What if..... Some perspective from Bernie Sanders

Quote from an interview with Bernie Sanders in The Guardian

Trump picked up support from people who felt that the elites, the economic elites, the political elites, forgot about them. And the truth is the economic and political elites did forget about them.

We have seen in this country, not widely known in Europe, that inflation adjusted wages for millions of workers today are lower than was 40 years ago. So, you have got millions of people today working two or three jobs, people who are working longer hours for lower wages, you’ve got half of older workers in America, 55 to 64, who have literally nothing in the bank as they face retirement. We have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on Earth. We have massive income inequality. So, what’s happened in America and in many parts of the world is that globalization has done well for the folks who assemble at Davos, for the ruling economic elite of the world. In this country alone you have seen a tenfold increase in the number of billionaires.

Here’s a WHAT IF WE …

In 2020 in the US (and UK) there are national (and state) elections. WHAT IF WE managed to elect a progressive administration in the US, a majority in both houses of Congress, and took back control of 20 US state governments? What if that progressive government had a prepared agenda of interlocking social (including healthcare and education +), environmental, infrastructure, international, and relatedly economic legislation. What if it came in wholly prepared to replace ever Trumpist negative initiative with a constructive, desirable alternative? What could the impact be on the culture of global governance – and on the push for the UN’s SDGs?

WHAT IF that progressive government, and its allied state governments pushed through a 21st Century ‘New Deal’? What if that included a mix of constructive, highly valued (high status) national service work to resolve child poverty, homelessness, elderly care, care for disabled – and what if these national service jobs were targeted for two demographic groups, those 55+ with little or no savings and not enough Social Security pension upon which to live, and those in their late teens and 20’s who need a foothold in the world of constructive meaningful work/contribution/responsibility, and who could have their school debts ‘forgiven’ via such service, in addition to earning an income? How would this help develop ‘empathy’ for those in need across our society, with all its positive potential. What if, on the pathway to a Medicare for Everyone healthcare system, everyone on national service received the same quality healthcare as everyone in Congress?

WHAT IF the money Reagan ‘borrowed’ from the US Social Security Trust Fund was repaid with interest – thereby enabling significant increases in Social Security benefits to retirees, and ensuring the stability of that system?

WHAT IF climate change and the mitigation of its causes and its impacts took on a central importance? Fixing infrastructures that currently both contribute to climate change and are being affected by it. Looking to relocate populations, industries (from factories to agriculture), etc. Developing mitigation strategies that also support the economy and the impact of people (jobs, income, meaning-filled lives, healthy communities, upbeat/positivistic culture, etc.)

WHAT IF that progressive agenda included the biggest infrastructure development effort seen in the West (excluding the massive infrastructure projects in China)? Massive clean electricity generation, electric grid development, localized production, electric highways that charge cars while they drive, roads/highways/bridges upgrading, expansion of clean public transit (trains/shuttles + rent-a-car/, rent-a-scooter, rent-a-bike, etc.), energy efficiency for buildings, replacement of failing clean water and sewage systems, etc.

WHAT IF there was focused R&D, production and application of technologies for cleaning up water and air, as well as cleaning outputs from industry, sewage, etc.

WHAT IF tax policies were ‘updated’ to replace tax breaks and subsidies for the wealthiest individuals and corporations, with subsidies and tax breaks for those doing the most to support this New Deal’s values, and with the funding needed for these other New Deal initiatives.

WHAT IF this government engaged all states governments in assessing the implications of automation/digitalization/AI on society – and developed nationally supported initiatives to address those implications – combining nationwide (public and NGO-led) programs, networks of state/local programs? WHAT IF the US encouraged/facilitated an international effort in this regard?

ENOUGH! You get the idea. How can we help this happen?

Bradford L Matthews

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