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Amber's Thoughts

Reviews and updates from Amber Foxx, author of the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series

 

 

Issues and Policies, Research and Ideas, from the Real Working Class Hero

Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In - Bernie Sanders

The first ten pages should light a fire in discouraged progressives, but I think everyone, no matter who they voted for, could learn something of value and interest from this book. There is common ground for all middle-class and working-class and poor Americans in Sanders’ examination of economic issues. He has done his research. I’ve studied in depth a number of the issues he addresses, and as far as I can see, he is accurate in his assessments, especially on health care. The book could have been more tightly edited, but a little repetition when he’s trying to get a point across is okay with me. There are so many important ideas in this book, instead of a formal review, I’ve posted notes I took while reading. They do not in any way replace reading it yourself. A number of my notes are quotations from the book that I think will make great discussion points when my book club meets after reading this. I hope the notes give you food for thought, a reason to read the whole book, and fuel for becoming an engaged, thoughtful citizen.

 

  • Bernie discovered in college that there were points of view in various publications, learning to read critically. (I think everyone should learn this. Apply critical thinking, not reactive criticism, to news and media.)
  • “How do we get white working class Americans to stop voting against their own best interest? … (Republicans) get one group to fight another group while their wealthy friends and campaign contributors get richer and laugh all the way to the bank.” Need to bring all Americans of any race or ethnicity together around economic issues instead of dividing them.
  • “…lack of political consciousness is exactly what the ruling class of this country wants. The Koch brothers spend hundreds of millions to elect candidates who represent the interests of the rich and powerful. They understand the importance of politics. Meanwhile, people who work for low wages … don’t see a connection between the reality of their lives and what government does or does not do.”
  • National Nurses United Union supported him because of Medicare for All, single payer. Because current system makes it hard for them to provide the quality of care they want to give.
  • In 2014 63% of Americans didn’t turn out to vote (midterm elections).
  • Agrees with Pope Francis’s call for a “moral economy that addresses “the needs of ordinary people and not just capitalist profiteers.”
  • “Is it moral that, when millions of seniors are unable to afford the medicines they need, the top tenth of one percent owns as much wealth as the bottom 90%? Is it moral that, when we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country in the world, the twenty wealthiest people in the country have more wealth than the bottom half of America—160 million people? Is it moral that, when our citizens are working longer hours for lower wages, 52% of all new income generated today is going to the top 1 percent?”
  • Bernie had no superPACs. Wanted to be personally responsible for the message.
  • “As someone who had never run a negative political ad in his life, my campaign will be driven by issues and serious debates—not political gossip, not reckless personal attacks or character assassination. This is what I believe the American people want and deserve. I hope other candidates agree, and I hope the media allows that to happen. Politics in a democratic society should not be treated like a baseball game, a game show, or a soap opera. The times are too serious for that.” From Bernie’s speech announcing he would run for president. He promised to fight for economic and social justice, environmental sanity and a world of peace. For health care as a right, not a privilege. Access to affordable child care and higher education regardless of income, better health acre for veterans. We can live in a country where “Where every senior can live in dignity and security… where every person no matter their race, their religion, their disability, or their sexual orientation, realizes the full promise of equality that is our birthright.”
  • “Rural people are not as conservative as the Democratic leadership has long believed, and their votes should not be conceded to right-wing republicans.”
  • Clear that Sanders is the one who deserves credit for Clinton’s change of stance on the Trans Pacific Partnership, though Trump likes to claim it was his influence.
  • “… we don’t have national elections. We have elections that are determined state by state.”
  • During a debate, Anderson Cooper asked Sanders about Clinton’s email problem. Bernie said, “Let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the Secretary is right. And that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails. And let me say something about the media as well. I go around the country, talk to a whole lot of people. The middle class of this country is collapsing. We have twenty-seven million people living in poverty. We have massive wealth and income inequality. Our trade policies have cost us millions of decent jobs. And the American people want to know if we’re going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of Citizens United. Enough of the emails. Let’s talk about the real issues facing America.” The audience rose in a standing ovation.
