The current dysfunction of the political process is rooted in a lack of open, candid discourse between candidates and the voting public. A study from Princeton University (September, 2014), Testing Theories of American Politics, concluded that the U.S. is no longer a republic. “The US has become a country led by a small dominant class comprised of powerful members who exert total control over the general population — an oligarchy.”
My opponents have the support of powerful interests in the form of PAC's, Committees and Funds. I am the candidate who is solely funded by individual donations. As a result, I will represent you, the citizen; not the 40 or more PAC's that frame one of my opponents' campaign issues, or the many corporate sponsors who frame my other opponents' political positions.
I have traveled all over the district listening to the issues that are important to you. Summarizing these issues they would include: consumer protection; protecting jobs; preventing excessive regulation; protecting people from unfair banking and credit practices; ensuring patient centered health care; eliminating predatory drug pricing; protecting commitments to our veterans; protecting voters from unfair campaign practices; and protecting senior care. Solutions already exist but we need to start putting people first.
I pledge to you that I will make my office completely accessible to you as citizens, so I can have your issues and ideas to frame public policy in the United States House of Representatives. That’s what I can do to represent you fully in Congress…
Maybe Equal Pay isn't the problem
According to supporters of the Women's Economic Security Act, women want equal pay! Seems perfectly reasonable on the face of it. They also want maternity leave and an appropriate time and space to breast feed. A woman can't be fired if she has to take time off to care for her children. WESA supporters are thrilled. It's progress they say. There's also talk about paternity leave which would also seem to make things “more equal.”. Yet there remains the uncomfortable caveat that “we still have a long way to go”. If you embrace our current political process then the more important question becomes, “where are we going”.
I am one of those women. I'm a mother. I raised three children. I worked full time to provide for them. I made sacrifices in my career so I could care for my children. It was difficult for me to accept travel which was a major draw back in those days. I got bad reviews for the time I took off to care for my children. It means little to me that there is a law now that says I can't be fired for that. In these days of at will employment I wonder how I would enforce it. I was fortunate in not having to worry about equal pay. I was always at the top of my pay grade so generally I was earning more than many of my peers. What I wanted is what many women had; more time with my children, more time with my family, time to volunteer at their school and attend field trips and school events, more mommy play days. I wanted to be valued as a woman.
Women still provide most of the child care, most of the volunteer hours, most of the family organizing and care for aging parents, yet women are taking on an ever increasing financial burden. Women are now the primary wage earners in 40% of our families. That number jumps to 60% for Native American women and women of African heritage. What are politicians really offering to women: all day kindergarten and day care for children as young as three. That may seem like a welcome relief to women struggling to survive in minimum wage jobs but what does it say about our social values. Will the state raise our children so women can do service work. Quite honestly, what solutions are being offered on either side of the gender gap. If woman’s work doesn't pay a living wage how can they ever hope for economic independence. It is exactly this inequality of wealth that sustains the exploitation and abuse of women.
I am running for the U.S House of Representatives in the Second Congressional district because I believe women need representation that's focused on women's social values. The enormous inequality of wealth hurts women and children the most. Women should have the same economic opportunities as men but defining women by their economic worth does not respect women's social values. Globally, research has shown that ethnically diverse and divided nations that elect women rather than men to key national leadership offices end up with better economic performance. America now ranks ninety-eighth in the world for percentage of women in its national legislature, down from 59th in 1998. That’s embarrassing: just behind Kenya and Indonesia, and barely ahead of the United Arab Emirates.
If women believe themselves unable ot lead their own political organizations, I fear that it does not bode well for the future of women in politics.
Patterns of Democracy by Arend Lijphart
We don't need affordable health insurance. We need affordable healthcare.
There is a presumption that if a Republican is the problem then a Democrat must be the solution but problems in Washington run much deeper than that. Red or Blue, Washington is about Wall Street, focused on wealth and profits. That's good for a few wealthy investors but has not produced economic prosperity for the general population. For decades we have seen our local economies consumed by Corporate operations with declining wages and jobs disappearing overseas. Millennials know that they are not expected to do as well at their parents. That's not right.
