I am concerned about our country, and I want to move more to social democracy versus being ruled by the Oligarchs. I love the United States and our democracy. We are in a battle to save our hard-earned democracy from being taken away by a few wealthy families controlling the messaging Americans hear. We already fought this war to win our independence from England and now if we lose this election, we are on our way to losing our democracy to Oligarchs.
As we were during and after WWII, we need to be innovative and cohesive in our effort to get out of COVID-19. We need policy and taxes to fall in line so it is not just private foundations like Bill Gates trying to save humanity. We need to maintain a market economy but have a better social safety net, appropriate taxation, protect our climate, and support education.
Social safety net
As we had the New Deal coming out of WWII, the Green New Deal can be the group of initiatives, policies and subsidies that can give us a social safety net that includes:
- Healthcare for all: aka Affordable Care Act (ACA) as it was put in place by the Obama Administration: the most conservative way of covering everyone, including people with pre-existing conditions. When everyone is covered and required to sign up, it makes the system as efficient as it can be without taking the next step to the left to Medicare for all. The ACA may not be perfect, though it’s better than taking away the act. Recently, the republicans have sabotaged the ACA by removing one of the three legs that make the act work most effectively, the mandate that everyone sign up and pay for health at least a bronze coverage insurance policy.
- Medicare for all: As part of the Green New Deal, Medicare for all is a move to the left of the ACA as a way to cover everyone in a single-payer system. Pre-Obama Care, the profit margin to insurance companies before they had to deliver health care (known by insurers as ‘medical losses’) was 31%. With ObamaCare, the profit margin allowance went down to 18%. The cost to administer Medicare is only 1-2%!
- Social security: Republicans want to attack this government system that stands alone on its own and is funded by workers. To fix the system---when the trust fund runs out in approximately 2051---we can accept less in benefits then or raise taxes now on income to increase the longevity of the social security system as we know it.
- Strong unions: In the 1950’s, both labor and the companies were treated as “stakeholders” to create the best product or service while providing fair wages and benefits.
Taxes are not evil, they are there for a purpose: to fund education, roads, infrastructure, and healthcare. We have a progressive and fair system of taxation that began in 1872 for individuals. Starting in 1906, Teddy Roosevelt busted the trusts and caused corporations to pay income tax to contribute their fair share. This was a time when there was lavish wealth (e.g. Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Carnegies) along with abject poverty of the working and lower classes. From 1906 to 1944, we went from 0% on corporations and high net worth individuals to the highest marginal tax rate at 94%. That may not be what we need now, but with today’s highest federal marginal tax rate at 37%, it doesn’t accomplish what we need to do for the people of the United States. (For more details, here is a history of Federal Income tax rates from 1913 - 2020 from the Bradford Tax Institute. History of Federal Income Tax Rates: 1913 – 2020).
Republicans (Reagan, Bush, Trump) have lowered taxes three times and shown that trickle-down economics do not work. That zombie idea should die off, but it keeps shambling along. Raising taxes does not send us into a business tailspin; in fact, it’s been shown that the economy grows: Clinton raised taxes, Obama raised taxes. The economy did not go into a tailspin; it thrived.
These arguments “if we raise taxes on the rich” are in bad faith; economists sell out their integrity to be popular with the people in power. People fear the U.S. will become a socialist society if tax rates increase. Yet, in socialism, the government owns the means of production. This is never going to happen in the U.S.
I believe that we need to raise the marginal tax rates to fund the Green New Deal. There is alot we can accomplish with money from corporations and high networth families; paying a “fair share” is the duty of all of us. Our democracy and our system of taxation and wages have been undermined for sixty years because taxes on corporations and high net worth individuals have diminished to zero.
When you have dollars in stimulus to build infrastructure such as our highway systems, hyperloops, and the collection and storage of solar power, as the Green New Deal offers, all of these dollars spent have a multiplier back into the GDP. Plus, we lower our carbon footprint and keep the Earth habitable for a few more generations.
We all need a good planet to live on. Even billionaires need a good planet. Why aren’t we all working on this common issue of continuing to make our planet habitable? We need to listen to the scientists and economists who are doing their jobs and making arguments in good faith. We need to support genuine and credible climate scientists.
Look at the example of Mars. We have evidence that it may have had an atmosphere and water. As far as we know, water is one of the keys to life in our universe. There could have been life on Mars, and someone “turned up the dials” to make life uninhabitable on Mars.
Reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible. We still have a large percentage of our energy that comes from coal and oil; and we could capture the emissions from coal burning to make it green. We could also switch our cars to propane to reduce our carbon footprint. Propane comes out of the ground but since it is a by-product of extracting oil, it is readily available. It is often burned rather than captured and compressed for use.
We could be 100% sustainable from energy that comes from the sun and turn around global warming. The challenge is storing that energy. Currently it needs to be stored in lithium ion batteries, and it takes billions of dollars to build a plant to store the energy. We would need a few hundred to a few thousands around the world. This is a number you can get your head around. To do this we would have to tell the oil industry legislatively to stop production. Because the EPA is run by people who do not want to protect the environment and are supported by Big Energy, it cannot happen overnight. Are we politically motivated to move from our convenient lifestyle in order to save the planet? We need to move forward. I want this planet to be habitable for my grandchildren and their children.
We need to fund education. One idea is to redirect tax revenue that funds police departments to pay for education. We also need to bring back business taxes to some degree to fund schools.
In 1995, Oregon passed Measure 5 that reduced taxes on businesses so we could have a more “business-friendly” state. Oregon was in the top 30% of states for education. Now, Oregon is ranked 43rd. The Measure took away services from people who can’t take care of themselves who should be institutionalized and nearly dismantled the educational system. Measure 5 centralized the money for school districts in Oregon, but took money away from the university towns without the business tax revenue. Halving the number of teachers in the classroom, Measure 5 filled the room with 30 kids or more per class. The result of Measure 5 is a tamped down quality of public school education. Oregon has moved down to number 43 due to Measure 5. Sad.
The solution to education gaps is to follow The ChalkBoard Project white paper put together by the Ford Family Foundation, the Orfalea Family Foundation and others. The ChalkBoard Project covers the decimation of the K-12 educational system and outlines the steps we need to follow to repair the Oregon public school system to “disrupt the root causes of inequity to help every child thrive.”
They recommend that K-12 limits class size to 15 students or fewer per teacher with an instructional aide as well. This way the students will have a much greater chance to give their full attention to the teacher because the teacher has control of the group. Learning happens more efficiently. If we can’t immediately adapt these standards to all grades, our first step should be to start with K-5, since that’s when there are the biggest learning gaps, especially among children of color and poorer communities.
Get out and Vote!
November 3rd is a big day here in the United States. We are in danger of losing democracy. I want people to have the information about where we are right now, and who controls the messages you’re hearing. Don’t let 756 families - The Oligarchs - mislead you and take over our democracy. There is so much bad information out in the world and arguments made in bad faith.
I love my country; I want my country to be the social democracy I think it was designed to be. I don’t want to give up on democracy. To move our economy forward and be the leaders for the world again we need the Green New Deal. We need to make a change for our way forward toward a tax system that is fair, to a more inclusive society and world, and a nice planet to live on. We need to remain the land of opportunity. Please make sure you vote!