Inequality? – What Does It Mean?

The Power of Words

Ayn Rand authored several books that captured the attentions of whole generations of rational American readers during a cataclysmic battle between individualism and collectivism.  She was born Jewish in Russia in St. Petersburg, in 1905; prophetically, this was a year of Revolution that began with the tsar’s Imperial Guard firing on a peaceful workers’ demonstration, killing 200, wounding 800, and ended with the formation of the first Duma (lower house of parliament).

The turmoil continued with the people and the aristocracy battling over the supremacy of the tsar.  Ayn grew up during the First World War, the rise of the Bolsheviks, the fall of the Tsar, the death of Lenin, and the union of the communist soviets.

She graduated from Petrograd State University in 1924, 2 years into the formation of the Soviet Union.  She came to the United States in 1926, and became a US citizen in 1931. She witnessed the collectivism of the USSR, and the rise of Stalin, from America, as the global depression suffocated economies and hope; as the world precipitated into war.

Her plays and books advocated reason over emotion, and individualism over collectivism.  Among my favorites are “Anthem,” and “Atlas Shrugged.”  “Anthem” describes a world in which there is no word for “I” or “me;” “mine” or “yours.”  All personal pronouns are collective.  She demonstrated the power of language in controlling the minds of people.

The Myth of Equality = Good

“Atlas Shrugged” tells the story of talented, creative, productive people whose individual efforts and contributions benefit average citizens; they profit personally from their efforts.  When these people are hounded and what they produce is confounded, and impounded, they escape to a hidden, peaceful, prosperous place populated by others like themselves.  They were “inequal” in the parlance of today.  Their society lost the benefits of their gifts.

George Orwell wrote a book, “Animal Farm,” which was required reading in my high school English class.  It tells the story of farm animals taking over the farm because of inequality.  They establish 7 commandments of “Animalism,” the seventh of which was “All Animals are Equal.”  The operation of “Animalism” proved very unequal.

A Call to Collectivism

Now we have lots of vague talk about “inequality.”

Question:  Where and when have equalities ever existed among humans?

Certainly, humans have been born all over the globe and across a wide spectrum of attributes, but nothing has ever been equal on any measurable attribute.  The only “equality” experiments I know of are utopian communes, and communist governments, none of which have had durable successes, except perhaps, to spread poverty and suffering equally among members and comrades.

The most glaring example of equality today, is North Korea.  I am sure the average American pines and prays to have that thrill of starvation and repression in the name of equality.  Oh, and some comrades are more equal than others.

The Absence of Definition & Context

The term “income inequality” is not a recent invention.  Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men, in 1754.  He describes two types of inequality:

Natural, Physical– differences one human’s body and another

Ethical, Moral – wealth, nobility, power, personal merit.

He proposes that natural, solitary man is a savage who lacks language, reason, and society. He is not motivated by fear of death, because he cannot conceive of it. He is only corrupted by social association with other men, causing:

  • Competition – best dancer, singer, strongest, fastest, handsomest, smartest
  • Self-Comparison with Others – ranking, e.g. second-best, IQ, “the Joneses”
  • Hatred – envy, jealousy, covetous, fear, anger
  • Urge for Power – dominance, entitlement, control

This led to the source and basis of inequality:  private property.

Angus Maddison, a respected economic historian tracked global income inequality of 25 nations since 1820.  His findings show increases in globalization were the major factor in disparity of incomes.  Retreats from globalization resulted in lower inequality.

The recent rants about “inequality” sound like envy to me.  Envy is not constructive.  The authors neither define equality nor any acceptable level of inequality; they also omit the context, methods and means of achieving less inequality; the ranters do not appear to have a clue about the sources of wealth, business success, or any idea what they are proposing.  This is evident from the example they have chosen to shock the reading public.

The Eight Richest People on Earth have wealth equal to half the people on Earth.  Sounds amazing, until one does the math or looks at who these men are.  Wealth is defined as: $Assets – $Debts.  It does not mean income.  These eight men have $485 billion dollars’ worth of valuable assets more than what they owe*.

