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Why Trump and Hillary Don’t Resonate: #ItIsTheSolutionsStupid

by John on 10/06/2016

This is also a podcast that you can listen to here.

trump-hillarySo why aren’t Trump and/or Hillary resonating?  Many of you won’t like my answer because you are the problem.

On the surface, neither candidate is addressing serious problems.  Trump is off on some populist, angry rant. While Hillary seems to just feed the anger and offer nothing in return.

Sure, they have both “touched on” solutions.  Trump mentioned simplifying the tax code, but he has no details. Hillary wants to get Millennials by offering Bernie’s worn out present of free college tuition.  But her approach to foreign-policy seems far more sane than Trump’s. But we are still not getting the details we want from either.

Let me give you the real problems and the real solutions that neither candidate nor political party mentions.

The underlying problems are:

  • An aging society
  • Technology is reducing jobs and salaries

dontshoot-imageLook at the headlines today. These two problems are the foundations.

  • Cops killing black citizens. Why? Not all cops are racists.  But most cops are underpaid, under trained, and inexperienced. Yet we want them to solve the ills of society. Meanwhile, inner city folk have a difficult time finding jobs or jobs that pay.  Many jobs don’t exist.  The jobs that are available require training and schooling.
  • Look at the disastrous commuter train crash in Hoboken, New Jersey. Clearly the New Jersey Transit Authority is underfunded and apparently skimped on safety measures.
  • Syria is out of control. Russia seems to be taking over a lot of our foreign-policy.  Why is that?  First, Americans are tired of spending their money and sending over our young troops to either be killed or injured.  Second, many of us don’t understand the nuances of foreign policy so we blindly take one side or the other without regard to the other considerations.

hoboken-crashSo what are the underlying solutions?

  • Tax reform. We need to wipe out the majority of the deductions that cause a lot of the economy to be gamed so it is no longer a true free market. As a result, we don’t really know what the true tax rate is. The total amount givebacks is estimated at $4 trillion a year. That’s $4 trillion in revenue we could use for tax cuts or necessary spending.
  • Entitlement reform. Simply look at what Medicare is costing us. A Medicare recipient will pay in 1/3 of what he or she will use in a lifetime. The other 2/3 comes from taxpayers.  Get rid of Medicare?  No, reform it so the cost don’t strangle us financially.
  • Massive retraining for 21st century technical jobs
  • Massive infrastructure investment.  Those shovel ready jobs that everybody complained about are actually there. Look at the Hoboken train crash.  There are other headlines of trains going off the track in the crowded northeast corridor.  There are also many instances of bridges collapsing.  Go to countries like South Korea and you realize how far behind we are when it comes to Internet connections.  And the Internet will be our main vehicle of commerce.

economic-growthIf we did those four things, the federal budget deficit would drop and the economy would grow at a faster pace.

So why aren’t these solutions and problems resonating?  It’s the same reason why Trump and Hillary are not resonating: special interests.

Wait.  A lot of us scream about corporations, unions, and billionaires. But guess what? The majority of us are special interests.

Again, look at Medicare. A lot of our senior citizens are getting their healthcare — at the most expensive times of their lives — subsidized by taxpayers.  That makes Medicare an entitlement.  Many recipients will say they paid into it. But they haven’t entirely. So why should future generations be charged for the older generation’s lack of paying attention to what lawmakers were doing over the past 30 years?  (Hey I can say it. I’m a future Medicare recipient.)

Here’s another special interest group you might be a part of.  If you get a tax deduction for your mortgage interest, you are taking money out of the federal government.  Many friends in real estate will be pissed at me.  But what has that deduction done?  It appears to have helped create a boom and bust cycle in housing markets.  It also creates a market that seems rigged for homeowners and not renters.  There is also the theory that raising a child in a house is better than in an apartment.  Is that true or a myth?  I don’t think we’ve examined these questions enough.

Here’s another special interest group you might work for.  Does your employer provide your health care benefits?  Well then listen up.  Your employer gets a healthy tax deduction.  Sounds good, right?  Well, that healthcare deduction is keeping your employer from either hiring more people or giving you a raise.  Not only that it is not making you less healthier since you are leaving your health care in the hands of your employer.

righteous-mindSo think about it when you complain about big corporations, extremist groups, or billionaires that are filtering millions of dollars into both campaigns. You’re almost doing the same thing by not questioning things that could be causing the problems in our country.

But why as a nation do we act this way?  We seem uninformed and out of touch.

The reasons are combination of laziness, apathy, and many of us are way too busy.

We’re lazy because we embrace our personal beliefs and biases while not considering other ideas that might make us uncomfortable.

Jonathan Haidt wrote The Righteous Mind.  He breaks down why Democrats and Republicans vote differently.  But no matter how you lean, the majority of us will stick to our long-held beliefs and vote blindly most of the time.

thinking-slow-and-fastAnother great book is Thinking, Fast and Slow.  Daniel Kahneman has done decades of research on the way people think. His theory explains a lot of American voters.  They have a tendency to substitute more difficult questions for ones that are easier to answer.  In short, most of us place too much confidence in human judgment rather than slow deliberative rational fact-finding.

Our apathy comes from The Unwinding by George Packer. It is a brilliant book chronicling what happened after the Great Recession of 2008.  In a nutshell, he says the unspoken agreement in American society was: if you worked hard, stayed out of trouble, and were a good person then you would have a roof over your head and beer in your refrigerator.  You wouldn’t be a millionaire, but you’d be OK.  That social, unwritten agreement was broken after the recession.  A high school degree gets you nothing.  A college degree, it seems, might just give you a mere existence.

unwindingThe Unwinding also shows how the recession reduced our buying power and our ability to make a lot of money. As a result, I hear so many people who are working say to me, “I am working three times more than I did before to get about half the compensation.”

Too many of us are working extra jobs while having to take care of kids and maybe older parents.  So you hear a lot of people say, “Who has time to delve into all these issues?”

Politicians and political parties are not addressing the causes of the problems — because it requires hard work.  It is easier to get elected by creating a campaign that seems more like a reality show rather than a forum on really making America great.

And yet, we Americans continue to blame the politicians.

But the problem is us.  We want someone else to sacrifice when all of us need to.  Until we, as a nation, understand what is really happening in our society, we will continue this current back-and-forth, reality TV show that signifies nothing to us.

simpson-bowles-articleAgain, #ItIsTheSolutionsStupid.  I will continue this hashtag campaign after the election.

Go to my website where I have laid out these problems and solutions.

Another place to go is the Simpson Bowles Report.  Read it.  It makes sense.  But both Democrats and Republicans refused to even look at it. Why? Because special interests — like you — vote.

Feedback time; your turn.

 

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