Recently, someone on another blog asked what my top ten political issues are. Here are mine, I'd like to see yours.
1. Education - continual slide on math and science scores are indicative of a brain drain in the hard sciences. The country is not the manufacturing base it used to be, so will have to be the innovator that develops and patents the ideas. This requires intensive education in the hard sciences. We've got to find a way to increase the level of energy in our education system around science.
2. Health Care - The current system is not working. We have to get some type of comprehensive health coverage in the country. I'm not an expert, but the single payer model that Canada has is attractive. There are approximately 40 million or so without health insurance in the country and need it. The cost of dealing with preventative health care is significantly lower that diagnostic care and treatment after an illness or disease has been discovered. People with insurance/health care typically are more healthy because of the preventative care measures they take.
3. Tax reform - We have got to get the Gordian Knot of the US tax code resolved. We are dealing with an archaic system that is too complex and hard to manage. Cost for management and compliance to the tax code as it exist today is extremely wasteful.
4. Deficit Reduction - Our economic growth rate right now is good. We are running at 3-5% growth year over year. What's not good is that we should be paying down deficits in the growth years so we can afford to cover ourselves in the lean years and they are coming.
5. Election Reform - The elections of 2000 and 2004 have brought to light serious issues with regard to the election process. Corporatism, cronyism, intimidation of voters has been reported over and over again. Couple this with the outrageous spending on campaigns and we have the situation that Stalin put so well. "It's not the the voter who counts, it's who counts the votes".
6. Homeland Security - Serious reform needs to take place with Homeland security. There is little accountability for the actions of the organization. An evaluation by the GAO or some other non-partison group needs to look at the activities within the Department of HS to see what changes need to be made. We are still weak with regard to port security. Efforts need to be made to insure Homeland Security expenditures are "pork free". The other area of Homeland Security that needs attention is Emergency Preparedness. The recent events of Katrina and Rita have high-lighted that we aren't that coordinated and well prepared for disasters. We need to be. I'm very concerned about the possiblity of flu pandemics in this country. Will we be prepared for the infection of millions of people? What will our response scenarios be?
7. "War on Terror" - We have to seriously re-think our efforts in this area. The war on terror is effectively a fight against terrorists and not terrorism. To fight terrorism, you have to do more than kill the bad guys. You have to eliminate the reason for the terrorism in the first place. We aren't going to do that quickly. There are religious reaons, economical reasons, ethnic reasons, political reasons and others that will spawn "terrorism". We can combat the environmental factors that foster terrorism, namely economics. If peoples "bellies are full" (in other words they have jobs, food, shelter), they are less apt to go blow something or someone up. Even so, there will always be reasons for some people to rebel and to utilize terrorism as a method of attack. Terrorism will be with us forever and come in many shapes and sizes (IRA, Red Brigade, Tim McVeigh, Osama, etc.) So, the war must be focused on rapid and immediate identification and elimination and capture of the terrorists while we work on the long view of combatting the reasons for terrorist action.
8. Civil Rights - enough already with the gay marriage bans. The social conservatives in the country are losing this battle and don't even realize it. Please, let's move past this. Gays will eventually get the right to marry and they should. As our society has evolved (quite rightly in my opinion), we have become more acceptant of the gay lifestyle. I don't believe this is a sinister plot on the part of the gays to push forward an "agenda" that will turn all of us on to tasteful dressing and an appreciation of the arts. It's a question of fairness. We are a country that appreciates fair play. If two guys or girls want to get married and spend their lives with each other why should I care? This issue is a major distraction and should be put to rest.
9. Legislative Reform - The two party control of the government must be changed. Independent candidates must gain seats in Congress and change the way the legistlature reviews and acts on law. The "Majority Rules" aspect of the committee leadership is upside down and tyrannical. Independent legislators are the only hope to implementing reform in the most important institution in the country.
10. Environmental Protection - Regardless what the Bush Administration says, we are seeing climate changes, increased pollution levels and a serious damaging of the air we breathe, water we drink and land we live upon. It's time we moved the debate on the environment out from the Sierra Club versus the Corporate Interests. This is about people. No one wants higher rates of asthma or other respitory diseases, but they are here. Pumping billions of cubic feet of noxious exhausts into the air may not have caused global warming, but it is certainly not helping to stop it. We've got to get some sanity in this process.
Let me know what you think,