Friday, April 27, 2007

The Will to Act

Many theories have been put forth on why the Roman Empire fell. I’m sure many of them have validity, but I think the main reason why Rome fell is the lack of will. The Romans became so decadent that they lost the will to stop their slide, and at the end lost the will even to defend themselves. As a result, Roman Gaul was overrun with barbarian hoards from across the Rhine. Eventually the City of Rome itself was overrun and sacked.

How could this happen to the mighty Roman Empire which had dominated the Mediterranean basin and beyond for centuries? I believe it was the lack of will to take action when needed. Unfortunately, I see the same thing happening today in our country.

There are a number of problems that, if we don’t have the will to address now, will cause us serious problems in the future. It could be the near future or 20-30 years from now, but they will seriously hurt us if we don’t start working on them NOW. For example:

(1) Lack of universal health care. It is talked about but nothing is done and no workable solutions have been proposed (see a future blog for some ideas). Our current system is unfair, discriminatory, expensive, and inefficient. Tort reform must be part of any health care plan, since the lawyers are partially to blame for the high cost and the practice of “defensive medicine.” Something must be done NOW!

(2) A comprehensive energy policy is long overdue to reduce dependence on foreign oil, slow the consumption of non-renewable resources, and reduce air pollution due to carbon emissions (see my blog on climate change and watch for a future blog on energy policy ideas).

(3) Social security reform, which is not an immediate threat but must be addressed now to prevent a serious problem in the future. There is a demographic juggernaut bearing down on us.

(4) Exporting American jobs overseas, which hurts our economy by eliminating decent-paying jobs, increases our unfavorable balance of trade, and makes us more dependent on foreign countries for many goods. Often the people taking these jobs in Third World Countries are terribly exploited as well.

(5) Immigration reform. A country that can’t control its borders is a country in trouble. This doesn’t mean that we should shut our doors to immigration, but we must control it as any country does, especially given the terrorist threats we are facing today.

(6) Shaping up our security and disaster response capabilities is essential for our protection. Homeland security has been bungled and the dispersing of security funds has become another pork barrel boondoggle. Congress is playing games with our security, and I believe that is the height of irresponsibility.

(7) At a state level, the cost of living in New York State is becoming obscene. NYS is in competition with 49 other states and over 100 different countries for business. How does this state hope to compete effectively with such a dysfunctional state government, high taxes (and what do we get for those taxes?), high cost of living, and a crumbling infrastructure. Meanwhile, Albany fiddles while Rome burns. The Empire State is a mere shadow of its former self.

Those are the big ones, and there are many more issues facing us that Congress or the state have failed to address. Politicians today lack the will to act, and the electorate is so fed up (and probably apathetic) that many don’t even bother to vote. If we don’t vote, then we get the kind of government we deserve.

The Republicans had a majority in both houses of Congress for 12 years, and a Republican president for 6 of those years. What did they accomplish? Very little. The Republicans blew it, and so the Democrats took over both houses (the electorate spoke this time).

What have the Democrats done so far? Play partisan politics and engage in payback (the Gonzalez affair). So once again, partisan politics takes precedence over conducting the people’s business and tackling the critical issues facing this country. It’s easy to criticize the President’s handling of the war in Iraq, but it’s a lot harder to actually do something to solve the tough issues listed above. I’m not saying the war in Iraq isn’t important, but compared to the longer term risks of not addressing these other issues now, the war is comparatively less important. For example, if we had implemented a good energy policy 20 or 30 years ago, we might not even be in Iraq today.

Politicians have a God-given responsibility, and they aren’t meeting it. We elected them to represent our interests, and they are not doing so. Politicians of both parties and at all levels of government are controlled by special interest groups. Next election, vote the bums out! If the incumbents keep getting voted out, maybe they’ll get the message and actually start doing something constructive. Also, I suggest you write or email your various representatives to express your opinion on a subject that is important to you, and let them know you’re watching. When they get enough correspondence on a topic, they do take notice. If they continue to be in the pockets of special interest groups and continue to engage in partisan politics, vote the bums out! Our representatives are elected to represent us, the people, not the party. You don’t do your job, you’re fired!

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