Focusing On People … ALL People

There are numerous ideological differences between the two major political parties in the United States today, some are superficial, others deep-rooted.  But one of the main ones, I believe, is what their view of the purpose of government is.  The Democratic Party largely believes in investing in people, while the Republican Party is more concerned with investing in Profit … profit for the already wealthy, that is, not for the average Joe.

I have shared two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof’s work before, and his column yesterday in the New York Times is another that needs to be read, pondered and absorbed.  He makes the case for President Biden’s proposals for investment in the people of this nation, and he makes it well.  If the Republican Party chooses not to participate, then perhaps it’s time we leave them behind … for the greater good, the good of the nation and all of its people.


Joe Biden Is Electrifying America Like F.D.R.

By Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

YAMHILL, Ore. — The best argument for President Biden’s three-part proposal to invest heavily in America and its people is an echo of Franklin Roosevelt’s explanation for the New Deal.

“In 1932 there was an awfully sick patient called the United States of America,” Roosevelt said in 1943. “He was suffering from a grave internal disorder … and they sent for a doctor.”

Paging Dr. Joe Biden.

We should be cleareyed about both the enormous strengths of the United States — its technologies, its universities, its entrepreneurial spirit — and its central weakness: For half a century, compared with other countries, we have underinvested in our people.

In 1970, the United States was a world leader in high school and college attendance, enjoyed high life expectancy and had a solid middle class. This was achieved in part because of Roosevelt.

The New Deal was imperfect and left out too many African-Americans and Native Americans, but it was still transformative.

Here in my hometown, Yamhill, the New Deal was an engine of opportunity. A few farmers had rigged generators on streams, but Roosevelt’s rural electrification brought almost everyone onto the grid and output soared. Jobs programs preserved the social fabric and built trails that I hike on every year. The G.I. Bill of Rights gave local families a shot at education and homeownership.

Roosevelt’s Public Works Administration provided $27,415 in 1935 (the equivalent of $530,000 today) to help build a high school in Yamhill. That provided jobs for 90 people on the relief rolls, and it created the school that I attended and that remains in use today.

In short, the New Deal invested in the potential and productivity of my little town — and of much of the nation. The returns were extraordinary.

These kinds of investments in physical infrastructure (interstate highways) and human capital (state universities and community colleges) continued under Democratic and Republican presidents alike. They made America a stronger nation and a better one.

Yet beginning in the 1970s, America took a wrong turn. We slowed new investments in health and education and embraced a harsh narrative that people just need to lift themselves up by their bootstraps. We gutted labor unions, embraced inequality and shrugged as working-class America disintegrated. Average weekly wages for America’s production workers were actually lower in December 2020 ($860) than they had been, after adjusting for inflation, in December 1972 ($902 in today’s money).

What does that mean in human terms? I’ve written about how one-quarter of the people on my old No. 6 school bus died of drugs, alcohol or suicide — “deaths of despair.” That number needs to be updated: The toll has risen to about one-third.

We allocated large sums of taxpayer dollars to incarcerate my friends and their children. Biden proposes something more humane and effective — investing in children, families and infrastructure in ways that echo Roosevelt’s initiatives.

The most important thread of Biden’s program is his plan to use child allowances to cut America’s child poverty in half. Biden’s main misstep is that he would end the program in 2025 instead of making it permanent; Congress should fix that.

The highest return on investment in America today isn’t in private equity but in early childhood initiatives for disadvantaged kids of all races. That includes home visitations, lead reduction, pre-K and child care.

Roosevelt started a day care program during World War II to make it easier for parents to participate in the war economy. It was a huge success, looking after perhaps half a million children, but it was allowed to lapse after the war ended.

Biden’s proposal for day care would be a lifeline for young children who might be neglected. Aside from the wartime model, we have another in the U.S.: The military operates a high-quality on-base day care system, because that supports service members in performing their jobs.

Then there are Biden’s proposed investments in broadband; that’s today’s version of rural electrification. Likewise, free community college would enable young people to gain technical skills and earn more money, strengthening working-class families.

