Access to College and Politics

The Democrats are not perfect. Not even remotely. But they are better than the alternative. Especially on the issue of student debt.

We, as students in college, cannot afford to forget that Bernie Sanders, Hilary Clinton, and Martin O’Malley have come up with approaches too making colleges affordable. But it isn’t just those individuals and it isn’t just student debt from tuition and housing, it’s also Richard Durbin. Richard Durbin, of Illinois, and Franken of Minnesota, with the Affordable College Textbook Act, which was shot down in Congress in late 2013. Another, similar bill, was introduced in the House, by Democrats Ruben Hinojosa of Texas, and George Miller of California. They didn’t pass.

Researching the Affordable College Textbook act reveals that ALL of it’s cosponsors were democrats. The bill in the House of Representatives had 47 Democratic Co-Sponsors. To be fair, the E-Book Access Act, introduced in March of 2014, by Suzan DelBene had a Republican Cosponsor, Richard Hanna, but also died in Congress. But the College Access Act, by Al Franken had no Cosponsors and died in Congress.

The reality is, the group that cares about improving the accessibility of college is the Democrats. Not just the Presidential Candidates, but MANY Democrats in the House and the Senate. We, the students in college need to remember who is really on our side.

Chris Christie said that debt is a part of the college experience, and that we who want a college degree should “earn it” which apparently entitles us to… debt, because you know, studying and earning the grades isn’t enough for him apparently. It’d be nice if we applied that logic to big businesses, given that he himself has given plenty of tax cuts to the wealthy. What Christie, and undoubtedly many of the modern Republican party want is the students to finance the wealthy, because the more tax cuts they get, the more we have to pay.

Students should be able to go to college, and not sweat about debt, or at the very least not debt because we’re pursuing an education. Don’t forget who wants to make our lives a bit easier.

Sources:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/08/07/clinton-to-propose-college-debt-plan-monday-answering-key-demand-of-liberals-and-young-voters/

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/11/the-bill-that-could-save-college-students-1-200-a-year/281891/

https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/senate-bill/1704

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/27/college-textbooks-free-congress-legislation_n_4349843.html

http://www.uspirg.org/media/usp/congressman-rub%C3%A9n-hinojosa-introduces-legislation-help-make-college-textbooks-more

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-113s2518is/content-detail.html

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/06/11/chris-christie-comes-out-against-free-college

http://www.politifact.com/new-jersey/statements/2012/feb/05/paul-sarlo/chris-christies-proposed-income-tax-cuts-blasted-d/

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Access to College and Politics

Progressivism

Why am I progressive?

If I’m being brief and to the point: as a historian I have at least some knowledge of how things were. And I believe they could be better in the future, which is exactly why I don’t want things to remain the way they’ve been traditionally.

If I have more time, and can explain in detail why I think the way I do, I’d say this: I believe in a far more perfect union than the one that currently exists. I believe in liberty, and equality, and I believe that those things can be obtained with assistance from the government. I agree with Jon Stewart and what he said at the rally to restore sanity that these are “hard times but not end times”. I believe in a future where citizens of both the United States and Honduras can come to trust their government representatives. I believe that an alliance between the government and civil society is absolutely crucial to success, and that a government can be just, honest, and genuinely earn the pride that some people have in government, and in their nation, whatever that nation might be.

I believe in a government that understands its citizens and supports them. And I believe in a society where people look to the government and see friends, see their peers, individuals who are looking out for them. I am a progressive. I am an individual who admires the ideals of government, a government that works for the people, to keep them safe from external and internal foes, physical enemies like criminals and corrupt politicians, concepts that cause us fear such as poverty, and conditions which hurt us such as hunger, homelessness, thirst. I want to work with the government, whenever I am, to help reestablish trust and respect between ordinary people and representatives of the government. I want to work to change the way people view their elected officials from the “lesser of two evils” too the “genuinely the best option”.

I’m a progressive. I believe in the government. And I believe that governments can afford accountability. I believe that we as a society can hold politicians accountable. I believe that we as citizens can work with the government to make our nations great, once again, both the United States, and Honduras.

