It’s a long-held belief that education is the cornerstone of the American Dream. Still, we find ourselves somehow faced with the embarrassing fact that in the United State of America, costly college tuition can hold you back from receiving a higher education. It’s even worse that college students, once done with their schooling, are forced to take on crippling debt that makes it impossible to save or get ahead. None of this makes any sense, especially in a nation that prides itself in rewarding hard work, dedication, and determination.
Let’s be clear, the US is the wealthiest and most advanced country in the history of the world. Keeping this in mind, there is absolutely no reason that every student seeking out education beyond high school shouldn’t be able to go to college debt free and no working family should have to pay to send their child to a public college or university.
Moving forward and exploring different possibilities on this frontier will be new for us. Together, we can determine a path, a no-nonsense path, to making these goals a reality. Some folks may be skeptical at first or push back with contrary beliefs, but the underlying message holds strong, and that is that the greatest country on Earth isn’t the greatest at something and that is providing a college education. This has to change. Only Learning what is already known isn’t really learning. It’s only when we dare to step into the unknown and bring light to those areas yet left unexplored that we have truly stepped in the direction of progress.
Trade agreements have consequences that impact each of us. The execution of these deals can wipe out a whole industry and a way of life in almost the blink of an eye. I have has spent most of my adult life in the apparel/textile industry. I witnessed this industry flourish and decline. After NAFTA, most of the labor moved to Mexico but most of the textiles stayed here. Another trade deal was made with China in 2005 and we lost textiles and Mexico then lost most of the labor. Also in 2005, CAFTA was passed and we lost the sock industry.
We must trade with others. Trade is not bad but trade agreements have consequences for the economic health and welfare of ordinary citizens like you and I. We have learned trade agreements that only benefit corporations and big investors, can do great harm to the rest of us. We have learned from the disrupted lives of millions of working Americans, that our trade agreements should benefit all people and not just a few. The truth is, even without these trade agreements, our lives and work would have changed. These trade agreements just accelerated the irreversible force of digital technology and how it has transformed work. No matter how much we may not want it to be so, we live in an interconnected world. It is in this world most of us live, work, and compete.
How do we move forward in a world that is constantly changing? We do what we have always done as a nation, we put one foot in front of the other, we adapt, improvise, and overcome. The technology exists for each of us to become global entrepreneurs, making and shipping the products. We have the skill and the technology. The missing ingredients are the will and the infrastructure. You must supply the will but, just as the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 brought electricity to rural America, we need high-speed internet in all of rural America. This will become our highway to economic security, making the product the world wants.
The debate on healthcare has been going on since FDR. It forces us to consider two potent ideas, our obligation to each other and who pays. The obligation question has already been decided. This choice has been made through the Hippocratic oath taken by our medical staff, decisions of many board rooms, and some state governments. In 1986, the federal government weighted with the passage of the Emergency Treatment and Labor Act that required all hospitals to treat and stabilize any patient that came to their emergency room regardless of their ability to pay.
This entire debate about healthcare is not should it be provided or who pays, but how do we pay for it. We Americans pay for healthcare whether through the purchase of insurance or in the form of taxes. The solution is to find a payment structure that is most economical that provides the best care possible. The market approach has not worked. This method has seen annual cost increases that surpasses that of any other industry. The market solution is not an answer because markets do not exist to make our lives better but to be profitable for their investors. This explains 38% of all healthcare cost does not go to hospitals, clinics, equipment, doctors, nurses, technicians, or pharmaceuticals, but is “lost in the weeds”.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) moves us toward universal healthcare and the adoption of a single-payer system. It has its problems, sure, but it is a step in the right direction. Still, nearly one quarter of Americans reported last year that they or someone in their household had the inability to pay expensive medical bills. It’s time we tackle problems that remain in healthcare. By the adoption of the right policy, we can bring under control the rising cost of healthcare and implement a system that encompasses the founding value of America, that all people are created equal.