A 53 Year-Old’s View of the Upcoming Election (and this 53 year-old is a little scared)

(Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

With Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as a running mate, this election has become very personal for me. In this posting, I’d like to share how the field looks from my perspective, using my 53 year-old lens, colored by my life experience and where I am in life right now. And, I think there are a lot more people like me that might want to take a glance at their choices through my lens because I am beginning to agree with the pundits, that this is one of the most important elections in a generation.

I’m a 53 year-old gay man, Jewish, married for over 20 years to the same Presbyterian husband, living in a “ticky tacky house” on a hill in Daly City that’s around five years from being paid off. I started life in the housing projects in Rockaway New York, subsidized apartments built to help the working poor. I’m a US Air Force veteran (intelligence/linguist) who left the military because back in 1987 they were still “asking” and I was tired of not “telling.” After eight years in the Air Force I worked at two high-tech start-ups during the heyday of Silicon Valley’s dot-com boom, made good money, and then started my own education consulting company. My husband Derrick, who had worked for Hewlett-Packard for nearly two decades, soon joined me in that venture and we were living a pretty uneventful but happy life until September 11th 2001. We were and still are part of an amazing Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto whose focus is on peacemaking and social justice, areas in which we became involved in our non-working time. Because of our connection to First Presbyterian Church, my husband and I were asked to participate in an interfaith peace delegation to Afghanistan in June of 2002 and from that time on our lives changed a lot. Teaching which company’s Internet box was better than the other’s didn’t seem to matter as much. Making the world a more peaceful place seemed more important. Today we run a peace and social justice learning company, into which we’ve invested the last eight years of our lives and most of our savings.

Why do I tell you all this before getting to any particular point? During a workshop on theology I attended long ago, I learned about the concept of hermeneutics, the idea that we all have lenses through which we view things, lenses that shape how we interpret what we see and how we respond to the world around us. The other day, after the announcement of Congressman Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate in the presidential race, I was sharing how I felt about it all with guests who had come over for dinner. They thought it was important that I share this with others, especially with a clear understanding of the lens through which I’m looking.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, if elected, and should the Republican Party win a majority in Congress, will dismantle Medicare and Social Security for my generation and beyond. Those who are already receiving benefits or are very close to retirement may get to participate in the current systems, but those of us who are 50 and over should be very afraid.

Those in our generation, late-boomers, working folks in the “bottom” 80% of the economic ladder have seen our net worth drop by 43% since the 1980’s, watching as the wealthiest 20% of Americans have seen a 73% increase in their net worth. Homes that we thought would see their values increase, modestly or better, are now underwater. Many of the 50-somethings in our country have been laid off, with the color and thinness of their hair making it incredibly difficult to find new jobs. We’ve tapped into our 401ks and other retirement accounts to stay afloat, or to invest in our own small businesses, paying massive penalties for taking early distributions. And despite the hardest work we’ve ever done in our lives, we’re still struggling to make ends meet, let alone save a penny for the future.

All the while we’ve continued to pay all of our taxes. We recognize taxes as an investment in our future and our children’s future. We count on Social Security and Medicare coming when we reach 65, promises that had been made to us for our entire working lives, promises for which we (and our employers) paid 15% of our wages every week, taxes that the “investment class” has never had to pay.

Another insight into my lens. My father worked for the same company for over 40 years. When it was time for him to retire he discovered that the pension plan into which he and his employers had paid for most of that time had been swindled. Hundreds of thousands of garment workers like my father saw their retirement dreams disappear. There were no regulations protecting those retirement funds, until that debacle. When I hear the Republicans decry regulations as destroying our country, I think of my father, who ended up getting only $80 a month from 40 years of pension payments when the dust of non-regulation settled. At least he had social security.

My mother had worked for an HMO for around 30 years. As she approached retirement the HMO asked her to stay on for a few more years and promised that by doing so she would get medical coverage from the HMO for the rest of her life. That care would include covering any gaps in what Medicare didn’t cover. My mother stayed on and retired a few years later. For around three years after that she had great health care. Then, the HMO stopped doing business where she lived and she was dropped. She found herself having to pay for another HMO plan, one that didn’t cover nearly as much as her previous plan. When she broke her ankle and woke up from surgery a social worker told her that she would need nursing home care and it wouldn’t be covered for more than a few weeks by Medicare. It would have been covered under her old plan, but now she was facing tens of thousands of dollars in bills, for the several months she might have to be in a nursing home. My mother died two weeks later, from a broken ankle and, I think, a broken heart.

Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and a Republican-majority Congress have now zeroed in on my generation, the 50-somethings, who have paid Social Security and Medicare taxes for over 30 years, as the generation that will lose out on the fruits of their labor. How can I not think of my father and mother, when I see these politicians promising to take away that into which I and my employers paid for nearly 40 years? With a massive number of people in my age group, who are about to see Social Security and Medicare snatched from their future, how can this platform possibly win? With only a few points separating the Democrats from the Republicans in this upcoming election, the answer is elusive. Yet how can that be?

Future Social Security and Medicare benefits aside, we 50-somethings of right now today, unemployed or self-employed, have been paying massive monthly premiums for private health insurance if we could afford it and if the companies would insure us. We’ve had a glimmer of hope that in our most dangerous and expensive upcoming health insurance years, ages 55 and up, the new health care law would at least protect us from being locked out of coverage due to pre-existing conditions, AND, through new buying pools we might be able to reduce our costs a bit. And, should we not have enough income to buy insurance, at least we’d get some help. Now that too would be snatched away.

Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and a Republican-majority Congress would completely dismantle the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) and leave us 50-somethings, once again, in a ditch. To share a little more of my lens, my friend Anna lost her job, ran out of COBRA, could not get anyone to insure her because she had epilepsy (and even if she could she didn’t have the money to pay the massive monthly premiums a company would have charged) , discovered way too late by visiting an emergency room for breathing problems that she had lung cancer, and died around a month after that diagnosis. The Affordable Care Act, and the law that Mitt Romney signed in his own state when he was governor, protect people like Anna. How can a platform that promises to dismantle Social Security, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, food stamps, Pell Grants, and the rest of the social safety net win when so many people in our country would be directly and negatively impacted by such policies?

As this election season has moved forward, I’ll admit that I’ve lamented not hearing a positive message from President Obama’s campaign about what he and his administration would do if reelected, focusing more on the dangers of a Republican win. But that lament is way overshadowed by the dread that I now feel when I hear his opponents Romney and Ryan speak about what they would do.

The choice, for this 50-something year old self-employed small business owner with pre-existing conditions, is now quite clear. President Obama and a Democratic Congress will keep Social Security, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act in place. They will try to increase revenues by taxing those who make $250,000 a year or more at a higher rate.

A Romney administration and a Republican Congress will turn Medicare into a voucher system, gut the Affordable Care Act, privatize Social Security, give the wealthiest Americans another tax cut, and slash other safety net spending on programs like food stamps, college loans, and Medicaid.

How did we get here?

Through my lens I look at a country where until 1980 the working class worked hard, got paid reasonably well, paid taxes, saved money, invested in homes, sent their children to college, and looked forward to some golden years of comfort. The wealthiest Americans paid their taxes too, and overall the country did pretty well. Then, starting in the Reagan years, massive tax cuts and unnecessary wars drained trillions of dollars out of our coffers, with the Federal, state, and local governments and individuals borrowing money to maintain something appearing like the status quo. Borrowing like that was a terrible mistake, for individuals, families, and governments, and we should all note how much money in interest ended up causing the great divide there is today between the 80% and the 20%.

30 years later, the bath water has been drained and the baby is now so skinny she’s being sucked through the little holes in the drain filter.

And that brings me back to my days as an intelligence analyst and the lens through which I see things. Much of intelligence is about paying attention to information that is out there, but just needs to have its dots connected. It isn’t difficult to connect the Republican dots. Republican strategists had a not-at-all-secret plan. They told people about that plan. All you had to do was listen in, or read in, and their plan was clear. Drain the US treasury by giving massive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and corporations. Build up the military-industrial complex, spending a huge portion of our nation’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) on “defense”, and create a massive budget deficit that was unsustainable. Surely the government would have to slash social programs under the weight of such deficits and debt.

Sadly Democrats played into that plan by not fighting against those tax cuts and supporting unnecessary wars and were all-too-comfortable borrowing money to keep the social safety net alive. Trillions of dollars in debt later, Republicans tell the American people that massive spending cuts are needed to the “welfare state” and that we’ve all become too reliant on government handouts to survive. We should, according to their mantra, “live within our means” (as long as those means don’t include increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans or corporations’ off-shore trillions).

