[This is Part 2 of a two-part post on this subject. Part 1 can be read here.]
Some Thoughts On Proposed Democratic Platform Policies
Let’s quickly explore some of the platforms and policies that we heard proposed in the last few days by the various candidates for the democratic presidential nominee. It should make for an interesting exploration of just how divergent viewpoints can be… even by those who share the same country and purported values…
But let us preface this with something important. Remember that we have two goals here: first and foremost, the goal (for many Americans, at least half of them) is to see Donald Trump lose the general election in 2020. So some of the reasoning that will be used in examining the issues will be based on what will best help achieve that goal. The secondary goal of course is to actually achieve some of these proposed policy objectives during the next presidential term, hopefully, for many, one occupied by a Democrat. But just to be clear, these proposed policy goals should not prevent the Democrats from achieving the number one goal, i.e. defeating Donald Trump (if that, as stated, is their number one overarching goal, and pushing him back into the private sector. If this is not accomplished, we will achieve NONE of these policy goals as a country and most likely continue to move backwards into more traditionally conservative and non-progressive territory, and continue to become more divided socially, politically and economically.
(Just for the record, to all my conservative and republican friends reading this, please remember, I’m more of a Trump defender and apologist than most that lean middle of the road or Libertarian, even some disheartened republicans that I know. You can’t claim I haven’t tried to be impartial, fair or open minded. I have. More than most. Though I applaud his achievements over the last two years, I just can’t get on board with his divisive often combative style of governing (if one can call it that) and do not believe that Trump is mature, stable or sane enough to be POTUS. The stakes are beginning to become too high. And let’s be honest, everyone is just far too upset and uptight due to his irrational unpredictability, often disrespectful hate speech, complete lack of knowledge of facts and history, shocking lack of knowledge about etiquette, diplomacy and protocol, questionable business ethics and surprisingly crazy antics. The country is an emotional hot mess, ready to tear itself apart any day — very reminiscent of the United States in the late 60s and early 70s. It’s just not worth it having this guy around, at this time, despite (what some may consider) his good intentions for the country. IMHO at least. There is someone out there who can lead just as effectively without so much drama and shenanigans. Less class clown and more valedictorian.)
So… Regarding all those proposed policies we heard bandied about this week…. It was a lot to take in. For anyone. Surprising the candidates did as good of a job answering the myriad questions tossed their way as they did. Well prepared they were. Especially Harris, Booker and Sanders.
- Regarding Medicare for All, despite how much I love Bernie (for so many reasons…) and sincerely believe he’s one of the best candidates we have ever had for president — (his honesty integrity authenticity and sincerity seem almost antithetical to the job he is aspiring to fill in all honesty), I do not believe that abolishing private health insurance and forcing everyone into a Medicare-like system is a smart idea. For a variety of reasons.
- This should be an optional system, an option-in system. There are too many millions of Americans who have private health insurance, either through their work or on their own who actually like it. And America is after all a free market democratic capitalist country. It is NOT a socialist or communist country (where Medicare for All would fit right in and seem perfectly appropriate). So if a person wants to work hard and have private insurance or even three different private insurances, then they should be allowed to do so. That’s their right as a citizen of a free country. And no one should be allowed to tell them that they can’t. In my humble opinion. That’s just not free market capitalism.
- What we do need to do is expand Obamacare and the exchanges and make sure that ALL Americans have better than adequate health coverage as a basic right. Period. Whether they can afford it or not. Continue to improve the ACA or Obamacare system, not tear it down, make it GREAT, and we will see a slow but steady influx of more and more Americans buying into it as they realize how much better it is than what they currently have. Unlike the current Obamacare insurance options being offered to us — many states only offer one or two plan choices. That is preposterous. And should be extremely embarrassing to the local and federal governments in control of those states.
- Personally, we’re on the Obamacare exchange at the moment and have bought into one of the few insurance programs offered, one called Fidelis, and I can confidently say that it is BAD. By far the worst health insurance we have ever had in our lifetimes. Health CARE is definitely not their main objective. Shuffling phone calls and paperwork and people and bills around seems to be their primary objective, with the end goal to be to make money, the patient be damned.
