Bridging the Gap

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(Pictures taken from campaign website)

Economy- it’s one thing we all care about equally and agree that something needs to change. But just exactly what needs to change is not so clear. We need more jobs, but how can they be created? We need a stronger middle class, but how can they be empowered? We need wealth to flow freely across classes, but how can we prevent it from recirculating within the top 1%? These are important but tough questions, and, quite frankly, I don’t think anyone has the absolute answer to this. But there are some points in the Sanders plan that I think might work.

‘Tax the rich’ is a common proposition we come across. But is that really a solution? And is that really fair? If I were that rich, I wouldn’t want to be penalized for it. Do the rich use public roads and amenities any more than an ordinary person? I don’t think so. Then why should they pay more for them? Taxing the rich seems like a reactive approach to me. What we need is to understand why only some people become that rich. If they did it the right way, they have every right to keep their hard-earned money as does any other middle class worker. Like I said in a previous post, I don’t believe in altruism, so I don’t necessarily condone the philosophy that the rich should carry the burden of general emancipation. But I do firmly believe that the race to the top needs to be fair and open to all, and below are some points that might level out the playing field.

Item 1:

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Making unfathomable sums of money is ok by me as long as it is done the right way. But sending profits overseas is not the right way. The latest hotspot seems to be Ireland as more and more companies are reincorporating there to avoid paying US taxes, a phenomenon called ‘tax inversion’.

I am no expert on Wall Street but the little that I do understand about speculation is that it tends to create bubbles by artificially driving prices up, and then down. The last great financial crisis can be attributed to speculation. Speculators make profit from price fluctuations thereby creating volatility and preventing long-term market stability. Besides generating revenue which will be used to fund college education, a tax on high volume trades, like the computerized transactions run by big firms, has the potential to deter some traders due to the cost involved. And such a tax is not a novel concept; it already exists number of other countries like the UK.

Item 2:

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I recently came across a shocking study released by Glassdoor. At the time the report was published, on average a CEO for a publicly-traded company was earning 204 times more than its ordinary worker. Let me repeat- 204 times more! And this is just the average. For some companies the ratio was upwards of 1500. You can read the full article here. How can this be considered fair by any stretch of justification? Granted that a big part of CEO compensation came from bonuses and stock options but why are these options not available to an ordinary worker? Why are the scales so tipped to favor those whose base salary is already high enough to run a small city? Can you imagine how many more jobs can these companies create if they stopped paying their CEO’s so much?!

While pay gap between the rich and the middle class remains something to be ashamed of, raising the minimum wage for those at the lowest rung of the ladder is one small step in the right direction.

Item 3:

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This point is almost reminiscent of the Civil Works Administration established during the Great Depression. The common consensus is that WWII led to the end of the depression but there are others who assert that war spending does not count towards national GDP. I am not an economist so I’ll let the experts debate on that but a government funded stimulus that creates jobs and infrastructure could only have done good things for the economy. If it worked then, it must work now too, right?

Item 4:

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This one is similar to Item 1 in regards to closing loopholes that are being exploited by big corporations. Policies need to be ever-evolving. Any regulation that is set in place will end up being exploited at some point, thanks to the cunning of those shrewd folks who are always looking for loopholes. Nothing is fool-proof. So when trade agreements start hurting us more than benefiting, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. NAFTA, CAFTA and PNTR are not only causing manufacturing to move to Mexico, Central America and China respectively, they are also contributing to the worsening exploitation of low-wage labor in these nations.

There are more items in the plan that I really like. Free college education is one which I would like to discuss in a separate post. Education should be based on merit, not affordability. And a good college education should not leave a family or an individual buried under an insurmountable debt. Youth employment program is another way to give everyone their fair share of opportunities. Everyone wants experienced workers but if no one hires an inexperienced candidate how can he/she ever become experienced?

I think the economy needs a lot more than this to be where people want it to be. And wealth distribution is only one small piece in the big puzzle. But there are two important things to consider: a) Rome wasn’t built in a day, and b) Utopia doesn’t really exist. We will probably never live in a world that is devoid of problems such as unemployment, poverty or wealth disparity, and I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, I’m only being realistic. Problems are inevitable and they will always exist. But it does not mean we stop striving towards something that is better than what we have today. A policy that is effective today may not be so tomorrow. Problems are the force that makes us think and innovate!

