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Time for new ideas and a fresh start for 2012

Published December 30. 2011 05:02PM

We all have our list of wishes for the New Year. A Healthy and Prosperous New Year is a short concise greeting that many of us use. In 2012, we need more than greetings if we are to make this New Year truly happy and prosperous.

My first wish is that we stop fighting wars and bring our troops home from the battlefields of the Middle East and Asia. We can no longer place our patriotic women and men in harms way, defending countries that do not like Americans or the American way of life

My next wish is that we end hunger in America. Too many children go to sleep hungry at night. This is a land of plenty, with more wealth than any other nation in the world. For generations, immigrants have come to this nation because America offered them the chance to work hard and raise their families without fear of religious persecution, excessive taxation or starvation. We have the resources to end hunger here and now. It is not a manner of increasing welfare payments; rather it is ensuring that the money we give to the disadvantaged is used in the manner for which it was intended.

Someone who is on welfare and buys drugs should be thrown off the dole. As hard as this may sound, if welfare recipients cannot remain drug-free, then their children should be placed in the custody of foster parents. We cannot let our next generation be tarnished by the sins of their parents. We must stop the drug / welfare cycle and we must do it now.

Our education system, the most expensive in the world, is broken. Our graduates cannot compete in the international marketplace. We can fix this! Let's start by rewarding those teachers who obtain superior results with additional pay and benefits. Those teachers who are consistently substandard should be removed from the classroom.

We cannot place our children's futures in the hands of ineffective educators. We should continue to fund education at the current level, but let's ensure our children get the education they require from competent teachers in a safe and drug-free environment.

For decades, we fought the war on drugs and we lost. This year, we must battle the drug lords and we must win! We have to protect our borders and intercept drug shipments before they reach our cities. If we must deploy soldiers on the borders with shoot to kill orders, then so be it. Drugs have killed too many of our children. It is time to take the actions necessary to stop the flow of illicit narcotics.

I know some people will vehemently disagree with using deadly force to fight the war on drugs. To them, I say that we tried using less drastic methods, but these methods failed. It is time to take all necessary measures to defend our borders and protect our children from the drug cartels.

Violent crime is moving to smaller towns and villages. This week, a man was murdered during a home invasion robbery in the tiny borough of Shoemakersville (population, 1,500). The town no longer has a police officer. All of us who live in the area were shocked and upset by this crime. This year, we must be tougher on crime. California has a "three strikes law".

A person who is convicted of three separate crimes is incarcerated for the rest of his or her life. This is the way to deal with habitual criminals. It is time to implement the 'three strikes law" here. We must keep our streets safe, our homes secure, and protect our children from criminals.

As I've mentioned in past articles, we must create more jobs in the private sector. The government must get out of the way and let businesses grow. As business expands, they will hire the unemployed. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must stop their relentless opposition to business growth.

The Chinese are the worst polluters on the planet. We would be better to encourage the Chinese to reduce their pollution through duties and embargoes on their goods. After decades of EPA enforcement, manufacturing plants in America have shut down and moved their operations to countries where they can pollute as they please. This has not helped Mother Earth. It has just shifted the problem from America to Asia.

This week the EPA announced further restrictions on coal-fired power plants. Over the last two decades, power companies have greatly reduced the pollutants produced in electric generation. Their reward for the massive investment required to accomplish this objective will be the forced shutdown of the plants they need to supply America with power.

Rather than forcing plant closures, I suggest that the government continue to encourage clean coal plants and to facilitate the conversion of any remaining high polluting coal-fired plants to natural gas. The approval process for conversions should be fast tracked. We should permit the power companies to write off their costs on a one to five year timeframe. This accelerated depreciation will provide the financial return necessary to justify the additional investment.

To jumpstart the economy, we can encourage corporations to repatriate their overseas profits. Currently, American corporations have over $1.4 trillion sitting in overseas bank accounts. They have paid taxes in the countries where the profits were made. Under the current tax laws, if they repatriate this money, it will be taxed at the normal 35 percent corporate rate. Only companies that are desperate for cash would move this money to the United States.

If these funds were returned, they could be used to create jobs, reducing unemployment to the five or six percent range. I suggest lowering the income tax rate on repatriated job creation funds to 15 percent for a one-year period. This would provide the incentive needed to bring these profits home where they can be invested in America.

It is time for the government to stop impeding businesses and entrepreneurs. Instead, we should rollback excessive regulations to enable our corporations to better compete with their overseas competitors. We should also create an environment that encourages business incubators for small enterprises and entrepreneurs. It is small business that will lead us out of this recession and into the next decade of prosperity. Let's blow away the roadblocks and let them succeed.

I know that the ideas expressed in this article are controversial. Past efforts to end this depression/recession have failed. It is time for new ideas, new sources of funding, and the end of the government's battle with the private sector. As always, I look forward to your comments and suggestions regarding this article. Working together, we can explore the measures that can be taken to ensure that 2012 is the beginning of the next era of prosperity.

© 2011 Gordon Smith All Rights Reserved

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