In last night’s State of the Union, President Trump railed at length on the “emergency” of undocumented crossings (which are at a 20-year low) into the United States. This week in OtherWords, several contributors offer up worthier problems.

For one thing, as the deliverer of that speech shows, there’s that pesky problem of billionaires running the country. Josh Hoxie reports this week on several new proposals that, when their time comes, could end the age of billionaires. (They’ll complain about taxes, Jim Hightower adds, but don’t listen — high taxes on the wealthy have corresponded with huge prosperity in this very country.)

Some emergencies are much more immediate. Nicole Braun writes this week about what it’s like trying to find shelter in Northern Michigan if you’re homeless — even as temperatures plunged 30 degrees below zero during the polar vortex. While the president goes on about immigrants, she writes, “what’s really killing many of us is homelessness, opioid addiction, poverty, and a lack of healthcare.”

Then there’s that long-term emergency (though not as long-term as before) of climate change. Medical student Autumn Vogel argues that climate change isn’t just an environmental challenge. It’s going to be a huge health care challenge too if we don’t prepare now.

Rounding these out, David Wallis offers an idea that would really help America’s most underpaid public servants: teachers, enlisted soldiers, and first responders. Give them a tax break, he says. And make it a big one.

Finally, Jill Richardson applauds those who seek mental health treatment. And Khalil Bendib mocks up the Trump administration’s withdrawal from a landmark nuclear arms control agreement.

New This Week…

How the Age of Billionaires Ends | Josh Hoxie
Serious proposals are on the table to address the deepening divide between the uber-rich and the rest of us.

Imagine Being Homeless During the Polar Vortex | Nicole Braun
While the president chased after his wall, the real national emergency was people dying in extreme weather.

Give Teachers and First Responders a (Big) Tax Break | David Wallis
People who keep us safe and educate our kids shouldn’t have to rely on food stamps or second jobs.

My Patients’ Health Depends on Addressing Climate Change | Autumn Vogel
Climate change is going to put incredible stress on our already overburdened health system. We need to prepare now.

Seeking Mental Health Treatment Should Be Applauded | Jill Richardson
If you’re getting help, be proud of yourself. If someone you love is, support them.

Don’t Listen to Billionaires Who Complain About Taxes | Jim Hightower
When the U.S. last had a top tax rate of over 70 percent, it was a period of unparalleled prosperity.

Bombs Away | Khalil Bendib
Thanks to Trump blowing up the INF treaty, bomb makers are free at last.

In Case You Missed It…

Another Billionaire Presidential Candidate Who Doesn’t Get It | Jill Richardson
It’s human nature to be clueless about those with less privilege than you — which for billionaires includes nearly everyone.

Black America’s Vanishing Wealth Is Bad for All Americans | Bob Lord
The racial wealth divide gives billionaires more power over all of us. The answer? Reparations.

I Live in Steve King’s District. It’s Time for Him to Go. | Julie Duhn
Instead of fighting for our struggling communities, Steve King scapegoats the immigrants keeping them alive.

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Peter Certo

Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and the editor of

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