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Happy New Year, everyone! May the coming year and decade be much, much better than the ones just past. My only resolution: Become a published fiction writer in 2010.


I said last time that I’d tell you exactly what we have to do to make the next decade better than the last. ‘Cause small town humor columnists know everything, after all. I have ten points, because ten seems to be the number of choice for these things.

There’s a natural cycle to all of history, and in many areas governments can only nudge things this way or that. The economy is a good example: Leave bad times alone and -- sooner or later -- they get better.

Dictatorships often try to take a greater role. For instance, the Soviet Union attempted to make everyone completely equal to everyone else (with the exception of those in charge). The result was a fairly steady economy, with such features as long lines for luxuries such as toilet paper, and cars that didn’t burn much gas because they wouldn’t run.

On the other hand, Communist China had luck growing their economy … by embracing free market concepts. So the first common sense rule for saving America is:

1. Get out of the way of business, especially small business. Don’t drown them in red tape, paperwork, overwhelming rules, and government takeovers. Don’t over regulate them – although for heaven’s sake, don’t under regulate them, either.

I never said it would be easy.

It’s tough to determine the right level of regulation. Ironically, past governments forced banks to loosen borrowing requirements. As a result, people who couldn’t afford to pay back loans got them anyway, and voila – financial crisis. I guess you could call that a case of anti-regulation. In any case, the footprint of government should be as small as possible.

2. On a related note, government must shrink. Many new jobs taken on by the federal government over the years are not allowed by our Constitution; but even if they were, it makes no sense to spend money we don’t have.

If your family income goes down, you don’t react by firing up a printing press in the basement and making more money – you cut spending. Big, deep, painful cuts of anything non-essential are needed. What’s the cost of electricity for a printing press, anyway?

During a recession government spending is needed, but it must be spending that works – and not so much spending that it just sets us up for another economic disaster down the road. Which leads me to my next common sense rule for saving America:

3. Learn from history. During the Great Depression, FDR and Congress came up with huge new spending programs, which they hoped would provide jobs and kick-start the economy. Many people received relief, and that can’t be discounted. Still, the lens of history is showing that massive government intervention actually lengthened the Depression, which was finally ended not by the government, but by the outbreak of World War 2.

So stimulus packages – consisting of the government printing truck loads of cash that it doesn’t have – might in the long run hurt more than they help. It also further bloats a bureaucracy that’s hovering over our country like Godzilla threatening Tokyo.

4. When federal money is spent, make it mean something.

Nobody wastes a taxpayer’s dollar like a bureaucrat. Somebody needs to take hold of it, and by that I mean somebody who’s answerable to the taxpayer – not a “czar”. Where does it say a President can circumnavigate the Constitution and appoint his own people, anyway? Oh, that’s right – it doesn’t.

Stimulus funds should go directly to something that will strengthen our future economy. For example, train and employ people to design, build, and install a combination of technologies – wind, solar, water, battery, cleaner coal, bio, and nuclear. Extend fiber optics, replace roads and bridges, develop better power distribution, and anything else that’s too expensive for private companies.

By the time all that’s done, businesses should be ready to absorb the program workers into an economy improved by better communications, transportation, and power systems.

5. Stop buying oil from nations that hate us.

See above about new energy technologies. I don’t give a hoot about climate change until people are employed and secure, but importing foreign oil has a bad effect on everything. Develop alternative energy sources, and while the technology changes over, drill for domestic oil sources.

6. Fight the bad guys. We tried ignoring them before World War 2. Didn’t work. We tried ignoring them in the 90’s; they responded by attacking the World Trade Center, among many other targets. After that, we ignored them some more; they responded by attacking the World Trade Center again. Ignoring them doesn’t work. (And neither does treating them like common criminals.)

Yes, the world’s developed countries should help lift up others to the degree we can, and work on global problems that contribute to terrorism and dictatorship; but that doesn’t mean we have to sit around with a big bull’s-eye painted on our collective foreheads.

7. Control our borders. Yes, we can.

If someone sneaks into this country from Mexico, he’s illegal; send him back. If he sneaks into the country from France, he’s illegal; send him back. If he sneaks into the country from a beautiful tropical island in the Pacific, he’s illegal and crazy. Doesn’t matter who he is or where he’s from – don’t reward people for breaking the law.

8. Take responsibility. For yourself, your kids, your community, and your country. We need to stop the poor victim blame game that’s siphoning our self respect and lining the pockets of lawyers.

