Author Archives: David Coughlin

Freedom of choice is a basic right, as long as you accept the consequences

I believe in Freedom of Choice as a basic Right in all personal matters, as long as you accept the consequences of your actions. Whether to engage in the act of sex is a perfect example: sex is a personal choice that can be enjoyed with whomever you please. If the choice is removed, a crime has been committed. As long as the adults are consenting, there are no restrictions. However sex has a potential consequence that must be considered. If pregnancy is not desired there are numerous, inexpensive contraception alternatives readily available.
The dilemma arises when the consequences of your initial choice produces a new human being, whose Rights must also be considered. This conception of a new human life introduces an entirely new, independent choice decision. Becoming pregnant is not just an inconvenience, but rather the beginning of a new life story. It is no longer a discussion about contraception, but instead the choice is whether to end this new human life.
The issues involve who makes the decision, when the baby is aborted, and who pays for this procedure. Pregnancy is the consequence of two people’s personal choice, but only the woman has the personal choice to terminate this emerging human life.
The decision when to abort this new life increases personal guilt as time goes on since infant viability improves as the fetus develops. Terminating in the first trimester is viewed as humane, while second or later trimester is viewed as inhumane due to medical advances demonstrating survivability at earlier and earlier gestation. There is now discussion of how late the abortion can take place, since partial birth abortions effectively take place at birth. If the baby survives this procedure the moral question arises can the baby be aborted after birth to ensure the initial abortion decision is honored? Many religious people do not condone abortions at any time.
Personal choices are the responsibility of the decision makers. A majority of Americans do view abortion as a personal choice today, but do not think society must subsidize and pay for another’s personal choice. We should not be forced to pay for other’s contraception nor should we be forced to pay for other’s abortions.
Our Constitution protects our Freedom of Choice in all personal matters, but recently there have been a number of attempts to isolate the person from the consequences of their actions. Our decision is whether society must pay to enable and subsidize us from the consequences of our actions.

Time to deal with the elephants in the room

The two Presidential candidates refuse to acknowledge the “elephant in the room” and prefer to deal with issues only after it deteriorates into a national crisis. Unfortunately there is not one, but a half dozen elephants in the room and American voters will no longer allow our politicians to ignore them as they pander for their votes. This Presidential election is the perfect time to deal with these issues with commitments to finally address these major, long term problems. The candidate who demonstrates the best understanding of the issues and offers reasoned ideas will earn the voter’s support.

Out-of-control government spending is the biggest elephant rampaging through the room. The annual deficits have set new records and the national debt has grown astronomically. Continuing resolution debates and extending the spending limits only delay any real long term solution. The first candidate to propose a bipartisan commission to develop a plan by yearend 2012 to achieve a balanced budget in the near term would demonstrate political leadership and earn voter respect.

Our tax code is the big ugly elephant that tramples others in its wake. Out tax code is so large and so complex that billions are wasted just trying to comply and limit our tax liability. Now the IRS has been expanded to enforce new health care compliance. The first candidate to vow that they would simplify and reform the tax code by yearend 2012 would earn voter accolades for finally addressing this long term problem. A key requirement for this bipartisan solution would be to consider all alternatives including completely replacing the existing income taxes with a flat consumption or value-added tax.

Our health care system was the best in the world, but costs have been rising at an unsustainable rate. Medicare routinely spends more than it collects. Medicaid is jointly funded by the federal and state governments, but lack of continued federal subsidies have threatened state budgets with bankruptcy. Despite public resistance, ObamaCare was introduced to use central management of health insurance to coerce this industry to hold down costs. Once passed, ObamaCare benefits were found to be over-promised and costs under-estimated causing a further drain on the over-burdened federal budget. Repealing ObamaCare as Romney suggests will not fix all of the problems. Whichever candidate promises a bipartisan commission to address the root causes and develop a long term sustainable plan for health care would demonstrate understanding of the scope of the problem and a vision for a long term sustainable solution.

The issue of immigration has only gotten worse over the last 40 years. Comprehensive immigration reform was last attempted in 1986 with amnesty offered for illegal immigrants, but borders were not effectively closed, legal sanctions were not uniformly enforced, and immigration gradually increased. Illegal immigrants are over-whelming our entry level job market, our health care systems, our education systems, and our welfare systems. Offering amnesty to millions of illegal aliens only makes these systems worse, since it does not discourage further illegal immigration. The first candidate who commits to addressing these underlying problems by yearend 2012 with a bipartisan plan would earn the gratitude and probably the vote of concerned Americans.

Social Security is the oldest entitlement and the one that has recently begun outspending its funding. Most people alive today have paid into the Social Security system their whole lives, and look to this program to provide income in their retirement years. The pay-as-you-go (Ponzi-like) funding model depends on new workers paying the benefits for the retirees, but demographics has undermined this model’s sustainability. The first candidate who promises to develop a bipartisan plan to put Social Security on a sustainable basis long term will please seniors today and younger voters who doubt this system’s viability long term. This solution must look at short term changes to fix the funding problem, but also evaluate long term solutions to return to the original personal accounts as originally conceived in 1935.

National Defense is perhaps the most important elephant in the room because defense is an explicit responsibility of the federal government in the Constitution. Providing for common defense has been termed “discretionary” with affordability driving funding levels. National security is an extension of foreign policy and the first candidate who demonstrates they understands that the security of the country and its national interests drive the size of the defense spending, not what can we afford. This recognition of this critical mission will earn the nation’s trust and vote as commander-in-chief.
These six elephants have been treated like untouchable issues and ignored, avoided because they are so large and so complex and there is no easy solution. Commitment to seek bipartisan work to agree on the problems to be solved, understand the root causes of those problems, and design solutions to address the issues both in the short term and in the long term. Key design factors will be preserving what is good in the current systems while delivering the desired improvements and functionality at an affordable cost.

This is a Presidential election year. The choice should not be “Anybody But Obama” vs. the “Anti-Romney.” The time for speeches is past. The time for real pragmatic solutions is now. Voters yearn for leadership in this uncertain time. The first candidate to display the vision how they will address these key issues will earn the voter’s trust and the electoral victory.