Tag Archives: ethical revolutionist
by David T. Bruce
House Speaker Boehner tells us that it is “time to focus on the real problem here in Washington and that is spending.” We couldn’t agree more, Mr. Boehner. How we disagree, however, as do a great many Americans, is how spending should be reduced.
This sequester will force federal job cuts in the hundreds of thousands, affecting civilians and military alike. Education in America will further erode, as children will be cut from Head Start programs and teachers and aides will lose their jobs. The mentally ill, the disabled and the elderly will also be impacted, as funds for health and food services will be eliminated or reduced. Are these truly the people and services that are a priority in terms of cutting the federal deficit?
Those most affected are those that are already reeling from an economy that has never quite recovered from the Great Recession, except in the eyes (and the coffers) of those who work on Wall Street. Those most affected are those who already have little or nothing, who have been literally dealt a poor hand.
Doug Bandow, a contributor to Forbes.com, illustrated a variety of ways that our government is wasting money:
“The Department of State used $306,000 to bring European college students to America to learn civic activism” (we need an exchange program for this one).
“Columbia University collected $606,000 for a study of online dating” (perverts).
“The federal government cut a check for $550,000 to underwrite a documentary on the impact of rock and roll on the collapse of communism” (hell, if that worked, I can think of another government at whom we could sling our guitars).
“A federal grant for $765,828 went to [. . .] bring an International House of Pancakes franchise to Washington, D.C.” (this requires no punch line).
Instead of wasting millions of dollars (which quickly adds up to billions) on discretionary and frivolous spending, why don’t you try balancing the budget (we call it penny pinching in the real world) without passing the buck(s) to the rest of us, asking us to pay for your ill-considered spending?
Instead of pointing fingers at one another, ask yourself what good you have done recently for your constituents and for your country that didn’t somehow benefit you. Instead of chiding or punishing the poorest of Americans (by eliminating support programs) who you believe have made poor decisions that have lead them to fiscal ruin, clean up your own act and demand the same from government employees who are sending billions of dollars in improper payments and overpayments out the door.
We cannot be the only ones sick and tired of the endless bickering that occurs on Capitol Hill. The only time our representatives take a break from throwing stones at one another is when they need time to rebuild their forts, preparing for yet another election year. While our elected representatives engage in yet another pissing contest, the working men and women whom they are elected to serve (those fortunate enough to still have jobs, that is), further struggle to make ends meet in the land of the American nightmare that is politics as usual.
by David T. Bruce
Many analysts and columnists are insisting that the economy is getting better. The state of the economy is a relative condition, however, as over 12 million Americans remain unemployed, with long-term unemployed men and women accounting for 38 percent of that number. At any rate, this perceived economic recovery has prompted President Obama to offer up an increase in the federal minimum wage over the next two years.
The arguments against raising the minimum wage are predictable, as they are consistent. Business owners contend that an increase in the minimum wage would force them to pass that cost on to the consumer. As well, the costs associated with paying employees more would limit the number of employees that they could hire, thereby further impacting the unemployment rate. This may be the case, certainly for small business owners who are trying to earn a living, but for those larger corporations that are doing well, these arguments amount to pure greed.
The current minimum wage of $7.25 amounts to $15,080 a year; this places a family of two below the poverty level. This is recovery? To pay rent in 1960, a person would have to work 71 hours at minimum wage ($1); a person would have to work 109 hours at the current minimum wage, to afford rent. This is recovery?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (unaffectionatly referred to as Obamacare by dissenters) compels business owners employing over 50 people to provide those employees with healthcare benefits. Companies such as Wendy’s (in Omaha, Nebraska), Papa John’s and Walmart are systematically structuring their workforce to avoid providing benefits. This is greed. And the bottom line of the argument against increasing the federal minimum wage is greed.
Business owners regularly raise prices to keep pace with inflation. Local utilities and governments do likewise. When will big businesses and governments realize that at some point, prices will be raised so much that they will lose money? The federal government does understand this, as government employees have historically received a cost-of-living allowance to help offset inflation.
The unemployed and underemployed Americans cannot give what they do not have. At some point, everyone will suffer. There is plenty of evidence to support that an increase in minimum wage would be a good thing, and the numbers demonstrate that big businesses continues to prosper while the middle class deteriorates. Every time you read or hear that the economy is improving, you can bet that Wall Street is doing very well, while the rest of us are worse off than we were yesterday.
by David T. Bruce
More people than ever are going back to college, irrespective of age. While younger students are still the norm, students in their 20s and 30s as well as older students are headed back to campuses in record numbers.
The aspiration of many parents is that their children go to college, and these numbers suggest that students leaving high school, the military, and the like believe the message that a better education will equate to a better job with better pay. Older adults are doing likewise, seeking to improve their quality of life through education.
This is what our academic and government institutions have been selling us.
The cost of obtaining this education, however, has created an economic burden for students and our society that will likely increase over time. Furthermore, the hope and the promise that a better future awaits for those who obtain a higher education is becoming nothing more than another disappointment for a working- and lower-middle-class society that wants to have a shot at economic success.