The “greatest generation,” our parents, and we, lived within our means. We worked our tails off since 1950, and had accumulated moderate but sustainable wealth. We invested in our children and our country in a way that could have sustained our nation for generations to come. But like the swindlers that stole my father’s pension, since 1980, the Republicans have worked to drain trillions of dollars from our national investments and dismantle the systems that had been in place after the Great Depression and WWII, systems that they never believed in. And now they see victory within reach, less than three months away.

Did they transfer trillions of dollars in wealth from the 80% to give to the 1% and work to dismantle an economy that saw the greatest increase in wealth and a better lifestyle for the middle class in world history because they are mean or evil? No. Most devout Republicans truly believe that individual freedom, letting people keep as much of their income as possible, would have resulted in all Americans living even better lives.

I don’t agree and the facts on the ground after this 30 year experiment prove them wrong. I have been paying attention since 1980 and I pray that other Americans who are 50-something have either been paying attention or will start paying attention now. No one is keeping their plans secret. No encryption. No deception. It is clear. John Sununu, former Republican White House official, was just on MSNBC telling people that Americans shouldn’t worry about losing Medicare if they are 55 or older. Are you listening brothers and sisters who are 50 to 54? You WILL lose Medicare under Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and a Republican Congress. Period. We 50-somethings who are facing the toughest job market since the Great Depression are also facing the loss of whatever health coverage we may have been able to get to carry us through age 65, and then we face the loss of Social Security and Medicare.

The choice in this election could not be clearer to me, through my lens. Romney/Ryan – massive tax cuts for the rich and the end of Social Security, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act. Obama/Biden – tax increases for the rich and protection for Social Security, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act.

I’ll close with the thing that hurts the most when I consider the lens through which I wrote this post. Everything I’ve written about here feels like it is about “me me me me me.” Yet I’m a person who truly worries about and works for social justice for my neighbors. I know for an absolute fact that while Romney/Ryan and a Republican Congress will be bad for me, it will be even worse for those who have much less than I. One out of 45 children in America will be homeless some time this year. One out of four children in our country lives in poverty today and goes to bed hungry at least once a week. Tens of millions of Americans have no access to affordable health care. The lines at soup kitchens and free food pantries grow longer every day, and the faces we see lining up look more and more like my working neighbors and their children than the rough-and-tumble homeless folks we’re used to seeing on the streets. Under an administration and Congress that will transfer even more wealth to the nation’s richest while further slashing our nation’s social safety net, these people and millions more who will join them will suffer, and many more, like my friend Anna, will die.

These are serious consequences to an election that I hope people will take very seriously.

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Craig Wiesner is the co-founder of Reach And Teach, a peace and social justice learning company. Reach And Teach also helps to manage Tikkun/NSP web operations.

This entry was posted in Empathy, General News, Politics & Society, The Economy--Wealth & Poverty and tagged , , , , , by Craig Wiesner. Bookmark the permalink.

About Craig Wiesner

Craig Wiesner is the co-founder of Reach And Teach, the peace and social justice learning company (www.reachandteach.com). Craig and his husband Derrick run the company out of their ticky-tacky house on a hill (theirs is the yellow one) in Daly City with their dog Toby keeping watch. In addition to creating and distributing books, games, puzzles, curriculum, music, DVDs, and other products focused on nonviolence, peacemaking, social justice, and healing the planet, Reach And Teach helps non-profits educate and communicate through the web. Tikkun has been a Reach And Teach client for the last four years. Craig is a decorated Air Force veteran who served as a Korean linguist, intelligence analyst, and language instructor (at the Defense Language Institute) from 1979 - 1987. After getting out and coming out Craig led educational efforts for two Silicon Valley technology companies before launching his own award-winning multimedia education company, WKMN Training. Craig is on the board of Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice (a Bay Area peace organization), the CEO of MicahsCall.org (a web site that calls people to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God), and his opinion writing has appeared in the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Christian Science Monitor, and he is a frequent contributor to the KQED Radio (NPR) "Perspective" series.

22 thoughts on “A 53 Year-Old’s View of the Upcoming Election (and this 53 year-old is a little scared)

  1. Craig Weisner’s article is full of misinformation and, as usual and probably subconsciously, rides the coat tail of the Democrats misguided narrative.

