My Ten Worries About America and What I'd Do About Them (shorter, 1188-word version)
By Marty Nemko
I'm certainly not running for president but if I were, this would be my stump speech:
If you elect me, I'll particularly worry on your behalf about ten things, and here's what I'd do about each:
Of course, I worry about our jobs. Taxpayer-funded "stimulus" can't work long-term because it redistributes money from taxpayers--the people most likely to create jobs-- to the people least likely to. We can create more good jobs by replacing some of the arcana-laden school curriculum with entrepreneurship education. Entrepreneurs not only create jobs but provide new and better products and services for us all.
A second way to create jobs is what I call America Assists, a public service campaign to encourage our citizens to hire assistants: from homework helpers for their kids to personal assistants for themselves to elder helpers for their parents.
I worry about our health care. Instead of ObamaCare, I'll fight for FreedomCare, in which, beyond a basic safety net for the poor, government's involvement would simply be to mandate that all health care providers publish their prices and their risk-adjusted success rates for the common procedures they do. That, unlike ObamaCare, will empower you and I to make informed choices, improve quality, and reduce cost.
I worry about our schools. Despite ever greater spending of your tax dollars--the U.S. ranks #1 or #2 in per-capita spending on education--our schools continue to underperform. In the latest international comparison, we tied for 23rd with Poland.
Teacher training must be reinvented. Currently, prospective teachers must take course after course of largely real-world irrelevant theory taught by academicians who've never taught K-12, let alone been master teachers. I'd replace that absurdity with training by master teachers.
I would not allow teachers to have lifetime job security after just two or three years in the classroom. What if after 5 or 10 or 20 years in the tough job of teaching they burn out? Thanks to the phalanx of teacher's union lawyers who will defend nearly any teacher, it's practically impossible to replace that teacher with a better one.
The teacher's unions would really hate me for this idea: We should replace some of our nation of variable-quality teachers with online top teachers. The U.S. has, for example, 30,000 high school math teachers, some magnificent, most not. Why not have ten of the nation's best teachers team-teach courses on video, available on the Internet, with local paraprofessionals or teachers on-site to answer student questions and provide the human touch? That would enable every child, rich and poor, urban and rural, to be taught by a dream team of teachers.
And what about our obsolete curriculum? Nearly all high schools students, even those reading on a fifth-grade level, must study the doppelganger, quadratic equations, the Peloponnesian Wars, etc., even if they leave school unable to make change, critique an editorial, resolve conflicts, or prioritize ethics over expediency. That which is most important for living must be learned before teaching the less important.
We require tires to have "report cards" molded into their sidewalls. Shouldn't colleges, so expensive, so time consuming, so important, be required to post a College Report Card to enable prospective students to choose more wisely?
I worry about war. I worry about how many wars our government has gotten us into, the cost, and that thousands of young men have died, yes men, not "men and women" as the media likes to say. 97+% of the deaths have been men. Can we afford to continue to act like an empire, the world's policeman, when we are 14 trillion dollars in debt? For the first time in American history, S&P has, twice recently warned that the U.S.' s credit rating is at risk of dropping from stable to negative.
I worry about your tax burden. Not just the enormous amount you pay--which IS among the world's highest when you add all taxes--our metastasizing, tax-eating government gets ever bigger. But I also worry about how much time we spend preparing our taxes. We need a simpler, fairer form of taxation, in which NO tax return is required--a value-added tax, a VAT, which means that a fair amount is added to the price of each item we purchase, with basic items exempted so the poor and working class is protected.
I worry that we the people are devolving into we the peopleS. We are ever less of a nation, ever more a collection of balkanized so-called "communities:" the African-American community, the business community, the gay community, and so on. A nation that thinks first about what's best for its community rather than what's wise overall is doomed to ever greater strife and civil unrest that endangers us all. We need less pluribus and more unum.
I worry about our electoral system. It encourages bought politicians rather than wisely selected ones. Campaigns should be two weeks long, 100% publicly funded, and consisting only of a neutral body such as C-Span or Consumer Reports posting the candidates' voting records and positions on key issues, plus a broadcast debate followed by a simulation of the candidates running a meeting. You protest, "The incumbent politicians would never allow it--the foxes are guarding the hen house." I'd encourage the media to urge voters to vote against candidates that oppose a fairer electoral system.
I worry about the lack of ideological diversity in society's mind molders: the colleges and media. Professors and journalists give us an overwhelmingly liberal presentation of the issues, which of course, means that our next generation grows ever more liberal. Yes, much wisdom resides left of center, but not all of it. My advisers will consist of the best minds and hearts from across the ideological spectrum so we needn't try to tackle our problems with one arm tied behind our back.
I worry about our gene pool. Real solutions to social problems require us to acknowledge that they have both environmental and genetic roots. Every mother of two or more children knows that each child emerges at birth with a distinctive, enduring personality. So we should consider funding research that would give parents the uncoerced option, subsidized for the poor, to ensure that their children be born without genetic strikes against them: with high cognitive ability, immunity to cancer, and even perhaps the ability to love.
I worry about America's ethics. Read the news and it's clear that it is high time for America to become a Land of Ethics First. I will use this bully pulpit to raise the criticality of ethics in the hearts and minds of the American people. A nation in which trust is not at its core will fail. I--will--not--let--America fail
My fellow Americans, those are my ten worries for America and what I, with your help, will do about them. I will spend every waking moment working to make our nation an America we can all be proud of and secure in. I will spare no energy, I will spare no time, I will spare no effort, but I will never spare my ethics. You and I will change things--finally.
Dr. Nemko holds a Ph.D. specializing in program evaluation from the University of California at Berkeley and subsequently taught in its graduate school. 600+ of his published writings are archived on www.martynemko.com.
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