Who What Arena Billions**
Bill Gates * Microsoft Computer Software           91.0
Amancio Ortega* Zara and Inditex Fashion Retail           71.2
Warren Buffett* Berkshire Hathaway Investments           73.6
Carlos Slim Helu* America Movil Telecom           49.4
Jeff Bezos* Amazon Computer Retail           67.2
Mark Zuckerberg* Facebook Computer Social Media           50.8
Larry Ellison* Oracle Computer Software           41.8
Michael Bloomberg* Bloomberg Investments           40.0

*Created their own companies

**Bloomberg reports as of 12/31/2016

I am not astonished at these numbers, nor that six of the eight are Americans, nor that five of the eight are in technology.  Look at what they have built.  Think of the services and products they have created and distributed to willing buyers.  Their wealth is the result of creating value for others.  All of them created the companies that represent most of their wealth.

What astonishes me is the fact that 3.6 billion people, (including children) own an average of $135 each.  Who do you know who has $135 total wealth?  Think; who owes more than they own?  Anyone who has a job, rents an apartment, has no savings, uses credit cards, and borrows money to buy a car, or go to college.  During the recent recession, plenty of people were “under water” on their mortgaged homes.  That is here in America; I am sure Asia, the Middle East, India, Central America, South America, and Africa have plenty of poor people with no prospects for improvement.  Whose responsibility are they?

It is unclear what the article is suggesting, but the point is lost on me.  It sounds like envy.

The only thing this article suggests to me is, that if you took every penny from the world’s 8 richest people, and distributed it among the 3.6 billion poorest people, they each would have $135 more than they have now, and we would not have the services and goods these eight produce.

Our Glass House

One thing that stands out about the debate over equality is the way Americans limit their geographic boundaries.  We seem to talk about inequality only within national borders.  Income and wealth disparity is greatest among nations.

If you want to silence a discussion of inequality, mention this: The USA has 4.5% of the world’s population and owns 33.2% of the world’s wealth. We Americans would have to give up 86.4% of what we have, to equalize wealth with the other 7.2 billion people in the world.  Is that what the authors propose?  I doubt it.

One estimate of the total wealth on our planet is $255 quadrillion dollars.  That would mean about $36,000 per person when divided by 7.5 billion people.  However, infrastructure, education, access, communications, logistics, culture, climate, security, resources, health, age, and many other elements are not evenly distributed or available.  Some societies do not allow women to own property or have money unless it is controlled by a man.  Other societies are so corrupt that what they have is stolen from them at every turn.

History suggests that even if all assets were evenly distributed, the money would soon be redistributed to the few who provide the goods and services for the many.

Bloomberg’s listing of billionaires includes 197 whose total wealth is $3 trillion.  I do not know what percentage of the world’s population that matches, but it is about 15% of the $20 trillion national debt of the USA.  That would be $2.86 for every person in the world; $62,700 for each man, woman, and child in America.  What would be the average wealth of an American if we subtracted $62,700 from their net worth to pay the debt?

A Bigger Pie

Consider this:  those who decry inequality pose it as a problem, but offer no solutions.  What would the authors of the inequality protest recommend to raise the wealth of the earth’s inhabitants without confiscating the value created by others?

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When Words Equal Sticks & Stones

Vile epithets, invectives, slurs, and castigations tossed into a basket.  Deplorable.  All those glass houses, shattered.  The best part of a nation thrown back to sticks-and-stones, schoolyard name-calling.  Those words may come to haunt us when those who feel reviled show up to vote down the bullies.  Voters are citizens and people.  Politicians can have at each other, for all I care, but lay off the attacks and the excuses and justifications for the attacks on the people who will choose who wins.

Throwing word-bombs into crowds is a kind of terrorism.  Painting with such broad brushes used to be called prejudice and racism.  Think how people on the two sides of this salvo might interpret what these terms mean.

 

