Let's get away from the partisan obstruction and debate going around in endless circles on the various zero-sum, across-the-board, all-or-nothing health care schemes that the partisan ideologues keep pitching to us. It is getting us nowhere and the grassroots demands progress. There is common ground on Health Care where we all know there are do-able legislative fixes that can be made right now. DIVE DEEPER to see how independent thinking can make a difference on this issue.
Farmers and rural communities have dealt with a sag in commodities pricing and an explosion of small farm bankruptcies for over a decade. Meanwhile, rural downtowns across the American agricultural heartland have been steadily declining. Rural America has been slowly dying on the vine for years now...but no one in D.C. has really focused on this critical issue threatening our future as a nation. We must address this fundamental challenge to our families and the national economy by bringing federal focus back to these communities that are still the backbone of the nation. We must work on transportation infrastructure to better link family farms and our inland communities to regional and international trade. Let’s invest shrewdly in improving the quality of life and the economic development potential of rural community centers. Let's work with the private sector to enhance the nation's cross-region and cross-country freight rail networks so we can bring new skilled jobs to rural communities and get goods to global markets efficiently. And right now, let's make sure infrastructure spending addresses our nation's ongoing responsibility to care for and renew the trillions of dollars’ worth of shared agricultural assets America depends on -- like the irrigation resources that are so critical in Washington state. These investments now will have critical long-term impact on opportunities for our farmers and agri-businesses, but more importantly on quality of life in rural communities throughout the nation that millions of us call home. DIVE DEEPER to see how independent thinking can make a difference on this issue.
Obviously, we all depend on public servants in public safety, community health and social services. It helps no one to use isolated incidents of malfeasance in any of these areas in order to tear down dedicated public servants and drive wedges between these everyday heroes and the citizens they serve. But it is just as irresponsible (and idiotic) to ignore the real issues that can seriously threaten effective public service and quality of life in our communities. The bottom line is: If we can’t trust that we can thrive together as neighbors, we won’t move forward as a neighborhood, a community or a nation...any of us. It’s as simple as that. You probably feel well served by the public servants in your community; I know I do. But when you and I can plainly see that entire communities of good people feel that their pursuit of peace and prosperity in daily life is NOT enhanced by their daily interactions with those who are sworn to protect and serve them, then we have to admit that we have issues in our public service/community safety model. So we need to work together to fix it, not as members of separate "tribes". So ... I would urge reasonable Americans to tune out the grandstanding by feckless "community organizers," politicians and talking heads on issues regarding institutions such as the police, social services, and public education -- and instead let’s rationally discuss our expectations for things such as community protection and advancement. Then let's design systems that can meet those expectations. We must have a model that can be delivered justly and equitably in every American neighborhood, and each of us has to play a role in finding the common ground. That's the only way America works going forward. DIVE DEEPER to see how independent thinking can make a difference on this issue.
Because it involves billions of dollars and thousands of jobs (and potential votes) in their district, the cynical politicians and partisan candidates in the 4th district cozy up to the federal investment at Hanford like it is their pet project. Not only has this project reaped extraordinary progress in mitigating risk for Central Washington and the nation, but it has also become an example of just how much can be accomplished through a partnership between industry innovators and government regulators. You have to ask yourself whether you can trust the sincerity and honor of politicians (like our current incumbent and partisan candidates) who cozy up to the amazing work (and billions of dollars being spent) at Hanford, and yet oppose other environmental cleanup initiatives in our District and the nation because they are not as prominent or profitable for them personally. Bottom line, Hanford is a model for how public monies shrewdly spent on environmental reclamation caused by government or corporate action, is a critical component of American renewal in this decade. We here in this area know that is so. Which is why we need to be national leaders on these issues. In the case of environmental blight caused by willful malfeasance, no expense should be spared in bringing those responsible to justice or at least to answer before Congress. And...if any Member of Congress should support the expansion of Superfund spending on environmental disasters in neglected rural America, it is the Member for the 4th District who should know very well how this work benefits affected American communities. DIVE DEEPER to see how independent thinking can make a difference on this issue.
We can all agree that shrewd federal investment in small business and grassroots entrepreneurship at the neighborhood level can provide rocket fuel for community economies. So let’s start in this year unleashing local ingenuity and workplace innovation in rural towns and small cities so we can fully put the Covid era behind us. We know the tools that work -- lets stop arguing and start putting these ideas to work! And while we are at it, let's see that any American with good ideas who is willing to sweat gets the support they need to capitalize on their vision and expand the wealth of our community. It is high time that we turbo-charge small business development programming beyond the elite circle of well-connected "professional grantseekers" who currently get most of the federal funding across the nation. Instead, lets charge the Federal bureaucracy to look for worthy strivers at the grass roots (people of all demographics) whose ideas and energies can really impact our communities. While set-asides for historically underserved populations in small business development and government contracting have undoubtedly made inroads in historical inequality across the nation, the challenge of the 2020s is for us all to compete fairly and thrive together as a true commonwealth. That is why I say that we need to energize the reach of these kinds of business and jobs development programs as broadly as possible so that we attract the efforts of any American with courage and solid preparation who wants to turn their ideas and dreams into profitable business activity, expanding layers of wealth, and opportunity in their community. DIVE DEEPER to see how independent thinking can make a difference on this issue.
