Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Jeff Merkley Endorses Bernie Sanders

Senator Jeff Merkley:
I grew up in working-class Oregon. On a single income, my parents could buy a home, take a vacation and help pay for college. My father worked with his hands as a millwright and built a middle-class life for us.

My parents believed in education and they believed in the United States. When I was young, my father took me to the grade school and told me that if I went through those doors, and worked hard, I could do just about anything because we lived in America. My dad was right.

Years later, my family and I still live in the same working-class community I grew up in. But America has gone off track, and the outlook for the kids growing up there is a lot gloomier today than 40 years ago.

Many middle-class Americans are working longer for less income than decades ago, even while big-ticket expenses like housing, health care and college have relentlessly pushed higher. . . .

It is time to recommit ourselves to that vision of a country that measures our nation’s success not at the boardroom table, but at kitchen tables across America. Bernie Sanders stands for that America, and so I stand with Bernie Sanders for president.
Ok, Jeff, but how? This is the thing I keep coming back to – how? I think a large majority of Americans would endorse Merkley's conclusion, But how does anything Bernie Sanders is advocating help?

I think campaign finance issues are a red herring. The major shift toward conservatism in America happened in 1980, when campaign finance laws were at their toughest. Republicans got control of the House in 1994 without any help from Citizens United. I would like to see campaign finance laws restored but that in and of itself will not help anyone live a decent middle class life.

I think free college is a mistake, as I have written many times. We should be thinking about alternatives to 4-year college for many young people, not mindless expansion of a system that isn't working for them.

Breaking up the big banks is another red herring. Why would that help anything? It wouldn't prevent future financial panics and the recessions they cause – we had a terrible panic and recession in 1837, when all of our banks were tiny by modern standards. Small banks can be just as corrupt as big ones, and the biggest salaries in the financial worlds are actually paid to the people who run hedge funds, not banks. I think the approach to financial reform pushed by Obama and Hillary (squeezing bank profits by demanding higher reserves and taxing trades) is likely to work much better.

National health care might help, if it could be made to work, which I doubt. When Congress votes to double our tax bill, I'll eat my shirt.

The one thing Bernie is advocating that I wholeheartedly support is a major expansion in public works spending, financed by higher taxes on the wealthy. But we don't really need Bernie for that; we need a more liberal Congress. Obama would have done that if he could have, and Hillary will if she can. But I have noticed that most of Bernie's supporters seem utterly uninterested in little things like Congressional or State House races; attempts by Union people to oust conservative Democrats in the Wisconsin primary failed in part because thousands of people voted for Bernie but left the rest of their ballots blank.

I am voting for Hillary because I can't stand magical thinking about politics and government. There is not going to be a revolution. If we can make the world better we will have to do it by decades of effort, one small change at a time.

1 comment:

pootrsox said...

Bravo, Dr. Bedell!

I have copied your response and used it on Facebook to reply to people who post the endorsement, as well as to make a post of my own.

I of course said "according to John Bedell, who says it far more eloquently than I could," !