I love the political season. So ripe with possibility. I get that patriotic feeling when I go vote. I feel proud and grateful to be an American and to have been blessed to be born in the most free nation on Earth. I feel empowered by a sense that “We the People” can make a difference because our founders blessed us with the best and longest enduring constitution and form of government on the planet. It is the closest thing that the world has to “self-government” and has changed the world for good in so many ways in the last 250 years.
I hate the political season. Just as my hope soars eternal, I get bombarded by all the “politics” of politics: name calling, finger pointing, scandals and accusations, political hacks unwilling to enter into real debate on issues, the usual. For the most part it’s not the people – the average democrat or republican voter – it’s all the paid politicians and strategists out there who make a living off of constantly creating “bad guys” and “good guys” for the people to respectively blame and give power to.
I just want us to have an honest discussion in America about what kind of country we want to be.
Do we want bigger government with more control of our lives, business and finances? Do we believe that it is the duty of the federal government to solve the world’s ills? How about our own personal ills? Am I responsible for providing myself food, clothing, shelter, health care and employment? Is that the government’s job? Or is it the government’s job to protect my rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? See the Declaration of Independence didn’t say that we had a right to happiness. That would mean that the government would be responsible for making sure that everyone was achieving happiness. No, we have the right to pursue that happiness. The dictionary describes it as “to strive to gain or accomplish”. That word pursuit tells us that our founders understood that it is the individual’s right and responsibility to strive for and gain, or not gain, happiness. The outcome of that pursuit is not guaranteed.
The founders understood something that so many seem unwilling to admit today: government does a poorer job at almost everything than the private sector, local governments and individuals. With the exception of the US Military (which is the finest in the world), the federal government has failed at every other large undertaking and expansion of its role in history.
Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are so broke and unsustainable that all 3 systems will completely fall apart in the next few decades if not drastically cut, changed or funded. The “funded” option would require tax increases up to 88% of income for top earners and the bottom percent income tax payers would go to 37%, up from 9% today. The trustees of the funds for these failed policies say that if drastic change does not occur now, chaos may ensue later. Very few courageous politicians are even willing to be honest with the American people about the situation and the need to phase out or restructure these programs, but the American people are figuring it out anyway. I won’t be counting on a dollar of the 80K+ I have paid into Social Security. I don’t even know how much I have paid into Medicare and Medical.
Europe is flashing us a big ol‘ sign right now. It says “Warning! Danger Ahead!” The reason that countries in Europe like Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal are collapsing under the weight of their own government and spending is because they promised their people more than they could ever provide. Sound familiar? They are just a bit further down the road than we are. But guess what? California’s economic situation is actually worse than Greece. It won’t be long until California petitions the federal government for a bailout because we are “too big to fail”. And New York’s government may shut down completely on Tuesday because they can’t pass a budget because no one is willing to make the cuts necessary to balance the budget and the people are over taxed as it is. New York spends nearly $15,000 per year on every child attending a public school. What do they have to show for it? Drop out rates continue to increase every year. Average Private school in New York is just over $6,000 per year. I guess that’s just another case of the private sector doing it better. So why did DC shut down the widely successful school voucher program last year? In a fight to keep the program, Senator Joseph Lieberman said “There are some powerful forces allied against this program. We happen to have the facts on our side. We also have justice on our side.” The facts: 1700 low income students in DC were given $7500 in vouchers to attend private schools. Less than the average $14000 per student DC was spending on public school. The “power forces” that Lieberman mentioned? Public Employee and Teachers unions who do not have the stronghold on private schools that they do on public schools. Who won? Obama and the democrats in Congress sided with the unions. Of course, the unions are their biggest single contributors, so maybe that’s why. Or maybe they just really believe that those 1700 low income students gained nothing from being able to attend private schools.
I could make a 200 page blog on the failures of big government and it’s programs. We can talk about how the government banned DDT 1972 against the testimony of experts who said it was safe and at the behest of environmental groups like Environmental Defense Fund and the Sierra Club. I could explain how that ban cost the lives of hundreds of millions, especially in Africa where Malaria is the number one killer of children. In 2006 the UN finally reversed it’s policy and endorsed DDT as an tool in the fight against Malaria and other Mosquito borne illnesses again. Too little, to late for the victims of the diseases.
How different from that is a cap and trade bill that will harm humans economically (Obama said electricity rates would “necessarily skyrocket”) and which even environmental scientists admit will have no discernible effect on the environment?
Let’s put a real end to “politics as usual” and decide what kind of country we want to be. Let’s bring the debate out in the open. Far-left progressives from “Code Pink” recently shouted down and threw things as Nancy Pelosi during a speech because they don’t think that she is progressive enough. Those kinds of Progressives who want to transform America into more European style social democracy can make their arguments as to why that is a good idea and what will keep us from falling into economic catastrophe like the countries in Europe that serve as the model.
More moderate Liberals can make their arguments for some growth in government size and power, such as what we have seen in this administration with health care reform, financial regulation, nationalizing student loans and government majority ownership of banks and auto makers. Moderate conservatives can make the argument for “compassionate conservatism” with some safety nets, but reduced scope of federal government provision, intervention and control. Libertarian type conservatives can make their argument that the federal government has far exceeded it’s constitutional bounds and that we shouldn’t have 90% of the government programs and agencies that we have today. Then they can explain how they plan to wean people off all the existing government programs without the chaos that austerity measures are creating in Europe today.
Ironically, based on my reading of the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and other writings by our founders, they fell on the far conservative side, not in the middle.
So let’s have the debate. Let’s bring all sides in to argue the merits, historical support, and execution of their designs and see who America chooses. That is the power of the people. You give us the facts and lay out your argument and we can make the right choice. We don’t need government making our choices for us. The government does not know better and nor can they do better than the America people. That is why our Founders gave the power to “We the