Americans need to switch their mindset, from one in which a positive business environment is the least taxed, and least regulated, with low wages and no unions, to one which is powered by public investment in health, education and child care, and good wages, a more solid and secure foundation from which Americans can pursue the American Dream.

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This was a really important episode to me, as I am passionate in my belief that the society that spreads the "manure" of prosperity through itself will reap the benefits of a healthier, more productive, less violent society. I have personal experience with poverty. I am doing what I can to support efforts to end the giant disparity in wealth in our country, but I wish we were doing so much more. I loved the story of Djaffar and his experience in Denmark, a country I admire, and that terrifies folks afraid of "socialism." Having said that, I wrote this thank you letter to my country in July of 17, because I have been the recipient of public funded programs that saved my life, and that I wish were expanded.

As America’s birthday draws near, I am thinking about why I am grateful to belong to this country. Freedom of speech, and many freedoms that humans in history have never experienced, too numerous to mention. Specifically on this Fourth of July, 2018, I am grateful for my country’s generosity, humanity, and wisdom. Here are my thanks to my fellow Americans and this great country:

Thank you for keeping my family together when I was shell-shocked from an abusive marriage with two small boys who were also traumatized and needed me.

Thank you that you made it possible for my children to be with me, and not go into foster care, or have to live full-time with their abusive father.

Thank you for Head Start which nurtured our whole family and without which I cannot imagine progress or health.

Thank you for food stamps as I worked whatever jobs I could find that were simple enough for me to handle while I dealt with recurring depression and anxiety.

Thank you for helping me get back on my feet during the two times that the stress overwhelmed me and I lost my job.

Thank you for the health care, including mental health care that was critical to our survival.

Thank you for the hope, the time to develop confidence and learn skills, and the sense of worth that eventually allowed me to crawl out of poverty by my fingernails. It took me more than 10 years.

Was it easy being on assistance? No. I had to give away my car because I could not afford insurance or gas. Jobs I could walk to or bus to were the only options. But I had a roof over my head, food, and medical care. And my kids.

I had no other options. I have been on Welfare three times in my life. Through Aid to Families with Dependent Children, also known as Welfare, you gave me a hand up. I became a child care provider, working with many parents in difficult financial and psychological straits who received food stamps and welfare. Then I became a teacher, a job which I love and am very proud of. I teach high school and college. I know that there are those who worry about people who “use the system.” Perhaps there are some. But I can truthfully say, that in all my years of living in poverty with many, many others in my situation, I only encountered those earnestly struggling to survive and thrive. It has been my privilege to watch many of them blossom. Out of my profound gratitude I am happy to pay my taxes and consider it a privilege. Thank you for helping me become a fully- tax paying, supporting citizen of this beloved country. It is my duty and privilege to work to keep this safety net for all the others struggling who need it too, and who will be better citizens for it. Thank you, America, from the bottom of my heart. I love you.

Stephanie Massie Clark, Omak, Washington

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Somewhere between our zoom meeting discussion and then hearing Sen. Ron Johnson's ongoing display of surely strategic sabotage with his entry of nefarious meshugaas into the Rules Committee investigation of January 6th... and the pulled punches of an article like this –

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/02/23/how-effort-deny-reality-jan-6-attack-is-evolving/ – that refused to call lies "lies" (instead, jawdroppingly allowing the only use of the word "lie" in the article to be granted to quoting Tucker Carlson and giving him of all the people the power of pointing that word in his chosen direction) - the MSM seeming to have fallen back to pre-Trumpian "gentlemen's agreement" delicacy where euphemisms soften actual lies ...

Anyway, somewhere in all that stew of daily processing, it occurred to me that, out of all this in-our-face disingenuity and sabotage from within -- domestic terrorism meets Trojan horses -- grows two new questions that should become essential to every debate for every office at every branch of government going forward:

1. Do you believe in government?

2. What do you believe government is for? its purpose?

and perhaps a third:

3. How do you wish to change the nature of government's reason for being?

Don't let somebody get a foothold even as proverbial dogcatcher or local school board member if their reason for running for office is to undermine, eliminate, suffocate what the whole point of democracy of the people, by the people and *for* the people is about.

It feels stunning that "Do you believe in government?" should ever need to be asked of someone actually running for office, but the entire past four years - and the ongoing transparent mission of malign lingerers like Ron Johnson (and Cruz and so many more - who coincidentally – ha ha – all happen to be in the Republican party) has brought us to this point.

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Random responses: 1) Oddly enough, I was talking with someone just two days ago, about relative national policies, and daydreaming about aspects of those of Scandinavian countries being adopted on the state level. I was saying that I would seriously consider moving there if one did. Even Ohio. Maybe if we had one named "New Denmark" instead of New Hampshire or New York it coulda been a contender. 2) Everybody knows about the cultural studies that show that the extent to which people recognize the contribution of all to the wealth of the few is lowest in the U.S., that myth of the individual being solely responsible for their lot in life (wealthy or impoverished) - the individualist view in the U.S. is the extreme. 3) Wealth taxes: even "Winners Take All" worded it such that the ultra rich would have to make some "sacrifices". Sheesh, if you have anything over let's say...three million...it isn't sacrifice other than the sense of the word as being giving something up for something higher. 4) "scheming hope" 5)Gertrude Stein rules.

