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|National Priorities for the New Year
by J. F. Kelly, Jr. 12/27/07
As a unit of time, the calendar year is probably overrated. For purposes of measuring data, you could take any twelve-month period and call it a year. The federal fiscal year begins in October. A year’s worth of results could be calculated from any date.
New Year’s Eve is no big deal to me. Everyone is working too hard at having a good time and paying too much for it, especially in the morning. On the other hand, there’s a lot of football to look forward to the next day. But then there are all those Christmas decorations to take down and put away and credit card bills coming due after all that extravagant Christmas shopping you said you weren’t going to do this year.
Oh, well. It’s as good a time as any for making resolutions and examining priorities for the next twelve months. Herewith, then, I offer ten priorities for the nation. There are plenty more, of course, but let’s not be too ambitious.
J.F. Kelly, Jr.
Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive
who writes on current events and military subjects.
He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]
First, we must work together to ameliorate the bitterness and the polarization that divides us politically. We can’t afford to wait until a new president is sworn in to begin the healing process. The problems are too urgent and a year is too long to wait. Politicians must lead the way and set the proper civil tone. Good luck on this one.
Second, we must attempt an accurate assessment of the risks we face from terrorist nations and organizations and, if necessary, restructure our defenses against them. Our armed forces must be adequately sized and equipped to deal with multiple threats. We cannot rely indefinitely on reservists and National Guard personnel making multiple deployments at the rate we have seen over the past five years.
Third, we must expedite ongoing efforts to secure our borders. Immigration policy reform, if even needed, will not begin until the federal government has ended, not just slowed, illegal immigration. A majority of the citizens have made it clear that they want existing immigration laws enforced before new ones are made.
Forth, with the nation probably headed into a recession induced by the collapse of the housing and mortgage markets, government’s role as a big spender must be curtailed. That means an end to wasteful spending on pork barrel projects, earmarks, subsidies and foreign aid that gets us little in return. That will be hard on politicians because spending is their lifeblood but they need to get used to austere times. And that doesn’t mean raising taxes to satisfy their spending urges.
Fifth, we can wait no longer to act to keep Medicare and Social Security solvent. Each year that we delay compounds the problems. Legislators are elected to deal with such problems. Instead, they have avoided them. Medicare is the more immediate problem but Social Security is close behind. Something must be done to reduce the cost of medical treatment and the Social Security retirement age must be raised to reflect he greater lifespan and longer working life of Americans today.
Sixth, we must reform our bizarre tax code. If a flat or value added tax is too difficult or too regressive to enact, then we must act now to simplify the code so that complex tax-avoidance strategies are no longer necessary and the average person and business can calculate their taxes and file their returns without hiring professionals to do it for them.
Seventh, the federal government must do more to protect individuals against identity theft which is a growing threat to millions of Americans. It is not enough to warn the public about the risk. It must actually do something beyond just requiring businesses to advise customers of their privacy rights. It must get very tough with businesses, agencies and financial institutions that do not adequately safeguard customer data and with individuals who steal identities.
Eighth, we must do more to emphasize the critical importance of math and science to our nation. We are still not producing enough mathematicians and scientists and those we that we do produce are mostly foreign students who are increasingly returning home after graduation. This threatens America’s leadership in technology and results in more jobs and businesses being exported overseas.
Ninth, we must turn away from the political correctness which pervades our schools, universities and workplaces and is turning our culture into mush. It distorts discussion and debate and curtails honest and frank criticism, replacing it with bland platitudes. We simply cannot solve problems if we are afraid to speak honestly or openly about what might be the cause of the problems.
Finally, we must endeavor to make patriotism fashionable again. The tendency of trendy liberals to blame America first for all the world’s problems is self-destructive and is contributing to a decline in American prestige and influence. Patriotism helped America win independence and become the greatest nation on earth. A decline in patriotism will surely presage a decline in American power and influence. What American could possibly wish for that?
Happy New Year to all. CRO
2007 J. F. Kelly, Jr.