Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thinking Big and Thinking Small and Thinking Smart

Let's think about the really big problems our country faces now. Looking down the road, I see three huge issues that our government needs to tackle.

First, we must address global warming. I'm certainly not a scientist and haven't studied this in detail, but I do know that the earth is getting warmer. What I don't know for sure is whether humans are causing it. (While it's still debatable, it certainly seems to me that it's at least possible that we're contributing to global warming in a major way). So what's our government doing about this? Maybe Al Gore is a crazy environmental lunatic. Or maybe he isn't. But we have just this one Earth and we can't afford to screw it up. That's why the Obama Administration needs to take leadership on this issue. If we're causing global warming than we need to take reasonable steps to protect our environment.

Next, we need to address deficit spending. Does anyone really think spending three dollars for every two that we take in is a sustainable long-term plan? It's a simple fix. We have hundreds of thousands of CPAs in this country and any one of them can tell you how to fix it (as can millions of households that balance the family budget every week). We need to reduce our spending. It's really not hard. Let's just stop wasting money on nonessential stuff.

. . .Like the Department of Education, on which we spend billions of dollars each year. Prior to 1979, the Department of Education didn't exist, yet children still went to school and graduated successfully (I know because I was there!). This is the type of wasteful government spending we can no longer afford. There is lots of stuff like this. The Obama Administration can show leadership in this area by reducing the size of government and eliminating unnecessary departments, and the Department of Eduction is a good place to start.

We also need to take steps to reduce the rising costs of health care. As I have already written, the best way to reduce health care costs is to change people's behavior. A nurse friend of mine told me that she worked in a hospital unit that did dialysis for medicare kidney patients. Often, some patients would not show up for their treatments. The patients explained missing their appointments by saying they were tired or didn't have a ride or didn't feel like doing dialysis that day. Sometimes the failure to follow through resulted in the patient ending up in intensive care where the poor taxpayer picked up the bill. But there never were any consequences for the people who missed their treatment.We need real, practical solutions from our government on this.

But unfortunately, they seem preoccupied debating the benefits of an assault weapons ban. While I realize that some will argue that an assault weapons ban would save lives, if we really want our government to focus on reducing the death rate then we should re-institute the 55 MPH speed limit. Data presented by former Senator John Warner indicates that the 55 MPH speed limit would not only save fuel, but would save an average of about 4,000 lives per year. The slower speed limit would be a step in the right direction towards reducing our carbon footprint and would save many more lives than gun registration ever would. And we would not need a new government bureaucracy to administer the program as we would with the President's proposed gun registration. We already have all the state police needed to enforce it.

Why do our elected officials think so small when we really need them to think about the really big problems?
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