BY SHARON MARTIN
Billionaires don’t need our money. Sure, even rich people get down in the dumps sometimes. You can give them a smile or a shoulder, but they don’t need one more tax break, one more government subsidy from the very people who have made them wealthy.
Workers are the real gold. No matter how groundbreaking your new idea, it won’t make you rich without labor. Someone has to build the buildings, run the machines, do the dirty work. An idea is just an idea until the laborers get to work.
Taxpayers contribute, too. Try running any business without educated laborers, roads, airports, postal service, sewage system, clean water, and the electric grid. This infrastructure comes to you courtesy of local, state, and federal governments and tax dollars.
It is our job as citizens to pay the taxes. It is your job as a billionaire citizen to contribute your fair share. You don’t need loopholes because you’re so smart or because the Supreme Court said you could buy a lawmaker.
What lawmakers need to do are crawl out of the pockets of the wealthy and walk among the rest of us. They need to listen to teachers about education and to health care workers and hospital administrators about medicine and hospitals. They need to visit factory floors and well sites, and not just for photo ops. They need to know the homeless and understand why some families can’t seem to climb out of poverty. And they need to understand what happens when the family breadwinner loses his job or a family loses their home.
With this new knowledge, our representatives need to truly represent all of us, kindly, honestly, without political maneuvering.
Here’s the start of a legislative to-do list:
– Expand the VA so that no veteran goes without health care. That includes mental health treatment.
– Put young people and returning soldiers to work rebuilding infrastructure. We need a works program.
– Make college affordable. Perhaps a national service, military and civilian, could make young people eligible for a GI Bill.
– Scrap Race to the Top and corporate schools. Let’s give schools back to communities with enough money and just enough oversight to make them run.
– Raise the minimum wage. Stop letting billionaires dictate how much they are willing to pay slave labor while we, the people, subsidize their workers with government assistance.
– Treat immigrants humanely. Unless you are a Native American, you come from immigrant stock. Think about that when you make your decisions.
– Fund NASA and clean energy development.
– Make family farms and real food the focus of USDA.
This is just a start.
As my friend Carolyn Wall says, before we can tackle the to-do list, we have to be able to talk to each other.
Let’s start the conversation now.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer