bottom line is this. In the decade of 2000-2010 basically, the income of the bottom half of the American workforce, that is, those from the median income down, had flat or declining incomes. The income of the American working poor went down, making them poorer. It is not surprising then, that we came out of the Bush/Cheney Recession with a new higher total of 46 million Americans classified as “poor.” We had more people homeless than ever before, several million, with tent cities across the country in many areas. We had more people who went onto food stamps and many who never got off, the working poor.
We should also not be surprised that Americans are saving less. Between the Kennedy era and the Reagan era Americans averaged a savings rate of 8% of their earnings. Today that rate is 3.4%. U.S. household debt hit an all-time high of $13.4 trillion in June of 2018 and of our household debt, fully $4 trillion is credit cards and other revolving debt. One third of all Americans say that they could not sustain a $400 emergency without foregoing some of their monthly bills. Auto delinquencies are the highest since 2012, with over 7 million Americans 90 days behind on their auto loans. A full 20% of Americans have auto loans of over $500 per month.
We could do that, if we wanted, and our economy would only improve. Even a top rate of 50% on incomes over $1,000,000 which is only 10% higher than the amount paid by millionaires under Clinton, a time when we balanced the budget, would give us enough money—if we cancelled the other super-rich provisions of the idiotic Trump tax cuts–to balance the budget and provide universal health care. Of course this was Reagan’s original tax cut, until the GE executives and George Schultz and the lobbyists for the super-rich persuaded him to drop income taxes so low that the budget would never balance again. Of course this was supported by the innumerable Right Wing “think tanks” like the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation and Mercatus Center, and other institutions funded by the Kochs and Mercers and Olins and Bradleys and other private “Conservative” groups.
We don’t need to tax the super-rich into the stone age, although some of them deserve it. Since Reagan but before Trump, we had reduced the amount of income from incredibly wealthy corporations to less than 1% of GDP. In the prosperous eras of this country, pre-Reagan, the economy grew at rates above 3% on a regular basis and often as high as 5%, while corporations paid seven times that amount—7% of GDP. And our country, the people, the infrastructure thrived. Those were the days before the Republicans became totally Right Wing (and before the “Tea Party” an attempt to put a patriotic name on a Neo-Fascist organization beholden to billionaires) and held down the minimal wage. In those days, any kid who wanted to work hard could pay his way through a state college or even some small private colleges.
The antidote to this kind of malicious activity is not Socialism. But it is Populism. That means creating legislation that still allows wealthy people access to huge amounts of money through private investment in business. But it also means creating government funds, through reasonable taxes, to build roads and schools and hospitals with access for all American citizens. Populism is a progressive attitude that says our government is here to serve all the people, to help corporations and institutions create a standard of living that raises up all Americans of any stature. It also must be a government that redresses wrongs, the grave injustices still being felt by Native Americans and must restore affirmative action programs that were so helpful to so many African Americans but cut short for so many others. The same greed that cut taxes below government maintenance was the same greed the eliminated these programs for many who deserved them but were never given the opportunity.
The Trump tax cuts did only one thing. They increased incomes for the super-rich and for the major stockholders of giant global corporations. Remember that those corporations did return their overseas funds to the U.S. But according to Wall Street sources, hardly Socialists, they then purchased their own stock, the dividends from which form the principal income of most of the richest American families. To make matters worse, not only did the richest get the largest personal income tax cuts, but the capital gains taxes and corporate taxes were both reduced dramatically, further enriching the CEO class and boards of directors and major stockholders. And to what purpose did the super-rich put these newly found funds? Well, to making substantial campaign contributions to Republican candidates who would promise even more tax cuts.
The fact is that, if corporations paid a full 20% in taxes on their gross income, without any of the current deductions for miscellaneous business expense or overseas complications, we could tax them at 20% and realize enormous income for the country. But most major global corporations pay no taxes here and often no taxes abroad. But wouldn’t the economy fail and wouldn’t we fall into a recession, as the economists like Larry Kudlow or Steven Moore would have you believe? Absolute nonsense. Those two economists were the biggest cheerleaders for the bloated and corrupt economy of Bush and Cheney which led to the second greatest economic disaster in our history.
