- When politicians say they are ready to compromise they probably are not
- Economic growth in the US remains stubbornly mediocre and employment is a major problem
- World economic growth is slowing and could easily weigh negatively on US economic growth in coming months
- Accommodative monetary policy has been controversial but most of us understand that too low interest rates for too long is a major risk for economic growth
- Dealing with defaulted housing and other financial contracts must be accelerated yet if such policies result in a return to dangerous attitudes and practices in household and business debt, then we will have accomplished very little
- The fiscal cliff is deep but is only one of many. Once that one is skirted we remain at 3,000 meters
- The real fiscal challenge involves a more permanent fix to overcoming the economic risks associated with unsustainable national government deficits and debts
- Without pointing fingers it is clear than once a country reaches a point wherein a minority of citizens pays benefits to a majority of citizens, a democratic political system will be challenged to find ways to balance its budgets and accomplish its goals
- Pre-university education continues to fail to adequately prepare enough students for life’s challenges
- There is a very large group of friends and relatives who are not heterosexual and who very much want the same kinds of rights as other Americans.
- Too many school districts do not graduate even 50% of their students
- University education is becoming unaffordable
- We have more hope than reality when it comes to controlling costs of healthcare and pensions
- Notwithstanding women’s rights to choose no one wants risky surgery to become a form of birth control
- Immigration has always been a source of strength for the US but unfettered and illegal immigration will threaten security and social cohesion
- Mandate has more than one meaning. A look at Wikipedia says that a legitimate mandate occurs when a government wins election because of its promise to put in new specific policies. A second definition points out that a large margin of victory supports the notion of new specific policies that were part of the campaign.
These self-evident truths above imply that our nation has a lot of things to accomplish in the coming years. These truths also emphasize just how much we stand to lose if we fail to act. But failing to act is where we seem to excel. Hey mom we had a swim meet at school today and I decided to debate stroke mechanics with my coach and I missed my event. Sorry I didn’t compete. That sounds pretty stupid. But that is exactly what we have been doing – and we pay those guys and gals in government handsomely to debate mechanics.
The above list was written in such a way that I at least tried to be objective. I know it is impossible to be totally objective as one who has since the age of 18 had a secret love thing for Ayn Rand. But I tried to lay things out in way that focuses on real challenges. I doubt, however, that the challenge statement is the problem. When we take off our Obama blinders and our Romney goggles we all know that this country needs a lot of work. So if that is true, then what is the problem? Why do we have such a dysfunctional government?
The problem is that we have different approaches to solving these problems. These different ways are sometimes supported by very different assumptions about human instincts and behaviors. They are buttressed often by different religious beliefs. But those differences have always existed. Somehow Reagan worked with Democrats and Clinton worked with Republics. The history of legislation in the US is full if not dominated by parties working together to solve national problems and challenges.
I hear some of my Republican friends saying that we simply cannot compromise our basic beliefs. Some of them worry that the country is becoming too socialistic – too much run by government. Some of my Democrat friends point at the plight of the middle class and think that it is impossible to allow rich people to keep low tax rates. These are, I think, entrenched positions. Right now I am hearing and reading about too many people already drawing lines in the sand. A line in the sand means to me that the self-evident truths will take a back-seat to basic beliefs.
Both sides say the same thing – if we compromise then we will be kicking the can down the road and we will be worsening the country. So like good Tarheels from North Carolina, they dig in their heels for the good of the country. These are not bad people. They care.
But coming up with a solution is not necessarily a compromise. For example, aside from raising the tax rate on households and small businesses earning $250,000 per year, there might be other less disruptive ways to increase tax revenue from wealthy people. If we would earnestly work on this we might find ways to do this without causing unnecessary impacts of higher rates on the economy. Furthermore, some Democrats draw a line at Medicare and Social Security. But surely there are changes to recipients of these programs that would be less objectionable than others. Finding a way to generate more tax revenue and finding other ways to slow the growth of government spending is a no-brainer. Finding these ways does not mean giving up on one’s core principles. It leads to advancing those principles because it means finding solutions to real problems.
But if people gain power in today’s society not by finding solutions but by being passionate and stubborn orators, then I suppose we will have lots of lines drawn in sand in a sandbox that will get smaller and smaller. I am not for compromise. I am not for kicking cans. I am not for giving up on principles. I think we can have all that and a solution. We just need to get away from the microphones and work hard at solutions.