Bob Wells: It's complicated
So. If you're in a position to select people to represent "we the people" in Washington D.C. these days, what conditions do we all face?
- Looming threats of cyber terrorism by bad actors outside the U.S. could easily take down our financial, electrical and other electronic systems because we're not doing enough to protect these assets
- An opioid crisis out of control killing over 72,000 people last year alone, and causing more American deaths since the year 2000 than all U.S. casualties in all wars during the 20 th Century combined
- Climate change that portends global catastrophe by 2050 while many we entrust to "do something" spend too little energy or money to confront
- Unfunded civil-servant pensions with obligations into the trillions of dollars at State and Federal levels, thanks mainly to decades of writing and agreeing to unsustainable labor contracts
- A national public school system woefully underfunded for decades penalizing our children and accelerating a downward educational spiral
- Global health threats from "super bugs" and untreatable viruses that cry for urgent national attention before they become crises for all of us
- Our nation's bridges, roads, airports, railways and other infrastructure all crumbling while deferred maintenance dances along unabated
- Costs of healthcare in the U.S. resisting control while affordable "access for all" is only a dream, spurring futile partisan bickering
- Allies nurtured for decades since the end of WWII now questioning whether American support remains as a reliable "force for good"
- Fragile democracies under assault worldwide by strongmen and a global "kleptocratic culture" requiring us to invest in more intelligence and aid
- An immigration system that stands broken with too few willing to address comprehensive solutions to obvious problems and needed spending
- Mushrooming deficits and a burgeoning national debt, which Congress is unwilling to address through rational, non-partisan political debate
- Inequality in America that has deepened to extreme levels ripping apart our nation's middle class and creating horrible consequences for growing numbers of vulnerable people, from food and housing insecurity to bleak prospects for any hope of retiring at a reasonable ages
- Legislative grid-lock by rabid partisans who cast aside national interests while the very notion of compromise is nothing more than a dirty word
These are some of the major conditions we live with today. What's needed?
To resolve each of these issues, radically improved leadership in Washington will be required as well as (unfortunately and most likely) new levels of spending the likes of which we have not had the stomach for in the past.
You might say, "What a perfect time for a massive tax cut!" like the one in 2017, which decimated our Federal revenue prospects for years to come. And what a wonderful time for each of us to cast votes for candidates whose main stated objective is to "cut taxes" and reduce the size of our Federal Government. What are we thinking?
Or you might say, keeping in mind even a portion of the conditions listed above, "Is anyone thinking?" Will squeezing more actually "Make America Great?"
In short, the course we are on now is unsustainable and one that will most likely create a cascading sequence of terrible consequences. We are staring at extraordinary times ahead — times requiring extraordinary solutions, emanating in large part from a national level. Traditional answers will probably fail all of us.
And blind partisan tribalism will definitely do so.
Truly, we all need to do more than just watch our leaders kick cans down the road as they avoid tough decisions and reality.
I know. It's complicated.
Bob Wells lives in South Londonderry.
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