Tag Archives: middle class

Wow, what a mess! American Politics

Sometimes (no, most of the time), I scratch my head and try to figure out how we got here. How did we end up with Donald Trump in the White House, and with Republicans with majorities in both the House and the Senate? As with most things these days, I concede that the answer is complex. I think it is easy to blame Hillary Clinton for running one of the worst campaigns in history. We can also blame the media for giving Donald Trump nearly unlimited airtime for months on end. I guess we could blame the Democratic Party for not fostering a selection of good candidates who would be able to relate to America. We can go back and blame the media again for giving us a steady diet of complete drivel – reality TV.

First, I think we must examine our election process. Again, the media play a big role. 30 or 40 years ago, when a candidate was running for president, he would sit down with the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire. Those Americans were chosen to be the gatekeepers. They would weed out the knuckleheads from the serious candidates. If you were an average citizen, you had little or no knowledge of the inner workings behind the politics of Iowa and New Hampshire. It was rare that you ever heard a speech from Iowa. You were not privy to the town hall meetings; nor the county fairs. Now, with 24-hour television, radio and blogs, nothing goes uncovered. Every time a candidate blows their nose, it is reported on any number of networks. We know exactly what type of tissue was used. Overb the last twenty years, the whole political procesd has changed from discussing policies on how to make America better to something much more superficial. Our political process has become the ultimate reality TV show. It is about gaffes, zingers, one-liners, and who had their “oops” moment – like former Texas governor Rick Perry. Bernie Sanders is talking about serious policy issues. Boring! Look, Trump is throwing around a bottle of water pretending to be Rubio. Now, that’s funny. That’s entertaining.

For the most part, you or I could probably give an average political speech without breaking a sweat. You know the average Republican will talk about cutting taxes, restricting abortions, and flexing American military might around the world. The average Democratic speech will cover better job prospects for the average American; higher wages, fighting corporate corruption, clean air and clean water and – never forget, keeping America strong. While there is nothing wrong with any of these goals, Americans have heard it all before. Yet, the standard of living fot the average American has been stagnant, or has fallen, since the late 1970s. Americans are tired of hearing the same old drivel. Many politicians have become nothing more than noise boxes, sounding much like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

There are some politicians who have done some fabulous work. I’m not saying that they haven’t. What I am saying is, that for the average American who is 40 or 50 years old and makes $40,000 a year, not much has changed. He or she has seen Republicans and Democrats in the White House, and they are still working as hard as ever. They have little or no savings. In order to send a child to college, these Americans are going to have to take out gargantuan student loans, which they have no conceivable way of repaying. Here is the problem. This is the exact concern which Donald Trump tapped into. He spoke differently. He never specifically said he was going to do this or that. He spoke in broad terms – “I am going to make America great again.” He tapped into the frustration of middle-class America. He basically told us that he was going to give us the tools so that we could be prosperous again.

Although identifying the problem in our American society is relatively easy, figuring out how to fix the problem is far more challenging. What thoughts do you have?

Inequality

It must be nice to be rich. Inequality isn’t something that you need to be concerned about. As a matter of fact, you can sit around and try to increase the inequality in America so that you can almost guarantee your children won’t really have to work. Must be nice.

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From Paul Krugman:

A couple of days ago the Times published a fascinating portrait of a society being poisoned by extreme inequality. The society in question is, in principle, highly meritocratic. In practice, inherited wealth and connections matter enormously; those not born into the upper tier are, and know themselves to be, at a huge disadvantage. Furthermore, you can clearly see some of the other costs of inequality — for example, expenditure cascades, in which the less well-off feel compelled to go into debt in an attempt to keep up.

The society in question? The Harvard Business School, where students who can’t spend lavishly on social events are effectively in an inferior class, and borrowing to keep up appearances is apparently common.

The point is not that we should weep for middle-class HBS students, most of whom still have better prospects than the great majority of Americans. It is, instead, that what’s going on at HBS is a microcosm of what’s happening to America, and an excellent illustration of the harm extreme inequality can do.

North Carolina is getting national attention

North Carolina is getting national attention and it is not the good kind. The following is from Think Progress.

GOP Obliterates Voting Rights in North Carolina

We’ve previously discussed the extremist takeover of North Carolina and the Moral Monday protests that have arisen in response. The extreme right-wing of the GOP that now apparently controls the state has rolled back decades of progress on nearly every issue in an apparent attempt to create some sort of you’re-on-your-own utopia for the rich, powerful and well-connected. By contrast, the state’s middle class and the poor will be, well, on their own.

Last month, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) broke an unambiguous campaign promise to sign no further restrictions on abortion and signed an anti-abortion bill so sweeping it will close all but one of the state’s approximately three-dozen abortion clinics. The state then promptly shut down the one clinic that was believed to be able to meet the restrictions under the new law.

It gets worse.
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