Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What I Want My President to Understand

Mitt Romney's pick of Paul Ryan for the VP slot this last week has me shaking my head with disbelief.  It has me honestly wondering if the Republicans (or Romney himself) are purposely throwing this election to President Obama.  Because, I look at Mitt Romney, and all I can think is, "That man doesn't have a clue what it takes to do this."  And now, I look at Paul Ryan, and I think, "heartless douchebag."

I simply cannot understand this country's obsession with wealth.  I understand wanting to be comfortable, and I understand wanting to not have to ever worry about money, but the amount of wealth that is concentrated in the hands of just a few has gone way past crazy.  I saw a meme that pointed out that we have interventions for people who hoard things like cats and knickknacks, but those only affect the person living in the house and maybe the immediate neighbors and close family.  A person who hoards hundreds of millions of dollars, even billions, and does not put them back out into society, is doing more harm than the cat lady ever could...and we hold them up as something to aspire to.

The person we elect as President should understand that.  

Other things the President should understand:

Access to healthcare should be a right.  And the very first reason I can think of for that is not even altruistic:  sick people make other people sick.  Sick people cost companies money.  And sick people cost more when they can't afford to treat their illness when it is still minor.

That is not even accounting for what it does to a person to live in constant fear that they will get sick and not be able to go to the doctor.  Or, when they have to watch a spouse die because they cannot afford the medicine.  Or, a child.  The President should understand this.

The President should understand that access to education is a necessary part of a democratic society.  Education is supposed to be the great equalizer, bringing people of all socio-economic backgrounds to a more level playing field.  Except, it doesn't really.  If you live in a wealthy neighborhood, chances are, you have a nicer school and more opportunities at that school, than the kid who lives in public housing.  And college?  It is becoming a privilege of the wealthy, or of those willing to put themselves into debt to get there. Which begs the question:  how are we ever going to have more teachers if they can't afford the schooling or the debt?

The President should understand that companies who send jobs overseas should be penalized, not rewarded.  The penalty should offset whatever they save in paying what would be a slave wage here, over there (wherever "there" is). I have heard the argument that the people who work in these low paying jobs make more than they ever otherwise would.  Does that make it right?  Why not just pay them what they are worth?  How about just keeping those jobs here?  Then you might have people who could actually afford those things you are selling.

I don't have an argument with helping our neighbors across the ocean.  I have a problem with exploiting them and getting away with it because they are so desperate that they won't complain.  They are so desperate that they are HAPPY to have these jobs. And, the "job creator" makes millions.  They don't employ those people to help them; they do it because they know they can make more money off them.  Our President should be standing up for us AND for the workers across the sea.  We are both getting screwed.

Our President should also understand that we are not a bunch of single people living alongside each other, but a country of communities, people living together, depending on each other whether we know it or not (whether we want to believe it or not).  No matter what you want to believe, none of us does this alone.  We are intertwined and that won't change.  

I hear some of the very wealthiest Americans shouting how they did this all themselves, and how no one helped them. And, then I heard people lose their minds when President Obama dared to suggest that, even if they didn't want to admit it or maybe didn't see it, they had help.  

They had teachers who taught them.  Police officers who protected them.  Libraries that informed them.  And, the roads they drove on. I could go on and on.  The farmers that fed them, the water they drank (even what happened to the food and water AFTER they ate and drank it), and even the quality of the air that they breathed.

Sure, private industry COULD do this, but the very point of combining forces is to make it available to everyone.  Education, healthcare, safety, books, food, water...do we want these to become the exclusive rights of the rich?  Do we really want a society where the privileged live up on a hill, with all the unnecessary items to live, while the rest of us scramble at the bottom, trying to catch their leftovers?

Which brings me to the most important thing that our President should understand:

Trickle down doesn't work.  The rules need to make sure that we do not coddle the uber-wealthy.  They became rich BECAUSE of this country, not in spite of it, and they need to pass it on to the next guy.  I keep hearing about how great the 50's were...yeah, they had high taxes on the wealthy.  The government used it to invest in this country, and it WORKED.

I read an analogy about "equality of outcome" and "equality of opportunity" once.  It compared equality of outcome to cutting up a pie, and everyone got an equal piece, no matter what.  Equality of income was described as putting the pie out and everyone had an equal opportunity to try and grab a piece.  I really don't like this analogy.  It implies that we need to try and grab something before someone else does, as though there really isn't enough for all of us and if you don't mow someone down to get your piece, you are SOL.  I don't believe that.

I believe in equality of opportunity, but I believe that we should all have the same ingredients, like in a recipe or a garden.  We should all have access to those ingredients, but WE decide how hard we work at making them come together.  This shouldn't be a contest; it should be a union.  What if we all rooted for each other? Would it take away from our success if our neighbor did well?  Would it take away from his, if we did?  I get the argument of "well, there's always that guy who does nothing and we just support him."  Well, we have raised our kids for thirty years now to believe in the "Mine!" theory, is it any wonder that they are practicing it?  What if we started teaching our kids that they all need to stand up for each other, to support each other, root each other on?  What if we taught them, that we only win if we ALL win?

That's what I want my President to understand.