We all know there's lots to do on infrastructure. We also know that, well executed, infrastructure investment stimulates local economies, transforms everyday quality of life, and grows construction, technical, agricultural, and professional jobs like nothing else. As the nation rolls into infrastructure as a national priority in the 2020s, let's make sure our nation's projects properly serve rural towns and small cities like those in Central Washington (and throughout the nation between the coasts). Our current representative talks about farms a lot, and yes that is one important aspect of the 4th District -- but it is ONLY one aspect of critical infrastructure that affects your and my quality of life in our neighborhoods and workplaces. So, what about transportation infrastructure? What about dams and residential irrigation? What about schools and other critical public buildings? What about the energy grid that serves our neighborhoods? What about universal WiFi? There's so much more that we need that affects most residents in the 4th District. And it seems like all we hear from the current Member is how much farmers need, and how great Hanford is for the contractors who are part of that project. Otherwise, government spending -- even on critical infrastructure -- is somehow unworthy. Let's focus Congress first and foremost on infrastructure spending in the 2020 that will measurably improve quality of life in our neighborhoods. DIVE DEEPER to see how independent thinking can make a difference on this issue.
Offer Americans knowledge and opportunity, and we will thrive. There is widespread consensus that as the U.S. economy evolves, Americans in all industries and professions will regularly require new skills and updated perspectives to maintain their quality of life and compete globally for market share against oppressed low-wage workforces. So let's stop expanding unemployment insurance and wage-supplements and focus on funding federal programs right now that can offer every adult from 18 to 118 the opportunity to empower themselves and jump start their futures with easily accessible 21st Century workplace and career learning. Let's be the first nation in human history to make subsidized adult professional development and personal enrichment programming a universal opportunity for American citizens by 2023 -- just as we pioneered the concept of free childhood public education for the world in the late 1800s. This is something we can do; the infrastructure is there in our public community college and private on-line learning sectors. So let's get it done. DIVE DEEPER to see how independent thinking can make a difference on this issue.
Covid-19 has given us a lot to learn from (instead of wasting time bickering over how it panned out for political gamesmanship). Frankly, who cares about the personalities involved in our response to the pandemic. Let's focus on how to deal better with the next one. So let's engage the many resources of federal government to now scan the horizon for what worked on the public health scene between late 2019 and today so that we can better meet these kinds of challenges and opportunities in our future. By winter of 2022-23 let's see that federal content experts across disciplines and departments have come together to create reliable banks of knowledge and supply-chain contingencies covering a wide range of potential scenarios of significant national mobilization (for public health, natural disaster or other possible emergencies). There's no time to dither on this or to look for political points or zingers. DIVE DEEPER to see how independent thinking can make a difference on this issue.
We don't have the luxury to be stubbornly partisan in addressing this area any longer. Too much is riding on progress we must make early in the 2020s on border security, immigration process mismanagement, resolving the citizenship status of "hidden" long-term residents, and re-visioning the future path to American citizenship. Everything must be on the table: security, basic fairness, future community "capacity," sustainability, and all economic variables. This is both an issue of 21st Century community sustainability and our core values as a nation. DIVE DEEPER to see how independent thinking can make a difference on this issue.
Let's invest in federal programs beginning in January 2023 that help local and state governments facilitate citizen action that will produce positive sustainability impacts right now. Because, like it or not, the U.S. Government has little capacity in the 2020s world to quickly and effectively legislate our way toward comprehensive long-term balances between the economic productivity and widespread prosperity we all want, and the global environmental sustainability we must achieve over the next twenty years. That is reality. But we also know that we have to start somewhere, and we need to get going right now. Click below to see workable and affordable ideas for federal investments that can get us started at the grassroots. DIVE DEEPER to see how independent thinking can make a difference on this issue.
Not only are taxes still inevitable in our lives in the 2020s, but yet another reality of the post-Covid "new normal" is that government revenue streams will need to become torrents in the near future if we are to emerge from the pandemic crisis intact as a nation. So it's high time we stop pandering for votes with lies and misinformation on government revenue needs, deficits and fair taxation, and instead work seriously to make taxation in the United States clearer, fairer, and more universally applicable (in the sense that everyone and every institution participates equitably and appropriately in keeping the wheels of national government rolling). DIVE DEEPER to see how independent thinking can make a difference on this issue.