Trump Appointees and the Destruction of American Society
At the beginning of Trump’s Presidency, many people thought that his entire focus was on trying to diminish the legacy of a great President, Barack Obama, who took us out of the Great Bush Recession of 2008, into a dynamic economy with 4% unemployment and a stock market at continuously record-breaking levels. Obama had publicly humiliated Trump at the national press correspondents’ dinner when he showed how ridiculous were Trump’s famous “birther” efforts to show that Obama had been born in Kenya. Trump had proved himself a racist and a fool, and later a sexual deviant, but the gross ignorance of the average American and its propensity to believe lies became a major problem. Added to that, the huge and unsuspected racism that finally surfaced in Trump’s 2016 campaign, plus the decades of Right Wing cheating on the electoral process, using every technique possible to depress the vote, finally took their toll.
Trump’s Cabinet was not the picture of a populist team. In fact they were the opposite—Neo-Fascists, that is, people who, like the Mussolinis of the prior century, sometimes paraded themselves as populists while attacking the people at every turn, then lying about it. They were and are greedy billionaires or very rich Right-Wing, corporate executives. They fight for cuts in taxes for the wealthy, enabling them to hand billions down to their descendants, generations yet unborn while bright but impoverished students with top grades find no affordable educational opportunities after high school.
Education Secretary Betsey DeVos, for example, removed the penalties from profit-making private educational institutions who cheat students, taking their money while granting them worthless certificates in life of real education. Companies like DeVry and the legit-sounding ITT have been forced out of business from lawsuits and government oversight bur were not forced to return the tens of thousands of dollars they charged students for a worthless piece of paper. DeVos’s actions to deny students their refunds on fake educational promises and her programs to convert public education to partially private, for profit “Christian” education cost Americans hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and have resulted in huge damage to our public education system.
We are losing thousands of teachers. Our best students, some of whom, under the regulated system overseen by Obama’s Department of Education, had been turning to post-high school alternatives to four-year education are now rejecting this kind of schooling as merely a scam. Enrollment is down at technical schools and many have gone into bankruptcy or simply shut down. This does not obviate the need for higher level technical education by those with a solid high school degree and a desire to improve their occupational opportunities in an alternative to traditional college.
Under Andrew Wheeler, the ex-mining lobbyist heading the EPA, clean water standards would be drastically reduced, and over 70% of wetlands would lose their safeguards. The White House is reducing the way scientists and environmental specialists have input on major private construction projects, basically “gutting” the National Environmental Policy Act. It is also reducing the amount of oversight and input by scientists into the decisions controlled by the Endangered Species Act, meaning that many endangered species will no longer have necessary protections.
With Ajit Pai’s appointment to head the FCC, once again, net neutrality…the ability of the average person to have the same access to the Internet as major corporations…was removed. This means that, as we already see among the major players, like Comcast and AT&T, “business” services are being sold as faster ways to access the Internet, crowding out individuals and public networks of individuals who work in the public interest. In addition, the FCC has now ruled that major media companies can control even more of the media in individual markets, meaning that the billionaires can continue to buy up access to the public airwaves to spew out their anti-democratic and anti-middle class propaganda.
Under Rex Tillerson, Trump’s first Secretary of State, diplomacy was largely an inexperienced, face-to-face personal discussion between Tillerson and foreign leaders, with Tillerson merely mouthing Trump’s own ignorant and biased approach to international affairs. During that early period, Tillerson ignored staffing, leaving as many as 600 foreign service appointments vacant for many months. Many of those key positions were never filled with qualified individuals with foreign service experience.
Rather than an experienced diplomat, Trump subsequently appointed a former West Point graduate, military officer, Koch-sponsored House Member from Kansas, and his former CIA director (with no prior experience with the CIA) Mike Pompeo, as Secretary of State. One can only assume that Pompeo, given that he had no experience in diplomacy before, and give n Trump’s propensity for hiring people who simply follow his orders, is merely a cipher for Trump policies, whatever fantasies those may be.
