Friday, April 2, 2010

A Radical Leftist President

During the presidential election cycle, I was listening to the conservative talk show radio hosts on pretty much a daily basis. One of their tried and true topics focused on the radical left agenda that Barack Obama would push if he should become our president. Since then, regardless of the topic, this radical left agenda theme has remained in force. As we approach the 15 month anniversary of his election, it is becoming more and more obvious that, while President Obama may be left of the "radical right" that is represented by these talk show radio hosts, his actions are center left at best. The reality is that President Obama's policies and decisions reflect his campaign promise to try to unite this country by incorporating ideas from the left and the right. Unfortunately, rather than paying attention to those decisions that one might label as coming from the right, actions such as the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, and this past week's decision to allow increased off shore drilling, the radical right continue to throw around the S word, in their attempt to just say no to anything he proposes.

If I were president, on the other hand, the worst fears of those conservative talk show hosts might easily have come true. With apologies to those true radical left thinkers, here are a few of the policies I would have pushed as president.

1. Health care. The recently enacted health care reform bill might certainly be called a left originating concept, but it lacks a much needed public option. There is far too much profit embedded in today's health care system. As long as sick people are an impediment to insurance companies' bottom lines, we will always have issues with access to affordable health care. Yes, I am talking about a one payer system where the risk pool includes all Americans in one big group.

2. Gay marriage and don't ask don't tell (DADT). I would have signed an executive order revising DADT to it's none of your business (INOYB). As for gay marriage, rather than trying to change the constitution as the far right is trying, I would have honored our founders by emphasizing that all men are indeed created equal. Preventing one group of our citizens from marrying is a clear violation of our beliefs in guaranteeing the pursuit of happiness for all.

3. Legalization of marijuana and prostitution. While my pot smoking days are behind me, recreational drug use, including getting "high" in the privacy of one's home should not be illegal. Without using the easy comparison to alcohol, marijuana use in moderation by responsible adults will allow another legal outlet for stress relief. As for prostitution, legalizing and regulating this service would help reduce the disease and drug use that harms both the provider and user. And in both cases, legalization would allow our police officers to pursue real crime and save the taxpayers countless millions of dollars in court costs.

4. Reduction of the defense budget. For a country that does so much good in the world, we have recently become the bully of this planet. We manufacture and sell more weapons than any other country. We have invaded 2 countries and killed tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanistans in the last 7 years. We have standing troops in dozens of countries throughout the world, from Germany to Korea to the middle east. As president, I would immediately reduce the defense budget by 10% and use that money to promote infrastructure projects, through private industry, to help repair our aging bridges and highways, mass transit projects to help clear our highways and reduce our use of petroleum, and education reforms to address the fact that our children lag behind many of their European and Asian counterparts in math, science and reading.

5. And my favorite; salary cap for all. Well, not necessarily a cap, but a formula that allows for no employee to make more than 100 times the salary of any other employee in a given company, including the government. If a data entry clerk makes $30,000 a year, then the top salary would be $3,000,000 per year. If an exec wants to make $5 million dollars than he or she just has to make sure that the lowest paid salary in the organization is $50,000. Since the Reagan revolution that started what the first George Bush called voodoo economics, the trickle down theory of compensation has resulted in a steady increase of salary for the rich, the reduction of spending power for the middle class and an increase in the ranks of the poor. My simple math looks like this:

A company with 1000 employees has labor costs of $100 million dollars, or $100,000 per person. However, the 20 top execs (2%) are averaging $3 million (with the top guy making $5 million) which means the remaining 980 employees are splitting $40 million which works out to about $40,816 each. Good pay if you are single but tough if you are supporting a family of four. And again, that is the average of the remaining 980 people, many are making less. If the company, which I am sure often tells its employees that they are one big family and that through team effort they will all be successful, if that company were to pay those top 20 execs only $40 million (with the top guy making $3 million), an average of $2 million each, we now have $60 million to split with the rest of the "family". Those 980 employees will now average $61,224 each. Sounds like the rebirth of the middle class and reduction of the rolls of the poor, reduction of the government help programs, perhaps even reduction of the necessity of 2 and 3 income households. Gee, it almost sounds good for the American family. And the labor costs of the company didn't change one cent.

We are an extremely fortunate citizenry. Over 230 years ago, a group of businessmen, politicians and thinkers met in Philadelphia and hammered out a few documents that gave us 3 branches of government working together to act as a rudder. Should one lean too far in one direction, one of the other 2 rights the ship toward the center. And the truly amazing thing of it all is that each and every one of us has a say, a vote in which direction we go. My ideas, my vote would take us a bit more left. Perhaps yours will take us a bit more right. Express your opinion, make your thoughts known, VOTE and participate. The founders gave us a dynamic form of government but only we can provide the dynamic citizenry to deserve such vision.

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