What Do We Need?
The Mid-Term elections are now over and we begin the next Presidential election cycle. And you are asking, “What??? Can we not have a break from the endless campaigning?” Well, however much we need/want such a break, I do not expect one. I think the jousting for nominations has already begun. Beto anyone? Cory?? Kirsten?? Joe?? Elizabeth? Oh, and the list goes on and on. The real question to me, is will the GOP allow The Donald to run again, or will they conjure up some reason that he might consider just retiring to MaraLago. I know, I know, they never actually challenge President Stupidhead. But they really, really want to retain power. Having lost a lot in the mid-terms, they may well wish to reconsider that strategy. Of course, they have no actual candidates, but when did that ever stop them?
But the even larger question than who will run is, what do we need as a Nation from and after the next presidential election? And are there preparations that need to be completed, or at least initiated before that event?
We have been heading slowly and now a bit faster towards a serious revolution in our Nation. And I don’t mean that everyone will get their guns and begin shooting their neighbors (although that always remains a possibility in the minds of the MAGAHeads and their NRA terrorist gangs). Instead, I am thinking of a serious redefinition of the kind of society in which we live and wish to continue living. I think the 2008 crash should have triggered such a redefinition, but those in charge (mainly the Obama Administration and their GOP allies) decided not to punish the bankers, but instead allowed them to escape back into their golden chambers so they might begin planning anew the next chamber of horror show for the lesser classes (me and you) throughout the Land. Bankers generally seem never actually to learn anything from their disasters. Sometimes, it just takes them longer to revisit them.
Just how many such disasters the Nation will tolerate is a serious question. It always reminds me of Ms. Marie Antoinette and her last fling.
Surely we can commit to something more thoughtful, however painful for the empowered.
Our nation seems headed towards bankruptcy, that favored state for Donald J. Trump endeavors. Mainly, he seems not to understand global finance, or any finance for that matter. So, when he gets a tax bill for the wealthy passed by his compliant Congress, he has no clue what the effects will be downstream on our global financial status. At some point, I imagine the world may well stop buying our debt and then we are screwed.
But, maybe with the next serious election stage, when we replace the Drumpf with anybody else, we will need to address some serious issues, like global finance. Here’s a beginning list of the stuff we will need to begin changing/resolving:
1. Finance: We really do need to begin paying for what we buy. I realize that credit cards are a wonderful invention, but even my family has limits. At some stage, the bankers look at our debt and our incoming money, and would/will decide that we need to pay down on the debts. Understandably, the bankers of the world would frown if we wished to charge, say, ten million dollars to buy a nice new yacht. But they might actually stand a better chance (however fleeting) of getting repaid such a preposterous loan from us than they are the many trillions of debt currently owed by the US Treasury. So, when I suggest that we need to begin re-examining our global financial picture, I would begin with our tax structure that seems to expect way more from the middle classes than from the mega-wealthy. I know that Reagan made believe that the “Laffer Curve” was a real thing and that it would produce huge tax revenues (it didn’t, it was a joke), we now know that the world simply doesn’t operate that way. When you cut tax rates, especially on folks with serious money, it doesn’t produce more tax revenues by folks investing those savings in our economy. Instead, it seems to flow into offshore accounts and other hideaways that the wealthy use to avoid future taxes. In other words, the rich get richer. That’s the only serious effect, well aside from that bigger deficit thing. So, we need to re-examine our basic principles of taxation, revenue and expenditures. Maybe, it would be a nice change to attract some of our smarter economists into the next administration to begin designing a new and smarter tax system. And if the mega-wealthy hate that new, more productive system, then they would be free to emigrate to, say, Saudi Arabia.
2. Infrastructure: Ok, it really is past time to reinvest in our infrastructure. That takes money, but more, it takes a serious interest in the subject of America as a place to live and a place for kids and grandkids to live. Remember President Eisenhower? Ike was actually a republican, of the old school republicans. He believed in America and wanted it to be a place in which we all would wish to live and prosper. So, he invested in creating the interstate highway system. Why was that a good idea? Well, interstate highways are a way of integrating the nation’s communities. It serves commerce, and it serves the ability and willingness of folks getting to know our country. If you have lived in your village, or county, or state your entire lives, you will be amazed by getting your car onto the Interstate highway system and driving to another state. You really cannot understand our country, or our world by visiting Disneyworld. You really need to get off your asses, and actually travel to other parts of our amazing countryside. I am fortunate. I have now at least visited all 50 states, many by car. We live in a wonderful country, and folks who live in different geographic regions may well be different from the folks who live in your home village. But they have much the same fondness for our country as we do. Try it, you’ll like it. But, more. Our entire national system of roads, bridges, tunnels, railways, and, yes, subways, are desperately in need of money to recharge those systems. We have bridges falling down (London bridges aside). Our systems of transport, water purification and distribution, power generation, all the systems by which we can claim 21st century national credentials are desperate for investment. We need investments now.