We know Trump’s attitude towards the world’s other nations from his actions and words. African countries he has characterized as “shitholes.” He has put an ultra Right Wing antagonist, John Bolton, as his National Security Advisor. Bolton has, at one time or another, advocated the overturning of the Iranian, Syrian and Libyan governments, among others, including his part as an active participant in creating the misinformation that led to the unnecessary Iraq War and 30,000 American casualties, 4,500 American dead, over half a million Iraqi civilian deaths, as well as more than $3 trillion added to the national debt.
Trump’s first health and human services director was Tom Price, a former House member who was one of the foremost leaders in the fight against Obamacare. He later resigned in disgrace after being threatened with criminal prosecution for wasting taxpayers’ money as Secretary. He later contradicted himself on several of the points he used to fight against Obamacare, basically showing that his arguments while in S
Scott Pruitt, Trump’s choice for EPA administrator, before he was fired for misusing government funds, immediately hired two lobbyists to work for him. The first was a former member of a firm that created a report trying to sell the Keystone Pipeline to Nebraskans by falsely stating that it would create nearly $600 million jobs in Nebraska in two years. The second was a Chemical industry lobbyist hired to watch over chemical companies to insure they didn’t do the kinds of things she had just been lobbying that they be allowed to do…namely, pollute the environment and create toxic waterways and air over communities.
Trump has even reached down into administration departments to insert totally unqualified people. In two small examples, one position at Agriculture, requiring an advanced degree and some knowledge of agriculture product distribution, was filled by a Trump campaign worker, a truck driver with no college at all and another was filled by a college student with an unrelated degree whose only experience had been as a cabana manager at one of Trump’s country clubs. But they were just two of the Trump campaign affiliated people assigned to Agriculture…like the person who sold scented-candles or the clerk from an AT&T retail office, or the real estate property manager, or the part-time executive assistant, or the person who was simply an intern at a Trump campaign office. Many of these people were hired in at the G-15 level. People hired at the G-9 level are expected to have a bachelor’s degree, preferably a master’s degree and some sort of related area of emphasis in the area for which they are applying.
Right Wing Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, the former Republican governor of Alabama, initiated Trump’s new idea of restricting food stamps. Under the rule, which he directed be done outside the new Republican Farm Bill which passed late in 2018, food stamp recipients would now be required to pass certain work rules, i.e., prove that they were working, in order to get food stamps, or would be denied food stamps for several months at a time. In other words, those homeless, destitute people who comprise part of the unfortunate 4% who cannot find work—the people most in need of nutritional support by the government—would not be allowed to receive food stamps, their last resort before beggary. Under the rule, only if unemployment rates rose above levels like nine or ten percent would the food stamp program be initiated for all citizens in many states, regardless of whether or not there might be large numbers in need of food who could not, for one reason or another, comply with the rules.
The list goes on and on in every department.
In December of 2018, Trump’s Federal Bureaus of Land Management, over the tumultuous outcry of environmentalists, leased 150,000 acres of public land for fracking, oil and gas or mineral exploitation.
The Trump Labor department has decided to roll back an Obama rule that would have paid overtime to anyone working for a living, whether called a manager, a boss, a honcho or just a worker, who earned less than $47,000. Since the Cheney Labor Department held the amount to $23,000, so that anyone could be called a manager, even if, as in the case of $23,000 you were working for poverty-level wages, and forced to work 50, 60 or 70 hours a week with no overtime pay. Now the Trump Labor Department has cut out several million American workers from overtime pay, enabling them to be called managers if they make $35,000 or more.
We know about Trump’s FAA, keeping Boeing’s new 737s in the air beyond the time when serious aviation experts were seriously concerned about the safety of the aircraft. Only after Europe and Canada grounded the planes did the Trump FAA take action. Trump’s Secretary of Transportation is Elaine Chao, the multi-millionaire daughter of a Chinese shipping magnate who has been accused of shipping drugs from Columbia into Europe. He recently gave $25 million to his daughter and her husband, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. She is a long-time Right-Wing Republican operative.
