2008-07-11 / Columnists

The Progressive

Attention Span
Commentary By John Paul Culotta

Most of us are too preoccupied with our daily lives to be concerned with the pressing issues facing us as a nation. We usually allow the mass media to decide what will be discussed and argued during political election cycles. Iraq is not a major issue at this time.

In recent weeks the economy has been the concern of all of us. When we leave supermarkets we are shocked by the rising prices. Rising gasoline prices have forced us to use public transportation, change summertime routines, conserve energy, or do without other goods or services.

Retirement plans are being changed because of the increasing costs of medical care. Young people are saddled with loans at the beginning of their careers because of university costs. Polls show most Americans are concerned about the economy.

My 17-year-old daughter who has had summer employment since she was 15 could not secure employment this summer. Unemployment rates are increasing. Foreclosures on homes are increasing. It appears the economy will be the issue of the 2008 presidential and congressional campaign.

At the same time, the economy will worsen without resolving how we should exit Iraq, working on our failing infrastructure, and securing an adequate health care delivery for all of us.

Too often, candidates discuss the economy with calls for tax reduction. None of us desires an increased tax burden. It does appear our tax structure is increasingly regressive and that working people are forced to pay more taxes or suffer other inequities with the tax structure as it stands today.

Those of us who live in urban areas such as New York City, San Francisco, etc. appear to others to be rich because our living expenses are so high, and we are taxed accordingly. We suffer because of that fact. We need to tax personal gains at the same rate as income.

Inheritances of great estate fortunes need to taxed at a progressive rates. No other western industrial nation allows great fortunes to be taxed at such low rates. Taxation is an art-not a science; everyone will not and cannot expect perfection. Taxation must not hinder growth and yet at the same time cannot be a burden for two income workers who cannot meet living expenses or for the struggling working poor.

Our attention has now been focused on the living standards of Americans. For many decades the real purchasing power of Americans has decreased. Our living standards have been maintained by excessive use of credit. Our dollar has lost prestige.

We must correct the redistribution of wealth from the workers to the rich CEOs and CFOs and wealth elite. While too many American workers have no employment security, no defined retirement plans, many have no medical insurance or inadequate medical insurance, work in unsafe environments; our wealthy professional classes and business establishment have enjoyed extraordinary financial gains.

This nation will become a sad place when most of us do not participate in the commonwealth we should all inherit as citizens of the greatest nation on earth.

No American child should suffer hunger pains, be denied the best medical care, or go to schools that do not adequately teach. No worker should not be assured a decent standard of living and a workplace that is as safe as possible. No American should be without an adequate health care delivery system.

Spending money on unnecessary wars and a failure to maintain the inherited infrastructure hurts our nation and people. Staying in Iraq for the purpose of securing excessive profits for oil companies and corporations that overcharge taxpayers for rebuilding that unfortunate nation is unethical.

The United States will not succeed in being an occupying power through the auspices of puppet native administrators. No nation has succeeded in an imperial operation without the consent of the occupied. It may take 500 years but the occupier always leaves. Will this nation want to expend fortunes in Iraq when we have so many pressing domestic issues?

Our economy will not improve unless we resolve the Iraqi occupation with foresight soon or suffer the consequences. Our attention span must include a desire to resolve international questions and not just focus on our immediate economic problems. We are not winning in Iraq.

Improvements because of an increased military presence (surge) cannot resolve the ethical question as to whether we wish to occupy Iraq for 500 years.

Does this nation have that will or attention span?

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