Adjective/ Noun Dictionary Definition “Coded” or “Charged” Definition
Racist/ Racist Having or showing the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another/ a person who believes and behaves in ways that indicate that they believe a particular race is superior or inferior to another Any white person’s thoughts, words or deeds that a non-white person interprets as prejudicial against non-white people/ a white  person who thinks, says, or does something that a non-white person perceives as prejudicial against a non-white person.
Sexist/ Sexist Having and showing the belief that one gender is superior or inferior to another/ a person who believes and behaves in ways that they believe indicate that one gender is superior or inferior to another Any man’s thoughts, words or deeds that a woman interprets as prejudicial against women/ a man who thinks, says, or does something that a woman perceives as prejudicial against women/a man  who treats and talks to women like they are different from men.
Homophobic/ Homophobe Having or showing the belief that heterosexuality is natural and normal, and fearing that homosexuality and bisexuality are (sinful) perversions/ a person who believes  that heterosexuality is natural and normal, and fears that homosexuality and bisexuality are (sinful) perversions. Any heterosexual person’s thoughts, words or deeds that a non-heterosexual person interprets as prejudicial against non-heterosexual people/ a heterosexual  person who thinks, says, or does something that a non-heterosexual person perceives as prejudicial against a non-heterosexual person./ a person who opposes non-heterosexual marriage and raising children in non-heterosexual homes/ anyone who would practice any form of vigilante activity against non-heterosexuals.
Xenophobic/ Xenophobe Having or showing the belief that members of some cultures and nationalities are superior, inferior, or a threat to other cultures and nationalities/ a person who believes and behaves in ways that indicate that members of some cultures and nationalities are superior, inferior, or a threat to other cultures and nationalities Thoughts, beliefs or actions by Americans opposed to illegal immigration, support of enforcing immigration laws, desire to reinforce national borders, indifference to emotional appeals for disregarding or ameliorating immigration laws./ a person with thoughts, beliefs or actions opposing illegal immigration, supporting enforcing immigration laws, desiring to reinforce national borders, indifferent to emotional appeals for disregarding or ameliorating immigration laws
Islamophobia/ Islamophobia Having or showing beliefs or fears that strict, literal interpretations of the Koran can make Muslims a terrorist threat to non-Muslims’ safety or sympathetic to such attacks/ a person who believes or fears that strict, literal interpretations of the Koran make Muslims terrorist threats to non-Muslims’ safety or sympathetic to such attacks. Irrational fear, hatred and prejudice against Muslims because of a few extremist terror attacks around the world and in the USA./ a person who fears and hates all Muslims because of a few extremist terror attacks around the world and in the USA

Take heed, these polarized views of people are not the reality.  Please do not let heated characterizations confuse us into thinking that people are as extreme and cartoonish as the harsh words launched in the thick of political warfare.  Let us not foment a kind of “road rage” escalation that can really hurt people and relationships.

New York Times Silly Defense of Hillary

I woke up this morning to a silly, unchallenged report of Hillary Clinton’s email issues published by the New York Times.  I would have used the terms “inane” or “preposterous” in place of “silly,” but that would have required a higher Lexile level.  Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. Neither she nor her staff learned anything about top-level classified information or communications, based on her testimony and interviews.

Come on now; “a top aide to Mrs. Clinton told the company that housed her server to delete an archive of emails from her account.”  The implication of the New York Times article was that the servers were “housed” i.e. located with Platte River Network.

But wait:  Wikipedia reported that, “The domains were pointed to a private email server that Clinton (who never had a state.gov email account) used to send and receive email, and which was purchased and installed in the Clintons’ home for her 2008 presidential campaign.”

Oh, I guess that was just a slip of the keyboard.

“According to the F.B.I., in December 2014 a top aide to Mrs. Clinton told the company that housed her server to delete an archive of emails from her account. The company, Platte River Networks, apparently never followed those instructions.”

“On March 2, 2015, The New York Times reported that Mrs. Clinton had (sic) exclusively used a personal email account when she was secretary of state.  Two days later, the congressional committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and Mrs. Clinton’s response to them, told the technology firms associated with the email account that they had to retain “all relevant documents” related to its investigation.”

But then, so, so conveniently:

“Three weeks later, a Platte River employee had what the F.B.I. documents described as an “oh shit” moment and realized he had not deleted the emails as instructed. The employee said that he then used a special program called BleachBit to delete the files. The F.B.I. said Mrs. Clinton (said she) was unaware of the deletions.”

That is so flimsy, so lame, no wonder Hillary has such low credibility.

Next, the Secretary of State, like all members of the Cabinet, is responsible for classifying information, not standing by expecting department employees to tell them what should be classified.  Who is in charge here?  But we are fed this report:

“In Mrs. Clinton’s interview with the F.B.I., she said she did not recall receiving any emails “she thought should not be on an unclassified system.” She said she had relied on State Department officials to use their judgment when emailing her sensitive information, adding that she “could not recall anyone raising concerns with her regarding the sensitivity of the information she received at her email address.”