  • Polls showed Sanders defeating Trump. I saw those, too. This is not self-serving spin on Bernie's part. I was a poll follower. Most polls showed Bernie stronger against Trump than Clinton would be.
  • “When you hear a report from an ‘independent non-partisan think tank” telling us that climate change is just an unproven theory, or why we should give tax breaks to the rich, or why we should no join the rest of the industrialized world in in guaranteeing health care for all, are their conclusions influenced by the billionaires and insurance companies who fund those think tanks? Spokesperson form “concerned citizens for this or that” who oppose the EPA, want to cut or privatize Social Security or the VA—check who funded these concerned citizens. Billionaires?
  • Great proposal for automatic registration to vote on turning eighteen or on moving to new state. Burden on the state, not the individual. Make Election Day national holiday or spread it over a two-day weekend, and make early voting and absentee ballots easy. No special requirements and test for requesting absentee ballots. Restore felons’ voting rights when they are released.
  • Kochs subsidized networks of seemingly unconnected think tanks, academic programs and advocacy groups. Activism cloaked as philanthropy, but it was a fully integrated network.
  • In 1979 the top 1/10 of 1% owned 7% of the country’s wealth. Today it owns 22% We have had redistribution of wealth for decades. It’s upward redistribution.
  • In the decades following WW II, the economy expanded. “…the workers in those factories were often unionized, and had good benefits—health insurance, paid sick leave, and vacation time. They negotiated regular pay raises and had defined benefit pensions.”
  • Special interests demanded a bigger slice of the pie. Made it harder for worker to unionize, demanded deregulation of industries, particularly banking. Opposed increases in minimum wage. Political establishment dominated by people for whom “unrestrained free market capitalism was virtually a religion.” “They argued that ‘freedom’ was no longer the about workers having the right to earn decent incomes and live their lives in dignity and security. No, ‘freedom’ was now about employers having the right to pay their employees the lowest wages possible without government interference. … the right of Wall Street hedge fund managers to make incredible amounts of money, without regard for whether their investments destroyed lives or fouled the environment. Freedom was the ability of billionaires to buy elections and create a government that worked for them, not the middle class or working families.” Median income is falling yet we work longer hours than any other major developed country on earth. Because we have those “freedoms.”
  • Millions of American workers need food stamps and Medicaid because they are not paid enough. Public assistance given to them is essentially subsidizing the profits of the companies that pay them low wages. Walmart employees using food stamps at Walmart. Living in subsidized housing. Walmart gets the equivalent of $6.2 billion year in welfare. Makes 15 billion in profit. It can afford to get off welfare. Low-wage employees received 153 billion a year is various public assistance programs. People with jobs. Fast food, Walmart etc. We should provide for the poor, but not subsidize the corporation who keep them poor.
  • Can create more jobs by investing in energy efficiency upgrades than by putting the same amount into coal.
  • Clean Energy Worker Transition Act—legislation to retrain coal miners, provide benefits as they learn to make solar panels, wind turbines , advanced batteries, etc. and have resources directed to cleaning up environmental damage from coal, and build infrastructure to attract new business. This is better for health and for the overall future of coal country than going backwards into higher levels of dangerous and health-harming coal mining.
  • When the super-wealthy get tax breaks, they don’t spend more, invest more in the economy or create new jobs. Under Bush’ tax cuts, no net gain in private sector jobs. Half million jobs lost and the deficit exploded.
  • 68% of the tax break on capital gains and stock dividends went to the richest 1 percent of Americans. Lower rate paid on money earned passively from money than on wages and salaries from work. Exclusion of taxes on capital gains for bequests and gifts subsidizes wealthy families passing assets to next generation. Dynastic wealth.
  • Investor-state dispute resolution system allows a company to sue a government of another nation if its profits are affected. TransCanada can sue the US for an environmental protection choice to deny the Keystone XL Pipeline, a sound policy decision squarely within U.S. law.
  • What about a social tariff? Unfair to have to compete with countries that have abysmal wages, minimal environmental standards and poor records on human rights.
  • Should separate everyday banking functions form investment banking and insurance.   Prohibit taxpayer-insured banks from holding derivatives contracts on their balance sheets.
  • Proposes tax on high speed stock trading. Good explanation of why it would benefit the average person for the country to do this.
