02 November 2008

After the Hangover Wears Off

On Wednesday morning, after the long night of drinking to celebrate or lament, we will wake up and guess what – nothing has changed. We are still the same country with $11 trillion in debt and $54 trillion unfunded liabilities. We are still the same country with unpopular wars in the Middle East. We are still the same country with a crumbling infrastructure. We are still a country that sends more than $700 billion a year offshore for its energy. Most importantly, we are still the same country with an egotistical political establishment; one that would prefer to pander than lead.

This was an election about the last 8 years of Bush more than anything else. Let’s be honest, the electorate is not smart enough to actually look at the issues and make an informed decision, they would rather base their selection on emotion. The contradictory political ads make it even more difficult for the shallow to make sense about where the candidates really stand. In the end, America is all about making themselves feel better – whether that be at the shopping mall or in the voting booth.

After the congratulatory back slaps, lip smacking at the new found political power and the statements of an imagined mandate are over, there still looms the 800 pound gorilla in the room. I stand by my belief that no matter who gets elected (I am about 95% certain that Obama will be elected) nothing will really change where it really matters. The only change will be who is called president. Sure there will be some other changes –Obama will change from Bush’s tax-cut-and-spend administration to a tax-increase-and-spend administration. Oh yeah, Obama will enact cap and trade of plant food (carbon dioxide) which will significantly increase all of our energy bills (although, to be honest, McCain is also talking about that).

What really needs to happen? We need a real leader that would present America with a plan that will include touch choices. A real leader will work with Congress to enact those tough choices. What would those tough choices be?

  • Balance the budget with the current revenue stream and that includes excluding social security revenue from the revenue stream. That means across the board cuts, including the military.

  • A tax increase levied only to pay down the debt and pay back the trillions in IOUs to the social security fund. I propose a modest national sales tax in lieu of increasing income taxes.

  • Consolidate government, reduce duplicity, and increase governments’ effectiveness and efficiency.

  • Reform Medicare and Social Security. That means cutting benefits and eliminating the maximum earnings amount above which you stop paying the social security payroll tax.

  • Reform our education system and invest in math and science education.

  • Drill more and invest in renewable energy. We need to be leaders in the renewable energy field.

  • Close military bases around the world and pull our military back. We need to defend OUR borders first and foremost.

  • Squash the climate change nonsense which would waste trillions trying to reduce global temperatures by a tenth of degree. Taking that money and investing it in math and science education, renewable energy research, and infrastructure would have a far greater impact.

If the $11 trillion in debt and $54 trillion in unfunded liabilities does not say it all, you, quite frankly, are a moron of massive proportions. These two numbers alone provide enough justification for the measures I propose above. These two numbers provide a measure of the precariousness of our situation. Americans need to realize that the run is over. America needs to rethink its priorities. America needs to realize that money does not grow on trees and cannot be printed wantonly without dire consequences. America can no longer enslave on our children and grandchildren with debt. It is time we take responsibility for our actions, at a personal level and at a national level.

Wake up America. Take some aspirin and drink some water. Shake the hang-over off and demand real change, not the change promised in pretty speeches.

Photo by fellow Engineers Without Borders member, Sugar cane fields, road, railroad, and mountains, Dominican Republic

No comments: