Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Immigration


Immigration is a hot button issue right now, but the answer is not as polarizing as some think. We should not be building a wall. It is a waste of resources and will not do anything to curb the illegal immigration (it's not worth it anyhow). What we need to do is enforce the laws in the books currently, and use compassionate common sense. When discussing illegal immigrants, there are mitigating circumstances and the reality is that most of them just want a better life than they had where they came from. It is flattering - America is a bastion of hope and opportunity. We are a melting pot of immigrants whether individual cultural groups like it or not. My stance is that if you are here illegally and you commit a felony, you are deported, no questions asked. We won't waste resources housing illegals in our prison system, it is a waste of taxpayer money and does not yield any measurable results toward reduced recidivism.

The real answer is in streamlining the citizenship process to be less challenging and daunting to those seeking a legitimate pathway. Making the good people who want to live and work in America citizens will generate more tax revenue and accountability all around, which should eventually create a less xenophobic view by the Nationalists, and a greater sense of calm in America as a whole.

Current immigration limitations are very generous and I support the conservative approach to legal immigration admission as a defense mechanism against unemployment among citizens as well as strain on the social welfare system. Admission limits must be in place in order to maintain a sense of legislative structure, but there is nothing preventing us from expanding the process to legitimize immigrants and give them a reasonable and achievable pathway, as well as checkpoints or levels for accountability and progress.

That said, we need a stronger border security presence, particularly at the southern border. Directing law enforcement resources to target drug and human trafficking is the answer to these problems, and I think everyone can agree to that.

Criminal Justice Reform


Our criminal justice system is overflowing with costly expenditures. We need to decriminalize drug possession across the board and treat the disease of drug abuse to alleviate prison overpopulation. We need eliminate mandatory minimums and abolish the death penalty nationwide.

We need to reevaluate the effectiveness of incarceration and do a cost analysis of other options to both eliminate the prison culture that exists in our country, but also to allow individuals (mostly impoverished and minorities) to lead productive lives after release. Additionally, we need to eliminate for-profit prisons and focus on lowering recidivism, which is the ultimate purpose of prison in the first place. Rehabilitation, diversion programs, and reforming lifestyles need to be the goal, not creating a stagnant segment of our country's population.

Education


Education is my passion, and I will devote the lion's share of my efforts to reforming and funding public education to provide a sustainable future model for children. Some of my ideas for improvement include funding public preschool, and investing in the real infrastructure, which is people. We need smaller class sizes nationwide, and more enticing federal incentives for established teachers to work in struggling districts and states.

I support common core standards, but am skeptical of their alignment with curriculum, training, and instruction on a national level. We need to look at our education system as a living thing, and ask ourselves if the current model is as effective as it could be to make us a globally competitive nation of educated individuals. There are also numerous areas which need to be improved. We need to offer more realistic avenues for success for children who are not college-bound. Namely, vocational tracks and public service incentives.

Environment


Climate change is a threat to the well-being of humanity. Nearly every scientist in the world agrees that human actions are causing irreparable changes to everything around us. If we don't reverse the course, we will be contributing to our own demise and extinction. It's not an overreaction, it is simply the inevitable truth given our current patterns and behaviors.

The way to combat climate change is by trailblazing innovation in energy production and carbon capturing technologies. Implementing a more aggressive phased-in carbon cap tax will force the private sector to make the progressive changes that are available and vital for the future health of our planet. Investing in green energy as a nation is also a direction that will create jobs and move us all in a positive direction.

Health Care


We need change. Significant change. The problem is with the middle-man, not the system. We have the best health care in the world in America, but it needs to be accessible to everyone and not cause bankruptcy. The insurance companies are where the cost-savings live, and by targeting them for reform and instituting a fair, simplified single-payer system, every American will have the care they need.

It is worth putting into effect an incentive-based wellness program that doesn't target chronic conditions, but rather healthy lifestyle choices. We need to continue to eliminate tobacco, and minimize the influence that big agriculture has that is causing so much in terms of poor health and chronic conditions.

The process for a healthy revival of America needs to begin in schools. I support what Michelle Obama started in terms of providing healthy, nutritious meals at public schools. This investment if done properly will pay massive dividends in the long-term in health care savings. Continued treatment of chronic conditions is more costly than preventive screening, and the New England Journal of Medicine estimated there are approximately 900,000 deaths per year in the United States due to preventable causes of death (tobacco, poor diet, sedentary physical activity, alcohol, drugs) (www.nejm.org).

