Nel's New Day

September 15, 2016

Trump Loses with Blacks, Women

Donald Trump’s appearance at a black church in Flint (MI) yesterday drew a great deal of attention—but what’s new about that! The series of events:

  • After Trump gave Flint’s mayor Karen Weaver only one day notice that he planned to tour the closed water treatment plant because of the lead, she said it was not a good time because the city was still trying to deal with the problems. She was also out of town trying to get help from Congress after the total disaster that Michigan’s businessman turned governor had caused.
  • Trump went anyway, giving his usual “Hillary hate” trash talk in a black church.
  • The pastor of the church, Rev. Faith Green-Timmons, gently stopped him by saying, “Mr. Trump, I invited you here to thank us for what we’ve done for Flint, not to give a political speech,”
  • Trump said, “Oh, oh, OK, OK, OK. That’s good. Then I’m going to go back onto Flint, OK.” The pastor also stopped the heckling from his audience who were bringing up specific examples of Trump’s racial discrimination in housing and employment. Green-Timmons said that Trump “is a guest in my church and you will respect him.”

trump-timmons

A video shows Green-Timmons’ graciousness and Trump’s obsequiousness. Yet Trump lied about the event on Fox and Friends this morning, describing Timmons as being a “nervous mess” and the audience as shouting “Let him speak, let him speak.” He also claimed that Timmons had planned to ambush him.

Yesterday the Senate voted 94-3 to end debate on a bill that includes $220 million in emergency assistance for communities such as Flint as well as $4.9 billion over five years to repair systems related to drinking water. They also voted 85-12 to waive a budget rule complicating the Flint funding that would take money from the Energy Department’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program.

The problem now is the House. It has been suggested that Trump would better spend his time by calling his “friend” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to ask for this bill to be passed in that chamber. At this time, the House waterways bill doesn’t have Flint funding.

Former Michigan epidemiologist Corinne Miller has pled guilty to not reporting to the public dozens of Legionnaires’ disease at the same time that Flint changed its water source, also the cause of the high lead content in the drinking water. The water may have caused at least 91 Legionnaires’ cases, including 12 deaths. The plea deal of no contest on Wednesday to a misdemeanor of willful neglect of duty led to dismissal of felony misconduct and conspiracy charges. Eight people have been charged in the water crisis.

The day before his appearance in Flint, Trump opened up another can of worms showing his sexism. With the help of his daughter Ivanka, the GOP presidential candidate tried to woo women voters with vague promises of “maternity leave” and funding for child care. After people recovered that surprise that a Republican would endorse this action, they learned that his suggestions are not as generous as he promised. His programs favor the rich and target “well-off white women,” according to journalist Joan Walsh.

Trump introduced his program by saying in a high-pitched tone that his daughter told him, “Daddy, Daddy, we have to do this.” Ivanka Trump is under the impression that child care is a brand new idea in the United States, indicating that she hasn’t done her homework. Universal child care existed in the nation from 1943 to 1946 but disappeared until Congress passed a bill in 1971 that GOP President Richard Nixon vetoed.

A 1990 law to help subsidize child care failed during the early 21st century when GOP George W. Bush reduced its funding. Even if Republicans are willing to support child care—unlikely because they think that this increases the “nanny state”—they are always unwilling to pay for it. Parental leave has also been an issue for over two decades—always quashed by the GOP.

In Trump’s plan, “maternity leave”(not parental leave) is only for six weeks, only for women, and only through already cash-strapped unemployment insurance, thereby helping women only in the states where legislatures opt in and providing much less than most women’s salaries. Trump’s plan also requires women to quit their jobs for the “maternity leave” because of unemployment insurance guidelines.

Although Trump uses the term “tax credit” when discussing his policy, the policy on his website indicates that it is a “tax deduction,” a far different proposal. Credit means that people will get the full amount back. Salaries of the working poor are so low that they don’t itemize deductions, leaving them with nothing whereas the wealthy can deduct expensive nannies and private day-care facilities and get 15 to 30 percent return. Trump’s plan would also give stay-at-home mothers credits even if they didn’t need child care to have jobs.

