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The debate, according to Joe and Sam

October 14, 2015

Sometimes it’s a lot more fun, and infinitely more enlightening, to watch the people that watch political debates than the debates themselves.

So it was with the Democratic debate last night. The debate itself was pretty much the same ho-hum, who-can-promise-to-give-more-stuff-away night that most people expected.

So, on to people-watching.

Two people seemed to be locked in an earnest debate of their own. Let’s call them Joe and Sam.

Joe was apparently the more moderate of the two. Sam was fist-pumping every time some candidate, usually Bernie Sanders, expounded on the benefits of government largesse or made a point about income inequality in America.

Joe was less visibly demonstrative, but certainly wasn’t swallowing the Democratic message hook, line and sinker.

For instance, when the topic of sticking it to the 1% came up,  Sam’s comment was “That’s right! Stick it to all those greedy Wall Street bastards!”

Joe noted that the Federal government has been propping up the stock market with taxpayer and borrowed money ever since 2008.  He wondered if that didn’t mean that the government, i.e. the current Democratic administration, was actually in the business of creating wealth for the 1%, while the companies listed on the Big Board moved more and more assets and jobs overseas. He noted that Hillary is a card-carrying member of the 1%.

Both seemed to agree that  they didn’t trust that the Republican plan to provide tax incentives to bring those companies and their money back to the U.S. was any better than taxing the rich at 90%, but they both agreed that you can’t expect people to come back here if they lose all their money either.

Neither thought that even if the companies did come back, or foreign profits were taxed at 90%, Americans would see more jobs and prosperity as the end result.

Sam used an illustration from his own life to make his point. The general gist was that you could see how that strategy was going to work by studying what the bosses drove.

He said “Look at the parking lots. The working stiffs that actually create the stuff the fat cats make money off of or push the paper around are driving 10, 15, even 20 year old cars and they have to pay for them. The executive parking lot is filled with  new cars leased for executives and written off on their taxes as a business expense.  My kid got a 1998 Chevy for graduation, my bosses got their kids brand new Beemers or trendy eco-friendly cars.”

Joe agreed in principle. He noted that the company that he worked for took a pretty big hit during the recession and laid off a lot of people, but when things started getting better, the people that stayed were supposed to be happy that they still had a job, while management, whose sacrifices during that time amounted to canceling a few company retreats and parties, voted themselves a 10% raise last year. The workers got 2%.

And therein lies the problem.  Deep down both of these men know that if you take away all profit, ala Bernie Sanders 90% tax bracket, companies will close.

But they both agree that the Republicans don’t have a plan to ensure that increasing a company’s  cash on hand actually would benefit  anyone but the management, essentially making rich folks richer still.

On the subject of healthcare, Sam said “The Republicans want everyone to have skin in the game, so they are all for 5, 10, 15-thousand deductibles. Hell, I can barely afford to go to the doctor NOW.  I still owe over $2500 to my kid’s dentist, so they don’t go in for checkups every six months, because the damn co-payments come out of MY checkbook and I don’t have the money. Hey Mr. Bush!  I’VE ALREADY GOT SKIN IN THE DAMN GAME.”

As the debate concluded, both men got up to leave. Joe said “Well, I did my civic duty.  I’ve listened to both sides, just like I promised my wife I would. The thing is, I haven’t heard one damn thing that will change my life for the better out of either of them. It’s all just so much hot air, empty promises and no matter who wins, most of it will go out the window the day after the inauguration.”

Sam said “Yeah, assuming that nobody lobs a nuke into the White House before then. Pretty is as pretty does, and nothing about politics is pretty.”

Yes, people watching is entertaining, even enlightening. It’s too bad the various campaign staff members don’t hang out at the local bar and grill.

From → op-ed

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