The cost savings simply can't be accurately quantified, but for every ounce of prevention, there will be dividends. Prescription costs have run amok. We need a more stable system where individuals can access prescription medications without fear of bankruptcy or financial ruin. Pharmaceutical companies need to operate for a profit, but the costs they pass along to consumers need to be regulated more strictly.

This all begins with election of individuals who are not beholden to the insurance or pharmaceutical companies because of campaign donations or party pressure.

Infrastructure


Using government funds to strengthen our infrastructure is vital for both job creation, and progress in a changing and growing America. Factors such as climate change, shifting demographics, energy/waste, and new technology are all important to consider when looking at how to spend money on our roads, bridges, public transportation systems, and forward-thinking long-term additions to our country's infrastructure.

We need to embrace technology far more than we currently are. Partnering with the private sector and doing things that make sense instead of just doing things the way we always have is vital for a civilized and progressive society. We need to spend money smartly and look at public improvement projects as an investment, not as a budget line item.

Russia


The kid gloves need to come off. Putin is not an ally, nor is Russia. The election tampering is concerning, as is the annexation of Crimea and the ambiguous involvement with Syria. They need to be sanctioned for their involvement in the election, forced out of Crimea, and separated from their alliance with Al-Assad.

Congressional Reform


It's no secret that Congress has devolved into an ineffective cesspool of corrupt self-interest seeking individuals. The old saying that politicians and diapers should be changed often and for the same reason has some resonance with me, so I support Congressional term limits. Being a politician is a public service, not a career. I would support opening the discussion and presenting legislation to create a constitutional amendment not unlike the 22nd. Presidents have term limits, so why shouldn't Congress? I propose that 12 years is an adequate amount of time to accomplish goals for constituents. Six terms in the House and two terms in the Senate. Congress needs to spend more time doing the work they have been elected to do, and less time worrying about re-election and pleasing their campaign donors and political machine.

Additionally, Congressional benefits need to be adjusted to reflect their constituents. They should be on the most basic public health care system, should invest in a modest 401(k) program or personal retirement plans instead of receiving a pension, and enjoy the same tax breaks as the average American. The position of Congressperson should not come with any perks that the American people don't enjoy.

I also support the idea of significant campaign finance reform. It shouldn't be the wealthy and privileged who are the only ones able to represent the people of their districts. There is already a significant barrier to entry in the 1% filing fee (currently $1,740 to simply get your name on the primary ballot for a Congressional House or Senate race). Spending on campaigning has grown to astronomical amounts, and for what? To saturate the country with candidates traveling with unnecessarily, courting corporations and special interest groups, advertising and distributing unwanted propaganda. At the end, the voter's pamphlet and ballot are all the people really need. There needs to be a much tighter structure for limiting the wasteful spending.

Foreign Relations


One area of fiscal conservatism that could be tightened is foreign aid. Admittedly, one area of the current administration's policy that I am in agreement is the "America First" mentality. I believe that when America is doing well, we are able to be generous in the global community, but the weight of the world should not be on our shoulders. That said, we need to support global humanitarian decisions, and lead NATO by example in terms of compassion and commitment to worthy causes. We need to re-evaluate NAFTA and our global trade partners and make sure that our interests are being addressed adequately.

We need to lend military support, but not direct action support, with our allied nations who are experiencing troubles abroad. Additionally, we need to strengthen our relationship with Israel, which was weakened under the Obama administration.

Our relationship with China needs to be re-evaluated, and their currency manipulation and trade advantage needs to be brought into better balance with the rest of the world. A peaceful symbiotic relationship is the goal, but it needs to be two-sided and in America's interests, or we should bring our business to other parts of the world.

Tax Reform

Our current tax structure is severely flawed and overly complicated. The simple truth is that although we will not find agreement between the haves and have-nots, our current system and trajectory of debt is unsustainable and puts a massive strain on the lower and middle classes. We need to increase taxes on the wealthy, eliminate corporate loopholes, and overhaul our annual income tax collection methodology. Additionally, by re-evaluating our foreign contributions to just three categories; debt repayment, global defense, and emergency humanitarian aid, we can create some cost savings and move closer to a balanced budget and the reduction of the national debt, which needs to be a real goal.

Gun Control

The 2nd Amendment is sacred, but this is a different time for America and gun violence is an epidemic. We need to use common sense in our approach to the firearms available to the public, type of ammunition, and particularly the method by which we track and transfer firearms. No gun sale should occur without a criminal background check and documented inventory (including private sales and gun shows). Additionally, there should be a mandatory gun safety course completed by anyone purchasing their first firearm. Assault rifles are not practical in today's civilian society, so we need to look at options to decrease access to them.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Other Issues


Abortion - I support a woman's right to choose, and feel pregnancy should fall under the auspices of health care. Side with Democrats.

Death Penalty - I support abolishing capital punishment for everything except treason as it is cruel and unusual in today's day and age, even for murder. Death Row is an extremely costly expenditure per capita, and life in prison for serious offenses is adequate. Additionally, prison reform needs to occur. Privatization needs to be eliminated, and facilities should be sparse, uncomfortable, and rehabilitative as opposed to simply punitive. Prisoners should have their basic needs taken care of, but the priority is to lower recidivism rates, not perpetuate our current prison culture.

Drugs- We need to move toward the decriminalization of drug possession and use and instead invest in treatment of addiction. The effects will be twofold; easing the financial strain on the criminal justice system from police officers, courts, prisons, and probation officers. Secondly, the overall health of our population will improve, leading to a ripple effect of positivism. Side with Libertarians.

Privacy- I support the CIA, NSA, and other federal agencies using surveillance and interrogation techniques to maintain national security. I side with security over privacy when national security is at stake. We live in the digital age and any perception of real privacy is a fallacy. We need to partner with the private sector to navigate the uncertainty of online identity security, but our watchdogs need to be given the resources to keep us safe. Side with Republicans.

Terrorism - I support the use of all available resources to keep our citizens safe and prevent the spread of terrorism. This includes allocating resources to allied nations in combating spreading, repeated attacks. ISIS and other extremist groups must be fundamentally stopped and eradicated, and a constant, vigilant approach is the only way to move the needle in that direction. Domestic terrorism prevention needs to begin with the citizens reporting suspicious behavior and local law enforcement teaming with state and federal agencies. Side with Republicans.

Sanctuary Cities- I don't believe in sanctuary cities. Our republic allows for states and cities to make many decisions, but breaking federal immigration law is not acceptable (nor is breaking any federal, state, or local law). The executive branch doesn't get to pick and choose which laws to enforce or ignore. If you don't like a law, change it, but our duty is to the Constitution and all of the laws currently on the books. No exception. Side with Republicans.

Gerrymandering- It has gotten out of control. The whole purpose of representation is that the states are divided equally by population. When redistricting due to population change, we must use algorithms that don't intentionally divide racial, economic, or social classes to benefit the two-party system. Side with common sense and fairness.

Black Lives Matter - We need to make efforts to bridge the gap between all racial, religious, and cultural communities. We are all part of the same country and society, and there needs to be a real conversation about solutions to the growing concern over inequities, particularly in how people of color are treated in regard to law enforcement. Side with Democrats.

Labor Unions - I support labor unions and their right to form and collectively bargain. That said, I believe that right-to-work is fair for both sides provided there is a healthy minimum wage and reasonable benefits package (medical).

Paid Maternity/Paternity Leave - Reproductive health and strong family foundations are vital to the future of our nation. Maternity and Paternity leave are essential and need to be supported by all businesses as well as government. We can do better as a society in helping families in their formative stages.

Welfare Drug Testing - studies have shown that it is ineffective, so I oppose welfare drug testing. Welfare needs to be reformed and monitored more strictly, but it should not impact life choices beyond helping individuals return to the workforce.

Estate Tax- I support an increase in estate taxation and elimination of most individual and corporate tax loopholes.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

National Defense


We need to maintain our position as the strongest military in the world, but it's no secret that no-bid contracts and wasteful spending is taking a massive bite out of an otherwise generous budget. We can spend our money smarter. Higher military salaries and a more accountable spending on technology and equipment including the elimination of no-bid contracts.

We need to add more supports to the Veteran's Administration. Individuals and families in the military need access and care in line with all other Americans. Funding is currently inadequate, particularly with rising cases of PTSD and post-deployment medical needs.