Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What I would like to see happen next in America...

Midterm elections are a wrap.

Congress, if you are indeed the voice of the people, you must get to work.

I want to see a plan that will drive strong momentum. A plan with bipartisan support. A plan people do not bicker over.

What do working families want? What do small businesses, the proverbial life's blood of the economy, need to grow again?

A quick, popular answer is to slash taxes. Get more money back in working people's pockets. My worry is, in general, we've done this in the past but eventually we ended up where we are now.

I want a plan that steers us away from the bad habits that led to the current state of affairs.


BEHAVIOR

In a previous post I spoke about introducing curriculum on personal economics at the pre-college level. We must foster the mindset of sticking to a budget much earlier in life, in every class room.

$500 in your pocket - $1,000 television = "I can't afford that."

I speak from experience: Trying to navigate life without a sense of personal budgeting is highly damaging to your future.

Some people say we don't do a good enough job of educating our youths, that we push some students along just to get them out of the system. How about we make it clear to students that their education is not only about broadening the mind for the sake of intelligence, but to provide the tools needed to live. It sounds simple enough but getting students on board is the hard part. Some people think they can "just get by" or that they have no opportunities available to them.

Others think we should let people make their own life decisions. Well, yeah, they are going to make those decisions eventually but before we see another generation caught up in another financial crisis, give them the right tools to make those decisions.

I hope the day comes where no one graduates high school without knowing how to budget their own spending.

Because the high school kids grow into adults, adults that will be in the workforce, own companies and hold public office.

Information is not a handout for the poor. It is reorientation of priorities. Show people how to function in this economy. No, we are NOT getting the job done in this regard. Making a decent living and providing for a family is not intuitive anymore. Reassess the basics to make the ground floor clear to all. Because right now people have their hands in the air in surrender with no idea what to do. They don't even know where to start rebuilding their lives.

You don't need a committee to figure this out. Make this part of grade school math. Make it relevant to real life. It won't solve everything, but it's a start.


GOVERNMENT POLICY & SPENDING

Here is where I lose most of you. Because my idea is more like triage than anything else.

First, stop all spending. ALL OF IT. From local to national government. Even the Post Office. Shut it all down for one week. Why? Give the people a look at life under an absolute absence of a material government.

No military operations. No cops. No fire department. No road construction. No state-funded schools. Lock the prisons then send the guards home. If it takes government dollars to get it done, you have to give it up for one week.

This also means no government regulation of any kind anywhere. Let the markets run totally free. Let businesses operate however they see fit. No checks and balances to keep people honest.

Let's see how we all behave on those terms. One week. Just one.

We need some pause, a chance to remember what is important and necessary. At the end of that week, you will have people shouting from mountaintops about what they really need. Not the pork and political favors that screw everything up. I am talking raw basics. Force ourselves to admit what we really need to live... and fight for it.

How about this scenario? We limit government oversight of companies, cut regulatory costs and let businesses mostly self-monitor with a caveat.

Give companies the chance to prove they don't need someone at their shoulders. Some people complain OSHA and the EPA for example go too far. Fine, we pull all that back and see how things go without someone to keep companies honest... but increase the consequences if you get caught.

No more inspections. No more regular reports to government commissions. HOWEVER, if your company ever gets caught breaking the law, you lose your company. shut down and broken up into smaller parts. Assets divided among your peers. Government gets nothing.

"But without inspectors, how would you enforce this rule?"

I will get back to you on that. My ideas are half-baked.

Here's another idea: In lieu of taxing the public, let government sell more of its services to pay its own damn bills. Something that creates funds for the public rather than takes it from our pockets. If we don't want taxes, the government should generate ALL of its own funds in a competitive market.


INDUSTRY

We have become victims of our own efficiency. We create systems that make our trades obsolete. Our brains are currently stuck on apps for smartphones. the public is crazed about apps, but how the heck is an app going to drive the economy?

Seriously, the gadget market offers prosperity for a very narrow part of the populous. The rest of us are just users. Someone once described smartphones as adult pacifiers. We coo and gurgle at each new feature, but at the end of the day these devices are just a means of being connected to others. You still have to DO something with yourself.

We have to embrace new uses for our skills. We must transition to new lines of production for goods that are necessary and vital to our lives. This effects me personally as I wonder how much longer print media will be around. Newspapers, magazines and books... written content will always exist but the necessity of paper is vanishing and with it goes the revenue models we were accustomed too.

Am I naive? Maybe. But I know what it means to take drastic action for change and we are not there yet. We may be scared but we have got to dive in with bold ideas AND not expect everything to simply be the same as it was. Don't be afraid to embrace the new.

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Flame and Bone

When I was made from fire
Poured into the tender vessel of caution
That keeps my smoke from rising
Quickly did I discover that apart from crisp drizzles or falling snow
The world chilled my touched
Walking the narrow cornered gap between girders and cut stone
One learns to tuck his shoulders in or risk
Jostling a neighbor passing by rapt with want
For a clear path without the distraction
Of another man's boiling eyes
The tip of a finger
That oldest of all weapons
Grown deadlier and pristine in its invention
Gathers a mote of a cinder on its bare flesh
And turns pondering how best to scratch the impious itch
Prying open the tender seam
Where the oil of thought dews
Offering a new wick to ignite
Squirming alive as a salamander of mischief
That yearns for a taste of air it is so ready to devour
The steam of breath betrays me
Before the glint of orange spreads
In popping bright waves
Eroding the fibers feeding it
Leaving naught but ash
As my shell of quietude falls away