In 2016, citizens of Minnesota's Second Congressional District have an opportunity to make a real difference at the polls. Paula Overby is a clear alternative to the political paralysis and polarization of a two party system that has failed to adapt to changing demographics, technology, and economic globalization.
Paula Overby stands for government of the people, open government, and restoring local community development and investment that promotes economic sustainability. Paula Overby stands for Personal Freedoms and Civil Liberties, opposing the massive global arms buildup, the costly and violent war on drugs, and our failed military engagements in the Middle East. Social engineering is not the role for congress and government prohibitions are not a solution to complex social issues.
Some say that I can not win. Others say that I already have. To believe in the impossible is the determination to make it so. Shall we believe that the failure of our two party system, and the gridlock will be resolved by a one party system. The benefit of course being that we won't have to bother with elections anymore
Why I support the Independence Party
Ever since I was a young child I have pledged my “allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” There has of course been intense debate about separation of church and state and even the challenge that a democratic republic built on freedom of dissent should not require its citizens to pledge allegiance to it. It certainly did little to protect thousands of Japanese Americans who were deprived of their liberties and their livelihood under suspicions about their loyalty.
We live under a government where corporations are recognized as people and women are not. That has given me serious pause to question, “to what exactly have I pledged my allegiance.” A recent study from Princeton University, Testing Theories of American Politics, has concluded that the U.S. is no longer a republic. “The US has become a country led by a small dominant class comprised of powerful members who exert total control over the general population — an oligarchy.” Would that not invalidate any pledge made to that republic?
For me these questions are rhetorical. Robert H. Jackson writing for the majority asserted in clarion words how such ideological dogma is antithetical to the principles of the country, concluding with: "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.".
Political polarization is the fundamental failure of our two party system. It is emphasized in a recent Pew Reseach report, Political Polarization in the American. Public. “Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines – and partisan antipathy is deeper and more extensive – than at any point in the last two decades.” Politics is becoming increasingly extremist and a majority of American citizens are becoming increasingly disenfranchised. That contributes to the power of the ruling elite.
The future of our Democracy depends not on our ability to concentrate wealth and power but on our ability to distribute power and create a shared sense of responsibility. The common good demands compromise that maximizes the worth of the individual. Too often negative consequences overwhelm any potential benefits. As a society we can not afford to limit the collective intelligence of our leadership to a minority demographic that lacks any shared experience with the majority. In a political environment where the wealth of a small minority can dominate the will of the majority, the most important voice in the room is the dissenting opinion.
Information I will be referencing on the KFAI radio show Catalyst with Lydia Howell on Friday October 24 from 9AM to 10AM
Media endorsements illustrating how a two party system effects bias in the media and eliminates voter choices.
Meda coverage with respect to ECM endorsement: Paula Overby ... leaves DFL in protest
Research references: An oath of Allegiance
The disenfranchised voter: Gallop Poll
Issues, Media links, blog postings: www.PaulaOverby.com
The value of the dollar used to be based on the strength of our economy. Now it is supported by the strength of our military. That is not a sustainable model. We used to pay for our wars. Accordingly, in 1944 the top tax brackets peaked at 94%. War is expensive. Now we put the trillions of war costs on an ever expandable, out of sight credit card, at the same time, mortgaging our future to places like China. While our allies and our enemies invest in capturing global market share, our Congress is depleting our economy with continued military escalation. Who is the enemy? Russia? China? Who came up with the idea this year to restart the Cold War and spend an additional trillion dollars to "revitalize" the U.S. nuclear arsenal?
Congress has also defined the enemy as terrorism. Who are the terrorists? And where have they attacked? Yes, NYC on 9-11 but also Oklahoma City and Sandy Hook to the point where the FBI reports "active shooter" senseless mass killings at school, workplace and other public areas have tripled in the past few years taking many more American lives than international terrorists. There is genocide throughout the world. There are 10 major wars going on right now. One of them is the war on drugs. Tax payers fund that war. We fund the drug cartels and the contras that send refugees streaming to America.
