Letters to the Editor 2019

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To the Editor: 

During the 60s, there was a major debate about whether the U.S. should orient our budget towards guns or butter. Those terms have disappeared today, but the issue hasn't: Do we want guns or butter?  

One side is presently being discussed, but not the other. We have seen endless media headlines about Biden's $3.2 trillion "socialist" budget (now down to $1.75 trillion), but rarely is it mentioned that this is for 10 years or $350 billion a year (now $175 billion a year). Is that a lot? Sure, but not compared to the over $740 billion a year on the military or $7.5 trillion for that same 10-year period. 

Is that a lot? Well, the combined spending of our major adversaries (China and Russia) is $310 billion a year, which must be enough for their defense because I haven't heard of either of them being threatened or invaded recently.  

Now, suppose that we subtract the combined spending of our major adversaries from our current military budget. What do you get? Well over $400 billion - more than enough to pay for the original amount Biden and the Democrats proposed spending per year on enlarged Medicaid, hearing aids for seniors, preschooling, paid parental leave, etc.  

The point is that when Van Drew claims we can't afford to add more to the deficit, he intentionally ignores saying that we could afford the Biden plan and a military budget 33% larger than our two combined adversaries. 

Just as important, the issue today, unlike during the 60s, when incomes were much more equal, is guns vs. butter vs. money for the rich. The income of the top 1% is now 16% of the total U.S. yearly income, or $3 trilliona year, and most of that income comes not from work, but ownership of stocks and bonds, etc.  

The real issue is how to distribute money in the U.S. To the military, middle/lower class social programs, or to the pockets of the rich through Wall Street? The money is there; the question is one of who should get it or keep it. In short, a question of values. 

I realize that this sort of analysis and all these numbers makes the average voter's head spin, but the reality is what it is and if we want to make good policy, we're going to have to face it. 

It would be a good idea to put all of the cards on the table before we decide on who gets what. Suppose we cut the military budget down to $550 billion vs. the $740 billion today. Combine that with a small 6% increase on the top 1% by simply making the Social Security tax on all their income. Those small steps would fund a number of important climate, infrastructure, and social goals. 

I say all this as a HNWI (high-net-worth individual) who has lived off the stock market for 25 years and is a proud grandparent of a marine sergeant, as well as a concerned citizen. 

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