If I were running for president…

If I were running for president I would concentrate on domestic issues but I would not ignore foreign policy since it always impacts domestic issues.

But I would call for a vast improvement of our infrastructure, including our existing bridges and highways, as well as the development of high-speed rail.

But infrastructure also takes in technology. We need free wifi (that is free to the public in general) everywhere. We need to overhaul our electric grid (we are really vulnerable to outages due to an outmoded system).

Public education needs to be completely revamped from first grade up through college. Actually it seems we are doing rather well at the pre-school level, except if there is anywhere that children are not attending pre-school then that certainly has to change. Children know more in pre-school now than I did when I was in second grade I think (and no I am not just slow).

There is far too much repetition in public school, especially I think when one moves from high school to college. I mean why do we study the same things all over again for the first two years? And why do college freshmen wind up taking remedial math and English?

Simply throwing money at education in and of itself is not a solution, but it does take money to improve things nonetheless. What we need is more local control and more local financing, with financing comes control. Localities not able to raise money because of a low tax base should be able to apply for federal block grants that can be spent at their own discretion, with some amount of oversight of course. But under the present system we end up hiring an administrator for each title in the federal education code. I’ve harped on this example before, but I have heard other people in other areas say the same thing:

When I went through high school we had a principal and a vice principal and that was our administration. And at that I think we had one too many. I mean we never saw the principal. But a few short years later I returned as a local newspaper reporter only to find that at a school, at that time, that had an enrollment about the same size as when I had attended, several more administrators had been added. Each one was responsible for a certain section or title of the federal education code from which funding was derived.

I think it is possible that the traditional system of grades one through twelve is outmoded. Experiments have been tried, and I don’t know what the long-term successes of those experiments have been, but basically students should be allowed to move forward at their own pace.

And of course we have to have the latest computer technology available at all levels at all schools. You have to be computer savvy from a young age. Like it or not that is just a fact of life in this world now. At the same time we should not leave good old reading from a real book behind — you need a mix of the old and new.

We seem to have a conflict these days over the meaning or reason for education. Some people see it as merely job training. We have come to be a society that values quick money over everything else, and then we wonder why we are not all happy.

Actually job training and education are too separate things, except they can be and ought to be melded together.

But I still believe that those who do not prefer or know they are not cut out for the so-called professional world should be diverted (through their own choice of course) into a path that stresses vocational training, while still continuing a general all-around education.

And before I get off the subject of education, here’s something we don’t seem to teach or teach well or long enough in school: personal finance. So many young people and not-so-young people would not be in trouble today if they understood personal finance. I get offers every day for credit cards that in the fine print say they would charge me exorbitant interest rates.

No, much better to save your money and put it out to interest that comes back to you.

I know. You don’t have any money to save. That’s the lie so many of us used as an excuse to skip the pain.

I’ll repeat my favorite line from one of those nauseating flim-flam infomercials concerning how to handle your finances: “watch what the poor people do and don’t do it!” Nauseating but so true.

Next:

I would simplify if not do away with the income tax. Probably simplification is the more practical route. The complex and arcane tax code is a boon to tax preparers and tax lawyers who make their living from it  and corporations who get out of paying taxes, but it counteracts the benefit it is supposed to create for our government and puts the average taxpayer at a disadvantage.

In short, taxes need to be lower, and then if they were lower there would be less of a need for loopholes, and with fewer loopholes there should be more revenue.

Of course through the pressure of lobbyists representing the various industries we try to design an economy around various tax incentives, otherwise known as loopholes. But for our society in general I think that is mostly counter productive.

I would not be opposed to some form of national sales tax. But I would exempt such basic items as food, that is non-prepared food. The sales tax seems more logical and practical in that if there is a lot of money flowing through the economy it can be tapped for doing the things government needs to do and when there is not we just have to put some things off till better days.

As far as the social safety net is concerned, we definitely need to maintain that. It is both a moral and practical requirement. But at the same time we need to expand work opportunities to combat chronic unemployment.

And can I just say something about cheap imports? Yes I know that in this global economy we need a mix of imports and exports but why can’t we have more jobs by making more stuff here at home? I mean I ordered a toy truck through the mail for my grandson. When I got the thing it was a piece of junk from overseas. I’d gladly pay a little more for something sturdy and made in America. And by the same token, we need to be competing on the high end with nations like Germany. You can either make a name for yourself by offering cheap products or quality products, I’ll take quality every time.

Next:

Law and order. I am all for it. But it is apparent we need to revamp our law enforcement training and we need to create friendly community policing in all locales where the police are the friends of the people whom they are charged with protecting and serving. The common enemy of the police and the citizenry should be the criminals and they need to join together to do that.Yes, that might take increased funding. Localities need to take responsibility for that with the help of block grants from state and federal governments. But too much state and federal funding has made local government weak. Local government needs to take control but with that comes financial obligations.

A major problem is that the state and federal governments place mandates on local government which the local governments cannot afford and then they give up their sovereignty by taking money from the higher levels of government — money comes with strings attached. I would seek to do away with mandates that are not funded by the same government who enacted them, period. (I realize much of this is not in reach through the direct powers of the president, but the president can set the tone and propose legislation that makes these things possible.)

And on the foreign policy side, all I can say for now is that we just cannot afford to be in a constant state of war. We must keep up our defenses and otherwise choose our battles.

Since World War II or since Korea we have had a long run of no-win wars and it has cost us dearly. Stop the madness.

One more thing:

I think all males, females optional, should serve a short stint in the National Guard or reserves, and that we should otherwise maintain our professional military. And I would maintain a rather large military, keeps us safe and adds more jobs. Having everyone serve instills a sense of shared sacrifice and instills patriotism and at the same time serves as a sort of check on overdoing things on the military side when everyone is vulnerable to be called up for war.

P.s.

When it comes to local government I can see the argument that state and federal funding, especially for things like schools, is vital in order to equalize opportunities between rich and poor areas, but unless we just wanted to do away with everything but the federal government we have to maintain a sense of responsibility at the lower levels. Joint ventures that don’t require all partners to be responsible with their finances get into trouble — the European Union has Greece whose government up and admitted some time ago that it had been understating its indebtedness (while borrowing more) and Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States, has put everyone on notice it cannot pay its debts (and when did Puerto Rico realize that?).

 

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