Some Americans worry about the cost of Biden’s program. That’s a fair concern. Yet this is not an expense but an investment: Our ability to compete with China will depend less on our military budget, our spy satellites or our intellectual property protections than on our high school and college graduation rates. A country cannot succeed when so many of its people are failing.

As many Americans have criminal records as college degrees. A baby born in Washington, D.C., has a shorter life expectancy (78 years) than a baby born in Beijing (82 years). Newborns in 10 counties in Mississippi have a shorter life expectancy than newborns in Bangladesh. Rather than continue with Herbert Hoover-style complacency, let’s acknowledge our “grave internal disorder” and summon a doctor.

The question today, as in the 1930s, is not whether we can afford to make ambitious investments in our people. It’s whether we can afford not to.

What’s the Deal With Joe Manchin?

Senator Joe Manchin … he refuses to ditch the ignominious filibuster, doesn’t think minimum wage should be $15 an hour, and in general is acting more like a republican than a democrat. Jeff is nicer than I am at this point, and has written a thoughtful post about the senator. Thanks, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

One Senator from West Virginia is getting lots of attention these days. Over the last week, we saw the sausage-making legislative process rear its ugly head in the Senate. But finally, on Saturday, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act was passed by a 50-49 strictly partisan vote. That’s right, not one Republican voted for the bill.

But the fact the bill was partisan is no shock. We knew going in that Republicans were not going to vote for it, no matter what the Democrats proposed – unless, of course, they lowered it so much that a couple of GOP members may have voted for it. Never mind. President Biden wanted the massive bill, and he got it.

Indeed, some watering down of the bill occurred. And we owe much of that to Joe Manchin from the state mentioned above, West Virginia. He negotiated to lower the income threshold for people…

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Filosofa Ponders …

Filosofa means ‘philosopher’ in Spanish.  When I first started this blog, my friend Herb suggested the name ‘Filosofa’s Word’ because he sees me as a philosopher of sorts.  I rarely philosophize these days, but tonight I am in a reflective mood, pondering and feeling the need to opine a bit.  Please bear with me.

Have you ever stopped and pondered the differences … the core differences, not the everyday cosmetic differences … between the two major political parties in the U.S.?  Most people are lifelong members of one party or another, while a small percentage are recent converts and another small percentage identify as Independents.

If you ask most people, they will give you a few key talking points, such as Republicans are for smaller government, big business, and a balanced budget, Democrats are for inclusiveness, more government regulations, etc., etc.  If you ask a die-hard republican what Democrats stand for, the first word out of his mouth will likely be: socialism.

I am neither a registered Republican nor Democrat, don’t label myself as either, though at this point, I see so much wrong with the Republican ideology that I suppose I’m far more aligned with the Democratic Party than the Republican.  But it occurs to me tonight that perhaps neither side actually understands what the other is fighting for.

I drew this conclusion after reading part of a statement issued by Florida Senator Rick Scott tonight.  In his statement he makes some truly absurd claims …

At the very same time these far-left radicals are trying to remake America in their image, and lead us into a disastrous, dystopian, socialist future, we have a parade of pundits and even Republican voices suggesting we should have a GOP civil war. NO.

This does not need to be true, should not be true, and will not be true. Those fanning these flames, in both the media and our own ranks, desire a GOP civil war. No, we don’t have time for that: The hour is late, the Democrats are planning to destroy our freedoms, and the threat in front of us is very real.

Yes, we are up against powerful elites headquartered in Washington and on the coasts, and they endlessly try to lecture, bully, and intimidate us. But we can beat them. The Republican Civil War is now cancelled.

You and I are being called upon to rescue our nation from a socialist experiment that always has a tragic finale, an ending that involves loss – loss of prosperity, loss of freedom and loss of life. Let’s work together, let’s focus forward, and let’s get to work to create the America our families want and deserve.

Say WHAT???  ‘Far left radicals’ … is that what I am?  What planet is this man living on?  Dystopian socialist future?  Destroy our freedoms?  Socialist experiment???  Loss of prosperity, freedom and life?  What the Sam Hell is he even talking about?

