There is an old saying, when you point a finger at someone, there's always three pointing back at you. As we consider the choices that have been made in selecting one of the four presidential candidates who will be on the ballots, most of us would like to point a finger . . . to blame someone else for the poor choices. But, collectively, it is we, the people, who have put us in the position not to vote for the best possible candidate to lead our great country through these difficult and threatening times, but to vote for the one we think will do the least harm.
We are the third largest nation in the world. We have an abundance of genius all around us. We lead the world in technology and innovation. Our standard of living is at the top of the heap. We're the most generous nation in the world. Our military is second to none. Throughout our history we have been a haven for those who have sought peace and a better life. We have fought in wars across the world, and hundreds of thousands of our bravest citizens have given their lives, not to conquer, but to defeat tyranny and bring peace to others. But, in spite of all those merits, all too often, we have chosen a selfish path, choosing to be passive by not monitoring or not demanding the best from our government. In many ways, we have let it run amok. For example . . .
We are told that, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Really! With that in mind, do you know that our federal tax code is over 74,000 pages in length. Have you read and do you understand each one of the rules listed on those pages. If not, you may have violated the law and be subject to prosecution and a fine.
Of course by this time you must have read the regulations (that have the force of law) in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare. Those 10,516 pages are eight times longer than the Bible. And, while the Bible is not part of the federal tax code, the Supreme Court determined that Obamacare was legal because it is a tax. Make sure you read those 10,516 pages before you get into trouble.
A study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed that in 2014, not counting postal workers, there were 1.9 million federal government employees. The report also indicated, ". . . total government-wide compensation for each full-time equivalent (FTE) position grew by an average of 1.2 percent per year, from $106,097 in 2004 to $116,828 in 2012." Compare that number to $67,163, which is what the Bureau of Labor Statistics' study showed for worker's wages and benefits in the private sector. Why would workers want to labor in the private sector and be subject to market trends, the need to make a profit, possible loss of job, etc., and only receive wages and benefits equal to only 57 percent of what is paid to a federal employee. By the way, if you recall the IRS scandal, in spite of all their misdeeds, no one was fired. Some key executives "took the fifth" and refused to be held accountable. They were reprimanded by being given an extended "paid leave" as their punishment.
What was written above only gives a bit of information about the IRS and a portion of Health and Human Services dealing with Obamacare. Consider, if you will, that there are these additional federal cabinet-level departments: Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury (includes the IRS), and Veteran's Affairs. A number of these departments have caused us some concern over the last few years. For example:
— The State Dept. has presided over a series of failures in the Middle East. Iran has continually taunted and humiliated our country with virtually no response. China and Russia are flexing their muscle and expanding their interests with little cause to be concerned about our possible reaction. The former secretary has shown a total disregard for the safety and security of government information and left her position with $6 billion of federal funds being unaccounted for.
— The head of the IRS has stonewalled Congress in their requests for documents. He allowed critical information that had been requested by Congress to be destroyed. He has not fired a single employee for malfeasance.
— The department of Veteran's Affairs, in spite of huge increases in departmental funding during the Clinton, Bush (43), and Obama administrations, has failed to overcome the conditions that lead to its scandal concerning failure to provide needed services to veterans in a timely manner. Bonus money was paid to executives who were worthy of being dismissed.
— The Department of Education has failed to improve results as we continue to drop to mediocre levels. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) ranked the United States 27th out of 34 countries in math, 17th in reading, and 20th in science. These results were in spite of the fact that this country spends more per pupil than any other industrialized country in the world. And, we spend over $77 billion annually to run this failing department.
Which candidates indicated a willingness to "take on" our bureaucracies?