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Fred Donaldson

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Fred Donaldson

Wondering why our American Dream is rapidly becoming a faded memory...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

You're never lonely when your liberal heroes send you endearing, friendly emails about grass and roots

Hillary announces and we get a flood of emails asking us to send either $3 or $5. Why those amounts? Ask the marketing gurus. A couple years ago I had the same reaction whenthe email box filled the same way. Recalling the flood:

Sherrod Brown [] warned me:
"Ohioans didn't send me to the Senate to compromise away their future. And you didn't get involved in this grassroots movement to sit on the sidelines and watch this radical agenda get across the finish line." I agree, even if I'm not from Ohio (but the wife is, so how does Brown know?).
Then he tells me:
And our grassroots network won't grow stronger unless we invest in it. Contribute $5 -- or whatever you can -- to help right now.
Surely, the fate of a grassroots movement shouldn't rise or fall on a retiree's $5 donation, and I wonder why some liberal hedge fund manager won't just contribute $500 million and let 100 million of us have enough for coffee and a donut tomorrow morning.

Jennifer Petty also dropped me an email this morning, and it's nice to get correspondence from young ladies when you are now past 70. Jennifer starts out with "Hey Friends" and goes on to explain the reason for this missive (which has partial yellow background, wow!):
I am sitting at work today, reworking our budget for the 2nd quarter. While we have been doing well, it looks like we need to raise $5,000 by April 30th to meet our goal.
She seems to want more than just $5, but she probably knows I have some money left after the donation to Brown. Jennifer explains why she wants my dough:
 Please consider sending a generous gift today.
Your contribution will go to helping recruit progressive Democrats to run for office in 2014 and give them the support they need to build successful campaigns.
I also seem to have a friend  in Adam Green from Bold Progressives.Org, who suggested yesterday afternoon:
Can you help us draft a populist fighter for senator? Join Draft Schweitzer today!
(You can also donate $3 that Brian will receive on Day One of his campaign, so he can hit the ground running. Over $25,000 raised so far!)
Bruce Finzen also emailed yesterday. He's with the Center for Public Integrity, and thinks I'm not one of those $3 givers:
Help me make sure that the Center can continue its work in the public interest and has the resources to leave no stone unturned. Your gift of $30, $50, $120 or more will help ensure they can. Please give as generously as possible.
So many email friends. So little money to donate. Oh well!

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Public services should not just benefit the poor, but should be supported by taxes for everyone to use

Once again, the argument is made that we should not provide universal – whatever – because higher income folks can afford to pay for it themselves.

If we have a public service, like public schools, or public healthcare for all, or even public childcare for all – it should be open to all members of the public, and we should not create a separate CLASS of people, who are stigmatized, since they qualify for a public service – just because they are poor. Should they be made to wear a green star? Walk on the other side of the street? Keep their gaze averted from ours? Many proud families would refuse to apply for such “aid”, rather than be classified as the bottom dwellers of society.

With a fair, progressive tax system, the wealthy would pay a higher percentage of taxes, and more taxes, and should be included in every public program, because they are supporters, often even more equal supporters of these public efforts.

In practice, the very rich will probably not need these public programs, and instead, will avail themselves of very expensive programs of their own making. But that is on them. Should we means test public parks, highways and establish drinking fountains for the poor, free, and the rest of us, 25 cents.

Taking the middle class out of public programs, insures that a so-called lower class (less income, but not necessarily dumber or less moral) doesn’t feel equal to other Americans, and becomes isolated from the middle class to which it aspires.

Any means-testing destroys the ideals of a public good, and replaces it with some humiliating charity from political “benefactors.”

The regressive benefits now delivered from Social Security are another example of so-called means-testing, where upper middle class earners are starkly penalized with lower percentages of overall benefits and the lowest earners receive three or four times the benefit percentage. Such a charity approach loses support for a pension program because it has been converted to a part welfare system. The solution here is a fair basic Soc Sec benefit, supplemented by a pension based purely on wages earned and FICA taxes paid. And means-testing Medicaid, instead of us offering universal Medicare, forces families to “spend down” nearly all their grandparent’s assets, just to enter a nursing home, and they are then at very bottom of the income ladder.

In the same vein, one of the great mistakes of Obamacare is its extra help to the poor and its sliding scale of subsidies. The goal should be “free” all the way up to the top, and at the same time, fair progressive taxes all the way to the top to pay to make public programs available to all who want them.
You cannot justify an economic system that charges you more taxes and excludes you from public programs, but what we are doing is charging some people for public programs, instead of taxing them, which only saves them on other taxes by not using the public programs. If we taxed them to make these programs open to all – they would be paying for them – and probably not using them. Meanwhile the poor and middle class would not be second-class citizens, “getting something” extra from the government.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Even a small third party would exert tremendous influence on economic policies with swing vote