Like “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” “terrorism” is an abstraction intended to gain public support for a political agenda that has nothing to do with security or actually hurts our security. We have incited old sectarian hatreds and armed both sides in different conflicts around the world. We have made ourselves hated in many parts of the world and thus made ourselves the target. Isn't it time for some sanity in our foreign policy?! It is time to re-build our economy. My opponent John Kline has spent decades advocating for senseless wars that have only hurt our security. I am advocating for peace, an end to the violence, and a prosperous economy. It's a clear choice.
Laura Gilbert discussed three specific aspects of the student loan debt crisis: (1) How did this crisis happen? What is driving student debt levels? (2) Is the crisis as bad as it seems? And (3) how can we recover from the current national student-debt burden?
1. Drivers of student debt.
There has been a fundamental shift over time that impacts the standard cost/benefit analysis for a higher education.
More and more employers are demanding college degrees for jobs that don't necessarily require them. Many graduates move into jobs where thesalaries don't support the debt the student has incurred.
While there are many drivers of student loan debt, a few examples include the following:
Schools are seeing higher expectations from parents and students about non-academic offerings. Around 2002, college administrators witnessed a shift in family expectations, as helicopter parents started sending their kids to school and demanding restaurant-quality food options, upscale living selections and top-of-the-line sports and recreational facilities. "It was no longer just about school," Gilbert said. "Fulfilling those expectations had a significant impact on the cost of college."
There is increased student and parent tolerance to allow students to repeat courses and to take six or more years to graduate, rather than four years. A lot of the data on graduation rates, she said, is based on six years now, not four. "That can increase cost (and loans) as much as 50 percent," she said.
The economy crashed, which sent many people back to school, some of whom saw school as a way to obtain student loans to pay their rent and survive. Adults with clear educational goals often borrowed extra money to pay for family responsibilities.
There are transparency issues with data from schools on total costs, resulting in surprise expenses. This can lead to more loans to pay for unexpected expenses, Gilbert said.
Reports on average student-debt loads often fail to include private loans and other means of funding an education, such as credit-card debt, second mortgage or home-equity loans, or personal loans from friends or family.
There is a national push for access to higher education by under-represented groups.While this is essential for society and the right thing to do, there hasn't been a parallel push to train first-in-family students on how to make good financial decisions, such as which college to choose or which major to select, Gilbert said. Consequently, she noted, these students can be a target for low-quality schools with high debt rates.
As the cost of higher education has risen at an unprecedented rate, there appears to have also been an increase in the personal obligation parents feel to send their child to the best school he or she can get into, no matter the cost. Gilbert has spoken with a number of middle-class families who have borrowed $70,000 to $100,000 to allow their children to "fulfill their dreams." Unlike parents from decades past, who may have wanted that for their children, today's parents tend to believe they must provide their child with the best possible education. Unfortunately they have realized too late that the "best" might have been a degree without a 20-year debt drag on the family.
With the goal of making the U.S. a global competitor, politicians are pressuring states to increase the number of adults with college degrees by 2020. Although conceptually worthy, this goal has offered a great marketing sound bite for the lesser programs with low entry requirements and large average debt loads, Gilbert said.
In the past 15 years the for-profit higher-education industry has expanded to compete for working adult learners and students of all ages who may have difficulty getting into traditional schools. The for-profit sector includes many established, reputable, career-oriented institutions. However, it also enrolls thousands of students in low-quality, high-promise, high-debt programs. Student debt can be particularly burdensome for these students, whose training may not be as valued by employers or transferrable to traditional colleges for further training. A recent report from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education states that the national for-profit sector enrolls 19 percent of students, but comprises 47 percent of defaulters.
