Thursday, January 10, 2013
What Bernie Says
Right here. It's been hard for me to post lately because it feels like biting granite. Our political debates are all completely phony, and the corporate media are making us all live in that phony world. For whatever reason (and I'm not going to get into the Obama mental telepathy game that so many people like to play) the president is not puncturing the fake scenery, he's playing right along.
Yes, we have a spending problem. Specifically, the more than $700 billion a year we're spending on the military, which is more than we spend on Medicare.
Yes, we have a tax problem. Specifically, as Bernie says, federal revenue is a lower percentage of GDP today than it was 60 years ago, and it's somewhere around half of what the rest of the wealthy countries raise -- you know, totalitarian dungeons like Canada and Sweden. We have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any developed country, and in fact we're back to where we were in the Gilded Age, just before the Great Depression.
No, privatizing everything and turning it over to profit-making corporations doesn't make it efficient, competition doesn't make the consumer sovereign, and it doesn't make us freer. As Eduardo Porter convincingly demonstrates, in the case of health care it leaves us ripped off, ill served, and unhealthy. You know what does work really well? Universal, comprehensive, single payer national health care. Ask any country where they spend half of what we do, and have healthier people.
Right now, we don't have a deficit problem, we have a problem of insufficient aggregate demand, which means we have a lot of unemployed people. We need to spend money to put them to work. Then, if we want to eliminate the federal deficit long term (not that we particularly need to do that), all we need to do pay taxes the way we did under Ronald Reagan, eliminate the cap on social security taxes, and create a Medicare for All system that is funded by the money people are paying in health insurance premiums now, that pays for results, and not for doing unnecessary, useless and harmful procedures.
If we want to be affluent in 2025, we need to spend money on good quality education and universal access to vocational training and higher education, for everybody; renewable energy, mass transit, a smart electrical grid, and energy efficiency and conservation; and scientific research and development; and less money on the military.
Who the hell is talking about this -- what we absolutely must do. Not Barack Obama, that's for sure.