Issues

Learn where Joe stands

Education

The bedrock and undeniable foundation to a better future is education. Our youth who are the future
must be one of our highest priorities. Through education enlightened minds blossom and create endless
opportunities for the future. For years we enjoyed our status as the educators of the world’s greatest
minds. Students from every corner of the world pursued their post secondary education at our colleges
and universities. Today, I believe we have lost much of that luster. Our academic institutions are falling
behind and the reasons are many albeit convoluted.

For starters, particularly here in southern California, many required classes are not readily offered which
results in great delays of matriculation for students. Where typically in the past, a student completed a
college degree in “four years”, today, it may take six or seven years and at a much higher cost. Student
loans have become a nightmare for our youth and their families. Cost of education coupled with
healthcare and other expenses cripple our youth as they start their careers. They are indebted for
years and due to financial burdens are less productive and creative. This is a formula for failure. If the
youth are the future, then we must facilitate workable vehicles for their success. This starts with student
loans. In conjunction with local chambers of commerce, business associations and neighborhood
councils we can create vocational training and on the job training with our businesses which will benefit
our communities.

Years ago, our nation had a compulsory military service known as the ‘draft”. Kids served, earned GI
benefits and pursued higher education with minimal financial commitments. Today, that has all but
disappeared. Without the draft, only low and middle income families conscript into the military and
yes while they do earn GI benefits, those benefits have been so dramatically altered that it is difficult at
best to utilize them. Coupled with the massive physical and psychological traumas endured by these
veterans, education becomes less achievable. Actually veterans are so disillusioned after completing
their military service that many become homeless.

Education in most other European countries and Canada is a benefit enjoyed by their citizens at no
additional costs. While we do not advocate tuition free public education, we do demand that our youth
have options to “repay” costs associated with their education. To illustrate, here are some examples: a
student having completed their education can make student loan repayment on a “minimum wage”
hourly basis for public service, including volunteering as teacher assistants, civil servants in various
public institutions, publicly funded service, non-profit institutions and the like. This provides a means
for them to pay back society for their education and more importantly become intricately involved in
and aware of their own communities and perhaps provide answers and solutions for local issues.

Another option is to reinstate the compulsory “draft”. While this may sound radical, it is in fact a very
viable solution to provide for “earned” education benefits through uniformed or other public service
(Peace Corps). Additionally, as this would include the children of affluent families as well as politicians’
children, the temptation to engage in unnecessary overseas military adventures would be dramatically
reduced. With less wars, we have less traumatized veterans who can then pursue higher education.

I believe that as we focus more on what matters most, our communities, schools, students, veterans and
seniors we evolve and reflect our values more clearly not just at the local and national levels, but also on
the international stage as well. Join me in “Education is the foundation to a more prosperous nation”
movement.

 

Health Care

For many without health care coverage it is a major decision. During a conversation with George, a
recent nursing school graduate, he pointed out that his health care premiums were over $300.00 per
month. When added to other expenses such as transportation, student loans (over $80,000.00) and
other expenses it becomes a huge burden. That is wrong. Our great country can and should do better.

Healthcare is a fundamental right in Europe, it is “not for profit” business rather it is a state function and
responsibility thereby providing earlier opportunities for their citizens to be productive, to be creative,
to remain healthy for the benefit of all. In the Unites States private health companies take pride in the
insane profits they make. That is wrong.

The United States military “defense” budget is by far the largest in the world. In fact our military
“defense” budget is larger than all other countries’ military budgets combined. The focus on what
matters and our priorities has been hijacked by politicians and the military industrial machines.

We love our children, yet politicians continue to burden them with massive student loans and high
monthly health care premiums. We must make dramatic changes to our dysfunctional system and
misguided priorities. Our children are the future let’s lift their financial burdens and allow them to be
creative and contribute to the great country they will inherent from us. They deserve better.

The answer is a single payer system. We actually have one, it is called Medicare! Ironically, it is only used
when we reach a certain age (early 60s) when our bodies and systems require more medical care and
attention, the government (through our payroll contributions) pays for the care. While during our
younger years when we least need medical attention, healthcare care coverage is provided by FOR
PROFIT insurance companies! Simple, rake the profits for many years and then dump on the government
when it is time to spend. This is a great formula for maximum profits by the insurance companies who of
course donate to the politicians to keep their insane profits.

We advocate for a single payer system such as Medicare for All!

Healthcare should not be for profit. People’s lives are at stake. As Americans we deserve better!

Immigration

As a first generation immigrant, I take great pride in and am eternally thankful for the wonderful
opportunities our great country provided and continues to provide. As young children we were often
told how the streets in the United States of America were paved with gold. When we finally made it here
we were surprised to discover that the streets were made of cement and other substances but not gold.

As I grew up and achieved the coveted American Dream, I often reflect on the “Streets of Gold”
memories and the answer becomes clearer by the day. America’s streets of gold are in fact the unique
and special opportunities we enjoy. It is the pursuit of and the achievement of our goals that make it
the greatest country in the world bar none! Our greatness is founded by equal opportunities and the
pursuit of those opportunities. Together we are stronger. Our diversity makes us stronger. Our
multicultural origins make us stronger. Because of our immigrant based nation we are stronger. We are
greater primarily due to the sum of the diverse and rich immigrants we are made of.. As Americans we
are all equal!