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GREAT to hear someone who has a commitment to the truth! I would also say that a healthy, educated society where people are comfortable is the true meaning of 'national security'!!

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Benjamin Franklin said it best:

"The accumulation of property and its security to individuals in every society must be an effect of the protection afforded to it by the joint strength of the society in the execution of its laws. Private property therefore is a creature of society, and is subject to the calls of that society, whenever its necessities shall require it, even to its last farthing; its contributions therefore to the public exigencies are not to be considered as conferring a benefit to the public, entitling the contributors to the distinctions of honour and power, but as the return of an obligation previously received, or the payment of a just debt. The important ends of civil society, and the personal securities of life and liberty, these remain the same in every member of the society; and the poorest continue to have an equal claim to them with the most opulent, whatever difference time, chance, or industry may occasion in their circumstances. On these considerations I am sorry to see...a disposition among some of our people to commence an aristocracy by giving the rich a predominancy in government."

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With all due respect, Anand, this goes beyond their declaration of stocks, or the surface on which we catch them doing it.

Businessmen and trillionaires (yes, the 0.001%) have a plentitude of dirty tricks (blind trusts for one) to circumvent their issue of optics.

To give an example, Elon Musk has shares in more than 10 companies. He switches optically from one to another, but it's a *brand* he switches between. He still has stocks all over the map. The Big Tech map.

Legal reform is heartening, but sorry to say this --- only superficial at its best. We need to go after the 0.001% (trillionaires) in order to really purge the world of dark money.

It's a long fight, and I have your back. Many of us do. You are not alone.


Melissa Enders

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The pandemic has shown the problem with extreme variance in wealth. Millions of people have lost their jobs, had to depend on fairly skimpy relief from the government with the constant threat of eviction from rental homes and foreclosure on homes only partially owned until the mortgage is paid in full. Beyond that was the possibility of extreme hunger, falling ill from the covid virus. At the same time as all this is going on, our wealthiest collectively had their wealth grow by over a trillion dollars. And, in part, that came from having people work for close to slave wages, harsh working conditions, and work schedules, not to mention doing everything they could to prevent workers from unionizing.

While I appreciate Biden's sensitivity to peoples plight, the financial outlook is still rather stingy.

Biden has to stop being afraid to offer adequate aid to a hurting population. Losing people to Covid has indeed been hard, but not nearly as hard as losing your job, having your shelter at risk, and experiencing growing hunger and fear.

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It's in the best interest of the rich to stop being so pathologically selfish. If an angry mob could breach the US Capitol, what's to stop an angry mob from breaching Jeff Bezos' residence? Or Mark Zuckerberg's? Or Jack Dorsey's? They must know they've got it coming.

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Read: The Self-Made Myth (Berrett-Koehler 2012)

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One of my biggest frustration with the taxing argument is this - the ineptitude of the government in US is staggering. Do you really think the likes of Ron Johnson, Lindsey Graham and other senators / House of Representative at the helm currently can make critical and rational decisions around where funding should go ? Even if they do, the ineptitude in execution was laid bare in Covid fund distributions (think PPE loan frauds)

Individuals paid $1.7 trillion dollars in 2019. Government spends $1 trillion / year on welfare programs (State + federal).

But.. Poverty rate is at 11.8%, roughly 38 million people. That's just insane. We could get another 20 trillion in funding, and we'll still be left with millions of people below the line.

Getting more money will not fix the ineptitude of congress/senators and inefficient resource allocation, sub-par systems we won't address these problems.

end rant.

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Anand, the billionaires may be increasingly coming around to your point of view. The question is will you be able to convince working class Americans in Trump country ? Drained pool policies carry a lot of weight there even today.

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What contributed to his consciousness? So "other" than that of our Gates, Bezos, Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Walton Family, Kochs, Steve Balmer, Buffet, et al. Could one piece be the fact of his being an immigrant? "A stranger" tangling with ,sorting profound cultural differences to make connections on all levels of existence. Or, something deeper?

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All fine but Denmark is less than impressive on immigration and treatment of minorities, pace Mr. Shalchi.

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a NOBEL man.

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My mom received welfare and food stamps in the '70s after her divorce from my dad (who never paid child support).

Fast forward to now she talks about her "white trash" neighbors, how she thought Reagan was great and giving me my inheritance before she dies so that the government and/or nursing home care for her husband can't take it. I do get her point about not wanting to hand over everything she slaved 14 hour days to earn. I feel like boomers might be a lost cause though because they don't seem to be willing/able to vote in the interests of their own children. In the case of my mom who thinks I'm failing at life because refuse to slave14 hours a day for an oligarch as she did, "That's just how it is and will always be."

On the other hand, I were a millionaire I wouldn't want to be taxed more so that we could support things like the genocide of Palestinians.

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