Progressivism

Minimum Wage

If you can work full-time on the minimum wage and still be in poverty, the minimum wage has FAILED. The Minimum wage first appeared in the National Industrial Recovery Act, but was called out by the Supreme Court. It would be defeated here, and reappear 5 years later in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

The background of the M.W. is actually fairly interesting. It was part of the N.L.R.A. in the beginning but was called out not due to the wage itself but due to the pressures Roosevelt was trying to put onto businesses for not conforming too the wage, because it wasn’t a required wage but rather one that if used would enable the businesses to have an edge in determining various aspects of business. The Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional.

But he’d get it through, by giving his suggested wage to government workers beginning in 1937, forcing private businesses to also begin to use the same wage in order to retain employees. He managed to get it in one state, Washington, and then a federal bill got passed.

F.D.R. once said : “In my Inaugural I laid down the simple proposition that nobody is going to starve in this country. It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By “business” I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level-I mean the wages of decent living.”

F.D.R. believed that the Minimum wage was a living wage. And so do I. Do you?

Some sources:

http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/odnirast.html

http://poverty.ucdavis.edu/faq/what-history-minimum-wage

http://www.socialwelfarehistory.com/eras/national-industrial-recovery-act-of-1933/

We need to know the history and purpose of the minimum wage. We need to remember that history. The minimum wage is meant to be a living wage. Not a wage that entraps workers in poverty.

Minimum Wage

Post about Democrats running for President.

5 Democrats are running for President. Only heard of Sanders, Clinton, and O’Malley? You aren’t alone. So I wanted to make this little post about the 5 of them, including the big two, Sanders and Clinton.

1: Bernie Sanders. Who is he? He’s the junior senator of Vermont, and an Independent.
Pros: He’s progressive. In virtually every single issue. Virtually. That’s an important word here.
Con: He doesn’t have faith in gun control. That is surprising to a lot of people, and might actually help him win some 2nd amendment people. He has protected the gun manufacturers, not just gun owners. For someone who is seriously progressive, and has a RECORD demonstrating his progressiveness in virtually every other issue, this could appeal to some, and will undoubtedly push others away. I’ll be posting some sources here, but to be fair, he is still far more progressive than the others, and the statements he has made on guns, make sense.

2: Hillary Clinton. Who is she? Former Secretary of State, Former First Lady, and Former Senator of New York.
Pros: She knows what popular stances are on virtually every issue. She has an immense amount of experience, in a wide variety of careers. She knows how to appeal to people.
Cons: She changes positions easily. She is a “populist” in the worst sense of the word, wherein she changes positions to reflect the interests of the people, in the attention seeking way that such actions can be construed as.

3: Martin O’Malley. Who is he? Governor of Maryland.

Pros: He is a solid Democrat. He’s progressive, in a lot of different ways, and has among other things: fought to end the death penalty (I am in the middle, towards ending the death penalty weirdly enough), in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, and marriage equality.

Cons: He doesn’t seem to be taken very seriously. Additionally, Baltimore was changed by his tenure as mayor. He and his supporters argue that things have improved (a statement that has been supported by quite a few articles on him), but there are still some issues. He’s largely a black-horse, due to the lack of overall name recognition.

4: Lincoln Chaffee. He is a former governor of Rhode Island.

Pros: He is seemingly a person of some integrity. He switched parties, and was according to some “the last Liberal Republican”, switching parties in 2007 (he was a Republican, became an Independent). He voted against using force to oust Saddam Hussein, and was supposedly the only Republican to do so.

Cons: Virtually no name recognition. At all. Not a serious contender unless he does something to gain a huge amount of attention.

5: Jim Webb. Former Senator of Virginia.

Pros: He has a “radical” agenda for the future of drug-use policies. (I’m being sarcastic, “radical” in this instance means an actual intelligent plan for the future of drug-policy legislation).

Cons: Same as Chaffee.