How often have you heard the phrase “We are a nation of immigrants a melting pot of different
nationalities” or some other variation of this campaign speech? A slogan it is and a slogan it will remain.
The truth is somewhat different. Our great country was founded by immigrants seeking relief from
religious persecutions, from taxation without representation and those seeking new and better
opportunities for their families.

As Americans we all abhor discrimination of any sort. Yet, we witness direct and indirect forms of
discrimination of our immigrant population. We are immigrants first and foremost whether first
generation or tenth. We should celebrate our uniqueness and empower our children to do the same.

A wall is not the answer, ICE raids are not the answer and mistreatment and discrimination of
residents are not the answer. The answer is that all law abiding Californians should be able to live in
peace and tranquility without fear of persecution or deportation.

With Pride and Honor I am humbled in asking you to join me in “Stop bashing the immigrants”
movement. Time for new leadership.

Small Business

Small business is often quoted by politicians as being the “engine” of our economy, but that is a “slogan” often only used during election campaigns. The day after an election, small businesses are forgotten along with most if not all the other election promises made.

It is time we take actions to not only recognize small businesses as the real engines of our economy that they are, but to enact and put in place programs reducing regulatory obstacles to help businesses not only to survive but to succeed and grow.

In cooperation with local chambers of commerce, business organizations and neighborhood councils, small businesses have the capacity to provide unique opportunities to train and hire returning veterans and seniors who are willing and able to work. Small businesses could and would readily enact training programs in a short period provided politicians do not create new regulations to impede enactment of said training and hiring programs.

Small businesses must receive financial incentives through tax credits and other means to facilitate full implementation and to realize expedient results with mutual prosperity for businesses, veterans and seniors they train and employ.

Politicians should talk less and do more. Our small business owners and communities deserve better.

The Great American Dream

To many, home ownership, the “Great American Dream” is more elusive than ever. The recent devastating and degrading as well as tortuous tragedy that befell many homeowners was and continues to be wrong. Notice that banks paid “fines”, but only one European banker was charged, however not one single, not one executive was reprimanded, prosecuted or jailed?

Where is accountability for the crimes committed against so many hard working people who lost their homes when the financial meltdown occurred? Banks are again making insane profits while they continue with a barrage of new fees to increase their profits. Where is the outcry? Who is looking out for the American middle class?

 

I believe that we can do better.

Currently banks “borrow” funds from the Federal Reserve Bank at interest rates ranging as low as 0%. Banks then turn around and charge the home buyer several percentage points above that. To illustrate the actual numbers for a loan (average) in the San Fernando Valley:

Loan at 1.0% (30 years)

Loan Amount: $500,000.00

Payment: $1608.00

Total Interest paid: $78,880.00

Loan at 4% (30 years)

Loan Amount: $500,000.00

Payment: $2387.00

Total Interest paid: $359,320.00

From the above example the amount a typical valley home owner could save is substantial. There should be a mechanism to address home ownership interest rates that is more equitable to the consumer. Home owners (owner occupied) mortgage rates should be no more than 1% point above the interest rates the financial institution borrowed from the Federal Reserve Bank or other Government Financial institutions.

Home ownership should be affordable to more hard working people. We all deserve better.

Veterans, Seniors and Students

As a veteran with almost twenty five years of active military service, I am keenly aware of and relate to the needs of our veterans. Upon separation from active military service, some veterans readily adapt and integrate back into society, while others become homeless. Our Veterans are often forgotten, albeit on one or two days a year. Many of our veterans commit suicide at a much higher rate than any other group. Veterans should be afforded an opportunity to address their inner “devils” that later could drive them to self destruct. This can be through group events and therapies as well as individual mental health training. They served with honor and we as a nation should do the same. To ignore their pain and suffering is wrong. Our current politicians eagerly send them to self created wars and upon completion of their service they are relegated to and treated like second class citizens and as a burden to our society. It is time to fully retrain and help our veterans and seniors.

Our seniors, the most vulnerable among us are forgotten and often ignored. At the time that they need help the most, when they are no longer able to work, they incur the most expenses that often deplete their life savings. That is wrong! They contributed to the building of our great country and our country should be there for them in their time of need. Enough “Lip Service” or any more talk of taking care of seniors, it is time to actually do something! I will advocate for making changes and necessary adjustments to our tax codes to properly address the financial plight of our seniors. As an example, under the current system, seniors are penalized for working when they retire until they reach a certain age. This is wrong, we should provide incentives for small businesses that train and employ seniors. It is the least that we should do. They deserve better.

Our students ARE the future. We owe them a solid education unencumbered with debt. Many will pursue academics, while others may chose vocational paths. Both paths are needed in our communities and when we address the needs of adults pursuing academics or career path changes, we must rely on local chambers of commerce, business associations and neighborhood councils to coordinate and implement workable means to achieve the desired outcomes. Our priorities must be on what is important!