Originally Published: November 28, 2014 6 a.m.
The capacity of the majority of our citizenry to vote against their own self-interest, to remain uninformed, or to not vote at all (we rank 35th among first-world countries) is amazing.
From January 2009 until today, the Dow Jones Industrial average has gone from 7,949 to 17,620, the Standard and Poor Index from 805 to 2,000, unemployment from 7.8 percent to 5.8 percent and the budget deficit as a percent of the gross domestic product from 9.8 percent to 2.9 percent, yet we voted in the very Republicans who tanked the economy while reviling the president under whose administration it has improved despite endless Republican obstruction.
The Republican majority refuses to increase the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour) though doing so would stimulate the economy. Republicans defeated the bill that would have allowed student loans to be refinanced at current interest rates, thus pouring much of the 1.2 trillion dollars of student debt in to the economy. Instead, the average graduate remains saddled with $27,300 of debt. They argue these moves would curtail business investment while the richest one percent invest less than one percent of their wealth in business start-ups.
Several economists are now claiming our slower than usual recovery from the 2008 recession is due to a diminishing middle class with little to spend and an ever-increasing income disparity between rich and poor. By comparison, Australia, Denmark, France and Germany have minimum wages ranging from $11 - $21/hour in U.S. dollars.
Of course, if you are in the wealthiest one percent (minimum income $380,000 annual income), or really believe in the "trickle down" theory (The wealthiest 85 people in the U.S. have wealth equal to the 160 million who earn $53,000 or less) you should probably vote Republican.