Why I’m A Progressive Liberal

Many (but not all) conservatives are just tools for the billionaires.

I’m #stillsanders. I will vote for Bernie Sanders if he is nominated to run for president by the Democratic Party. I’ve been this way since about 2015. I’ve never seen a presidential candidate with such a consistent message for the things he believes in. But I wasn’t always this way.

In the 1980s, I voted for Ronald Reagan as a young man. At the time, I believed his message of conservative prosperity and freedom. I believed in an America that was great. I believed in the tax cuts he passed. I believed he was right to break the air traffic controllers union. I believed in the way he sought to bring down the wall in Berlin. I believed that Reagan was doing the right thing for America.

In the 1990s, I was one of those patriots that you might see at a rally. I believed in limited government. I believed in the right of citizens and of the states. I still do, just not in the same way as I used to. I spent a lot of time learning about how the government works with the Freedom Of Information Act and the Privacy Act. I spent a few years working freelance to use the law to get personal and government records to help people in tax matters. For a while there, it was fun and interesting.

But I was poor. I was isolated. I had only a few real friends. I was collecting government documents like baseball cards. I even got a copy of all the Treasury Delegation Orders for free. That was a really cool find and I read every one of them to know what they were doing in government. If you want a real civics lesson, use the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act. I learned more about how government works exercising my rights with just those two acts than I ever learned in school. I learned that not everything is what it seems.

Tired of trying to go it alone, I got a job. I started going to meetings and finding other things to do. I started to get into Information Technology and have made a living at that ever since. I just kept going to work. And I started to write. And as I started to write and publish on a regular basis, I began to research topics of interest to me and to write about them.

Over time, as I wrote, and conducted research, I began to notice a pattern of behavior in politics. I noticed that wages had been stagnating for 30 years and more while CEO compensation was rising leaps and bounds above inflation. I began to notice how corporations were being used more like personal ATMs than engines of economic growth. I began to notice that the inequality in our economy is not a result of how economics works, it’s a result of public policy choices made by people with the greatest influence in politics: people with money. Many of those choices were designed to distribute the national income upward.

Inequality begets more inequality. Not a week goes by that I don’t read some story about a data breach. People who hack systems for private information are working to make money. They decided that they couldn’t find an honest way to make money, so they chose to hack. People resort to crime when they begin to believe that an honest living can’t be made. I know that it can, but if the resources are scarce, then people turn to desperate measures, like crime.

Here’s a recent headline:

The world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than 4.6 billion people combined, Oxfam says

Is that an efficient allocation of capital? Probably not. Here’s another headline:

People no longer believe working hard will lead to a better life, survey shows

Here’s another headline:

Outlandish CEO Pay Is a Matter Between Friends

OK, that’s not really a headline. But that article was written by economist Dean Baker and the point of the article is this: The board of directors will often profit directly by increasing CEO compensation, so they’re happy to vote for a nice, fat pay package for the CEO. Besides, they might be CEO one day, too. Their friends on the board will be happy to take turns, right?

When people have a lot of money, and they happen to work together, they can pretty much direct the economy to go the way they want it to go. If you don’t believe me, check out this video of President Reagan, being prompted by his Secretary of Treasury, Donald Regan to, “speed it up”.

So when I see so much discord in our country, I’m thinking of those people. Billionaires and millionaires, using their money to make the rules work in such a way that they can extract more rents, profits, and royalties from the economy. These same people don’t mind parking trillions offshore to avoid taxes. These same people are insulated from the rest of us by virtue of their money, regardless of whether they earned it or not.

This is why I’m a progressive liberal. I believe that the purpose of progressive taxation is to prevent millionaires and billionaires from using their money to influence government. The level of inequality we’re seeing now is the same as what we saw in 1929. It is not sustainable. It is based on a public policy regime that says that businesses create customers, not the other way around. It is called supply-side economics.

You know, along the way here to this point in time, Democrats lost more than 1000 seats in the statehouses and Congress. And that was during the time when Obama was president. They lost governorships all over the country. They lost those seats because they were acting like Republicans, not like Democrats. Joe Biden is just the latest example of a Democrat that acts more like “Republican-lite”. Nobody acts like a Republican better than a Republican.

Now don’t get me wrong here. I think Republicans have some pretty good ideas. I live in a Red State, and I enjoy community broadband with a level of service that private ISPs are loathed to approach. Community broadband has seen much greater adoption in the Red States. I can think of some other good ideas from conservatives, too, but I’m a bit pressed for time.

My main concern here is that the tax policies conservatives tend to support aren’t necessarily good for us as much as they are good for the millionaires and billionaires. Conservative ideas of privatizing public services aren’t so great, either. They’ve been trying for decades to wipe out the postal service because that would be a great business opportunity, to transfer a public monopoly to shareholders. Anyone here owns stock?

How many of us own copyrights, patents or collect rents? When I think Republicans, I think rent-seekers. And elite Democrats have the same problem. They’ve been chasing the money ever since Tony Coehlo told them to think like Republicans in 1985. And when they chase the money, they forget about the rest of us. Not all of us have ten or twenty grand to throw at a Congressman to get a law passed.

This is why I’m a progressive liberal. This is why I support Bernie Sanders. I think that the people who make the laws should have some skin in the game. They should not be insulated from the consequences of their decisions. They should have to face the rest of us when they pass an unpopular law. They should have to live under the same law.

Write on.

Husband, father, worker, philosopher, and observer. Plumbing the depths of consciousness to find the spring of happiness. Write on.

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