    First of all, let’s get the truth out there and the facts straight. And, before doing so, does anyone with any bit of intellectual honesty believe that Obama has done ANYTHING to slow the growth of federal spending, because he has not. In fact, the federal budget has grown more and faster under Obama than under ANY president in the 200+ year history of the U.S. That is a fact.

    With that said, everyone needs to understand, especially you Craig because you are propelling a false narrative from the left desperately trying to hold onto power, is that Ryan’s plan is NOT a voucher program, as you claim, but is a premium support program. The Ryan idea is to turn Medicare into a program that subsidizes private insurance plans. A voucher would do that by sending the money to seniors, and they’d go out and buy the plan. With premium support, however, Medicare pays the money straight to the plan that the senior chooses.

    Next, it is critical to understand tha the new health care law – which no one actually read because it was crammed down our throats – sets up new marketplaces for private health insurance, called health exchanges, in every state. Ryan’s plan would get rid of the insurance exchanges and the subsidies that would help people shop in them. However, as Craig wisely fails to mention, the Ryan plan then sets up its own health exchange – for Medicare. In this exchange, that’s where private health plans and traditional Medicare would compete for seniors’ business. Hence, prices would go down by virtue of competition, WHICH DOES NOT EXIST IN THE MARKET TODAY and is a big part of the reason costs are rising.

    Under the Ryan plan, the Medicare exchange would operate under two important rules that are also in the health care law: They MUST accept any Medicare-eligible person who applies, even if they have pre-existing conditions, and they CANNOT charge more for the seniors with the most serious health problems.

    So Craig, for all of our benefit, please stop the lies. And remember, to all those seniors who are reading this post and are considering who to vote for, I urge you to vote for a serious ticket that includes Romney and Ryan. Remember, Barack Obama SIGNED INTO LAW $700 billion in cuts to Medicare spending that is now in place under the Affordable Care Act.

    Finally, the net worth of individuals and families in the bottom 80% declined around 40% only in connection with the ongoing recession, in which Obama has no clue how to manage. Ever wonder why he is not spending money on ads that showcase his skills managing the economy? Because the economy is in the pits because he does not know what to do. Romney, on the other hand, is a success. He turned the Olympics around and made it successful and profitable. He started a company that turned into one of the most powerful private equity firms in the world. He ran a state and balanced the budget EVERY year (which he was required to do). Obama had no prior experience in economics before becoming President, and it shows.

    Unemployment remains above 8%, and Obama believes that printing more money, taxing the working class, and creating more false divisive social issues will solve the problem. The funniest part is that so many citizens are drinking the blue cool aid that they believe that an increase in tax on the wealthiest Americans will have any impact on reducing or slowing the accumulation of national debt, but it will not. It is another divisive issue. I am sure Craig reads the Huffington Post (or at least supports it), so here is an article from that partisan publication indicating that taxing the wealthy will not work: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-morgan/taxing-the-rich_b_1131020.html

    Craig, I fundamentally disagree with your article, and I pray that this November brings a new administration into power.

    • I can’t stand reading or listening to this kind of bullshit narrative anymore. It’s completely partisan and skewed toward those who already have plenty. An unregulated market is the cure for all of our ills? That’s what got us into this mess. The right’s narrative basically says to me; oh, you didn’t manage to save any money for retirement? There must be something wrong with you (i.e. sinful, lazy, profligate, stupid) so if you get sick and die it’s your own fault. Never mind that you were busy supporting the economy by buying stuff (that’s mostly made somewhere else now; where are the fucking jobs, jobs creators?) Too bad if you choice a career that didn’t pay so well but was personal rewarding and contributed to the betterment of society. What the fuck has the wealthy done for this country, really? Write checks to charities that actually advance their agenda? Or how the opera or equine sports? Those really make a difference in my life. So Mark, I’ll bet you can read my mind as to what I think of you and the world view you represent.

  2. Mark,

    I invite others to chime in on your response to my article. I notice that you pay absolutely no attention to the plight of 50 somethings and our health care crisis.

    I’ll respond directly to a few of your points.

    1. The shift in wealth ownership between the 80% and 20% that I mentioned is based on 1983 through 2001. Those who claim that this shift happened between 2008 and 2012 are lying.

