Obama and the “Not So Feel Good” Economy — Part 3 of 3

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To get the country going and growing again average working people (and this is anyone who depends on their weekly pay check to get by) need to get a bigger piece of the pie. That is they should make more money, share more in the productive wealth of the country. A good place to start is the minimum wage. People who are willing to get out of bed every morning and go to work should be able to make a livable wage. Wage increases (on a national scale) should be tied to increases in worker productivity as measured by the labor department. Plus we need to change the debate on what constitutes good public policy (how we spend our money). Our political system has become (ever since the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision) nothing but a contest of who can raise the most money — a battle of the Super Pacs and paid (highly compensated) lobbyist, where special interests drive the debate (set the agenda for the rest of the country) and money is the real fulcrum in the system, not the individual voter’s ballot.

If you’re concerned about the direction the country is taking, keep in mind that nothing will ever get changed by supporting a party and an ideology that simply prescribes more of the same — or for that matter, a thoroughly corrupted politician (Mitch McConnell) more concerned with his own re-election than he is the public interest. No one should be a senator or congressman (woman) for twenty years. Life-long incumbency is an invitation and the first stepping-stone toward corruption.

Too often in today’s politics, the shrill, outrageous nonsense of the Tea Party stymies any reasonable public discussion, and the debate then gets polarized around the federal deficit. But we need to get away from the idea that all public spending is bad. Helping a struggling family with food stamps is not wasteful spending. Certainly it’s no worse than providing bountiful tax loop holes to Fortune 500 companies so they can avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes. And we need to recognize that the household budget and spending by the government are not analogous. This is what’s called– in today’s vernacular — constructing a false equivalency. Sometimes the government needs to spend more money than it takes in in tax receipts just in order to maintain sufficient demand to keep the economy growing. After the 2008 — 2009 financial collapse the much reviled stimulus did just that. The only problem: it wasn’t big enough, and the subsequent budget sequester was just the wrong medicine at the wrong time. The budget stimulus probably should have been twice as big. But given the political climate at the time (Tea Party activism), that was almost an impossibility.

The challenge for the country today is to get beyond partisan politics and ideological bickering and just do what is right for the country. Given the current acrimonious nature of Washington politics — the rampant corruption, the big money lobbyist and the all-pervasive influence peddling in the Congress — this is an almost impossible order. If you’re a struggling American today, needing help — a young college grad trying to find a job, an unemployed recent college grad struggling with student loan debt, a single mom working for the minimum wage trying to make ends meet or a homeowner trying to pay the monthly mortgage — good luck. Your odds are probably better in the lottery, or at the racetrack.

It’s no wonder the average voter is disgusted and fed up with the whole Washington clown show. There’s an election coming, but a lot of people have just tuned out — tired of all the political grand-standing and negative attack adds. To ascribe this just to voter apathy is, I think, really missing the point. This is not so much a protest, but a noiseless, and bloodless, directionless rebellion. Americans are pissed-off, but they haven’t yet figured how to demonstrate their frustration in any organized manner, so they quietly acquiesce to a system that has totally abandoned them, and the constitutional principles upon which it was founded.

Today even the President of The United States acquiesces to (cowers in front of?) the Wall Street bankers — the vaunted “Titans of Finance”. Where is Teddy Roosevelt when you really need him? Corporate and special interest money set the public agenda and call the Washington tune. The truth is, democracy — in the way we were taught to think about it — is dead. Unless you can make a 10-20 million dollar, undisclosed campaign contribution to some Super Pac your voice — in our American democracy today — is a hollow echo. In other words — by yourself — you don’t count. The only way that this can be changed is for all Americans to get together — regardless of party — become engaged, and vote for what’s in their common interest.

The Money Trader

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