- If we can begin to force the private insurers to start competing in both price and quality of care, then we may have a shot of enjoying the kind of quality healthcare that most other countries do around the world. This will bring prices down and increase the quality of coverage. This is one of the most pressing and important issues we are facing right now as a country. And it’s truly fucking ludicrous that we are the only country in the free world who is suffering this much at the hands of private/publicly traded “healthcare” companies.
- But again, if someone runs on a socialist ticket promising to take away everyone’s private health insurance without option, they simply will not become president. Not now anyway.
- Secondarily, yes we also might want to consider making it illegal to profit from offering health insurance, or at least in the manner in which it is accomplished in today’s business world, i.e. knowingly making a profit from deliberately denying treatment coverage to people as your business model. Because I’ve just spent the last year and a half sick and in and out of the hospital, my family and I know firsthand that if you get sick in the United States, you are going bankrupt unless you are rich. I’ve been sick when I was rich. And that was stressful, financially taxing and frightening enough. More recently I got sick while being what we would call middle class, and I can now attest that it is not financially feasible the way the system is set up. Not even a little bit. Not for ANYone. We literally have stacks of medical bills all over our desks three and four inches high that won’t be paid for years, if ever. There are simply too many of them and it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars — all because our health insurance provider, again Fidelis, refuses to pay for most of what the doctors and hospitals believe is necessary to treat me and make me “healthy”. That’s just not a system that works. That’s a for-profit system that deliberately profits from keeping people sick. It’s pretty twisted when you think about it.
- We may also want to start to limit how much executive compensation health insurance companies are allowed to pay out. (Of course this is completely illegal, and a preposterous proposition, in a capitalist system, and that decision should be made by the companies’ shareholders in reality…. but there are viable reasons to consider it nonetheless. Not the least of which is because we are not speaking of a “normal” business or industry here, but one that directly deals with the “public health”. And that may just imply a loophole for a lawful exemption in what we are able to do to help transition that industry into a more effective and helpful one. That is their stated goal after all. Perhaps we can help them achieve that.
- Look at it this way: if they were in any other industry that were legal, we wouldn’t stand a chance of affecting their business model in any way as long as they didn’t break the law; and we wouldn’t want to. It’s just not how capitalism works.
But an argument could be made that the health and welfare of the citizenry of a country TRANSCENDS normal business practices and all other normal industries because without the health and welfare of a country’s populace, there is no populace to work in all the other industries and businesses that exist. It’s a cogent start to a logical argument one could make. A healthy thriving populace leads to a healthy thriving workforce which leads to a healthy thriving economy and thus a healthy thriving country. The opposite would logically be true. Just look at history.
- Executive compensation is not only exorbitantly high (one could posit that it goes above and beyond standard capitalism and is more aligned with an oligarchy the way it is managed now…) and therefore is a stressor on the ability of the company to provide it’s customers with the services they purport to want to provide them by reducing their net profits, they are also a tax deduction, and therefore reduce how much tax a health insurance company pays to the federal government, further weakening the country’s ability to effectively govern and provide for the basic needs of its people.
- There’s a lot to this… A lot to explore. A lot we can do. Not something we can cover in depth in one sitting.
- We may also want to consider making it illegal to have them be publicly traded companies — whose sole goal is to provide rising stock prices, buybacks and pay out quarterly dividends to their shareholders — if they’re in the business of keeping people healthy and providing “healthcare”. It just doesn’t make sense. (And I LOVE and support capitalism and financial markets. Truly, I get off on that whole scene, as many people know. I just do not believe that it should be on the backs of people getting sick and getting sicker. It’s kind of a sick and twisted setup when you think about it. It’s antithetical to creating a compassionate enlightened society.)
- Let us just say for now that we need to definitely guarantee healthcare coverage to all Americans, regardless of their financial status, and quite possibly regardless of their being a legal citizen or not. But we need to create a system that allows for both public and private options and that slowly encourages everyone to opt for the public option because and IF it eventually turns out to be a better system.
- Since we’re on the subject of Healthcare in America, there’s a little known secret about Senators and Members of Congress (MOC) and Healthcare that is relevant to this thread. From Snopes:
- It might be a good idea to completely do away with this exception for Congress persons until they fix the Healthcare system for the rest of the American population. That way they will have more actual incentive to do so, since their actions will be directly affecting them and their families as well. That would be a much more factually “representative” system than the one we have in place now. Just a thought.
