I am very concerned about the state of public discourse in the US, lack of civility, intelligent thought, all of which in my estimation, limits are ability to both solve problems and create opportunities for our citizens.
In today’s politics, when an individual tells me he/she belongs to a specific political party or is an independent, it tells me nothing about the individual’s values or objectives for the US. One reason is, it seems to me, the definition of being a Democrat or Republican is continually changing. Consider both Parties in the 1920’s or 1930’s compared to 1950’s and 1960’s, or compared to 1970s and 1980’s and finally compared to today. I suspect many members of those parties during any of those time periods would not even recognize “their” party today.
I often feel political parties and their supporters are simply against another party’s political position or their opponents. In public discourse, many times it seems to me there is no substance or positive rationale for an issue. For me, simply being against a position or politician is often a lack of knowledge and laziness due to unwillingness to take the time to educate oneself on the issue.
For both of the above reasons and more, years ago, for every National Election I had a set of issues which I felt were important and supported candidates who best agreed with me on these issues. I believe it is now important to list my current issues and a brief summary of my rationale. I would suggest all voters do the same and make it public; however, there are rules.
- One, each issue has to be expressed in a positive manner. It can never be a negative comment regarding a political party or specific politician.
- There has to be a minimum of supporting rational or evidence for the position. Research should be verified as to its independence including source of funding. Anecdotal stories may be interesting, but are not a substitute for independent research or studies. [Note: My college speech professor stressed to us that we must use the direct source for any research. For example, quoting Reader's Digest was a guaranteed F because it was not a direct source. Cable news talk shows or what is commonly called talk radio, may lead to direct research, but for me, by themselves, they are not credible or acceptable sources of information.]
- There must be a minimum of five issues and around ten is better. We live in a very complex era and no individual has the luxury of being a single issue voter.
Following is a current list of my issues. They are listed in alphabetical order.
It is estimated that the total cost of the 2016 elections was about $6.5 Billion dollars. Of this amount, it also estimated that over 40% of the total came from 0.01% of the population. From 1980 through the 2014, the amount of campaign contributions from the wealthiest, again 0.01% of the population almost tripled to about 43% in 2014. It was likely higher in the 2016 elections. Providing perspective, if there was a senate race in a specific state with 1 million voters, over 40% of the campaign contributions came from 100 donors in this hypothetical race. It seems to me these donors not only have greater access to the candidates, but those who win the election will be first obligated to these candidates, rather than their constituency. Even more problematic, these major donors are often not residents of the state in which they are funding a specific candidate.
I will support any candidate who promotes campaign reform and the reduction and hopefully elimination of large donor contributions to National elections.
Personally, I believe the reform that is needed most is that only eligible voters in specific election are able to make a donation to a specific campaign and the contributions are capped at a percentage of the median household income for that voting geographic area. Other than as outlined above, no other advertisement or promotion which mentions a specific candidate or political party would be allowed. This will mean candidates will be both funded, accountable and represent the voters of their geographic area, not interests of outside donors.
Along with democracy, capitalism is the foundation for the success of the US economy, the opportunities for individuals who live here and our industrial growth. The standard definition of capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit.
Some think capitalism is an individual who has an idea, builds a company and becomes very wealthy. And this is true. But for me, capitalism is also an individual in a community who starts a small business and makes a living. Also, for me, a capitalist, is an individual who obtains an education in a specific field or vocation and translates that education into making a living, building financial independence, and obtaining more education when needed. Capitalism is not the very wealthy increasing their wealth and their overall percentage of the National wealth, that’s feudalism and that is very dangerous. For me capitalism, is the opportunity for any individual through a combination of inspiration and perspiration to make a comfortable living and build financial independence.
There have been numerous studies and articles reflecting capitalism has helped reduced global poverty are below. The two listed below I suspect are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, however, the articles make essentially the same point.
I support candidates who understand how capitalism, in its truest form, changed the course of human history and provides opportunity for every individual to build financial success.
