A Response to the State of the Union Address
By Kris Smoot, Kentucky Green Party Executive Committee Member
Tonight, we witnessed the annual tradition of our President making promises that he historically has been unable to keep. We heard promises of helping the working class, improved health care, cleaner energy subsidies, relieving students of burdensome debt, bringing the troops home, and bipartisan cooperation. However, in true Washington fashion, President Obama’s proposed ideas will not go far enough in helping Kentuckians or the rest of the American people.
President Obama noted that corporate profits and stocks have been higher than they have been in years. While this is good for the wealthy, it does absolutely nothing for the working class. Corporations have proven time and time again that they will not create jobs for the working class. This is why those profits are so high. Kentuckians need jobs. There is so much work that needs to be done and as long as corporations are allowed to dictate our laws, we will not see true reforms. My father is out of a job even though he is more than capable of doing work in multiple fields. We need a government that will hold corporations accountable for stunting our workforce.
We also need to raise the minimum wage, as the President eloquently stated in his Address. However, a family cannot survive on $10.10/hour, let alone $7.25. Kentucky is taking steps to raise the minimum wage, but $10.10 is not enough. $10.10 is nothing but an easy-to-remember marketing scheme meant to rile up a voting base. We as a state and as a country need to have a living wage of at least $15/hour and probably even more than that. The more money workers and families have, the more say they will have economically and politically, not to mention the amount of security each family will have in knowing that they and their children will not have to struggle in poverty and in health.
“Women deserve equal pay for equal work,” President Obama stated in his Address.He threw out the statistic that women make 77 cents to each dollar that a man makes. However, this says nothing of men and women of color who, on average, make even less than white women do. We at the Kentucky Green Party support equal pay for equal work for people of all races, genders, and orientations. We also believe that businesses should not be allowed to fire people on these same bases. We cannot claim to live in a post-discrimination society as long as someone can be fired for being black, Latino, Asian, female, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, or so on. We must strive for equality both inside and outside of the workplace.
We have definitely moved forward as a country on healthcare. Governor Steve Beshear, who was so graciously invited to the State of the Union Address, has taken steps to assure that this rollout is going as smoothly as it can. Obamacare has worked for many Americans. My father was able to afford a much-needed liver transplant on government healthcare. However, I do not believe that Obamacare is the best that we can do as a country. The private healthcare industry is seeing record profits. Meanwhile, the inability for people to stay on their old insurance plans has caused costs to go up for some. The rollout has created mass chaos and insecurity due to inept bureaucracies and poor government management. Healthcare should never be a for-profit industry, because when profits are put before people, people do not get what they need to survive. The Green Party stands for single-payer healthcare for all US citizens. No massive bureaucracies, no cost to the American people, and no having to make the decision between feeding your family or getting a much needed operation. Adequate healthcare breeds healthy workers and healthier families.
A lot of President Obama’s address was geared towards climate change. We agree with the President that “climate change is a fact.” However, President Obama is dead wrong when he says that natural gas is healthy for our environment. While it does not contribute as much to pollution as coal does, natural gas pollutes our water supplies and endangers our livelihoods. This is why we at the Kentucky Green Party still ardently say NO to the Bluegrass Pipeline. Our state will not see any of those profits and our environment will be put at great risk if natural gas is given the space that President Obama would love to give it. We need to move on to forms of energy that will not pollute our air and water, such as solar and wind energy. As our name dictates, the Kentucky Green Party is dedicated to serving Kentuckians by fighting for environmental reforms. A safe environment is a safe place for our workers and our families.
Families also need to be able to send their children off to college without having to worry about crippling debt. Our collective student loan debt reached the $1 trillion mark last year. My parents will be paying thousands of dollars a year just to send me to college when they could be using that money to provide for my brother and themselves. I will also have my share of loans to pay once I graduate. I plan on going to law school after I graduate, so that means I will have more loans to pay off all throughout my adult life. That is absolutely unacceptable. President Obama did not offer any real solutions to reform education in this country. Education is drastically underfunded in this state and in this country. College costs way too much and it discourages our best students from going to great schools, thus diminishing our workforce in the future and causing us to fall even further behind other states as Kentuckians and other countries as Americans. As far as reforms go, I propose we do what many countries have done and what Oregon has tried to do and provide free college tuition for all people so that our young adults aren’t held up in the starting blocks. We cannot move forward as a state and as a country if our government is holding back our people. All student loan debt should be forgiven so our people who have already graduated can gain financial security.
As far as national security goes, we saw more promises to curb terrorism and continue our imperial overstretch over the Middle East and the rest of the world. This is absolutely unnecessary and threatens to destroy the integrity of our country as a whole. We should have pulled out of Afghanistan a long time ago. In fact, we never should have invaded at all. All war is is a violent waste of our taxpayer dollars that leaves our sons and daughters to die, kills innocent people, allows defense contractors to reap immense profits, and fuel extremism in other countries. Our bombing of innocent people is what’s causing groups like Al-Qaeda to grow in number. We’re the only reason Israel feels comfortable keeping Palestinians from realizing a dream of freedom. We should not waste taxpayer money on aid to countries that are oppressing their citizens. We should not sponsor hatred. We should also get rid of the NSA altogether. It has brought us nothing but trouble and insecurity. Ironically, the more we spend on security, the less secure we are as a country both mentally and economically. The money we save by not going to war and not spying on citizens can be invested in projects that could help the Commonwealth of Kentucky, such as improving alternative energy, health care, and education. Let’s put an end to corporations dictating what our government does with our money.
Nothing will change if we do not overthrow the two-party duopoly that plagues Washington and plagues Frankfort. They are beholden to the same corporate interests. They do not answer to you. We all need to find people who are willing to run for office and slay the two-party beast. We need to vote for Greens when they do decide to run. We need to encourage ballot access reform so that our candidates have a fair shot at getting into office. We should not allow money to speak for us. We are all free. We cannot be bought. Don’t let Republicans and Democrats try to buy your vote. Vote for personal security. Vote for a fair chance at living. Vote for personal autonomy. Vote to keep our taxpayer money at home. Vote for yourselves, VOTE GREEN PARTY!