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Monday, November 12, 2012

After the election: My America

I waited for the smoke to clear and the dust to settle before commenting on the recent election. My first thought is that the nation almost universally decries the incompetence of its government and then elects the same professional politicians, buffoons, idiots and outright scoundrels to office. We all say how concerned and involved we are but virtually no one can actually tell you what their candidate believes, how he has voted on key issues in the past or how we can expect them to behave in office. We vote for carefully crafted images formed by PR flacks and make decisions based on sound bites and yard signs. It  was another election of least bad choices and we all went along with it again.We have no one to blame for this mess but our own ignorance and apathy. 

My overriding thought is that with every election cycle we move further and further away from my America. The America I believed in and was taught as a boy is disappearing from the landscape.  My America was a land of opportunity and freedom. It was populated by cowboys, astronauts, heroes and pioneers. The good guys always beat the bad guys and you could be anything you wanted when you grew up. It was a vision as much as a landmass. It was our heritage, a gift given by those who came before and in my lifetime I have seen it thrown away in some ways and fade due to neglect in others.

My America is a land of opportunity. There are jobs for those who want them and the chance to chase your dreams for others. Business flourish because of innovation, hard work and creativity. They make products and services that make the populaces life better and are rewarded for it. Business push back frontiers with new discoveries and innovative propositions and the founders were generously rewarded for such. Taking risks is encouraged and those with the physical or intellectual bravery to do so could earn riches beyond imagination. This is as it should be.

However in my America business not only pursues profit and riches they understood that the general public and the workforce were a huge part of that success. They don’t get so focused on the short term that they lose sight of the fact that capital and labor is an interdependent relationship. The do not fall so in love with Wall Street and their own stock price that they lose sight of the long term. In my America founders and creators can earn vast amounts of wealth but caretaker CEOs do not earn 300 times their average employees wage. Corporations do not sit on billions on cash and lay off employees to make their quarterly number. The look to the long term and consider the human capital at risk as well as the cash. Their loyalty to those who toil may not be rewarded in this quarter’s stock price but it will be in the long run.

Labor does not off the hook here. In my America labor is not so greedy as to think they deserve more of the pie than those with their money at risk. They understand that to have good jobs there has to be a sufficient profit earned. Look at what has happened in union intensive industries like autos and airlines and you can see that when labor demands more than their share everyone fails. They understand that profit is necessary for commerce.

My America believes in free markets where each is free to trade with each other. They also understand that a free market comes with personal responsibility. If you don’t like Wal-Mart pushing out the little guy spend the extra money and shop at the little guys store. Don’t cry foul and expect the government to do something. If you are pissed off that Citigroup and Bank of America helped push us to the brink of financial ruin you don’t keep your accounts with them because they have lots of ATMs. If BP dumps oil into the Gulf and this upsets you quit buying gas there. The free market solves its own problems and does not rely on government intervention so that we may maintain our personal convenience. A free market rewards good products and good behavior and punishes the opposite. In case you dint know YOU are the market.

In My America we do not rely on the government for everything. In fact we don’t rely on them for much at all. We ask that they provide for the common defense and create an environment where commerce and the resulting prosperity can flow. Help provide the infrastructure that we may live well and do well, keep us safe and then stay the hell out of our way. We do not ask government to take money from our friends and neighbors at gunpoint to pay for our retirement, healthcare or day to day needs. We recognize that not one person on this earth owes another one damn thing as a result of the accident of birth and it is up to us to take care of us and live our lives in the best possible manner.

In my America we all know that sometimes someone may need a hand up. We are generous and not afraid to of our own free will help our friends and neighbors along the road of life. We know that some, such as the disabled and handicapped may need us to care for them and we are quick to do so. We do so because we are human and we care. We do it of our own free will and not because the tax collector has a gun in our face. As hedge fund manager and free markets supporter Roy Niederhoffer, capitalist extraordinaire Omid Malekan and others showed us in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy individuals can accomplish faster than any government agency. We take of our kids and make sure they have what they need. We take care of our parents when they get old. We do not need the government and their good intentions and guns to do this because we care enough to do it ourselves.

In my America we care deeply and passionately about Education. In fact we care so much we don’t let the federal government get involved. We do not spend money on bureaucracies or special assistants to the deputy secretary of social studies. We spent it on teachers and books. We do not teach to the lowest common denominator, we teach to lift up all the kids and get special help for those who need it.We do not adjust our tests to fit special racial or demographic lines but treat all children as if they have equal potential.  We fill students with facts and figures not opinions. We do not teach self-esteem or diversity we teach reading, writing and arithmetic. We teach science and history, not religious theories and PC rewrites.  We focus on keeping schools safe for students as well as teachers. We teach them the basics and then how to use technology as a tool and not a crutch. We turn out graduates who can read, calculate and think not just pass a test.

