Monday, January 3, 2011

Politicians should take a real risk - by Judge Jim Gray

As we enter into the second decade of the 21st century, we should pause and reflect upon probably the largest reality of human life, which is that circumstances change, and those who do not change with them generally drift into decay and irrelevance. With that in mind, here is a request to our nation's political leaders that they change their ways, and hopefully help us change ours, in light of the new realities of our times.
The most fundamental thing that must be done is for our leaders to tell us the truth as they actually see it. And that should be followed by giving us their honest recommendations about what changes should be made. This is simply a matter of patriotism.
As such, they should actually "dare to lose" their coveted elected positions in this process. Why? Because some things are more important in life than political security, and, for the good of our country, this is one of them. We need some honest leadership! So with this request in mind, here is a list of some of the issues that must be addressed, and the sooner the better. If you want a fuller explanation about them, refer to prior Gray Area columns on the Daily Pilot's website or my website
Focusing first upon domestic issues, the biggest problem facing our businesses, which are the engines of our economic strength and jobs, is uncertainty in the marketplace. So until everyone knows how much the government is going to intervene in our commercial lives, businesses will not take risks. And when businesses do not take risks, economies stagnate. Thus please make it known that government interferences, as opposed to overseeing such things as breach of warranty and contract, safety in the workplace, fraud and anti-trust violations, are firmly behind us.
Next, recognize that the federal government will not be taken seriously about our budget deficits unless it honestly addresses our entitlement programs, and the same thing is true with the states if they do not honestly address our public pensions. Dare to lose if you must, but our governments will never regain their strengths and balance their budgets until these issues are brought under control.
Also high on the list of issues honestly to address are our educational and health-care systems. Our public kindergarten through 12th grade schools are generally failing our children, while our universities are still mostly the envy of the world. Why? Because the universities compete with each other, and the public K-12 do not. Similarly, our increasingly government-dominated health-care industries are failing, while the health-care professionals who are free of government interference, like those who provide Lasik eye and cosmetic surgery, are flourishing. Dare to alienate some strong special interests by telling these truths and help us regain our prior excellence in these areas.
And then there is our tax system, which must be simplified and made more equitable. The best way would be to repeal the income tax system and the 16th Amendment, and in its place implement something like a FAIR Tax upon the final sale of all goods and services, with a rebate to people with incomes below a fixed figure. This would be a tax that everyone could live with and plan for, and along the way it would stop penalizing people for saving and investing money. Furthermore, everyone would receive a "tax break" without any loss of revenue to the government by no longer being required to keep all of these records and pay for the preparation of their income tax returns.
Also please say publicly what so many of you have told me privately, that our nation's policy of drug prohibition has failed and is actually hopeless. All you have to point to is two things. First, under our present system these drugs, harmful though they can be, are freely available to anyone who wants them, especially our children. And second, show what evils are being done around the world by the money from the sales of illicit drugs. In that regard, look no further than Mexico, and the chaos, corruption and violence that are being fostered solely by drug money. And, of course, those evils are increasingly coming into our country as well!
Regarding our foreign policy, help us to understand that realities have changed. In today's world we neither can nor should we try to police the world virtually by ourselves. This is true both because we can no longer afford it, and because we simply cannot impose our will upon others without their desire and cooperation.
Thus our military policy should be controlled by two prongs. First, we should get involved militarily in various problem areas around the world only if the world community decides to participate in that action, unless that matter expressly affects our own national interests. Extremists like the Taliban are as much a threat to Germany, China, Russia, Turkey and Japan as they are to us, and unless those countries choose to participate in whatever action is going to be taken, we should not be involved.
Second, in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, the Sudan and others where extremists are attempting to impose their own selfish will, we should as publicly as possible let the people in those countries know that they will have to control their own destiny. Thus they can choose either to live with anarchy or with freedom — and act accordingly. We cannot — and do not want to — control their country, religious beliefs or lives. We can join the world community in helping them to live in freedom, if they request it, but the fundamental choices about how they will live their lives will have to be made by them.
Finally, and superseding everything else, remind us that our country rose to greatness by our own grit, and by respecting and enforcing private property rights and free trade. There is nothing wrong in our country today that cannot be resolved by us once again becoming Americans! If you do this, we will have nothing to worry about in the coming year, or beyond. And with that, Happy New Year!
JAMES P. GRAY is a retired judge of the Orange County Superior Court, the author of "Wearing the Robe: the Art and Responsibility of Judging in Today's Courts" (Square One Publishers, 2010), Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It, A Voter's Handbook, Effective Solutions To America's Problems and can be reached at or Judge Jim Gray is also currently offering his 25 years of experience on the bench to ADR Services in Orange County for Arbitration and Mediation services..

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