Before Taking a Hatchet to Welfare & Medicaid

There is evidence out there the effects of the Trump economic plan along with the rising stock market, have spiked optimism which can help stoke growth & hiring, but there is little to believe such momentum can be sustained.  I don’t buy into the trickle-down tax policies at all as a coherent strategy in today’s economic environment with escalating wage/wealth gaps, & Trump’s plan was passed without regard to deficits.  I’m more a believer the deregulation that’s been done can better sustain the boost to economic growth going forward, but we do sacrifice some of the standards to our health & safety, raising concerns Trump’s blanket waiving of regulations could produce as much harm as good.  As the temporary sugar-highs business execs are currently feeling fade away from what may turn out as stopgap measures (cuts to taxes & regulations), what public & private leadership still need to figure out are dramatically big ideas for totally transforming the labor market.  Big ideas offer the only chance to truly create the type of growth producing shared prosperity that has eluded us for decades.  There are tens of millions of American workers & long-term unemployed who have been essentially locked out of productive careers, which requires leadership proactively committing to orchestrate various initiatives for creating more productive employment in this modern world, plus providing initiatives to train workers with the skills to fill them.  Focusing on tackling this enormous challenge would be by far the best steps our leaders could ever take to help the economy, but in DC they’re not even talking about pursuing such real long-term solutions.  With DC so bogged down in polarization & gridlock, it makes for a terrible atmosphere to work on big ideas.  Plus Trump just let the radical-right hardliners talk him out of a bipartisan DACA/immigration deal. Sad.

 trump economic plan participation rates

So the economy is booming as we hear on the news?  For some it is.  But the short-term & long-term data are mostly dismal on a number of important labor metrics, such as real wages, participation rates, discouraged workers, worker productivity, income inequality, business start-ups & part-time/contract work (among those desiring full-time employment).  Such negative trends we’ve seen for far too long have left in its aftermath roughly half of all working American families living paycheck-to-paycheck. Doesn’t it seem something is amiss in a nation producing such enormous wealth?  It looks as though the capitalist system has evolved to the point where those providing the capital are able to dominate those providing the labor, so in this new Gilded Age we’re in need of a major pendulum swing back to normalcy.  Just as dire, the U.S. has nearly 100 million American adults who aren’t even in the labor force, which totaling up retirement, disability & college enrollment can’t account for anywhere near that total.  That’s right, I did say almost one-hundred million!  Does all this sound like a strong/healthy economy to you?  He loves to boast, but the Trump economic plan seems so inadequate as to practically be invisible.  These stats are sabotaging economic growth & wage growth, while sustaining a relentless increase in the nation’s debt & growing divide economically between the haves & have-nots.

trump economic plan economy chart

As much as I bash the GOP since most of the party has abandoned us center-right conservatives, I still abhor the freeloader mentality fostered by the Dems’ big-spending ways, where liberals are more than inclined to throw money at every affliction. There are some links below in the related articles providing opinions/proposals on cutting programs such as welfare & Medicaid. There can be no doubt transfer payments like Medicaid, food stamps & other types of aid are being badly abused (& there are approximately 80 welfare programs in all), so stipulations such as work/education/job-training requirements for Medicaid for non-disabled adults seem reasonable. I generally don’t believe in a free lunch.  Anyone of able body & mind should be fending for themselves through gainful employment or their own business. So while there are way too many government benefit programs going to way too many people collecting way too much taxpayers’ dollars, it’s important not to put the cart before the horse. A healthy job market should exist prior to significantly cutting welfare. While the unemployment rate shows we’re practically at full employment, the ongoing stagnant wage growth demonstrates the bigger issue comes down to not nearly enough jobs paying a livable wage. By fixing the job market, it would greatly curtail the need for so many government handouts. It could change the whole mindset on the part of some in the working-age demographic, helping adjust their focus from getting the most government aid possible to finding the best job possible. In restoring the work ethic & individual initiative that made America great, they’d get in the flow of having respected careers, supporting themselves, feeling better about themselves, while paying taxes into the U.S. Treasury instead of making withdrawals.

