On the crucial issue, the choice is clear

If ever you needed evidence that our priorities are backwards, consider a Gallup poll from last summer, which found that the environment finished 11th out of 12 issues in importance to voters. The 12th: Increasing taxes on wealthy Americans.
The issue of greatest concern, according to that same poll, is “creating good jobs,” yet we have been voting against those economic interests for decades, continuing to drink the trickle-down Kool-Aid served up by the 1 percent, who keep telling us that giving our money to the rich (“job creators”) will result in more wealth for everyone.
How’s that been working over the last 30 years? Is it easier to get by as a middle class family with one income now than it was in the 1960s or 70s? Oh yeah — there’s no such thing as a middle-class family with one income anymore.
How’s that for family values?
If you need more information that “trickle down” doesn’t work, consider that the Dow is at a record high. That means the “job creators” are doing great — so where are the jobs?
Whenever the “fiscally conservative” (aka “family values”) party is out of power, they rail against the evils of the national debt, but when they’re in power, they borrow and spend like a teenager with a Visa card. They talk about cutting spending, but when it comes down to it, they won’t cut the only expenses that would make a dent in the debt — the military and Medicare — and they talk about cutting PBS and welfare, which riles up their base against liberal elites and minorities but would do nothing to address our financial problems.
No one remembers that Ronald Reagan quadrupled the national debt from $1 trillion to $4 trillion— a greater increase, percentage-wise, than anyone before or since. The relative prosperity of those years was built on borrowed cash to pay for tax cuts. Reagan’s vice president, the elder George Bush, was right when he called Reaganomics “voodoo economics.”
The so-called “tax-and-spend” party, on the other hand, gave us Bill Clinton, who brought the country from deficit to surplus, which was squandered by his successor on a trillion dollar tax cut for the wealthy. The prosperity of the Clinton years was built on a fairer tax code and actual mathematics.
Once the party of “fiscal responsibility” was back in power, debt increased, spending increased, and the economy tanked.
Which brings us back to issue #11, the one issue that really matters but is of no interest to anyone because most of the country is preoccupied with the debt, gay marriage and voter ID laws.
It’s the one issue on which all others depend, because if the planet can’t sustain our population, or the climate changes so much that we can’t adjust, or if energy becomes so expensive that our way of life is impossible, then every other issue becomes moot.
On that one crucial subject, the seemingly minor differences between the two parties are actually dramatic. One party accepts the conclusions of scientists regarding climate change. The other doesn’t. One party supports tough environmental laws. The other thinks corporations will protect the environment out of the goodness of their hearts. One party recognizes the coming shortage of oil and the need for other sources of energy. The other thinks “drill, baby, drill” will solve all our problems forever — a fantasy as believable as voodoo economics.
No one is talking about the one issue on which all others depend, because our leaders — and voters —only look two years ahead, not 200, or even 20.
Brett Larson is the editor of the Messenger.
This column was published in the Mille Lacs Messenger on Oct. 17, 2012.


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