Well, that’s my two cents 🙂

P

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Bridging the Gap

  1. Like most of my friends as a progressive I thoroughly support Bernie Sanders. I admire the man so much. Yet I fear the reality of how his politics are perceived by the population at large. Nevertheless I will proudly cast my vote for him in the NY primaries! Because I firmly believe he is right. Thank you for this awesome series of posts!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Praty, I have read your posts with interest and largely agree with your positions. You seem very bright for one of your young age. I would like to give you the perspective of one who has lived through the years when America came of age and took it’s place as the pre-eminent world power. The years following WWII. You question why rich people should be punished with higher taxes. Do you know that the top tax rate for the top earners during the Fifties was 91%? I was a boy then but I don’t recall any shortage of rich people then. In those days you protected your wealth from the tax man by reinvesting your profits into your business by creating jobs and paying a living wage to your employees who also paid taxes. Your yachts and mansions and fancy cars were put in the name of your business and the demand for these luxuries created more jobs and more tax revenue. The result was an ambitious effort to build a national infrastructure that allowed the U.S. To become the richest nation in history.
    The Interstate Highway System, Rural Electrification, Bridges, Hydro- Electric Dams, Huge Jet ports to link American Cities to the rest of the world all started to spring up during the Fifties and Sixties. You cannot think this was done so families could take Sunday drives or fly off to visit Grandma for mother’s day. Of course the rich use roads and other infra-structure amenities more than other people, These are the circulatory system of industry in America. Roads and Airports are used to ship raw materials and textiles from the field to the factories and from there to the retail sector. We could not have been the industrial megalith that we became without the superior infrastructure that we built out of the revenue created through the productivity we enjoyed at that time.
    It was all done on American soil too! Tariffs and Import duties made it unproductive to move factories and Corporate headquarters and jobs overseas. It made sense to keep production here because of the expense to export products here plus this is where the market was. The American middle class was the largest consumer of goods and services in the world owing to the high standard of living we enjoyed here. Servicemen returning from the war were educated on the GI bill and as educated parents they demanded the best in education for their kids. Many great cities in America provided free City Colleges for their citizens.
    But it didn’t last. Tax rates on the rich and the corporate rate started to come down, slowly at first then nose dived under Reagan then Bush Sr. Today’s middle class people who beatify Reagan for bringing their tax rate down forget that he paid for it by doing away with much of their write-offs. Interest on credit card debt was deductible as was the interest on auto loans and such. The percentage of the interest on your home loan that you could take off your tax bill was lowered. Free trade agreements dropped tariffs and import taxes and duties allowing businesses to relocate off shore taking jobs and tax revenue with them. Instead of reinvesting in business, Tycoons stuffed their money into accounts in the Cayman’s and elsewhere shifting the tax burden onto the middle class which saw t’s standard of living plummet as Unions were broken and wages went stagnant. Now our infrastructure is crumbling and our Schools are failing our children and College is something only the rich can afford without the burden of student loans.
    So, Praty, you see the move to place higher taxes upon the rich is not so reactive as corrective. The U.S. remains one of the few places where there is no limit on income. This will prevail as long as the American people see the advantage. They may, at any time, choose to elect a socialist Like Bernie Sanders to tip the playing field back to the position it was in when our economy worked best for all the people. They can even elect an out and out Communist and they will if they get hungry enough!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Geno, I am immensely grateful to you for reading my views and sharing your own- it is both educating and eye opening for a young adult like me. Like the title of my blog, I am still learning, and there is a lot of history and other perspectives that I am not aware of.
      I am glad I could create a platform for this intellectual discussion. I see what you mean, but I still wonder if there is a better approach than taxes- like a mandate on creating a certain number of job proportional to income/profit? Everyone likes to complain about taxes so it doesn’t seem like a long term solution to me. Tomorrow, a new president may revise it. Hope I don’t sound too naive 🙂

      Like

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