No society in the history of mankind has accomplished more progress in improving its performance on environmental impact and workplace safety than the United States has since 1970. That is an absolute fact. If you are an industrialist, a union member, or a dyed in the wool environmentalist -- you should be proud of this fact. But what most Americans have forgotten (thanks to constant misinformation and pointless bickering by political partisans and pundits) is that working partnerships between industry innovators and government regulators is what made all of this historic progress possible in Clean Air, Clean Water, and workplace safety performance in the United States. And the same has been true of positive changes that smart legislation has paved the way toward in many others areas of industry and commerce as well including consumer safety and energy production. We need Congress to act in the 2020s to renew this proven approach to regulations affecting our businesses and jobs. We need to ditch the antagonism on both sides that partisans, industrial lobbyists, plaintiff attorneys and activists have brought to the regulatory process over the last 15 years. As opposed to the "more regulation" or "less regulatory burden" that you hear partisans and pundits shrieking about, what we need -- in helping to foster better environmental performance, consumer protection, financial credibility, and worker safety -- is more progress-oriented partnership between industry innovators and government watchdogs. DIVE DEEPER to see how independent thinking can make a difference on this issue.
Should we balance the Federal budget? If you said yes, then how? What must we give up in order to do it? What do we gain as a nation if we do it? What could we lose if we don't? So, if we need to balance the Federal Budget, what specifically should we sacrifice in federal spending to solve the budget dilemma that we have been facing since the late 1990s? A serious (and sincere) representative in Congress (focused on solutions and not cynical re-election hype) must start answering this question with "we must achieve shrewder budgeting (and ultimately less federal spending) in all areas beginning in 2023," and finish with "and we must stimulate increased revenues from all sources." That's the extent of all possible answers to this existential challenge. So, from Day One in 2023, let's get real on this important issue together. Let's get started finding ways to trim all expenditures in wise proportions across the board over the next 5 years while raising revenues equitably over the next decade; and most importantly let's do this without curtailing opportunities for family and business prosperity at the grassroots. We are all going to have to sacrifice in some ways to get this done, citizens, bureaucrats, companies, non-profits, rich, poor, middle class...you name it. Just make it proportionate and outline to each of us how our sacrifice will impact our lives, our communities and future generations. This is the challenge of our generation, akin to what FDR asked of what became known as "The Greatest Generation" in the 1930s and 1940s. Don't the petty politicians who decried the New Deal and U.S. involvement in the European theater of World War II seem ridiculous now? The partisan politicians and wealthy fat cats who called government intervention in the Post-Depression economy "socialism" and "overreach", the others who advocated appeasement of Hitler and abandonment of Democracy across the Atlantic: Don't they seem silly, almost laughable, in retrospect? DIVE DEEPER to see how independent thinking can make a difference on this issue.
Gerrymandering and districting based on racial profiling is undemocratic and virtually guarantees the headlock that party politics and dark money have established on our political system. It has created districts in which it is less important that geographic neighbors with similar concerns and needs are grouped together than it is for state party bosses to keep partisan dynamics locked in stone forever. It is one of the main reasons that politicians have stopped even pretending to represent all the citizens in their district and now just focus on placating allied media pundits and VIP donors in their own party, just to keep their re-election train perpetually rolling. Now even the TV and radio news pundits participate in this charade by locking us all into our political tribes with their constant campaigning and misinformation; telling us what we should think at every turn. There is one easy fix. For decades, direct marketing analysts and even junk mailers have had the computer-based tools to put together equitable, geo-spatially dispersed population groupings based only on patterns of where people live in a state. We should use these objective non-partisan methods to establish logical voting districts beginning in the 2020s. Just get big money out of politics. Get big media out of the election process. Demand substantive presentations by all candidates on all ballots. Create tools that give the people unbiased information on how leaders will lead on the issues that actually affect our everyday lives at the grassroots: And let then let all eligible voters easily access a polling place or a secure ballot drop box in their neighborhood, demand basic identification that any engaged and responsible citizen should be able to produce -- and let us vote as neighbors, not as warring tribes. Then let the chips fall where they may. DIVE DEEPER to see how independent thinking can make a difference on this issue.
In the 2020s, we need to explore ways to bring back some form of mandatory, away-from-home National Service Experience for all post-high-school-graduate 18-year-olds. This experience must provide every American who is coming of age an opportunity to serve, to learn and to understand the meaning of their citizenship. Investing now in a national service initiative that offers a diverse menu of 6-weeks to 1-year learning/training/service opportunities to every young American will radically transform both our economy and our culture. While we are at it, we should see that there are optional and Federally subsidized learning/service/life-skills development opportunities for all American kids in the summer between the 9th and 10th grade years. These youth programs will radically transform the pathway to adulthood and productive citizenship for youth in America, while also going a long way toward helping get our communities back on the same page when it comes to how we all understand and share an appreciation for what it means and what it requires to be an American citizen. DIVE DEEPER to see how independent thinking can make a difference on this issue.