Friday, March 17, 2017

Morning Pete: But, as an Optimist, What Concerns me about the Future

In my last post, I wrote about why I am optimistic about the future, but that does not mean I am complacent about it. Optimists do not stand by and simply hope that matters will improve; they struggle against obstacles, no matter how insurmountable they may seem, with the faith that these can and will be overcome (someday).

In my opinion, in order to overcome obstacles it is necessary to understand them very clearly, which is what concerns me about the major challenges we are facing in the world today: too many people have a poor understanding of these issues, making them prey to those who would exploit their ignorance for their own ends.

Let me briefly (I hope) explain how I see this currently playing out in America’s political and societal environment. To do this we need to look at:

  1. The Issues
  2. The truths (and lies) behind these issues
  3. Possible solutions (or at least directions in which to seek solutions)

The Issues
Listed below are some of the major issues that are currently controversial and/or are likely to be so over the next 5-10 years; I’d welcome readers’ thoughts about other important issues they may wish to add to this list.

Here, I have tried to list these issues in as neutral language as possible; in later posts in which I’ll discuss the truths (and lies) behind these issues, I’ll indicate how various players identify, define, and frame each of these issues.

For most of these major issues, I’ve also listed some sub-issues, with the understanding that many of these can be viewed as cutting across more than one major issue (e.g., drug abuse, nutrition, and income inequality could be listed under several major issues).

  • Climate change and energy policies
  • Foreign Policy (including US and UN roles in war & peace in the middle east, the far east, Russia and eastern Europe, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as trade policies, environmental and other treaties, foreign aid, diplomacy, arms dealing, and nuclear arms control)
  • Health Care (including costs, access, and insurance coverage) and Public Health (including preventative healthcare, vaccination, nutrition, drug abuse)
  • The U.S. Economy (including international trade, jobs, unemployment & underemployment, living & stagnant wages, family leave & affordable daycare, extreme economic inequality, unions & “right to work” laws, Wall St. regulation, consumer protection, business deregulation, tax reform)
  • National Security (including terrorism, travel bans, the Wall, torture)
  • Immigration (including definitional, humanitarian, economic, psychological, political, historical, and legal dimensions of this issue)
  • Crime and Criminal Justice (including law enforcement & race, gun rights & gun control, child & other domestic abuse, campus assaults, sentencing reform, reintegration of ex-felons into society, privatization of prisons, the death penalty)
  • Race relations and racism (including institutional discrimination in housing, education, jobs, voting, and law enforcement; increasing de facto segregation [especially in the North], Black Lives Matter, White Supremacists & Alt-Right organizations )
  • Poverty (including food insecurity, drug abuse, homelessness, despair)
  • Religious, moral, ethical, & Constitutional Issues (including abortion, marriage equality, LGBT rights, freedom of religion, the death penalty)
  • Electoral Issues (including voter fraud, voter suppression, electoral v. popular vote, campaign finance, gerrymandering, open primaries)
  • The Federal Government (including its size, waste & inefficiency, cost & the national debt; its role(s) in protecting the rights of individuals, especially the poor and those who are discriminated against; its role in monitoring states rights v. individual rights; its role in regulation & deregulation; the separation of powers & checks and balances; the Supreme Court & the Constitution; the functioning & dysfunction in Congress; the pros and cons of a powerful Executive Branch
  • Education (including public schools & school choice, universal pre-k, costs of higher education, student college debt, free speech & “safe spaces” )

When I return from our month-long trip to the Far East in late April, I will begin to write posts on each of these major issues, laying out the truths and lies behind them and what I see as directions to overcome the challenges that each presents.

Stay tuned.

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