One of the many frustrations of the independent minded bloggers I respectfully associate myself with, is the focus of our leaders on solving the wrong problems. When that is done, the debate is off-centered and results in solutions which are off the mark. Some solutions, in fact, are adding fuel to a fire and will not only be ineffective, but will actually make things worse. So, my purpose is to highlight areas where debate is occurring around solving problems or, in some cases not occurring at all, which means politicians are not even addressing some of the real issues facing our states, country and planet.
There is a state by state conservative movement to address a perceived, rampant voter fraud issue. I am quite certain there is some voter fraud, but it is not material, in spite of representations it is with proponents being very loose with the facts. The sad part of the proponents’ arguments is it has a “Jim Crow like” voter suppressing feel to it, so says this 54-year-old, white male. Yet, what is the real problem? The real problem is not enough Americans voting. We need do whatever we can to make it easier for people to vote, not harder to vote. Other countries exercise this privilege at a far greater rate than Americans do.
Expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act
There are some states led by conservatives who have decided to use this issue as a means to defeat the effectiveness of Obamacare. The math works in the state’s favor as figured out by some conservative state leaders who are now allowing the expansion, but it is a pawn in a political game for others who won’t. Yet, what is the real problem? The real problem is we have millions of Americans who cannot afford healthcare and the expansion of Medicaid along with the governmental subsidy is a good way to get them coverage and using preventive services. Ironically, the states who are still holding out, are the very states who need it the most. For example, Mississippi, is last in health quality, first in obesity, and first in poverty. And, poverty is linked with absence of healthcare as it is the number one reason for personal bankruptcy and precipitates losing your home when a crisis occurs. In NC, where the conservative leadership has decided not to expand Medicaid is leaving over 500,000 North Carolinians high and dry. My question is what do you propose to do to help these people, many of whom are Republican?
First, if nothing is passed in Washington, ever legislator needs to be relieved of their duties. The American people overwhelming want at least a background check. The NRA does not speak for Americans, nor most gun owners. Their opinion is noted, but we need to now have the adult conversation that is needed. Unfortunately, the debate is only focusing on mass shootings and that is only a small part of the problem. Yet, what is the real problem? The real problem is what happens everyday in our country. Pick up any paper on any day and count the number of news stories where a gun crime is committed. The US leads the civilized world by far on gun deaths and children gun deaths. We need thorough background checks on all gun sales and training before a gun can be possessed. And, I am sorry to report, but if you own an assault weapon, I am going to consider you as up to no good, no matter how many times you quote the Second Amendment without knowing its context.
Jobs and Infrastructure
We slowly have been coming out of the recession now for over two years. This has been a positive. Housing prices and sales are returning, the stock market is at all time highs, small business performance was very good in the first quarter and unemployment has declined some. Yet, we still have too many Americans out of work. And, our infrastructure is crumbling. Our solution has to been to focus on the debt and deficit looking at only half our tools. We need to increase revenue and cut some spending, so we can reduce the deficit. Yet, what is the real problem? We need to also invest in our infrastructure, which will improve our assets and create jobs. This infrastructure includes becoming more innovative, which is critical to job creation. Some would say, you cannot spend while you cut, but that is what corporations have done over their history and our doing right now. They cut some areas that are not value enhancing and invest in others that are. That is precisely what we need to do. And, being one of the least taxed countries in the world (32nd out of 34 in Taxes per GDP according to the Paris based Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development), we have room to increase taxes to pay for these investments and deficit reduction irrespective of what certain folks may say.
Global warming and moving away from fossil fuels
This is one of the biggest problems facing our planet and we do not talk openly about solutions. The President and many states have taken steps to move the ball forward, but one of the parties refuses to come to the table and actually refutes what the rest of the world is dealing with. We need them at the table, but unfortunately, our conservative friends want to listen to their fossil fuel funders who have a huge vested interest in decisions. So, we are fracking away making the problem worse and two of the leading climate scientists, James Hansen and Bill McKibben, have noted if we increase the harvesting of the oil sands from Canada due to the Keystone Pipeline, that is “game over.” We are already have too much carbon in the air and these actions and what is happening with coal in China may be sealing our fate. And, we have not started talking about the chemical release into the environment and using our water judiciously. The real problem is we are not even talking openly about these issues. We must move in a concerted way toward alternative energy and conservation. We must talk about ways to stop putting so much carbon into the air and actually start pulling more carbon from the air – there is a way and we have millions of years of data. We need to return to more natural grasslands for raising cattle, sheep, etc. Apparently, this will actually absorb more carbon and is a very reasonable solution, yet we need to be talking openly about this with other nations like China. By the way, expats and nationals are leaving Beijing in droves because the air is so polluted.
Poverty is a huge problem
This is a huge global problem as well as in the US. The middle class went somewhere and very few of them became upper-middle class. Over 50 million Americans are in poverty and many are near that level. Almost half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. In the work I do with homeless families as a volunteer, 84% of the homeless families we help have jobs. Yet, the median wage is only $9 per hour for a family. A living wage for one person is $9.67 in our area and is $17.62 for a one adult, one child family. The real problem is we do not even talk about this issue. The Democratic Party does not even bring it up as the major issue it is and the GOP basically thinks these folks are all lazy and undeserving and makes changes and recommendations that basically kick these people in the groin, as evidenced by the above Medicaid expansion issue. The President did recommend an increase in the minimum wage, but it will likely get nowhere given the above framing. I have observed before, the minimum or near-minimum wage jobs in our country actually perpetuate poverty as the jobs are as close to slave labor as you legally can come to in the US.
I recognize I left off some other issues, but space was limited. Same sex marriage to me is a no-brainer and hopefully the Supreme Court will resolve this issue. If they do not, then we need to legislatively make it so. I also want us to stop emulating our enemies and treat prisoners as how we would want to be treated and have a serious review of how we use the drone program. America has to stand for more than it is doing right now. Our government has seem to forgotten this. America is those helpers rallying to help the victims at the Boston Marathon. We need to focus more on that and our real problems. We stand a better chance of resolving them if we do.