Bernie Sanders and Civil Rights

Bernie Sanders and Civil Rights

The chart in this article baffles me in regards to favorability among African-American voters:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/…/bernie-sanders-big-challen…/

I get name recognition and certainly Bill Clinton was perceived well in the African-American community. But Sanders was at ground zero during the Civil Rights movement. Sanders is second to none this election in his record on Civil Rights and his influence in African-American lives in this country. He is the /ONLY/ candidate that can boast this kind of record on human freedom.

1) Member of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE)
2) Member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
3) Participated in the March on Washington
4) Arrested for his Desegregation beliefs: Bernie was arrested in 1962 for hanging flyers detailing police brutality against African-Americans
5) Participated in Sit-Ins and other non-violent forms of protest regularly

The above are not the actions of a man not motivated towards equality and freedom for all. Bernie did these at a time when lending your voice to Civil Rights was a hazardous endeavor both politically and physically. There is not another candidate who can tout this record. It’s not even close.

Now let’s look at Bernie’s Racial Justice Plan:

https://berniesanders.com/issues/racial-justice/

First it is important to identify that Sanders identifies the following forms of racism: Physical, Political, Legal, and Economic

This is an important distinction that Bernie identifies multiple layers needed to be addressed for racial justice. This is a critical first step in building a plan as it addresses not just a piece or two of a larger problem. The scope of the problem and the plan to address these issues needs to be bold.

I urge you to read the more detailed plan on his website but I’ll single out some important distinctions in each category I feel are strong. Without question Bernie has the most detailed and hard-hitting plan of the candidates in addressing racial injustice.

Physical:
Federally fund and require body cameras on police
De-Militarization of Police Forces
Require public reports on all Police Shootings
Training

Political Violence:
Address felony convictions and the right to vote (African-Americans are imprisoned at astronomically higher rates and are disproportionately removed from the voting pool)
Restoring the Voting Rights Act “pre-clearance provision”
Automatic Voter Registration at 18
Polling Station reform (Expanded hours and days / Less wait times)

Legal Violence:
I quote: “It is an obscenity that we stigmatize so many young Americans with a criminal record for smoking marijuana, but not one major Wall Street executive has been prosecuted for causing the near collapse of our entire economy.”
End Privatized Prisons
Medical and Mental Health Interventions in the Court System
Eliminate Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

Economic Violence:
Free College Education to All
5.5 Billion dollar Youth Employment Program (Targeting racial youth unemployment and opportunity)
Pay Equalization
Prevent Employer Discrimination based on Criminal History
Access to Affordable Childcare

***

There is not another candidate who champions plans like this to address these issues. It’s not even close. I challenge you to find another candidate so willing to tackle and fight for racial equality as Bernie Sanders. Nor will you find a candidate with a better Civil Rights resume in 2016. I’m certainly willing to listen though and be persuaded otherwise.

Take care,
David

My thoughts on Bernie Sander’s proposal for free Public College Education

My thoughts on Bernie Sander’s proposal for free Public College Education

I wanted to express my opinion on making higher education free to everyone in the United States. This is a goal of Bernie Sanders that I wholeheartedly support.

The amount required to increase our educational spending to cover the remaining tuition costs of college is 62.6 billion dollars according to the Department of Education’s 2012 report. This sounds like a lot of money but compared to our GDP and what we have spent on wars or subsidizing already astronomically rich corporations this is not at all an unfeasible issues to tackle.

For example we averaged spending 665 million dollars a day for the war in Iraq. Free college education for our nation on the other hand would cost just one fourth of that amount.

But how can we fund it?

We could simply pay for universal education for all Americans by cutting corporate subsidies by 60%. I believe there is something wrong when we could make the choice between giving rich corporations 273 million dollars a day versus the cost of educating our own people for 171 million dollars a day.

College

Why?

Sometimes you do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. College tuition is out of control and college debt has now surpassed all other forms of debt in our nation. Education should never be an impossible dream and burden. Education should be something we strive for as a national identity in order to better ourselves and the lives of those who come after us.

Poverty is one of the largest hurdles to overcome when it comes to college education. Private high school student graduates enroll in college at an 85% rate while poor schools enroll at nearly 35% less than their more affluent counterparts. This gap widens when you are poor and a minority.

According to the census data 21% of African-American 30 year olds had a college degree versus 38% of whites at the same age. According to 1970 data this gap was 10% and has widened by 7% as Caucasians have outpaced African-Americans in their level of education attainment. Currently 6.3% of African-American men are enrolled in college while 4.7% are in prison.

Many students who are poor or are in the middle class that do make it to college are then entrapped in overwhelming student loan debt. The debt amassed in the current system of college education is staggering. Current student loan debt stands at 1.3 trillion dollars in the nation. More student loan debt is owed than either in credit cards or auto loans. Almost 1 out of every 5 Americans will default on their student loan debt.

America is supposed to be a land of opportunity. Free education evens the playing field and allows for a better future for our country. More importantly it stands as a testimony to the great will of this country and our aspirations for each other. We once dreamed of going to the moon and through some of the brightest minds in our history we got there. Imagine the things we could achieve if everyone had an opportunity to equal education.

Again, sometimes you do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.

I believe universal education is the right thing to do.

Corporate Welfare: A Glimpse into the Inane

Corporate Welfare: A Glimpse into the Inane

I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss the concept of corporate welfare.

I am going to start by introducing a case study by the Americans for Tax Fairness on Wal-Marts’ massive employee dependence on the American tax payer for welfare.

According to the study Wal-Mart’s employment practices force its 1.4 million workers on average to depend on $4,416 of welfare every year. This means that we the American people spend 6.2 billion dollars every year to pay for Wal-Mart’s choice to not give its employees living wages and opportunities. This assistance comes in the form of food stamps, Medicaid, and in subsidized housing.

The huge contradiction that makes this form of corporate welfare even more UNBEARABLE is that Wal-Mart released its own numbers that estimate it handles 18% of the nation’s food stamp market; for a profit of 13.5 billion dollars per year.

Next I point you to this tidbit:

The Walton family that owns Wal-Mart has just as much wealth equal to the bottom 42% of our country. Wal-Mart last year according to Forbes made 33 billion dollars. That means if Wal-Mart paid just enough for its employees to come off welfare it would have still earned 26.8 billion dollars in 2014. Paying a living wage for Wal-Mart or simply subsidizing the amount their employees take in welfare would still leave the company a tremendous profit. It’s simply a matter of corporate greed and unethical employment policies that created this situation.

Walmart and Corporate Welfare

Keep in mind this information is just a case study on Wal-Mart. It is estimated we spend 100 billion dollars a year of taxpayer money in order to subsidize grossly rich corporations and their purposeful policies that force our neighbors, parents, and community to barely subsist.

How did this happen?

I point you again to the research I did on the corporate income tax rate and the wealth disparity in this country. As corporations have become wealthier they have gained more influence in this country. This has allowed them to control our government and to insert disproportionate financial and political influence in rigging the government system in their own favor.

As the wealthiest Americans have gained a hugely disproportionate share of the wealth the rise of an elite class of billionaires has come to power in the nation.

A Princeton and Northwestern University study was published that shows how the elite wealthy have more policy influence than the bottom majority of our country. The elites achieve policies at a much higher rate (up to 35%) as their support for an issue increases. The average citizen adoption rate of policy stays flat even as the percent of the population that favors a particular issue increases among the people. This means that it doesn’t really matter how much we as a people desire (there are obvious exceptions of course) a change in our government or support a political issue. The government simply does not serve the will of the majority (the people). Only the elites can truly influence and use their influence to force policy change in our country and this occurs at nearly the double the rate of our own aspirations. This gap continues to widen as the monetary influence of the rich oligarchy in this nation expands.

Policy Power of the Rich

Couple the above data with the Citizens United decision and this problem is compounded as corporations can now funnel money and influence into our political trajectory. This will only lead to the further marginalization of the voice of the vast majority of the American people.

The inane reality that we as an American people are truly paying from our rapidly dwindling share of the nation’s wealth to subsidize richest people in our country is astonishing. The longer we let corporations and billionaires entrench themselves financially and politically in our government the more this problem will compound.

What is the answer?

Well for starters this is where I will plug Bernie Sanders. Senator Sanders is campaigning hard for an end to Citizens United. Any justice he appoints to the Supreme Court will have to past a litmus test to overturn the landmark decision that empowered corporations to effectively become ‘people’ and contribute to our political discourse.

