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Tue, 15 Aug 2017

Thoughts on Terror and Trump

Tomasino writes on his phlog about the recent terror attack in Virginia [0][1]. I have the same visceral reaction to these events, and I'm saddened to see hatred for race or political beliefs reach such a point that someone feels they have to kill for it.

But I'd like to talk about a more serious issue that has been facing the US since the 1970s, one that has arguably killed more Americans than domestic terror attacks.

First, let me say that we did not leave the US for political reasons, nor was Trump even a serious contender for the white house when we started planning our move to Canada [2][3]. But every day I am grateful we made the move when we did. I consider myself lucky to have been Canadian by accident of birth - if that had not been true, we also would be stuck in the US. We would still be contending with skyrocketing insurance premiums and college tuitions. Tuitions loading college graduates down with massive debt.

The big US banks learned nothing from 2008 except that their losses would forever more be socialized while they were allowed to keep more and more of their profits. If the clowns who supposedly represent their electorate have their way, tax rates for corporations and the wealthy will fall even further. And no one can convince me that one of a democrat or republican congressional majority is better for the US. Their votes are all bought and paid for by the same wealthy interests. The swing in control from one party to the other with each election cycle only provides cover for the 'opposing' party to vote against measures they would normally find a way to vote for, thus seeming to be 'with the people', ensuring they regain control in four or eight years, only to start over again.

Voters see this, and realize it, and in the end want a change to the status-quo so badly that they fall for someone like Trump. Michael Moore's infamous and prescient 'fuck you' video [4] describes this sentiment perfectly (that segment of Trumpland, by the way, was routinely cut at about four minutes to make it seem as if Michael Moore was endorsing Trump, when it was just the opposite. I have a text transcript of the unedited segment [5][6] so you don't have to bother with YouTube).

Corporate control of congress is of far more importance than, say Russia mucking about in US elections. The fact is that that big business and the uber-wealthy have been mucking about in US elections since the 1970s, with far more damaging effects. Think about the current state of affairs. Bills are written by corporate-sponsored lobbyists to favor their sponsors. Politicians vote for these bills, sometimes without even reading them, because they too receive large donations from these very same corporations. Donations that are essential for their re-election, since above all else money buys media coverage (generally negative ads about their opponents, no one discusses real issues anymore). Unions are weak, federal minimum wage and real worker wages are stagnant and not increasing with inflation.

Big media is owned by these very same corporations, who suspiciously never provide equal coverage to 'boring' candidates who might discuss these very issues (hint - these candidates are rarely from one of the two major parties, and if they are, they never make it into debates or past the primaries).

Look at the state of healthcare. The very poor or the elderly can receive medicaid or medicare, and the very rich can pay for healthcare out-of-pocket. That leaves a large swath of American families who make too much money to receive any help, but might struggle to be paying $670/month for a family insurance policy with a $5k deductible and $50 dollar per-visit co-pays. And that is if they are lucky enough to have a job that pays for 50% of their premiums (real numbers from when we lived in the US). Many small businesses can't afford to provide even this level of benefit for their employees. And let's not even go into the games the health insurance companies play to avoid paying claims. They are, after all, for-profit enterprises, something at odds with providing healthcare in a fair and just manner. It's common sense that any middle-man will drive up prices. Nor can you shop around for healthcare. Your insurance company either locks you into a specific doctor, or covers far less for 'out-of-network' care. Call your local hospital sometime and try to figure out just what that surgery will cost you, before you have it. You can't.

All that said, if I may be an optimist, I hope that the reaction to the Trump presidency will shake voters from their apathy and slowly move mainstream policies in a progressive direction. Medicare for all would be a great start. Subsidized higher education would be a great start. Investing in renewable energy would be a great start. Even enforcing existing corporate and income tax rates would be a good start. Here in Canada and in many other countries they do these things, and it is a pretty nice way to live.

posted at: 10:11 | path: / | permalink | capitalism, politics, terrorism, trump