Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Focus on the Real Issues Candidates, Please Talk about Economic Inequality and the Role of the Military

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Focus on the Real Issues Candidates, Please Talk about Economic Inequality and the Role of the Military

Article excerpt

Most of America's professional politicians, being either part of or in cahoots with the 1-percent rich, are trying their best to divert us from the real issues of the 2016 presidential election with "cultural issues" or personality trivia.

The issues on which the choice of the next president should turn are, first, economic inequality and, second, America's inappropriate military role in the world.

Instead, and I admit that it's as much the media's fault as anyone else's, we are asked to focus on abortion, Donald Trump's hair, Hillary Clinton's e-mail, Benghazi - Benghazi! - whether the rare child born in the United States of foreign parents should have citizenship, whether foreigners should have drivers' licenses and the like. None of these "issues" touch the lives of most Americans.

As for personalities, this is where politics and entertainment have melded into one sticky ball, a truly lamentable development for the country. If that is to be the case, my candidate will become Taylor Swift, the young singer who told mega-corporation Apple where to stick it when it tried to take away her pay for her songs.

The primary issue should be economic inequality - the one that threatens both the principles at the core of American success and the well-being of the American economy. Where exactly are we going to be when the wealthiest 1 percent of the population collects more and more of the money, as the number of Americans living below the poverty line continues to grow and as the earnings of the middle class - never mind the working poor - continue to stagnate?

Last week we received the startling news that three of America's unnoteworthy corporations, Discovery Communications, Chipotle Mexican Grill and CVS Health Corp., pay their CEOs more than 1,000 times what they pay their typical worker. The top man at Discovery took home $156 million last year.

The first result of continuing economic inequality is that there will be fewer and fewer people able to buy whatever we produce. That means higher unemployment. It also means an increasingly unfavorable trade balance. Instead of China merely holding high percentages of U.S. debt, it will eventually truly own us. As the squeeze gets tighter, there will be less money for infrastructure, education and health care. Our quality of life and our capacity to produce inevitably will drop.

It is necessary to ask how bad it will have to get before popular violence erupts.

This can be fixed. The highest priority should be tax reform. The rich should be appropriately, proportionately taxed to produce the tax revenue necessary to fix our infrastructure, including human infrastructure. The extra money that is realized should not be used for more wars, despite the gaping maw and politician-controlling campaign contributions of the defense industry. …

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