Saturday, January 24, 2015
My fantasy for the last State of the Union Address
(This is a first draft. If anyone cares to comment I will expand on the idea)
My fellow Americans. I come before you today to delivery my State of the Union Address. I have two versions of the speech with me. In my right pocket is the version prepared by my speech writers. It tells of the success of the Affordable Care Act, the success of our military, and our success at revitalizing the economy. In my left pocket is the speech I wrote last night, late into the night. I may look tired to you: I got little sleep. But I feel my heart is lighter and my eyes brighter, for I have resolved to tell you the truth and to shed the cloak of politician and to assume my robe of responsibility, for the position to which I was elected, as the leader of the greatest nation ever on this earth.
Before I describe the State of the Union and my intentions for the future, let me address the lessons I have learned.
The Affordable Care Act, known to all as “Obama-Care”, is a spectacular example of the failure of our government. Intended to provide affordable health care for every American, it has already succeeded in raising the cost of health care by thirty five percent. Our federal budget will be increasingly difficult to balance without Draconian cuts in the number of hospitals and the services they provide. Experienced physicians are retiring ten or twenty years before they had intended, and medical school is no longer a goal for our best and brightest.
Previously uninsured young people are now strapped with insurance policies that they will never use with no coverage for the health care they actually use: the average uninsured twenty eight year old, before Obama-care, would have less than $300 per year in health care expenses, and for the next decade, a total of under $3000. Now at a cost of $4,000 per year and a deductible so high it will never be met, the ten year cost to the young adult for insurance they will unlikely use is $40,000: nothing is left for paying the bills.
The regulations generated by the Affordable Care Act now exceed the length of all other regulatory agencies rules. Compliance is an impossible burden on the industry attempting to deliver quality health care.
Why did this happen? The political process is corrupted by reliance on the wrong advisers. I did not listen adequately to the American people or the true experts in health care, the doctors and the nurses. I listened to the insurance companies, the only part of our culture that will profoundly benefit from the Affordable Care Act. In my dream of protecting the American people I made government much bigger and the middle-man much profit. I now see that we have hurt the ancient science and art of medicine. I pray it is not irrevocable damage.
The Law of Unintended Consequences rightfully predicts that the more far-reaching and complex the changes made, the greater the number and impact of the unintended consequences.
How do I fix it? I am not wise enough or informed enough to have that answer. I know now I need to go outside government for advisers to guide me.
Let’s turn to the economy and education. Yes: my right-pocket speech correctly states that more Americans are working today than before the recession. But it does not tell the whole truth. Well educated Americans, with decades of experience in industries requiring highly technical training and experience, have lost their jobs and are now working at jobs for half or less of what they previously earned, with no need of their education or experience. Fresh college graduates are having a hell of a time finding rewarding jobs. Advanced degrees are no long a promise for fulfilling employment in any field of expertise.
My right-pocket speech promotes higher education, but the reality is the time and expense for attaining advanced degrees does not provide good vocational training, and, sadly, is decreasingly good education for broad knowledge or critical thinking. We must seriously reevaluate our educational system and our priorities.
As the president, I must seriously consider the role our government has played and should play in the future of education.
The three hundred richest in the world have more money than the poorest three billion. That is 0.00000004% of the world has more combined financial wealth than 40% combined. We cannot fix the world: we are not empowered to even consider it. But the top 1% of all Americans control more wealth than the combined 99% . Middle class Americans, the new “poor”, contribute 20% of their earnings to taxes. The top earners pay nothing. Maybe this is fair, but it surely does not seem so. On the face of it, a flat tax rate of 5% on all the earnings of all Americans living above the poverty level would allow us to balance the budget and to carry on all our good work. A family earning $65,000 per year would have $10,000 real dollars back in their pocket every year. Halliburton’s CEO would still go home with over $30,000,000, but would contribute $1.5 million to the tax coffers!
It is not the government's job to equally distribute wealth, but it is our creed to be fair and equitable. Real tax reform, returning to simplicity and justice, seems imperative.
In the past century, with our successes in the two World Wars and the establishment of the United Nations, we have taken on the job of being the policemen for the world. With our might and our successes in all fields we have become the envy and the enemy of many. September 11, 2001 brought the terrorists effectively and horribly to our great land. Since that time there has been a steady increase in worldwide terrorist strength. Armies, no longer isolated terrorist cells, are rising and arming.
Above all else, the central government of this country is charged with protection from foreign assault. This must be a central goal. I believe that our best effort will be to use our intelligence and resources to get to the root of the problem and work to regain the trust and respect of the world.
In the past century, the world population has gone from little over a billion human residents to over seven billion. In the next fifty years, probably less, the number will exceed fifteen billion. The worldwide basic infrastructure of food, clean water, and energy will never sustain these numbers. We need to be in action now. The consequences of failure will be famine, illness, and death. And war.
Climate change is an inevitable reality. Our best efforts to change human behavior may slow down but will not stop the inevitable. We need to be in action now to be prepared for the inevitable. If we do not begin to shift the direction of our attention to remediation and not delay, we will be caught underwater.... and worse.
My fellow Americans: I have learned a lot during my presidency, and my time in office is not yet over. I hereby declare that I am no longer a politician. I will live and breathe every moment to be leader to the best of my ability. I am sure I cannot fix the problems that I have outlined, but I will endeavor to change the culture of the office of president of the United States. I will listen widely and seek out the informed dissenting views. I will work to make government smaller at every turn to avoid the unintended consequences of our over-reach. I will work to inspire the confidence that has been the hallmark of the American people. I will work to truly protect our shores, protect our people, most specifically the most needy, and I will work to set America as the shining beacon to all peoples of the world.
(Links: The US Constitution
The ACTUAL State of the Union Address )