Monday, January 25, 2016

An Evening With Bernie Sanders

     Well, hearing Bernie is not like hearing a typical political speech. He talks for over an hour. And he tells you in advance that he's going to bore you with a lot of numbers. But nobody gets bored. What numbers?
      First, on the exponential growth of inequality: The top one tenth of one percent now has more wealth than the bottom 90%. That's right.  Not the top 1% but the top one tenth of one percent.  The wealthiest one family, the Waltons, have more wealth than the bottom 40%.  And since the recession ended, 90% of all income growth has accrued to the top 1%.  (By the way, these are credible numbers. I was reading these same numbers in several publications before Bernie even started to run for this office.  And I think Bernie was reading them too----that's probably what made him decide to run.) 
     Second: On political corruption: Both parties now receive more campaign funding from Wall Street firms than from all other sources combined. So all new legislation stacks the deck to warp the economy so as to funnel even more money to the top. The economy is rigged, and that's how it got that way.
     Third: Education funding: Young people have been crushed under a load of student debt for a whole generation now. Some people who are now paying on their kids student loans still haven't paid off their own, and owe more now than they did when they left college, even though they have already paid back way more than they ever borrowed. 
     Forth: Unemployment: Youth unemployment is over 25%  for Whites and much higher for Latinos and Blacks.  And if a young college graduate with a $60,000 student loan to pay off does get a job, it will probably pay the minimum wage.
       Fifth: Minimum wage: The minimum wage is a starvation wage. (If the mininum wage had been indexed for inflation since the '60s, it would be over $15.00 per hour.)
       Sixth: Criminal justice: We lock up a higher percentage of our young people than any country on earth, which costs us 80 billion bucks per year.  We could start fixing this by de-criminalizing cannabis.
      Seventh:  Our greatest national security threat is climate change. We have to convert to carbon free energy sources as soon as we can.  (Several of our top generals are saying the same thing.)
    Eighth:   Every other industrialized country on earth has universal health coverage, and they pay about half what we pay.
    Ninth:   Most other countries have equal pay for women, paid maternity leave, and subsidized child care.
     After having told you this stuff, Bernie tells you what we have to do to fix these things, what it will cost, and who will have to pay for it.     This is just a brief summary.  To hear his whole presentation takes 78 minutes.  If you could hear the rest of the story, it gets even scarier.