The reputation of Congress and Politicians are at a new low. What's up?
Are people sick of the hypocrisy and moralizing of politicians. Are they sick of the media and the incessant spinning? Have they lost respect for politicians who attempt to cast the blame for all problems on immigrants, the poor, Arabs, "terrorists" any anyone else they can think of to distract from their own failures and then tell us that they needed to pass laws to "fix" the problem. Politics looks more like the Mafia every day with political payoffs extracted for favorable votes.
It's about time for a new vision of what the government, of the people, by the people might do to regain the trust of the people.
First of all, many suspect that politicians only listen to those who give them money, and read polls only to see what issues and fears they can exploit to get elected. Perhaps this is true, and, after all, if you want to get elected, you have to raise enough money to be taken seriously and support those issues the "political consultants" find expedient.
What can be done? Here are some ideas ...
- Freedom of Speech. This must be vigorously supported in all media.
The First Amendment is one of the unique contributions of the United States to civilization. For the United States congress to attempt to trash it with the so called "Communications and Decency Act" is a disgrace to the people who founded this country and an insult to those who have worked to keep it a viable principle.
It is about time for politicians to stop pandering to
the few that would like to silence those who wish to say what they do not want to hear.
The tradition of a free press is perhaps the cultural export we as a country can be most proud of.
- Crime. We must work for ways that help to build a civil society. The threat of punishment is simply not the best motivator for people to want to get along.
Why is it that some cities have less crime than others? What effect does training and the culture of a police force have on crime and the attitudes of citizens toward the police. From my observation, the San Francisco police department provides a good example of what can be done in the area of police community relations.
We need to recognize that not all people will not find good jobs as a solution to financial security. Allowing many options for survival which do not involve theft might make more sense than building more jails. Removing government regulations which inhibit indigenous entrapenurism may help. One only has to look at the streets of Asia to see the number of people productively involved in selling something to each other. How many of these activities which productively occupy many people are illegal in the United States?
- Housing. Increasingly expensive housing is driving many to the streets. People can no longer afford to rent a place to live on even a minimum wage job. We must look at the ways that the financial system encourages speculation in housing prices and how this translates into high rents and housing costs. A county which increasingly views everything in terms of speculation and the amount of debt that can be serviced will find itself with fewer and fewer people willing to bust their backs to satisfy the interest wanted by some banker or investor.
- Drugs: It has to be faced at some point that the current so called "war on drugs" is a failure and will never solve the problems of drug abuse. The main result has been the incarceration of a disproportionately large number of African Americans with little or no effect on the social disease resulting from drug abuse. It is time to focus on "drug abuse" as a social problem which needs to be viewed as a threat to public health, and not one that will be solved by locking up more and more people. Jails are simply not the answer to this problem.
- Government Employees Many government workers do a good job. Some arrogantly abuse their authority and act like demigods. It is up the elected representatives to remind government employees who it is that they work for and rid the government of those who abuse the public trust.
- Education. Much is made of this issue and just about everyone agrees that education is a good thing. The problem is, who pays, who benefits and just what constitutes the right approach to education? Politicians might take the lead in this area by appealing less to emotion and more to thoughtful arguments.
- Public Transportation. It must be faced that the United States cannot continue to subsidize the use of automobiles for all travel. Pollution, congestion, poor physical condition of most Americans, urban sprawl are all the result of the over reliance on the automobile for transportation.
- Immigrants. The United States is a county made up primarily of immigrants and descendents of immigrants. To demonize immigrants for the economic problems many are facing is the height of political pandering. Pitting one group against another seems somehow more fitting in Nazi Germany, and one would hope that politicians in the United States could find other issues on which to distinguish themselves. There are many benefits from having people enter the United States to work as well as problems from having people enter who consume government resources. These must be dealt with in an intelligent, humane way and not used to fan the flames of hatred in society.
- Foreign Policy In an increasingly global economy it is not acceptable for countries to arrogantly push around other counties as if they were imperial possessions. It is time to start treating all counties with the respect, which we wish to be treated. It is hypocritical for US leaders to decry the influence of other countries in our political process while at the same time trying to influence the internal affairs of other countries. Lecturing other countries about "human rights" while ignoring some significant abuses in the United States is the height of hypocrisy. This should not limit the United States from looking out for the economic interests of it's citizens.