Who do you think should pick the elected leaders of the United States?

My old friend did it again. He’s a good bellwether for far-right conservative thinking, because he is a born-again fundamentalist Christian, far-right libertarian who thinks abortion is murder and that women should be ruled by men because, well, women are women, and the Bible supports what he thinks.  He reads far-right writers, and he watches and listens to far-right media. If he thinks something, you can easily guess where he is getting his ideas.

Anyway, he recently wrote in an e-mail: “You’ve probably heard Churchill’s comment on democracy – ‘It’s the worse form of government except for all the others.’ This can be said about money and elections also – ‘The rich are the worse ones to choose our leaders except for all others.’ Society can be looked at as composed of various groups – rich, poor, artists, criminals, theologians, those living on welfare, students, men, and woman – a vast number of different groups. To become rich takes drive, perseverance, intelligence, ability to comprehend reality, etc., and I for one would rather have the rich chose my leaders than another group’s choice.

After reading that last quote in bold print, I think my old friend is planning to vote for Trump. Hail Julius Caesar or should I say Heil Hitler?

My old friend also wrote: “As far as labor unions donating to a candidate there is nothing wrong with that except when that union is a government union. It’s a vicious circle with the public as the victim. Government unions donate the most money to politicians because their bought politician will sit across the bargaining table when deciding pay and benefits for that union.”

A government union?  Really? I didn’t know we had government unions. Was he talking about labor unions for government employees? He hasn’t replied to my e-mail response yet, so I don’t know.

I Googled “government union” and found this: “The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union representing 670,000 federal and D.C. government workers nationwide and overseas (less than one half of one percent of all workers in the U.S.). Workers in virtually all functions of government at every federal agency depend upon AFGE for legal representation, legislative advocacy, technical expertise and informational services.”

In addition, the U.S. Census reports that there are about 90,000 state and local governments. What about the people who work for them? Do they count? In March 2013, federal, state and local governments employed 21.9 million people, but only 35.7% belonged to public-sector labor unions, or 7.8 million workers.

My old friend alleged that “government unions” victimized the public. What about the 21.9 million Americans who work in the public sector—are they victimized too by those evil government unions? If he meant union workers earn more than non-union workers, he’s right. According to the AFL-CIO on average, union workers’ wages are 27 percent higher than their nonunion counterparts. Unionized workers are 60 percent more likely to have employer-provided pensions. More than 79 percent of union workers have jobs that provide health insurance benefits, but less than half of nonunion workers do.

Wow, that should make all workers, who aren’t rich, want to belong to a labor union. What’s wrong with all those workers who don’t want to belong to a labor union? Are they stupid like my old friend thinks?

According to bls.gov, there are 147,331,000 workers in the U.S. employed in the private sector and only 7.4 million belong to private sector unions. – bls.gov & bls.gov

What about my old friend’s claim that “government unions” (the proper term is public sector unions) have more money to donate to the elections of representatives who will do what’s best for the millions of workers the unions represent?

Let’s find out. The National Education Association (NEA) funding comes from dues paid by its members ($295 million in dues from a $341 million total budget in 2005). Typically, local chapters negotiate a contract with automatic deduction of dues from members’ paychecks. Part of the dues remain with the local affiliate (the district association), a portion goes to the state association, and a portion is given to the national association. The NEA returned 39 percent of dues money back to state affiliates in 2012-2013, and federal law prohibits unions from using dues money or other assets to contribute to or otherwise assist federal candidates or political parties, in accordance with their tax-exempt status.

But billionaires like Bill Gates (worth $79.2 billion), the Walton family ($144.7 billion), or the Koch brothers ($100 billion) do not have laws that stop them from contributing money or otherwise assisting federal candidates or political parties.

Did you know that in the 18th century the U.S. Constitution only allowed white men (but not Jews) who owned property to vote—about 10% of the total population?

Who votes today?

