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January 22, 2016 10:00 AM Age: 4 yrs

You Say You Want a Revolution

Category: AC RSS, GPG Commentary & Opinion, A/F Commentary & Opinion, CM Commentary & Opinion, ERM Commentary & Opinion, ESG Highlighted Commentary, ESG Highlights, Wealth and Income Gaps Commentary, Exec Comp Commentary, CFR Commentary
Source:  Larry Checco

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The Republican and Democratic party establishments are both in a panic about their respective party’s outsider front-runners.  Entrenched establishment leaders sense revolution in the air, and rightfully so.

You might say they brought it on themselves.

Say what you will about all of the issues swirling around this election cycle—from immigration to gun control to trade policy to how we should go about defeating ISIS to protect our nation—it really all boils down to inequality of income, wealth and opportunity.

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are simply thermometers indexing the anger and frustration many Americans feel toward a system that has failed them miserably.  And these Americans are nearing the boiling point.  They’re madder than hell and they aren’t going to take it any more (http://bit.ly/1lHOgME).

Just look at who Trump and Sanders are appealing to and there is no mystery; it’s all about money.  It’s the people who have the least money, who see the fewest opportunities for getting ahead in this current economic and political climate who are rapt by these outsiders.

It didn’t have to be this way. 

Supply-side, trickle down economics, begun under President Ronald Reagan and still aggressively promoted by Republican presidential candidates today, has been an absolute and dismal failure.  By lowering taxes on the rich, the only thing that has trickled down to most Americans over the past several decades is misery.

And deregulation of our financial industry, much of which occurred under Democratic administrations, has led to Wall Street run amok—and to the financial ruin of millions of American families.

Is there any wonder why voters are flocking to Senator Sanders, who is laser focused on reforming Wall Street, or to Trump, though a billionaire himself speaks in the anti-establishment vernacular and is so vague in whatever he tries to articulate that no one knows what he’s really selling. 

All they know is he’s “h-u-u-u-u-gely” and vehemently opposed to anything that has to do with Washington. 

So what can the establishment do to bring order back to what otherwise appears to be total chaos.  More importantly, what can the establishment do to regain the trust of the American people?

Well, for starters, it can work to bring stability, functionality and civility back to our economic and political systems. 

How?

Do away with gerrymandering.  As long as state legislative district boundaries favor an incumbent or one party over another, representatives will remain less concerned about governing impartially for the betterment of our nation than they are about being “primaried” if they don’t satisfy the wants of their political base.

Take big money out of politics.   Citizens United needs to be overturned.  It’s poisoning the well and adding to the distrust of our political system.  Wealth should not be the criteria for influencing policies; rather ideas that promote the common good should be held in the highest esteem.  

Reform the institutions created to protect us.  Government watchdog agencies have fallen asleep in their doghouses or have otherwise been kept on a short leash by those they were designed to oversee, as evidenced by the Great Recession.  This needs to change!  If you haven’t already, see the movie “The Big Short.”

Jam the revolving door.  Government employees who work for these watchdog agencies or Congressional offices should be banned for a decade or longer from working for the very companies and industries they once oversaw.  It makes for way too much opportunity for collusion between government and the private sector.

Give us tax reform.  We need a system that rewards work and puts everyone on a level playing field when it comes to paying taxes.  There’s no good reason why someone who gets up at the crack of dawn and puts in a hard day of manual labor should pay a higher percentage of his or her income in taxes than someone on Wall Street who shuffles paper all day and earns multiples of what the average family brings in annually.

Create a climate of economic inclusivity.  Currently the table is tilted in favor of capital, not labor.  Workers are not sharing in the growth and prosperity of the companies for which they work.  Rather, company executives and large shareholders are sopping up the lions share of profits through obscene salaries and benefits packages, as well as dividends and stock buy-back programs. 

Stop dividing us.  Stop pitting those of different economic classes, religions, cultures, and nationalities against one another.  Rather help us to find the common ground we all share so we can start working together for a better nation. 

Start investing in our country again. Housing that people can afford, quality health care for all, infrastructure, early childhood education, scientific research, job training, ample mental health services, we need all this and more.

If the establishment wants to control the oncoming revolution—and it is coming, make no mistake about that—implementing some of the suggestions above would be a good place to start.

Contents Copyrighted © 2016 by Larry Checco - All Rights Reserved.

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