I keep seeing people, most especially Trump supporters (and most likely why they are Trump supporters) complaining about welfare programs, pivoted against single payer healthcare, or even that healthcare is a human right. I hear them complain about our younger generations wanting a free ride, with publicly supported post secondary education (that would be college and trade schools) and even against providing equal learning opportunities in childhood education. I hear them oppose government assistance for childcare, public spending in schools to support children with disabilities and even increasing the minimum wage so that those who work full time jobs are not living in abject poverty. What I continually hear from the middle class, under-educated segment is that they had to endure in an unfair system that did not promote their talents, that they had to scrape by, so future generations should, too. What I hear from the wealthier of this population is that if people want things like a good education and healthcare, then they shouldn’t be poor and lazy.
They claim the people wanting these things are selfish, greedy and looking for handouts. But I can’t help but see this another way. The opposition to these programs and progress are the greedy ones. All they think about is themselves. Their whole perspective on life is based on greed. Me! I! My! Mine! It is like a mass case of arrested adolescence where no one bothered to mature past the ‘me’ stage of a two year old. They cannot see the benefits to our society because they do not care about the society, only about their microenvironment inside it. They cannot see past their own greed to understand what is truly gained by the progress of humanity towards a healthier, more equal society. They celebrate the obstruction or dismantling of the safety nets we have created and refuse to see what is lost.
Now, I can go into the statistics, the math, the logistics of why their mentality is wrong and not what was intended for our society. I can explain how our capitalist economy was never meant to reign unchecked. Historically, corporate profits were heavily taxed. Why? How did that work? Wouldn’t that destroy jobs and the economy? Well, no. It actually did what trickle down economics did not. Corporations had to use their money to grow their business, pay their employees better and make investments for the future. If they didn’t, they paid a high tax. They were penalized for keeping too much money at the top with high percentage tax brackets for those making inordinate sums of money. That was how the system successfully worked. This was how families could survive on a single income, because the income disparity was far more rational than what we find today. I can explain how minimum wage was introduced to ensure that anyone working a full time job made a decent living. The minimum wage was a working class protection against corporations who would use the desperation of someone needing a job as an asset to boost profits by paying poverty wages.
While these truths are compelling, and weighted with solid fact and history, they are not what I particularly want to address. I want to broaden this discussion beyond these things to a greater understanding of civilizations, both historical and fundamental, and what is required from a successful government to ensure the continuation of a thriving population. What should the people expect from their society?
Great civilizations flourished because they were in a state of constant transformation and had a clear idea of what held them in power: the citizens. Throughout history, once any civilization or empire became too imbalanced between the wealthy and working class, revolution ensued. Societies which predicted and met the growing needs of the people and the demands of an increasing population would flourish, while those locked in greed would fail. Countries across the globe have recognized that with an increasing population, the responsibilities of governments must change to ensure the welfare and best interests of their people. If they wish to continue to grow and evolve in a changing world, ever more dependent of a global economy, they must meet these challenges and provide the adequate necessities for their citizens’ success. That is the fundamental purpose of a civilization. If any nation remains too stagnated and does not grow to meet the increasing needs of its people, it will fail. Corruption will become paramount, greed will create a larger and larger divide between those who have much, ever wanting more, and those who have little or nothing. A successful government knows that too many citizens with little or nothing means an army of people with little or nothing to lose.
The world and the potential of humanity is ever changing. Technology increases at exponential rates. Money and goods circle the globe at fantastic speeds. The United States of America is in competition with a host of other nations battling in the world market. Money comes from everywhere and goes everywhere. Because our nation is failing to grow and provide for its citizens, failing to prepare them to participate in this economy, the US is beginning to fall behind. But how do things like Universal Healthcare, Post Secondary Education, Endowment of the Arts, Childcare, Maternity and Paternity Leave, Equal Rights, Special Needs Programs, Food Assistance and Welfare actually make our country more successful in the world market?