- Someone mentioned starting a VAT Tax the other night (VAT Tax is a redundant term by the way — the T in VAT stands for Tax. But I don’t see us just saying VAT anytime soon at least….till more people understand what it is, a Value Added Tax), Yang, the Tech billionaire I believe. (Other than that, his platform seemed pretty empty and whack. Reminded me of Herman Cain or Ben Carson in that… He was just there to be there for diversity or because he could afford the price of admission.)
- The VAT could be a good idea. Poor and middle class people wouldn’t pay much or any of it because they don’t have the expendable income to buy a lot of discretionary or luxury items, but for those of us who have had a lot of money in our lives well know, when you’re floating in cash, you tend to buy a lot of stuff. It just happens. A VAT Tax will help us raise more money for more important social programs, help balance the budget, could help reduce the overall tax burden on everyone and help us reduce that ridiculous national debt mentioned earlier. Presently over 140 countries around the world have a VAT. That’s a majority of countries. Democrats never talk about the national debt by the way. Which isn’t smart. But republicans don’t either these days. That’s not a good thing either. Both seem to believe that the U.S. can spend whatever it wants to regardless how much debt we rack up. America has one of the highest debt to GDP ratios in the world now. That’s just flat out dangerous and stupid. Besides being really irresponsible.
- So let’s call that policy number 3: somebody needs to seriously propose a solution to address our national debt and propose a system to start actively reducing it. It’s imperative that we do. For a variety of reasons. It is a major threat to the security of the nation. Anyone who says different hasn’t studied the issue enough.
- In regards to immigration, which is clearly one of the most hotly debated and divisive issues we currently face as a people, to be clear, yes it is a crime to enter a country illegally and then live in it undocumented and illegally. Any country. Just as we as Americans can’t travel to Europe on a vacation visa and then decide to stay there indefinitely and work under the table for five to ten years or the rest of our lives even (no matter how much we might want to), the same thing applies here in America. It’s against their laws. It’s against our laws. It’s pretty much against the law in every country in the world.
Personally I REALLY WANT TO GO live in Europe for a few years and just be free to travel around as I please and country-hop as I please and on occasion take some jobs here and there doing whatever I want to, whether it’s play some concerts, busk on the subways, teach English, work as a waiter to better learn the languages or even work the land for a while depending on where I am. The problem is that once I looked into this, the EU has already saved these jobs for EUROPEANS and they have laws that protect these jobs for Europeans to prevent this exact thing from happening. See? It’s law. And it makes perfect sense. Or half the world would just spend half their lives trotting around Europe picking up odd jobs and never bothering to even document themselves. It’s just smart governance.
We have the same thing here in America. And again, because it makes sense. Not only to protect our citizens and our jobs but also just to protect our relatively safe way of life. Loads of reasons. This is one of those issues that I am very torn on. NO I do not believe that we should be separating families or children from their parents if they get caught crossing our borders illegally. But YES I do see illegal immigration as a problem that we need to face realistically and deal with lawfully. But with compassion. We need to stop kicking the can down the road on this issue and just make decisions and start taking action. It’s past time.
- Let me also say this: at the same time as I believe that illegal immigration is a crime (obviously), I do believe that it can efficiently be dealt with civilly and not criminally. WE just need the proper mechanisms in place to stop the whole “tag and release” system that is currently in place that has led to so many illegal immigrants living and working here.
- Secondly, I am a firm believer that the diversity of the United States citizenry is what makes America so great, so stellar and so badass as a country. I look around and I see us kicking butt at almost everything we aim for. And a lot of it I personally tend to attribute to our very broad cultural diversity. Especially living here in New York City. In the good old days, we had Ellis Island and people flocked here by the shipload everyday for decades from all over the world. All four of my grandparents did. And they lived better lives because of it. We need to start that up again. We should reopen Ellis Island in New York and add another one down in Texas and maybe another one down in Florida and just let the floodgates open. But we need a high tech advanced system with which to operate it and of course a way to manage people once they arrive. It’s going to be an expensive process. BUT…. we’ve done it before. We have experience and statistics and historical records of what worked and what didn’t. We put some of our top scientists on it and we make it work.
