Governing By The People

Ok, so I’m going way out on a limb to open a discussion about politics.  I normally steer clear of this because I don’t want to start arguments, but enough is enough!  And besides, newsletter readers have been requesting me to take e-Factor!® to Washington or have the local politicians play the game.  There’s hope that this might “straighten them out.”  Funny concept, that one, and my first reaction is to run away as far and fast as I can.  Is it possible to “straighten out” our politics today?  I Don’t know, but I fear the worst.

What I do know is that we’re now seeing ethical dilemmas of such immense proportions that even I reserve my judgment over whether we can resolve the situation. And I tend to be optimistic – everything can be resolved through discussion, analysis and action!

I live in Phoenix, where the Police Department was caught falsifying the statistics on kidnappings to get more federal grant money.  The Arizona legislature has passed a controversial law on immigration, and is trying to pass more laws related to the rights of children born here to illegal immigrants.  Arizona is also a state where gun possession is allowable almost everywhere, including schools, and the citizens get angry and shoot innocent people when traffic cameras are installed to monitor speed limits.  And finally, Arizona is a state where a simple law to make texting while driving illegal seems almost impossible to pass, even though it will save untold numbers of young people.  And we wonder why a Congresswoman was shot here???

Arizona is not the only state with issues like this.  Each state has its own set of challenges.  Although I know Arizona best, if you’re paying attention to the news you cannot avoid hearing about Wisconsin, Illinois, New Jersey, and other states having ethical challenges. What do you consider to be the biggest dilemmas of the state where you reside?  And what do you think the solutions might be??

Brace yourself.  What follows will not be pleasant.  The root of the issue, at least to me, is that there’s a shortage of money and an excess of attitude towards entitlement. We did “something” (or didn’t do “something”) because of a promise made, so we’re now ENTITLED. We must as a nation get over this, and soon, or the threat of bankruptcy will become reality.  Some think a bankrupt United States is already a reality – we’re borrowing money to be able to continue to borrow more money.  How crazy is that?  As individuals we’re not allowed to do this – what makes a country different?

Here’s what I think we should consider doing.  For those who are in retirement, they Did do something based on a promise.  They worked, paid into Social Security, followed the rules.  They should get paid their Social Security and Medicare benefits, within reason.  I’ll explain “within reason” in a minute.  For those who are younger than 30 years old, there’s no money left, and the expectation that the program will not pay out is already there.  So make that rule change.  Under 30, no Medicare, no Social Security.  Start saving now for retirement on your own.  (I did warn you!) The hardest group to discuss is those who are between 30 and 65 years old.  The people in this group (including me) also did do something based on a promise.  We paid in to Social Security.  But the reality is that there’s still no money left to make good on that promise.  There’s got to be some modification to the programs – a partial payment, if you will, but this will be the hardest, most painful of the three.

Here’s what I mean by “within reason”, especially as it relates to Medicare.  I’ve seen reports where an operation costs $250,000 with a chance of complete recovery at 10% or worse.  If this is true, why would anyone invest in those odds?  If this were a business decision rather than a life-or-death decision, we’d turn the deal down flat. Sorry if I’m offending people, but we the taxpayers are paying for these types of odds.  Why, why, why? Within reason really means preparing people for compromise and realistic analysis of our current situation.  Medicare must be overhauled – let’s find the fraudulent charges and amend the rules to decide what gets paid and what doesn’t.

Something has got to change.  Everything, absolutely everything we have today, has to be examined as if it were a new proposal.  Let’s put the National budget on the table, look at every item in there from the perspective of how it will help or hurt our future growth and how much we’re willing to pay for that growth.  We all need to do this in our own lives, as well.  Yes, it’s nice to believe in abundance.  Yes, it’s great to have a positive attitude.  But in order to make a real change we need to know where we’re starting from – right here, right now. Stop the excuses, and get to work.

If our Founding Fathers were alive today, what would they say or do?  How do you think they’d react to the mess we’ve found ourselves in right now?  I sure would love the opportunity to speak with someone like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson or George Washington.  They seemed to have a crystal ball back in 1776.  Wonder what their crystal ball would say today?

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