Left-wing; right-wing. Religious; agnostic; atheistic. Rich; poor. Old; middle-aged. Whatever their demographic category, most Americans believe that their nation is in decline.
Entering 2011, only the young felt optimistic. Then, for some, their optimism began to fade. They began demonstrating their increasing discontent through protests nationwide and worldwide. A portent for 2012?
For you observers, optimistic or pessimistic, who rise above the here-and-now, how about an intellectual resolution for this new year? What resolution? A resolution to answer the following series of questions with specificity, in writing, by the end of January. Each question refers to one of the four cornerstones of society . . . government, law, education, and medicine . . . and the context in which they operate.
“Too much bother,” you say? Then, read no further.
A. General Context
1. What is the current, national, moral (ethical, if you prefer) context in which Americans societally operate? What should it be?
2. What is your own current, moral context in which you personally operate? What should it be?
1. What is the legitimate role of the federal government in relation to the states?
2. What is the legitimate role of the federal government in relation to the individual citizen?
3. To what extent should the federal government abridge the rights of the individual in order to protect the nation, especially with regard to “terrorism”? Are there better alternatives to current policies? If so, what are they?
4. What is the legitimate role of the federal government with regard to the general economy and monetary policy? Should the voters repeal the Sixteenth Amendment that imposed a federal income tax? If so, what should be the substitute?
5. Should recipients of federal “entitlements” be allowed to vote in federal elections?
6. In federal elections, should those from outside an electoral district be allowed to contribute financially to political candidates (other than presidential and vice-presidential) within that district?
7. To what extent should the USA promote democracy internationally and protect foreign “innocents” from war, famine, plague, natural disasters, and persecution; militarily, if necessary?
1. Should lawyers, who profit from the law, make the law by serving in Congress?
2. Are lawyers, as a profession, harming the economy, in particular, and society, in general? If so, what remedies would you recommend?
1. What is the legitimate role of the federal government with regard to primary and secondary education?
2. What is the legitimate role of the federal government with regard to higher education?
3. What is the legitimate role of government at the state-based and local levels in education? Do you favor a system of educational vouchers? If so, how would they be distributed? If not, is there an alternative to the current system that you do favor? If so, what?
1. Do you believe that the quality of American medical care generally is a) improving, b) remaining stationary, or c) deteriorating?
2. What is the legitimate role of the federal government in the delivery of medical services?
3. Do you favor ObamaCare? If not, what alternative, in detail, would you propose?
The foregoing questions reflect issues affecting every American. In the past, voters have tended to seek charismatic characters (The Who) promising to resolve societal problems. With few exceptions, such characters have made matters only worse.
Americans have listened to promises, usually vague, about what such characters will do once in power (The What). Generally, those promises soon are forgotten by those who made them.
There is, however, another way . . . Science and the Scientific Method (The How). Answering the foregoing questions requires an effort well worth expending. The consequences of doing so will organize your thoughts and allow you more effective action. Not answering the questions requires no effort, at all. The consequences may be disorganized thinking and ineffective action.
Those interested in learning more about analyzing and resolving problems both personal and societal based upon science from the biobehavioral orientation, may wish to peruse a semi-fictional novel entitled Inescapable Consequences (www.inescapableconsequences.com). It is the first of its kind based upon behavioral science from the rapidly developing biobehavioral orientation.
Whatever your decision, at least consider the following suggestion: Read, don’t just watch . . . Think, don’t just feel . . . Act, don’t just react. You will be enhancing the chances of happy new years during the years to come for our children, their children, and us.