How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Mission Possible: How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Thoughts on Christie & Trump

Brexit is an abbreviation for "British exit" from the European Union which came about as a result of the June 23 referendum by British voters.  T&Ecut is an abbreviation for Governor Christie's June 21 proposal to cut out the provision in the New Jersey Constitution that requires a "thorough and effective" education for all of our state's children.  Both are examples of "blow up the system" approaches to solving very complex problems. 

On June 24 the world awoke to learn that an upheaval took place in Britain.  Jim Yardley in The New York Times wrote that "Populist anger against the established political order had finally boiled over. ... But the thumb-in-your eye message is hardly limited to Britain.  The same yawning gap between the elite and mass opinion is fueling a populist backlash in Austria, France, Germany and elsewhere on the continent – as well as in the United States."  Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post on June 25 also took a shot at the U.S. political elites when she wrote "a lot of elites on the right and left (anti-immigrant right-wingers, anti-Wall Street left-wingers) fan the populist flames rather than work on difficult social and economic problems." 

I'm not convinced that we can neatly pin all the blame for underlying economic angst that working-class folks feel as a result of globalization solely on the poor judgment of U.S. political elites.  We all need to share the blame if we continue to allow our elected officials to do nothing about rising inequality and slow income growth.  During the last few decades, the preponderance of benefits of economic growth has gone to the top 1% and very little to the bottom 99%.  Trickle-down economics has not worked.  

In "Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy: An Agenda for Growth and Shared Prosperity," the Roosevelt Institute, recently wrote:

"These forces ultimately undermined the American Dream, the belief that if you work hard and play by the rules you will succeed.  Today, the life prospects of young Americans are determined largely by the income or education of their parents.  We once stood out as a country that provided the greatest opportunity to succeed; now we stand out as one of the advanced economies that provide the least mobility."

There have been no clarion calls urging our elected officials to do more for blue-collar working who suffered most during the most recent recession and are still struggling to keep their heads above water.  There was no uprising when Republicans in Congress refused to extend unemployment to those unexpectedly shoved into the ranks of the unemployed during the depths of that recession.  There was no call from the right or the left to bail out the "new poor" – former middle-class Americans who couldn't meet their mortgage payments when they lost their jobs. 

There was marching in the street to provide job training to folks who lost their job due to no fault of their own.  Why not provide a hand up to those who are hurting rather than placing the blame on backs of "poor" immigrants willing to accept non-living wages to do the dirtiest work that needs to be done in our nation. 

As a progressive I take strong exception to the free ride that the big banks, insurance firms and pharmaceutical companies get and the enormous outrageous salaries that corporate CEOs and hedge fund managers get as rank-and-file employee salaries stagnate.  When does the struggling middle class say enough is enough when it comes to lowering the marginal tax rates and decreasing the progressivity of the tax code?

There are many parallels between the approach Donald Trump has taken to address the problems faced by the older unskilled working class who have lost their jobs due to globalization – ban immigrants and start a trade war – and the approach that Governor Christie has suggested New Jersey take to address our over reliance on property taxes as a means of funding essential government services. He sees a solution in slashing funding for urban school by as much as two-thirds to provide tax cuts to suburban communities.  The Governor's plan would cause dramatic cuts in classroom staff and dramatically increase class size – one of the prime predictors of educational failure. 

The Governor's Trump-like actions are designed to pit suburbs against our cities, whites against blacks and rich vs. poor.   Providing uniform equalizing aid will result in children who need the most educational getting the least.  The way to solve globalization is not by erecting barriers, the way to deal with radical Islamic terrorism is not by banning all Muslims, the solution to the immigration problem is not building a wall and the way to reduce property taxes is not by hurting the children of our cities. 

Urban school districts need to be held strictly accountable for poor education performance.  More effective research-based strategies need to be employed and waste or corruption should never be tolerated.  We need smart government, not stupid simplistic norm-breaking government – which is what Donald Trump and buddy Chris Christie are peddling.