Americans, What Do You Want?

What do we really want our country to be?

Please think about what you personally want America to be— not what partisan politicians tell you to want.

I want a country that provides its citizens equal opportunity to exploit their talents and labor in order to live a satisfying life and meet their personal needs (all very subjective). Wasting human capital is poor economics.

For very practical reasons, I want a country that provides all of its citizens with adequate medical care, regardless of their wealth. If the current pandemic has taught us anything, it is that no modern developed nation can afford not to have universal health coverage.

I want a country that invests in the education of its citizens so that society can benefit from their abilities and talents. We have to fix public education and we have to make higher education available to all who are qualified. Again, wasting human capital is poor economics.

I want a country in which all citizens receive equal and fair treatment under the law, regardless of gender, race, social status, national origin, and wealth. We can no longer afford to give only lip service to one of America’s core principles — and we cannot afford to continue wasting so much human capital.

I want a nation whose laws recognize that excessive personal wealth is political power and a risk to democracy — and seeks to reasonably limit it (again, excessive is subjective). Wealth should not be punished, but neither should it be allowed inordinate power and privilege. In it’s Citizens United ruling, the Supreme Court equated money with free speech and the political rights of corporations to those of individual citizens. We might want to rethink that before it is too late.

I want a society that understands that climate change is real and probably caused by human activity — and does something about it. Some might argue that we humans didn’t cause it — though global annual carbon emissions of 36,000,000,000 tons must have had some effect — but no one can reasonably argue that global warming isn’t happening.

I want a society that recognizes that religious freedom does not imply the freedom to impose one’s own religious views on others. When any religious group lobbies for laws that enforce it’s own views, it endangers the religious freedom of all.

I could go on, but I hope you get the idea.

All of those wants tend to enhance the economic well-being of the nation, despite what the fuzzy-thinking, pseudo-capitalists who broke the current financial system might try to tell you. We need to turn crony capitalism back into Adam Smith’s real capitalism. If we do not get tangled up in ideology, getting from where we are now to where we want to be is achievable within the bounds of our Constitution, though certainly not instantaneously. In reality, too rapid change can be highly disruptive and harm too many people. I’m less than confident that our voters or politicians would ever operate so rationally. Even less so, given the current deliberately divisive nature of our politics. The only way it will happen is if “We the People” watch our politicians like hawks, pay attention to what they really do, not just what they say — and carefully vote for the better choice every time!

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