Sunday, 7 April 2019

President Trump Reads My Column in the Echo

Want to have a humdinger battle over the relative merits of capitalism and socialism?

I thought not! So how about something more akin to – “Is the present US economic system working for you?”

Well, it’s certainly rocking for the top 1% of American households who own more wealth than the bottom 90%.

Meanwhile, real wages (adjusted for inflation) have barely increased since the 1970’s, despite negligible unemployment and a booming job market?

This last detail troubles me greatly, for despite all my roaring good times in that blessed decade, I was poorer than any church mouse. 

In fact, once when soliciting an apartment on Avenue B, the landlord advised me to “go on Welfare, bud! That way I’ll definitely get my rent.”

I got the apartment – without Welfare – but life would have been a lot simpler if I’d been in the 1% these last 40 years.

I doubt many of that financial class read the Echo; although apparently President Trump always begins his Wednesday staff meetings with, “What’s Kirwan writing about me today?”

Flattery indeed, but nowadays we’re being duped by politicians right across the spectrum. And while we support them in their ideological bloodletting, large corporation are printing money, as they say in Canarsie.

Didn’t President Obama rescue the banks during the Great Recession and how about President Trump giving away the shop to big business courtesy of his 2017 Tax Relief Act?

It can be argued that President Obama had little choice, with the whole financial system collapsing around his ears. But who ended up paying for it?

You got it - Joe and Josie Blow the taxpayer!

They’ll continue to shell out for President Trump’s deficit ballooning 40% cut in corporate taxes - particularly if interest rates rise as expected.

And what so far have the corporations done with their $1.5 trillion windfall? Well instead of investing in jobs and long-term capital improvements they’ve bought back their stock to the tune of $900 billon – further enriching the 1%.

Does anyone honestly expect Joe and Josie’s real wages to rise in the next 40 years, particularly with the “gig” economy gathering steam?

So, the one shot we have is to curtail rising costs. 

I know, you’re blue in the face hearing that US health care is absurdly expensive compared to the Canadian model. 

Having experienced emergency rooms in both countries, I can honestly say there was little difference in the quality of care either side of the border.

But wait there’s an admirable movement afoot to introduce Medicare for All that would bring us closer to the Canadian system.

The problem is that many people down here are satisfied with the health coverage provided by their employers. However, with costs continuing to rise, most corporations would be only thrilled to pass on this expensive obligation to the government.

Health care companies, as you might imagine, want no part of such a change. But why should we give a fiddler’s about them and their profits?

With Medicare for All the US government could also dictate fairer prices from the drug companies, as happens in many industrial countries.

Everything I’ve just proposed however is just a pipe dream. We can barely keep the L train running, let alone reform a complicated health care system.  

But a compromise might be possible if politicians would drop their catcalls of “capitalism” and “socialism,” drink a few pints together and cut a deal that for once might benefit the 90% – for instance, allowing those over the age of 50 to choose between Medicare and private coverage.

Given this choice, corporations would shovel their eligible employees into less expensive Medicare. 

But even this is unlikely to happen since health insurance and drug companies are already furiously greasing their politicians’ palms.    

Meanwhile, the deficit balloons, the 1% grows wealthier, and poor Joe and Josie continue to take their partisan cues from Fox TV and MSNBC blowhards.

I’ve been wasting my time this past 40 years so I’m finally joining the 1%!  Where’s my cell phone?

“Hello, Mr. President, Kirwan from The Echo here… I have this killer idea – how about you, me, and the Russians go into business and develop the Lower East Side into a five star Golf Course? I have connections with this landlord down on Avenue B…”

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