red street sign reads 'Changed Priorities Ahead'

In the coming issues, PT will cover people and policies in the following areas. Let us know whether they’re on your “Top 10” list. And, if not, what are your “Top 10”?

Top 10 Policy Areas:

  1. Education
  2. Energy
  3. Environment /Climate Change
  4. Women’s issues
  5. Men’s issues
  6. Political process/campaign finance
  7. Federalism
  8. Criminal justice
  9. Economy/free markets
  10. Foreign Policy

Professor Emeritus
written by Sherman Lewis, January 25, 2008
Federalism, Men's and Women's issues too vague to be meaningful.
Climate change needs to combine with energy to add peak oil, energy economics, and reforming market pricing to include external and indirect costs.
One topic should be population growth and the status of women.
Another topic should be the economics of class and illegal immigration: selective protectionism for capital masquerading as free trade; tax subsidies to agribusiness causing unfair competition with foreign farmers and illegal immigration, tax loopholes creating economic inefficiencies and horizontal inequities.
Foreign policy too vague; need focus on American militarism/imperialism/ exceptionalism, Israeli imperialism and ethnic cleansing, and oil dependency/cozying up to repressive corrupt regimes.
We need a topic on land use and transportation concerning large scale pricing distortions that support excessive auto use, the need to protect natural and farm land, and the potential for walking neighborhoods with low-rise high density, mixed use and transit.Underlying several of these topics is the failure of money economics to include more real economic values, the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of American policy, and the emergence of the EU as global leader.
written by Susan Hunter, January 25, 2008
Animal welfare policy is an issue that is virtually ignored despite 75% and higher support for legislation to ban tethering, to inspect and license kennels, to end research on animals for non-medical reasons, and consumer protection legislation to make sure sick animals are not sold in pet stores and by breeders. Some states (Florida and Arizona) are restricting factory farming practices, some include all animals in their cruelty provisions, but not enough is being done.
written by Lisa Buehler, February 12, 2008
I would like to see a discussion on the healthcare system - national healthcare has not worked for other countries - why would it work for ours?

I would also like to see discussion on the "no child left behind" program - clearly it is not working like it was intended. It has forced our educators to teach to the "lowest common denominator" in the classroom - we are not challenging our young people!
Federalism is it!
written by Sam Clovis, February 12, 2008
Federalism is really the key concern, because governance of the country encompasses so many of the other issues identified. National government involvement in education, energy, civil rights, criminal justice, infrastructure, elections, and most perniciously, grant programs, is fundamental to the long term welfare of the nation. To move ahead, perhaps we need to fix what was broken with federalism during the 60's and 70's when congress and the executive branch decided only they held the wisdom to solve the nation's challenges. Federalism ought to be discussed in every journal and in every edition.
Councillor and Parliamentary Candidate, Conservative Party, UK
written by Rene Kinzett, February 12, 2008
I suppose from a UK perspective, as well as wanting to know more about the environmental debate in the USA, foreign policy matters rank very high for me. Many of us in the UK who support the US in so many ways are often left without any real answers for critics of the US in terms of its willingness to act in some areas of the globe (perhaps too quickly) and its lack of interest in other very real and awful examples of human rights abuses, genocide and despotism.

From the perspective of a British politician, I find the debate you are having on the ID cards proposal fascinating. We are also having this debate - a costly, unworkable, easily avoided/abused and highly intrusive system of state-organised snooping. It will be the innocent and law abiding who pay for it and it will do nothing to stop organised crime, terrorism or illegal immigration - spend the money on law enforcement instead!
Director, The Campaign for Universal Inheritance
written by Dane Clouston, February 12, 2008
Equality of Opportunity

It is wrong that some people start off their lives with billions before they even lift a finger to create, earn, save or make any capital themselves, while others never receive any such gifted or inherited capital.

I would like the USA and the UK, amongst other countries, to take the lead within their own country in creating genuinely greater equality of opportunity for all in education, health and the inheritance of wealth, and then to strongly encourage the same in other countries, particularly those in receipt of aid.

Politicans' lip service to greater equality of opportunity is not enough. A great leader should move imaginatively towards popular meritocratic capitalism, with the wider spread of the private ownership of wealth, and away from unfettered dynastic capitalism. Reform the taxation and redistribution of the receipt of lifetime capital gifts and inheritance. It is time for conservative and/or liberal capitalist democracies to add Universal Inheritance - gifted or inherited capital for all - to Universal Suffrage - votes for all. See .
written by Edward Kokkelenberg, February 13, 2008
Here are twelve top topics in my book:

1 Nuclear non-proliferation. All other topics are moot if we do not take steps to curtail existing stockpiles of atomic weapons and impede the efforts to develop new ones. Our own current policy to “improve” our weapons by moving to the next generation is a case in point.

