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Sue VanDerzee

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Sound and Fury Over Nothing

Posted: 10/05/2012 12:48 pm

Who "won" Wednesday night's presidential debate? That's the big topic in the news right now. That's because it can be handled like a sports story, but without that annoying finality of an actual score. Therefore, news pundits, editorialists, columnists, bloggers, etc. can ruminate forever -- or at least until the next debate -- about last night's debate without ever having to do actual research.

What matters is not which of the two major parties' presidential candidates "won" the debate or "scored" the most debate points, but the fact that -- again -- the American people were the losers.

Why did we lose, you ask? We lost because the largest questions of our times were never addressed, much less answered. The largest questions of our times, in terms of domestic policy at least, concern energy, economic growth and the very structure of our economy.

Both candidates are very interested in growth, but growth, as we think about it currently, is not possible in a finite world. We need a different way to think about jobs, about money, about human services and human rights. The Earth can simply not afford more economic growth -- more production of plastic thingamajigs so that manufacturing plants in third world countries can churn out fossil-fuel based junk to be shipped halfway around the world in large ships, trucked across continents in large trucks and sold to big box retailers who will advertise on mind-numbing TV shows to induce us to buy these things.

We need an economy that will heal the Earth, one in which part-time employment, farming, basic research, accessible and affordable health care and education, high tech applications for things we need, like communication, energy and transportation, are the underpinnings.

We need to ask why our nation's debt is so frightening when we owe the debt mainly to ourselves through the Federal Reserve and the Social Security Trust Fund. If the debt scares us, why not just change the Fed from a profit-making center to a central bank, owned by the government, much like the well-known "communist-socialist" state of North Dakota, which is not nearly as financially beleaguered as most states because it has its own state bank? (Pardon the sarcasm, dear readers.) Why not pay off the debt by prosecuting the financial criminals who raped our economy and turning the fines into debt repayment?

We do not need a president, or a Congress, who "likes coal," the clean variety, of course. Nor do we need a president, or a Congress, who believes that oil and gas leases offshore and on public lands are any way out of the energy crisis. The answers to the energy crisis have been there literally forever -- in the sun that shines, the wind that blows, and the constant temperature of the earth under our feet. Virtually anything else -- fossil fuels of all kinds and nuclear power -- have vast environmental impacts during extraction, use and storing of wastes.

We do need a public policy that supports accessible, affordable healthcare for all. Obamacare, formerly known in Massachusetts as Romneycare before Romney became a presidential candidate, is a step in the right direction, but a mere baby step. For all the rumbling about not wanting the government to dictate healthcare choices, one would think that the profit-making insurance companies currently mostly in charge of the system allow every single procedure and medication without any trouble at all. Hah! Not so much, as anyone who lives in the real world of the 99 percent knows all too well.

And speaking of the 99 percent, did you hear either of the candidates mention "poverty" or "inequality" Wednesday night? Me neither. Now that might have been instructive. Why have CEOs' compensations ballooned from 42 times that of the average worker in 1980 to 380 times the average worker's salary today? Why have tax rates of the richest fallen from a top marginal rate of 70 percent for the highest earners in 1980 to 35 percent today?

So, what did you learn about these issues from the debate? Not much, right? So who lost? Again, we, the American people.

 
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