Trump is doing his best to weaken our safe water supply. Not unlike his pal the multi-millionaire water-poisoning former governor of Michigan, Rick Snynder, Trump has or directed his EPA, under former mining-lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler, to curtail the regulations on maintaining clean streams and wetlands, applying the rules only to major bodies of water. This means, of course, that mine tailings and pig feces can continue to seep into the drinking water of thousands of miles of American rivers and hundreds of miles of lake shorelines all over the country. Lead and other containments will continue to pollute the waters, particularly in the poorest and most vulnerable areas of the country. It will be Flint all over again, all over the land.
The Future Under Trump
We now have a glimpse of a future under Trump, if he were to pass his budgets. We’ve seen the mess in the economy already. Another $3 trillion has been added to the national debt, fully $2 trillion more than if President Obama’s policies had been continued, and even potentially stabilized if President Obama had been followed by Hillary Clinton…or absolutely balanced had elected Bernie Sanders and a Democratic Congress.
But here are the catastrophic looming disasters for the economy and the lives of the American people under a second Trump term in office.
First, huge deficits. The tax cut will only accelerate the lack of funds for government. This will lead to all the other problems, of which there will be innumerable.
Health care. Trump urged the House and the Senate to repeal Obamacare…without maintaining any of the health care security. So we know what he really has in mind. He would not force health insurers to accept people with pre-existing conditions, and nor would he make young people enroll in some kind of health care plan after age 26.. He would not force health insurers to keep families on their health insurance if they suddenly were hit with a serious illness. In a world where deficits would be a trillion dollars or more every year, health premiums could not be subsidized and insurance premiums would skyrocket.
We are talking about a variation on the old, pre-Obamacare options, including the return of cheap but virtually useless health insurance policies. In short, health care would return to the days of closing hospitals and personal bankruptcies from major illness or accident of lack of access and constant worry. We know all this because these are things that already happened to us before, some of them even after we enacted Obamacare but Republicans made “adjustments” to it, like the famous Rubio repeal of subsidies, resulting in gigantic premiums and states without any health insurance offerings at all!
War and dangerous international policies. Trump is motivated by personal narcissistic tendencies and eagerness to please others who are in power. We have seen it with Putin quite clearly, with the Saudi Prince, and with his erratic relationship with the leader of North Korea. Diplomacy must be practiced and done so with skill, particularly in the Middle East and with major nuclear powers who may mean us harm, ones whom we must both observe and at the same time want as trading partners, like China. Otherwise, as it is right now, our international situation can become quite unstable and therefore dangerous.
The decline of American personal economics. Wages are stagnant. The top 1% are accelerating, not only in their incomes but in their power to control the lives of the other 99% of Americans. The top 10% of Americans are also separating from the rest of society. The majority of macroeconomists have written for a long time that the country’s income imbalance will create a Latin-American style government with only a few rich and a tiny upper class managing corporations, and the rest of us poor.
The only economists who do not now forecast this future under Trump are those working for the billionaires to churn out “white papers” with ridiculous theories on “trickle down” economics, to be eaten up by the NASCAR, country-music, hillbilly, Confederate-flag class among the solid Republican red states, who support Trump blindly and allow White Supremacists to shout them down shove them around at their own political rallies but still consider themselves “patriots.”
Consumer debt is rising sharply again. That means that income is not keeping up with the cost of living…no matter what the government reports tell you. People with more than $50,000 in auto loans outstanding encompass one out of every five auto owners, and a larger percentage of those go 90 days behind every month over the last six months. The full effect of what Trump has done to farmers and food prices will not be evident until this Spring, and Summer, when the effect of the billions in losses they have taken on will be seen in troubled loans (and why they remain quiet can only be attributed to stupid faith in policies that they should be ashamed to say they support—anti-American, anti-Middle Western…of tolerance, hospitality and Christian generosity of spirit.)