Well, a healthy society is more productive. Universal Healthcare means earlier diagnosis of illnesses, which most often translates into more effective and less costly treatment. It removes the strain of medical costs from the majority of the population. It also allows for quick dispensing of treatment of vaccinations in the event of large outbreaks or epidemics. As populations grow and become more condensed, the necessity of universal healthcare becomes paramount to a stable society.
Post Secondary Education is easy to defend. There are so many social benefits, it is alarming we have turned education into a commodity. Technology is wiping away core segments of jobs. Automation is taking them. You do not need telephone operators to transfer calls in a business, that is what automated answering systems do. People can push buttons or select tabs on a screen to place orders for anything from food to furniture, even cars. Mobile banking is reducing the need for bank tellers. Self checkout at stores means fewer checkers. Automation in factories provides more consistent quality, fewer accidents and less labor expenses. These jobs, and many more like them, are disappearing and will not return. But there are jobs, many job opportunities which have been created by our transforming world. Unfortunately, they require specialized training or degrees. Providing this education means we fill those positions with our citizens, promoting a stable economy. But there is much more. It also means every child has an opportunity at a successful job regardless of their economic circumstance. It means no one is trapped by poverty. It means every person is able to pursue a career which interests and intrigues them. It allows primary and secondary schools to strategize a child’s education based on their interests and talents. This is a proven path to success. More than merely creating a better quality of life for individuals, we know that the better educated a society, the less crime it has. This was one of the fundamental reasons the United States developed free education to begin with, and kept extending it. A better educated society is more peaceful and harmonious, with less incidents of both petty and violent crime. A High School education used to be adequate to fill a majority of decent paying jobs. That is no longer the case. With the cost of college or trade schools so high that it is outside the reach of many, or the debt incurred is disproportionate to the income of the skills learned, we are creating a surplus of people only qualified to do jobs which no longer exist, and a shortage of skilled professionals for the new employment markets. Those new markets are largely unattainable because it simply requires too much money to get that job. What happens when large segments of people are jobless or underemployed? Poverty, crime, illness, anger, discontent.
The Arts are the expressions of our society. They inspire growth and reflect on the very elements which make us human. There is not a single long enduring civilization in history which did not promote the arts. In fact, artists, poets, storytellers, musicians, actors, writers, and sculptors were held in high esteem for they provided a center to life, something every person could identify with, a common thread of creativity that people can aspire to greatness not merely through monumental achievements, but in ordinary lives, like in love and honor. Beauty was something anyone could attain. The Arts are a fundamental core to every great civilization.
Now, I can continue through the list. I can express how every program is essential to growth in our society. I can continue to tell you what we gain by a maturing out of this two-year-old mentality. But what is lost by remaining stagnant? Well, the poor will become increasingly poorer and larger segments of the population will fall below poverty levels. As families and people become desperate, crime will rise. More and more of our jobs will be outsourced because we do not have the skilled workers to fill them. The family structure will continue its demise. Drug, alcohol and substance abuse will continue to increase. The middle class will become a minority with a crippling weight of tax burden as the oligarchy assimilates the government to its own profit. When our children live without hope, when the burden of even meager success is too high or unattainable, then we lose our artists. We lose our culture. We lose the genius creativity which would propel us forward. We lose the future of science, we fall behind in technology. We lose our identity, our history and our future. This is what happens when societies, in an abundance of greed, stop growing and nurturing their citizens. Eventually there is nothing but eternal greed at the top (because there is no such thing as ‘enough’) and discontent and anger at the bottom. A crumbling foundation, without fail, will bring the tallest building down.
We lose everything.
We are One woman, One World.
Ann Lavendar Truong
Photo credit: Matt Black, Huffington Post
Post Note! Lavendar Thoughts will soon be host to some very talented guest bloggers! There are simply too many things for just one woman to say! We are also designing new website which will not only feature this blog as a running segment, but additional articles from contributors across the country and around the globe, united in the the universal purpose to bring equality to all people. The new e-zine does not yet have a release date, but I will keep you informed on the progress. If you feel inspired to join this cause as a contributor, please message me and I will give you the details on that process. Together, we can change the world.
Links: More ways to find me or colleagues of mine to check out!