  • Young people are much less likely to vote than older ones. From 1972 to 2012, citizens 18-29 years old turned out at a rate 15 to 20 points lower than citizens 30 year and older.
  • Voter turnout also varies by race and ethnicity.  In 2012, turnout rates among eligible white and black voters was 64.1% and 66.2%, respectively, while it was only 48.0% and 47.3% among Latino and Asian American voters respectively. The 2012 election was the first presidential election in which black turnout exceeded white turnout.
  • Women’s voter turnout has surpassed men’s in every presidential election since 1980. In the 2012 election, 7.8 more women than men voted. Interestingly though, older women are actually less like to vote than older men. In 2008, 72.2% of men 75 years and older voted, compared to only 64.9% of women that age.
  • Wealthy Americans vote at much higher rates than those of lower socio-economic status. During the 2008 presidential election, only 41% of eligible voters making less than $15,000 a year voted compared to 78% of those making $150,000 a year or more. Studies have shown that this difference in turnout affects public policy: politicians are more likely to respond to the desires of their wealthy constituents than of their poorer constituents, in part because more of their wealthy constituents vote.
  • According to the Census Bureau, 46.2 million people—about 15 percent of the U.S. population—currently lives below the poverty line (and 16 million of those who live in poverty are children who can’t vote). Crunch the numbers and about 12 million, who are poor, vote. In 2012, more than 130.2 million Americans voted, and the poor, my old friend thinks shouldn’t vote, because they aren’t as intelligent as the rich, represent less than 10% of the total that voted. But my old friend also thinks the rest of us ignorant fools, who aren’t poor or rich, should not be allowed to vote too.

Instead, my far right, conservative friend wants the 536 billionaires in the United States to rule the rest of us, but maybe he includes the 9.63 million households that are worth $1 million or more.

What about the rest of us ignorant losers who aren’t as intelligent as the rich—you know, the other 242 million adult Americans that aren’t members of the 2.9% who are millionaires and billionaires?

It’s obvious that my old friend supports an oligarchy and not the republic the U.S. Founding fathers gave us. Do you know the difference between an oligarchy, a republic and a democracy? I hope so, because our future depends on it (please watch the video included with this post). When you vote, if you vote, don’t vote for any candidate supported by millionaires and billionaires. Vote for the candidates that most labor unions endorse, because labor unions represent the interests of almost 150 million American workers even if they don’t belong to a labor union. The wealthy—on the other hand—support their own interests, the interests of the 2.9%.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Top 1000 Reviewer 5-star to Run With DEC 2015 SALEWhere to Buy

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

 

Is there a Silent Majority in the United States and, if so, do they have a seat at the table of power?

President Reagan often talked of the silent majority as if he were its voice—like the Pope for the Catholics— but I think that was far from the truth. In this post, I’m going to reveal who that silent majority might be. But first, let’s eliminate the tea party people, who are not silent, because over time, various polls have found that slightly over 10% of Americans identify as a member of the tea party.

There are several groups that rule America, and they are not all in the Congress, the White House or the Supreme Court. Some are billionaires—for instance: the meddling Bill Gates, the Koch brothers, the Walton family, and Eli Broad along with a few other fools with too much wealth.

Then there are the citizens who vote, because they are a powerful force too. The popular vote may not elect the President of the U.S. or the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court but they do elect—for instance—the members of Congress, governors, mayors, state legislatures and public school boards in almost 14,000 school districts.

In the late 18th century, the Founding Fathers of the United States didn’t set up a democracy where every citizen could vote. In fact, the Founding Father were afraid of mob rule, and only allowed about 10% of the citizens to vote. When the Constitution was written, only white-male property owners (about 10 to 16 percent of the nation’s population) had the vote.

By 1850, almost all adult white males could vote, and in 1870, the 15th Amendment gave former black male slaves the right to vote.

Then in 1920, the 19th Amendment gave women the vote.

Along the way, there were attempts to limit who could vote through poll taxes and/or literacy tests—aimed at minority men, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some states are still attempting to do this, but people who can’t pass literacy tests are not the silent majority I’m talking about.

From the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press we learn that only 35 percent of the adult population votes regularly. Another 20 percent votes intermittingly, and 23 percent of registered voters rarely vote while twenty-two percent are not registered.

I’m going to focus on the regular voters, because they have the power to decide who wins most elections in the United States.

Twenty-eight percent, who were high school grads or less, are regular voters—meaning 72 percent are not. Then 38 percent of those who have some college are regular voters in addition to 46 percent of college graduates.

Did you notice that when it comes to voting, a large gap separates those with low literacy skills from those with higher literacy skills?

The National Center for Education Statistics reported that in 2003, 31 percent of college graduates read at the highest proficient literacy level and 53 percent read at the next highest intermediate level. Intermediate indicates skills necessary to perform moderately challenging literacy activities. Proficient indicates skills necessary to perform more complex and challenging literacy activities.