My first comment is that Rick Scott does not understand what ‘socialism’ is, and like so many in the Republican Party today is trying to use the word as a scare tactic.  Socialism, as I have clarified before, is:  a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

Nobody that I’m aware of is advocating that the means of production, distribution and exchange be owned and regulated by the government (the community as a whole, in this case).  Regulations, yes … ownership, no.  This is, for better or for worse, a market-driven capitalist nation.  Personally, I think the U.S. has taken capitalism too far, to the detriment of the people of this nation, but nobody asked me.  Regulations have only been imposed where corporations abused their freedom, such as in their treatment of employees, workplace safety, monopolistic practices, and most recently polluting the environment.

When Mr. Scott speaks of ‘loss of prosperity’, I have to wonder just whose prosperity he refers to, for the income gap in this country has been growing by leaps and bounds, leaving most of us scratching our heads when the word prosperous comes up in conversation.  But see, here’s the problem … too many people don’t understand most of this and when somebody tells them that they’re going to lose their prosperity or their freedom if a Democrat is elected, they believe it!  They don’t realize that they aren’t the ones with prosperity and freedom to begin with!  It is the owners of the companies they work for who are prosperous, at their expense.  It is the CEOs of the companies who manufacture the cars they drive, the appliances in their homes, the clothes they wear, and the food they eat that are prosperous.

The biggest difference between Mr. Scott’s Republican Party and the Democratic Party is people.  The Republican Party still adheres to Ronald Reagan’s ‘trickle down’ economic theory … a theory that has been deposed and dispelled so many times, and yet they keep telling the myth over and over.  And people believe it … over and over.  The theory goes that if we don’t regulate big business, if we don’t expect them to pay their fair share in taxes, then they will make lots ‘n lots of money and they will then share it by paying their workers more, and by starting new factories to hire even more workers.  It’s a lie.  A bald-faced lie.  But even today, people believe the lie.  Even after Republicans have blocked a raise in the federal minimum wage rate for twelve years, people believe the lie.

The key difference in the two parties boils down to this:  people vs profit.  You’ve heard me use that term more than a few times but stop and consider it for a minute.  The Republicans support big business, unfettered by such things as taxes, workplace safety regulations, or environmental regulations that might cut into their obscene profit margin.  They believe that the working class should bear the bulk of the burden of supporting government and that government spending should largely be on such things as the military and show-stopping space exploration.  Democrats, on the other hand, would rather see people’s wages increased, access to affordable healthcare for all, and taking care of those who, for whatever reason, are not able to take care of themselves.  Yes, Democrats support what are called ‘social welfare’ programs that help people pull themselves up, help them feed, house, and clothe their families.  Is that really such a bad thing?

The simple fact is that not everyone has the opportunity to earn a college degree and get a high-paying job.  People have troubles, sometimes of their own making, sometimes not, but should they and their children have to die of starvation or a lack of healthcare, while others have billions of dollars stowed in offshore accounts?  What, exactly, is wrong with equality, with everyone contributing so that everyone has an opportunity to live a decent life?  This “I’ve got mine; you get your own” mentality is bullshit.  And the ultimate irony is that most of those who identify themselves as Republicans claim to be ‘Christians’.  I make no such claim, but I’ve always heard that Christianity was about sharing, giving, caring, helping.  Perhaps not so much anymore.

May you Rest in Peace GOP

Jeff wrote this post a week ago, but somehow I missed it until today. Some of you have already seen it, but some haven’t and I think his analysis is astute and worthy of re-blogging. Thanks Jeff, for your take on the demise of the GOP … I think they will either learn to put the people of this nation ahead of corporate profits, else they will land in a heap in the cemetery of the “ghosts of parties past”.

On The Fence Voters

It’s taken several years, but the Republican Party’s imminent death awaits on November 3, 2020. It took a malignant narcissist pathological lying president of the United States to do it, but it’s almost time to issue last rites.

When a political party embraces an accomplice to negligent manslaughter/murder, they must have calculated that it was better to stick with roughly 40% of the voting public, rather than stand up for principle and honor. We’ll never know the real reason, but the GOP’s complete fall from grace is upon us.

We can argue about the true origins of the demise if you wish. I could easily surmise it began nearly 50 years ago when President Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace in 1974, only to be pardoned days later by President Gerald Ford.

I could also make a case that the fall began when the Party decided to embrace Supreme Court decisions

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