An irony of Trump’s speech is that his business provides neither maternity nor child care. Although Trump and his daughter claimed that he did provide the latter, it was only for wealthy Trump hotel guests. The claim that Hillary Clinton has never had either a “maternity leave” or child care policy and “never will” is also a lie. The only maternity leave provided for Trump employees is the federally-mandated 12-week unpaid leave. Yesterday in a discussion on public radio, Trump’s economic advisor Steven Moore stated that people shouldn’t have children if they can’t afford them.

In the past, Trump has found pregnant women and mothers of newborns “an inconvenience” and more. He said that pregnancy is “an inconvenience for business” because employers get only 84% of their working moms’ brains, according to Trump. He added that women “should” feel like they will be replaced if they do not return to work quickly even if they will not necessarily be replaced. Trump also called an attorney “disgusting” when she needed a break from a deposition to pump breast milk and that working women are bad for marriages. Confronted by Trump’s statements about women in an interview with Cosmopolitan, Ivanka Trump complained about “a lot of negativity in these questions” and cut the interview short.

In contrast to Trump’s proposals, Clinton’s plan provides a paid 12-week “family leave” for fathers and family members caring for a sick relative. The costs would be covered by higher taxes on the wealthy—such as Donald Trump and his family members. Other Clinton suggestions include a wide variety of child-care and preschool programs with costs capped for the middle class at ten percent of their salaries.

No plan can be carried out without congressional legislation. Yet Trump’s plan is regressive and sexist, perhaps because his look on life is regressive and sexist. This is his perspective on men rearing their children:

“I won’t do anything to take care of [my children]. I’ll supply funds and she’ll take care of the kids. It’s not like I’m gonna be walking the kids down Central Park.”

The term “maternity leave” not only goes beyond outmoded language, but also its limits to females hold back women, lowering their wages and reducing their hiring. These policies also discriminate against men in gay couples, other men who want to take an active part in rearing newborns, and adoptive individuals and couples.

Basically, Trump is losing white college-educated women who have voted Republican, and he wants them back.

Even with the undesirability of Trump’s plan, Republicans are criticizing Trump’s plan as “an enormous new entitlement that will blow the debt,” as conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote. He further complained about “the government stepping in and telling private industry what to do.”

Be careful of all those headlines and lead paragraphs that Trump has finally admitted that Barack Obama was born in the United States. He still refuses to say those words although his campaign leaders and surrogates are swearing that this is what he believes. Asked if his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, is right when she says he has reversed his almost decade-long position that the president was born outside the U.S., Trump said, “It’s okay. She’s allowed to speak what she thinks. I want to focus on jobs. I want to focus on other things.” Before that, Trump had said, “I’ll answer that question at the right time. I just don’t want to answer it yet.”

Trump still hasn’t said that he believes President Obama meets the constitutional requirements to hold the office where he has been for almost two terms. I’m still waiting for Trump to answer the question.

[Update: Trump finally actually said the words! Late yesterday, he said, “President Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.” Trump is still falsely claiming that Hillary Clinton started the birther rumor that he pushed for the past eight years.]

September 13, 2013

U.S. Exceptionalism All Negative

Many in the U.S. have taken exception to Russia’s president Vladimir Putin taking exception at President Obama’s statement “I believe in American exceptionalism.” So how is the United States exceptional?

The health care in this country is exceptional because it’s costly with poorer outcomes than other countries. People in the U.S. spend almost 18 percent of the country’s GDP on health care, one and half as much as any other OECD country and twice as much as the average. 

health care expenditure

At the same time, about 50 million people in the U.S., almost 15 percent of the population. In other developed nations, 100 percent of the people have health care. In addition, many other people in the U.S. who have health insurance put off getting healthcare because of high deductibles and copayments. Obamacare  won’t solve the problem, but it attempts to remediate it. Personally I take exception to GOP members of the House who waste my taxpayer money by continually voting against helping people as they did again yesterday afternoon.

