Aaron: How to get Americans back to work

By Aaron Brooks

Cut: Defense

To get Americans back to work we need a strong economy, and one of the most corrosive elements to a strong economy is war. War has evolved. Nations no longer face an opposing military in an open battlefield for an extended period of time; instead, the weaker force resolves itself to guerrilla tactics and subversion.

War has always been a game of attrition, but the new rules of war make it too costly to continue the defense policies of old. If we are forced into action, then we cannot be accountable for rebuilding what their leaders made us destroy. If we choose to take action, then we must be smart. We have to build alliances not only with other nations, but a faction within the existing state that can manage reconstruction and security.

I believe that cutting defense spending will make us adhere to a more fiscally-minded defense strategy. In my opinion, our military has been used on more than a couple occasions, not due to impending doom, but as justification for its existence.

A small yet advanced military will strengthen this country by consuming less of its resources, resources that our government could use to improve education, infrastructure, or business incentives.

Reform: Tax code and Trade Policies

Reformation of our tax code and trade policies is needed to make American workers a competitive commodity. Business needs an environment in which it can compete with corporations in foreign nations that can pay employees less and have lower overhead due to less stringent regulations.

The solution is not to deregulate business or give them a free pass in paying for the infrastructure they use, but to open our markets and offer strong tax incentives for companies who hire Americans, employ them for a continued amount of time, have a high average wage, low income disparity within the company, and protect the global environment no matter the location of their factories.

Another reform in the tax code should be the child tax credit. In a time where we have high unemployment, overcrowded classrooms, and congested infrastructure, population growth should be the last thing on our to-do list. Our government should stop subsidizing more than one child per individual.

Strengthen: High School Education

We hear it again and again and again: education is the key in strengthening our economy, but what has been done? Showmanship and nothing else. Coming from a poorer high school, I do believe that more resources need to be put into education, but we also need to strengthen the curriculum and give students more responsibility.

At least in my high school, one-half of the time spent was a review of fifth to eighth grade. Our government needs to incentivize curriculums that are progressive and focused. College-preparatory students should be just that, focused on advanced math, science, and communication. General-level students should be focused on skill training and apprenticeships. If an individual chooses to switch career paths, community colleges are abundant.

Student responsibility has been the can that many politicians kick down the road because it offends people, but it is also a major reason why the education system is failing. We cannot dumb down the curriculum for those students who do not study, and educators and productive students should not have to put up with those that disrupt the learning environment.

Just this year, Illinois unveiled its new Response to Intervention (RTI) plan, which requires teachers to offer three accommodations to a disruptive student before giving them a referral. The RTI plan is ridiculous and further erodes student responsibility and the meaning of a high school diploma. Education needs an injection of responsibility, so when an individual does have a high school diploma, it means something more than the completion of four more years of daycare.

Although Happ and I differ on the issues and actions that our government should take to strengthen our economy and get Americans back to work, we sat down and explained our ideas to each other. Through communication we have found value in each others’ ideas and can compromise.

For example, Happ believed that Obamacare should be cut, and I disagreed. After discussion, Happ sees the value in a national healthcare program, and I see the need to offer incentives to individuals to remain or become healthy to guard against runaway healthcare costs.

We had the same exchange in response to cutting defense, and again reached a common middle.

We hope that our ideas can be taken as substantive solutions to the problems that exist in America today, but more so hope that we have set an example in communication and compromise that politicians in Washington can learn from.