Since the formation of the earth, the climate has been changing. What makes today important is myself and the almost 8 billion people who are and will continue to be affected by it. The scientific research behind climate change is over whelming. The following website is one of many sources of information on climate change https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/ Another is https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/climate-change/
- Note: NASA and National Geographic are two of the most credible sources of scientific information in general and climate change in specific.
I recently read an article written by a 16 year old high school student who is concerned about the effect climate change will have on her throughout her lifetime. At the end of the article, she concludes that the reason members of Congress are not concerned about climate change is they are old and do not believe it will affect them personally.
By her standards I am old, but I only support National candidates who understand and support the science behind climate change. This is not just about me, but also about my children and grandchildren who will have to deal with climate change for their entire lives.
Democracy is the basis and foundation of our Nation. However, a true democracy is always fragile and there is never a guarantee it will survive one generation to the next. According to the Economist Unit's Intelligence Democracy Index, less than 5% of the world live in a fully democratic country, 45% in flawed democracies and about 33% live in authoritarian regimes. Democracy thrives when an informed electorate votes in National Elections. I only support candidates who do the following:
- Promote regulations which make it easier for all citizens to vote including the ability to vote on-line beginning 90 days before the election and a two-day National holiday for all National Elections. States which require voter identification accept a variety of forms of ID including but not limited to: Passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, Medicare card, health insurance card, and copy of most recent federal tax return.
- Publically express support for all components of the first amendment.
- Support an independent judicial and federal law enforcement system.
The future of the US depends in part on continued economic growth. I would suggest that National candidates who do well on the other issues will promote long term economic growth. For example, an investment in infrastructure will lead to economic growth. The same is true for an investment in education. Conversely our current lack of investment in infrastructure or unwillingness to invest in quality public education will reduce economic growth.
Education is not only a foundation to economic growth, but the basis of a well-functioning democracy. In today's world, a quality education increases employment opportunities, but perhaps more importantly, helps us understand and make sense of the world in which we live. I support candidates who believe the following:
- The US needs to provide a quality public education for all children starting with preschool.
- The following study was released by the WK Kellogg Foundation in April, 2018. "The United States economy could be $8 trillion larger by 2050 if the country eliminated racial disparities in health, education, incarceration and employment, according to “The Business Case for Racial Equity: A Strategy for Growth.” The gains would be equivalent to a continuous boost in GDP growth of 0.5 percent per year, increasing the competitiveness of the country for decades to come. The national study released today by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) and Altarum concludes that while racial inequities needlessly stifle economic growth, there is a path forward."
- Curriculum at all levels of education should be designed and by drafted by professionals in the specific academic field. For example, science curriculum and support materials would be designed by scientists with advanced degrees and history curriculum and support materials would be designed by again by historians with advanced degrees in the field. This curriculum would be used throughout all public education.
- All public schools, elementary, junior and senior high students should have the resources to provide a quality education.
- Public funds should only be used to fund public education. Zero dollars, including federal loans or grants, should be used to pay tuition, fees or other costs for profit institutions. For profit institutions should use private funds including privately funded student loans to fund their costs.
I support candidates who emphasize public quality education opportunities for US citizens beginning at the earliest ages.
Among other things, the Declaration of Independence states the following: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness....laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness."
Though the Founder Fathers provided the basis, they did not get it all right. For example, initially and for many years after the US was founded, only white male property owners could vote in most states. At the same time, it is clear to me that the Founding Founders believed all men were equal which, in the US, has grown to include all men and women regardless of race, income and property status.
The Declaration of Independence does not guarantee happiness, but the pursuit of it. Given this, I support candidates who advocate for equal rights and equal opportunities for all US citizens. On a level playing field, the brightest, the most talented, the highest educated, the hardest working will be the most successful and this is in the best interests for the US and its future. I support candidates who believe each US citizen has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
My Christian Ethics professor in college, one of the three most intelligent persons I have ever known, said the foundation of ethical behavior is consistency in the application of personal ethics. She stated this is especially true for Christians. An individual, organization or political party should always be examining its policies and make changes when new information so warrants. However, individuals, organizations or political parties who apply different ethics to similar situations often have no ethics. I support candidates who have a record of consistent ethical behavior and not situational ethics.
