Jan 042016
DECEMBER 15, 2015-MOUNT VERNON, IOWA Bernie Sanders speaks at rally at Cornell College

DECEMBER 15, 2015-MOUNT VERNON, IOWA Bernie Sanders speaks at rally at Cornell College

I enjoyed listening to Bernie Sanders in Mount Vernon; he has a vision and the passion to go with it. I enjoy people that show passion.  What’s Bernie’s passion?  Picture the United States of America with an educated work force that is free of college debt,  and a living wage for all full-time workers. It sounds awesome and I would love to get behind it, especially if he could make the student loan I expect to be paying off in the (hopefully early!) part of retirement go away. I respect the man for his honesty too. When he is asked how he is going to pay for all this “free stuff,” he doesn’t beat around the bush. He is going to tax the rich people more and he says so. I’m not sure that’s the greatest way to proceed.  But it’s honest. And it’s a much better answer than we usually hear. I am sick of “trickle down this” and “bigger pie for everyone so everyone gets a bigger piece of pie” that. Hog wash and mumbo jumbo!  The policy decisions we make have costs. There always seem to be winners and losers. At least Bernie acknowledges that his policies have a cost and somebody has to pay it. Good for him! That’s refreshing.

Bernie Sanders calls for making public colleges tuiton-free. Is it any wonder many college age people support him? I like the idea of public colleges and universities being affordable for all with the option to use need-based financial aid and work-study to avoid debt. I especially like the work-study part! To me, eliminating tuition is going overboard. If a person sees value in an education, they should be willing to pay part of the cost of that education. If we make college tuition-free for all comers, we can expect the college student population to increase but some of these new students will not be willing and able to complete a college-level education. I fear further dumbing down of our educational system would result as people came to view education as an entitlement.   One solution to this would be to provide more aid to students who have shown the ability to succeed academically and the willingness to make success happen.  It is not the degree that moves a person forward.  The degree can open doors, but it is the ability to create value (0r at least to create the perception that one creates value) that helps a person build the income necessary to become financially successful.  And, there is more to education than college.   We will always need plumbers, electricians and other trades people.  I could care less if my electrician has a BA in anything-but I sure hope he or she has the education needed to wire my house safely!  What are we doing to support education in the trades that we all rely on to keep our homes in order?

The is where I do not agree with Bernie Sanders and his stand on increasing the minimum wage. I agree, people that work 40 hours a week should not have to live in poverty. However, maybe they need to work smarter, not harder. And this is where government can help. By improving the quality of our educational system, we can build a work force that can do much more than work at McDonald’s or Walmart. Much of the work currently done by low wage workers may disappear if the minimum wage is increased to $15 per hour. We are already seeing automated check outs at Walmart. What comes next?  Job creation.

Bernie Sanders is on more solid ground discussing job creation. Essential parts of our infrastructure are failing or close to failing. Investing in roads, bridges, communication, clean air, and clean water makes sense and will involve construction workers, engineers, architects-people that are better paid than McDonald’s workers for a reason. Let’s get on with rebuilding America, and let’s link some of the education benefits Bernie proposes to training for the type of work the American economy needs done. Leave the minimum wage jobs to the students and prepare our young adults to do work that is well-paid because it adds value, not because the pay is government mandated.

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