For centuries, families have come to the United States to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities that cannot be found elsewhere in the world. Our country’s economic, political, and educational foundations are built on the backs of immigrants seeking to improve their quality of life.
It’s time to recognize that families in the U.S. are more similar than they are different. Muslim families as well as Christian families want to make a decent wage at a job they are appreciated for. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents all want to be able to buy or rent a nice house in a safe neighborhood and put food on the table. Gay and straight partners want their children to get a great education with the hopes that they will go on to get a good job, raise their own families, and live happy, healthy, and successful lives. Men, women, and transgendered individuals are afraid of losing their jobs, losing their houses, and letting down their families. Citizens as well as undocumented individuals are here in the U.S. because they share these hopes, dreams, and fears.
As human beings, we are all unique. We look and act different, we have different thoughts and opinions. But almost everyone that puts together a list of their dream place to live would write the following:
“Meaningful work, affordable housing, fulfilling education, adequate medical care, a clean environment, honest and accountable government, social and cultural renewal, or simple justice” (Dumbing Us Down, p. 15).
I understand and recognize the importance of having a federal government. The government is elected by the people to represent the people and to provide needs that are deemed “the public good”. We need to continue to reduce the inefficiency and waste of the federal government. But after reading The Price of Civilization by Jeffery Sachs, I was reminded why a strong government is necessary for a developed country. It would be foolish to insist that we pay no taxes and allow the free market to take on the public goods.
That said, I believe strongly in the power of a free market system. Capitalism is the single most efficient method to price goods as they are needed, pay individuals that are hard working or creative, and transfer those goods to the place of their greatest need – anywhere in the world. But the free market system must be balanced with some regulation by the federal government. Without a mixed economy, the world would be filled with Enron’s and BP oil spills. Capitalism is great at efficiency and providing short term profits, whereas the government helps to keep the free markets from damaging the resources we need to survive and that we will pass on to future generations.
I believe in sound money and taking the country from a fiat currency back to a currency that is more stable and more difficult to reproduce. I believe that the time has come to take control back from the federal reserve and to end the abuse of the fractional reserve banking system. An effort should be made to allow for people to use sound banking facilities where they are guaranteed to be able to withdraw their money at any time. These banks should protect the hard-earned assets of the average citizen. As a result, U.S. citizens would be encouraged to save for their future and future generations.
I believe that corporations are corporations. They are not people, and they are a foundational part to what has made the U.S. a great nation. In order for the free market system to function, corporations must be allowed to fail. Our country becomes stronger because businesses and individuals can take risk and go bankrupt. No company should ever be declared “too big to fail”. Any company that does this imposes a risk to the entire system and should be immediately divided and sold off as smaller companies.
Just because the wealthy may create jobs doesn’t mean they shouldn’t pay their fair share of taxes. I believe that everyone in this country should be thankful for the opportunities that exist here. The Bill Gates and Warren Buffets of the world should recognize that their money comes from the pockets of working Americans. Being wealthy is okay and should be encouraged. Hoarding money and finding loopholes to prevent paying taxes hurts everyone – both the rich and the poor.
In a country as powerful and full of opportunity as the U.S., healthcare should be a basic human right and not a privilege. A universal healthcare system should be developed that would:
- Provide basic healthcare insurance for everyone that includes access to a primary care physician, access to preventive care, and basic coverage for most major diseases.
- Make healthcare costs more clear to the consumer and allow a combination of public and private services to provide these options.
- Make it cheaper for qualified doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals to access training.
- Move to an electronic records system similar to other developed countries
- Limit litigation and damages that healthcare workers face to keep costs down.
The U.S. has over 3 million people incarcerated. This is a tremendous burden on the taxpayer. Anyone that is incarcerated for using or selling marijuana should be released. Alcohol is a much more dangerous, addictive, and debilitating drug than marijuana. Prisoners that desperately need psychological help should be provided the treatment they need, as well as the prisoners addicted to drugs, or victims of violence.
The U.S. education system is broken. But it’s not because there aren’t great teachers. Teachers need fewer standardized tests and more freedom to use their passion to teach. Technology will provide the data and allow teachers to identify and reach out to students that are struggling. Schools should be re-engineered as learning centers for the community, and parents and professionals should all play a role in helping young minds explore the wonders of the world we live in.
If I was president, I would encourage every young person that graduates high school to commit to 2 years of service to the country: armed forces, Peace Corps or AmeriCorps volunteer work, Teach for America, or other volunteer work. Our citizens should be happy to “pay it back” and help other Americans live better lives.
I would also reign in the military spending and close many of the military bases that exist around the world. Limits to Medicare and medicaid would have to be made in order to provide this service to our children and our grandchildren. We don’t need to pay back the 15 trillion dollars we owe, we just need to pay some of it back so our economy can be strong again and the world can trust that we are fiscally responsible.
I believe that I can be proud of the United States of America again. I believe that my future children will have clean water to drink, national parks to visit, and a great education provided to them. I believe that my shaken faith in the United States is only temporary. I believe that I am a change agent and that I can help this country remain great for future generations.
~Nick, January 28, 2012