Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat Plus
Economic fairness and social justice even is a good debate in the Democratic Party and it seems to becoming from two wings in it.
From the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren social democratic wing that believes the problem with the American economy is that rich people have too much money and everyone else simply struggles just to survive and in many cases can’t survive on their own and in some cases don’t even have a job. And are complete dependent on public assistance for their survival. Well, they’re half right about too many Americans simply not having enough in society to live well. And argue that what we should be doing is taking from the rich in high taxes to support the middle class and poor with bigger current Federal social insurance programs and new social insurance programs for the middle class and poor.
And then you have this Cory Booker/Martin O’Malley wing that believes there are too many Americans who struggle and there should be something done about it, but it becomes a question about what should be done. The Center-Left liberal wing of the party that’s still in existent today that John F. Kennedy and many other Democrats did a lot to build don’t take a class warfare approach. And blame rich people for everyone else’s struggles in life. And say the problem is not that there rich people in America but the problem is that there aren’t enough successful people in America. You have very few at the very top. And then you have a lot of Americans who struggle to get by but generally do. And then you have a lot of people at the bottom who simply live in poverty.
I come down with Center-Left of the Democratic Party. If we want to remain a major political party in America we’re going to need to connect to more blue-collar Americans particularly in the Midwest who believe and in many cases are accurate in this belief that they’re already taxed too high. And aren’t looking for more government welfare but instead for an opportunity for them to do well in America. For good jobs and more economic development to return to their communities. Government even the Federal Government can help in seeing that these things happen with more and better infrastructure investment in these communities. Including inner cities and underdeveloped rural communities. As well as tax credits to increase job training and education for adults who simply don’t have enough education to get a good job right now even if the new economic development happens in their communities.
But at the end of the day if you want more economic and job growth, you want wages to increase in America, an expanding workforce where most of the jobs that are created are good middle class full-time jobs instead of part-time jobs and you want less poverty in America, then Americans have to continue to be encouraged to do well in America. And that means not taxing everyone so high including the wealthy to the point that they’re wondering why are they working so hard and being so productive when Uncle Sam just takes most of their money from them in taxes and gives it people who aren’t doing well economically.
If you want a definition for economic fairness, I’ll give you one anyway but the same definition for economic fairness is the same definition I have for social justice. And it’s about equality of opportunity. That every American has a quality opportunity to do well in life no matter their race, ethnicity or gender, or where they’re born and how they start off in life. That every kid in America has an opportunity to go to a good school no matter where they live. And aren’t sent to school based on where they live, but instead sent to school based on what’s the best school for them.
And even for adults who didn’t take advantage of that opportunity to go to a good school as a kid and are now a low-skilled adult working multiple jobs and still living in poverty or perhaps not working at all and completely dependent on public assistance, that they are given the opportunity to finish and further their education so they can get themselves a good job and do well in life as well.
The same economic debate in the Democratic Party about what our vision should be what type of party we should be on economic policy I believe gets down to one question. Do we as Democrats believe in equality of opportunity which is where the Democratic Leadership is where every American as an opportunity to do well in life, but what they make of that opportunity is completely up to them. Or are we going to become a party that believes in equality of results which is what Sweden essentially practices as a country. Where the national government essentially collects all the resources of the country and then gives them back equally to everyone in the country in the form of welfare state payments.
Again I come down with the Center-Left wing of the party and I’ll paraphrase Senator Cory Booker here and say we should be a country where we all rise. Where everyone has a quality opportunity to do well in America. But how they do will be based on those quality opportunities. The old cliche that you make the bed that you sleep in. And for people who take advantage of those opportunities those Americans will do very well in America. And get to live of their production and enjoy the fruits of their labor even if they’re very wealthy, but obtain that wealth by getting a good education and being very good at their job and with their investments.
And for the Americans who didn’t take advantage of those quality opportunities they had they won’t do very well. But not because of where they were born, or maybe they only had one parent, or because of their race, ethnicity, gender, or any other circumstances that they couldn’t control. But their lack of success in life will because they didn’t finish their education and perhaps made other mistakes early in life that has weaken their economic outlook.
You need government to see that everyone can do well in life, but not to babysit us and try to take care of us from cradle to grave. But to see that there’s an environment where everyone can do well.
Where everyone is treated equally under law and not denied opportunities in life, because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or religion. But to see that everyone can go to a good school.
Where the infrastructure system is modernize so everyone can get around and where economic development can be done and good jobs are created.
Where you have tax system where people and business’s are encouraged to do well and aren’t taxed out of business.
A regulatory state to see that consumers and workers are protected from predators but not to try run business’s in a way that big government would run them.
And a safety net for people who truly need it but not to babysit them and instead tries to lift them up so they can rise in America as well.
That will be the debate going into next year when the Congressional mid-terms take place and Democrats fight to win back the House and perhaps the Senate as well. And into the 2020 presidential election and Democrats pick their next party leader. What kind of party are we going to be on economic policy. And it will be between people who want to see more Americans do well and be empowered to create their own freedom and life independently. And Democrats who believe our economic problem is that government is too small and Americans at all levels are undertaxed and that we have rich people at all.