Whether or not we have a recession, Trump is gradually dragging down an economy that had nine straight years of economic productivity gains, month after month, lifting us from 11% unemployment to only 4.6% of people unemployed by December 2016.
President Trump’s budget plans to save money by taking it from the most vulnerable. Those people who cannot make enough money to afford strong health insurance go on Medicaid. People who live in states where there is Medicaid—some Fascist governors and legislators don’t even allow it—and who simply make too little or have handicaps or simply can no longer find a job, go on Medicaid. These are the most vulnerable Americans and Trump wants to cut back on their Medicaid. He wants you to believe—perhaps is trying to make himself believe—that these people are all simply lazy and don’t want to work. And so they should not get even the minimal help that Medicaid provides.
He then wants to cut Social Security—again for the disabled, the most vulnerable—by reducing the amount that they would get after the many months of waiting to get on disability insurance by six months. This is a lot of money for very, very poor people who are literally using it to rent a place to live and find cheap places to buy food to survive. We are talking about a man who would cut the props out from under the weakest, neediest, least healthy among us at a time when they need the support of their fellow citizens the most.
Trump simply has no context for what it means to be an average citizen, vulnerable to all kinds of situations that can change a comfortable life to one of desperation in one single incident. Like being shot by a madman with a gun, sold to him because the NRA prevented legislators from keeping the gun out of his hands. Whom do you think pays for the care of so many people who are shot and disabled every day in our society…let alone the aged or hit by cars or come down with a debilitating illness? Those people rely on disability for care and wheelchairs and transportation to doctors and medicines and, yes, perhaps an occasional cupcake now and then. Is that too much to ask from your fellow taxpayers?
Trump wants life to be rough, to be harsh, to require strength through toughness and moral character. So…like his? The draft dodger, the adulterer, the pervert and chronic nationally known liar to the American people? The man whom Politifact said had lied to the American people—just the provable lies—84% of the time during one 12 month period? Is this the man we want to elect again…to suffer all these travails so sure to come….because they are in his own published plans?
The Future without Trump
Oh, yes, there is a wonderful, bright shining future ahead, if we only want to grab it and hang on to it.
Here are the glorious possibilities of life in America if we merely throw out the billionaires and their Republican lackeys and hire only left-leaning Democrats. What is a Left-leaning Democrat? Here is what a Populist Democrat, like, say, Bernie Sanders, stands for and will put into effect.
Leftist Democratic policies:
- To pay for good government, including health care security and military and a safe, secure, but not necessarily affluent ability to stop working in old age, tax the richest people in the country heavily on their income over a level that they simply don’t need and could never spend. For example, most people who make over a million a year, except for athletes who earn a lot in only a short while to make it, will make enough over a decade to retire very, very comfortably. I am talking about the poorest of that group. The more wealthy will still have so much wealth that they will never be able to spend it all, nor will their children or grandchildren. Then tax corporations only double what they pay now. They used to pay seven times what they pay now and thrived far better while paying higher wages than they do now. With these taxes we can fund all the things I am about to mention that will be part of a Progressive, Populist democratic government.
- Change Obamacare immediately by initiating a public option onto Obamacare on the first legislative day of the new Congress and the new Democratic President. That will immediately bring down health care premiums until we can switch to the best method of instituting either “single payer” universal health care or “Medicare for All” universal health care, whatever the distinctions of those two and whichever works best. The second day of a new administration should see to allowing individuals to purchase prescription drugs from Canada and Mexico and import them into the U.S, even reselling them under some regulatory controls on quality. This would immediately drop prescription drug prices. After that, other measures…like, only allowing drug companies to use NIH research and other government research with government setting the prices and allowing a generic drug to be sold within five years of the original brand’s on sale date…would be initiated to control prices, including Medicare competitive bidding for prescription drug prices.
