Our government is in the shape that it’s in because our politicians are no longer in it to fix our societal problems. Their votes often mirror their financial gains; attending extravagant fundraisers and parties is prioritized over connecting with voters. Addressing the concerns of their constituents is put on the back burner while they worry about appealing to wealthy funders for re-election. We have got to start putting ethical leaders in charge of legislation. We need engineers, teachers, community leaders, scientists, farmers, people who live in and recognize the social and economic problems that the diminishing middle class and lower-income families are all struggling through.

It is important to the future of our nation that we provide our youth with the assistance they need in order to not only succeed in life but to have the time and energy to concentrate on the problems we’re leaving behind. I do not believe that a young adult, just getting out on their own, should be socially and economically handicapped due to their background or their parents’ financial situation. In order for our youth to have the best chance at succeeding after high school, I believe there are three basic things we need to have in place:

#1: A debt-free option for higher education;

#2: A single-payer healthcare option for individuals 25 and under;

#3: A livable minimum wage.

Items one and two will be paid for by taxing Wall Street on speculation trading.

The third item (a livable minimum wage) would be decided by calculating the average costs of modest-living nationwide and would be funded by the employers.

Certain exceptions could be made for startups and small businesses who show that their profits are minimal, but only for a set period of time, which would allow the business to prove its viability. It should be the responsibility of owners and managers to make a company successful: the financial burden should not fall on either the workers or the taxpayers. The success of our nation is in the hands of those who haven’t yet started their careers, and I think it’s in our best interest for them to have the chance to concentrate on how they can solve the problems we’re leaving behind rather than being focused on keeping their heads above water.

Our politicians ignoring the needs of their citizens is largely based on two key reasons:

#1) The costs of running a competitive campaign are extremely high. It’s next to impossible for an average citizen with great ideas and good moral character to run against and beat an uninvolved and corrupt politician, particularly if they’re an incumbent, due to corporations being allowed to back a specific candidate many of our elected officials are backed by moneyed interests. Therefore, a career politician has no need to cater to their voters, but solely the major donors who have one goal in mind: get Congress to pass legislation for the purpose of increasing their own wealth.

To resolve this issue I would fight to overturn Citizens United which has allowed appalling amounts of cash to funnel and fuel our elections with limited regulations.

#2) The everyday American voter is often unaware of who they’re voting for and what issues they’re voting on, particularly when it comes to local races. Social issues tend to be at the forefront of the media, dividing public opinion, as legislation, that controls deregulation and other economic issues that are destroying our middle class, slips by the notice of the average voter. As those concerns tend to strike our heart and soul, we inadvertently become single-issue voters,rather than looking at all the ideas of a particular candidate. I believe our political parties use this to their advantage: they expect you to vote straight party ticket based on a few social issues. Meanwhile, they’re making trade deals that are sending more of our good paying jobs overseas and deregulating corporations and banks that continue to put the hard-earned dollars of the working class at risk. We must start looking at every candidate for office and not just voting down ballot based on one party or a singular candidate for president or governor.

My solution to this issue is to get rid of party affiliation on the ballots. This will force voters to research the people on their ballot and vote for who they believe to have their best interest in mind.

For decades our system has been rigged to reduce financial burdens for the rich while increasing hardships onto the working class and poor.

Minimum Wage: Keeping the minimum wage low is an example of Income inequality. Our Government reduces the burden on the rich and the working poor suffer. At today’s minimum wage, the average worker has to work 76 hours a week in order afford rent in a low income apartment community, in addition to the other living expenses that one has. I believe that minimum wage should be a livable wage after a 40 hour work week. If a low wage earner is trying to save money, start a family, or simply needs to pay for an unexpected expense, they can then get a second job, work extra hours or look for a better job.

Deregulation: Throughout America’s history we’ve proven time and time again that corporations can not be trusted to self-regulate. Tobacco companies hid knowledge from the public that smoking was addictive and caused cancer. The lead industry fought the regulation of lead in gasoline and other products despite scientific evidence of how harmful it is to humans. Exxonmobil hid one of their own reports showing that burning fossil fuels was a cause of unnatural global warming. Repercussions for this type of business model are normally miniscule considering the damage done. When we continue to remove regulations designed to protect our citizens, it’s lower income families that suffer as they don’t have the means to seek restitution.

Reducing taxes for the rich: With a National Debt of nearly $20 Trillion, we continue to reduce taxes for the wealthy. When we reduce taxes for the rich in a time of debt, our government has to further place that burden on the poor and working class by removing government programs designed to help those who are already struggling. Since as far back as I can remember we’ve been told that by reducing taxes on corporations and the wealthy, those job creators would be providing employment to our citizens; that notion is simply not accurate. Corporations continue to further reduce their staff and put tax bonuses in the pockets of the CEO’s and investors.

These things and many others are specifically designed to keep the rich, rich and the poor, poor. When we start paying our workers a livable wage, our workers will be less dependent on social programs. When we protect our citizens with the right regulations we spend less money and energy on cleanup. When we start taxing corporations that take advantage of the flawed American tax code, only then, can we begin to rebuild America.

Our current tax system has so many loopholes that the super rich and large corporations can get away with paying little to even no taxes for a given year. For decades we’ve been giving tax breaks to the rich and corporations and we’re being told it’s because they’re job creators and this will allow them to hire more workers. With all the tax incentives in place people shouldn’t have any issues finding work but that simply isn’t the case, businesses continue to downsize and simply stick this tax savings in their pocket.

When I’m in office, I’ll fight to increase the Tax rate of the so called job creators and require them to show that they’re increasing employment at their businesses before receiving any type of tax credit.

I believe that we need to apply term limits for all elected officials. When a politician has been in a specific seat for a certain amount of time that official should either strive for a higher office or step aside. In the case of Joe Barton, a congressman for 34 years after this term, he no longer holds that office because the people approve of his work, he simply continues to win elections based off of name recognition. Our leaders should be recognized as someone who does so much good that they shouldn’t have a problem moving up to a higher office or they should simply move on.

I feel that ten years is plenty of time for a office holder to establish himself or herself as someone who does what’s right by the people and would seek to add term limits to every level of office.

Our Military families and Veterans have sacrificed a lot to do what is needed to protect our nation and for far too long our politicians have failed to properly provide for these men, women and children. Where I am not someone who’s been supportive of every conflict throughout our nation’s history, I do believe that we owe it to our service men, women and their families to provide them with the means to live a normal and productive life during and after their time in the service.

Our nation (politicians) continues to reduce benefits and the care that is required for those who’ve sacrificed the most for our country and this is simply unacceptable. Before we cut taxes for the rich we must make sure those who’ve been in battle not only receive help with any physical harm they’ve endured but also mental. Before we reduce taxes on major corporations we must first make sure that the families of fallen or wounded soldiers are taken care of.