I admit that I’ve vacillated back and forth between Democrat and Republican over the last 40 years. I’ve arrived at a few personal conclusions about our country’s current state. These are merely my own opinions.
I remain a strong advocate of allowing business unfettered access to its markets. However, it has become obvious that UNregulated business activity gravitates to the dark side.
I only offer several examples …
1) Telephone deregulation. An acquaintance who lives in France once asked me, “Are you people crazy?” when the major telephone companies were broken up and deregulated. Of course we briefly have enjoyed proliferation of numerous local and long distance telephone companies and lower rates. However, once the reality became “Oh, I’m sorry sir. That line is not part of our service,” guess what is now happening? Witness today’s re-conglomeration of powerhouses Verizon and AT&T. Nickel-and-dime fee structures, service rules and restrictions, and the telecomm companies’ indifference to customer issues have become the norm. Does this sound like anything with which you’re familiar?
2) Airline deregulation. Give me a break! Even though Southwest and upstart JetBlue survive as prodigies of deregulation, just count the number of personnel laid off and route-miles that have collapsed over the last 20 years. Fuel costs aside, the airline industry is the victim of a nearly complete lack of regulatory constraint and a wholly indifferent federal government. Why should it take the FAA twenty more years to implement a new computer/satellite-based air traffic control system??
3) A Medicare Drug Program (Part D) that is an outright lie. Estimates originally provided to congressional representatives are now shown to have been hugely and falsely understated. Originally estimated at $375 billion for the mandated ten-year horizon, this program is now calculated to cost $2.3 trillion over the next ten years! Oh, and by the way, don’t overlook a provision in the law which prohibits the federal government from negotiating the cost of the drugs for which it is paying. Guess which lobbying group drafted that part of the law.
4) A federal income tax system that is so complex and laden with special-interest provisions that it costs the average taxpayer $37.43 and 12 days to complete and file the federal tax return. The shameful business practices of “refund anticipation loans,” and more recently “rebate anticipation loans,” have cost unwitting taxpayers billions of dollars in needless fees to get their money back from the federal government a few days earlier. The Internal Revenue Service is dead at the switch about simplifying the process for transacting the ordinary individual taxpayer’s tax returns and refunds. A computer system hailed as the “answer to all our problems” went down in flames after five years and hundreds of millions of dollars in outsourced contracts. It remains in limbo to this day.
5) Pathetic lack of regulation of (and even awareness of) the financial services industry’s dubious practices. Lending practices over the last five years became a sham. Surely you’re aware of the shameful lending practices thrust on less sophisticated and lower income people by unscrupulous mortgage brokers, banks, and investment companies. The consolidation of falsely-rated mortgage packages for sale as “investments” on the world market was a practice akin to the old fashioned snake oil salesman.
6) The U.S. dollar’s value has fallen 40% against the value of the Euro and other major currencies in the last six years. While a weak dollar means our exports are less expensive to those who buy them, imports have become more expensive for us. It means that our dollars now buy nearly 40% LESS of goods and services than they did six years ago. Imports of cheap and low quality Chinese goods to Wal-Mart and other retailers will not offset the horrendous decline in our dollar. Our manufacturing sector has lost 3.2 million jobs over the last six years, offset by a lesser increase of 1.2 million jobs in the food service and retailing industries. What a tradeoff, eh?
7) Outsourcing instead of federal oversight. It’s the old budget game that outsourced contracts are separate from onboard personnel in the federal government’s budget and are therefore immune from oversight by Congress. The presumption that outsourced work “saves” money in the long run is provably false. The quasi-governmental Postal Service is a notable exception, because it has a source of revenue to offset the majority of its operational costs.
8) Relations with Mexico and other countries. Mexican truckers are now allowed for a new “extended test period” of three more years to freely traffic on our highways. The U.S. is giving nuclear technology to India in exchange for tariff-free imports of mangos to our country. Nukes for fruit. That one ought to scare you.
9) A dead-at-the-switch Consumer Product Safety Commission. “We’re not allowed to test for toxic substances unless we have evidence of human danger.” Yikes … that’s comforting, huh?
10) An FDA that is so hopelessly under staffed and under funded that it is simply incapable of fulfilling its mission. Explosive growth in our importation of foods, and significant lobbying by pharmaceutical companies, has rendered that agency nearly useless.
11) Federal preparedness. Wasn’t the Katrina debacle enough to show that federal nepotism and cronyism yields an under funded, under talented, and under prepared government? Over 20,000 trailers purchased and unused are now scheduled for destruction. Truckloads of ice were sent to New England during the emergency in New Orleans.
12) Wars being conducted on two fronts, based on blatantly false assumptions and “truths” fabricated to scare the people of our country. Iraq accumulates budget surpluses while the American people continue to fund up to $1 trillion for those unpopular wars, for that country’s “reconstruction,” and digging our country further and further into unsustainable debt. Afghanistan continues as the primary source of opium/heroin in the world and as a sanctuary for the bad guys.
13) Our country is in serious economic trouble. Our public debt (as distinguished from the elusive ‘intragovernmental’ debt) has grown 500% in merely the last five years. We are forever reliant on oil as our primary energy source and feed stock, on the willingness of foreign countries and investors to continue to prop up our unsustainable spending, and the illusion that ‘growth’ will be our salvation. It is time to come back to reality. Taxes will inevitably go up, spending needs to be seriously curtailed, and we need new leadership that will not tell us that everything is okay.
Do you really want to elect a candidate who promises more of the same? I don’t think so.