Even the physically disabled not currently employed, or felons now free looking to make a fresh start but shunned by the private sector, or the inner city mired in poverty & rural areas who’ve lost their industries & livelihoods, let’s provide new opportunities whatever it takes.  We should commit wholeheartedly to creating a job market where everyone can join in on the fun, earning a livable wage through their own efforts plus gaining a sense of pride from their accomplishments.  Our nation has the wherewithal to supplement in the areas where the private sector falls short, if we’d only put our minds to it & figure this thing out.  The government can help create these new jobs through direct hiring while also incentivizing the private sector to do their fair share.  This new high-tech society is wired with broadband, something unheard of when factories were humming a few decades ago, formerly churning out products in industries that provided many millions of high-paying careers for blue-collar workers.  Can’t we figure out a way to utilize the tools of our modern world to put millions back into productive high-paying jobs?   Especially the physically disabled of sound mind, let’s make them a priority to be first in line for employment like internet jobs our government could invent, where they could even work from their homes, since in this information society we could use cyber-technology in ways we have yet to even figure out.  Just as one example, don’t we need a lot of people monitoring online activities like cyberattacks coming from our enemies that threaten to discredit our democratic elections?  Or how about monitoring the jihadist propaganda from international terrorist groups while tracking those here domestically responding to those radicalized messages?  We’d need government training programs for whatever new careers we carve out, plus perhaps providing the computers, but it’s worth the investment if the jobs are constructive.  There are so many possibilities for worthy endeavors if we’d just use some imagination.

The realities of the current-day free market/private sector are now limited in what they can do, so government leadership should become far more proactive in filling in the gaps. Once good-paying jobs are far more plentiful, as a nation we’d then have the moral mandate to curtail the excessive amount of benefit programs that have infiltrated our society. Those taxpayer dollars could be refined down to only those truly in need.  We might even get back to balancing federal budgets!  But it’s important before removing the safety net, we should first remove the argument that people can’t find good jobs. That could also remove the argument brought up by Trumpeters during the campaign, when during the live rallies they’d break into their silly chants about Mexico paying for the wall.  Once it reaches the point Americans have access to plenty of decent-paying jobs, there’d actually be a need for immigrants who seek to come here & take up the jobs Americans generally don’t want.  It could fortunately create a situation where immigrants won’t be so vilified & blamed for taking jobs away from Americans, other than with the white supremacist racists among us who’ll always complain for their own reasons.  Putting programs like DACA, chain migration & visa lottery in a much more positive light, those immigration plans can become a real asset for our country & the immigrants, while also helping set a good example & create goodwill around the world.  So based on these sanctioned immigration programs after foreigners have gone through the proper screening (& we can restrict the total number allowed), even future refugees can mostly become a plus, especially when the selection process has a fair representation of those considered the best & the brightest.  Many refugees who’ve escaped repression from dangerous countries have come to America & thrived, appreciating the still relatively high levels of freedom/safety here, as they’ve assimilated & become hardworking productive citizens, contributing to our society & paying taxes.

All’s not doom-&-gloom.  We are making significant progress in a number of areas.  But we can & must do better by the working class.  The American Dream was always based on a thriving middle class, which these days that dream can be more readily achieved in other developed countries.  Many could view my ambitious hopes as little more than pie-in-the-sky, claiming it’s unrealistic & Pollyannaish, or even seen as letting government tread on ground where it doesn’t belong & job creation should be the domain of the private sector.  But might I suggest in this new century the dynamics have totally changed, from which government not only should but are mandated to take the initiative in creating better jobs by the millions, both through directly hiring & providing big incentives for business.  That package would include crafting changes to postsecondary education, partnering with business for advanced training/apprenticeships, & fundamentally upgrading the very nature of the work model.  We’d better figure this out soon, since the angry populace out there isn’t too far off from voting in a socialist-leaning economic model.  So instead, let’s figure out something better.  None of this can come easy, but we need to try.  Despite pursuing such a difficult adjustment/transition to our free-market system & pushing back against some deep-pocketed interests, it’s well worth embarking on a national crusade with the determination to create more productive/prosperous jobs.  Should we someday succeed on that journey, it could at long last raise wages so families aren’t so financially strapped, while also highlighting that helping some people to walk & run on their own might require removing their crutch.

I guess I’ve rambled on long enough with my rant above.  I’ll just highlight this one paragraph from the link congress-has-been-broken-by-the-special-interests, with the other links I invite you to peruse & click on the ones that strike your interest:  

Clearly, our system is out of balance. Too many Americans do not believe they have a meaningful say in the decisions that affect their lives. They do not think their elected leaders are responsive to them, the voters. And they know there are underlying governance challenges that skew outcomes in favor of the few at the expense of the many.

Never Heard Of Them…
 
I must be showing my age.  Plus I wasn’t paying much attention to contemporary music in the 1990’s.  Most of the songs I put here come from the 1960’s or 1970’s.  I don’t ever recall hearing of this singer or the group, but looking at this concert it’s obvious they had a whole lot of fans!  But we just lost this singer, as it seems we’ve lost too many popular musicians lately, often passing away way too young.  But in honoring this singer & their song Dreams, it just seems appropriate as we just honored MLK & his famous Dream speech.  I also expressed my own dream above where America finds a way to create a lot more productive/decent-paying jobs, restoring the American Dream & once-great middle class….
trump economic plan with cranberries singer
(Click on photo for full video)