Secondly Bernie wants to create a living wage of fifteen dollars an hour. This will go a long way just by itself to end corporate welfare. Bernie will champion an end to corporate welfare as a matter of policy. He will expand social security for our elderly who are struggling to provide for themselves.

He will continue by raising the corporate and top tax rates in order to shift some power and opportunity back into the middle and lower classes. He will expand education opportunity in the form of free public college education to the people.

My thoughts:

Look at the direction and growing wealth and income inequality gap in this country. Consider what will happen as the rich keep at their current pace of taking up larger shares of the nation’s wealth. The inevitable outcome is an oligarchy of power and a muting of the democracy that all Americans prize so much.

This issue is truly not a left or right issue in my estimation. It is one of such national importance that it is a crisis of identity for our way of governance.

We as a people are empowered to reverse the course of our political and economic reality. We must rise to the occasion; apathy is never the answer and holds just as much fault and blame in our current national direction.

I encourage everyone to express themselves politically. Even if you utterly disagree with everything I have discussed above. It is essential in a representative democracy to keep the voice of the people strong and active.

For me (personally) I want to ensure this nation is a strong one that will be vibrant place of equality and one full of opportunity for my children and to the generations that follow. I don’t want to be idle and culpable; so I participate.

Help people vote. Grab some voter registration cards. Dialogue. Debate. It is the absolute very least we can do. And all it takes is a desire to help this nation be a better place for all of us.

Thank you,
David

Commentary on the Growing Wealth/Income Disparity in America

Commentary on the Growing Wealth/Income Disparity in America

I was pondering the question of Individual and Corporate tax rates historically as they compare to the question of income inequality in terms of historical trends.

My Process:

I wanted to see in a generic manner if I could find and track the Individual and Corporate income taxes as they relate to a % of our Gross Domestic Product historically.

The first set of data I compiled was sourced from the Tax Policy Center to get the historical information in regards to corporate and individual percentages of the GDP for each tax year. I then created a chart to observe the trend.

Next I sourced the Congressional Budget Office to find the share of wealth as it relates to the top 1% and the bottom 90%. I set these as a secondary chart to overlay and sync up (on the years) where I had available data beginning in 1979.

Findings:

Individual Income Taxes as a % of Gross Domestic Product have risen while corporate taxes have fallen dramatically.

When you tie in the data from the top 1% you see that the rich have outpaced and gained at the expense of the bottom 90% in their share of the wealth in our country.

The alarming thing is that since 1986 this change has become exponentially expedited. There are two landmark moments I would like to point out where we see extremes in these trends:

Incomeinequality

1986: Tax Reform Act of 1986

This was Reagan’s trickle-down economics at its finest. The top tax rate for individuals was lowered from 50% to 28% while the bottom rate was raised from 11% to 15%. You can see the results clear as day.

2007-2008: U.S. Collapse of Real Estate / Too Big to Fail

This is the lingering impact of the real estate crises where our banks selfishly sacrificed our security and welfare for their own greed. This is the low point and where we see the peak of financial collusion and greed by the wealthy.

Conclusion:

My findings are simply this… that politics do matter. The majority of the country is suffering from decades of shifting the tax burden off of business and onto the backs of the lower classes. If you don’t think elections matter look again; the backs of the American common man were broken upon the rocks of business/rich favoring strategy and action.

The failed policies of trickle-down economics triggered a shift in the already unfavorable trend line and the subsequent rise and influence of banks has expedited the wealth income disparity in our country. This has caused historic difference in the wealth between the classes. With recent Supreme Court decisions (Citizens United) the growing influence of the rich is bludgeoning its way at an unprecedented rate into American politics.

We as a people are losing our clout both at home and within our own society. Changing overall tax policy and banking approaches requires serious measures of reform and commitment. And there is a great challenge ahead with so very few politicians willing to tackle this gloomy fiscal reality. The fact is that Americans are on a crash course for even worse wealth inequality. Supporting a system of banks that are too large to fail and putting the tax burden on the backs of the poor and diminishing middle class is only a self-interested drive by the rich to entrench and tighten their grasp on the throat of American freedom and opportunity.

I beg you to educate yourselves on these great freedom eroding blunders. And to choose a candidate that favors your view. Look at donor lists to see who is buying your candidates voice. If the top donors are the rich or banks; you can get a good idea of what your vote means.

Politics and elections do matter and they can shape our lives and the lives of those who come after us.

Thank you,
David Estridge