Together, this reveals that 84 percent of college graduates read at a high level of literacy and as you saw earlier in a previous paragraph, they also vote in dramatically higher numbers.

When we look closer at the high school (HS) graduates and dropouts, we discover that 48 percent of HS graduates read at intermediate or above, while only 17 percent of HS dropouts do. (NCES.ed.gov). I think it is arguable that the majority of this group with only HS degrees, that votes regularly, are also more literate than those who don’t vote.

If we boil all of these numbers down, who represents the largest, most powerful regular voting bloc in America?

In 2013, there were 242.4 million adults in the U.S., and if only 35 percent are regular voters, which means 85 million American citizens age 18+ belong to that group, and more than 62 million of those regular voters have some college or are college graduates. In that block of voters, almost 53 million read at high literacy levels, and it is arguable that they are harder to fool with cherry picked lies, because they are more likely to have the skills and knowledge necessary to turn to sites like Vote Smart, Fact Check.org, or Snopes.com to discover who is lying to them, and then vote accordingly. Actually, I use all three and a few more.

Among regular voters, that block of 53 million represents 62 percent, and all that’s needed is a simple majority to swing elections to decide who ends up in Congress, governors’ mansions, state legislatures and school boards. If we add a few million more highly literate readers from the HS only crowd, that number of more informed voters could be much higher.

Simply, the more you read, the better informed you might be and according to the Pew Research Internet Project, 62 percent of high school grads or less read at least one book in the past year compared to 83 percent of those with some college and 88 percent of college graduates.

In addition, adults with some college or college graduates read more e-books (77 percent) compared to those with a high school education or less at 14 percent revealing that those who have more education with higher literacy levels spend more time on the internet. In fact, 45 percent of adults with some college or who were college graduates are frequent readers compared to HS grads or drop outs at 12 percent. (The General Reading Habits of Americans)

Once informed of the facts that reveal the truth of an issue, it will be this group of regular voters who could easily change the political climate of America for the better and limit the power of the loud 10 percent that belong to the tea party, and the billionaire oligarchs like Bill Gates and the Koch brothers.

For certain, it’s clear that small groups with agendas that will hurt the majority of Americans in the long run don’t want this group of regular, literate voters to become informed. Because they are more difficult to fool, it’s this block of regular voters that the United States must depend on to preserve the people’s freedom.

In conclusion, the silent majority of regular voters in the United States is highly educated and likes to read, and even if they don’t know it, they have a seat at the table of power, because the fate of most elected officials is in their hands. Imagine the power this group would have if they organized.

UPDATE on 7-11-2014 @ 12:20 PM PST

In another forum where I mentioned this post, I got this comment:

Unfortunately Lloyd, literate, well-educated over 65s, in the 2012 elections voted overwhelming for Republicans, see Alliance for Retired Americans website .. We have been doing a poor job .. Too much of what we do is defensive .. Too much is tearing down rather than leading .. What is our message?

Here’s my reply:

While it is true that the majorly of tea party thinking Americans are well educated, they are also mostly older men. How many college educated are in this group?

I’m talking about all highly literate Americans age 18+ who have some college or are college graduates. The men over 65 who think tea party poop are a small segment of that group.

“In 2011, the percentage of Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 with a two- or four-year college degree was 38.7 percent. This is an increase from last year’s report; in 2010, the attainment rate was 38.3 percent. Overall, the U.S. attainment rate has been increasing slowly but steadily; in 2008, it was 37.9 percent, and in 2009 it was 38.1 percent. …

“In 2011, 45 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 64 held a two- or four-year college degree, compared to 40 percent of men.”

http://www.luminafoundation.org/stronger_nation/report/main-narrative.html

In fact, people age 65 and over only make up 14.1% of the population and persons under 18 make up 23.3%. That leaves 197.8 million (62.6 percent) who are between 18 to 64. In addition—3.08% of those people over the age of 65 have some college while only 2.86% have BA or better college degrees and that leaves 8.15% of this age group with a high school desgree or less.

Click to access p20-566.pdf

Let’s crunch the numbers:

About 75 million between ages of 25 – 64 have some college or have college degrees compared to 2.56 million over age 65 who have some college or a college degree.  The over-the-hill tea party gang is severely outnumbered by the silent majority I’m talking about.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”