My father-in-law died of a heart attack in 1967 at the age of 58. He was a coal miner and had "black lung." He belonged to the United Mine Workers. The miners had good health care and good wages and over the years, thanks to the unions, their working conditions improved. In recent years as unions have declined, working conditions in the mines have become more dangerous and black lung is more prevalent. A few weeks ago, coal miners were required to attend a political rally for Gov. Romney in Beallsville, Ohio, missing a day of work without pay.
As unions have been diminished across our nation, wages, health coverage and job training has diminished while the wages of the people at the top have soared. Our president makes about $400,000 a year while the compensation for CEO's and college coaches can run into the millions. Gov. Romney pays less in taxes percentage wise than you and I and yet he avoids even more taxes with off-shore accounts. And then he wants to give more tax cuts to the top 1 percent. It is supposed to "trickle down" to us people at the bottom. By the way, the original Bush tax cuts and Bush's two wars started us down the road to the fiscal mess we are in today.
During the Republican Convention, Senator Ryan said a lot of things about President Obama that were in the category of "pants on fire." Among other things, he accused President Obama for making the exact cut to Medicare that he proposes (only the president's cuts come out of the pockets of the insurance companies & hospitals and the cuts extend the life of Medicare) and he blamed President Obama for the closure of the GM plant in his home town that actually took place before President Obama took office. Gov. Kasich took all the credit for Ohio's fiscal health failing to mention the auto-bailout stimulus that benefited Ohio's economy. Meanwhile, our cities and communities are in fiscal distress which will be made even worse by Kasich's elimination of the estate tax. And if our good governor had taken advantage of the high-speed rail initiative, our economy would have been even stronger with the addition of small businesses and more jobs.
No single political party has all the answers and we should shy away from the extremes of either party. If we elect people to office that sign "no tax" pledges, try to dictate the private health care of women, believe Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid can remain just as they are and keep cutting taxes that mainly benefit the top 1 percent, then nothing will get done. In the meantime, corporations (including unions) and wealthy individuals will be pouring money into political ads to persuade us to vote for their benefit which won't necessarily be in our best interest. The average voter doesn't know whom to believe because they haven't done their homework and many have waited until the last minute to make up their minds.
As Hurricane Isaac swept over New Orleans flooding areas in the city that had never been flooded before, it was sobering to hear President-elect Romney jokingly say that President Obama wanted to "slow the rise of the ocean and heal the planet." That is exactly what I want President Obama to do. If we don't have clean water to drink and clean air to breathe, it won't matter whether we have a job or not.
Carol Lazear Mitchell