2. Why the crisis is worse than we realize.
Student loans used to be paid off in 10 years or fewer, but now 20- to 30-year loan repayments extend into middle age and beyond. Previously, traditional-aged college students, Gilbert said, could expect to pay off their loans by the time they were in their early 30s and "had their whole lives ahead of them." Now graduates might not pay off their loans until their mid-40s, their 50s, or beyond, particularly if they choose (or find it necessary) to return to school.
Nationally, the number of people with student loans increased by 70 percent between 2004 and 2013. Gilbert noted that 23 million people had student loans in 2004, while 39 million had student loans in 2013.
Studies show that while income is not different between those with or without student loans, net worth drops for those with loans. "That is likely to have a long-term effect," Gilbert said.
According to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, in 2012, 70 percent of Minnesota undergraduates had student loans, with an average debt of $31,500, the fourth highest in the nation. For students graduating from private schools in 2012, the average debt of $34,221 in Minnesota was the second highest in the nation, Gilbert said. But a graduate with a debt of $30,000, who gets a job paying $30,000, could comfortably pay off the debt in 10 years, she said.
The country as a whole has $1.1 trillion in student-loan debt. $112 billion of this debt is held by Americans 50 to 59. $43 billion in debt is held by Americans 60 or older (Federal Reserve Bank of New York). It is unclear how much of these debt burdens were taken on for grandchildren or one's own education. "Student-loan debt is reaching across generations," Gilbert said. "It's a much bigger problem than a $30,000 debt taken on at age 22; it's a much bigger problem than tuition increases. That's another reason why the student-loan crisis is predicted to be the next big financial crisis."
But the major problem is that student loans amount to only 18 percent of the cost of college. Subtracting out the 30 percent of college that, on average, is paid by grants and scholarships, for a student with loans of $30,000, the remaining 52 percent of college costs (which amount to an average of $86,667 for a student with that level of debt) ends up being paid by parent loans, student income and savings, parent income and savings, and friends and relatives. "It's not just a $30,000 problem," Gilbert said. "It's a $116,667 problem. And that figure does not include loans or cash contributions the school is not aware of. That's why it feels so terrible, even though the $30,000 is the number that's being bantered around." (Figures taken from the Sallie Mae report How America Pays for College 2014.)
The total cost of loans will have long-term effects on the student and the economy.Cumulative Student Loan Debt in Minnesota, 2011 to 2013, a 2014 report by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, shows the following median student loan debt in Minnesota in 2013 by degree, projected monthly payments, and years to pay off the loan. Gilbert added the total paid in principal and interest.
"It's really a very long-term problem," Gilbert said.
3. Models for Recovery.
It will take lots of creativity and thinking outside the box to begin to control the skyrocketing costs of college.
Ideas for dealing with the existing student-loan debt of $1.1 trillion include:
A new framework for approaching funding college could help reduce future debt. Gilbert is working on a new book called Our Plan, which recommends a new framework for approaching funding college that:
It would be positive if the governor could offer in next January's budget message the opportunity for organizations and companies to think about new ways of addressing existing student-loan debt. Gilbert noted that there is a federal cap on how much companies can reimburse their employees for higher education. She suggested giving a tax incentive to companies that offer, for example, $10,000 to top candidates as a hiring bonus, with the money going toward paying down the new employee's college debt. For this scenario to work, the monies would not be considered as income to the employee as long as the funds were sent from the company to the lender.
The state could offer assistance to help people be better consumers. Gilbert said educational programs for students on how to select a college, build and follow a budget, and understand college expenses and loans would be helpful, especially for first-generation students and adult students.
One type of debt is lifestyle debt. An interviewer commented that many students expect to live in college like they've lived growing up, such as having flat-screen TVs in their rooms. Gilbert said she offered this advice in one of her books: "Live like a student today, so you don't have to live like a student tomorrow."
High schools make so few demands on students that academics has become a peripheral activity. The interviewer continued that students think college will be just like high school. Then they find that with that outlook, they aren't able to finish college in four years.
