On The Street

Far Left Prescriptions for Our Nation Are Far Out of Step

Opinion Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.

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By Michael Gold

Defunding the police, implementing Medicare for All and throwing our entire capitalist economy out a very high window are some of the ideas the far left promotes as improvements to our country.

The far left has not engaged in the destructive actions the far right has embraced, such as elected officials communicating in violent language and images, attempting to overturn the results of a legitimate Presidential election, the Jan. 6th riot at the Capitol to prevent the electoral count and trying to kidnap the governor of Michigan, but the far left’s goals are badly out of sync with the vast majority of the country.

I addressed some of the issues with right-wing extremism in a column last month. Now, it’s time to look at instances of left-wing extremism. I explored the Democratic Socialists of America’s website to learn about their policy ideas.

The phrase “defunding the police” first came about in 2020, after a Minneapolis police officer put his knee on the neck of George Floyd for several minutes, murdering him. Many other Black men and women have been killed by the police. These tragic events deserve intense scrutiny by the government authorities that oversee the departments. Police departments all over the country should be evaluated on their interactions with the public, particularly minorities, to prevent loss of life.

However, defunding the police is hardly a viable path to protecting the public. The phrase implies that the ultimate goal is to shutter police departments.

Protestors in Seattle, in 2020, angry about George Floyd’s murder, set up a “police-free zone” in a six-block section of the city for about a month. The protesters demanded that the law enforcement budget be cut in half, with the money saved to be given to community support groups. The police were instructed by the city’s administration to leave the area precinct house and not patrol the zone.

The result? Two Black teenagers were murdered. Also, the area suffered vandalized buildings, destroyed property and garbage everywhere, according to CNN.com and The Washington Post.

We need to recognize that police officers patrolling our streets often have to make very quick decisions in very difficult circumstances, where the officers’ own lives could be at stake. They deserve public support for trying to protect us. That does not justify killing unarmed people. Police officers may well need more extensive training, and poorly performing departments may need to be reformed. “Defunding the police” is not the answer.

In terms of healthcare, Medicare for All sounds good in theory, but the costs would be astronomical. We’re having great difficulty paying for the Medicare and Medicaid programs in place today. Government has done a lot of things well, from winning World War II and building the interstate highway system to delivering the mail, but it can’t do everything. We need to acknowledge there are limits to what it can accomplish.

Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will run out of money in 2028, according to government reports. Medicare already covers more than 60 million people, out of a national population of 330 million. The Social Security Trust Fund is due to run out of money in 2034. Either we will have to raise taxes or cut the programs’ benefits. The options will not be painless.

So, to propose Medicare for All is not realistic. Our budget deficit in fiscal year 2022 was more than $1 trillion.

Neither political party has proven eager to address our increasing debt. When in power, Republicans wantonly cut taxes, but never seem to cut spending much, if at all. For its part, the Democratic Party has periodically attempted to cut the deficit (President Clinton and Congress balanced the budget and ran surpluses in the fiscal years 1998 to 2001.) But in recent years, when in power, the Democrats haven’t made spending cuts a priority.

Every time interest rates go up, our national debt increases. I’m not the first person to state that we are handing off an increasingly large debt bomb to our children.  We need to figure out ways to cut government debt, yet preserve the social safety net, improve educational and vocational opportunities for our citizens and provide for the country’s security. It’s not going to get any easier to do all these things in the coming years.

Concerning the far left’s desire to abolish capitalism, whenever I walk in a supermarket, I often marvel at the enormous variety of goods available, which gives you an indication of how exciting my life is. The capitalist system is designed to work in each person’s self-interest, yet also serves the needs of millions of consumers. This is the magic of the market.

I give the extreme left credit for highlighting a number of our national problems, including poverty, climate change, health insurance and affordable housing, but its policy prescriptions are way out of line with reality.

Pleasantville-based writer Michael Gold has had articles published in the New York Daily News, the Albany Times Union, The Virginian-Pilot, The Palm Beach Post, other newspapers, and The Hardy Society Journal, a British literary journal.

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