    Watch the animation or download this lesson plan which was created back in 2007 to see where I get my facts.

    http://www.teachingeconomics.org/content/index.php?topic=tenchairs

    2. Voucher versus “Premium Support”? Please!

    3. Competition will make prices go down? Really? Show me one example of that in California, where every insurance plan has had premiums rising double digits every year. And, if you kill the Affordable Care Act, we’re back to people under 65 being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. There’s NO competition if you can’t get anyone to cover you.

    4. Yes, the economy sucks. But, when Obama took office it sucked much worse and though it hasn’t improved fast enough or well enough, it has improved. We’ve seen job growth quarter after quarter since he took over from President Bush. And, President Obama promised to get us out of Iraq and he did. That’s reduced our military spending considerably.

    • One of the major lies is the one about President Obama cutting $700 billion from Medicare. That does not reduce benefits, it just gets rid of the subsidies Medicare pays to private insurers who contract to provide “Medicare Advantage” plans. The right has no problem with taxpayers paying for corporate welfare benefits, but raises moral indignation if we use taxpayer money to help the 99%. If the “free market” works so well, why must we subsidize otherwise massively profitable industries?

      • Who bailed out General Motors.The right does have a problem with corporate welfare but I guess the left doesnt recognize it when they dole it out……….I pay into medicare & I have a doctor who happens to be a good one. Medicade pays more to a cab driver that takes a patient to his office than he gets paid for treating that person…..The next time your at your repair station for your car take a look at the fee per hour. Around here (Long Island) it ranges from $90 per hour and higher just to work on your car…..You want to pay doctors minimum wage and put them under control of the government . A government that is debt for 15 TRILLION DOLLARS…Good luck with your government doctor…….

  3. I think this illuminates the reality that, while the Democrats may be somewhat better than the Republicans, at least in some areas, and that the Republicans have some better approaches in other areas, the reality is that neither party gives a __________ (insert the word of your choice here) about the poor, the common folk, or anything but power and their own money. Yes, the economy was terrible when Obama took over, and has been terrible since Reagan. But Obama is using the same “experts” from Wall Street and the banking industry who knowingly and intentionally got us into this mess. The only hope is to stop playing the two-party system, which is designed to keep the wealthy in power and the rest of us buying the illusions they dream up.

  4. After I read all of the replies, the phrase “tilting at windmills” came to mind. I wonder, if the conservative wing does not care about the poor, then which government, in the history of the world, has done a better job? Do you aspire to be like any country in Western Europe? Anywhere else? Any society in history have a better standard of living, more wealth, and better health care for the masses than the United States? The utopia you seem to believe may exist does not. Rather, you paint emotional strokes of helping the poor but have no clue how to do so. For your benefit, I will tell you that to give man opportunity is to give him hope. There are countless stories of man pulling himself out of poverty to achieve and move upwards, both socially and economically, if man so wanted to do. You seek to give to the beggar and to repress the producer. That is your philosphy. Historically, immigrants flocked to America for opportunity, not because they knew the government would write them welfare checks. Equality of opportunity, not outcome, is what America was founded upon and how it grew to become the largest economy in the world, 13 times its next closest competitor. Social instutions, families, charitable organizations, fellow man…. all of these entities and persons can help the poor. In fact, they can help and organize any way they so choose. It is not and should not be within the government’s provence to do so. That utlimately leads to coercion or the potential of coercion (do a little reading on this, and you will understand). It is interesting to me that study after study shows that liberals generally earn more than conservatives, but conservatives give more to charity. Why is it that liberals love to spend everyone else’s money, not there own. And finally, why is there an inverse growth of citizens relying on social institutions (downward trend) to a reliance on the government (upward trend)? And with it, comes the ability to play politics and coerce the people into voting…. aha… democrat.

    Note: the democratic party today is nothing what it was during Kennedy’s time. It seems that the readers on this site are, unfortunately, predominately drinking the new liberal blue cool aid.

    • By what measure do you say that we have the best health care in the world? We have a higher rate of infant mortality, shorter life spans, and spend nearly twice as much per person (and GDP) than other countries that have much better results.

      http://www.kff.org/insurance/snapshot/oecd042111.cfm
      http://www.pbs.org/newshour/globalhealth/july-dec09/insurance_1006.html

      Nearly 50 million Americans are uninsured, the vast majority of them the working poor.

      http://www.kff.org/uninsured/

      45,000 people die each year because they don’t have adequate coverage.
      http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2009/09/new-study-finds-45000-deaths-annually-linked-to-lack-of-health-coverage/

      Which of those statistics labels us as the best health care in the history of the planet? None.

