The GOP Myth – We Can’t Afford A Better America

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I am so sick and tired of hearing those on the right screaming about all the things we can’t afford or can’t do.

We can’t afford health care for all. It will bankrupt the country.

Bull! It hasn’t bankrupted other western civilizations and it won’t bankrupt us. What WILL bankrupt us is ignoring the problem, allowing costs to further escalate, providing even less care for our citizens, which will translate to lost work days, therefore lost productivity, therefore less money. I thought we were the “can do” country but apparently I’ve been misled. Why can’t we do what other countries have been doing – and doing well – for years? The World Health Organization reports that United States spends the highest portion of its GDP of any other country on health care but ranks 37th out of 191 countries.

We’re going to have to privatize Social Security. It’s bankrupting the country.

Bull! What’s bankrupting the country is a defense budget that is as obese as the guy who dines at McDonald’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  Of the 15 top spending nations on the planet, we are NUMBER ONE and we spend more than the next 14 nations combined. In other words, our military budget accounts for 41% of the total military spending in the entire world.

Now, I will agree that Social Security needs a little tweaking. The situation today is vastly different from the inception of the program. This is what I think we need: raise, or better yet eliminate, the cap on wages so all wages will be taxed for Social Security. Raise the Social security tax by ¼ to ½ of 1%. That would be $1.25 – $2.50 per every $500 earned. No matter who you are, I think you can afford it. Lastly, I’ll take a page from the conservative playbook, that if Obama were to all of a sudden agree, would then be anathema to the Republicans. So be it. Means testing. If you don’t need it, you don’t get it. And I don’t want to hear any squawking about I PAID INTO IT! What you paid into is a social contract to insure that our seniors, widows and orphans don’t have to dumpster dive for their dinner and if you’re so hard-hearted you don’t want to contribute to that, I have no time for you.

Green energy is too expensive. It will bankrupt the country.

Bull! It isn’t bankrupting Denmark and it won’t bankrupt us. At the outset of every new technology expenses are high. That’s called start-up. As the technology progresses, costs come down. For those of you old enough to remember, think television or more recently, computers. It is already happening in solar. It’s happening in wind and it will continue to happen as long as we pursue green energy sources. There are vested interests that want to keep us in the past because they don’t want to spend the money on new technologies when their old and filthy technologies are yielding such a high return. But only for them. For the rest of us, we get higher utility bills, higher gas prices, dirty air, dirty water and, getting back to my first point, sick people (from the dirty air and water).  Media Matters recently did a great article on how the Wall Street Journal used false statistics to “prove” their claim that solar companies backed by federal loan guarantees have all gone bankrupt.

We had to bail out the banks. Without them our economy will tank.

Bull! May I remind one and all that our economy DID tank because of the irresponsible and greedy behavior of the banks. Meanwhile, those same banks profited and are STILL profiting and nobody has done a damned thing about it. I say, arrest them all! Think it can’t be done? Well, Iceland did it! And now Iceland’s economy is growing rather nicely. Can the same be said of the United States?

There are so many things our conservative brethren say we cannot do and I have to ask them WHY? If Denmark can go green, if the rest of the western countries can take care of their people, if Iceland can solve their banking problem, then why can’t we? Why can’t we get artillery out of the hands of crazy people? Why can’t we, like so many countries in Europe and even in the old Soviet bloc countries, offer free education at all levels – I’m talking college, not just elementary or secondary education. Did you know that among nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): In 2003 the US ranked 15th of 29 in reading literacy, 21st of 30 in scientific literacy, 25th of 30 in mathematics, 24th of 29 in problem solving. Do you really think things have improved since then?

I’ll tell you what we can’t afford. We can’t afford to continue lagging behind the rest of the world in infrastructure, health care, education, green energy. We can’t afford to be that nation that is armed to the teeth and afraid of everything: our neighbors, our government, our president. We can’t afford this insane infighting and constant misinformation. We can’t afford to continue to pretend that we are the greatest nation on earth because our report card is telling us otherwise.  It is time to get down to business, run the naysayers out, put people in who will effect change and forge ahead into the 21st century instead of  sticking our heads in the sand, lamenting the demise of the “good old days” and hoping everything will turn out fine.

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Ann Werner is a blogger and the author of two thrillers and two works of non-fiction. You can view her work at ARK Stories

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