Including both military and civilians, it has been estimated that the total number of deaths in WWI is about 16 million and another estimated 21 million of casualties. In WWII, it is estimated military deaths were between 19 and 25 million with another 38 to 55 million civilian deaths. Until the end of WWII, different countries in both Western and Eastern Europe, Great Britain, and Russia had been at war with each other at different times for thousands of years. Though conflicts in this geographic area have continued since WWII, what is important to me is that countries like Great Britain, France and Germany which had warred with each other for hundreds if not thousands of years, are now trading partners. There are many factors, but one major factor in my estimation is globalization.
There is substantial data supporting the overall economic benefits along with the challenges of globalization. One summary I found was titled the The Economic Benefits of Globalization for Business and Consumers by Fredrik Erixon (email@example.com) Director of the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
- http://ecipe.org/publications/the-economic-benefits-of-globalization-for-business-and-consumers/?chapter=all ]
With globalization, there are winners or losers, but there are always winners or losers in all economics, especially when change takes place. There are countless examples, but an easy example in my estimation is all the businesses and individuals who made their livings related to horses for thousands of years. Though railroads had made some dent, in 1880 the industry overall was still going strong, by 1930 it was long on its way to being almost obsolete.
Change is always taking place and with change, there are always winners and losers. However, there is no doubt in my mind that globalization creates the most opportunities for the greatest numbers of individuals and businesses. Equally if not more important, as history reflects over and over, we are all better off with trade and an occasional trade war than real wars.
I support candidates who understand the overall benefits of globalization, both economic and humanistic.
Gun violence and costs
Over 30,000 citizens in the US are killed annually from gun violence. A recent study indicated the total annual cost of gun violence in the US exceeds $229 billion dollars which includes medical treatments, emergency services, police investigations, legal fees, long term prison costs, long term medical and health expenses, mental health care, and security enhancements.
I support candidates who do the following:
- Support legislation which ends the subsidy for gun owners and bills in the form of fees and taxes, the gun industry, gun manufacturers, distributers, and owners for all costs related to gun violence on a pro-rata basis. A single shot hunting rifle would have minimal if any fees while an automatic weapon would have a higher cost.
- Do not accept money from the NRA. All PAC money is negative a drain on our political system, and the NRA is an extreme example.
- Understand the 2nd amendment as it was written in full as part of the initial Bill of Rights.
As a parent and grandparent, I refuse to accept a National policy which allows or even enables an individual with an automatic weapon to murder helpless individuals at any time or place. The loss of life, the emotional trauma for survivors and their families and all the related costs are substantial drain on our society. For me, change starts with the gun industry being responsible for all the costs of gun violence.
Income, Expenditures and Services
Too often in my estimation, government spending is driven by tax policy. The reverse is also true, before bills have been passed with no thought to the cost of the bill. I would suggest we need to change the national discussion from taxes to the services which we want government to provide or are best provided by government, the cost of these services and the best or most effective way to finance them. I support national candidates who do this.
Separately I wrote an article on Health Care. For me, the bottom line is that the per capita cost of health care in the US is over $10,000 and the median annual household income in the US is about $60,000. For those that do not have health care paid completely by their employer, I do not see how these two numbers can be reconciled. The largest cause of bankruptcy in the US is still health care related. Separately, I have written an article on this.
I support candidates who works toward a system of basic health care for all citizens who are employed in some capacity, their spouses if a stay at home parent, their children and students pursuing secondary, post-graduate and professional degrees.
The US has a very serious and growing infrastructure problem of both deferred maintenance and modernization of transportation, including roads, public transportation, airports and ports.
National, state and local spending on infrastructure from a high in the late 1960's to its current low.
- In the most recent report card on the condition of America’s infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave U.S. infrastructure a D+ or “poor” rating. The report estimated cost improving America’s infrastructure to a grade of B by 2025 at $4.6 trillion of which only about 55 percent has been committed.
- Most Americans are familiar with the problems of drinking water in parts of the US, Flint, Michigan being a very sad and tragic example. The EPA estimated America's drinking water and distribution systems need $384 billion in investments over the next 20 years.
