Monday, October 17, 2016
Me, For President
So, now that I have thrown my hat into the ring, I assume all restrictions on what I can say about my opponents are lifted. Innuendo, half truths, gossip, even outright falsehoods are apparently OK. The contestant ring that encompasses politics has always been this way, and this year's presidential election, while filled with the most personal attacks as any in recent times, does not necessarily corner the market in vitriolic political discourse. The big difference however, is that social media provides an outlet for the entire range of nonsense to reach everyone, and be enhanced by anyone with a theory and a phone.
So, here are a few of my favorites.
The first is directed specifically to the evangelical community that is reluctant to acknowledge that they stand behind Donald Trump because he has indicated he would appoint a supreme court justice who would rule in their favor on the abortion and marriage equality issues, despite the fact that Trump has five children with three different wives. Can you imagine their furor if President Obama boasted such stats? Well, guess what? I heard that The Donald has at least one, perhaps three illegitimate children, and has paid for no less than two abortions for the various women he "courted" during, and between his various marriages.
But wait, Hillary has her own secret, even more unsettling than her email problems. For those of you who have wondered why she stood behind Bill despite his obvious extra-marital flings, it is well known that Clinton "favors" the ladies. I have heard that some of Bill's partners were chosen by Hillary to satisfy her desires for some menage a trois action.
Of course, neither of these accusations is true, although where there is smoke, there is often fire so who knows? Besides, truth is not a requirement in this election.
So, now that I have cast dispersions on the two main candidates, why should someone vote for me?
To begin, my platform is far less complicated than that of the major parties. Not simple, because there are no simple answers which will solve our pressing problems, but far less convoluted.
First, any new law being proposed must address the needs of the middle class. It was the middle class that blossomed after the second World War, that spurred economic growth, a higher standard of living, a boom in advanced education and degrees, and the idea that anyone who worked would have the opportunity to improve their life and the lives of their family.
So, in terms of taxes, the burden must be spread out more equally. Tax rates do not need to be adjusted, but the use of tax deductions needs to be restricted by the creation of a tax rate floor for each tax bracket. In the 35% bracket? You can take tax deductions down to 20%, but no more. In the 25% bracket, no lower that 10%. In the 10% bracket, no less than 1%. Everyone who works must participate, as both a patriotic duty and an understanding that it costs money to fund a military to protect us, to build and maintain our infrastructure, and to provide a safety net when circumstances outside our control occur.
This applies to businesses as well as people. The last I checked, the business community is also protected by the military, uses our roads and bridges to transport goods, and receives assistance when the unforeseen results in bad debts or bankruptcy. It is not a one way street, yet it appears that the influence the business community has on our tax laws belies the fact that businesses cannot exist with a work force, and that the American worker propels those businesses.
This does not mean that we don't need a thriving business community, or an environment that nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship. It means that there needs to be a cooperation between business and government to advance the middle class, period, because when the relationship between business and government becomes collusionary, then wealth stays in too few hands. It is the middle class that drives the economy by purchasing the goods and services that business provides. When the circle is broken and the middle class can no longer afford the products and services of the business community, various good intentioned but short term stimuli are employed which generally create bubbles, not unlike the dot.com bubble of the late 90's and the housing bubble of the early 2000's.
Which brings us to the crux of the problem, the belief that 6,8, 10% growth is necessary each and every year. This expectation, driven by the creation of the corporation which knows no allegiance to any country, let alone the people of that country, is the impetus behind the boom/bust cycle that has dominated our economic strategy for the past 40 years. Of course, it is natural to taste the fruits of a booming economy and want it to continue, but it is not natural for it to continue. There cannot be exponential growth for an extended period of time without artificial stimuli. And, ultimately, the boom or bust cycle only benefits the wealthy who can weather the bad times so as to come out even further ahead when the times improve again, as evidenced by the recovery of the past 6 years that has exacerbated income inequality.
There is a lot of frustration in America today with our political system. But I believe it is born out of an economic frustration that hard work is no longer rewarded with the chance at attaining the American dream. In accordance then with the bedrock belief in the necessity of a thriving middle class, I would encourage the business community, private and public, to provide a livable wage to all their employees, along with a basic healthcare insurance plan. I would prefer this to be done on a voluntary basis, despite the fact that it has been made very clear by certain sectors of our business community that any law requiring health care insurance will be sidetracked by some of our larger corporate employers to gain an advantage over their competitors, again, in search of bigger dividends for their stockholders. So, in the short run, I would encourage those businesses to provide wages and benefits that every American worker deserves, by requiring those employers who compensate their employees in a substandard way, to pay for the state and federal assistance these hard working Americans need to feed, clothe, and shelter their families.
I believe that at the end of the day, greed is the greatest threat to America today. There are too many of us who seek wealth by any means necessary, even if it entails scamming our senior citizens with tales of family members in trouble or IRS investigations. But more than that, the corporate mentality that emboldens good people to make decisions which send jobs to the lowest labor markets, destroying the American communities which had previously provided the labor for that company's growth and success. This belief, that what is good for the corporation is good for America, is a poison that needs to be cleansed from our business model. This is starkly illustrated when one examines the payroll distribution of many of our multinational behemoths which detail top end earners at 500+ times the salaries of those who do the meat and potatoes work of the organization. For some of them, merely redistributing salaries can save the jobs they claim are important to them.
It is also greed, rampant in Hollywood as well as in sports, that lavishes 7 and 8 figure salaries on those at the top. Again, I would prefer people voluntarily realizing that the tens of millions of dollars they are earning could be better distributed to improve our schools, take better care of our veterans, and spur investment in our infrastructure. But short of that, perhaps a luxury tax on salaries above
$5 million per year, paid to help balance the underfunded pension funds and social security system might reduce the allure of obscene wealth.
The hard truth is that if America is less great than it used to be, it is because Americans are less great than previous generations. For that reason, I would inculcate the next few generations into a mindset that values community building, and service to our communities, states and country. But also that self reliance includes a sense of responsibility for others, not precludes it.
It is far too easy to blame others for our troubles, whether that other hails from foreign or domestic soil. The hard truth is that it is not jobs, or a strong military, or a Wall, that will make America great, but a resurgence of spirituality in our political system, and each other. Not religion which is used to create hatred and isolation, spirituality that results in treating others as family. But it is not an easy goal to attain. You won't hear it from the other candidates. But if you listen, truly listen, you will see the truth of it everyday on the playground, and you will hear it from the mouths of the innocent who just want to play with their friend, regardless of her skin color, religion, or gender identity.
And, at times, from me, Joe Pugnetti, candidate for president.