Two new blogs from The Lion:
Despite what the President says in the official State of the Union speech, most Americans know the state of the union sucks. (unless you are in the 1%. A recent study claims 85 people have more wealth the entire populations of India and China and the developing world.) It is considered bad form not to be optimistic around the state of the union. (we are supposed to act like its opening day of baseball season where every team in every town has the same chance to go to the World Series...yeah right, go Cubs)
The President himself acknowledges some of this reality. The gap between the rich and everyone else is growing exponentially. It hasn't been this wide since the Gilded Age of Morgan, Harrriman and Rockefeller. The Horatio Alger pull- yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps myth is officially dead. Both the Democrats and Republicans admit hard work will not guarantee economic success. (just ask farm workers if you don't believe me) College is no longer the universal antidote especially when young people graduate owing tens of thousands of dollars with the only jobs available ones for which there is no need for a college degree and they spend their time being baristas or drones in an Amazon warehouse. The nation's roads and bridges are one good shake away from collapse. The electrical grid more and more resembles those in Iraq or Egypt rather than one in the richest and most technologically advanced nation on earth. We have no idea what to do about illegal immigration or what to do with the long-term unemployed. As the world boils and brews, we have no national consensus of what the U.S. role should be in foreign affairs and Edward Snowden has revealed an intrusive, spying, government apparatus which strips Americans of any shred of privacy they might have still been clinging to. (N.B.C. reports, based on documents from Snowden, that U.S. intelligence agencies are piggybacking on British intelligence agency’s actions, not bothered by the pesky 4th amendment, where they are hacking into anyone's Facebook account to spy on friends, likes and all manner of personal information.) Topping it all, the 2016 presidential campaign has started with Sen. Rand Paul, he of the high and mighty libertarian morality, implying no one should vote for HIllary Clinton because of the actions of Bill when he was in office. So much for the tenor of this debate.
Before you have someone remove all sharp objects from easy reach, allow me to offer some ways to make the state of the union less sucky. (few of these suggestions are original with me) The President should propose, and Congress pass, an infrastructure bank. The government would put in millions matched with private investment. The bank would then be used to fund the repair or replacement of the thousands of roads and bridges that are falling apart in this country. (of note is the president of Brazil in Davos, Switzerland last week begging for private investment to build more roads saying they are the key to future economic growth in her nation.) Rebuilding infrastructure creates good paying jobs as well as helping the American economy to grow and reducing costs of goods and services.
There needs to be a tax imposed on all utility companies with the additional revenue earmarked for a new digital, high-tech electrical grid. (yes, I realize they will pass the cost on to us) They should also be required to bury all electrical lines so that future super storms don't knock out power to the entire East Coast costing the nation's economy billions of dollars. Once again, not only is this necessary for economic growth, as access to bandwidth becomes crucial to economic success, but is also a matter of national security and the ability to compete internationally for business. It too will create allot of jobs.
Instead of posturing with an eye on the midterm elections, or 2016, we should demand Congress address the need for greater college access. Community colleges need more funding. States have to increase contributions to state college systems. (California cannot continue to afford to spend more on the prison system than on the U.C. system) Instead of fighting about abortion, same sex marriage or guns, Congress should be focusing on what will grow the middle class. Abolish the corporate income tax, but tax every dollar corporations continue to hide offshore. Require Americans to pay into Social Security no matter what their income level. (currently payments stop around $100,000) Allow Medicare to do what the Veteran's Administration does and use its buying power to force pharmaceutical companies to reduce the price of drugs. Create health care bonuses where each year an American stays healthy, however you wish to define that, they get a reduction in their income tax burden.
The state of the union sucks...I know there is a fancier way to express this but sucks sounds just perfect... but it doesn't have to stay that way. We need to elect people who talk about nothing but jobs and growth and support policies which give everyone an opportunity to succeed. These are not red or blue issues.
Are there other issues to concern us? Yes. They are for another day when we have the luxury to address them. Unless we grow the middle class...unless Americans agree everyone has the chance to do better than their parents...unless we have good roads and bridges and constant supply of electricity...the other issues won't matter as we will cannibalize each other from within and accomplish what our enemies can only dream about without ever lifting a finger.