One More Swing (February/March 2016)

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By Dan Georgianna

Political Director, UMass Faculty Federation

  After writing On Campus for over 20 years, not writing the column was easy. I’m a slow writer and was having trouble meeting deadlines. I also thought that my column had become preachy and stale.

My replacement, Susan Krumholz, the current President of the UMass Faculty Federation, is in touch with the campus and is also an excellent writer who is willing to take on difficult topics. I applaud her work and recommend it to everyone.

Like most professors, however, I find it difficult to give up the floor. So, when I was invited to write about Life after Writing (the sequel to life after retirement), I took it!

I continue to spend a few hours a day reading Op-Ed article. They have become  the raw material for more of my columns than I would like to admit. As is the case with many Op+ed writiers, I often ended up taking my ideas from theirs.

While entertaining, most Op-Ed columns on the 2016 election have little to offer beyond exposing the ridiculous claims by Presidential candidates or their supporters that are unfortunateyl all-too-common fare in U.S. Presidential elections. Such stories go back centuries. John Kennedy was reported to have made a deal with the Pope in 1960, and John Adams’s supporters spread the rumor that Thomas Jefferson had died during the 1800 Presidential election. The mlore things change...

Most Op-Ed writers can’t resist Donald Trump, whom E. J. Dionne of The Washington Post calls, “the GOP’s working-class hero.” Trump benefits from falling wages, high unemployment, and the rising rates of early death and bad health that drove many white working-class men and women to vote Republican for President and Congress. They buy Trump’s tough anti-immigrant, anti-China, and anti-trade pacts because, according to Dionne, the Republican establishment “[has] delivered next to nothing to their loyal white, working-class supporters.” 

Nor have Democratic programs to equalize income been much help to workers. George Will wrote in The Washington Post that transfer programs mostly shift wealth from the working-age population to the elderly and that regulatory government serves “those sufficiently educated, affluent, articulate and confident to influence the administrative state’s myriad redistributive actions.” Low interest rates shift “liquidity into equities in search of high yields, thereby enriching the 10 percent of Americans who own approximately 80 percent of the directly-owned stocks.” 

Maintaining the Republican capture of the white working class (similar to the capture of evangelical religious groups) which drives the Republican candidates, depends on emotions: fear and anger directed at terrorists, non-believers, and many non-whites. which finds easy targets in immigrants and President Obama. which finds easy targets in immigrants and President Obama. The white working class and evangelical groups have nothing to gain from the rich reaping wealth through tax breaks, inaccessible health care, bellicose posturing, and education through testing.  

The list of public policy beneficial to the nation seems simple to me: a minimum wage above the poverty line, sensible health care policies, effective and fair policing, effective policies that weaken terrorism, better schooling for pre-K through grade 12, and access to higher education for all who qualify. President Obama with the support from teacher’s and other unions has lately had some success in advancing these policies.

While Hillary Clinton has wisely avoided the circus provided by the Republican candidates, it’s time for her to move from collecting endorsements and raising money to clearly state her proposals to further these policies.