Dave Letterman uses a top ten list. Today I’m presenting my “top seven” list of major problems in the United States, along with my ideas on solving them. I’m not claiming to go into detail, but am just scratching the surface. My solutions are sound, but are not politically acceptable due to the fact that powerful interest groups can be counted on protecting their turf. Thus it is difficult to have meaningful political reform. The top seven problems are:
1. Protection of the United States from Islamic extremists and crackpot dictators. This is a huge priority that must take precedence over all others. What good does it do to solve the social security problem if our enemies blow up a nuke plant in the northeast corridor rendering New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island uninhabitable for the next 10,000 years? This is why we are in Iraq. This is why we should strongly consider a pre-emptive strike on North Korea disabling Kim Jong Il’s missile attack capability.
2. The abysmal failure of our Government (Public) Education system, especially in urban centers. The educational quality of the vast majority of K-12 students in the United States is being sacrificed at the alter of the Teacher’s Union (The National Education Association). The time is long overdue for the establishment of a voucher system, more charter schools, and any other measures that increase competition in education. Our inner city children are being cheated the most and they can least afford to enter the world of work without basic skills.
3. Energy dependence and affordability. The United States needs a “Manhattan Project” where the world’s top scientists invest huge amounts of dollars to create a workable and economic alternative to fossil fuels. Lessening of our dependence on oil would do a lot to choke off the supply of funds for Islamic extremists. Lowering of energy costs would expand the US economy by freeing up cash in family budgets, which they would spend on goods and services other than gasoline.
4. Federal Government Fiscal Irresponsibility. There was a day when Republicans were the guardians of fiscal responsibility at the capitol. Now Democrats look like the fiscal conservatives! Neither party has been able to stop the burgeoning public deficits caused mainly by excessive government spending. Deficits of recent magnitudes will ultimately put pressure on interest rates, choking economic growth. Neither party in congress can be trusted with spending. A balanced budget amendment to the constitution needs to be passed, without loopholes, allowing deficits only in times of war.
5. Immigration Policy. We’ve been messing up on this one for years. On the one hand, we need to secure our borders at the lowest cost possible, whether we use a fence or other technological gadgets. Once secured we need to discourage people without skills and encourage people with skills. Recent tightening of visas requirements has reduced the number of foreign students entering the United States. This is problematic because we need the skills of those students, especially the ones who choose to remain here and become productive citizens. Europe is now benefiting because students not being able to receive US visas are going there instead.
6. Skyrocketing healthcare costs. It would be a mistake to nationalize health care, but our costs are way out of line. Selective deregulation of the medical care industry (allowing more nurses to diagnose and write prescriptions, reducing some occupational licensing requirements and allowing the mainstreaming of alternative forms of medical care) would bring down costs. In addition we need tort reform to cap medical liability lawsuits so that clinics and hospitals don’t have to spend unnecessary money for test after test in case there is a lawsuit. Ironically, if the American Medical Association (the Doctor’s Union) and the Trial Lawyers don’t give up some of their power in this regard we will end up with socialized medicine some day and both will be the ultimate losers.
7. Eventual Collapse of Medicare and Social Security. Both of these programs were designed without any regard to actuarial soundness. As a result, both will eventually go broke unless billions of additional taxpayer dollars are injected. The amounts are staggering. Medicare benefits need to be trimmed and the premiums increased. Young people should be able to opt out of Social Security, setting up their own (mandatory if need be) IRA plans.