|Source: Foreign Affairs-|
Source: Foreign Affairs: Opinion- Fareed Zakaria- Can America Be Fixed?
"The crisis of democracy identified in the 1970s never really went away; it was just papered over with temporary solutions and obscured by a series of lucky breaks. Today, the problems have mounted, and yet American democracy is more dysfunctional than ever -- and it has fewer levers to pull in a globalized economy. This time, the pessimists might be right./p"
At risk of sounding partisan as a Democrat but factual, America under the leadership of President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, was already on course to not only finish the 1990s as not only the only superpower in the world but becoming a more powerful superpower. Not just militarily but economically as well, with a booming economy, low unemployment, budget surplus and a national debt that was actually declining. A military that could not only defend the United States but play a useful source in building and sustaining peace in the world and help those who need and deserve it to be able to fight for their own freedom. And prevent ethnic genocide especially in Europe.
We moved away from that in the last decade under President Bush and decided that if America should do or want something we should just do it and worry about the costs of it later if at all. Well we are worrying about the costs of two unfunded trillion-dollar wars, a 700B$ Medicare Advantage plan and two unpaid for tax cuts of a trillion dollars each. And stop investing in things like infrastructure and didn't do a thing to reform and strengthen our entitlements and broader social insurance system.
Because of what America did as a government in the last decade by not not progressing, (I don't mean that in ideological terms) countries like China, Russia, Brazil and India were moving forward, America was moving backwards. And instead of being the leader, we ended borrowing from the countries that are emerging as superpowers and if anything would like to surpass us as the number one superpower in the world. And as we were running up debt, our living standards started declining, moving forward in these directions.
So as a result we now have more people unemployed, more people in poverty and infrastructure system thats crumbling as we've seen with broken bridges and hurricane Katreena and other disasters. So this is where we are as a country, but it doesn't have to be where we end up if we simply start moving forward as a country and not just try to hang on.
As I see it America needs to concentrate and work on five key areas and do them correctly to move forward again as a country.
Infrastructure investment- According to the Core of Engineers we have a 1T$ or more deficit in this area. We need to make that investment and pay for that by not borrowing over a 5-10 year period.
We need a national energy policy that moves this country towards energy independence with a menu of natural resources that are all produced in this country. Including oil and gas but also nuclear, wind, solar and so-forth we need to fully utilize all of these resources which would create new American jobs and American companies.
We need comprehensive immigration reform that encourages high-skilled workers to immigrate to this country legally. And address the 10-15 illegal immigrants by moving them into the mainstream and have them pay a fine for the amount of time they've lived in this country illegally plus whatever back taxes they may owe. And secure the border by clamping down on employers who hire illegal immigrants.
We need to get the national debt and deficit under control to the point that its no longer growing faster than our economy and back to 40% of GDP rather than 100% and do this over ten years. And to do that we need to get back to 18-20% of GDP that the Federal Government spends instead of 24-25%. That means getting the military budget back to FY 2001 levels and using the drawdowns from Iraq and Afghanistan to pay for deficit reduction or most of those savings, not back to the defense budget. And spending more on defense as it relates to counter terrorism and intelligence so we can prevent future attacks rather than trying to police the world and having developed nations defend themselves. Rather than America being responsible for the national security of Europe, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Korea at our expense.
And reforming both our entitlement and broader social insurance system. Making our entitlements more effective and more affordable and having our public assistance system be an empowerment system thats designed to empower people to get themselves out of poverty. And not just take care of them while they live in poverty.
We need comprehensive reform with our public education system where students go to the school thats best for them. Not based on where they live, where schools are funded based on what they need to do a good job. Not based on where they are located. Where teachers are paid based on how much their students learn, not based on how long they've been teaching. Where we essentially has universal higher education.
One of the few things I've agreed with Occupy Wall Street on as far as goals they've pushed, where all qualified high school students in this country would have access to an affordable higher education and not just the students who come from wealthy families or have scholarships. These are areas that the Federal Government can help in with the financing, but they shouldn't be running the public education in this country, but instead setting basic standards for the whole country to meet with the resources to accomplish them and is something the Feds can do.
America doesn't so much need austerity as much as it needs to be be reformed, especially the Federal Government. And cut back in areas where we are over committed both in the military and in social insurance. But we need to be investing more in some areas like in infrastructure and education and reforming in other areas like in public assistance and public education so we have more people working and making a good living on their own. Because we all as a country have access to a quality education weather we are still in school or have been out of school but lack the skills to move forward.
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