A few post-election, non-partisan musings (this is not a rant!)

Well it's Wednesday and we're all still alive. Whether or not your guy or girl won last night in whatever race you had your eyes on, life goes on. And for those who have threatened to move to Canada or some tropical island every four years, start packing.

But on a more serious note, now that we know who our president, senators, congressmen and women, governors, etc., will be for the next few years, it's time for me to reflect forward on a few things that have recently come to pass in this election and a few things I'd like to see happen.

Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana use. I'm not really sure how this is going to work out but you can probably bet that if this does turn out to benefit those who just want the right to toke, then the populations in these states could likely boom off the charts. Talk about tax revenue! One observation I have is this: I guess it's okay to ban cigarette smoking but totally acceptable to embrace pot smoking. Seems hypocritical to me. It appears one man's second hand smoke is another man's pleasure.

The Electoral College. I had a booger of a time explaining to my two oldest children last night why the electoral college was in place. They asked me the obvious question: "Why doesn't the candidate who receives the most votes win?" I ask myself that same question every four years. Normally it's a moot point - the guy with the most popular votes typically wins the most electoral college votes as well - but this was not so in 2000 when Bush defeated Gore and it also happened this way three times in the 1800's. If I was a candidate who gained the most popular vote but still lost an election because of the electoral college, I would be pretty sore about it. Not only that, but if you live in the western part of the United States, Alaska, or Hawaii, by the time you stand in line to vote at the end of the work day what's the use? The media has usually declared a winner so it really does seem that your vote doesn't count. If we really want every vote to count then let's get rid of the electoral college and let the people truly decide.

A legitimate third party. When I turned 18 in 1988 and registered to vote, I did so as a Republican because they espoused my conservative views (Reagan was in office...I miss that guy). Fast forward 24 years and I am now a registered Independent who has no clue who truly represents me, and I have a feeling most Americans resonate with my perspective. I know that no one can expect the Democrat or Republican parties to fully espouse his or her political beliefs en totem, but it almost seems like neither party is really trying anymore. That's why I think we need a legitimate third party to come on the scene so stir things up and to represent what I believe most of the people want. I've heard it said that if most Americans were to write down your political views on paper, then most of us would discover that we were Libertarians. I don't know if this is true or not, but I do believe most of us would discover we weren't member of of the party for which we were registered. In this arena it is indeed time for a change.

Our tax system is ridiculous. I really can't explain the specifics of what is so ridiculous about the tax system in America because, like most Americans, it is so ridiculously complex and confusing that I simply have to blanket label all of it as ridiculous. Depending on who you listen to and believe, either the rich pay more or less, the middle class pay less or more, and the poor pay nothing or actually receive a check for doing nothing. I believe it's time to overall the whole system and institute something simple and better: The Fair Tax. Basically the Fair Tax is an embedded tax on all the goods that are purchased, from cars to bread to clothing. Yes, these items will cost a little more with this embedded tax but the beauty of this system is that it does away with the income tax. That's right, no more income tax taken out of your paycheck and that means no more need for the IRS! Instead, whenever you buy something - and everybody buys stuff - you are paying your taxes. The more you buy, the more taxes you pay. So ideally the rich who will buy more will pay more taxes and the poor who buy less will pay less taxes. Plus, this effects everyone. If you are in America as an illegal immigrant or just on vacation, we thank you for paying taxes into our system. I've had many tell me this is idiotic and wouldn't work, but I think they were concerned more about the jobs that would be lost in the IRS (this would not affect CPA's who still would work with businesses; when polled, most say they like the idea). There is also the idea of a Flat Tax but I like the Fair Tax better. I can dream.

Health Care needs help. And by that I mean it needs to be reformed and badly, but not in the way that I have heard any of the candidates discussing. First, let me say we need Tort Reform. In a nutshell, Tort Reform limits that amount of money that health care providers can be sued by offended patients. Granted I'm sure that there are plenty of cases of negligence out there but I don't see how suing a doctor for $250 million for a botched hangnail procedure is gonna solve anything. These outrageous lawsuits make the insurance premiums for health care providers go through the roof and this trickles down to the cost that you and I have to pay for our care (For example, most obstetrical doctors pay over $100,000 in insurance premiums in a year. That's ludicrous!). Moving on, in 1996 I had open heart surgery to fix a birth defect, and since then I have been given a clean bill of health. No daily medicine, no restrictions on activity, just a visit to the cardiologist every couple of years to make sure everything is hunky dory. However, I speak from first hand experience that were I not on my wife's medical plan through her job, I would not be able to afford health insurance because of my history. You may say that's why we need a government plan that allows for pre-existing conditions, but I  have yet to witness the government run a large system and do it well (see Medicare, Social Security, etc.). What we need is personal accountability and responsibility. Simply put, if your lifestyle has made you a health risk, then you should be expected to pay more in premiums (i.e., if you smoke, have a history of substance abuse, are morbidly obese, etc.). I realize that this would be hard to police but we'll never know how hard until we try. And insurance companies are not completely innocent, but allowing them to adjust premiums for the healthy and "risky" would make plans more affordable. As for the health insurance companies, it's time to pull lobbyists from their backsides and limit their exposure and influence, which is one of many reasons health care costs are going up. And before you get so angry at health care professionals for being so dang expensive, first ask yourself why government reimbursements keep declining (i.e., payments to providers for services rendered via Medicare and Medicaid). You want free health care? Many are already getting it and you are paying for it. Will this solve the health care crisis in full? No, but it's a good start that needs to be taken.

Term limits. The president cannot seek a third consecutive term, so why should all other candidates be able to do so? Honestly, my main issue here is with the US Senate and Congress. There are men and women in these offices who have been sitting in the same seats since before the advent of cable television. Are they capable of effectively leading for 20, 30, 40 years? Some are, many aren't. Since senators serve six years, I say give them two terms and then they have to sit out an election cycle before they can seek office again if they choose. Also, since the members of Congress serve only 2 years, then give them 4 consecutive terms (eight years) and require them to sit out a cycle as well. That way, fresh ideas from new candidates are brought to the table every few elections and it loosens the grip that lobbyists (which I can't stand) and little political cliques will have in the chambers.

Finally, it's time to get your yard signs up and out of here. I honestly don't know of anyone who loves all of the political advertising that goes on around election time. Candidates need to be heard and in a way commercials and signage are a necessary evil, but by the time voting rolls around most of the people I know just want to vomit - they've seen and heard enough. That being said, I suggest a law that gives candidates a certain number of days (anywhere up to a week) to rid their communities of all their signage or pay the consequences. Yes, some haters could plant yard signs in an effort to heap up fines on their nemesis, but why not open this sign removal idea to all citizens? If you see a sign a few days after the election, then it's fair game to trash it. I would gladly yield to your vehicle as you uproot dozens of signs and head for the trash dump.

I am Sterling Griggs and I approve this message.

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