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Michael Miller

Viewpoint

By Michael Miller
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America Deserves More Than A Holding Action

1. As of the moment I’m writing this, there are 1,784 hours until the first polls close on Election Day. Oh, no, no, no.

2. The official national presidential campaigns alone have spent over $900 million between them, and will spend significantly more than that again in the next 74 days. Averaged out, the cost of each one of those 30-second ad spots for or against a presidential candidate is about $521. Political campaigns across the country are on a pace to spend more than $5 billion on political advertising this year.

3. And yet the biggest concern on both sides is that millions of potential supporters are unenthusiastic and won’t turn out to vote. Not exactly a model product rollout.

4. By the time this is published, the national party convention festivals will have begun.

5. In preparation, the Sheriff of Hillsborough County, where Tampa lives, has relocated some inmates and released others on bond to free up the 1,700 beds in the Orient Road Jail. The entire jail has been reorganized into a one-stop booking and bailing facility that will be able to rapidly process thousands of arrests.

6. Despite the advertising avalanche and the never-ending hyped coverage, some very important things are not talked about, not asked about. They don’t fit the narratives of either side, or of the media.

7. According to Gallup’s latest economic survey, 18.2 percent of Americans did not have enough money to buy the food they or their families needed at least once during the past year. A recent UNESCO study of the 35 most economically advanced countries placed the U.S. behind only Romania in the rate of “relative child poverty.” 23.1 percent of American children live in a household where the disposable income is less than half of the national median income.

8. In 2011, Nassau and Suffolk Counties had the second-and third-highest foreclosure rates in New York State.

9. The increasingly-frightening drought may raise overall food prices 5 percent this fall, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate. The Senate version of the pending 2013 agriculture appropriations bill would cut SNAP (“food stamps”) funding by $4.4 billion over ten years, reducing nutritional assistance to 500,000 American households by an average of $90 each month. The House of Representatives version of the bill would cut the program by $16 billion and push 1.8 million people out of the program completely.

10. The word “poverty” isn’t going to be mentioned a whole lot during these conventions.

11. Meanwhile, Lockhead Martin’s cost overruns on the F-35 fighter project have exceeded $1 billion, two-thirds of which is absorbed by taxpayers. Don’t look over there. Look at the people on food stamps, wasting your money.

12. The big cymbal-crashing finance issue splitting the national parties is this: Should the maximum income tax rate on those with multimillion dollar earned incomes be 50 percent or 56.4 percent of what it was from the time I was born to the time I was in high school, when America built rockets to the moon and beyond.

13. The U.S. has two separate land armies and several air forces, each with its own equipment and spare parts. The Navy’s army has its own air force, as does the C.I.A. We now have 26 different intelligence agencies.

14. Your second grade teacher’s pension caused budget and tax problems in 49 states. No other explanation.

15. The Wall Street meltdown froze worldwide credit. The 2009 stimulus was just a holding action, and now it has almost all run out. The private sector, increasingly petrified and sitting on trillions, isn’t fixing this. Additional tax breaks to the very wealthy aren’t fixing this. Eliminating air pollution standards and allowing petroleum drilling in national parks won’t fix it. Too much of our current deficit is invested in war and health insurance companies. If we slash public spending, we’ll crash.

16. A massive infusion from somewhere has to fix it. If it’s from the federal government, so be it. Trillions to rebuild the country, to figure out our energy of the 21st century, cure cancers and maybe build rockets to Mars and beyond.

17. And the world will again look at America in awe and wonder.

Michael Miller is a freelance writer, designer and strategic consultant who has worked in state and local government. Email: millercolumn@optimum.net