by J. F. Kelly, Jr. | Coronado

Our nation’s political leaders in Washington are putting in long hours in the waning days of 2009, mostly either trying to get a healthcare bill passed or trying to stop it. Members of Congress don’t even have time to read the entire 2078-page bill, let alone understand all that it will do or undo. They probably haven’t had time to think about New Year’s resolutions, either, so once again this year I thought I’d do it for them.

First, please lower your expectations to an achievable level and stop trying to design comprehensive overhauls. Clearly, you are not very good at it. Two examples suffice: immigration and medical care. Most people just wanted an end to illegal immigration, not comprehensive immigration policy reform. Similarly, most people just wanted to fix what was broken in medical care delivery, not a major overhaul of the best health care system in the world, throwing out the good with the bad.

Second, stop saddling our children and grand children with debt. What gave you the right to impose these burdens on them? They didn’t get to vote on it. It is grossly unfair to the next generation for whom service on the national debt will consume so much of each annual budget that little will be left for discretionary items.

Third, get real about energy and conservation. Everyone is against pollution but oil, nuclear energy, coal and natural gas are going to remain vital to energy generation during our lifetimes for the simple reason that it is still far cheaper than renewable sources. We have vast amounts of oil, coal and natural gas and it is truly stupid of us not to exploit them. We can continue to improve methods for cleaning these fuels but it is wistful thinking to believe that renewable sources alone can power the growth America needs to remain competitive.

Fourth, stop blaming past administrations for America’s problems. You were elected to solve them, not find someone to blame for them. We can do that ourselves. So far, you’ve made things worse. If this continues, the next Congress and administration will have plenty to blame you for.

Fifth, recognize that government is not the solution to all of America’s problems. Growing the size of government is never a route to prosperity. It leads, rather, to higher taxes which is a job-killer. America was already drifting toward a European-style welfare state when most of you assumed office. It is now hurtling in that direction. It presages a decline in America’s competitiveness, power and influence. Read history.

Sixth, try putting your own country’s interests first. This is what healthy, competitive countries normally do and what we elected you to do. Imagine what would have become of this world in the past century without a strong America. What gave you the right to blame America or apologize for our country or to legitimize tyrants by negotiating with them?

Seventh, please realize that our armed forces are over-extended and over-committed as a result of nearly a decade of manpower-intensive nation-building. We lack sufficient numbers and depth to pursue a strategy of stabilizing every country that provides sanctuary for terrorists. If we are not willing to commit the funding, manpower and time required to pursue such a strategy, then we need to shift to one that exploits our most advanced and mobile stand-off technology. This will require a much larger Navy and Air Force. Because of the lengthy time involved in ship and aircraft procurement, decisions are needed now.

Eighth, be a role model. Real leaders walk the walk as well as talk the talk, so if you fancy yourself the leader you were elected to be, then act like one. The list of recent scandals among the political classes is longer than my Christmas card list. It’s little wonder that politicians are held in such low esteem.

Ninth, vow to eliminate earmarks and pork but this time, mean it. Not just the other fellow’s, but yours as well. The pressures to reward your constituents and bring jobs home are understood but most Americans are disgusted with what they increasing view as political corruption.

Tenth, understand that most Americans, if the polls are to be believed, are also sick of party politics. Increasingly, they think of themselves as independents (with a small i), residing somewhere toward the center of the liberal-to-conservative spectrum. The 60-40 split on party lines in the recent Senate healthcare debate demonstrates much of what is wrong with American politics today.

Here’s wishing all of you a prosperous New Year, in spite of all the above. CRO

copyright 2009 J.F. Kelly, Jr

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California.

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