On Politics. A Re-evaluation.

Posted on October 3, 2012

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I have been absent but I’m back and ready to start thinking through things. Here are my thoughts after the debates in which we didn’t learn anything new.

As a new citizen of the United States, I’m excited to vote. I’m excited to have my say. I’m excited to be an active participant in this democratic society. That being said, I want to be an informed voter. Thus, I try my best, in between college classes and extra curricular activities, to procure enough information to make an informed decision.

I’ve heard many people who spew uninformed opinions. Everyone has the right to there opinions but to what extent is it okay to participate in a democratic process on the premises of false information. How do we educate people? I’ve already asked this question but as I watch the presidential debates it becomes more potent. Both candidates give facts and plans and the average American, like the consumers we are, will effectively consume this information and create an aggregate opinion with the aid of enormously biased media and possibly an uninformed community.

This lack of education goes to reiterate the unequal access that exists within our community. The two topics I’d like to address are welfare, affirmative action and taxation of the rich.

Welfare does not exist. Yes, I said it. The concept of the welfare state exists only in the conceptual sphere in American politics. We look at examples of more socialist societies in the world, most notably Scandinavia, and cringe at the possibility of high taxation and the redistribution of wealth. This is what we call welfare in the United States—the idea that we should help those who are having difficulties helping themselves. This idea manifests itself in different ways in both the federal and state government level in the U.S. The media and politicians usually refers to them as “safety nets”. This includes the safety net of unemployment which helps people to avoid ruin in times of job loss and fighting underemployment. This also includes health care for the poor and elderly. This includes tax cuts and deductions for a myriad of things in our economy. In my opinion, everyone has some benefit to the this “welfare” state. Thus, when we bark our opposition it goes a long way if we step back and put ourselves in the shoes of those who are in need of help. It’s easy to oppose something if we haven’t thought: what if it were me?

Affirmative Action mostly benefits white people. Yes, yes it does. It is not okay to simply believe that blacks, women, latinos or hispanics are not qualified and thus oppose any regulation put in place to equalize the inequality built into our education system, historically the great equalizer in our capitalist economy. Historically, affirmative action has benefited white women more than any other people. As a student at an elite school, I sometimes get those side glances, those hesitant statements many times not by their own volition. I think it would surprise them to know that Cornell started their affirmative action policies to increase the Asian American population on campus. But I don’t blame them. My classmates are socialized into a system that uses phenotype to designate someone as “affirmative action” eligible. AA does not work in this way and should not work in this way. These regulations are in place to equalize the generations of inequality which culminated into vast gaps between access and opportunity among different groups of Americans.

In the words of Dr. King

“Whenever this issue of compensatory or preferential treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree, but he should ask for nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic. For it is obvious that if a man enters the starting line of a race three hundred years after another man, the first would have to perform some incredible feat in order to catch up.”

Taxation of the wealth is multidimensional. I won’t get into the details of our progressive taxation system because at first glance it looks equal. However, when we factor in deductions and capital gains the rich are exponentially better off when it comes to carrying the tax burden. The backbone of a capitalist economic system is capital—money that makes works for you, money that makes money. The tax on these capital gains are far less than that on income. Therefore, the rich are living better off. Is it okay to reward wealth and disregard the hard work of the working man, the every day laborer? Is it okay to say, here’s your big tax break for making millions while doing nothing and here’s no tax break for you, the middle class worker, for going to work 5 days a week this year?

I say we step back, re-evaluate our positions and think about what these politics stances mean to people not just these abstract demographic groups but the actual people that wake up in the morning and head to work.

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Posted in: Culture