Transcript: Sen. Bernie Sanders’s speech at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on April 12, 2014 – Part 3

Part 3 – Partial transcript of remarks by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on April 12, 2014:

Now, my view is – and what I’m going to be talking to you about today – is that our great country – and we all love our country and we worry about our country – that our great country today probably has more serious problems than at any time since the Great Depression in the 1930s. And if you throw in what the scientific community tells us that climate change is real, that it is already causing devastating problems, and that it is likely to get worse unless we reverse and cut back on greenhouse gas emissions, if you throw that in, we may have more serious problems today than at any time in the modern history of this country.

And at the center of what those problems are – what people perceive, what every poll tells us – is that people understand the sad reality that the great middle class of this country, which was once the envy of the entire world, that middle class is disappearing.

And people understand that millions of people are now falling into poverty, that we have more people living in poverty today than at any time in the history of the United States of America.

And people understand that real unemployment – if you include those people who have given up looking for work and people who are working part-time when they want to work full-time – they understand that real unemployment is not 6.5% but it is close to 12%. The youth unemployment is near 20%; African-American youth unemployment almost doubled that.

And people understand because they are living the reality that millions of Americans today despite a huge increase in productivity, despite all of the robotics and all of the space age technology, and all of the increase in productivity so that the average worker today is producing more – people understand and know because it is their lives that they are working longer hours for lower wages. And that many people in my state and in your state they’re not working; they’re working two jobs; they’re working three jobs trying to cobble together an income and maybe some health insurance.

And people understand when we talk about health care that there is something profoundly wrong that in this great nation we are the only major country on Earth that does not guarantee health care to all people as a right of citizenship. [Applause]

Now, there are a lot of angry people out there. They’re angry in Vermont. They’re angry in New Hampshire. They’re angry in Mississippi, California. All over this country.

And what they are angry about – and I’m going to bore you with some statistics – but I think it’s important that you hear it.

They are angry that since 1999 the typical middle class family has seen its income go down by more than $5,000 after adjusting for inflation. Got that? People are working hard. Why is their income going down?

They’re angry because that same typical middle-class family – that family right in the middle – earn less income last year than it earned 25 years ago, and maybe that’s an issue we might want to be chatting about a little.

They are angry because the typical male worker made $283 less last year than he did 44 years ago.

So you see these guys and they are angry and they are furious. They don’t quite know where their anger should go but they’re angry. That’s why – they’re working but their incomes are going down.

Typical female workers earn $1,700 less last year than they did in 2007 despite all of the increases in productivity.

And people are angry and they are frightened and very, very nervous about the fact that half of all Americans have less than $10,000 in their savings account. Can you imagine that? Half of all Americans. That means you’re one automobile accident away from disaster, one illness away from disaster.

And when people are 50 and 55 and 60 and they’re thinking about retirement and they have $10,000 in the bank, they’re pretty nervous about the future of their lives.

Today in America, over 5.5 million young people have either dropped out of high school or graduated high school and they have no jobs and they are hanging out on street corners in Vermont and New Hampshire and California and states all over this country.

And a lot of these kids with no jobs, with no future, are doing destructive or self-destructive activities. And I don’t have to talk to you about heroin or opiate addiction. And I don’t have to tell you that there’s something fundamentally wrong in our country when we end up with having more people in jail than China or any other country on Earth. [Applause]

And when people look about what’s happening in America, when they go shopping in the store. They get angry because when they go shopping and they try to buy a product – a holiday gift – and they look at the label and they say where does that come from, and it comes from China, it comes Vietnam, it comes from Mexico. And meanwhile, they look at their own communities and they know that factories that used to pay workers a living wage have long been gone. The corporations taking advantage of our disastrous trade policies shut down in America even if they were profitable here, and they go to China or other countries where they can pay people low, low wages.

Not so many years ago, General Motors was the largest private employer in the United States of America. And they paid their workers, who were unionized, good wages and good benefits.

Today, the largest private sector employer is Wal-Mart – vehemently anti-union – who pay their workers low-wages with minimal benefits.

And if you want to look at the transformation of the American economy, you can look at it from being a General Motors economy producing real products, paying workers real wages with good benefits to a Wal-Mart economy – anti-union, low wages, minimal benefits. [Applause]


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