But what secure, official email address were they to use?  Apparently she had none.

And then, she gets a reply from Colin Powell warning her about including private email for government communications, “Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data.”  In other words, he used secure, government email for business.

According to a summary of her interview, Mrs. Clinton said that she did not know exactly what Mr. Powell was saying in that email and that his message “did not factor into her decision to use a personal email account.”

Mrs. Clinton showed high IQ in every part of her life but this one.  What happened?

Then the article questions the intelligence of either Mrs. Clinton or her staff and closest aides.

“Mrs. Clinton said in her interview that it was “common knowledge” that she had a private email address because it was “displayed to anyone with whom she exchanged emails.” But the F.B.I. said in a summary of its findings that “some State Department employees interviewed by the F.B.I. explained that emails by Clinton only contained the letter ‘H’ in the sender field and did not display her email address.” The F.B.I. said that some of Mrs. Clinton’s closest aides were aware that she used a private email address but did not know that she had set up a private server. The aides told the F.B.I. they were “unaware of the existence of the private server until after Clinton’s tenure at State or when it became public knowledge.”

The rest of the article makes me weary:

“Mrs. Clinton kept her BlackBerry in a State Department secure area, where it was prohibited

According to the summary of the investigation, Mrs. Clinton brought her BlackBerry into a secure area on the seventh floor of the State Department, where such electronics are prohibited. The F.B.I. interviewed three former State Department diplomatic security agents who said that Mrs. Clinton kept her BlackBerry in her desk drawer in the secure area, a so-called Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF. But Huma Abedin, a top aide to Mrs. Clinton, told the F.B.I. that Mrs. Clinton left the secure area to check her BlackBerry, often going to the State Department’s eighth-floor balcony to do so.

Mrs. Clinton had a lot of electronic devices

The F.B.I. said that it had identified 13 mobile devices that Mrs. Clinton potentially used to send emails. Mrs. Clinton’s aides were in charge of buying replacement BlackBerry devices when she was in office, often obtaining them from AT&T stores in the Washington area. Ms. Abedin told the F.B.I. that “it was not uncommon for Clinton to use a new BlackBerry for a few days and then immediately switch it out for an older version with which she was more familiar.” Ms. Abedin and another aide told the F.B.I. that “the whereabouts of Clinton’s devices would frequently become unknown once she transitioned to a new device.” An aide to Bill Clinton, Justin Cooper, who helped set up the server, told the F.B.I. that he recalled “two instances where he destroyed Clinton’s old mobile devices by breaking them in half or hitting them with a hammer.”

This September 2 repeat of the email reports showed nothing new, and seemed to soften the edges on criticisms of what Hillary did.  Tsk, tsk, NYT

Middle-Class Families Robbed by Obamacare – Before and After Taxes

The New York Times just published an article claiming that middle-class families are better off financially.  They blithely overlooked the greatest tax increase in recent memory and the greatest increase in medical cost Americans have ever seen.  We have been robbed blind.

Many employers dropped or reduced their health insurance benefits and left their employees to shop Obamacare market places.  Not only are the premiums higher and the benefits lower, but now they must pay with after-tax dollars.  Insurance premiums paid by employers is exempt from payroll and income taxes.  Any of the premiums employee pays must come from earnings that have been taxed at about 8% for Social Security, Medicare taxes; the employer pays the same amount in matching payroll taxes.

But that’s not all; the employee also pays income taxes on the earnings – at least 15%.  So 8% + 15% is 23% fewer dollars in the employees’ pockets just to get the money to pay for healthcare insurance.  Since Obamacare started, health insurance for middle-class families has roughly doubled.  They get no government subsidies; they have fewer choices of doctors and hospitals; the deductibles and copays empty the bank accounts.  People who have worked hard, have been nicked by the recession.  They may be working for a fraction of their former incomes.  Families are now strapped for cash, and struggle to find medical providers that will accept their healthcare insurance.

Ask yourself, is the New York Times right?  Have we increased our incomes enough to rise above the tax grab and the insurance double-cross?  Our economic anemia verges on leukemia; Obamacare is the pathogen, not the cure.

