We the People: Week of December 6

Children are taught that sticks and stones may hurt you but that names will never hurt you. For politicians, certain words such as compromise are like death’s kiss to a dream of election.

We should listen to people with different ideas in order to get a complete picture of the world; liberals should listen to Sean Hannity while conservatives should watch Stephen Colbert. Then the American people can critically assess the information delivered and avoid what has been called “cognitive capture.”

In America today, money can push a world view of politics and economics onto the people. The media can influence the will of the majority into a direction that is not necessarily in its best interest. During the past decade, conservatives cognitively captured the American people with the promise that income tax reduction, estate tax elimination and banking regulation relaxation would guarantee a better America.

We need to listen carefully and think for ourselves. News reports describe how unions at Hostess caused the loss of 18,000 jobs through their unreasonable demands. However, the company generates billions in revenue and the executives at the “doomed company” are fighting in court for multimillion dollar bonuses while blaming every problem of the company on the worker. The executives and the owners are the ones who failed to invest in research and marketing. They get scant criticism for the demise of the company.

Congress must compromise with the president before the curtain closes on the income tax reduction experiment begun by G.W. Bush. Politicians must brave the fear of the word compromise even when they know extremists will denounce anyone daring to compromise.

A prime example is Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, the standard bearer for anti-government conservatives. He uses fear tactics to hammer members of Congress into inflexible robots unwilling to utter the word compromise.

Compromise can be called accommodation or concession; however, it should be called accord or covenant. It is what is needed for our leaders to accomplish tax and fiscal reform for the people.

America needs compromise to resolve the problem of government overspending and unfair taxation. The federal government must spend less and the wealthy must pay a fair share of the burden of taxation. It’s that simple.

People opposed to any tax increase must realize that people who support a tax increase on the wealthy are not looking to seize the wealth of well-to-do Americans. Over the past 12 years, income tax “relief” has helped the poor to become poorer and the rich to become richer.

In New York City, the bottom 20 percent of earners have a median income below $9,000 a year while the top one percent have an average annual income of $2.2 million. The people at the base and middle of the American economic pyramid are in danger of being crushed by the tax burden which they disproportionately bear.

Meanwhile, the money spent by the government must be spent wisely. In New York City, billions are spent on education including the cost of school security. Safety officers cannot lay hands on a student, even when the student is a 20-year-old convicted criminal, without fear of a career-ending charge of corporal punishment.

Schools that Bloomberg opened are not succeeding and a list of New York City high schools in danger of closing include five small schools he opened. That list inexplicably includes schools which improved their “report card” grade from “D” to “C.”

A recent study reflected that 71 percent of public high school graduates are unready for college-level work. Despite that dismal statistic, New York City specialty high schools produce thousands of outstanding graduates prepared for advanced college work. How do they accomplish what the majority of New York City high schools cannot? The mayor’s answer is to close and open schools.

We need a redesign of the education system to create a successful transformation of our schools. Closing and opening schools will not provide the safe and nurturing environment necessary to make success the norm and failure the exception.

Meanwhile, Council Speaker Christine Quinn hopes to “ride” into City Hall atop Mayor Bloomberg’s dubious “Education Mayor” coattails. We can accomplish much if we work together and in order to work together we must look beyond propaganda and think for ourselves.

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