Sources: (on the candidates in the same order as listed above)

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/us/elections/2016-presidential-candidates.html?_r=0

Sanders:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/05/politics/bernie-sanders-gun-control/

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/246882-we-need-a-sensible-debate-about-gun-control-sanders-says

https://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/27110/bernie-sanders

Clinton:

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/jun/17/hillary-clinton/hillary-clinton-change-position-same-sex-marriage/

http://www.inquisitr.com/2221759/hillary-clinton-has-never-changed-a-single-position-in-her-career-analyst-says/

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/lanny-davis-hillary-clinton-hasnt-changed-a-single-position-in-her-entire-career/

https://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/55463/hillary-clinton

O’Malley:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/12/the-long-shot/382238/

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2015/0504/Baltimore-violence-and-Martin-O-Malley-s-mayoral-legacy

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/elections/presidential/caucus/2015/07/04/omalley-impresses-iowans-three-day-stop/29715147/

http://www.politifact.com/personalities/martin-omalley/

Chaffee:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-hampshire-democrats-puzzled-by-lincoln-chafee/

http://www.providencejournal.com/article/20150705/OPINION/150709830

http://www.politifact.com/personalities/lincoln-chafee/

http://www.ontheissues.org/Senate/Lincoln_Chafee.htm

Webb:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/maureensullivan/2015/07/02/jim-webb-on-education-5-things-the-presidential-candidate-wants-you-to-know/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/02/jim-webb-drug-legalization_n_7707638.html

http://www.ontheissues.org/Senate/James_Webb.htm

Post about Democrats running for President.

Responding to Kansas State Legislature

This a response to this article: http://www.youngcons.com/kansas-welfare-recipients-just-got-some-very-bad-news/

So Michael Cantrell wrote an article on Youngcons earlier today about Kansas and the addition to Kansas’s “Successful Families Act”. It’s about restricting limits on what welfare is used for and I believe I can write an appropriate response to it. Going to use facts. Which he claims bleeding heart liberals don’t use. Odd all things considered.

“The new law will limit welfare recipients to $25 a day in benefits.”

Reducing the number of Kansans receiving public assistance isn’t the same thing as reducing poverty, said Shannon Cotsoradis, president and CEO of the advocacy group Kansas Action for Children. The recent KIDS COUNT report compiled by KAC shows that Kansas’ childhood poverty rate declined by 2 percent from 2012 to 2013. But other economic indicators showed more Kansas families struggling to make ends meet.

The percentage of Kansas children receiving free or reduced-price lunches at school is a good barometer, Cotsoradis said. In the 2010-2011 school year, about 47 percent of Kansas children qualified for free or subsidized lunches. Now, for the first time, more than 50 percent qualify.

“So here we have more kids relying on free and reduced school meals, and at the same time we’re seeing significant declines in the numbers of families that are accessing TANF and child care subsidies,” Cotsoradis said. “I don’t see how that’s good news. It means fewer poor people are receiving services that are meant to lift them out of poverty.”
e for free school meals if they’re living in households with incomes below 130 percent of poverty and eligible for reduced-price meals if they’re in households with incomes between 131 percent and 185 percent of poverty.

Recently, the Brownback administration claimed in a DCF news release that its new welfare policies also had reduced poverty in the state.

Several days later the agency acknowledged it had made a mistake. The state’s poverty rate as calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure remained essentially flat, inching up to 11.8 percent in 2013 from 11.5 percent the year before.”

So this means that the “Folks on welfare in Kansas are about to have their easy, breezy life of luxury at tax payer expense” are children who receive free lunches.

Poverty is already uncomfortable. Michael doesn’t seem to get this. Getting assistance from the government doesn’t even mean that someone is unemployed, it could very well mean that someone doesn’t make enough to make ends meet. People who are broke, need help, with a job or without one. Michael from this one article, really doesn’t seem to get this. Getting Welfare does NOT equate to being jobless.

“Our tax dollars shouldn’t be going to the poor so they can take high class vacations and get tattoos. That’s just not right, and anyone who attempts to justify such behavior lacks a true sense of right and wrong.”

Well man, I doubt many if any people on welfare use their dollars for vacations and tattoos.

It’s not easy to get agreement on actual fraud levels in government programs. Unsurprisingly, liberals say they’re low, while conservatives insist they’re astronomically high. In truth, it varies from program to program. One government report says fraud accounts for less than 2 percent of unemployment insurance payments. It’s seemingly impossible to find statistics on “welfare” (i.e.,TANF) fraud, but the best guess is that it’s about the same. A bevy of inspector general reports found “improper payment” levels of 20 to 40 percent in state TANF programs — but when you look at the reports, the payments appear all to be due to bureaucratic incompetence (categorized by the inspector general as either “eligibility and payment calculation errors” or “documentation errors”), rather than intentional fraud by beneficiaries.

