A Fundamental Question

Flags of Many Countries

I know some of you would be expecting to read my thoughts on the events in Uvalde, but both Cassandra and El Jefe de First Draft have covered that and I’d just be echoing them. Instead I’d like to ask a question of you dear reader, one that goes to the heart of the “but what can we do” conundrum:

What does government mean to you?

Personally that is the question I think every person running for political office should be asked and be required to answer. They should be asked it before any other question. And the follow up question should be give an example of a program or policy that exemplifies and explains your answer to the first question.

We don’t seem to ever ask that question, perhaps because it’s so basic that we forget to ask it. Or maybe it’s because we think no matter what, the politician will answer with a bromide about freedom, democracy, blah, blah, blah. Or just maybe it’s because we don’t ask the question because we’ve never asked it of ourselves.

So even though I’m just a guy sitting at a laptop in the California wine country and not running for any office, I’ll take a crack at it.

I believe that government exists to be the societal equivalent of an even tempered parent. It should encourage people to strive to be their best. It should ensure that everyone has a chance to thrive. It should reward for a job well done. It should also have the power to punish, in appropriate ways, for bad behavior. If forced to punish then it has an obligation to rehabilitate. It should open it’s heart and it’s pocketbook to the weakest while encouraging that the most accomplished to do their part to continue on that notion. And if the occasion arises, it should defend it’s family with all the furor and power it has.

Most of all it should be fair, not favoring one over another because that one looks more like me than the other one.

What policies would I want enacted to see this “family” grow? I’d start with education. Mandatory K-12 public education with fully equipped facilities and teachers paid handsomely in acknowledgment of how important their work is. College for all that want it and not at a price that turns Fannie and Freddie into a graduates most lasting long term relationship. For those who decline college, fully funded occupational training as well as fully funded re-training programs for workers to keep their skills up to date in a world where technology sometimes outpaces the ability to teach it.

Where’s the money going to come from to fund a total overhaul of the educational system? Closing the tax loopholes that allow large corporations to pay little if any taxes. Taxing excessive profits. Cutting middle class and lower tax rates so the money saved is spent on goods and services that enable others to make a fair and just living and thus sliding those taxes onto the companies who have profited.

A parent is responsible to provide a clean, safe, and habitable home. That means we clean up the mess we’ve made of the environment by encouraging not just a rethinking of energy policy but an active encouragement of the new technologies and businesses necessary to make that clean-up possible. Clean up the streets and make it attractive for people to spend time in our downtown areas. Yes, that means housing the homeless and if they don’t want to be housed because of mental or drug related issues then forcing them into the housing. Every right thinking person would call Child Protective Services if they saw a six year old child wandering the streets of a major city, why is it different when the person wandering the streets has the mental acuity of a six year old but the body of a forty year old?

Fund the military and the police, we need them, there really are bad actors out there in the world. But don’t just throw money to them simply because they asked for it. Police departments don’t need to have tactical military style weapons and vehicles, contrary to what you see on your favorite TV cop show. Spend the defense budget wisely, not frivolously. The military needs fewer aircraft carriers, space weapons, attack jets, etc. and more guys trained in cyberwarfare.

I could go on, but the point I want to make is that this is the primary question (pun intended) we should be asking this election season. We’ve gotten so caught up in the “horse race” that we’ve forgotten that real people with real problems need help and it is up to us, society, to get them that help.

By the way, should you ask that question and are not satisfied with the answer you get in reply, look for another candidate. Just don’t get trapped in the “I only vote for this party” quagmire that produces nothing but stagnation.

That fellow standing there is your brother. That woman with the baby stroller is your sister. That boy and girl walking down the street with their school backpacks filled with books are your children. The old couple sitting on the bench in the park are your parents. For the love of all that is right, treat them that way.

Shapiro Out