      Now, onto the other part of the rant against government versus individual charity…. I will speak for myself, and again have to say that my response is based on my actual life experience. I believe there are certain ways in which we as a society have to work together to build an infrastructure that provides the playing field on which all people can survive and thrive. That infrastructure includes roads, schools, medical care, fire departments, police, military, disaster assistance, regulations, protection for the air, land and sea from pollution and other destructive forces, and yes, that infrastructure also includes the arts.

      I believe workers should receive a living wage, and the more value they provide to an employer the higher their pay can and should be. Government can and should establish a living wage requirement and enforce it.

      Someone who flips houses or trades stocks to earn her money should pay the same taxes that her house cleaner pays. Yes, investment is important and shouldn’t be punished, but with government providing the infrastructure that allows investment, the investor should pay taxes just like the house cleaner.

      I’ll stop there. But…. a question for Mark Z. I shared my lens when I started this dialogue. How about sharing yours? What do you do for a living? Where and how did you grow up? How does your life experience impact your political positions?

  5. Mark- I was a bit confused reading your last response. Your rhetorical questions are so skewed that I thought you were arguing against American superiority- but wait- no. Which history in the world has done a better job for the poor then awesome USA? A LOT of them. Better standard of living, more wealth and better health care? Most developed countries beat us in these categories. USA is 7th in literacy, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 49th in civil liberties, 14th in college graduation, 21st in happiness, 70th in women in government, 3rd in poverty (this should be low), 1st in prisoners (should be low.) Oh yeah, we are also ranked 26th in taxes (in developed countries.) So we tax much lower then our developed friends and have reallllly bad stats. There is a lot of room to grow and the democratic party is currently the ones significantly assisting in issues like education, health & equality. I would genuinely and strongly stress that you watch less FOX news. Watching some CNN. Seriously, liberals make more than conservatives? That is a joke and completely untrue. If this was true then the the SUPER donors (Sheldon Adelson) we have seen this election cycle would be writing 10 million dollar checks to Obama. The liberals would be voting themselves poor by voting democratic, which is exactly why Republicans vote Republican! Really, google it. Your facts are just not correct. Seriously, don’t reply to this comment, just google your facts on a non-republican website.

    • Hi Tina,

      Thanks for sharing those facts. “American Exceptionalism” is a concept with which I have a tough time (trying not to be 57th in proper grammar). I’ve traveled much of the world and I’ve found places like England, Canada, France, Japan, Holland, and Sweden (just to name a few) to be quite lovely and relatively prosperous. I’ve also been in countries ruled by dictators or other less-than-democratic regimes and always come home quite thrilled to be an American. We do a lot of things well as a country and do have a lot for which we can be proud. We’ve done a lot and do a lot of good for the world, and again, can take pride in many of those accomplishments. There are some ways in which we are unique, and our ideals have been a beacon of light around the world (whether we always live up to them or not). But there are many things we do really badly, and our daily lives are more challenging than those of average folks in many other industrialized nations. On the “happiness” index, other countries rate higher, even countries with less “stuff” than the typical American household can boast. In fact, people with much less stuff. from my experience with them, have a lot more joy and peace in their day to day lives. Sitting on the bare floor of a Salvadoran home many years ago, I was astonished by the sheer joy of the household, all of whose possessions could fit into a few boxes stacked towards the roof of the house so that they would stay dry in the next flood.

      So… I too take exception with the “America is the greatest country in the history of the world” sentiments. And, of course, we have to remember that in our not-too-distant past, we kind of took this place from its rightful inhabitants, and, until we showed up, they had a pretty nice life here. Just saying.

  6. And one more thing… “coerce the people into voting”!? Are you slamming democrats for encouraging voting? We want people to vote. You can not seriously argue that trying to get citizens to vote is more egregious then dissuading, obstructing and banning people from voting- which is happening right now- by republicans. No comparison.

