“I’d love to change the world – but I don’t know what to do, so I’ll leave it up to you….and good luck”. This is the last line of a song (I’d love to change the world) by Ten Years After. This song was also used in the trailer for Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. Both the song and the movie fall into the pessimistic category and don’t do much for me except give me a lead in to this blog entry. The question I’ll ask in this blog is – What can be done to change our world (and who can do it)?
I’m actually going to set a somewhat smaller goal and just talk about my world, i.e. the United States. I suggested in one of my earlier entries that changing public education was the starting point for fixing a large number of our social and economic problems. I’ll stick to that position and won’t reiterate what I said there, but I want to include it in a broader discussion that is relevant to the current Presidential election.
Each of the candidates is required by the election process to have a formula for fixing our problems. If you take the time to read each of their platforms you will find that there are the expected and obvious differences between the Democrats and Republicans. You will also find that there are differences among the Democrats (now only Hillary and Barack) and differences among the Republican candidates (McCain, Romney and Huckabee – notice they are not John, Mitt, and Mike. Those names just don’t fit Presidential candidates as well as Hillary and Barack).
What follows are links to their specific positions on issues that the Washington Post chose to document.
Hillary: Health Care, Social Security, Iraq, National Security, Energy, Immigration, Affirmative Action, Economy, Budget, Education, Gay Marriage, Abortion, Poverty, Gun Control, Stem Cell Research, Top Priorities
Barack: Health Care, Social Security, Iraq, National Security, Energy, Immigration, Affirmative Action, Economy, Budget, Education, Gay Marriage, Abortion, Poverty, Gun Control, Stem Cell Research, Top Priorities
McCain: Health Care, Social Security, Iraq, National Security, Energy, Immigration, Affirmative Action, Economy, Budget, Education, Gay Marriage, Abortion, Poverty, Gun Control, Stem Cell Research, Top Priorities
Romney: Health Care, Social Security, Iraq, National Security, Energy, Immigration, Affirmative Action, Economy, Education, Gay Marriage, Abortion, Poverty, Gun Control, Stem Cell Research, Top Priorities
Huckabee: Health Care, Social Security, Iraq, National Security, Energy, Immigration, Affirmative Action, Budget, Education, Gay Marriage, Abortion, Poverty, Gun Control, Stem Cell Research, Top Priorities
I’m not going to dissect or analyze any of their positions in detail but I will talk about a couple of them.
On Education (my favorite topic), the Democratic candidates see it as a money problem. They believe that spending more money earlier in the education cycle will close the gap in education between the social classes. McCain and Romney believe adding more accountability to the schools and giving more choices in venue will provide the needed improvement, i.e. they support some variation of No Child Left Behind and vouchers coupled with more Charter schools. Huckabee believes the fundamental nature of education needs to change. I won’t go into detail regarding his approach. You can do that if you are interested, but I do agree with the high level idea. At some point in time, I will dedicate an entire entry to the subject.
I’ve referenced my earlier entry on education above. What I’ll add here is that I believe we are stuck in a rut regarding our approach to education. Our system evolved from what was done in education in the 18th Century. The short version was to teach children reading, writing and arithmetic taught to the tune of a hickory stick. We legislated out the hickory stick (probably our first mistake) and have failed to understand what is needed in today’s world. If a candidate really wants to attack this problem and change our world they should ask themselves what the U.S. will contribute to a global economy going forward (it has changed drastically in the last 20 years) and what skills our children need to contribute to that.
On Immigration, the candidates all will secure the border either with people or technology or both. Read – spend lots of money. They disagree on amnesty, agree on punishing employers who hire illegal immigrants (please check who’s doing work around your house), and agree on reforming our immigration laws so that they work (good idea). In general, I would classify their answers as “what can I say to get through this question and on to something I want to talk about”.
I’ll suggest a different approach, one that involves two specific actions. First, let each border state choose a new border to protect. In Texas, since it has the most miles to protect, I would choose a new border that decreases those miles. In each state, the area between the U.S. border and the new border would be designated as a “Work Zone”. U.S. companies can establish operations within these areas – probably jobs that are based on requiring low cost labor. Unions would not be allowed in these areas. Neither would OHSA, the ACLU, or any other organization that could mess the idea up. Workers from Mexico could enter this area rather freely and apply for jobs. If you get a job, work at it for a designated length of time, stay of out trouble and in general meet the standards for citizenship, you can apply for U.S. citizenship and cross the new border once you have obtained a job outside of the Work Zone.
Second, I would focus on working with the Mexican government, Mexican universities, and Mexican corporations to develop companies in Mexico that could replace the jobs we are sending to India, Vietnam, China and other places many time zones and languages away. The more people who have gainful employment in Mexico, the fewer people who will want to leave. The argument that the Mexican government is too corrupt for this to work is probably valid, but it may be an easier problem to solve that dealing with 12 million illegal immigrants.
On Iraq, the Democrats would withdraw as soon as they take the oath of office; the Republicans differ on their approach regarding the withdrawal but would follow the lead of the military Generals. The Democrats would secure our position in the Middle East and the world through their incredible gift of diplomacy. McCain and Romney would continue to fight terrorism with a strong military position. I don’t think Huckabee wanted to answer the question. On diplomacy – I don’t think there were any diplomats flying the planes on 9/11. It’s hard to be diplomatic when the other side believes their path to eternal salvation requires the elimination of all persons who don’t believe in their form of life.
When 9/11 occurred, I believe WW III began. It’s a much different form of war that we have ever encountered. As a qualifying note, remember neither Germany nor Japan had attacked American soil when we went to war with them. One could argue that Pearl Harbor was equivalent to 9/11; I think it was quite different.
I’m not exactly sure how Iraq plays into any of this. That gets into a discussion of whether we are there because Bush lied to us about WMD or whether we are there for other reasons. In any event, it seems that we have only a couple of choices relative to the Middle East. We can figure out a way to not care what happens there, i.e. find our petroleum somewhere else or find a substitute for petroleum (see my earlier post on Petroleum and Freedom). Or, we can decide that the Middle East will always affect our lives and decide how to best deal with it. I do not think diplomacy will work with the terrorist mentality. In today’s world of nuclear and biological weapons, we must identify and eliminate our enemies. If we don’t, the results will be nothing like we have ever seen. 9/11 was just a preview.
Finally, (I’m sure if you’ve made it this far you are tired) I would suggest that you at least read the candidates answers to their Top Priorities. It will give you a good idea of how one positions themselves to be a Presidential candidate.
A friend has provided me with a couple of web sites that will test your preferences for the candidates based on your opinions about some of the key issues. Happy Surfing!