What’s at stake in the 2012 election?
You may have heard of Robert Reich, but I have not until just recently. A wonderful discovery, a mighty fine fellow to find (wooo… try saying THAT five time fast). If you are not familiar with him, Robert B. Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century.
Reich has also written thirteen books such as “Beyond Outrage – What has gone wrong with our economy and our democracy, and how to fix it.” Oh how I wish Romney and Ryan would read this, and actually pay attention with an open mind. I know… impossible.
First is one of his videos about “Regressive versus Progressive – What’s at stake in the 2012 election.” Following this video are a few excerpts from his postings on his website which describe our current political state better than anyone else has been able to articulate.
In “The Decline of the Public Good” (Jan 4, 2012), Reich starts out by defining a society:
“What defines a society is a set of mutual benefits and duties embodied most visibly in public institutions — public schools, public libraries, public transportation, public hospitals, public parks, public museums, public recreation, public universities, and so on.
“Public institutions are supported by all taxpayers, and are available to all. If the tax system is progressive, those who better off (and who, presumably, have benefited from many of these same public institutions) help pay for everyone else.
““Privatize” means pay-for-it-yourself. The practical consequence of this in an economy whose wealth and income are now more concentrated than any time in 90 years is to make high-quality public goods available to fewer and fewer.”
Reich continues on in his article with a somewhat lengthy recap of our country’s evolution from a thriving “all-for-one” society to our current collapse. I will jump ahead a bit and now, enter Mitt Romney:
“Mitt Romney’s speaks derisively of what he terms the Democrats’ “entitlement” society in contrast to his “opportunity” society. At least he still envisions a society. But he hasn’t explained how ordinary Americans will be able to take advantage of good opportunities without good public schools, affordable higher education, good roads, and adequate health care.”
The paragraph which stands out from the rest is when he describes Wall Street’s entitlements:
“Only in one respect is Romney right. America has created a whopping entitlement for the biggest Wall Street banks and their top executives — who, unlike most of the rest of us, are no longer allowed to fail. They can also borrow from the Fed at almost no cost, then lend the money out at 3 to 6 percent.
“All told, Wall Street’s entitlement is the biggest offered by the federal government, even though it doesn’t show up in the budget. And it’s not even a public good. It’s just private gain.
“We’re losing public goods available to all, supported by the tax payments of all and especially the better off. In its place we have private goods available to the very rich, supported by the rest of us.”
That last sentence is so frightfully true – the rich are being supported by the rest of society. While the rich pay fewer taxes, the middle and lower class pay more. If Romney were to make it to President, then we might as well call ourselves slaves. The rich will prosper while the rest of society struggles to survive.
Robert Reich, “Mitt’s 13% Tax“
Briefly, Reich wrote his opinion about Mitt’s 13% tax rate. Reich also brings up the principle of “equal sacrifice.” I have always believed that this is the way the tax rates need to be tiered, but was never really able to articulate my feelings. Reich has done an excellent job at describing this principle:
“Even Adam Smith, the 18th century guru of free-market conservatives, saw the wisdom of a graduated tax embodying the principle of equal sacrifice. “The rich should contribute to the public expense,” he wrote, “not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more in proportion.
“Equal sacrifice means that in paying taxes people ought to feel about the same degree of pain regardless of whether they’re wealthy or poor. Logically, this means someone earning $20 million a year should pay a much larger proportion of his income in taxes than someone earning $200,000, who in turn should pay a larger proportion than someone earning $50,000.”
This makes complete sense. Hummpphhh… too bad that this will never happen. Not when the extremely wealthy are in control of our our government, several politicians, thus our country. (sigh)
Check out Robert B. Reich’s website. It is full of wisdom, common sense, and rational thinking. Additionally, Reich has a gift of writing so that most people are able to understand the topic – in other words, his sentences and paragraphs are straight forward and not full of economy and government lingo that often loses people.
“A democracy needs at least two sane political parties.” – Isn’t that the truth. The Republican Party has gone insane, and so has our democracy. RIP USA.