LGBT Concealed Licenses No Help

Most Americans take safety for granted. We walk around unaware of our surroundings; we even text while driving. Once in a while, the real world shouts a painful “wake up!” We pay attention for a while; then we drift back into a kind of entertained stupor, absorbed in virtual attractions.  Even intense vigilance and gun laws would not have saved the patrons of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando from the insane security officer who attacked them.  I cannot say what family, community, religious, or mental health resources might have identified, diverted, and redirected Omar Mateen’s mindset to health and tolerance.  

News of unpredictable, random madness creates justifiable hysteria, especially if it is threatening to people like you.  Since the massacre, many LGBT people are buying guns, and seeking concealed hand gun licenses. This is a completely understandable reflection of the community’s generalized fear of attack by “misogaynists,” and religious extremists; naturally, they feel the pressing need for self-defense against such deadly assault. Many have joined millions of Americans who have chosen to be armed citizens. I support their decisions and encourage them to seek professional training, and practice diligently until they can respond to danger effectively. Just owning a gun will not protect you.  (See my recent blogs for more ideas.)

 Alcohol, sex, and early hours are a dangerous combination under any circumstances;  add lethal weapons and really bad things happen. 

Licensed gun owners are prohibited from carrying weapons into bars and clubs that get 51% or more of their revenue from alcohol. Usually signs are posted with a watermark “51%” and tiny text to explain the prohibitions. Also, in Texas, the police  have zero tolerance for drinking alcohol while carrying a weapon.  

In other words, the club in Orlando was off limits to legal guns, and most or all of the patrons were disqualified to carry after they left the club. So,licenses, weapons, and expertise with guns would not have thwarted the tragedy in Orlando.

The Revolution Is Here – Take It To Heart

In every revolution, the “intelligentsia,”are swept aside.  They represent an entrenched notion of superiority and upper class that would keep change within their purview for ever. They call anyone who is not aligned with them “ignorant.”

But Americans have developed a different model of “knowing” called “trending.”

Ignorance is what?  What does a person have to “know” to rise above ignorance? Over the past six decades, we Americans have gradually diluted and “re-purposed”public education to reveal a new role for our schools:  Day Care and fail-proof graduation.

BTW:  What we don’t know, we can, like, Google, right?  Like, the internet is a great source, right?  And, like, almost better than rumors.  And Twitter, hey.  Right?  It is not only right; it is right now!  Who needs to be smart when they have smart PHONES;)

Each generation allowed to drift away from personal responsibility and thoughtful challenge dims our future, and insults our past.  Then the child become the parent, their children become parents, ad nauseum.  There is a saying, “Wisdom comes with age.”  But apparently, sometimes, age comes alone.

What has come of the devaluation of deep education, and elimination of critical thinking/learning skills?  Is it fair to castigate an electorate that has been hoodwinked into accepting whatever their equally educated associates and self-proclaimed leaders tell them?

What do we expect from uber-indulged offspring, un-chaffed by the requirements of self-reliance?  Why should we be surprised when 4th generation union laborers cry out in pain when their family traditions leave them without a clue or a paycheck?

We find ourselves in 2016, after wrenching damage to our smug image of ourselves as Americans with unlimited potential, who need only show up to garner success.  The wounds inflicted by 9/11 are still with us after 15 years of missteps in response.  We have tried to deny the damage; we have launched counterattacks on the phantoms of suicide using oceans of borrowed money to fund distant wars with professional warriors; we have salved our pain with money borrowed to buy homes and the trappings of wealth against a mirage of future prosperity; we drowned in the aftermath of deluded excess; we barely made our way back to the shores of reason and a semblance of recovery.

Now, we use deceitful yardsticks to measure our return to Camelot.  Empty words like “employment” when a person finally finds a job at 60% of their former pay.

We make false implications like “college education” when a barely literate and numerate high school “graduate” borrows the price of a new home to learn to read, write, and use a computer; then, the search for work that will pay the student loans, while the “college graduate,” either stays in the family basement, or shares desperate apartment space with like-indentured contemporaries.

When I say “we,” I mean our shackled culture.  We have been fooled into believing what we are told, minding our “political correctness,” and allowing mobs to control our justice system when, the results do not satisfy them.  We have allowed loud minorities of no more than 3-5% of our population to direct our legislatures and judiciaries to give them control and sanctions over the rest of our society.  We have succumbed to the notion that Americans have to allow others to flaunt our laws, treaties, and alliances because we should never stand firm, confront evil, or fight dirty.

