Thursday, October 13, 2016

Here Are Some Suggestions

I awoke at 2:30 am, precisely 8 hours after taking my pain meds. It was rather excruciating, I must say, but nowhere near as bad as waking up at 2:30 in the morning after open heart surgery or even rotator cuff surgery, so it's all good. Life goes on.

I had a friend of mine say to me the other day words to the effect of, "...I've been reading your blog for quite a while so I pretty much know what you don't like about government. But, what would you like for your government to do??" This is an excellent question. It is much easier, I think, to identify what you don't like about how things are done than it is to suggest improvements. So, I can't answer his questions completely, but I can make a start.

I like the old saying about how a civilization can be judged by how it treats it's children, it's seniors and it's sick. I would also add, it's veterans. So, starting there, I would say that I would like for my government to honor it's commitments to first, it's seniors. By this, I mean preserve the integrity of Social Security and Medicare, the two programs that benefit mostly seniors. Neither party or for that matter Presidential candidate has said much about either because to do so would shine the light of scrutiny on their bipartisan malfeasance. Both of these social programs are on a crash course with insolvency. Fixing both will require several doses of unpopular medicine. People like me will have to subject more of our income to FICA taxes and perhaps postpone the age at which we can draw benefits. Younger participants will have to have benefits curtailed. The disability portion of Social Security needs to be tightened. None of this would be necessary if politicians hadn't turned it into an unfunded liability by raiding its lockbox decades ago. If the price to fix it has to require benefit reductions from people like me in order to make sure that people who desperately need it to survive, so be it. A deal is a deal.

The way this country treats its veterans is an outrage which should have all of us turning away in shame. VA hospitals in this country are an embarrassment and the quality of care and the skullduggery involved in their administration is appalling. Every President in my lifetime, including our current one has promised to fix the VA. Nobody has come close. If this is an example of single payer, government run health insurance. . . no thanks. I would love some hard ass retired general to be put in charge of cleaning up the mess and given the authority and the resources to get the job done. If an elected politician gets anywhere near the process it will be a disaster. Set up a commission of non politicians and get out of the way.

Here's another thing I would like to see my government do. . . Reform our criminal justice system to better reflect the real world of our inner cities. Stop throwing mostly young black men in prison for smoking and dealing pot. The war on drugs, perhaps the biggest single failure of American government since Prohibition, has been a disaster for the inner cities. We lecture minorities to get real jobs, but we virtually guarantee they won't by turning 50% of them into convicted felons by the time they are 20. You might say, "well, they're the ones who chose to deal drugs!" Seriously? You are 16 and live on the south side of Chicago. What job opportunities are available to you besides dealing drugs? Have you even driven through the Gilpin Courts of the world? Yes, having few adult father figures in these neighborhoods is a problem, but it's difficult to do when 50% of them were removed from those neighborhoods and placed in federal prison because of our drug laws. I know that the problems in the inner cities are complex and there are many villains. But, let's start by scrapping the disastrous war on drugs.

Ok, that's a start. There are other things I'd like to see my government do and stop doing, but this should keep them busy for a while.