The other type of debt is school debt. The interviewer said it's been so easy over the past 25 years for colleges to raise their prices that they "have raised them with impunity. Now they can't do that, because the revenue side has hit a wall." So, he said, grudgingly, colleges are now trying to work on the cost side. But, he continued, "colleges and universities are so unproductive, it's a sin." He commented that we need to intervene at the family level and "stop people from being such stupid consumers. The households are the problem. They enter this with no knowledge and no easy place to get the knowledge."
Earning college credits in high school could help more students finish college in three years, instead of four. Gilbert has worked to get more information out on Minnesota's Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program, which allows high school students to take classes for free at any postsecondary institution in the state. She encourages college students to test out of any classes they can.
She said one of the challenges is that this only reaches a portion of the problem. The better solution is to help students figure out how to graduate in four years, rather than five or six.
It's not the banks' responsibility to make sure students and families pay back their loans. Gilbert said one of the issues contributing to the debt crisis relates to understanding the essence of personal responsibility. She commented that being naïve about loan terms does not relieve a person of the burden to which he or she has committed.
An interviewer asked what responsibility the federal government has to assure that no predatory lending takes place. Gilbert responded that there are a lot of studies and initiatives underway to address that issue. "The challenge is getting out the word to individuals," she said. "It's going to take awhile for the students and the families to realize they can't trust e-mails and phone calls. It's buyer beware."
Concern about the prediction that by 2020 there won't be enough people in Minnesota of working age to replace people who are retiring has pushed the idea that by 2020, we want 60 or 70 percent of people to have college degrees. Gilbert said it isn't clear what the skills are that are going to be needed. "What really are the skills that are missing?" she asked. "And how do we get people interested in and trained in those skills."
By 2020, 36 percent of the workforce will belong to generation Z, people born after 1994. "The expectation of where work is done and how work is done is about to change dramatically," Gilbert said.
There are fewer students in for-profit schools, but they have significantly higher average debt. In 2010, there were four million students attending for-profit postsecondary schools nationally, Gilbert said, but they had 48 percent of the defaults and $25 billion in federal loans that year. She noted that up to 90 percent of a for-profit institution's revenue can come from federal student loans. In Minnesota, 26 percent of the student body in 2013-2014 attended for-profits, but they made up 34 percent of the defaulters.
Putting more investment and offering more scholarships in the high-need STEM fields would be a good policy. The challenge, Gilbert said, is that an undergraduate math degree from MIT is not the same as a math degree from certain for-profit institutions. "Because of the extreme difference in program quality," she said, "general government investments become a challenge." In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, there wasn't a huge difference between an English degree from one college to another, Gilbert said. She would suggest loan forgiveness programs, but slightly different from those offered today.
A lot of data suggests that federal loans make up the majority of student-loan debt, but there is a cap of $31,500 for federal loans for dependent students seeking an undergraduate degree. The challenge is that students and parents are taking additional loans from banks and other private lenders, Gilbert said. In addition, loan limits are significantly higher for independent students (typically adult learners).
A 2013 government report showed that the U.S. Department of Education generated $41.3 billion from federal student loans last year, making it the third most profitable industry globally, behind Exxon and Apple. However, the Department of Education argues this profit figure is inflated, due to the accounting method used in the report.
Don't change bankruptcy laws to treat student loans like credit-card debt as a solution to the short- or long-term debt crisis. Currently, student-loan debt is not forgiven when an individual declares bankruptcy. Gilbert does not want to change that, but she does believe some restrictions should be loosened.
Nationally, in 2012, Princeton University had the lowest average debt load, $5,096, of any postsecondary institution. Gilbert commented that some colleges are truly rising to the challenge of helping students minimize debt. For example, Princeton's pioneering financial-aid program is committed to providing access and affordability to students from all economic backgrounds, without a required loan. The success of this program is, in part, attributable to Princeton's alumni organization. Gilbert called the organization "incredible" and said part of the group's mission is to help undergraduate students graduate with little to no debt.