Open Forum: Ten suggestions
Posted: January 18, 2013
For what I believe to be the first time in my life, I feel so moved by the fragile status of my country, our country, that I think about it and pray about it every day.
I’ve written a few “letters to the editor” of our local newspaper that touch on some of what I feel, but I wanted to more thoroughly express my thoughts to many friends, which is the purpose of this note. If you would indulge me by spending a few moments reading this note, I would be honored.
As a 68-year-old American citizen since birth, a man who has proudly served our in armed forces for 41⁄2 years, and one who has been privileged and blessed in countless ways by our great nation, I am deeply concerned about the state of America. It seems to me the cold, hard facts of our situation as a nation are clear, deep down, to every man and woman in Congress, and even to our president and vice president.
It simply cannot be fairly argued that our financial deficit, which has ballooned to more than $16 trillion — that means $16,000 billion — is sustainable or even possible to grow further. Our financial debt as a nation has considerably weakened us already and will, if not corrected, surely bankrupt our future (and that of our children and grandchildren) in practically every manner imaginable.
We seem to be taking way too lightly the fact that we have over-promised and overspent our nation’s huge resources, with no end in sight, and stubbornly continue on the definite pathway to our own financial destruction. We seem to be far more interested in “American Idol” and who will win the Super Bowl than what we must together do to financially heal our nation. We lack real “grownup” conversation among our governmental leaders who today spend way more time “blaming the other party” than coming together and maturely addressing our massive financial problems.
Our nation’s leaders in Congress and the White House need to immediately begin to comprehensively solve the deficit problem. There is no sustainable alternative to the future financial health of the United States. We need to immediately, in my view, pursue all of the following:
Tell the unvarnished, non-political truth to all our citizens regarding the very serious realities of our financial condition.
Recognize that our deficit is drastically too high and must be substantially lowered in steady and thoughtful ways which will impact on every program and service our nation provides.
Stop raising the deficit by increasing our borrowing and massively printing more and more money.
Say “No!” to again raising the spending limits and borrowing capacities of our nation.
Reject the idea that many, many programs and services are exempt from consideration for budget reductions, promoting the idea that all programs and services will reduce their costs of operation in meaningful ways.
Accept the idea that many programs and services of the federal government contain countless redundancies with other governmental activities and, therefore, actively pursue streamlining, redesigning, and consolidating services to be far more efficient and effective.
Reject the idea that more taxes on our highly taxed citizens represents a primary means by which these matters will be resolved.
Promote and encourage more private enterprise aimed at innovation and growth which needs to be done in partnership with continuous improvement in government services in order to bring sense and stability to our nation.
Stop blaming one another for the mess we are in and just realize we need to work together better than we ever have to save this great nation from financial ruin.
Perhaps most difficult of all, find means of rethinking our values as a great nation and what we must prioritize because “all of the above” is not the right answer to priority-setting. This process includes ongoing conversations with our states and their governments regarding the legitimate roles of state and federal governance in serving the needs of American citizens.
Nothing about the above is easy. Little will be resolved rapidly. But I suggest we as a great nation are capable of redirecting ourselves in considerably more productive ways that we have been over the past many years.
I suggest nobody is going to resolve our very serious issues except ourselves. Let’s get on with it — together! After all, we are the United States!
I wish you and your families best regards in 2013!
Michael J. Halseth, former CEO of Valley Health System and resident of Winchester, currently resides in Keswick.