What we should be asking Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton
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Candidates... if you would not mind taking a quick break from highlighting the deficiencies in one another’s character, can we talk about the issues?

I realize that Hillary’s emails are crucial to the future of this country. Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit MORE’s tax returns will severely impact our lives for years to come. Gun control is an important issue. ISIS must be silenced.

I’d like to ask if we can table those for just a moment and talk about the real issues? The issues with massive, widespread effects on every member of the population during the next few decades. Issues which seem to go unaddressed, day in and day out. Skirted over at the debates, swept under the rug from media discussion, suspiciously absent from the materials on your campaign website.

I have just a few questions.

The first presidential debate featured merely 82 seconds of discussion about climate change.

Question: Why do we not talk about this more?

As we speak, Hurricane Matthew — the strongest Atlantic storm in a generation — threatens the businesses, property, and lives of millions of Americans. Projections of the storm’s destruction exceed $200 billion. 

The hurricane gained massive strength while passing through warm Caribbean waters.

Each month of this year has brought the warmest weather ever recorded on earth since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration started measuring global land and ocean temperatures in the 1800s. NASA came to similar conclusions.

Question: Is there any reason for this?

According to the National Science Board, a survey of 2258 peer-reviewed articles revealed that 99.9 percent of climatologists agree that climate change is happening and it is manmade.

California is experiencing a daunting drought. This may seem like a localized issue until one recognizes that California produces the majority of America’s produce and nuts: 99 percent of artichokes, 99 percent of walnuts, 97 percent of kiwis, 97 percent of plums, 95 percent of celery, 95 percent of garlic, 89 percent of cauliflower, 71 percent of spinach, and 69 percent of carrots.

Land is going fallow in California due to a combination of consistently hotter climate, soil erosion from monocropping, and chemical pesticide use, which also threatens the quality of the groundwater.

Question: Should we watch idly as the food production in our country quietly withers away?

At the same time, the US government continues to subsidize massive amounts of corn, soybeans, and wheat, all of which are among the most water intensive crops to grow. Relative to other produce, they are calorically dense and nutritionally shallow, which is probably why we end up using most of their yield for livestock feed, candy, syrups, and other food “products” which evidently make people sick.

Obesity remains one of the leading causes of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, hypertension, dementia, cancer, and all-cause mortality. Nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the US come as a result of obesity.

Not surprisingly, Lower income and lower educated young adults and those with lower educated mothers and middle-income parents were found to be most price sensitive.

The NCBI/NLM/NIH reports that fiscal policy instruments such as fruit and vegetable subsidies may help to increase fruit and vegetable intake, particularly among those of lower socioeconomic status.

Question: Would this be so hard to pursue?

After finally ceasing over a hundred years worth of subsidised tobacco monocropping in North Carolina and switching to produce, farmers in the southern Appalachian region could provide local communities with almost 40 percent of their yearly fruit and vegetable needs.

Question: Does this costly public health epidemic not feel like a big enough problem to address?

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton slams Trump for spreading 'sexist trash' about Pelosi Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign DNC boss says candidates to be involved in debate lottery MORE is often criticized for having taken money for her campaigns. Supporters of Donald Trump seem to believe that because he does not have a storied political track record involving political contributions he will be immune to seduction by corporate lobbyists and interest groups. Both candidates talk about getting money out of politics.

Question: While we’re talking about getting money out of politics, how about we address money in education?

According to an April 2016 press release from the Economic Policy Institute, “Inequities in education and opportunity begin long before children start school, and they stay with people for their entire life... The benefits to an ambitious national investment in childcare and early childhood education go beyond helping children and their families. Such an investment would mean a more equal, more just, and more prosperous society.”

European financial services company Allianz’s new Global Wealth Report 2015 dubbed the US “The Unequal States of America” ...We have over 40% of the world’s wealth (China and Japan take the silver and the bronze, each hovering at around 10% a piece) yet we have the highest inequality of 55 countries studied.

Question: How can the richest nation in the world pay so little attention to this?

There’s such a low level of public investment in educating our children, our kids perform toward the bottom of all industrialized nations.

Question: Could it be that our schools are underfunded to a borderline criminal degree?

A brief by the Center for American Progress pleads with readers and policymakers to reduce the onslaught of cuts that have been aimed at education in this country.

Right now we spend about $570 billion on defense...the highest figure in the world by far and more than the next 15 countries combined...all of whom are our allies.

That is 8 times as much as we spend on education...and studies suggest that every $1 spent on education returns $13 of value to the taxpayer.

Question: Is this truly necessary?

Meanwhile at the college level, state and federal funding continues to fall, tuition remains on the rise, and private interests have identified a new opportunity to push their agenda.

For example: starting in 2005, The Koch Foundation (founded by Charles and David Koch, majority owners of an oil, gas, and chemical conglomerate bearing their same name and the 2nd richest private corporation in the US) began experimenting with making donations to universities across the country. Starting with $1.3 million across 7 schools, nine years later their contributions exceed $68 million to over 250 schools across the US and Canada.

This seems benevolent... until the details emerge, revealing their insistence on exercising heavy influence over hiring practices, staunchly libertarian “free-market” curriculum, and instilling climate change skepticism.

They are also known for so-called “information laundering” funneling large sums of money—often so-called “dark money” donations to nonprofit groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heartland Institute—to disseminate misinformation on climate science and other topics.

Question: How can this be allowed?

Since we’re discussing college...how do you expect the US economy to deal with the devastating burden of student debt? The current student loan bubble amounts to over $1,200,000,000,000. More than 40% of federal student loan borrowers are either in default, delinquency or have postponed repaying their student loans.

It is an issue of concern, and not just for millennials. The majority of college graduates in the US now move back home with their parents, often for several years. The class of 2016, the most indebted in history, cannot afford homes, cars, or other trappings of a middle-class life, which is an obvious problem for an economy 70 per cent of which is accounted for by consumer spending.

The idea is to make America “work” again. Not just in the sense that people need to have good, reliable jobs with incomes and benefits in order to raise families and stimulate the economy...but also to make America the concept...work again... because right now it seems clear that the current system is not working.

Question: If we can redistribute wealth in the form of corporate tax breaks, horribly outdated subsidies, and gargantuan military spending...why can we not redistribute our extreme national wealth to try something new?

Or... is that too much to ask?

Ryan Dent studied international affairs and economics at Florida State University. He lives in New York City working as a marketing consultant for technology startups.


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