2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #421
I am writing this edition on the Fourth of July, and thinking about where we are as a country. And that has led me also to wonder if this 2 Paragraphs series is living up to expectations. Why? Because seldom do I get feedback that discusses or enlarges upon the issues, or challenges me with countering points of view. So now I am asking you to give me some honest feedback. Since the express purpose of this series is to promote thought and discussion about the issues raised, do you actually read the columns? Do the thoughts expressed make any difference to or challenge you in your thinking? And, most importantly, do you forward these thoughts on to your friends and acquaintances and encourage them to be discussed? In other words, do these columns serve their intended purpose? Please let me know, and don’t worry about diplomacy or hurting my feelings.
In the meantime, and back to the Fourth of July, last Sunday, July 2, I read a column in the Orange County Register that originated in the New York Times about Mr. Richard Haass being interviewed as he was stepping down after 20 years as the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, which is a private organization. Obviously, during that time Mr. Haass has had no shortage of developments to keep him up at night. But when asked what causes him to lose sleep today, he said “It’s us.” He went on to explain that, in his mind, the unraveling of the U.S. political system means that, for the first time in his life, the internal threat to our country has surpassed the external threat. Instead of being the most reliable anchor in a volatile world, the United States has become a profound source of instability. In other words, our internal divisiveness, i.e. becoming the Disunited States of America, is the biggest threat to who we are as a nation. So that got me thinking (My loving wife realizes that sometimes that can be dangerous.): what policies and programs can we employ so that all of us could become more united, more inclusive? Here is a list of my most important ten approaches for your and your friends’ consideration, many of which have already been discussed in these columns:
1. Bring back competition into our nation’s schools by empowering parents of all K-12 children in our country to choose where the government’s money will be spent for the education of their children. And that money could be spent at public, private, military, vocational, performing arts or even religious schools. This approach has brought excellence back to our schools where it has been employed, and would bring big promise and results for our children’s future everywhere else, particularly in the lower-economic areas. And if all parents believe that we care about their children’s future, that will truly bring unifying results.
2. Have governments offer a monthly graduated stipend to all people in our country who earn between zero and $36,000 per year and are over 18 years of age and are either citizens or in possession of a valid Green Card. Then do away with all other welfare systems except for those people with truly special needs. Importantly, that would give everyone in our country an incentive to earn the extra dollar, which is so totally lacking in today’s welfare system. And this would also seriously reduce the so-called War on Meritocracy and the cries of victimization that have been flowering throughout our country and dividing us.
3. Require Congress to issue a Declaration of War before we could keep our fighting troops in harm’s way for longer than 60 days. Mostly Congress would probably decline but, when it issued such a Declaration, our country would be much more unified when we went into battle.
4. Make occupational training much more available to everyone in our society. This would be especially helpful for people who are mentally vulnerable, people released from incarceration and young people who would probably not do well in college. Give all of these people the opportunity to support themselves which, along the way, would increase mutual respect and decrease crime, illicit drug using and selling, homelessness and mutual distrust.
5. Treat all people with respect, regardless of their race, sexual orientations, backgrounds, etc. As stated by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, dividing Americans and offering benefits to some based upon their status can be a path to electoral success, but it is fundamentally corrosive. Hold people accountable for their actions, for better or worse, but don’t involuntarily inflict one type of person’s life style upon someone else. In other words, treat people as people, and emphasize everyone’s right to be left alone.
6. Repeal our country’s policy of Drug Prohibition. This policy does not reduce the use of these presently illicit drugs, but it seriously increases deaths from a lack of quality control, violence that comes from preserving some dealer’s drug sales’ territories from other drug dealers, and the corruption of people all around the world due to the huge amounts of money to be made in manufacturing and selling presently illicit drugs. For example, the drug cartels in Mexico often have more money and guns that the local governments do, and it is our drug money that has facilitated that result. And, since statistics show that White Americans and People of Color use presently illicit drugs in about the same percentages, but People of Color are prosecuted and punished in a much higher percentage than Whites, this change will be seen as an attempt to halt that unequal treatment.
7. Allow all political parties to participate in public presidential debates if they are on the ballots in enough states technically to win the presidency. And that same approach should be used in elections for governors and other more local offices. That will seriously increase governmental responsiveness, and that should help to bring people together.
8. Provide public assistance to address the fundamental reasons why individual people have become homeless. It is, and should be, unconstitutional to enforce vagrancy laws if the subject person has nowhere to sleep at night. So make arrangements for those people. And those places should provide assistance where needed for mental illnesses, drug use and addiction, lack of job skills and loss of income. Then we can actually enforce vagrancy laws to keep people from sleeping and defecating in public areas. Groups like the Salvation Army and the Orange County Rescue Mission are using those approaches to perfection! Show the world we actually care about our people!
9. Reduce the intrusion and expense of governments! My young grandchildren are almost literally bankrupt from the federal government’s budget deficits and “We the People” should protect them from that harm! Talk about caring . . .
10. Each one of us should follow, and encourage all of our friends and other acquaintances to follow, the advice of my wonderful but now deceased father, Judge William P. Gray of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, who said: “You have every right to disagree, but you have no right to be disagreeable.”
So those are my suggestions in addition, of course, to such basic and proven things as supporting and promoting volunteerism, opposing special interest politics and politicians who seek to divide us, stopping the suppression of ideas as is happening on many campuses, and finding ways to elevate the Golden Rule to “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” What do you think?
Quote for the week: “If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.” Thomas Jefferson
Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President
Please listen to our radio show entitled All Rise! The Libertarian Way with Judge Jim Gray as we discuss timely ssues and show how they will be addressed more beneficially by employing Libertarian values and approaches. The series has concluded, but you can still hear any edition On Demand at https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/3883. And, by the way, these 2 Paragraphs columns are now on my website at www.JudgeJImGray.com, Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray.wordpress.com. Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty. In addition, my new book with the same title as my radio show is now available at Amazon.com., as is my wife Grace’s and my new novel centered about School Choice entitled 2030 KIDS: We are the Rising Heroes of the Planet. Please read and discuss them with your friends, and send in a review.