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Questions for Mitt and Barack at the Hofstra Presidential Debate

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In debate number one in Denver I think Mitt Romney was correct. Barack Obama and the Democrats do not appear to be very good at governing. In four years, they have not achieved much of what they promised the American people in 2008. On the other hand, I also agree with what Barack Obama said. The Romney Republican vision for the future of the United States is based on faith, not reason, and is not grounded in the reality of how economies and societies operate. Either Mitt or Barack is going to be elected and I am not hopeful for the future.

Before I proceed I need to confess that I did not actually watch the first debate live. It conflicted with a crucial Yankees game and first things come first. I did see replays of the debate on the news and read the transcripts. Neither the replays nor the transcripts were as exciting as the big win by the Yankees.

I teach at Hofstra University where the second presidential debate will be held on October 16. It is scheduled as a town meeting. The Gallup polling organization is supposed to select "undecided citizens" who will ask the candidates questions about foreign and domestic issues. I have no idea where they will find "undecided citizens" who actually care about the election after two years of campaigning and a media bombardment. The third game of the American League championship series is scheduled for that night and I suspect the "undecided citizens" will be watching the ball game.

Even though I do not support either of the major party candidates, I do not think I will be invited to ask my questions. In case any of the "undecided citizens" chosen by Gallup are reading this, these are the questions I hope you get a chance to ask. I will be outside the arena on Hempstead Turnpike protesting against the whole process and listening to the ball game, especially if the Yankees are playing, on a portable radio. If you decide to join the protest, you can find out more information by clicking this link.

These are my questions. I invite readers to post their own questions in their comments.

Questions about the Economy
1. I have three children and two grandchildren and I am worried about the future. It seems that robots and computer chips are increasingly replacing people as workers. You both talk about preparing young people for 21st century jobs. Could you explain what a 21st century job looks like?
2. You are both multi-millionaires. Are you part of the broad American "middle class"? If not, how can you claim to represent their interests?
3. Neither of you talk about poverty in the United States or about continuing racial inequality. Have you both written off the 47 percent?
4. What will happen to middle-class communities when kindergarten through college education goes "online" and there are no "middle-class" jobs for teachers, maintenance workers, secretaries, health workers, and guidance counselors?
5. The world is suffering from a crisis of over-capacity. High-performing low-wage economies such as India and China are producing tons of goods that they cannot sell. Given these conditions, how will you restore the American industrial base?

Questions about War and Peace
1. The United States remains involved in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan inherited from the Bush administration and newer areas of conflict in Pakistan, Syria, and Libya. Can the United States continue to be the police force for the world?
2. Americans such as wealthy casino magnet Sheldon Adelson with political and economic ties to Israel and China are playing active roles in this election. Should American presidential candidates accept support from individuals who appear to being pushing the agendas of other countries?
3. Both of you declare unending support for Israel in its conflict with Iran. However Israeli politicians and military leaders are divided over whether to pursue an aggressive military policy. How can you declare your unending support for Israeli policies when Israelis are so sharply divided?

Questions about the Environment
1. How will your administration combat global warming?
2. What do green jobs and a green economy look like?
3. What advanced preparations are being made to protect coastal regions against rising sea levels?

Questions about Education
1. You both claim you want the United States to have the best public education system in the world, but neither of you send your children or grandchildren to public schools? Why?
2. You both claim to support educational reform, but your major reform proposal is to impose a "value-added" management approach based on a business model in the schools. This approach puts profits above people and always looks at the bottom line that in this case is scores on standardized tests. But student and teachers are human beings. How will this management and testing approach improve human performance public education?

Questions about the Election
1. Including direct contributions and money spent by Super PACs, how much is it costing each of you to run for president? Given the cost, will you be beholden to the electorate or your donors?
2. Why are you afraid to let third party candidates such as Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party participate in the debates?