Reasons for Hope

December 16, 2020 by stephenshubert

Written by David Turnoy, Chair, San Juan County Democratic Party:

We find ourselves living in this country in perhaps the most polarized time since the American Civil War.  The recent election and diverging opinions over protests this past summer for racial justice and equality are good illustrations.  But are we really that divided?  Aren’t there some important values that most of us can agree on?

            In the most recent edition of Jim Hightower’s Lowdown, some really interesting survey results are shared.  A blind survey presented respondents with a choice of living in a country with high income inequality like the United States vs. a country with modest income inequality like Sweden.  92% of Americans, including a similar percentage of Republicans, Democrats, and rich people, chose Sweden.  It is very reassuring to hear that a huge majority of Americans would be more comfortable in a more equal spread of wealth and realize the importance of increasing equality in our country.

            Second, survey respondents were asked if they would support paying higher income taxes if the money went to healthcare, education, welfare, and infrastructure.  75% responded in the affirmative.  To me, this means that most Americans believe in taking care of each other.  Following up on that, 68% said that they want the tax system reformed so that those at the top of the income scale pay a higher rate.

            An interesting question about income and wealth involves an almost theological belief that people who have more money worked harder to get it than others.  In reality, only 33% believe this, while 65% of the survey believe the good fortunes of the rich are due to special advantages they have had.  Along with that, 71% of respondents think that people are poor because they have faced more obstacles than others, whereas only 26% blame the poor for not working hard enough.

            Finally, while the last four years have seen a spread of fear and loathing that America is quickly becoming a country without a white majority, 64% of respondents say it doesn’t matter whether there is a white majority or a non-white majority.  And there has even been an increase in the percentage of those who think it is a good thing that there is a non-white majority, rising from 14% in 2016 to 24% today.

            The conclusions I draw from this are that most Americans would like to see less income and wealth inequality, that most of us want to educate our children and take care of people who need help, that a lack of equality of opportunity is implicated more in the problems faced by many of our lower income people as opposed to a lack of effort, and that most of us are not racially prejudiced.  This is a really hopeful set of conclusions and gives us something to build on as we enter a new political era in America.

Editor’s Note (Stephen Shubert) There are reasons for hope if people who agree with these survey’s actively participate in the political process and keep our Democracy Safe. An object lesson in the outcomes of the destruction of democracy follows:

In Maracaibo, men searching for refuse that can be salvaged or recycled.
Venezuela’s Collapse Is the Worst Outside of War in Decades, Economists Say
Butchers have stopped selling meat cuts in favor of offal, fat shavings and cow hooves, the only animal protein many of their customers can afford. By Anatoly Kurmanaev
May 17, 2019

“MARACAIBO, Venezuela — Zimbabwe’s collapse under Robert Mugabe. The fall of the Soviet Union. Cuba’s disastrous unraveling in the 1990s.The crumbling of Venezuela’s economy has now outpaced them all.Venezuela’s fall is the single largest economic collapse outside of war in at least 45 years, economists say.

“It’s really hard to think of a human tragedy of this scale outside civil war,” said Kenneth Rogoff, an economics professor at Harvard University and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. “This will be a touchstone of disastrous policies for decades to come.” To find similar levels of economic devastation, economists at the I.M.F. pointed to countries that were ripped apart by war, like Libya earlier this decade or Lebanon in the 1970s.

But Venezuela, at one point Latin America’s wealthiest country, has not been shattered by armed conflict. Instead, economists say, the poor governance, corruption and misguided policies of President Nicolás Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, have fueled runaway inflation, shuttered businesses and brought the country to its knees. And in recent months, the Trump administration has imposed stiff sanctions to try to cripple it further.

As the country’s economy plummeted, armed gangs took control of entire towns, public services collapsed and the purchasing power of most Venezuelans has been reduced to a couple of kilograms of flour a month.In markets, butchers hit by regular blackouts jostle to sell decomposing stock by sunset. Former laborers scavenge through garbage piles for leftovers and recyclable. Dejected retailers make dozens of trips to the bank in hopes of depositing several pounds’ worth of bills made worthless by hyperinflation.

Here in Maracaibo, a city of two million on the border with Colombia, nearly all of the butchers in the main market have stopped selling meat cuts in favor of offal and leftovers like fat shavings and cow hooves, the only animal protein many of their customers can still afford.

Shortages have sunk much of the population in a deepening humanitarian crisis, though a core group of military top brass and high-level officials who remain loyal to Mr. Maduro are able to tap into the remaining resources to survive — or even enrich themselves through illicit means.

Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserves. But its oil output, once Latin America’s largest, has fallen faster in the past year than Iraq’s after the American invasion in 2003, according to data from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries….”

Read the full article at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/17/world/americas/venezuela-economy.html?referringSource=articleShare.

This is where we could be headed…UNLESS WE ACT!

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