Lately we have seen a lot of “stupid is as stupid does” going on in D.C. on both sides of the aisle. For what it’s worth, here on some thoughts on a few more of these topics….
Reforming tax system – I have heard a lot on this over the years, but I think the last time anything significant got done on it was before I was out of grade-school…which has been more than a couple of decades ago. I am not sure if a flat tax rate, as some propose, really would be the best idea or the fairest idea, but I know that some of the tax breaks we enjoy both as individuals and as corporations cannot be sustained. Part of the larger conversation that needs to happen here in my opinion is the disconnect some people seem to have between government services and government funding. People don’t like paying taxes, heck I don’t like paying taxes, but I understand the need to. Taxes are the ONLY way for the government to pay for all the things we do like and while there needs to be more oversight of how the funds are spent (and yes, there is still PLENTY of bloat in our nation’s government), you get what you pay for. If we don’t pay taxes we won’t have a strong military, veteran’s benefits, funding for Social Security or Medicare, beautiful National Parks, clean water/air, highways and other important infrastructure, disaster relief and more. Whether we like it or not, we need to pay SOMETHING in order to get ANYTHING.
Reducing budget deficit – I understand the need to pay down your debts, whether you are a country or an individual. That being said however, sometimes you have to pay things on credit in order to invest in areas that lead to growth. I think balancing the budget through a COMBINATION of tax increases and spending cuts would, in the long run, be more helpful than just trying to pay down the deficit. After all, it doesn’t really seem to help if you are paying it down with one hand and then turning right around to charge more on the credit card with the other hand now does it?
Strengthening the economy – While I believe I understand and appreciate all that so-called “Free Market Capitalism” has done for our country and the world, I am not a fan of unregulated capitalism. It creates the sort of income inequality that divides countries, people and helps fuel strife and corruption. I want to see a balance of regulation and free-market policies, with a personal preference for coming down on the side of regulation. It wasn’t until we started putting some of these things in place after all that we got things like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and more none of which I would argue are a bad thing.
Improving job situation – This may surprise some people, but I am actually not in favor of a $15 minimum wage. While I agree the minimum wage could probably use an increase, creating a blanket increase in the short term may work to resolve some of the issues people are concerned about but per the law of economics, eventually the market will swing in response and in 3, 5, 10 years the increase people wanted so badly will be back to being a “starvation wage” as everyone’s buying power goes down. What I would rather do is improve funding to job training programs, encourage entrepreneurial dreams and find other ways to move people from low wage jobs into better opportunities. That to me is what the American Dream is and has always been about, the ability to find better work and better jobs if you work hard and are willing to put in the time. The problem I see today is that many people have the willingness but not the opportunities.
Trade – Without trade there is no growth. We must open up our markets to encourage competition, but we must also make sure that other countries are equally opening up their markets to American goods. Workers need fair wages, whether they live here or in China or Mexico or wherever and moving jobs to places with the lowest paid workers is not a sustainable future for our companies or our people. I am not a protectionist per se, but I am not convinced that unrestricted free trade has helped spur great growth and prosperity to our people beyond the 1%-ers of the population.
Roads, rivers and other infrastructure – I am still confused why this one even became an issue other than it was viewed as a “you can’t have it, it’s mine” toddler-esque sort of mentality between the two parties in Congress. We need to improve our roads, bridges, channel systems, etc. Many are falling into disrepair and our states are not in a position to take the lead on this in a way that we might wish. I certainly favor having states help to support this endeavor as they are stakeholders in supporting these structures and edifices but why we can’t get bi-partisan support for this (as in so many years past) is just beyond me.
Energy challenges – I have posted before in other forums on the need for us, as a country and a global society, to switch from fossil fuels to other sources of energy. While I am not advocating an overnight change or some sort of radical program that completely eliminates gas/coal/etc, I AM advocating for a change of focus. Long term, we all know that these fuels will run out and we will need to use something else or watch the world as we know it crumble. Nuclear, wind, solar, hydro, all of these are possible sources of fuel and energy that remain underfunded and underutilized. Rather than wait until we are forced to by circumstance I would like to see us take the bull by the horns and lead the way in researching new ways of using the bounty of creation to help power the world we live in. This includes helping developing countries find renewable ways to fuel their economy rather than become dependent on fossil fuels like we have. This is also enlightened self-interest for if we help other countries become less dependent on fossil fuel it leaves more for us to use more efficiently.