- Yes of course we would stop criminals and drug traffickers and people who are mentally or emotionally ill from being allowed to enter. That’s obvious to say the least, so the republicans constant mention of it as a threat is not just a red herring, it is also an insult to our entire immigration team of workers and thinkers.
- And again, obvious, we quarantine and treat the sick until they get better, just as any country does. No one is saying let them all in and run free without the proper documentation or processing. I say we legitimize the whole process. Hire a few hundred really good process engineers and professional project coordinators to create a system that really works. Let’s add to our diversity. Not shy away from it. We white straight males will be okay, I promise.
- In regards to this running republican narrative about how we need to stop illegal immigration and demonize these people because they are “stealing all our jobs and undermining the American workforce”, let me just remind everyone that as of the writing of this post, today, we currently have seven MILLION job openings in the United States with an available workforce of SIX million workers for them. So for us, for now, that’s not really going to be a problem. We are very lucky in that. Again, our economy is thriving at full throttle right now. Thank you Obama and Trump.
- On the civil versus criminal penalty if one sneaks into the country undocumented issue, I am torn. Honestly. It’s a crime. It’s a crime here. It’s a crime in the EU. It’s a crime almost anywhere. You’re breaking trust right from the get-go with the same people you want to live and work with. So how can you be trusted. But upon deeper reflection, we need to differentiate between people who do it because they’re asylum seekers and in dire “life or death” need, and people who do it just because they want a better life and want to live in America. If our system is set up better to process immigrants, then it will be easier for us to be able to ascertain the differences and to get them processed and documented faster. A stronger more effective border will also help with that. Perhaps we could prevent illegal border crossing completely and just have a new Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty approach to immigration until we fill all these available jobs. Who knows, maybe filling all those open jobs up may speed up the economy even faster and make it more efficient and it’ll lead to yet another industrial/tech/InfoTech/future-tech revolution in America.
- By the way, this is an excellent place to mention that creating a bigger better stronger more resistant border –as unpopular as the idea is to many liberals — isn’t such a bad idea. See, it may come off as an uncompassionate or even heartless policy, but it has its benefits. it’s not just to keep people out who want to come in. Look at it more like a more efficient way to process people legally who want to come in. A way to instantly decriminalize millions of people who would otherwise be inherently and instantly made into criminals by simply crossing over a weak border illegally. We could prevent that with a stronger more efficient border system. Just saying.
- in regards to asylum seekers, obviously we need to address the core of that problem, i.e. the royal mess we created in Central America during the 20th century. (study it. It’s shocking and horrifying, and yes, though it’s not all our fault, enough of it is to warrant our time money and attention. The United States government had a ball dismantling democracies and propping up dictatorships throughout Central America in the 19th and 20th centuries, which caused a great deal of the problems we see down there today. I’ve travelled the area on peace missions. I’ve seen the devastation, heard the stories and studied the history personally. We need to fix the mess we caused down there, at least our share of it.)
- In the meantime, we do need to create a special process that speeds things up for asylum seekers and offers them a special immunity just to help save their lives and the lives of their loved ones. It’s going to cost a fortune, God knows. But this is America. We’ll figure it out. We can most likely do ANYTHING we set our minds to. We’re sending private rockets into orbit now on a regular basis. I just bet we can pull this off too.
- Perhaps we create a special infrastructure bill that creates jobs and stimulates the economies of certain communities who choose to opt in by building special refugee projects for asylum seekers to temporarily house them as long as they need it, and in the meantime we process i.e. document them in a more speedy and efficient manner to get them in rather than turn them away or arrest them. If we arrest them, we’re housing them anyway. Why not turn it into a more compassionate and legitimate system that stimulates local and regional economies around the country and creates jobs?
- In regards to Dreamers, that one seems obvious. They’re here. Not of their own accord. The decision was made by someone else without their consent. But they’ve decided to stay. Good. That means we’re doing something right. It implies that our country and the community that we’ve created for ourselves is a prosperous and desirable one to others. Good for us. We need to let them stay and create a legal simple path towards citizenship for them. This should not even be an issue. It should just be a plan.
- The Supreme Court of the United States just ruled this week that Gerrymandering is still legal and courts and judges can’t do anything to change or stop it. This is a joke. It’s one of those things that when you first learn about it you find it very hard to believe it’s even legal. Like political lobbying or stuffing bills with other spending that has nothing to do with the original bill at hand. All three of these practices should be made immediately illegal. Period. They’re what makes politics so despicable. I see no wiggle room on these issues. All three of these practices reek of corruption.
