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September 18, 2012

Schreibman tops Chris Gibson on women's issues

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The Daily Star

---- — As the time to vote draws near, we need to remember how money can run politics more than we can. Raising funds is a prominent (if not the dominant) task of getting elected. Raising issues is also crucial, but those efforts are subject to distortion and fear-mongering.

Social tensions have risen over time as power has skewed the distribution of wealth toward the top. The Clean Air Act has been undercut and weakened. Money-making Big Oil still gets tax break subsidies.

Incumbent Congressman Chris Gibson supported these changes. He also tries to depict Obamacare as a government takeover that will interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. That’s a distortion. It protects patient rights over insurance company rules that already interfere. Gibson invokes a boogieman image of government controlling us. But he voted to make Medicare a voucher program, and to defund Planned Parenthood to the detriment of women’s health care.

In contrast to such shell-game issues, Julian Schreibman is creatively involved in promoting healthy people and a healthy local economy. He opposes what more and more looks like Republican warfare on women’s issues.

Schreibman opposes federal subsidies for oil and gas. But Schreibman is fully focused on creative ways to support and grow local small business by investing more in our infrastructure. Significantly, this includes building up a network of broadband services throughout our rural area.

We all need to be aware and informed; aware that that there is a clear-thinking alternative to the fear-mongering of Chris Gibson. Schreibman is fully aware of the issues that will affect our community. Fracking is such an issue locally, and the consolidated input of corporate interests could potentially outgun the local voices of a scattered, if solid, opposition. Corporate money can buy a megaphone to loudly advocate a point of view, even if presented in a one-sided manner. That is why it is so important to note a candidate who is really tuned in.

Nationally, employee rights are maligned by people like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as simply being out of touch with the incentives of opportunity. Mitt seems to be most enthralled by the opportunistic possibilities that gave him advantages that are not open to everyone. Barry Goldwater was once cartooned saying, “Why don’t all you (poor people) go out and inherit a department store?” Another conservative.

Meanwhile, Paul Ryan would cut Medicare back into a limited voucher system to allow tax reductions, reductions for high-income taxpayers! They seem to think this will somehow help the poor in the end. Indeed, the poor will feel like they are getting it in the end.

The big things that divide us from one another come from the huge economic inequity that characterizes our country. The “have-nots” are a large majority, but a minority of “haves” control the great bulk of national wealth. Our world is more unequal now than it has been since the Great Depression. This is not the world of a healthy society. That is why we need a local candidate who thinks for himself rather than rubber-stamping Republican rhetoric.

The symptoms of this malaise are fractious feelings, poor health and poor mental health, a sense of injustice not even recognized, much less addressed. All this undermines finding equal opportunity, because equal opportunity itself is undermined. All too often the unemployed are the ones the finger of blame is pointed at.

We need social supports that uphold the dignity of those who get trapped in conditions not of their own making. Unemployment insurance and Worker’s Compensation were put into place by Franklin Roosevelt. But also needed now are government programs that support full employment, and a living wage for all workers.

People want to work, and to be self-sufficient. They want the opportunity to earn self-respect, and the ability to support their children. We all need to be useful and connected by the sense of participating in a productive community.

When too much money is siphoned off and held by the top, too little money circulates the oxygen of middle-class survival through all levels and classes. When workers derive good wages from working, they are automatically good customers. When the wealthy receive money, their use of it is more related to preserving their own security than it is to any need of providing for their families. That is why the most equitable distribution of wealth among us would promote the highest well-being for all of us, at all levels of society.

William Masters can be reached at wmasters@thedailystar.com. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Star and its editorial board.