Politics

Human Rights & Bad Politics in America

It’s Right in Front of Our Faces

Before I get into the subject of this post I need to clearly state my political beliefs for transparency. In my 20’s and most of my 30’s my politics aligned with each party at different periods. In my late 30’s I became discouraged with either party’s politics and became an unaffiliated Independent. I exercised my vote for the issues or politicians I thought as the best of the available choices. In my mid 50’s I started changing my beliefs and began to shift my views to the left and now, at 60, I am at the far left. That means that Conservatives, Republicans, Moderates, Independents, Democrats, Liberals, and Progressives are all to the right of my stance. The Republican & Democratic parties are no different from each other. Call me a leftist, an extreme leftist, a Socialist, a Marxist, or a Communist if you need a label, but to me, I am simply a person who believes that the current political and social systems in America are not “for the people” and need to radically change to become a true democratic party of the people and that brings true equality and treatment for all people. With this now clear, I will speak to the subject of the post title.

It’s 2020, an election year and likely an election that will change little for the good of the people of America. When I say “the people of America” I mean citizens, legal residents, people with Visas, and all undocumented people in the country.

America has a long and dark history of systemic racism. From slavery to the 19th Century Chinese Exclusion Act to the immigration limitation placed on different European cultures to Jim Crow and right up to today’s exclusions initiated by Donald Trump of Hispanic people and Muslims. It’s a pattern that clearly states the America is for Whites only. All others are only tolerated and discriminated against. The two political parties have enforced these beliefs for the entire existence of each party. Republicans and Democrats have held, and still do hold, a lock on almost 100% of the political offices at all levels of government in America. They both control the political agendas, blocking outsider influences (which are typically in the interests of common people) on the laws and rules in the country.

Immigration:

America is a nation founded on immigration. The nation would be better off if all immigration restrictions were eliminated.

Donald Trump is, many would say, strong on immigration control. He began his first term, after campaigning on “illegal” immigrants in some of the most racist and bigoted terms and building more of the wall located on our southern border. He also campaigned using fearmongering to whites about “illegal” immigration destroying our country. Also, Trump sold America a bill of goods by saying the wall would all be paid for by Mexico (not at all true).

Further, Trump also instituted the forced separation of children from their parents/guardians when they were caught as “illegal” immigrants inside US borders. The children were then placed in “detention” camps, as the government calls them, and left to get by on their own. There, detainees experience overcrowding, as well as reports of inadequate food provisions & medical care, no hygiene items, lack of sleeping materials, lack of supplies to care for very young children, etc. Plus, with the pandemic, these children are suffering COVID-19 illness. The only thing worse that Donald Trump could do to these children would be to exterminate them in gas chambers and cremating the remains. Yes, the comparison with Nazis is intended.

ICE isn’t even able to account for the whereabouts of all the children. Some 1500 have gone “missing” and ICE doesn’t seem to know where they are! Imagine a child of yours being forcibly taken from you and then “lost” by the authorities. How would you react? This lack of humanity is troubling at the least.

But, it isn’t only children being abused by Trump’s ICE. In a detention facility in Florida, Muslim detainees have been served meals containing pork and pork products. Muslim beliefs require abstaining from eating pork and even touching pork, just like adherents of Judaism. This clearly violates the 14th Amendment, Section 1, that provides for equal treatment for all under the law. But, Trump doesn’t care. In his mind they shouldn’t have entered the US “illegally.”

Now, Democrats have been “outraged” over some of these issues, going so far as demanding that ICE be abolished. It may sound good, but it is being done while the fact is that Barack Obama’s administration held unaccompanied children in, as Joe Biden referred to them, cages. Yet, 2020 Candidate Biden falsely claimed otherwise. If the Democrats felt so strongly on the issue, why did they not abolish the immigration services when they held the White House and majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate? Instead, they are just as culpable as Republicans.

In fairness, the Obama Administration made changes to US immigration policies. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program being one. The program allowed for “some individuals with unlawful presence in the United States after being brought to the country as children to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and become eligible for a work permit in the U.S.”

Likely Biden, if elected, would shift the focus off Trump’s current immigration policies. There should be no laws restricting immigration to the United States. No human being should be considered to be here “illegally.” However, there would be no action by the Democrats to end all immigration laws and actions against anyone entering America.

Donald Trump’s immigration “policies”, using ICE like Nazi Brown Shirts to terrorize non-resident undocumented minorities, is appalling. The fact that so many Americans stand with Trump policies brings shame to the rest of us and is just one thing that lowers the standing of America to the nations of the world.

America, tear down that wall and welcome all who come to America!