  7. After reading your latest posts, I decided to make a donation to the Romney campaign.

  8. Mark Z, please don’t delude yourself and others about the “Ryan plan.” This idea of Ryan’s – “They MUST accept any Medicare-eligible person who applies, even if they have pre-existing conditions, and they CANNOT charge more for the seniors with the most serious health problems” – is just a ploy for now. After they get it, if they get it, they will move to the next step, which is to end all of this terrible encroachment on our freedoms requiring insurance companies to accept everybody and telling insurance companies what they have to charge. Dismantle, step by step, step by step. If it creates massive impoverishment and death, that’s fine with them, too. Just as massive environmental destruction doesn’t bother them either.

    The one thing I’d like to point out in what Craig has said is that Obama was the very first one to make reductions in Social Security and Medicare a serious proposal in Congress. George Bush tried but he failed. The whole idea of putting Social Security and Medicare reductions on the table started with Obama. He therefore invited the reactionary right to take the next step. As soon as Obama bends over for the next step, the reactionary right will take yet another step rightward.

    It wasn’t even 10 years ago that this discussion would have been unthinkable.

  9. I`m a 93 year old WW2 vet with every medical unpleasantness known to the human race. I was a benefciary of Hoover free enterprise, Unions were weak and ineffective, income taxes on the wealthy were low, There was no workers compensation to tide over injured workers, no social security to ease their old age, no FDIC to protect our meager bank savings, no Food and Drug laws to protect the sanitation of our food or drugs. In other words, it was a libertarian dream com true, Romney and Ryan would have thought they had died and gone to heaven. Then along came those miserable liberals with their help-the-poor programs like putting people to work on govt projects like the Grarnd Coulee Dam, etc, projets that put money in the hands of working people where it would be spent on essentials, Pretty soon things began to improve, but we didn`t complely snap out of the Depression until the war came along and again the US govt invested billions of dollars in war products. So much for the conservative Golden Age.

  10. It appears to me that the Republican Party are a reincarnation of the men who took the land away from the American Indians. Perhaps most polititians. Pathetic lost…vacant souls!
    . We have a sick society of people running this country(running the world) the good ole boys who are mentally ill so depleted spirtually they have to fill themselves up with power to defuse their woundedness.
    If we don’t have a Human Revolution ( change from within) we will continue to chase our tail.
    You boys need to grow up from the inside out! Write a poem..get into therapy…smell a rose…have the courage to Really Create Value for yourself and others
    Marci Solomon
    I don’t have to be a good speller-r or writer to say my truth.

  11. Craig, I feel for you. I honestly do. Voucherizing Medicare is so unfair, especially to those in your age group. Let it be known that these two plutocrats–Romney & Ryan–want to end Medicare. It will start as a voucher and will rise in line with the cost of living but health care costs always exceed the cost of living—by a lot. As the years go by, in time it will cover less and less but they will go to the mat to not only keep the Bush tax cuts for the rich but to increase those cuts and to increase defense spending. (I believe 5 trillion over 10 years). They’ll pay for it by trashing one of the weakest social safety nets in the industrialized world and then close loopholes but won’t actually spell out those loopholes until they’re in office.
    Romney must come clean with his tax returns. Did he or did he not participate in the IRS’s settlement initiative (referred to as amnesty) for undeclared offshore financial accounts. How did his IRA account grow to $100 million when there are annual limits on contributions? This is important because it goes to the heart of very unfair tax policies which allow the rich to avoid paying to help the country that helped make them very rich while demanding austerity from the ordinary people who DO pay their taxes and DO help run this country. It tells us something about Romney’s character, what he values, and what his tax policies might be if he were elected.

    • Thank you Elaine!!!! At first I thought your comment was about Obama actually being on a spending binge but it is the exact opposite (your comment was clear – my quick glance was not). Here’s one small part of that post on the WALL STREET JOURNAL

      …..Almost everyone believes that Obama has presided over a massive increase in federal spending, an “inferno” of spending that threatens our jobs, our businesses and our children’s future. Even Democrats seem to think it’s true. But it didn’t happen. Although there was a big stimulus bill under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s……

      Read the rest (as Elaine so kindly linked to)

      http://articles.marketwatch.com/2012-05-22/commentary/31802270_1_spending-federal-budget-drunken-sailor

  12. I appreciate Craig’s 53 yr old lens as agewise we share a pov. I find similar dis-ease regarding money and my future, especially as a recently unemployed academic who spent most of the last two decades teaching as contingent (read abused) faculty. However, I see a largely picture in terms of the environment and feel more of us must think of ourselves as global citizens and we must take the rest of the world into account–both all of our needs and our strength…

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