2Energy is a sine qua non for a modern society. We have no coherent energy policy vis a vis electricity generation and transmission of it, nor the use of liquid fossil fuels for transportation. President Bush has had a series of unrealistic suggestions, but there are technologies that work today that could help. We continue to be beholden to too many unstable nations who use our dollars to fund activities harmful to our country, and afraid of taking steps such as a carbon tax, promoting safe nuclear waste storage, or building good transmission lines.

3Immigration. For a nation of immigrants, we seem to have a less than optimal policy in terms of providing a set of needed work force skills via immigration. Much more should be said by the candidates on this.

4Medicare and Medicaid are about to be sever burdens on the federal budget (see the recent Congressional Budget Office Report ). They are more of a problem than Social Security. What realistic plans do candidates have to address these issues?

5The nation’s infrastructure such as air traffic control systems, rail roads, and highways need many dollars to put back into shape for the 21st century. Little mention is made of the water needs of the Southwest and that could be part of the issue. Why can many countries have trains that travel at 200 mph but we can not seem to get from Boston to Washington in less than a day, or from New York to Chicago in under a day, and that is if the airports are open?

6After Katrina and 9-11, we have tried to prepare for the next disaster. We do not know when or where or what, but most serious observes believe that we are far from ready for the next one be it medical, other health, natural disaster, or man-made.

7Education continues to perform poorly compared to many other countries. This is especially true of K-12. Why and what can be done to radically change our system needs to be addressed.

8Several successive administrations have weakened our nation’s data gathering ability. While we are far from the problems that plagued President Hoover in that he really had no systematic information about the state of the economy, we have moved in that direction by cutting Census, the EIA, the BLS, and other government agencies. We need to address that issue so we know where we are and what we are doing

9Income disparity has grown quite a bit since 1975. We are not sure why, or what can be done about it, or even if that in unequivocally bad. It has certainly deferred or even eliminated the possibility of ‘moving on up’ for many.

10We spend far more than any other country on military. Why? Could we spend far less? If so, what or where would we cut and preserve our security? A serious analysis and reflections on the costs of maintaining the nation’s industrial and military complex (that Ike warned against) is needed.

11Our current government has preached a gospel of fear and trampled the Constitution in doing so. Can this be turned around? Should it?

12The method of selecting presidential contenders is poor; we spend a huge amount of time and money and in the end, we do no better and sometimes worse than other countries. Why? What can and should be done?
Director, The Campaign for Universal Inheritance
written by Dane Clouston, February 15, 2008
Professor Edward Kokkelenberg lists twelve topics in his book, although he does not tell us the title:

Nuclear non-proliferation
Energy policy
Immigration policy
National Health Care
Transport and water infrastructure
Disaster management
State education system
National statistics gathering
Income disparity
Defence costs
Fear, security and the Constitution
Method of selecting Presidential contenders.

This is a comprehensive list, including income disparity but, interestingly and revealingly, not wealth disparity. "We are not sure why, or what can be done about [income disparity], or even if that is unequivocally bad [!]. It has certainly deferred or even eliminated the possibility of 'moving on up' for many". Nothing about wealth disparity! Not a word!

The only time at which it is possible to do anything about wealth disparity is at the point of transfer from each generation to the next. Consequently wealth disparity is, typically, a blind spot amongst the academic, media, political and property owning establishments, as it was, extraordinarily, in John Rawls' original book The Theory of Justice (possibly corrected in later editions?) about what people would like for people like themselves if they did not know into what circumstances they would be born. We all like to contemplate the delights of inheritance, if we are in a position in which we are likely to enjoy them. These delights ought to be spread more widely. Both too much and too little inheritance are bad for people. But somehow that moral imperative all too often escapes us when analysing closely the questions of the day.

The lifetime receipt of gifted and inherited capital is one of the factors which makes for income disparity. It particularly makes for undeserved and unproductive income disparity. Inequality of gifted and inherited wealth not only contributes to undeserved income disparity but even more certainly than that it reduces equality of opportunity for those who never inherit any capital at all to 'move on up' to the level of those who have inherited billions before they even lift a finger to create, earn, make or save capital themselves.

Hence the need for political leadership away from unfettered dynastic capitalism and towards popular, meritocratic capitalism, with USA Universal Inheritance and, in my own country, British Universal Inheritance - in order to spread more widely the private ownership of wealth and genuine opportunity in each new generation.