The U.S. is 33rd in life expectancy and 34th in infant mortality. This nation has the highest first-day infant death rate out of all the industrialized countries in the world—68 other countries. It is estimated that 45,000 people died each year because lack of access to medical care. People in the U.S. pay twice as much for medications as people in Canada or Europe, and 30 percent of every healthcare dollar is spent on administrative costs. In comparison, Taiwan spends a little over 6 percent of GDP on healthcare with better outcomes in some key indicators. Medicare in the U.S., a single-payer system similar to that in most other developed countries, has administrative costs of about 3 percent.

Adolescents die at higher rates from car crashes and homicides, and they have the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections. People in the U.S. have the highest incidence of AIDS, the highest obesity rates, the highest diabetes rates among adults 20 and older, the highest rates of chronic lung disease and heart disease and drug-related deaths.

The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in which workers are not legally entitled to paid leave—even vacation time. European nations typically provide five weeks; Germany gives almost seven weeks. Almost one-fourth of the U.S. workers get no time at all. Germany’s decreasing unemployment rate is 5.4 percent, and the average hourly wage has gone up more than 4 percent in the last three years. Wages in the U.S. have barely gone up, and the 7.4 percent unemployment rate is unhealthy for the economy. U.S. workers put in 1,800 a year while German workers work an average of 1,400 hours per year.

U.S. productivity rose by 80 percent from 1973 to 2011 while compensation went up barely 12 percent with no increase since 2000, despite a 23-percent productivity increase in that time.

The United States provides no maternity leave, compared to most of the other countries in the world.

paid-maternal-leave-by-country With a child poverty rate of 20-25 percent, the United States rates 34th out of 35 countries. (Romania is below the U.S.) Map

 child-poverty-rates

The United States is exceptional in having the most millionaires and billionaires who have collected more of the planets assets than any other country. Yet the U.S. is #27 in middle-class wealth. Adding all assets such as homes and bank accounts before subtracting liabilities such as loans and other debts gives the best indicator of individual and family prosperity. As the following chart shows, 26 other countries have a higher media wealth than the U.S.

Middle Class wealth

Incarceration is higher in the United States than in other countries such as Russia, Cuba, Iran, or China. The lock-up rate is ten times what it is in Norway and more than that in Japan and Iceland. Several states in this nation lock up people for debt, and private corporations count on “growth” models to increase their profits. In Arizona, for example, the state guaranteed full prisons when private companies built them.

 The U.S. has the highest gun ownership rates in the world and the second highest rate of gun deaths among industrialized nations. These two things are related, looking at developed nations shows that the higher the rate of gun ownership, the more people die from gun wounds.

The U.S. ranks 23rd in wage distribution, 22nd in gender equality, and 29th in intellectual property protection. The U.S. ranks 10th in purchasing power of minimum wage and 11th in minimum wage. The nation also ranks 125th in GDP growth per capita. Out of 24 nations, the U.S. ranked between 19th and 23rd in critical areas of health, education, and material well-being.

The United States is now 9th in the world in Internet speed, down one place from last year. South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Netherlands, Latvia, Czech Republic, and Sweden are above the U.S. Yet this country charges more for Internet use that these other countries.

The United States does rank first in the world in death by violence. The U.S. is also exceptional among the industrialized world for having the only president who claims the right to execute citizens without due process in the U.S. post-constitutional philosophy. For other ratings, check out the Global Competitiveness Report for 2012-2013.

In lashing out at Putin’s response to President Obama’s threatened attack on Syria, Putin wrote that claiming the exceptionalism of America is “dangerous”:

“We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

Because of Russia’s vicious anti-LGBT laws that cause physical harm and death to those perceived to be LGBT, Rep. Nancy Pelosi used Putin’s words to attack him when she said:

“He says that we are all God’s children. I think that’s great. I hope it applies to gays and lesbians in Russia as well.”

In the nationalistic craving for U.S. exceptionalism, Pelosi and many others forget that LGBT people can be fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity in over 30 states, they cannot be married in 37 states, and the federal government is denying Social Security benefits to all married same-sex couples who do not live in one of the jurisdictions that have not yet legalized marriage equality. By comparison 14 countries in the world have legalized same-sex marriage.

Before getting into a contest about whether the United States is “exceptional,” people might work toward making it so—in a good way and not just in high rates of mortality, bad health, hunger, poverty, income inequality, and incarceration.

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