My America is not an Imperialist presence on the world’s stage. We do not feel the need to keep troops all over the globe. We do not send out soldiers, sailors and marines to try and solve every problem caused by some crackpot dictator or tinhorn warlord. We cannot solve all the world’s problems or act as protector and policeman for the globe. If the UN wants to try let them form their own version of the French Foreign Legion but we are not participating. We practice a version of Teddy Roosevelts speak softly but carry a big sticks. We want peace prosperity and trade with all. We will stay out of your internal affairs and problems. But be aware that we are big and we are powerful. If you fuck with us or cause us harm we will declare war and destroy you. There will be no consideration to PC warfare and it will be your asses we are after not your hearts and minds. We want peace but if you force our hand you will get war as you have never seen it. More importantly our children will no longer die in far off lands for no good fucking reason or someone’s misguided good intentions.

In my America we do not celebrate diversity because we do not give a shit about it. We are a melting pot and no matter how we got here we judge each other by who we are and what we do. The color of your skin or the history of your ethnic or nationality no longer matters. You can celebrate if you so choose much as I do each St. Patricks Day but at the end of the day we are all Americans and hyphens are neither needed nor wanted. Racism goes way when we quit focusing on endlessly and treat each other as individuals rather than part of some group or another. You skin color grants you no special rights or privileges nor does it grant you any special claim on society. You are owned only opportunity and in my America we all have that.

In my America we do not let religious whack jobs or bigots hold important positions or attempt to dictate their beliefs to others. The government does not interfere in who does what to their own body, who sleeps with whom or who is married to whom. Our personal lives, our sexuality and our life choices are our own business. As long as we do not harm others we are free to worship as choose or not choose and to live our lives as we see fit with judgment of punishment.

In my America we do not have more than 2 million people in prison.  We sure as hell do not have 100,000 kids in juvenile facilities. We do not have a prison population that is almost half locked up for nonviolent crimes. We do not put people in prison to fight some unwinnable war on drugs. We find more productive ways to punish nonviolent criminals that provides a benefit to society instead of an enormous cost.  Judges do not make an example of an offender with an overly harsh sentence. It does not deter anyone and you are guilty of ruining a life that may have been salvaged. We look to practice justice not mere retribution. Save the prisons for violent criminals. of course if we provide the education and opportunity we are capable of, the prison problem may just reduce itself over time.

 In my America we all pay a flat fixed income and sales tax. Corporations pay the same rate as individuals. There are no deductions meant to control or influence behavior. We all enjoy the benefits and opportunities of society so we all kick in the same percentage. The sales tax ensures that the national sales tax guarantees that those that consume more pay more. Investment and savings are not taxed thereby proving an enormous pool of capital to create jobs and provide opportunities. Along with import duties these are the only taxes. There are no thousands of pages of add on taxes, fees and charges. We all have more of our money and the budget is balanced.

In my America legislators typically have two motions each year. One motion to pass the balanced budget and one to adjourn the session. We have more than enough laws on the books and everything that should be illegal and much that shouldn't be is already against the law. Anything further is just an attempt to influence and control the behavior of your fellow citizens and that should be a crime. No matter how good your intentions you do not have the right to tell me how to live my life. I don’t need you to tell me how to behave or what kind of toy I can have in my damn happy meal.

In my America we elect people who share our vision, our dreams and our dreams. We elect people who have real jobs and own real businesses.  We elect people not parties. We pay no attention to slick commercials and passionate speeches. Instead we elect those who realize that the job of an elected official is to protect the American dream by not impeding opportunity. We ask from our government only opportunity, safety and infrastructure. Everything else is our responsibility. If we all take care of ourselves and our loved ones, and willingly help those who need a hand out we do not need to feed a self-sustaining and self-protecting government bureaucracy.

My America obviously is just a vision and pipe dream. We can’t really create this land of opportunity, equality and freedom can we? Actually we could. We almost had it but since 1913 we have done our level best to give it away. The ability to live your own life and making your own choices, judging others by who they are not what they are,  revering education as much as athletics, enjoying peace and prosperity, all of this is always within our reach. The cost is personal responsibility, tolerance and unforced generosity. It seems to me that as each year and each election goes by fewer are willing to pay that price.

1 comment:

Earnest T Bass said...

Welcome to a new America and the old one ain't coming back. Not in our lifetimes.....that's for sure.