Here’s what Austin Goolsbee, a former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers says: “I think the world vests too much power — certainly in the president, probably in Washington in general — for its influence on the economy, because most all of the economy has nothing to do with the government.”
Most economists would agree that both congress and the president can do significant damage to the economy by irresponsible spending – like two multi-billion dollar wars with no plan for how to pay for them, the massive bailouts for banks, and the billions poured into auto and insurance companies because they were “too big to fail.” In a global economy, holding the president accountable for a country’s economic woes may be a good tactic for the political opposition, but don’t expect a “changing of the guard” to bring about any dramatic difference.
So if economic growth is subject to the whims of other world economies, just what else would you like to ask the president? I hope not the same old rhetorical questions that we have heard posed by the press in debate after debate. What would you “really” like to ask? How about:
America has the highest total prison population in the world (My home state of Louisiana is, by a large margin, number one.) Why is this so, and what can you and congress do about it?
More laws you say? But the U.S. has more laws on its books than any other country. Over 5000 federal criminal laws alone. When the constitution was initially adopted, four crimes were listed. Four. Treason, bribery, piracy and counterfeiting. Are all these 5000 criminal laws now on the books necessary? Here are a few examples.
Did you know that it is a federal crime to deal in the interstate transport of unlicensed dentures? For this you get one year in jail. How about a six-month jail sentence for pretending to be a member of the 4-H club? You can get six months for degrading the character of Woodsy Owl, or his associated slogan: “Give a hoot — don’t pollute.”
And you will love this one. It’s a federal crime to disrupt a rodeo. Now down here in Louisiana, we love our rodeos to be orderly. But a federal crime? Give us a break.
Mr. President, how about the fact that the U.S. is the world’s leader in the production of pornography and is the world’s leader in the use of illicit drugs? Does U.S. leadership in these fields concern you? These problems were never mentioned during the recent campaign.
Americans are the most obese people in the world and are getting fatter. And you and I, as taxpayers, are covering the billions in healthcare costs for this obesity epidemic. Does government have a role in determining eating lifestyles and what the food industry can produce and sell? Should nutrition requirements be set for school lunchrooms? It’s our tax dollars, and I say yes. Cut out the pizza and hot dogs. And trans fats? It’s poison. Get it out of all of our foods. Again, many of us are sick and tired of having to pay the healthcare costs of so many irresponsible adults and the industries that produce and promote these seriously harmful foods. What do you say, Mr. President?
Americans are a pretty savvy lot who realize that our way of life needs to change and that certain sacrifices have to be made. Our leaders on the national level can do only so much. But if we as Americans are being shortchanged, it’s time to talk specifics and come down off the platitudes of campaign rhetoric that is presently dominating the current political debate. We deserve better.
You have to think anyway, so why not think big?
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.