- New economic policies, such as: a national minimum wage of $15 an hour, a return to pre-Reagan labor laws, a stronger and permanent Consumer Protection Advocacy Board with authority to pass information to both the FBI and the Treasury Department for investigation and indictments. A new infrastructure plan over ten years to restore roads and bridges and public buildings. A simultaneous plan to introduce high-speed rail throughout the country beginning in places where research shows it will both reduced emissions and reduce traffic flows and airline traffic most efficiently. A 20 year plan to reduce emissions-causing energy by 80%, substituting bio-chemistry, solar, wind and other techniques to replace fossil fuels. Over the same period, conversion of the entire mobile transportation system to electric vehicles. Restoration of all clean air and water rules and the addition of any new ones that may be necessary, including laws that may be needed to clean up and improve water distribution and storage.
- Education: We can be proud of the history of education in the United States. By the middle of the 19th Century 90 percent of Americans could read and write and half were completing a grade school education. By the 1940s half of all Americans were graduating from high school and government funded land grant colleges had been started in most states. During the LBJ years education was expanded and extended to even more Americans, providing incentives for inclusion and advancement.
Now the Trump Department of Education wants to privatize education. Betsey DeVos, the billionaire head of the department has been one of the leaders in the country for introducing her brand of “Christianity” into the education syllabus and privatizing elementary and secondary schooling. Her motives seem clear. To separate white and especially affluent white students from others and by so doing, guarantee their status. In Michigan, her campaign to initiate private, charter schools was a monumental failure. Now Trump, for his own personal Neo-Fascist reasons, wants this failure to educate to be made national. It is not lost on educated Americans that his political base is made up, as he has said, among authoritarians and even “biker gangs.” This is hardly the future we envision for our young girls and young men.
The future of progressive education is access to affordable or free higher education, whether for regular college studies or for technical education. Every student in the future must have some form of higher education beyond high school and some occupation to follow that can be updated and expanded over time. We already have a substantial educational system providing professional degrees beyond the bachelor level. Now we need to apply in real, practical terms what the “for-profit” educational systems should provide. Some do but others have used government loans to students to offer only fraudulent programs. The Populist and Progressive platforms will have government offer substantial programs through authorized and regulated non-profits or through community colleges.
Every child will have the opportunity for pre-school. Children with special needs will be cared for and young men and women with special needs regarding gender and dress will be treated with respect. Women’s education and title 9 issues will be addressed. In general, educational needs that has represent the needs of American families will be addressed and not subjected to the whims of religious fanatics or bigots. This has been and will continue to be the policy of the Populist and Progressive legislators in this country.
- Immigration and national security. For many years we have had a divergence between those who want all Americans to make progress and those who want to use the ignorant and bigoted to suppress the working classes and destroy the Middle Class. One weapon they have used is to create the false notion that immigrants, in particular these days, Mexican and Central American immigrants, who come here illegally, are destroying our society. This is untrue. Illegal immigration is down over the last ten years, with increasing amounts of revenue being spent to keep illegal immigrants out. A rational policy would spend slightly more to increase border security and huge amounts more in aid to Central American countries to fight drugs and crime. In addition, rational policies such as the Bush-era amnesty program to incorporate already existing American workers who are still not citizens into the workforce where they already exist and make substantial contributions, should be adopted. We can only surmise that this, which has been the policy of a Democratic party out of power will become legislation once they are in power. Of course we must continue to increase border security. There are multiple good reasons for this. But we cannot trust the Trump lackeys in government who are working for the Neo-Fascists, like Trump, and who have no intention of recommending rational policies but ones that will enhance their own prejudices or private interests.
These are the Progressive policies. Good jobs. Long-term industrial expansion. Sound health care programs for all. Secure retirement. Rational immigration. Clean air and water and forward-looking and substantial climate-control measures. The entire range of programs that Progressives and true Populists propose involve working from the needs of the people, sending that information up to the legislators, then allowing legislators to find the most efficient methods of creating a government that works for the least of us as well as it does for the most successful and affluent of our people.
It is time to act. It is not the time to sit back and reflect. There are a myriad of Democratic candidates waiting for your support, your letters, your participation in surveys, petitions, demonstrations and your help in funding their efforts to get the information to all the people that we must enter a new era, one where government works not against the people but by the people, for the people.