Capitalism:

Capitalism is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market”

Capitalism can be better defined as an economic system in which the great majority labor for minimal compensation, while the very few grow extremely rich off of that labor (John Broge, 2020). The laborer has little to no input on the generation of products and no input on the division of the profits. In short, slavery. Further, capitalism denies all people of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Capitalism prevents millions from life, where “life” is defined as the rights one is entitled to just for being alive. I’m not talking about the US Constitution Bill of Rights either. You, as a human being, have rights above any that are granted by the state. Without these rights, life can be extremely difficult. Without these rights there can be no liberty or the pursuit of happiness. I’ll cover these rights one at a time, in no particular order.

Food Security:

No human can live without food, but many face daily food insecurity. Food insecurity is defined as “a lack of available financial resources for food at the household level.” The result of this is hunger, which is “a personal, physical sensation of discomfort” (Feeding America).

In 2018 that meant that, “37 million Americans, including more than 11 million children,” were food insecure according to the Feed America article referenced above. In perspective, those 37 million people equate to almost the complete population of California, the most populated US State, in 2019! No one should ever have to be concerned that they have insufficient nutritious food to sustain their lives without hunger. There is absolutely no excuse for this in America, a nation considered one of the world’s breadbaskets. Yet, it is a sad fact.

I know the feelings of hunger from food insecurity as a child, my parents struggled at different times to put food on the table. I understood it as a young adult when I didn’t earn enough to feed my child, my wife, and myself. I skipped meals so that there was enough for the two of them. It strikes hard at your self-worth when you struggle like that. Maybe you’ve faced hunger and food insecurity in your life at some time. If so, I’m sorry you had to go through such a time.

Both parties supposedly want to see the end of food insecurity, but the government programs that have come from Republican or Democratic administrations are inadequate. If they were sufficient there wouldn’t be 37 million people facing food insecurity.

Plentiful food, healthy food, is a right of all human beings. It shouldn’t cost a person so much as a dime either. It’s time this wrong be righted in America and, ultimately, the world. Just don’t count on the two parties to make it happen. They both support capitalism and capitalism is indifferent to your suffering.

Housing:

Do you enjoy the home you live in? If so, that’s great for you, but in 2019 there were almost 600,000 people homeless in America. Many more Americans live in substandard housing or spend more than 30% of their income, the considered maximum percentage of income, on housing.

We have people living on the streets, many times harassed by the public and police. There are local governments across the country that have enacted municipal laws to keep the homeless off their streets and out of sight. It’s an “out of sight, out of mind” syndrome that people can use to choose to ignore homelessness in their cities. That is nothing more than harassment against a segment of society left out in the cold. There are shelters, but not enough and they restrict, for the most part, the use of the shelter on a first-come, first-served basis. Those using the shelters normally have to leave in the morning. They may be too late in the day when the shelters reopen to get a spot for the night.

Many millions of people live in substandard housing, not by choice, but by circumstance. They are in poverty in many, many cases and can’t afford better housing. They may live in metropolitan inner-city public housing projects that the local government claims they haven’t got the funding to keep the housing standards up, or so they claim. Many live in privately owned housing buildings, with slumlords who won’t spend any more money than they have to in order to keep the housing functioning. These slumlords don’t care about the poor conditions, they’re interested only in the money they make. Good capitalist business people, no? NO! Most of these public and private projects are in economically expensive cities, where the cost of housing traps people.

I could go on, but why? You should get the picture already. If you don’t, you are a cold, heartless person. Imagine if you had to live in a housing unit of some type that had constant plumbing, heating, or structural issues. Housing that may have unresolved rodent or insect infestations, or have crime rates that make the housing unsafe. Imagine if you had to raise children in one. There is no reason that any human being has to be without decent and well maintained housing.

In 2019 there were 1.5 million vacant homes and condominiums in the US. That is more than enough to house the homeless and some of the people in substandard housing. The government should be insuring that more decent housing is built for the rest of the people stuck in substandard housing. It is society’s responsibility to compel government to provide every person decent housing.

Both political parties have not brought widespread and sustained improvement to homelessness or substandard housing. How much of the billions in foreign and military aid from the US could be better spent providing proper housing to people in the United States? How much of the Defense Department spending on US forces overseas could be used? How much of the federal dollars that have been spent by both parties on immigration agencies, enforcement, and the border wall could have been better spent on decent housing for all people?

It is just another right of the people that is violated daily by government.

It will be no better in a Trump second term or a Biden first term.

Unemployment / Underemployment:

We can be a nation without unemployment and underemployment. It requires a different economic system, one where capitalism doesn’t exist.

