The next chapter of American history starts today, not when the new President takes the oath of office. Insightful planning and an appreciation of what made the United States strong and respected in the last century cannot wait until a President-elect starts to form his cabinet. America needs a detailed and sincere road map of the first year of the new Presidency from each candidate well before the end of July. That's right, next month.
In order to set our course to infuse the nation with vigor, a review of history must engaged.
There was a lot of common sense in constructing public works programs to excise America from the Great Depression. In the end, the WPA and other initiatives worked. But we need an even bolder national focus in the months ahead to start implementing, not just planning so next year is one of action and achievement.
Now, as our nation faces the complex and imminent economic threats of global warming, completely ridiculous energy costs, an unprecedented credit and housing crisis, a dangerous escalation in food costs and a host of other pressing problems, we need to stimulate the economy with our own domestic Marshall Plan...aided by a hefty dose of caffeine.
Since America decidedly pushed out much of its manufacturing base to the benefit of other nations and realizing we are increasingly a service oriented society, this country needs to make a severe U-turn and get back on track to a mind set of creating for ourselves and minimizing the national security risk of too much interdependence.
We can build up our own country and in achieving that goal and we can stimulate the economy by strengthening our security, and that of other nations, at the same time. We can still be competitive in the world and engage other markets, but we can do it more intelligently. Our economic infrastructure requires an infusion of diversification and plain sweat to reclaim our industrial heritage and enhance our economy. But this time, we can make our industry green and exponentially more productive through greater use of smart technology and applied science.
There's hundreds of billions to be made by dealing with our perplexing yet forthcoming environmental and energy challenges while reinventing a new techno-industrial revolution to maintain competitiveness with emerging and growing third world economies. We should not shy away from making decisions as exemplified by the failure of the Senate to pass the global warming bill yesterday. For every fear about the consequences, there are two or three ways to make a better economy by moving forward with solutions. By delaying considered and responsible actions, we look back and embrace indecision with a legacy of throwing away opportunities and turning a blind eye to the calendar. Hillary Clinton is right, "Every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward." No, we can't wait to have the first Cabinet meeting in January 2009 to get started in establishing the details of our national recovery. We have to demand much better.
Let's take a good look at what the 1930's taught us about creating a strong America. Let's be introspective and fix our infrastructure by mobilizing massive domestic re-building programs to secure our bridges and transportation networks and build 21st Century high speed rail systems to help move our population in this era of a weakened and fragile air transport industry. Let's forge a national affordable housing program to put "the little guy," who makes this nation function, into secure and comfortable housing that costs a fraction of what such housing costs now. We cannot mortgage our future in any of the old foolish ways of yesterday.
Let's make basic science research and development a true national priority, and fund it accordingly. By cutting funding to NASA and other applied science efforts, we weaken our immediate and long-term future and cede it to others.
Let's start taking action to shore up coastal areas to prevent rising seas from swallowing urban centers and crucial wetlands in the next several decades. Yes, let's listen to John Edwards stand...and fight the poverty that strikes at our national soul each day by building up Appalachia, New Orleans and other repressed areas with specific goals and concrete action. And oh yes, to insure the integrity of our national systems, let's put thousands to work to build back our Courthouses and sustain the Judiciary to equip that branch of government to deal with the challenges of this turbulent new century.
Too expensive! Too much government intervention? Sure, those are always the easy objections. "We can't afford it," is the mantra of the naysayers. We couldn't afford all the public works programs just before and during the Second World War, but somehow America pulled it off. We could not afford the massive mobilizations required by that global conflict, but the greatest generation met all the challenges even though the odds appeared insurmountable. We had no choice. We just did it. We could not afford stepping foot on the Moon either, but in retrospect we could not afford to have stayed behind our telescopes and only wonder. Each challenge did not deter our will to achieve, and America reached milestone after milestone.
One way to attract the labor of those who can fix our economic and infrastructure problems: a federal tax holiday for those participating in true national service. Invest a year of labor and get three years of zero tax liability during future years to be designated by the workers. Provide national service for all age groups to re-tool America by allowing participants to engage in government sponsored projects and get rewarded by fully funded governmental educational or housing grants...not loans or scholarships that cannot be paid back.
Corporate America has a responsibility too...force corporations who don't pay taxes to provide domestic jobs dedicated to placing the U.S. on solid ground again. Instead of working against the system, the boardroom needs to enage with the next government to be a partner with the average American in getting things right. The lower and middle class population cannot be tread upon if important goals are to be met.
Fuel costs will probably never be the same as just a few months ago, nor, for that matter, will the costs of raw materials and food. We are at a turning point, and there is only one solution...adjustment. We will adjust, and we will thrive, but we must be planning now to implement those plans and details as soon as the oath of office is taken by either Barack Obama or John McCain this coming January. The new Administration has to marshal talent and work out the specifics sooner and more proactively than any new Presidency that came before it.
The voters, you and I, need to make these points clear despite all the political noise we will encounter in the next five months. If we don't, we will be as much to blame as a gridlocked Washington.