9. Vote the bums out. Tell everyone in Washington that they can no longer buy our votes with pork barrel programs and “entitlements”. If one Congressman refuses to take a million dollar bribe to build an amoeba museum in his district, he might anger voters who should know better; but if all Congressmen take responsibility and line up behind line item votes and vetoes, limiting spending, and making the hard choices, we’ve got a shot at changing things.

10. Send me chocolate. I prefer milk chocolate, but fudge will do. This will at least improve my world view.

Common sense, personal responsibility, living within our means. Do these things, and we’ve got a shot at making the next decade better than the last. Maintain the status quo, and there’s a real chance that hundreds of years from now someone will write a book about this age called “The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization”.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 1st, 2010 11:01 am (UTC)
In the immortal words of Donna Noble, "I bloody love you!"

See, I, like many of my generation, still hold my pie-eyed ultra-liberal ideals very close to my heart. But unlike many, I am far too aware that our system is too borked to allow for anything remotely resembling my ideal America to exist. And when the honestly working man has to fork over a minimum of 20% of their earnings without getting the most basic of services in return, particularly when the upper 10% and lower 20% income brackets don't have to throw theirs in, then it's time to declare shenanigans. What's sad is that your list is probably interpreted as "right-wing" instead of common sense. *le sigh*
Jan. 2nd, 2010 08:36 am (UTC)
Yay for Donna! She might be appearing in a fanfic of mine soon, if all goes well.

I'll tell you a secret: I also hold those pie-eyed ideals close to my heart. Maybe not ultra liberal, but if I could make the world a perfect place it would certainly fit with liberal concepts. But the older I get, the more I realize those ideals just don't fit in with the real world. In the end, I have to go with that real world common sense, rather than rose colored glasses.

I still consider myself a centrist, but, well -- I live in midwest America, where the center apparently is to the right of where the center is in other parts of the world.
Jan. 1st, 2010 12:31 pm (UTC)
Develop alternative energy sources, and while the technology changes over, drill for domestic oil sources.

I didn't think there was a lot of domestic oil for you to drill for? Gulf of Mexico is your nearest untapped source, but there are hurricanes which prevent exploration.

I'm all for alternative techologies, but they take a long time to develop and you have to be very careful you don't have to use petroleum products as part of the manufacturing process. It is possible, but still far too expensive for the majority of people to buy.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 08:43 am (UTC)
There are huge domestic oil sources; western America holds one of the largest untapped oil reserves in the world, something confirmed just within the past decade or so. It's just that it's harder to get to, and so oil companies haven't bothered. There's also a huge amount of oil still in Alaska, and although the news doesn't cover it we already have oil facilities all over the Gulf that are simply shut down when a hurricane passes by -- only a fraction of them have ended up with any appreciable damage in the afternmath. There's lots of oil, but infighting and regulation have made it expensive to get to. The result, ironically, is that we burn a lot of oil in ships just getting the imported crude over here.

The reason I'm for developing those oil resources is exactly what you mention -- it takes time to get alternative technologies online, and right now those technologies aren't profitable. It'll take awhile, but I believe the time will come when they'll take the place of at least a large portion of our current fossil fuel usage -- if we keep working at it.
Jan. 1st, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
You know, while I'm probably slightly more liberal than you, I completely agree with what you've said here, which just shows that we need more common sense. I think that if folks in Washington (and other places!) would cut the rhetoric and find values they can agree on, we'd all be better off.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 08:45 am (UTC)
Agreed. To put it simply, cut the bull!

I seem to be more conservative than most people on my flist -- and less conservative than most people I know in real life. I still consider myself a moderate, in that I believe in finding the best solution regardless of which political ideal it matches.
Jan. 1st, 2010 06:54 pm (UTC)

**offers virtual hot chocolate**
Jan. 2nd, 2010 08:30 am (UTC)
Oh, yum -- that's the perfect chocolate, for our current weather conditions. Thanks!
Jan. 3rd, 2010 02:33 am (UTC)
I love you.

Seriously, I love you. I love your straightforward writing style. I do.

But even more than that, I love how you just said everything I've been thinking, and said it far better than I ever could.
Jan. 3rd, 2010 07:33 am (UTC)
Aw ... I'm blushin'. :-) I expect you to put on a cheerleader outfit (not literally!) when I publish my first novel, and get everyone's attention! :-)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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