Maybe the dust, dir, and mud have settled a bit for now over the debt ceiling and taxation saga. What are we left with?
President Barack Obama is not Atlas and he cannot hold up the world. Lest he or any of us believe that, the next question is — who will hold up the president? This is not the time for grand-standing, chest-beating or strutting of ideologies. Each of us, the president, and people of all persuasions on both sides (and in the middle) of the aisle must participate in solutions to our many grave concerns.
The president was correct when he said, “We are not done yet.” The president, our Congressional delegation, and other leaders in government must “hear us out” as thinking citizens offer suggestions for proactively managing our crises. If we do not share what we think, how shall they know?
I encourage you to send along your suggestions. Here are some of mine:
• Pass the Equal Pay for Equal Work legislation. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 has not worked. Four bills are before Congress to address this. Equal pay for equal work will increase tax revenue bases, enhance savings and pension plans, and support less dependence on entitlements.
• Pass the National Popular Vote Mandate to enact a genuine popular vote for the president. This will stop the hemorrhaging of money directed to “swing states.” Presidential candidates will then actually pay attention to all Americans since the popular vote will actually elect the president.
• Stop the massive wastes in the Pentagon and Defense Budget (from the cost of pliers to salaries and benefits of generals.) It is not possible to fight three wars and deal with the plethora of other demons in the world. It becomes not “who wins” but “who is left.”
• Reign in corporate greed in financial institutions, health care entities, pharmaceutical giants, insurance behemoths and within the abuses and fraud of our sacred Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlement programs.
• Cap abuses of elected government officials. How can these people increase their salaries, load their benefits (to the detriment of the rest of America) and travel whenever and wherever on the tax dollar? It’s paramount to having a huge and sustaining “cash cow.”
• Scrutinize research and development that uses tax dollars within the government. Research must have a clear and convincing intent to deal with genuine health and social issues.
• Redesign policy regarding corrections. Do we really want retribution and punishment or do we want rehabilitation and pro-active entry into society? A review of America’s world standing on this issue is sadly telling.
• Provide campaign finance reform that keeps power and greed of corporate America at bay. What Americans actually think and believe needs to be listened to and addressed. This does not happen with the current funding of campaigns. This is closely tied to the national popular vote.
• Bring Single Payer and Universal Health Care access into the fabric of American society. There is a massive egress of insurance dollars, Medicare, Medicaid, and private dollars (for those who have some) toward insurance companies, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, health care providers, and the “widget-gidget-gadget” companies that will build and provide anything for a price. We can do better than this. This current “loosie-goosey” non-arrangement is not sustainable (or even a good idea).
• Separate church and state. This quagmire can lead only to further factionalism. Today it may be fundamental Christianity. Tomorrow it may be Catholicism or Islam or Atheism. The First Amendment was put in place for a reason. (He who reads not history is doomed to repeat it.) All of this costs big bucks.
• Investigate social business as an entrepreneurial action that can be a complement to American capitalism.
You will have your own list and passions. How can we change any or some of this? My view is that “participatory democracy” actually does work. If we do not ask the question, we shall not get the answer. Most representatives and senators do read their mail. Congressional staffers do write down what is said on a telephone call. These people do want to be re-elected. I continue to believe letters, emails, phone calls, “just showing up” at meetings, reading, listening, and pro-active thinking are all in our “tool box” to make a difference.
I hope you will make your thoughts and suggestions known. Our elected people need all of the help they can get. Never give up!
• Brown, a Douglas resident, holds M.D. and M.P.H. degrees and is active with the Juneau League of Women Voters.