  • While the rich and powerful are “too big to fail: and get endless cheap credit, the average American must fend for themselves. Socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for everyone else.”
  • National health insurance saves time and money. Time and money spent while patients and doctors deal with insurance companies, trying to get things covered, or simply processing claims. Not paying claims is how insurance companies make money. (Administrative costs account for 39% of the difference between American healthcare spending per capita and Canada’s. The rest can be attributed to higher salaries, higher drug prices, and more aggressive and intensive treatments. My added data, not Bernie’s.)
  • Insurance CEOs make 10 to 20 million in salaries. 47 million to one pharmaceutical CEO. There is money in our health care system, but it's not going to health care.
  • Despite having the most expensive health care system among 11 industrialized countries, the US ranked last in measures of system quality, efficiency, access to care, equity, and healthy lives. Spend $8,508 per person compared to UK, next highest, with $3, 406. And they ranked first overall on the same measures. We heave a lower life expectancy, more chronic disease, and higher infant mortality.
  • Improved health starts with a healthy society. Poor people die younger than the rich, are exposed to higher levels of pollution. Stress, depression, substance abuse. Health depends on a good education, clean air and water, access to decent paying jobs. Equality for all regardless of race, sexual orientation or nationality. These are all health issues. “The bottom line is that everything is connected to everything.”
  • People with no hope of affording college sometimes give up at an early age. Wasted years in high school, see no point. Free college would change that.
  • 200 million people could be displaced by climate change by 2050. Bigger refugee crisis than any we’ve yet seen.
  • Taxpayers’ subsidies to fossil fuel companies. 5 billion in incentives for fuel extraction a year, 49 billion a year in research development, plus direct subsidies and lucrative leases on drilling and mining on public lands and offshore. The End Polluter Welfare Act would save $130 billion over a decade, and could be directed to transitioning to a clean energy economy.
  • Taxing carbon and methane would require companies to internalize costs they currently externalize. If they add to climate change, the costs are now borne by the cities and countries and town that are going underwater to sea level rise, by the famers losing crops to drought, etc. Other plans explained in detail.
  • Strong integrated analysis of impact of our high rate of incarceration on the economy, democracy. The rate at which we imprison our citizens is shocking when you see graph comparing us to others. We far exceed the incarceration rate of Russia and China, let alone democracies.
  • Line is from MLK, “socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor.” Instead of turning middle class against those in most pain—scapegoating the poor and unemployed—we need “to stand together against wealthy special interests who get richer and richer while most everybody else gets poorer.”
  • Payroll taxes are only assessed on first 118,500 of income. So a CEO earning 20 million pays no more in payroll taxes than someone earning 118,500. America doesn’t have a problem with what one Social Security, adversary called “greedy geezers” but with the super-rich not paying their share. Income inequality and regressive taxation affect Social Security.
  • Reporters ask about the campaign as drama, not issues. The horse race details, not the reasons the candidate is running. About the candidate as a person, not the needs of the American people. Youth unemployment, climate change—real issues. 43 million Americans living in poverty. Name calling and personal attacks, the Reality TV approach worked for Trump. 234 network minutes compared to 10 for Sanders during primaries (Tyndall report)
  • “The great crisis we face as a nation is not just the objective problems we face—a rigged economy, a corrupt campaign finance system, a broken criminal justice system, and the extraordinary threat of climate change. The more serious threat is the limitation of our imaginations. It is falling victim to an incredibly powerful establishment—economic political, and media— that tells us every day, in a million different ways, that real change is impossible and unthinkable … That there are no alternatives.”
  • "Yes. We can overcome the insatiable greed that now exists and create an economy that ends poverty and provides a decent standard of living for all. Yes. We can create a vibrant democracy where knowledgeable citizens actively debate the great challenges they face. Yes. We can create a health care system that guarantees health care for every man, woman and child, and that focuses on disease prevention and keeping us healthy, not on outrageous profits for insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry. Yes. We can effectively combat climate change and transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy. 
  • No, we will not be able to accomplish these goals if we look at democracy as a spectator sport, assuming others will do it for us. They won’t. The future is in your hands. Let’s get to work.”