We all understand the definition of unemployment, it simply means having no job. Underemployment is not having “a job that doesn’t put their education, experience or training to work, or they are working part-time when they’d rather have a full-time job”

In September of 2019 there were 5.8 million people unemployed in the US, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In April 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 28 million people were unemployed. From the same source chart, as of July 2020, the number of unemployed has fallen to under 17 million people.

Underemployment is always an issue. When a person is working at a job that does not utilize the person’s skills and experience, then that person is underemployed. They may be only working part-time jobs due to poor economic conditions, like a pandemic for instance. They may not make enough in wages to maintain health insurance or to maintain a safe and stable household for themselves and their family.

If every person was provided with universal basic income by the government people would be in a better position “to cover the basic cost of living and provide financial security.” You can read more about the pros and cons of Universal Basic Income (UBI) at the provided link. There are different options on how to fund UBI, whether it’s taxing society, or raising taxes on the very wealthy or corporations. Keep in mind UBI is a monthly payment over and above employment income.

I believe that UBI payments should not be taxed by the government. Further, workers should have seats at the company or corporate boardroom table to involve workers in the operational programs and plans. No company, corporation, or business can function without the labor of the workers. Owners and shareholders earn wealth off of that labor, so the workforce should share in the wealth rewards from their labor too. Hoarding the wealth rewards to the few, equals the class suppression of the workers. Capitalism drives the economic car to the detriment of the many and the enrichment of the few. Capitalism creates misery and death for the masses, while the wealthy elite live pampered lives.

Both political parties are involved in the suppression of the workers. The federal minimum wage is set by Congress. Currently the federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 per hour, where it has been since May 2007. Do you think you can live on $7.25 per hour? That’s only $580 every two weeks, before taxes and any other deductions. “No way” you think, that’s not enough to live on. You’re right, it’s not. Now, a fair number of states have set the minimum wage for their state. It’s more, but is it enough? It might be, depending on the economic cost of where you live. I’d be skeptical though.

An employer must pay the higher of the two minimum wages, but there are exceptions to when employers have to pay minimum wage. The most common exemption is for bartenders and food servers. They can be paid a much lower rate, as low as a couple of dollars per hour, since the worker earns tips. The tips are considered to make up the difference in hourly earnings. Now, we all know, or should know, that tips earned varies a great deal. I was a bartender for a while when I was younger and the tips I made didn’t normally make up the difference. To my thinking, tips should not be considered in the wage earned. It’s a “bonus” for doing a great job in serving customers, which in turn likely increases the business of the employer.

There has been a lot of political hay made about increasing the federal minimum wage to $15.00 per hour (some States are already increasing minimum wages to the same level, over time). Well, sounds really good. That makes a minimum wage worker earnings of $1200.00 every two weeks, before taxes. But, depending on where you live, it may or may not be a living wage. Consider living in New York City versus St Louis. A one bedroom apartment costs from $2018.00 to $3313.00 in NYC, compared to $1076.00 in St Louis. So it comes down to the costs of living wherever you call home.

In the end, the political parties have the most guilt burden in this class separated employment and earning opportunities. By allowing the continuation of a unjust economic system at the expense of the people, the parties show their allegiance to the wealthiest segments of society.

Every person has the right to having living wages provided to them. To get this the current economic and political systems must be dismantled completely and new systems put in place.

Healthcare:

Every individual in the country has the right to not be denied proper healthcare!

In the US, people are dying from the lack of proper healthcare. For whatever reason, people can’t get healthcare. They may have no insurance or the health insurance company refuses to pay out for whatever treatment medical providers deem necessary to deal with your medical problem.

It’s capitalism and politicians who keep you from getting and staying healthy. You may not be able to afford the monthly payment the insurance company wants to charge for your coverage. Your employer may only offer very restricted healthcare insurance programs in order to keep their costs down or your employer may not even offer healthcare insurance at all. If Donald Trump has his way, insurance companies will be allowed to go back to the time in America that they could deny you coverage because of a preexisting condition or charge you higher rates to cover you because of that preexisting condition.

In 2018, over 27 million Americans had no health insurance, according to an article at policyadvice.net. I would expect that millions more have lost healthcare coverage as a result of the economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We must also realize that undocumented immigrants are locked out of government healthcare options (Medicare, Medicaid, etc) because the are in the country “illegally.” Many of them work, being exploited by their employers, for low wages. They can’t afford private health insurance.