A report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests that the student loan debt in the United States currently exceeds $1 trillion, a number that eclipses America’s credit card balance.
The data further shows that middle-age students are “the fastest growing group of borrowers.” This seems to parallel the increase in middle-age adults returning to school to either improve their level of education or to retrain due to job loss.
Whereas determination and a good work ethic were once enough for a person to succeed, a piece of paper purchased from an accredited academic institution is now the only way for a person to have a chance of realizing the American dream that many of our ancestors achieved through hard work and fortitude.
Once an education would almost guarantee success in the upper-middle or upper class of society; now an education is almost mandated to enter into the middle class of society. The alternative path is the retail industry.
Academic institutions have joined hands with corporate America and the federal government to ensure that this alternative path is the choice of many, whether or not students complete their education.
An Associated Press report cites that 53.6 percent of graduates under the age of 25 with Bachelor’s degrees are without a job or are underemployed.
The majority of American citizens play by the rules in terms of meeting the requirements for employment in their career, but colleges and universities court prospective students, seeking those that fit their preferred demographic, satisfy federal student-body quotas, and most importantly, generate revenue.
Like any big business in America, colleges and universities are now most concerned with making money and staying in business.
Education, at least as far as academic and corporate executives are concerned, is of minimal consequence. As far as our federal government is concerned . . . well, it is an election year, after all. Better to have a student body indebted to you than a student body in debt.
Both President Obama and the expected Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney agree that doubling of student loan interest rates would only increase student debt, without addressing the issue of un- and under-employment. Romney is quoted as saying that “what young Americans want and need is a new president who will champion lasting and permanent policy changes that both address the rising cost of a college education and get our economy really growing again.”
Neither the President nor Romney have no idea what we want or need.
We don’t need another “champion.” We don’t need a cheerleader who proposes to know what life is like as a lower- or middle-class citizen in America. We need to assemble a group of elected officials who truly care about the education of their citizens, recognizing that it is the working class that ultimately drives the economy and not the practice of massaging numbers on Wall Street.
Our government seems to care only about the corporations (which colleges and universities are quickly becoming a fundamental part of) who fund their campaigns and ensure their ongoing political victories. These corporations want to make money, and they want a working class that will help them make their money.
An education is not necessarily required to stock shelves, wait tables, or sell inventory. Colleges and universities will take your money, though, building your hopes of a better future, while corporations simultaneously eliminate job possibilities.
The left hand does indeed know what the right hand is doing, and they are choking the life out of America.
by David T. Bruce
Neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party as a whole gives a damn about the healthcare needs of the citizenry of the United States. Other nations are criticized for their socialized medical healthcare plans. England’s National Health Service and Canadian Health Care are two forms of socialized medicine that provide healthcare to all citizens, not just to those that can afford care or afford coverage. While the systems certainly have their share of flaws and frustrations, the mentality suggests that a government body should logically and morally care for its citizens.
In the United States, many of the elderly cannot afford the privatized healthcare coverage offered to them, let alone can they afford a new heart. Likewise, American citizens who are born disabled or find themselves disabled are unlikely to have sufficient coverage. Like the elderly, their income level in general is not enough to afford them access to the level of healthcare required to meet their needs. Furthermore, the economic instability that still prevails in the United States (regardless of the Wall Street or political spin to the contrary) increases the ranks of the underinsured or uninsured. Gallup polls point out the state of healthcare in the United States as of 2011, illustrating that over 17 percent of Americans over age 18 do not have health insurance.
The majority of Americans are not asking for handouts; the majority of Americans are not resting on their laurels or sitting on their behinds, avoiding work in order to obtain free medical care. The majority of Americans are victims of the power struggle that is running rampant in this country between the two major opposing political parties, who use large business companies as their chess pieces of highest rank. We are merely pawns – very weak and very disposable. For fear of losing power, our elected officials use their own form of domestic terrorism to make each of us fearful of our neighbors, engendering within each of us the fear that something we have earned will be taken away.
Both the Obama Administration and the Republican Party are missing the point. Both sides are wrong. We should not have to force Americans to buy health insurance. Health insurance should not be for-profit, benefiting health insurance companies more than those receiving benefits. The relationship between these two entities – the federal government and the health insurance companies – is not difficult to perceive.
The insurance companies lobby on Capitol Hill to benefit from the election of an official who will support the continued financial success of insurance companies. That is what “for profit” means, and they are indeed very profitable. These elected officials then seek to mandate that insurance companies benefit from the support for which they have lobbied. Here we have a conflict of interest.
What should be of interest to all Americans is this: we either care about our citizens or we do not. England and Canada may not have the best insurance programs, but they do at least give the impression that the wealth of a human being is not attached to their age or ability. Given the rhetoric spewed from all branches of our federal government and the health insurance companies, the message is that healthcare for all Americans is not a priority. The message is that if you are too old, too disabled, too poor, or too sick, you are on your own.