Category Archives: Social Security

Toward Principled Compromise: Reimagining the Common Good, Part One

In a genuine spirit of potential bipartisan consensus, I offer the following insights leading to progress on some of the most challenging issues of our day. I have no illusions that ideological captives of Left or Right will applaud; indeed, so many have invested heart and soul in their narratives that it will take a spiritual awakening for openness to triumph over subjectivity and creativity to win over anger. For the thoughtful, here are some ways to reimagine an inclusive common good.

Energy policy: The aspirations of a fossil fuel-free world must be tempered with economic and social realities for the most vulnerable and the real timeline of transition. Canceling the Keystone Pipeline was a shortsighted political move, angering our Canadian friends, and destroying thousands of jobs with no pathways for replacing the energy and employment at a reasonable cost. We can remain independent and create private/public partnerships that explore efficient alternatives and make sure that the working class is not the primary victim of changes. Elites love electric cars, even though their end-to-end cost to the environment is equal or worse that an efficient gas engine compact car.

Health Care: Simply promising the world to voters fails to consider the negative and positive lessons learned in the last decade. Instead of hype and huge premiums for middle-class folks, call a new bipartisan health care summit and create working teams from public and private sectors and imagine a grassroots management system informed by federal ethics instead of a bloated, inefficient D.C. Leviathan. Some have benefitted from the reforms of a dozen years ago. Others have suffered. We can do better.

Immigration: We need comprehensive reform that honors DACA promises, prepares pathways for citizenship, and improves security. No more demonizing ICE, Homeland Security, local law enforcement, or the migrants looking for a better future. There is a bill about to come to Congress…I am hoping it is well-crafted. It is vital that criminal elements be contained while millions of hardworking folks are given opportunities.

Racial Justice: Listen to the locals who live in the neighborhoods most in need of improvement! One day I was in a conversation with community leaders and a veteran of many programs said to the folks at the table: “What some call gentrification we call exile. No one considers the people who actually live here.” Let’s create pathways of access and opportunity. Look for indigenous leaders and groups with successful track records. Enforce current laws. Bring people of all cultures and classes together and honestly assess the failures and successes of the last 50+ years and the nearly $20T of public funds that have been poorly managed. True reparation creates just systems without stifling agency and creativity.

Recommended reading: Robert L. Woodson, Sr., Lessons from the Least of These
For churchleaders and members: Rev. Dr. Irwin Ince, The Beautiful Community

December 3: Some Economic Proverbs

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.