How Much Can You Afford?

We recently went camping in the Olympic National Park in Washington. Luckily, I have a senior pass, so I did not have to pay the $25 fee to enter the park, and only had to pay $10 a night for camping instead of the standard $20 per night. But this got me thinking. Without the senior pass, I would have had to pay $85 for 3 nights of camping. Washington State parks and local County parks are even worse.

The “mission” of the National Park Service goes as follows: “The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.” And similarly, for the National Forest Service: “To sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.” Its motto is “Caring for the land and serving people.”

Given the increasing number of Americans who are falling nearer, or even below, the poverty level, I have to wonder if these two great organizations should change their mission statements to say “…. this and future generations who can afford it,” and “… present and future generations who can afford it,” and “… serving people who can afford it.”

Now, I understand that it costs a lot of money to maintain our national parks and forests, and to staff these services, but aren’t the fees charged tied directly to the funding given by Congress to these services? Cuts in funding will inevitably cause increases in the fees charged.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. In today’s America, being able to afford it has become a requirement for just about everything, whether we are talking about the luxuries of life or the necessities of life. Plenty of health care, but only for those who can afford it. Being represented by your elected officials is prorated by how much money you have to spend. Freedom and liberty? The quality of your defense in any court of law also depends on how much you can afford to pay. It seems that even the inalienable rights our Founding Fathers so proudly described now only belong to “those who can afford it.”

Necessities of life, like food and shelter, all cost money. The determining factors of how much potential we are blessed with do not include wealth, skin color, gender, or nationality, but the determining factors of how much of our potential we fulfill do include such things as opportunity, education, and lack of hardship. Potential is non-transferable, and national potential is simply the summation of the individual potential of ALL Americans. So it follows that national accomplishment is diminished by wasted potential in ANY American, be they rich, poor, black, white, Christian, or Muslim. Without opportunity, potential is wasted. Without education, potential is wasted. With great hardship, potential cannot be fulfilled, and is wasted. With unchecked illness, potential is also wasted.

So, the conclusion that must be reached here is that helping your fellow American is helping yourself. The next great genius is just as likely to be born in the ghetto as in Beverly Hills, so things like health care for all Americans, education of equal quality in every school district, and social programs and taxation that helps the middle class and poor, instead of the wealthy, all serve to increase the amount of American potential that is fulfilled, and thus the level of accomplishment of America as a whole. And that is good for everyone and bad for no one.

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American Political Myths – Trickle-Down Economics

This one should be a no-brainer.  Just think about it.  What will stimulate the economy more, giving a million dollars to 100 people who already have millions, or giving a hundred dollars to a million people who have very little?  Which group of people would be more likely to spend the money and thus stimulate the economy?

Even if the millionaires do spend the money, their impact on the economy is aptly described by the word “trickle.”  Limited, slow, and short-lived.  Which spending do you think would stimulate the economy faster and more completely, a hundred millionaires buying a new yacht, or a million people buying a new toaster and coffee maker?

Yes, this is a little simplistic, and there are other ways that the wealthy stimulate the economy.  They invest, own businesses,  and buy big-ticket items.  But the real strength and health of the economy comes from small businesses and consumer spending.  Republican politicians, and the big-business and wealthy conservatives that back and control them, are hell-bent on increasing their wealth with tax cuts and deregulation, and they want to pay for it by cutting entitlement programs and not cutting taxes for the middle class and the poor.  This is the opposite of what will actually work.  And the sad thing is that this only helps big business and the wealthy in the short-run.  In the long-run, a bad economy is bad for all Americans, including big business and the wealthy.

The selling of trickle-down economics has been a textbook example of masterful deception and political spin.  The Republicans are very good at deception, but their success in deceiving the American people has only been possible with the help of mass media.  As long as they are allowed to tell complete lies via the mass media without having the truth pointed out in rebuttal, the American people are put into the position of having to to the media’s job of fact-checking, or they end up being deceived and voting against their own best interests.

Don’t be deceived!  Trickle-Down Economics only helps big business and the wealthy.  For everyone else, Bubble-Up Economics is what the economy really needs!

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