Saturday, October 22, 2016

Are Hillary and Donald Qualified to Lead?

There are just about 344,000,000 individuals in America at this moment. That means we have the third largest population in the world behind the People's Republic of China and India. That means that 4.5 of the world's population lives in the United States. The majority of these individuals live in major metropolitan centers such as New York City, Los Angles, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Washington DC, and Philadelphia, Atlanta, and San Francisco. Not that it matters much, but the majority, 63%, are Whites of European origin. Almost 67% of the population is between 15 and 64 years of age. The average age is 36 for males and 38 for females. About 16.7% are Hispanics while Blacks make up just over 12% with the rest being comprised of Native Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and so forth.

The average household income in America is between $51,000 and $53,000 with Asians having the highest household income by race followed in order by Whites, Hispanics and Blacks (actually, Native Americans have the lowest levels of income based on demographic breakdown with those living on reservations living well below the poverty line). As one might expect, those with professional degrees (doctorate, law, medicine, engineering) tended to earn the most, followed by those with graduate or post graduate degrees, bachelorette degrees, an associate degree and/or professional certification, and high school diploma/GED with those having not completed high school or earning a technical/trade/professional certificate earning the least. Those with technical or trade school degrees such as plumbers or electricians tend to earn on par with those who had obtained a BA or BS degree.

When we break this down by the numbers, just under 88% of the population has a high school diploma or GED. About 59% has some college while 42% has an associate degree. 32% has bachelor degree. 11.77% has a Masters degree or professional certificate. Just over 5% has a doctorate or professional degree (these numbers are based on ages 25 and over). Women tend be graduating at higher levels than males, which is a complete reversal of pre-1995 numbers. In fact, 62% of all associate degrees awarded with go to women, along with 60% of all bachelorettes, 63% of all master degrees, and 55.5% of doctorates! Quite impressive if you ask me, but I'm sure you're wondering where I'm going with all these numbers and percentages.

Well, it's simply this. Given the size of America's population and percentage of individuals who've gone on to college (and beyond), why are we down to a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? As these numbers indicate, neither of these two are even remotely close to being the best this country has to offer for President. Hillary Clinton and "The Donald" are the two most disliked presidential candidates America has produced. Why is that? Hillary isn't unique when comes women who've graduated from college, or even women who obtained a doctorate or professional degree. Hillary attended Wellesley College and obtained a BA in Political Science and then obtained a law degree from Yale University. There's also a lot of women who are just as driven as Hillary is (except hopefully more honest). Trump attended Fordham University in New York City before transferring to Wharton's School of Finance and Commerce (University of Pennsylvania) where he earned an undergraduate degree in Economics. Again, great but hardly extraordinary (I earned a BA in International Economics with a minor in Political Science as an example before going on to earn a dual Master's and a Postgraduate certificate among several other professional certificates).

Certainly we would want any president to be well educated, and both Trump and Clinton are as all of the presidential nominees since at least the turn of the 20th Century have been with one exception (Harry Truman had only a high school diploma. A total of 12 presidents never graduated college up to and including George Washington who had earned a surveyor certificate). Most, but not all, were lawyers. John Kennedy for instance briefly attended the famed London School of Economics but transferred to Harvard University where obtained a BA in Government with an emphasis in International Affairs (yes, I note the irony), but professionally he was a writer. Both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt attended Harvard University as well and while both briefly enrolled in law school, neither graduated. So, what else do they have in common to qualify them for president? Well, they're both filthy rich and being rich seems to be a required to be in Washington and member of the political or ruling class.

In a 2010 survey, the collective wealth of Congress was $2 billion dollars. Yes, you read that right. That was a 25% increase over a previous 2008 survey. The minimum net worth of members of the House was $896,000 dollars while over in the Senate it's $2.7 million dollars. Doesn't sound like a nice cross section of America to me. Does it to you? No wonder these people have no idea about goes on in America. They don't live like us, how can they expect to know what we need or want? You could argue that Congress, as well as the Presidency and Supreme Court, are so far removed from us socially and economically, that they indeed constitute an entirely different class. Among those who ran for president this go around, Ted Cruz was the wealthiest candidate, yet he didn't even break into the top 100 richest members of Congress (the poorest of the GOP nominees was Marco Rubio, but give him time. He's still young yet).
The second richest was Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky (for the record, former Senator and current Secretary of State John Kerry has a net worth of $200 million). On the Democrat side, Hillary was by far the richest, even topping out over the many of the Republicans while Bernie Sanders is among the poorest member of Congress with a net worth of just over $163,000. You might find it interesting to know that the "working class" party as the Democrats are known are collectively wealthier than the so-called "business class" Republicans, but not by much---only around $47,000. As for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, how do they fit in? Well, according to Celebrity Net Worth, "The Donald" is worth $4.5 billion dollars and takes home a salary of $60 million dollars a year. Hillary Clinton has a net worth of $45 million dollars (Bill Clinton, who keeps his finances separate, has a net worth of between $80 and $100 million dollars while the Clinton Foundation, which is classified as a charity, had assets in 2012 of over $226 million).

The point I'm hoping to make is that there's nothing unique or special about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump except that are clearly among the top 1%, and it's the 1% which comprises the Oligarchy which rules America. Their wealth, while certainly nice to have, should actually preclude them for government. Why? Because government should represent the American People, not just the wealthy. Their outlandish wealth, almost by definition, means that they have no connection to ordinary Americans. We talk about a "disconnect" between the "Beltway Crowd" and "Flyover Country", well now you see why. They can't relate to what it costs to struggle between paying bills, going to the doctor, or buying groceries. We already face the widest and deepest income divide in our nation's history. They live in gated (and guarded) communities. They have little concept about crime other than what they read about or see on TV. Their education is above average, but not unique and definitely not superior, at least academically. It's not party affiliations since both parties shared near equally in the numbers of millionaires. It is their wealth and social connections which set them apart and gives them their sense of entitlement.

Clearly America can and must do better in not just its choice of Presidential candidates but in its selection of representatives it sends to Washington. Surely neither the likes of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump (nor any of the others who ran in the primaries) represent the best America has to offer. The same can be said the Congress. There are more than ample potential candidates with closer ties to the average American out there to pick from. Of course, elections have become outrageous expense (on purpose) to keep ordinary individuals out and with gerrymandering near guaranteeing reelection along with unlimited "free speech" donations courtesy of Citizens United and its "Frankencorporations" creations and absence of term limits the only hope of change will have to be grassroots driven. The question is not can we do it, there is no doubt about that. Instead, it should be whether we have the will do it? Are we sick and tired enough yet of being turned from a free people and citizen legislators into economic serfs and political bystanders?

The National Center for Education Statistics: Educational Attainment of Young Adults

Educational Attainment in the United States

And Congress' Rich Get Richer

The 50 richest members of Congress

Celebrity Net Worth

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