Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Taming the Deficit -- Part 1

We all know that our nation is in serious fiscal trouble, with already unseemly deficits ballooning to outright frightening levels under the current administration.   I think we all have an inherent sense for the dangers this level of debt poses to America, its future and the future of the free world that depends on America's leadership.

Any serious conversation about deficit cutting must start with so-called 'entitlement programs,' primarily Social Security and Medicare.  This is one thing both liberals and conservatives can agree on -- just ask the liberal Brookings Institute and conservative Heritage Foundation.  Where they differ is on how to tackle the problem.  Personally, I'm a big fan on the plan proposed by Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan: what he calls the "Roadmap for America's Future."  Rep. Ryan's plan has been a bit of lightning-rod because of its bold approach (go to http://www.roadmap.republicans.budget.house.gov/ for details).  But I think the plan is both fair and doable.  Most importantly, it will put our entitlement spending back on a sustainable path-- so says the Congressional Budget Office, who's job is to review the fiscal impact of proposed legislation.  I'm not naive enough to think everyone will jump on the Roadmap bandwagon, but I think it's an excellent place to start the conversation. 

What do you think?  What do you like/dislike about Ryan's plan?  Do you think it's doable?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Civil discourse

So I just learned something yesterday that I've never heard before.  Apparently, back in the 1930s and 40s, American academics concerned about the rise of fascism in Europe made a conscious effort to teach courses on how to discuss sensitive public policy questions, well, sensitively.  In other words, they apparently saw some link between society's inability to peacefully and rationally discuss political differences and the rise of polarizing, ideologically-driven parties (e.g., the German Nazi Party).  The person that brought this up to me said that, at one time, over 1% of the US population had taken part in such courses.  Based on my quick and dirty research, that comes out to approximately 1.3 million course-takers based on the estimated population in 1935. 

Obviously, these academics were on to something.  While European fascism is something for the history books, we definitely have our own batch of unique challenges today -- which our current political environment seems utterly incapable of handling capably and civilly.   

For those of you reading this post, do you feel like your education and other experiences (e.g., clubs, student associations, general education requirements) helped, hindered or were ineffective in helping you cooly and rationally discussing 'hot-button' issues?  If not, what can we do to encourage this essential form of civic education?

Monday, August 9, 2010


So welcome to my little experiment.  I'm not much of a blogger - I'm just a regular guy hoping to share some thoughts, learn from others and stoke some good faith dialogue.  By "good faith" dialogue, I mean real people sharing real views in an open, respective forum - without demonizing or name-calling.  Hopefully you find that thought as refreshing as I did.

Of course, this experiment only works with your participation.  Please jump in and comment -- even if you don't agree or see things in a different way.  And, if you like the blog, share it with your friends.  I'm a busy guy - like all of you, I'm sure - but I'm going to do my best to post regularly.  For now, I'll shoot for once every week or two.

In the meantime, welcome to the experiment!