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Joe Mokler, Project Manager

FOR AN IMMEDIATE RESPONSE TO MEDIA INQUIRIES, EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS, COMMENTS, SUGGESTIONS, QUESTIONS, OR TECHNICAL ISSUES, CONTACT US AT:

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FIVE PROBLEMS THAT DEFINE AMERICA’S DIRECTION– AND TWO BOLD IDEAS TO CHANGE IT by Joe Mokler

A Wall Street financial collapse, an unrelenting recession, unsustainable federal spending, and a dysfunctional two-party system have created an increasingly pessimistic electorate that remains a desperate true believer in economic recovery and political renewal.

For the reasonable, there’s a disconnect between this hope and eco-political reality.  As evidenced by the following summaries that define America’s direction, voters don’t have a clear sense of where the country is or where it’s going and Washington can’t solve or even define problems.

EMPLOYMENT AND RECOVERY

The official unemployment rate is 6.7%, but the actual number is at least three times higher.  Washington doesn’t include part-timers and temporary employees, discouraged workers, and the unemployed who’ve exhausted their claims.

The state of full-time employment and retirement isn’t much better.  Benefits have been cut or lost altogether.

While the middle class is shrinking, the American dream is fading, and the social safety net is under assault by cutbacks in food stamps and long-term unemployment benefits, income inequality has been growing at an alarming rate.  Viewed politically, the power of wealth is undermining democracy, particularly since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010.

This new American economy isn’t a Democratic or Republican fix away from robust recovery.  On the contrary, there isn’t a single bold idea between the parties to revitalize the economy. What works for Washington and Wall Street is in danger of making Main Street an endless strip mall of low paid service employees.

DEBT AND DEFICITS

Deficit spending has quadrupled sovereign debt to almost $17 trillion in the past twenty years and will continue to grow at an alarming rate.

Yet, despite trillion dollar deficits, Keynesians ignore the rapidly rising annual interest cost which was $242 billion in FY 2012.   With artificially low interest rates certain to rise, this cost is projected to be the largest item in the federal budget in 2020 at $778 billion.

While some may hope that Washington’s recent budget deal and passage of a “clean” debt ceiling bill signal an end to government by deadline and the beginning of a new era of compromise, what they actually represent is a recognition by both parties that increasing debt is less politically risky that shutting down the government again.

THE FED AND WALL STREET

The Federal Reserve has made the U.S. a currency manipulator by tripling the nation’s money supply in the past four year and encouraging Wall Street to engage in increasingly risky behavior.  The result of both is a new stock market bubble.

Even without the Fed’s extreme intervention, Washington has long pursued public policies that have enabled Wall Street to prioritize short-term profitability at the expense of long-term investment and innovation.  These policies accelerated U.S. decline from being the only post WWII economic superpower to becoming the world’s most indebted nation.

POLITICAL PARALYSIS AND DYSFUNCTION

Working at the margins of problems without actually solving them is how Washington operates.  It’s evidence of what bureaucracies do best:  perpetuate problems with short-term fixes.

However, a country with trillion dollar annual deficits, even if cut in half,  can’t pay an increasingly larger slice of the federal budget on ballooning debt interest or afford massive waste, tax cuts to the middle class, uncontrolled defense and foreign aid spending, and delayed reforms in entitlements, taxes, and other areas.

With the dominance of the political parties vis-à-vis individual members, solving problems will always be a distant second to the merry-go-round of winning control of the White House and Congress.

VOTER IGNORANCE

Thomas Jefferson warned that nothing is more vital to democracy than an informed electorate.  Yet, while politicians routinely pay obligatory homage to the intelligence of voters in an era dominated by hundreds of issues and endless information, statistical evidence of a poorly informed electorate actually dates back to early scientific polling in the 1940s.

This contradiction between pacifying myth and reality is proof that politics is the art of keeping voters uninformed while insisting they are not.  This is the political vacuum in which Washington operates.

A NON-PARTISAN PLAN TO REVITALIZE AMERICA

With mathematical certainty, these problems are leading inexorably to catastrophic default and severe austerity.   They show the extent to which voter confidence is misplaced in a two-party system that substitutes blame, buzz words, and clichés for credible vision, compelling strategy, big ideas, and political will.

Far from being demoralizing, these problems should be a wake-up call for voters to demand what they desperately need– an honest, clearly defined, and comprehensive plan to revitalize America.

A bold idea to develop such a plan is for voters to lobby their elected reps to create an independent national commission to conduct televised hearings to address a variety of liberal, conservative, libertarian, populist, and other proposals to eliminate waste, cut unaffordable spending, reform entitlements, and create economic growth.

Essential to the creation of this commission, its effectiveness, and the successful implementation of its plan is voter support for a second bold idea– sustained, reliable, and unbiased media access in the form of a non-profit “news only” newspaper model duplicated across the country. 

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Joe Mokler, Project Manager

FOR AN IMMEDIATE RESPONSE TO MEDIA INQUIRIES, EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS, COMMENTS, SUGGESTIONS, QUESTIONS, OR TECHNICAL ISSUES, CONTACT US AT:

SmartVoters.org@gmail.com

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