Jared Bernstein recently asked how we can move forward with economic change in this country. Mine was one of many fine answers:
The political solution to your question is even more politics. Two parties that espouse different social value views, but the same basic economic principles, now also decide in favor of the class that sustains them - the wealthy. Other nations have third and fourth parties that concentrate almost solely on things like minimum wage, paid leave, universal healthcare. When you vote for them, you vote for your pocketbook, not whether or not the Easter bunny should be included in public school books.
Both of our major parties have tremendous baggage if they try to attract votes from the other social issue spectrum. Why would a very religious, pro-life person vote for a liberal, who may agree with a hike in the minimum wage, but also vigorously supports abortion or extreme secularism.
The Democratic Party will never attract the working class vote, because it has too many litmus tests. Do you agree that guns should be nearly banned? Do you approve of in-state tuition for folks who are not even American citizens? And on the other side, do you believe that we should have prayer in school and the world was created less than 4,000 years ago?
An economic party with candidates that only stood for fairness in income distribution and all the common sense worker protections, might elect ten or fifteen Senators, a couple dozen Representatives - not enough to select the Senate Majority leader or Speaker of the House, but enough to create a swing vote that represented the people's financial interests, a block that would need to be consulted for its support.
 A small third party would also be immune to the usual Washington advancement pressures. A minority party would be doomed to never electing a President on its own, but it would also permit its members to be their own man or woman.
Jared Bernstein Blog

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mainstream Media gives snide look or ignores Back-to-Work-Budget that would help Americans

The Progressive movement has just released its own budget - a wonderful document that outlines the needs of people, not corporations, and expands out employment, rather than cuts benefits for the elderly by reducing Social Security and Medicare. The media is already making snide comments that it can't be passed and sort of "how dare you ask more of the rich." Please read it and pass the link to your friends.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Millions of white and black pupils in poverty need city services for neighborhoods, not more gentrification

The poverty numbers show 4.082 million African American, 5.225 million non-Hispanic white, and 5.814 million Hispanic. Half of the Hispanic total (an ethnic measure of origin in Spain or South and Central America, including Mexico) is white race and half black race.

Removing the ethnic division, the racial totals would be 6.989 million black and 8.132 million white.

A common sense analysis says that students of all races always do better in well-funded schools, while living in good neighborhoods, and do poorly in low-funded schools, while living in bad neighborhoods.

For example, public school students in Philadelphia are served poorly by their school system, and even worse by their city government. After 15 years of publishing a newspaper there, it was apparent that city services were diverted from all neighborhoods to invest in civic centers, stadiums, center city revitalization and gentrification. Meanwhile, the neighborhoods were crushed with abandoned cars, few police and crumbling roads. School buildings rotted. Teachers were paid half of their suburban counterparts.

My newspaper served a primarily African-American community, and city services were just as good or bad as in the white neighborhoods. Many businesses, on the other hand, shunned locating in the community, and closed stores, citing the usual "demographics" claim. Facts, such as our 89% home ownership, did not sway marketing opinions. After some years of effort by folks like Rep. Dwight Evans, business began to move in by the droves, but it required community pressure on downtown powers to make it happen. While much of that racial prejudice has subsided since that period of the 80s, the bitter prejudice against poverty continues.

Children need a good environment and good teachers. Most cities spend their tax money supporting sports teams and giving tax breaks to developers and campaign contributors. Real estate assessments are pushed way down for new bank buildings, but sales taxes nickle and dime poor residents.

Children need parents with decent jobs, employment that pays more than below poverty wages. Children need decent homes, not rat holes allowed by payoffs to city inspectors. Children need public transit, so they can visit museums and cultural centers at minimal cost. Children need after school clubs, school bands and orchestras, art classes, all items on the chopping block of politicians who think heroism is making someone else miserable.

Poverty feeds on itself. Companies don't want to open in poor neighborhoods. Smart children grow up and move out of bad neighborhoods. So, the secret is not "fixing" schools, but fixing neighborhoods and cities and business investment. City leaders must begin to focus on fewer civic centers and more rec centers, fewer stadiums and more quality schools, fewer clubhouses and more boys and girls clubs.

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

$6,000 healthcare deductible lowers birth rate in the U.S. and keeps many from marrying

Some pundits have recently commented on other blogs that the birth rate seems to be declining among middle class citizens.

In my opinion much of this terrible trend is caused by economics - newly minted healthcare insurance plans that no longer just require co-pays, but have a huge first contribution.

When a family has to pay the first $6,000 in healthcare costs in a year - having a baby is suddenly a very expensive proposition, especially if you are below the median $32,000 annual earnings level.

It doesn't impact Medicaid pregnancies for the poor (virtually no cost), nor do the rich consider $6,000 much more than chump change.

A single plan doesn't cover any costs of pregnancy. And if you get a family plan when already pregnant, it doesn't cover childbirth or its complications, if any.

So, it is not just inequality of income that is threatening to destroy the middle class, it is the extreme costs of having a baby, even with insurance.

Another result of this high healthcare pregnancy cost is its affect on marriage rates. A single woman with no income qualifies for Medicaid, which pays for her childbirth at no real cost to her. If married most women would find that their husband's income raises their family to a level that does not qualify for Medicaid. Not surprisingly, folks figure out what is best for their finances and don't get married, as shown by declining marriage rates.

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