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Same old campaign talk has no meaning

May 13, 2006|BY Morris Everett - Hagerstown

I see in The Herald-Mail that we have another candidate for office who proposes to make things all better. Josh Rales tells us he is frustrated about the state of the U.S. domestic and foreign policy. Once in office, he plans to balance the federal budget, reduce dependence on foreign oil and craft an exit strategy for Iraq. My, my, what great ideas.

Rales tells us he will balance the federal budget in five years by "cutting unnecessary spending and standing up against pork-barrel spending." Now, I'm all for that, but I must consider this candidate's comments no different from the claims of any other candidate: Nice words, perhaps sincere, but not binding.

I suspect his frustration reflects my own and that of most of our citizens. What's to come of a country that commences its financial planning with a national debt so far into the trillions that our annual planning for interest alone exceeds $350 billion? To suggest that to correct such a pattern of fiscal insanity we have only to chip away at picayune portions of an overall budget smacks of the crazy thinking of Lewis Carroll.

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Will we find a candidate for office who will concede the monstrous difficulties of our time and help us find a way out of the mess? We need candidates who raise the right questions, then listen carefully to hear the answers. In his last campaign for political office, Bill Bradley wisely observed that FDR's greatest strength was in listening. Drawing on the thinking of the brainiest collection of persons ever assembled to address huge social problems, FDR went on to lead the country out of the greatest economic mess ever experienced by our nation.

Where are the candidates today who will admit they don't know the answers, but are willing to listen and seek solutions?

The political issue of the day is our sick economy. The dilemma we face is not a simple problem that can be solved by applying "band-aids," such as better discipline in government spending.

Would it be smart to consider the establishment of an assembly, national in scope, to convene in much the same manner as our 18th century Constitutional Convention, to probe the adequacy of our present system to cope with the issues that most perplex us and devise better methods?

Such an assembly would consider 1. Responsiveness to social change; 2. Human rights, liberties and the common good; 3. Dealing with the generation gap; 4. Election to public office (The electoral college, terms of office, parliamentary system; 5 International relations and world government; 6. Financing government.

Since today's critical ballot box issue concerns the economy, we must look at our system of taxation and how we are to finance government.

The government presently relies primarily on the income tax as its chief source of funds. A heavy burden on wage earners and capital alike, the tax contributes to interclass tensions and is inefficient in application and enforcement. And, notwithstanding a built-in structure to spread the burden according to ability to pay, our society is nevertheless fraught with great chasms between the well-to-do and the lower-income citizens. There is no equity among the people in sharing the American dream.

Let's hear from candidates who are willing to look at other methods of financing government, much as the economist Henry George did in the 19th century. George was moved to propose a system of financing government based not on one's earnings from labor and investment of capital, but on one's utilization of the fruits of the land, which today would include the minerals and oil in the earth, the air waves and the fruits of the sea.

Let's hear from candidates who will admit they don't know the answers, but are intellectually equipped to raise the right questions.

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