Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why We Need to Rebuild America

Many Americans either never understood what it means to be an American or they have forgotten. In either case, we have reached a point where the only viable way to save us from becoming no more than a 3rd World country is to stop and start all over again adhering to the Constitution and the principles expressed by the founders.

Step 1. Re-examine the Constitution

As it stands, the Constitution of the United States is a good starting point. Let us begin by adding term limits for all federal elective offices: President and Vice President = two 4 years; Senator = two 6 years; Representative = four 2 years. Term limits should also be applied to all appointed Cabinet Level agency Secretaries and their similarly appointed subordinates of two 4-year terms corresponding to those of the President and Vice President. A program of rotating non-appointed Congressional staff and Cabinet level agency staff personnel should be established to prevent staffs from becoming set in their ways and overly influential in the decision-making process while at the same time broadening their capabilities. This would ensure a continuous supply of new blood and ideas throughout the executive branch. The Constitutions of the states should be re-visited by the respective states in the same manner leading to enactment of appropriate term limits for all elected state offices. The same procedure should follow in each county, city and town.

The 17th Amendment changing the manner in which Senators are seated in Congress to popular vote should be repealed. Senators should be appointed by the States on recommendation by their Governors and the approval of their Legislatures. This would restore power to the States in their working with the Federal government as intended by the nation's founders.

All constitutions including the Constitution of the the United States and each state and laws governing county and local governments should be amended to require balanced annual budgets.

Step 2. Entitlement Programs

As a nation, until 1935 we lived without entitlement programs of any kind. Then, in its infinite wisdom, FDR's "New Deal" congress passed into law the Social Security Act which put us on the road that has brought us to the brink of total Marxist socialism. Initially intended to provide no more than a modest monthly stipend to retired men and women over 65 years of age, the program has been expanded to include monthly payments to dependent children of the deceased until their 18th birthday and similar payments to permanently disabled workers. Under LBJ, Congress invaded the trust fund originally set up to guard and grow FICA taxpayer funds, replacing those funds with bonds (read I.O.U.s).

Medicare was added to the program which provides medical expense coverage to retired workers over 65 years old. While a tax was added to the FICA taxes paid by working men and women to supposedly cover the cost of the program, actual costs now exceed the taxes being paid because of fraud and other unforeseen expenses. Now, Obamacare has been thrown into the mix, the costs of which are just now dawning on the nation and will continue growing well into the future unless drastic changes are made. His supposed purpose is to reduce medical costs, but the reverse is happening. We need tort reform desperately if we are to do anything meaningful to reduce those costs but it will be a battle so long as trial lawyers and their lawyer buddies in Congress continue to hold us hostage.

Agriculture Subsidies never did make sense to me. Paying someone not to grow fruit, vegetables and grains is about a wrong headed as anyting I can think of. The same goes for paying a subsidy to keep the price of domestically-grown sugar higher than the going world-market price as is the case here in Florida. All agriculture subsidies should be abolished.

Housing Subsidies should not be absolute freebies. Able-bodied beneficiaries of such subsidies should be required to work for local government agencies such has highway departments and those charged with keeping streets and highways clean. The latter was common practice during the Great Depression.

Step 3. Federal Executive Branch

Each agency of the Federal Executive branch of government should be studied to determine its true relevancy and contribution to the nation. Those found to be lacking in those areas should be disbanded. We can start with the Department of Education. The major portion of virtually every state budget goes to public education. Public education is a fundamental responsibility of the states, not the federal government. I don't know of a single justification for the Department of Education, and believe it should be disbanded with all responsibilities returned to the states.
I also question seriously the need for the Department of Energy. My doubts about it are based on the fact it has done little or nothing to help us get away from dependence on foreign oil and even less to encourage development of alternative energy resources.

Step 4. Labor Unions

Barack Obama owed such a debt of gratitude to unions for getting him elected in 2008 that he became hellbent on returning the favor with the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler to save the pensions of the workers. Now there's a move on to pass legislation allowing union elections by "card check" chicanery which would further doom what's left of American industry and its suppliers.

Most government employees have or are about to join unions such as SEIU which, in my view, runs contrary to the thinking of the founders. Legislation to disallow unionization of government workers should be enacted at all levels of government.

Step 5. Government Salaries and Benefits

Throughout most of the nation's history, salaries paid to government workers were lower than those paid to private sector workers in comparable positions. Benefits enjoyed by government workers have always been as good or better than those in the private sector. Salaries and benefits should be the same in both private and public sectors.

Step 6. Earmarks

"You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" has been an operating principle in Congress from the beginning. I think they call it "compromise". Compromising should be restricted to committee discussions on bills being prepared for presentation for a House vote. Bills should deal with one subject and be free of any earmarks. An item previously treated as an earmark should stand on its own for a vote by the House. It would put an end to "bridges to no where".


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