How many times have we each been caught complaining and/or whining about something our government or some other authority does that we don’t like and somebody says, “Well, what would you do, wise guy?”
It happens to me a lot, because I complain a lot.
So here are the complaints others and I have made and what I see as plausible solutions.
• The budget: Raise the debt ceiling so the world economy doesn’t collapse while we continue to embarrass ourselves on the world economic stage. Because we are the largest player in international economics, when we screw up and get greedy, everybody follows, hence the world’s recession.
First, cut spending where there is overkill (defense) or traditional waste (oil company subsidies.) Next, close all loopholes to tax avoidance, especially for offshore bank accounts and overseas profits for American-based corporations. Move the top tax bracket to 40 percent and give tax incentives to those who create jobs. Take the cap off Social Security contributions. This dovetails with alternative energy investment and development.
• Energy: Take the money cut from defense and sponsor research and project funding for alternate energy until feasible and economically viable series of technologies can replace foreign oil imports from Asia and the Middle East.
I see this as a win-win situation in that we actually will become energy independent from countries who hate us, our religion and our form of government. Since we won’t have to fight these people over control of oil, it will justify the reduction in defense spending. This action will dovetail into developing a new, more consistent and intelligent foreign policy.
• Foreign policy: We need to share our technological breakthroughs with the rest of the world and form economic alliances to keep everybody’s cost of implementation down while weaning everyone away from Middle East oil.
If we do this intelligently, the religious-based schisms between the West and the Middle East will be greatly defused, and the cash will be closer to everyone’s home. We also should continue to share our food and medical technology with the poorest nations and encourage our economic partners to do the same. Inclusive of this is an education system teaching people how to control their populations so more of them can be well-fed and healthy. It wouldn’t hurt if we did that here.
• Education: Scrap "No Child Left Behind" and "Race to the Top." Neither of these programs is worth the money they consume for the results they get. Spend the money on recruiting and developing teachers and administrators who concern themselves with educating children rather than passing tests.
This is a long-term issue and results will take a while before showing any impact on society.
Pay for teacher education. Pay teacher salaries equivalent to their equally educated peers in business and industry. Develop a national curriculum that will prepare both academically and vocationally oriented students to meet business needs for the rest of the century. Lengthen the school year while making sure teachers develop lessons that incorporate real-life examples.
• Poverty: We’ve known for decades poor kids do not do as well in school and in life than wealthier kids. Fifteen percent of our population is chronically destitute; it might be more. They primarily reside in our inner-cities.
I propose a massive series of urban renewal projects conducted by those very residents who live in run-down neighborhoods. Train them and give them the materials and the financial incentive to work their way out of poverty as well as make the cities livable. This dovetails with the advances in education proposed above.
My vision sees the need for greater participation of our citizenry to stave off societal collapse from the greedy few taking our wealth and our resources to other countries and leaving us with nothing. We must give all our citizens a reason to work toward excellence in everything they do, not just for the money they can make, but for the security they gain for their families and our way of life.
It doesn’t get more patriotic than that.
Turner is a retired teacher and industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company. "The Voter’s Guide to National Salvation" is a newly published e-book from Turner. You can find it at www.barnesandnoble.com/ebooks. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.