Since publishing my latest piece about millennials, I received a fair number of comments agreeing and disagreeing with my observations.
What else is new? I respect the opinions of every person who responded to the essay, or most of them anyway. But, the question that remains unanswered is what millennials should be fighting for, specifically, to improve America? And so, I offer the following 10 suggestions. Note: the list is not complete by any means, so feel free to add (or delete) from it in your comments.
1. America must get its financial affairs in order.
This is an issue that can no longer be deferred. Every day the financial burden on the nation increases. The pissing contest between liberals and conservatives about fiscal responsibility is making America weary. Whenever one side offers a suggestion, the other responds with trite ideological claptrap that supposedly negates the original hypothesis. Suppose we all assume that the solution to our problems can be a reality if we can somehow find the middle ground between the most radical thoughts relating to the deficit. America needs to take care of the needy, but it also must stop spending more than it takes in. Could we agree on this basic premise?
Currently, the spending cycle is projected to worsen by just about everybody. Even the most liberal economists have stipulated that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are taking the country on a course to financial oblivion. The system was created when Americans lived about 20 years less than they do today and when the population was increasing at a much faster rate (where more young people could provide more payments for the older entitlement beneficiaries).
Translation: fewer newborns today will not be able to support more and more older Americans that are reliant on entitlements. It is not a difficult concept to grasp. Yet, politicians keep dancing around the realities.
So, it is perfectly reasonable (and not cruel) to propose reforms to those entitlements before they bring the house down. I know older people are dependent upon these safety nets, blah, blah, blah. But, I have learned, after being affiliated with a number of eleemosynary chartiable organizations, that the completion of a mission, in this case the welfare of older and other needy people, is in jeopardy if it is not funded properly. Without the resources, every altruistic entity (including the federal government) will eventually fall on its face and not meet the needs of its constituents. Cash in must be equal to or greater than cash out in the long-term.
And so, I recommend that all Americans stop fighting about whether entitlements need to be reformed at all, and start focusing on how much they need to be reformed. Kicking this can down the road is risky business.
2. Our country can ill-afford to have many more tragedies like Newtown, Conn.
The most important issues embraced by the National Rifle Association are lock solid and protected by the Second Amendment of the Constitution. There is no stronger guarantee in this country than a constitutional guarantee that supports your principles. Therefore, Americans will always have the right to bear arms for protection and for sport. For the NRA to make trivial demands and resist common sense reforms that protects Americans makes no sense. Their concern about a slippery slope is totally unfounded.
Americans who are mentally ill should not be able to acquire a weapon. Americans should not have access to weapons and magazines that are made for the military and police. Nor, should Americans be able to buy hand grenades, bazookas, or rocket launchers. These common sense restrictions do not, in any way, detract from our constitutional right to bear arms.
I strongly suggest that people on both sides of this controversy distill the issues down to raw common sense and respect of the Second Amendment. This will protect the rights of gun advocates and hopefully decrease the number of deaths affiliated with the illicit use of firearms.
3. Cheating and waste in America must end now.
America can no longer look the other way relating to tax, medical, business, and every other kind of fraud. We have all seen estimates of the losses associated with tax fraud and medical fraud in the country, and they should be addressed immediately.
It makes sense for the government to employ highly qualified professionals to root out the cheaters because it is a moneymaking opportunity for the government. Fewer IRS agents is not a sound strategy. The same holds true for medical investigators. If you add up the numbers affiliated with tax cheating alone, a large chunk of our deficit could be reduced if the abuses ended.
Regarding waste, our politicians should be more accountable for pork barrel spending as well as the elimination of unproductive programs and overcharges in government contract work. Offenders need to be to prosecuted and imprisoned for stealing money from our Treasury. Politicians should lose elections for not properly monitoring the spending of our tax dollars.
4. Politics and money to do not mix.
I appreciate that SCOTUS has spoken on campaign finance reform. Political contributions are protected constitutionally. In this regard, I say let’s change the Cconstitution so that campaign finance reform can be implemented. Why wouldn’t 99% of Americans support reforms that would restrict the influence of rich people on our political process? This strategy worked well in Obama’s efforts to increase taxes on the rich.
5. Term limits.
There are important reasons why presidents are no longer allowed to serve more than two terms. Most of us know them, so I won’t waste space on rationale of term limits for presidents. Why don’t those same issues pertain to senators and representatives? Incumbency is corrupting our political system. Outsized influence within Congress has warped our appropriation process, among other things.
6. Get Americans back to work.
The most important task of our government should be to create more jobs. This can be done in a number of ways. The federal government can build infrastructure. It can create incentives for businesses to hire. It can create work programs. What the government should not do is sit by idly and allow unemployment rolls to grow.
The latter has the worst implications for our society. It creates an entitlement program for able-bodied citizens. It destroys the work ethic that is responsible for the greatness of our country. It creates cash outflow (for unemployment and poverty), rather than cash inflows from new taxes.
The yield on social programs such as unemployment is negative. Let’s pay the money, but only to people who get up in the morning, go to work, and perform useful services.
7. America must decide what its global role will be prospectively.
Currently, our country is spending money on defense and for diplomatic purposes around the world. I question the return on these capital outlays. In my opinion, the U.S. should not be leading the charge for any foreign government. Democracy will not be successful in every place in the world. We should give up nation building in places like Afghanistan and Iraq and use the money we save to build our own nation.
I also resent the ingratitude of those around the world who we protect and support. The more America gives, the more foreigners hate us. This is an unhealthy situation and frankly, our funds are not buying us a great deal of influence any longer.
8. America must work to increase human rights domestically.
America must improve human rights for its citizens. Let same sex couples marry. Double down on prosecution of hate crimes. Clean up the electoral process and encourage every American to register and vote. Install more quotas for minorities. This is a controversial issue, but if the targets are published, no one will be surprised. And finally, nobody should be starving in America.
After these tasks are successfully completed, the U.S. can begin to influence other nations to respect different cultures, skin colors, and religions. This influence should not be in the form of brute force, but mild persuasion and economic sanctions if necessary.
9. Education is the key to improved social conditions in America.
In my opinion, the most difficult task America has prospectively has to do with educating its young. As has been stated thousands of times, a more educated population will be a happier and more prosperous group.
Our nation posts low educational results compared to other nations primarily because of the performance of urban students. Generally, the suburbs are more than competitive with academic results in other countries. The socioeconomic barriers to good education in our cities must be addressed. Children should want to go to school, be safe in the classrooms, be taught by enthusiastic teachers, and supported by interested parents. We have a long way to go in these areas.
10. America should not give up on capitalism.
It is very tempting for the 99% to say, screw it, we’ll never be prosperous, so we should abscond from the affluent. The essence of success is based upon meritocracy. Without it, we will all be automatons who have boring jobs and very little to look forward to. Those who work the hardest are entitled to be paid more than those who do not. Our nation has flourished because of its creativity, ingenuity, determination and the capitalist perspective.
Well, there you have it, ten major projects we can all work on together to improve America. We need to be deliberate and forceful in attaining these ideals. Those that are depressed or not interested in participating should stand aside.