Sunday, December 17, 2017

Kando's Dogma

I’m sick and tired of hearing how very unpopular “liberal” has become in America.

I’m sick and tired of America’s extreme rightward drift. Don’t be mistaken about it: We are THE most conservative country in the world today!

I am sick and tired of the cliché “we are the richest country in the world.” I can think of a dozen countries that are richer (see List of Countries).

And as to the distribution of wealth, well in that regard we are doing worse than nearly ALL other developed countries. Our still relatively high per capita income obfuscates the fact that we have more obscenely rich and also more devastating poverty than most other western nations. Among OECD countries (the 35 largely more developed countries of the world), the US has the fourth highest Gini coefficient of inequality, after Mexico, Chile and Turkey! We are in good company! (See Inequality) Our relative income poverty is nearly 17%, the third highest among these 35 countries. And with the new Republican tax package, things are about to get a lot worse.

I am sick and tired of seeing America self-destruct, of seeing a once promising country going to hell. 

I am sick and tired of seeing it all fall apart - the infrastructure, the schools, the health care system, housing, the environment, research.

I am sick and tired of hearing that the government does everything inefficiently and that private business does everything better. There is no evidence for this faddish falsehood.

I am sick and tired of equivocation, of debating the issues from “both sides,” of being “open-minded.” I feel that I have done my homework. I have a PhD in Sociology, I have read thousands of books, I still turn on Fox News and pick up the Wall Street Journal sometimes, so I DO see it “from both sides.”

But by and large, my mind is made up. I have clarity. I don’t need to rehash the “left-right” conversation. So here are my conclusions:

1. There are two categories of people: Liberals and idiots.

2. Liberals are right because they favor equality, justice, mutual help, cooperation and love. Conservatives are wrong because they accept injustice, advocate competition, favor selfishness and greed.

3. Liberals are right because their policies work. The countries with the best quality of life and the greatest human happiness are all liberal. Check out Scandinavia, Australia, Canada and a host of other highly successful countries.

4. Taxes are too low. They should be raised, especially on the richest.

5. Profits should be taxed more than labor. Employers/businessmen should be taxed more than employees. Investments and inheritance should be taxed more than work. For example, when a physician and an employer or an investor earn the same amount, the physician should be taxed less than the other two individuals.

6. Health insurance should be universal and mandatory, just like car insurance for anyone who drives. It can be single-payer and government-run. Medicare for everyone, pure and simple. Ideally, health insurance companies would cease to exist. Or else, it could be a heavily regulated for-profit system. 

7. Bullet trains should be built and other forms of mass transit should be funded to the max.

8. We should consider making airlines, airports, railroads and other transportation services into public utilities, just as most of our urban subway and bus systems already are, thank goodness. Amtrak is a hybrid - publicly funded, but for-profit. It is not clear that it works better than the magnificent French SNCF, which is fully government owned.

9. Cap and trade policies to protect the environment should be maximized.

10. The private sector is every bit as inefficient and bureaucratic as the government. Are Amazon, UPS and Fed Ex more efficient than the US Postal Service? Are your private healthcare provider and insurance company more responsive than Medicare? Do Comcast, Apple, Macy's,  United Airlines and Intel provide faster and better technical support and other service than Social Security? When you go to the Apple store with a problem, you have to make an appointment for two weeks later before you can even explain what your problem is! With most businesses, you are lucky if you get to talk to someone in New Delhi, Manila, or CostaRica. Companies such as Twitter (San Francisco) can’t even be reached by telephone, period!

If you get the impression that I am a socialist, it is because I am. I am a liberal and a socialist, and proud of it.

A brief clarification for our European readers: In Europe, “liberal”  is still often used in the sense of “classical liberal,” which refers to  right-of-center, pro-business, conservative political  parties such as the VVD in the Netherlands. In the US. the term has long had an opposite meaning, namely “left,” “progressive,” etc. I use the word in the American  sense. I hope that this is not misunderstood.

© Tom Kando 2017;All Rights Reserved
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