Many policy issues have been discussed since this blog’s inception almost two years ago and sporadically, some solutions have been suggested. As mentioned, there are no panaceas to some of these policy problems, but this country does have multiple locations to try out different ideas. Test some, see if they work and if so, apply them elsewhere. Iterate as needed. It is not a complicated formula.
But you have to start.
First thing is to stop giving things away. A recent clip of a Democratic Congress person suggesting that utilities (public transportation, electricity, gas, water, sewer AND internet) are a basic human right. The profit motive should be stripped from these services and provided free for those without the resources to purchase them.
I don’t agree.
The job of policy makers is to create an environment where competition thrives and organizations strive to provide quality service (or products) at low prices in an effort to attract consumers. Its job is to temper inflation and stem the tide of unneeded regulation. The goal is to ensure a stable economy that allows people on a fixed income to plan for their retirement without huge spikes in costs.
Policy makers continue to fail on many, if not all, fronts.
Privacy is a privilege and should be earned. It should not be granted to those unable, or unwilling, to work or adapt to societal norms. Step one is to stop giving things away and step two is to put people who can’t support themselves in a community environment (think barracks or rows of cots). They must go to work in order to pay for their room and board (such as it is). They can sort trash if they have no skills or help with elder care or assist with other social functions. Think back to Roosevelt’s Conservation Core and other Depression era activities. Productive things were accomplished by these programs. If society must support them, they must work.
Health care must be available to all. Not free, but available. The lawyers, common sense, and tort reform need to coalesce with health care reform. Costs need to be posted, like a menu. Drug costs need citizen oversight. Doctors need to doctor, nurses need more latitude. Patients must take responsibility for their own health. We can start with some common-sense practices and work from there, it does not have to be rebuilt overnight.
Education is a disaster. In K-12, parents, and students, must be held personally responsible. Assessments must be frequent and thorough. If a student can’t pass, the whole family goes to night school until they can. School must be year-around, it is untenable to make its rhythm different than a work rhythm. For most professions, it is not possible to support a family with one income, so to create a school year that forces child care, or purposefully creates an environment of unsupervised children, is not a healthy situation. Higher education also needs an overhaul on many fronts (e.g., fiscal, curriculum, admissions, endowments, etc.).
Local community leaders, elected officials and other government appointees must create citizen review and advisory boards. These folks can do anything from examine policy to adjudicate disagreements. We need to embrace dissolving bureaucracies and diluting power. This includes law enforcement and the judicial. This is not to suggest these functions are not needed, to the contrary, but this power must be monitored and answer to the people, not a law that needs interpretation.
It would be a good start.