February 21, 2016

Listening to a One-Percenter

The senator is upset with a political and economic system that is often rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, particularly the least advantaged. He believed that we have a two-tiered society that increasingly dooms millions of our fellow citizens to lives of poverty and hopelessness. He thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunity and a level playing field. 
I agree with him.  
Would it surprise you that a one-percenter, equally adored on the right and abhorred on the left, made the statement above, in reference to Bernie Sanders?  And that he agrees specifically that corporate welfare is bad, and our criminal justice system is screwed up, and that our Democrats and Republicans, through their actions, "perpetuate a cycle of control, dependency, cronyism and poverty in the United States" and that is has to stop?

This person is definitely not a Sanders supporter, however. Sanders believes big government has to solve the problems created by our political system of "picking winners and losers," where the author would instead focus on the results of throwing government money and programs at our problems. Those results -- that we we still have the problems -- proves, he feels, that more government is not the answer.

He retreats to his corner, and goes on to say,
When it comes to electing our next president, we should reward those candidates, Democrat or Republican, most committed to the principles of a free society. Those principles start with the right to live your life as you see fit as long as you don't infringe on the ability of others to do the same. They include equality before the law, free speech and free markets and treating people with dignity, respect and tolerance. In a society governed by such principles, people succeed by helping others improve their lives.
Thoughts?

  • Is there a collision between "the right to live your life as you see fit" and not "infring(ing) on the ability of others to do the same" in a modern America?  Would there be marriage equality, or would that be infringing on those who disapprove? Could a business refuse to provide services to a customer living life they see fit by choice or by genetics (as a gay person, or a Muslim, or a person of color), or would that be a forbidden infringement on the customer? Can a business be forced to provide health benefits to employees, or is that an infringement on the company living life freely as it chooses?
  • What does "equality before the law" look like? Would we really want to treat a poor person the same as a rich person in our criminal justice system? Provide them unlimited access to reasonable and viable counsel? Provide them with equal opportunities to stay out of jail, find alternatives, protect their rights the same as we would a rich person's?  What about people of color? Can we handle equality before the law?
  • Is a free market that lays off American workers and gives the jobs to people who earn less in a year than an American earns in a month, or a week, or in the case of some CEOs, in an hour or even a half hour, operating in the same universe as "treating people with dignity, respect and tolerance?" Is a free market, charging whatever price someone pulls out of their hat (even for critical and life-saving services), or paying as little as possible in wages and benefits, acting in any way dignified, respectful and tolerant? And if so, of whom?
  • What are the measures of how "people succeed by helping others improve their lives?" Is it providing an effective, adequately funded educational system, starting from the very beginning, that affords all who are willing the chance to learn and grow and succeed whatever their aspirations? Is it affordable post-secondary education, including trade schools, apprentice programs, community colleges, state university systems, and private colleges and universities? And jobs in your field when you when you complete your chosen path?  Is it a reasonable starting wage and benefit package, with opportunity for growth and longevity at a company?
  • Will our free will, and our free markets, make today's situation better or worse? Reduce poverty and income disparity, or make them worse? Help people become more self-sufficient, or be even less able to support those who are at the bottom of the scale? Move us towards greater tolerance, dignity and respect, or make it even worse, if that's possible? Will the homeless be housed, the hungry be fed, man's inhumanity to man go poof into the air? 

I'm not convinced that Bernie has the right answer, any more than I'm convinced that this guy, Charles Koch, has the answer.

We do agree, though, on this, his closing thought:
I don't expect to agree with every position a candidate holds, but all Americans deserve a president who, on balance, can demonstrate a commitment to a set of ideas and values that will lead to peace, civility and well-being rather than conflict, contempt and division. When such a candidate emerges, he or she will have my enthusiastic support.
Hear, hear.