We have more tax revenues than ever…and ballooning deficits in Washington, D.C. Neither party has the courage to balance a budget and repay obligations. Here are some insights for changing the conversation:
- Create a budget based on the real revenue of the previous year. If there is more money, decide ahead of time where it goes; if less, have the cuts ready.
- Unregulated capitalism and bureaucratic socialism achieve the same end: a few are enriched at the expense of most.
- Begin a process of removing the thousands of agricultural subsidies that benefit huge agribusinesses and are no longer needed.
- Transform HUD and other agencies into efficient, decentralized catalysts for help and transformation instead of career paths for bureaucrats.
- Cut defense spending and increase support for veterans. One less bomber means help for thousands of vets and less pork for Congress to give away.
- Privatize all public pensions, with excellent regulations through the SEC and other agencies. Eliminate the special retirement benefits for elected federal officials and have them held to the same economic standards as all citizens.
- Public employee unions should be able to bargain, but not hold taxpayers hostage to benefits they cannot afford. Bring all teachers and workers into Social Security and offer excellent private plans – just like the rest of the country.
- Hold all government agencies accountable for best practices and have private-sector leaders offer insights on efficient methods and ethics.
- Transform the IRS with simplification of the tax code and consider alternative ways of raising revenue.
- Invigorate private/public partnerships for all kinds of infrastructure, with high standards, but honest bidding processes and a cap on “change orders” and lawsuits.
- Stop sending tax dollars to colleges and universities for frivolous programs and lower the cost of education by demanding that teachers teach, and students work.
With courage, love and wisdom, we can change a 50-year trajectory.
My first directly political comments this year:
Dear Congress, I am praying for you tonight. Please do your job and pass legislation.
Republicans, reach across the aisle with principled compromise and proximate justice.
Democrats, please do not let hatred for President Trump keep you from your stewardship. Stop posturing and start serving. It is possible that:
Healthcare can be refined without millions losing coverage.
Our military can be strengthened without the poor marginalized.
Our veterans deserve better.
The EPA can protect our lands without overreaching militancy.
All aspects of government can improve efficiency.
You do not need to wait for all your cues from the White House or the media. Show some courage and make some friends across the aisle.
Lord, bless all public servants with an unselfish disposition and a vision for the common good that yields fruitful work and public trust.
December 7, 1941 – “a day that will live in infamy…” President Roosevelt’s famous words launched America’s participation in a war that would claim millions of lives, reshape empires and usher in the nuclear age. On December 11, Hitler declared war on the USA, even though Roosevelt did not include Germany in the December 8th address to Congress. America was now allied with Great Britain and the Soviet Union in war that spanned every time zone and engulfed scores of nations.
Advent is a fitting time to give thanks to God for the gift of the Christ and the message of love and peace Jesus brings to the world. It is also an appropriate moment to thank the surviving WWII veterans for their service. There are fewer representatives of this “Greatest Generation” with us with each passing day. I was sad to hear the Pearl Harbor events are now scaled back – there are too few survivors left to sustain larger commemorations.
In thanking these veterans we are not glorifying war or nostalgically trying to reify some mythic past. There is nothing “good” about war. It is a sign of human sin and failure, a reminder of our rebellion against love and truth and our deep capacity for violence. The only good that comes out of war is the defeat of powers that would enslave humankind. Good is also found in the innumerable acts of bravery and kindness that take place in the midst of the night and fog of battle. Yes, it was good that Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany were defeated. In order to achieve this, many men and women risked life and limb for years and returned home with emotional and physical scars. Most of these veterans sublimated the hurts and set about building the greatest era of economic prosperity in world history. Some returned to battle just years later, fighting an awful war of attrition in Korea.
December 7 is a day to remember courage, sacrifice and a generation that bequeathed liberty to much of the world. Alas, we have squandered much of this heritage. Perhaps in this moment of reflection we can remember those virtues that built our prosperity: hard work, thinking of others more than ourselves and partnering with others to confront challenges. I think our “public servants” in both parties can learn from our vets. A little more sacrifice (instead of another vacation, Mr. President), a lot more cooperation (are you listening Mr. Reid and Mr. Boehner?) and a renewal of concern for the future instead of our immediate comfort are the best ways we can say, “thank you” to our veterans – and “bless you” to future generations.
Let’s express appreciation to our veterans and allow the spirit of Advent to foster consideration of our deepest virtues. Perhaps 2011 will mark the advent of a new era of cooperation and service, with reverence for God and respect for our neighbors creating joyful communities.