My wish for the new year
We all tend to complain about what is "wrong" with the country and very few offer solutions. In this post, I would like to offer up some things I think the government could do to make this country a "better place to live".
Welfare/housing/entitlements - I firmly believe that the best way to reform welfare is to tie benefits for those that are able to work to work. If you are able to work but still need a hand for necessities (food, electricity, heat, water, chldcare etc) then by all means we should assist, but it should all be predicated on employment! If you are able to work, but not working then benefits should only be extended for a limited period of time and predicated on your actively seeking employment (like unemployment benefits are). If you are not able to work, due to physical or mental handicapp, the work requirement should be waived unless there are ways that you can work minimally (eg a wheelchair bound person can do data entry/computer work, certain mental handicaps are treatable with medication to make a person able to be out and about). Shoot - even my 2 Downs Syndrome brothers-in-law have jobs....jobs that are tied to their state benefits - BTW. One BIL is severely retarded and he works light assembly. It gives both of them a sense of ability that no hand out ever could!
Children/Family Services - We need to get rid of the mentality that welfare pays to have children. You hear it all the time....women with 6,8,10 kids all with different fathers and the children are running amok in the neighborhood/schools and doing drugs or having their own babies as teen-agers.....Government needs to encourage marriage through tax credits (the so called marriage penalty tax), child care credits, and school vouchers (more on that later) so that the parents can instill a sense of self esteem in themselves and their children by being able to take care of themselves (as opposed to being economically enslaved to the government). Make no doubt about it, the current welfare system, with it's restrictions and bureaucracy is nothing more than modern day slavery and it needs to be abolished!
Education - I mentioned the "V" word earlier. Parents of children in failing school districts need to have the option of sending their kids to schools that will educate them. They should not be stuck with a school that is simply "warehousing" their kids for 6 hours a day - passing them up the chain regardless of whether the kid can read or not. No Child Left Behind was a poorly written attempt to encourage schools to "try" to do better, but what the feds think will work may not work in each scenario. Put control of the schools and the cirriculum back where it belongs - in the hands of the state! What works in Minneapolis or Chicago may not work in Tulsa or Bozeman! The closer to the kids you make the control, the better the educators can tailor cirriculum to the students that need help the most.
The Economy - Make the Bush tax cuts permanent! Tax cuts work - contrary to the Dems spin. Businesses are in business to make money. If you make it easier for them to make money, the more likely they are to expand business (in order to make MORE money). When businesses expand, they need to hire and train new employees, which helps get people out off of welfare! Encourage businesses to build in the urban centers through Tax Increment Financing. Getting businesses to move back into our urban cores will give the poor access to work (since many rely on urban mass transit) so they should be incented to do so!
Immigration - this is a hard one for me personally as the child of a fairly recent (late 1800's) immigrant whose immigration was of "questionable" legality. One thing we need to do is to keep track of those who do come here legally. Most of the 9/11 hijackers initially came here on student visas - visas that were expired long before the hijackings took place. Those who come here on student/work visas should be required to check in with the DHS regularly and to register their addresses with DHS. Remember that these folks are not US citizens and because of that, are not "due" the rights infered on US citizens (from the Constitution). We do need to stem the tide of illegal immigration across our southern border, but we need to make more temporary work visas available for those that do indeed want to come across to work - even as day laborers. If welfare is tied to work status, then we will loose the ones that solely come across for the welfare check (via anchor babies). Like it or not (conservatives) there are jobs here in this country that many Mexican laborers do that Americans will not do - like shovel manure at the local zoo or racetrack, or hand picking fruits and vegatables (go ahead - try hand picking strawberrys for 2 hours and tell me how you think YOU would do picking them for 8-10 hours a day!) These are jobs that are not near our urban cores so those American citizens who live there do not have access to these jobs (for the most part). It is work that needs to be done, and done cheaply in order for US to have an cheap, abundant food supply.
Health Care - Putting health care in the hands of the federal government will not make it any cheaper or better.....just ask the Canadians that come here for medical treatments that they can not get in their home country. Ask the Canadians who come here (some illegally) to take our high paying tech jobs! They don't want socialized medicine because they often can not get life saving treatments in time to save their lives! If you want to reduce the costs of health care we need to listen to the doctors and the hospitals that are begging for tort reform! The cost of their exhorbitantly high malpractice insurance is passed on to the medical consumers every day! Cap judgements and get the lawyers out of our hospitals and clinics. Encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs through tax incentives. If a pharma company has a large Research & Development division, or is working on the new "wonder drug" (I'm thinking cancer and AIDS drugs here) by all means help them out! It costs money to develop the new drugs and the new diagnostic equipment that help us all live better/longer lives. Helping "big phrama" will help the consumer by reducing drug prices....
I realize that these ideas are going to upset many, hopefully on both sides of the political aisle, however it is my fervent hope that these ideas help spark the kinds of discussions that are necessary to move America forward. These problems can not be solved in 30 second sound bytes. They can only be solved by honest, hardworking Americans taking a hard look at their government and themselves and asking "what can I do to make a difference?"