Let me tell you of my conversion to the Left
1. The Great Recession: Our worst economic crisis since the stock market collapse in 1928, its genesis clearly lies with Wall Street speculators and the banking industry. With dollar signs for eyeballs, they lured many home buyers, often minorities, into high end mortgages fabricated by a bubble market swelled by over investment. Subprime and adjusted rate mortgages flourished. Ultimately, there were too many houses out there, reducing home mortgage values and, boom, the stock market debacle of 2008. I believe government banking reform might have preempted this crisis.
2. The transfer of wealth: Whatever gains in wealth we’ve made over the last 30 years have largely benefitted the wealthy. The collapse of the housing market is just one recent example, with middle class buyers exchanging their already limited capital for long-term indebtedness on over priced homes. While they may think they own their own homes, the reality is the banks own them for up to the next 30 years; in most cases, at huge profit. Just do the math. Ironically, the financiers responsible for the collapse have gotten away with their greed, some of them bailed out with tax payer money, even as they show no such charity towards those who default. Their current vogue is to buy up these foreclosures for potential investment, particularly by foreigners. Meanwhile, millions of other below-water “homeowners” struggle to honorably meet their monthly payments on houses no longer worth their purchase price in states where they have no recourse.
3. Tax inequity: Is it fair that a candidate for the presidency worth $240 million, owning several mansions, and with $100 million invested for his sons, should pay at a tax rate of only 14% on his income in the last two years while many of us with median middle class incomes pay proportionately more? This is but one example that surely could be multiplied by the thousands privileged to enjoy loopholes you and I can’t access. Even social security gets rigged in their favor, with the salary max for social security taxes on 2012 income capped at $110, 000. Talk about a windfall for the rich!
4. Deficient health care: Even the progressive Health Care Reform Act (to be fully implemented in 2014), fails to remedy what ails us–the lack of a single payer system such as Canada enjoys with consequential lower costs and universal access. As a fallout, you and I pay more for health care than in any of the developed nations, concurrently with limited options. I’m a retiree on Medicare, for example, yet must pay out of my pocket fully for eye glasses and hearing aids. And then there are the ever escalating medical costs for all Americans far in access of annual inflation. I say we can do better.
5. Foreign policy: We’re meddlers strutting our imperialism with a Daddy knows all approach. We lavish more on the military than all the world’s countries combined, including Russia and China. We’re beholden to Israel, an apartheid nation that would happily snare us into waging their conflicts for them and is busy killing Gaza civilians as I write. In America, every decade seems to threaten a new war. Now there’s pending trouble with Iran. Our children bleed and die. Iraq was a terrible folly and Afghanistan seems increasingly pointless. We got our man. Let’s go home. Now!
6. Environment: Those on the Right simply laugh off or prove indifferent to climate change, some even proclaiming it a hoax. For them, it’s business as usual, with profits their end-game. As such, they remind me of those anti-evolution die-heads of years ago, still latent in today’s creationists. While a few may admit to climate change, they downgrade its human component. More coal, more oil. Now their rage for Keystone. For the sake of a wounded Earth and for future generations, I cast my lot with the Left in its vibrancy as to what’s at stake..
7. The crazies: Conservatives, neo-cons, tea party devotees–they make me shiver–all those tirades against pro-choice, gays, immigrants, stem cell research, health care reform; denigrators of the UN, deniers of global warming, the need for cap and trade, alternative fuels, they wed themselves to the past. I dislike, too, their moral politics fettered to a religious view: the creationists conflating theism with science, the zealots for capital punishment while decrying abortion; the unfeeling purists on death with dignity legislation, which they defeated in my native state of Massachusetts two weeks ago. It’s company I choose not to keep. I prefer the affirmers, not the deniers; those who foster fairness and reconciliation, not callousness and division; those who champion change, not stultifying tradition; those who embrace optimism, not pessimism.
While I love my country dearly, I think it can do better. Like Bruce Springsteen, I’m proud to be born in the USA. It’s a really great place. That is, if you’re on top.