As an avid supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders and the political revolution, I'm often met with questions by adults as to why I support him. I've noticed that adults particularly from the baby boomer generation (50-70 years old) often prejudge my political stance when they find out I support Sanders. Many of them assume that I only support him because he is very liberal in terms of social issues. They assume I have no knowledge of Sanders' economic plan.
Some comments that I've received from adults include “social issues aren’t the most important issue in our country," and “gay rights won’t matter if our country is in debt."
To you, I say, yes. I am an incredibly homosexual raging feminist who cares deeply about social issues, because people and human rights are the foundation of this country. However, I support Bernie Sanders for many more reasons than that. To assume that millennials have no economic knowledge and that their political passions don't expand beyond social issues is ignorant.
I support Bernie Sanders because I believe that economic inequality has become so problematic that it threatens our country's democracy.
The United States known as the greatest country in the world. We are a melting pot of freedoms, diversity, and opportunity. Yet, the United States is ranked 64th in the world for income equality. This means that there are 63 countries with less income inequality than the United States. Moreover, of all developed nations, the United States has the most income inequality. Granted, based on our capitalist system, some inequality is inevitable. However, this inequality has grown beyond the inevitable and reached an extremely problematic and shameful level.
The problem lies in those who obtain the top 1% of the 1% of America's wealth. The richest four hundred Americans have more wealth than half of the population of the US. The rich earn such an incredible amount of money that it is impossible to spend it all. They spend too little of what they earn, which results in not generating enough economic activity. This leads to underutilized capacity. Essentially, the money becomes stagnate.
The middle class is the center of the universe. It is the sun, with everything orbiting around it. A stable economy is the result of a strong middle class. Likewise, the economy cannot be sustained without the ability for the middle class to grow and develop over time.
Unfortunately, the middle class is dwindling, which is the major cause for our economic downfall and growing inequality.
Globalization and technology are a huge reason for the struggling middle class. Little to nothing is made in America anymore. Parts of products come from locations all around the world and are sold to American companies for high prices. Globalization takes away middle class jobs because it relocates them to countries where workers are paid less to do the same work.
Technology also has a hand in taking away jobs by replacing workers with machines and eliminating the "assembly line" process. For instance, as grocery stores put in more automated check out lines, more middle class workers serving as cashiers lose their jobs.
Middle class workers get caught in a cycle. As their income goes down due to loss of jobs, the prices of housing, childcare, college, and healthcare rise. It is impossible to obtain enough money to maintain a decent standard of living. Sanders wants to change the structure of the economy to end this cycle.
The United States was not always in this downward spiral. In fact, we once used to be as great as we wish we were today. Between 1947-1977 the US was in a period of prosperity. Higher education was a huge priority. We had the best educated work force. Education lifted people out of poverty during this time. Now, the prices of higher education are skyrocketing. Forty-one states have cut spending for public higher education, causing tuition and fees to rise. It is proven that education helps to build a skilled workforce. South Korea, Germany, Japan, and France value higher education and have made schooling affordable for students. This has resulted in these countries maintaining a skilled workforce. Having a skilled workforce in the United States would stop globalization because products would no longer have to be produced in other countries. We must invest in education so we can compete in the global economy.
I believe that Bernie Sanders is looking out for the American worker. Sanders wants to lower the price of higher education, and make state schools tuition free. Lowering the price of education will allow more people to take part and eventually go into the work force as skilled workers. It is impossible for those who are not extremely wealthy to pay for higher education when it is rising so quickly. For instance, in the 1960s, tuition at The University of California, Berkeley was free. By 2016, it has increased to $28,000 a year. The 1960s was a period of great prosperity for the United States. This shows that when education was cheaper, the economy was more prosperous.
Another incredibly important aspect of Sanders’ economic campaign is his fight to break down big banks and get money out of politics.
Lobbyists spent over $3.5 billion in 2010 to support various campaigns. Essentially, companies agree to economically support campaigns if, in turn, the campaign cooperates with the company. This leads to dishonesty and political corruption. The rich abuse this process by lobbying for bailouts, subsidies, and taxes that will intrench their wealth. The middle class is politically underrepresented.
Billionaires contributing huge amounts of money to candidates via Super PACS influence the politics that their candidates support. A billionaire could essentially buy an election or a candidate if they were willing to contribute enough money. This concept is utilized by both democrats and republicans. Both Clinton and Trump's campaigns are predominately backed by Super PACs and wealthy corporations. Sanders, however, has raised 99% of his funds from campaign donations.
Big banks and corporations supporting candidates are stacking the race against those who are not owned by money-induced politics. Goldman Saaks, for instance, has become the voice of Hillary Clinton, rather than the voice of the people. This is a threat to our democracy.
The “Warren Buffet” rule states that if you make at least $1,000,000 a year you should pay at least the same in taxes as middle class families. Instead, the rich are paying LESS in taxes. Most of the wealthy don’t pay the top marginal tax rate because their wealth is often in the form of capital gains, which is taxed at 15 percent. Most middle class workers pay over 30% in taxes while rich businessmen get tax breaks. Mitt Romney, for example, admitted to only paying 14.9 percent in income taxes.
The middle class becoming stagnant due to lack of income along with the wealthy not paying their fair share. This leads to crisis, less revenue, and not enough funding for higher education. This is a vicious cycle.
People are frustrated by the economic downfall and are looking for others to blame. They flock to Trump because he blames immigrants. Instead, we must blame the problem inside our country. The price of higher education leading to globalization and technology replacing workers; big banks and large corporations influencing politics and threatening democracy.
Politics starts with people. Sanders believes in the people. Pairing his liberal social justice policies with his important plans to break up big banks and lower the price of higher education would make this country more economically and fundamentally sound.
Adults, please. When I tell you I support Senator Sanders, do not assume I know nothing about the economy. Talk to me. Listen to the information I know. Let's start a conversation.