- Obviously the mentioning of lobbying, which is literally nothing but a fancy term invented by crooks to attempt to disguise and sugarcoat bribery from the general populace, buy elections and buy laws, implies a need for Campaign Finance Reform. This is a vital policy that needs to be explored and turned into a workable efficient law. ASAP. Lobbying, bribery, election buying and the buying of laws at all levels of government needs to be abolished in the United States. In all democracies. It reeks of oligarchy. Don’t we look down on Russia and China and Saudi Arabia precisely because of these types of systems? Why do we emulate them and pretend to be different?
- On the “ONE most important and dangerous existential threat that faces the United States at this time” question, that might make for good reality TV, but the question itself was a logical fallacy, known as the “False Dilemma” fallacy, and shouldn’t have been asked. In reality there are numerous important and very real and dangerous threats that face the United States at this time. To force a candidate to only choose one using a False Dilemma line of fallacious questioning is dangerous as it misleads people into believing that there may really only be one or two that are more important than all the others. That’s not smart.
- The China trade problem — including forced IP sharing, IP theft, unfair trade practices, espionage and cyber-spying, counterfeiting, and currency manipulation — is only one of them. (Trade imbalances, ironically and despite what the president believes, is not the problem. Balance in Trade is nearly impossible when one country has a much larger population or GDP than another it trades with. This is another problem with president Trump. He is often uninformed. But worse than that, he vocalizes publicly false narratives incessantly, spreading ideas that are simply not true. It’s just not presidential. Our trade imbalance with China is not the problem. He should learn that.)
- And for that, president Trump is another major existential threat against the safety and security of the United States. We need to get him under control, in whatever way we can, or politely take steps to gently and politely remove him.
- Climate Change is another. One really doesn’t even know where to start on this one. Governor Inslee has great ideas about it. Make him the Energy Secretary. And get ready to short the hell out of the Energy Sector en masse.
- The biggest problem I always face when it comes to alternative fuel sources and climate change is that we went from believing we reached peak oil 15 years ago and thought we had a real shortage of it, to now facing the exact opposite problem — we have an actual glut of oil and natural gas. a HUGE over-supply of it. We alone have whole tankers of millions of barrels of it docked at ports that we just aren’t using fast enough. Even if we are able to come up with alternative energy systems that can adequately meet our needs, what the hell do we do with all this extra oil and natural gas we have laying around? And just how big of an economic hit are we going to take as country once we begin to make the need for it unnecessary.
- But hey that would be a good problem to have. I’m sure we can figure it out.
- Our relationship with the fascist dictatorship in Arabia (i.e. the Saudis) is another. This is a real clusterfuck of corruption that spans nearly a century and we are smack dab in the middle of some really heinous evil shit. [Take an hour or so and just study the history of U.S./Arabia relations, the creation of the petro-dollar, the number American military troops stationed there, etc. The whole thing is surprising and disturbing. The proud nationalist American in me appreciates the genius of what we did, because it guaranteed American dominance on planet earth as long as oil was the most sought after energy commodity, because it forces both us and the Saudis to be dependent on each other (us for their oil and special treatment and them for our military support so they can do whatever the fuck they want as fascist dictators), AND at the same time it forces the rest of the world to be dependent on using our currency, the U.S. dollar, or as we call it the DIXY or petro-dollar. We’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this deal. And we truly almost control the entire globe because of it.
- But of course the Humanist in me is deeply disturbed by just how insidious and unfair the whole deal is and honestly believes that if we’re ever going to create an enlightened civilized planet that this deal needs to end and become more fair for everyone. We can’t go around preaching about “free markets” and then secretly dominate one using our currency as the sole way to purchase the most important commodity on earth; just as we can’t go around espousing the glorious benefits of democracy when we’re knowingly supporting an evil dictatorship with our own military. It’s so ass-backwards. Eventually it needs to end. And of course, that could mean the end of American global dominance to a certain degree at least.
- We’d still have our thriving capitalist system and our monopolies on tech and many other industries, along with our massive affluent consumer population that we could leverage, and of course our mammoth nuclear arsenal… But our deal with the Saudi family is much more important than most people realize for our power on earth AND our ability to carry such a massive debt to GDP ratio.