People who have no health insurance and become ill, end up under a pile of medical debt they can not pay. The more care they need, the greater the medical debt piles up. Eventually, you start hearing from, and being harassed by, debt collectors. They’ll threaten court action if you won’t pay them. If you do pay them, usually over time, you’ll have to short some other area of your monthly expenses to do so. It’s crushing to try and juggle financial debt. I know because my wife and have had to do just that. I’m still dealing with it.

“Wait a minute,” you say, “what about Obamacare?” Well, yes, President Obama was able to get the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed by Congress and he signed it into law. But, opening healthcare “exchanges” and requiring all Americans to have health insurance (and penalizing people for not having insurance) doesn’t mean people can afford insurance. Donald Trump, with the support of Congressional Republicans, is doing everything he can to destroy the ACA. He says Republicans will have a better plan to replace the ACA with, though no plan has been brought to the public as of yet. Even with the ACA, millions will continue to be uninsured.

The call has arisen, prominently from Senator Bernie Sanders during his run for the Presidency, that “Medicare for All” should and must be implemented to provide health insurance to every person in the United States. There has been loud dissent to this idea by the conservative right and resistance by Democrats too. They don’t want then end of private insurance, which “Medicare for All” would do. I admit, initially I was against the idea as well. My reason? After years of health insurance programs that don’t cover enough, our family finally has a plan we can afford and that covers almost all of the costs we are charged to deal with my chronic medical issues, as well as my wife and daughter’s medical problems.

I’ve come to realize my mistake in outright opposing “Medicare for All.” I have come to accept that it would be a good plan for America, but with one modification. Private health insurance should still be available to those who wish to utilize it. Everyone would still pay their share of the costs of “Medicare for All” still, so the program could be properly funded. Plus, if someone loses private coverage they could immediately use “Medicare for All” as any other American can. Make no mistake though, private medical insurance would be restricted on costs to the insured and medical providers.

Now, if we can either change the style of government, or in the meantime compel the political parties work together to improve healthcare coverage for all people, we should be able to see that no person ever again loses their right to quality healthcare.

Just one more reason Capitalism must be removed as our economic system in America.

Education:

Schools are instrumental to society. People know that the role of schools is to educate children so they have an education level giving them the ability to participate in life and improve their ability to function in society. Yet, our schools are not equal in being able to provide education.

According to an Economic Policy Institute study in 2017, “Extensive research has conclusively demonstrated that children’s social class is one of the most significant predictors—if not the single most significant predictor—of their educational success. Moreover, it is increasingly apparent that performance gaps by social class take root in the earliest years of children’s lives and fail to narrow in the years that follow. That is, children who start behind stay behind—they are rarely able to make up the lost ground.”

Just look at the difference in funding of school districts in America. You will see a range of funding to individual schools, which directly relates to the socioeconomic status of the school’s students. A 2020 Public School Review article states that, “approximately 48 percent of a school’s budget comes from state resources, including income taxes, sales tax, and fees. Another 44 percent is contributed locally, primarily through the property taxes of homeowners in the area. The last eight percent of the public education budget comes from federal sources, with an emphasis on grants for specific programs and services for students that need them.”

Schools located in affluent districts are able to provide better pay for teachers and staff, they can afford basic and luxury educational materials, they can afford the costs of technology (buying students laptops for example). Lower income districts don’t have the funding to compete with the affluent districts.

Again, from the Public School Review article, “Since schools must provide the basics, including heat, electricity and transportation, cuts that must be done are frequently taken from the classroom. This means fewer programs for students and larger class sizes that can create obstacles to student success.”

Our children are our most important resource and their education is a priority we cannot ignore. Every human being is entitled to an education without restrictions, from kindergarten through 12th grade and up to a four year college bachelors degree. It should all be free! The K-12 schools must be of equal quality, rich versus poor should not exist in the educational system. A four year college degree must be considered the teaching period to provide advanced skill opportunities. Students should not have to take out school loans to attend college, then be burdened with repaying these loans once they have graduated.

If we want successful generations, then we must properly educate them and provide the opportunity to carry-on and improve our society.

Neither Republicans or Democrats have fixed the education system and they’ve had more than enough chances to do so. Instead, Donald Trump and the Republicans insist on creating greater divide between the rich and poor students by pushing for public funding of private schools. Democrats want to throw more money at the system, without providing reform to ensure equality in education.

The human right tof a quality education is not being given to anyone. Equality of education has never existed. It is our responsibility to remove the roadblocks and create quality and equality in education for all. To do this, the political system must be completely changed and capitalism, overthrown.

These are your rights as a human. They are not, as I stated in the opening, any right the state has to grant you. They are yours by right of birth. All of the rights outlined in this post should be yours so that you may have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Until next time

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s