A similar story emerges with everyone’s favorite punching bag, food stamps (or, as they’re known today, SNAP). Earlier this year, Senator John Thune of South Dakota and Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana, both Republicans, introduced legislation to save $30 billion over 10 years from SNAP, purportedly by “eliminating loopholes, waste, fraud, and abuse.” Once you dig into their fact sheet, however, none of the savings actually come from fraud, but rather from cutting funding and tightening benefits. That’s probably because fraud levels in SNAP appear to be as low as with the other “pure welfare” programs we just touched on: “Payment error” rates — money sent in incorrect amounts and/or to the wrong people — have declined from near 10 percent a decade ago to 3 to 4 percent today, most of it due, again, to government error, not active fraud. The majority of food-stamp fraud appears to be generated by supermarkets“trafficking” in the food stamps. Beneficiaries intentionally ripping off the taxpayers account for perhaps 1 percent of payments.”

The reality is, that Michael Cantrell missed the mark. He was wrong. And is. And all it takes is an examination of the facts.

Sources:

http://www.khi.org/news/article/poverty-measures-present-mixed-picture

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/08/just-how-wrong-is-conventional-wisdom-about-government-fraud/278690/

Responding to Kansas State Legislature

What is a Progressive?

A progressive is someone who believes in a better tomorrow, or even that the next hour can be better than this one was. A progressive is someone who understands that as a politician, or hell as a human being, we have an obligation to make things better for the people who will follow us, our children, that our responsibilities extend to them as well as to ourselves and our neighbors.

Part of the problem with politics in the contemporary USA and Honduras is the popularity of conservatives who want to conserve traditional values. These values don’t hold much worth after they’ve been used to encourage and enable discrimination against those less fortunate, even if they’re only less fortunate because of their sexual orientation and not because of access to a job or food or housing.

As a progressive, I face a tough battle in the US and in Honduras. But I believe in the principals which guide my actions, which is to fight for investments in schools, to fight for more voter turnout, to fight for transparency, to fight to force my fellow government workers to obey existing legal precedent. One of the biggest things I’d do, is I’d create legislation aimed to give people a voice, demanding that for instance, whenever a tax cut is suggested, or slipped somewhere as a hidden addition to a bill the people vote on whether or not it is implemented. If tax cuts are given to the rich, then the poor and middle class have to pay for it, so we have a right to voice our opinions and be taken seriously. We have a moral obligation to stand in front of big business when big business attempts to fatten it’s wallet by taking money from ours. As a progressive, I believe in legislation which transforms the minimum wage into a living, breathing wage. I believe that no child deserves to be in poverty. I believe that no adult deserves to be in poverty. I believe that homelessness can be successfully fought. I believe that healthcare is a right, that every single person deserves. I believe in intelligent restrictions on guns. And I believe that no one can be denied children on the basis of their sexuality, or denied the right to marry the consenting adult they choose, regardless of orientation, or gender at birth.

I believe in strengthening the lower and middle class. I believe in creating unity. I believe in a better tomorrow that is created by my labor, combined with the labor of every Honduran, of every American, of every person. The reason why I’m not conservative is because I understand that change can be good. I don’t want my kids living in the same world I am living in with less trees, and dirtier water. I want my kids living in a happier world, for everyone, than I am living in right now. I want my kids living in a world that everyone knows is better than it was yesterday.

The problem with conservatism is it’s based around a fear of change. And I don’t fear change. I fear a society based in traditional values, when those values are used as a license to discriminate and make life worse.

As someone who could very well become a politician, I understand that my duty as a politician wouldn’t just be to those who are my current constituents, but those who come after, after myself, and after my constituents. I would have an obligation not to get reelected, but to make the lives of the children of my constituents easier. A politician’s greatest measure of success isn’t his reelection rate, but the standard of life of his constituents and those who follow them. Only when politicians universally recognize this, can change begin to truly occur.

Are you a proud progressive? I am. If you are, or aren’t, why or why not?

What is a Progressive?