- Our alignment with the government of Israel over and above prioritizing the humane treatment of the Palestinian population there is another major existential threat to our future security. I’ve written a lot about this. Use the Search bar within the Diar.
- North Korea and their isolationist nuclear goals is another.
- Vietnam is another.
- Russia might be… They’re a pretty weakened and depleted country and frankly I don’t believe they held much influence over American voters in the last presidential election with their social media shenanigans. I give the American people more credit than that.
- Abortion is another issue that is hotly contested among our very split American populace. God only knows what we are ultimately going to do about this very touchy topic. Several states have already come very close to banning abortion in the last few months. You don’t have to work hard to guess which ones nor which region of the country they are located in. The usual subjects. It’s been the same old story for over 200 years whether it’s the abolitionist movement, women’s suffrage movement, labor rights, voting rights, civil rights, lynchings, immigration, voter suppression, LGBTQ rights, and always abortion. According to the New York Times, “Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio stopped short of outright bans, instead passing so-called heartbeat bills that effectively prohibit abortions after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, when doctors can usually start detecting a fetal heartbeat. Utah and Arkansas voted to limit the procedure to the middle of the second trimester.”Again I find myself very torn and split on this issue. Being extremely constitutionalist in terms of the importance and sacred right to state sovereignty, which was a cornerstone of the creation of this republic, I at times feel very strongly that individual states have the right to create and pass and vote on their own laws. We are after all a very large country. And trying to control the entire population from coast to coast and border to border through one centralized governing body seems ludicrous to me, especially when regional and cultural differences are taken into account. So I do at times lean towards defending states to pass their own laws pertaining to abortion; just as San Francisco passed a law completely banning vaping and the use of electric cigerettes last week. (That’s a truly amazing accomplishment when you think about it. No more vaping if you live in San Francisco. BAM! Just like that! And that’s where the headquarters of the largest electronic cigarette company, Jool, is based! Ironic.)
- And of course each region of our country, each state, each little area of each state is in reality its own special community. Just as we are as unique as can be here in New York City and most rural folks wouldn’t dig it too much here, due to just how special and unique we are…. I like the old fashioned American ideal of letting the states decide for themselves how to govern themselves. So I occasionally feel like saying “Hey if they want to ban abortion in their state, so be it. That’s their right. They’re a free sovereign state of this Union. No federal law should tell them what they can and can’t do.” That’s just how I tend to think when I study up on the formation of the Unites States of America.
- The problem of course arises when certain laws that any state might want to pass infringes on the inalienable rights of American citizens or could be said to cause them harm. Slavery was one such practice that was protected by law and obviously needed to be abolished. So too were unfair labor laws, or segregation, or color and race discrimination, or the law that banned women the right to vote. See? It’s tricky. In the bigger picture we need certain federal umbrella laws that help protect our nation’s citizens from laws that are just too damn infringing on a person’s personal basic freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution. Some claim that a woman’s right to choose is one of those basic freedoms. I tend to be more ethically pro-life and socially pro-choice. i.e. Though I’ll admit here I’ve been on both sides of that terribly stressful choice when it had to be made in my own personal life and have chosen both options, depending on the circumstances. It’s just not something that anyone else can choose for another person. That decision has to be made by the woman or girl herself and hopefully her family. [For an interesting exploration of this issue that takes it even further to a more socio-economic issue for a whole region or country, read the book Freakonomics. It’s mind-blowing what they discover about what happens when a country bans abortion…. Hint: it’s not good.]
- In general my personal feeling is that this is how it’s going to go down anyway, even if certain states continue to press forward to ban abortion. Girls from wealthy families and girls with the means will simply drive over to the next state and have abortions. The poorest of females may be forced to have children that they don’t want and that the state doesn’t want, and that unfortunately causes problems for both that female, her family, the poor child and the state. Not good.
- And ultimately, this really isn’t our business as stated above. We can feel passionately against the practice ethically. And most of the time I do. But I still just don’t think that gives me the right to tell someone else what to do in a situation that intense and major. I also tend to believe that the Constitution protects us all from others doing so. This is just my personal take on it. To me it seems like a basic right to privacy and agency over our own bodies.