The idealized America of the past was pretty hard-nosed, and seldom a patsy for, “that’s not NICE.”  Our heroes were tough guys who would not stand for threats or false promises.  Somehow we believe we are still tough when we are just the opposite.

The social organizers, the media and professional politicians have informally colluded to keep Americans in their recliners, consumers of what they conjure, passive observers of life in America.

But we all have our limits, and when those limits are breached, we get up and fight the bullies who have tried to keep us under control with their well-honed rules.  Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are appealing to the Americans who have suffered and who see not relief, but more suffering.  They are mad as hell, and they are not going to take it anymore.

Even if these gladiators are martyred by “the System,” they have awakened those who have let things go too long.  These revolutionaries will not accept sophisticated “ideas” or convoluted promises; they want palpable relief.  They want to push the buttons, and pull the levers, and see results that make a difference.

The Least of Evils – How Did We Get Here?

I believe in watching, reading, and listening to people with whom I differ, even people who label me through prejudice, ignorance, or laziness.  It helps me understand their thinking, and I can learn a great deal from them.  I do not have to agree with alternate world views, religious beliefs, xenophobia, or virulent attacks on who we are as Americans, to gain from the thoughts of others.

Just based on the title, I could not resist reading an intriguing, recent article from Al Jazeera.  (“Muslims for Bernie Sanders” Hamid Dabashi – Al Jazeera – April 18, 2016)

Hamid Dabashi, is a Muslim New Yorker, and is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York.  He makes clear that he sees America as:

“an imperial republic that systematically arms the rich tyrants around the world, supports Israel stealing Palestine and murdering Palestinians one settlement at a time, and helps to create monstrosities such as ISIL,”

Nonetheless, he struck a chord with me with his depictions of the candidates for President.

He sees a Jew, Bernie Sanders, as the least of evils.  Here is how he described the other candidates:

On the Republican front, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are clean-shaven prehistoric cave-dwellers in business suits, while Hillary Clinton on the Democratic front is the dictionary definition of a chameleon – like a corrupt politician changing colour depending on which way the political wind blows but consistently representing mega-donors, big banks, and Super PACs without any moral scruples, while feigning that she cares about the poor and the disenfranchised.”

Prejudiced?  Clearly.  Exaggerated?  Yes.  Unkind?  You bet.  A tinge of truth?  I think so.  This is an example of unfettered expression that peels away “positions,” facades, proclamations, and euphemisms; it paints hyperbolic, clown makeup on politicians willing to do anything to take control of the world’s most powerful office.

Of course, I do not know any of the candidates intimately; that leaves me in the same boat with 320-million fellow Americans.  We are stuck with what we see, hear, and read from the media, and the doctrinaire: fine-tuned, over-financed, underhanded, cruel, amplified bullshit.  What we notice is demagoguery, ad hominem attacks, critical weaknesses, as well as financial and moral contamination.  Is this the best we can expect?

Truth is, we created this cultural environment, so toxic, superficial, and righteous, that stellar citizens shun the thought of public office.  That leaves people who are some combination of ambitious, connected, famous, infamous, genuine, ingenuous, humorous, inspiring, fearless, facile, naive, opinionated, savvy, confident, telegenic, persuasive, eloquent, ruthless, righteous, charismatic, narcissistic, attractive, energetic, etc.

Later this year, each party will choose a candidate.  Will they be the clear delegate winner, winner of brokered convention, or a “dark horse,” knighted by their party?  Then they will choose the appendage candidate for vice president.  They become “the Ticket.”

Then we will have the November election.  Who will win?  I think the populist candidate who mobilizes angry constituents in pain.  We should not be surprised, given the ignition of the underemployed, the unpredictable “millennials,” and those wounded by the economy on either end of the political spectrum. If they show up at the polls, Sanders/Trump could be chosen.

Otherwise, if the Republicans do not unite, Clinton/Sanders wins.  The impact of a new justice on the Supreme Court will be momentous.  The real focus should be on electing legislators.  We have capable, reasonable candidates for most open seats.  I do not believe the presidential election will influence the congressional elections much.  The composition of the Senate and the House of Representatives is most critical in setting the stage for the next 4-8 years.  Choose well.

(I have great concerns for the nation should “entitlements” expand and laws against “inequality” prevail.  The power of prayer is becoming more attractive every day.)