- According to Federal Highway Administration, about 20% of the US roads are in poor condition.
- The Department of Education said over half of the US public schools need to be repaired, renovated, or modernized.
More important than the above in my estimation is the risk to our electrical grid from either natural disasters or cyber-attacks.
- There are a wide variety of sources of information regarding the risk of natural disasters to the electrical grid. One example which is both interesting and alarming study is "Lights Out: The risks of climate and natural disaster-related disruption to the electric grid", a study by students of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. It focused on the Pacific Northwest, but the risks are universal throughout the US.
- Regarding the cyber-attacks, again there is a variety of sources of information. One in particular is "Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath," written by Ted Koppel.
The good news is that all of the above can be addressed, but it will take time and investment. The even better news is investing in infrastructure will be benefit the US economy by both creating jobs and increasing the US ability to compete in the global economy.
Many may think that natural disasters are part of global life, and that is true in one sense. However, it is hard to argue against the evidence which supports an increase in the number and corresponding costs of natural disasters.
- According to an article in the Economist, 8/29/2017, since 1970, the number of disasters worldwide has more than quadrupled to around 400 a year.
- The same above-mentioned Johns Hopkins Report stated in the United States in 2016 there were 43 natural catastrophes leading to huge property losses, almost double those of 2007.
- 2017 was the costliest year on record for natural disasters in the United States, with a price tag of at least $306 billion. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which tracks billion-dollar disasters, reported in January that the record total came from 16 separate events with damages exceeding $1 billion.
- In a recently released report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, due to sea level rise, high-tide flooding is happening across the USA at twice the rate it was just 30 years ago. In a recent study published by Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene addresses projected sea level increases and projected impact and costs to coastal communities.
- Another source of information is the recently published book, October, 2017, “The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World” by Jeff Goodell.
I support national candidates who understand the number of natural disasters are increasing, the related costs and impact on our national economy and are committed to long term planning for natural disasters.
The Federal Government owns almost 650 million acres or 30% of the US. This includes National Parks, National Forests, and National Wildlife Refuges. I view all this land is owned by me and managed on my behalf by various federal agencies. Granted, I along with every other citizen own a very small percentage of this land, but we own it. This land is owned by all of us and must be preserved and protected for generations to come.
I support candidates who agree federal land is owned by the citizens and managed by federal agencies to protect the land for today and tomorrow.
I am concerned about the number of elected officials who do not seem to understand how science works. I believe this has had a detrimental effect on economic growth, management of federal land, and overall quality of life. In my estimation, science is science. I would suggest an individual who has cancer and accepts an updated method of treatment but separately rejects the science behind climate change, geology of the earth or astro-physics does not understand science. The following website is designed for students who are working on science projects, but is also an excellent source of information for understanding the scientific method.
I support candidates who understand science, the benefits it has provided the US and our increasing need to invest and take advantage of scientific research.
My mother told me a long time ago when I was in junior high school, making that a really long time ago, thoughtful intelligent people can disagree without being disagreeable. When I hear individuals, politicians, and political commentators who do any or all the following:
- Are simply against or opposed to something or someone.
- Make broad sweeping statements with no independent analysis to back up the claim.
- Resort to name calling.
I assume the following, the individual, politician, or political commenter is minimally lazy and uneducated on the subject. If the individual, politician, or political commentator is pursing path which they know to be incorrect or not in the best interests of the US, but are so doing for individual gain, they are unethical and immoral.
Intelligent, thoughtful dialog, and openness to opinions different than one’s own self which are discussed in a meaningful manner make us all better. But much important, it makes the US better and is vital part of being a positive force for the United States. Finally, the more thoughtful, informed, and educated about issues each of us is, the higher quality individuals we will elect to National political offices.
Finally, I am more than willing to “discuss” my issues for a National Election once I have yours written out as above meeting the exact same rules.
*This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. Individuals involved in the estate planning process should work with an estate planning team, including their own personal legal or tax counsel. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a representation by us of a specific investment or the purchase or sale of any securities. Asset allocation and diversification do not ensure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets.