21 to Go: Competence, Not Miracles…

I know there are a lot of “progressives” out there who want their vote to go to perfection. They want to elect people who will give them free healthcare, free college and free money for all of the poor. They want to reverse the effects of climate change and get rid of all plastics. Oh, and we will stop using animals as food and trees to wipe our asses. All of our water and air will become as clean as it was when the country was founded, and they will eliminate all military weaponry from the civilian population.

The problem is, of course, that all of the above is unrealistic. First of all, nothing is actually “free,” unless we expect the people who perform services for us to do so without making a living. If we haven’t passed the point of no return, and if we can halt the use of fossil fuels almost immediately, it will still take at least several decades, and quite possibly a century or more, to even begin the reversal of our current atmosphere to its state before the entire planet was on fire. What that means is, even if we do everything absolutely right regarding the environment, it’ll be our grandchildren who start feeling the effects; our kids are screwed for a long time.

On healthcare, no one has ever received health insurance for free, and certainly not without private insurance helping out. And yes, that includes your beloved Medicare. At its heart, Medicare only covers 80% of your medical expenses, which is why private insurance companies have played an essential role in the success of Medicare; they make it affordable and they make it so that everything is covered. Put simply, the idea that we can collect $3 trillion to cover all medical bills through a tax on just the rich is not realistic. Look at how much people bitch and complain about their taxes now, when the government only spends $4 trillion per year; imagine their crying when the government starts spending $7 trillion per year. Someone will have to pay premiums to cover all costs; it can’t all be covered by tax revenues.

Then there is the “free college” idea. A lot of “progressives” like to point out that some states offered taxpayer-paid “free college” back in the 1950s and 1960s, and point to that as “proof” we can do it again, at least with public colleges. What they fail to mention is that universities must offer a lot more education now. At the very least, there are the computers and computer networks, which must be built, maintained and made secure for student populations that dwarf those in the “free colleges” of the 1960s.

In other words, the problem with colleges now are that students are saddled with unimaginable student debt right now, so the true goal should be “Debt-free college,” which means lower tuitions and book prices, and a lot more grants and subsidies. “Free college” is not necessary, nor is it a good idea, since we have “equal rights,” at least in theory in this country, and “free college” would also be accessible to students in rich families. While it would be worthwhile to see underserved families be able t send their kids to the state university free, it’s hard to see the value in paying for a Trump kid’s education through taxpayer funds.

Again, nothing in this world is actually “free,” so when we ask for something to be “free,” we are (unwittingly?) demanding that taxpayers pay instead of those who benefit from the free item. If you wonder why so many voters use the word “liberal” as an epithet, this is one major reason why. We have to start living in the real world and realize there are things we can’t do, and many things we can do will take a hell of a long time to get accomplished. It will take one bill to get us back to the ACA days, but it will take another decade or more to see it morph into a universal health insurance system, and it will have to include private insurance companies. Since we have the Second Amendment in the Constitution, we will never be able to completely disarm the public, and it will take decades to put the law in place to get military-style weapons away from the general public.

In other words, instead of our high ideals, our goal should be competent politicians who care about the American people and the country as a whole, and to do so consistently. That is how we build a nation that is peaceful and just. The Republican Party has shown itself to be completely incompetent at running governments at all levels, and the Democrats have shown a tendency to get things done, albeit slowly. Therefore, to be progressive, we have to vote in every election and cast those votes for Democrats, at least for the time being.

We need competence, not miracles. Every election from now on.

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