3. Education: We are at risk of becoming a nation of seriously stupid people. Our public education system used to be an engine of prosperity. It educated the masses, many of whom became the Great Middle Class, and that middle class produced America, with all its wonders. That system has never been a perfect system. But it used to work a lot better than it does now. One of its problems is that it functions heavily on the “follow the money” principle. Because it is heavily reliant on local/county taxes for its funding, the system produces unequal school systems. The richer counties have more money, so they tend to have better-funded school systems. So, we need to address that issue. But other problems have been growing over time, problems that we have largely ignored. And then, someone thought of the charter school solution. We think the public schools have problems, but, rather than figuring out the causes of the problems and then devising appropriate solutions, we said, “Oh, I know, let’s send our public tax dollars to private schools. We know they are better by definition” It’s called, kicking the problem downfield. A solution only stupid people would love. We know now, from actual evidence that charter schools do not solve the public school problems, mainly because they were not actually designed to resolve those problems. Students do not perform better at charter schools, sometimes worse. We need to stop tossing good money after bad, and instead commission studies of our public schooling system to uncover the sources of their problems. Only then can we begin to devise real solutions to the problems.
4. Health Care: The United States is the only nation in the industrialized world that does not have a universal health care system. The reason seems obvious, however deplorable. I am uncertain whether this principle adheres on both sides of the political aisle. But, it goes something like this. If one side of the aisle devises and gets passed into law a program that later becomes wildly successful and popular, the other side of the aisle must oppose it, and spend much of its time and political capital trying to kill or reduce it. For example, Social Security. For example, Medicare and Medicaid. And of course, of more recent origin, the Affordable Care Act/ObamaCare. These programs are beloved, and they cover most of the population. ObamaCare is, of course, of more recent origin and has been fought every step of the way. President Stupidhead has joined forces with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan in an attempt to kill it. One might ask, why would any responsible legislator oppose providing quality health care to everyone in the country? Well, because, if it is labeled or perceived to be a Democratic program, republicans must by definition, oppose it. It has nothing to do with health care, per se. It is all, 100%, a political decision. The opposition creates mostly false arguments as to why they oppose it. But oppose it they must. Somehow, perhaps in our next life, we must figure out a way for Congress to act in the best interests of the American people, so as to devise a proper universal health care system, in which everyone in the country will receive health care of the same quality. The only reason for denying such a system is that those opposed do not believe that all Americans should receive health care and that, perhaps, health care is a privilege reserved to the upper income classes in the country.
5. Climate Change: We need to remove all stupid people from all discussions that involve science. It is by now abundantly clear that climate change is not only occurring, but that we are rapidly approaching a catastrophic point of no return. If our Congress cannot agree on both the nature and extent of the problem, and then on potential solutions to this problem, then not only our nation, but the entire globe is doomed and we face extinction as a species. Think dinosaurs folks. At least in theory, we are more intelligent than were the dinosaurs. We actually already have the beginnings of a solution, and, arguably, additional solutions can be devised. But first, we have to stop denying that there is a problem. I realize that most solutions to climate change require that we change the way we generate power, and that some current solutions need to be shunted aside in favor of more enlightened methods. I also realize that many people, perhaps millions might be affected by such dramatic changes to the power superstructure. So, we may well need to devise economic solutions for the problem created by many folks (millions??) out of work. But devise we must, unless we are content to destroy the globe. That really is the only Plan B.
6. Population Migration: Why do people migrate to other lands? By migrating in the numbers seen in recent decades, the migrating folks create a backlash of anger and fear, mostly fear among the receiving populations. But, we all know that it is not simply economics that drives the migrants to uproot themselves and move to other, possibly hostile lands. My grandparents migrated for largely economic reasons. But those were simpler times. Now, folks move for economics, yes, but often to avoid being murdered by gangs, thuggish religious enterprises, and just downright murderous despotic regimes (think Saudi Arabia, and virtually all of the Middle East). There seem to be two kinds of solutions: 1) allow the populations to flow hither and yon, as dictated by the whims of the folks being murdered; or 2) attempt to fix the problems that cause folks to want/need to migrate. We seem increasingly to hate solution #1, and are seemingly incompetent at #2. If we cannot all join forces internationally (at least among the theoretically civilized nations) to advance one solution or another, preferably #2, then we face permanent War as a natural state for our world. Now, it is true that many people actually like states of war. They allow planes to bomb places, and create splendid vistas of pure firepower. But eventually, we will also destroy the world by accident. Maybe it is true that we really are just dinosaurs in disguise.
There are other problems to be resolved by the next administration, unless we re-elect Donald Trump. In that case, I assume we have opted to continue destroying the world, so nothing else matters.
Maybe we are smarter than that??? Fond hope springs eternal.