If there is anything clear today, it’s that the United States government is not working for us. This is no accident. The policies in place today are the result of the wealthy and powerful taking full advantage of the middle class and the poor, engaging in the process of base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS), contributing “dark money” to elections, lobbying, and as in the case with ALEC, working behind closed doors to generate model legislation to be distributed widely among legislative bodies to drive policy agendas (Molly Jackman, The Brookings Institution). The May 2017 Expert Survey on American Democracy dismally warns us that, “The results [of their research] give us ample reason to be concerned about the future of American democracy.”
Corporate welfare, also known as “crony capitalism,” has gotten out of control with companies in all industries and job sectors milking at the teat of city, state, and federal government benefits. Agriculture, tech, military industrial complex, construction, and the like benefit in a multitude of ways. Even companies like Walmart benefit indirectly by keeping employee wages very low and hours minimal so that their employees have no other option but to collect government benefits to make up the difference.
Rather than recognizing their value, and fighting for a more fair and equitable share of the profits of the companies they’ve worked for, workers have only gotten caught up in the promise of work in antiquated industries that are polluting our atmosphere and our water, destroying the lives of children dependent on those poisoned water supplies, and increasing the rate of global warming to astronomical levels, which is leading to what James Hansen, communicating with Scientific American to say, “We’re setting up a situation that’s extremely dangerous,” jeopardizing not only the future of our children, but the future of the human race in the pursuit of further corporate profits.
Both the wealthy and the well-to-do have spread the unsupported propaganda of “trickle down economics,” something that has been increasingly shown to be anything but, “Since the early 1990s, poverty has grown by 50 percent, leading to a doubling of the number of poor folks in places previously associated with soccer fields and shiny malls” (Michelle Chen, Why Are America’s Suburbs Becoming poorer? The Nation). Rather than trickling down, inequalities have only increased to the point that of OECD countries, only Mexico and Chile have a more dismal disparity between the rich and the poor.
While we attempted Reagan’s great “trickle down economics” experiment, the rich have been using that money to line the pockets of politicians and expand their interests and off shore holdings in a capitalistic system that no longer fairly compensates its workers.
Young people are encouraged to go to college and earn expensive degrees, graduating to start off their adult lives with mountains of debt, benefiting only the financial industries, because even with quality degrees, they can no longer expect to have a long and fruitful career within a specific company, instead, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics “younger baby boomers held an average of 11.7 jobs from ages 18 to 48,” with this number only expected to grow among younger workers.
Medical costs have become astronomical, with over 25% of Americans citing medical costs as “a serious financial problem.” Contrary to the critics of Obama and the ACA, the blame for the increases do not come from the federal government. Companies have been shifting health costs to their employees steadily for well over a decade. So, while the average worker’s wages slowly increase, Kiplinger relays that “Companies are forecasting 3% increases,” their costs have become increasingly astronomical. This has occurred at the same time that American corporations have steadily increased the compensation to their officers, now paying in excess of 347 times their average workers.
As if these pressures on families weren’t enough, according to Fortune, in most states, child care for dependent children now exceeds the cost of sending a student through college or university, resulting in an average nationwide cost of $233,610, according to the US Department of Agriculture to raise a child to adulthood.
Both middle-aged men and women are seeing significantly increasing rates of suicide, and apparently there is no answer as to why, and yet, when you look at the results of the policies that have taken hold in this country in the last 30 years and how they’ve impacted families ability to achieve financial stability and wellness, it’s not hard to guess at some of the underlying issues.
Now that 60 million people elected someone whose values don’t align with the average Americans, much of the citizenry has had enough. From day one, millions of people nationwide, and even worldwide, have protested the new administration and the direction it is attempting to take the country. Rather than addressing the concerns of its citizens, we have politicians running, hiding, climbing onto rooftops, refusing to hold town meetings, failing to keep up with the vastly elevated number of calls and correspondence and making critical legislation behind closed doors, and trying to cram it through before people know what they are voting for, knowing that the reaction of the public will not be kind.
Even with all this energy on behalf of the populace, neither of our two major political parties have gotten the message, generally continuing to go about business as usual, confirming nominees in spite of community outrage to positions they are not qualified to hold, and, even worse, have a track record that says were selected for the specific purpose of destroying the very agencies they’ve been selected to run, and an attorney general whose track record tells us he is interested in anything other than justice on behalf of large segments of our population. With very little exception, the current opposition party has done an inadequate job of standing together against the interests of the majority party on behalf of the people and doesn’t seem to have a solid agenda for winning 2018. The purpose of this blog, then, is to address issues critical to the vitality and life satisfaction of ordinary Americans, and offer solutions based on research and evidence to both politicians and citizen activists that can lead us to an effective transformation of our country and our every day lives.