The issues before us are vast. On the state level, we can and must work to curb the excesses of government. We must also win back the battle of ideas, and this can be accomplished by fighting for hearts and minds on a local level.
The positions we advocate for are right. We need only to advocate for them more effectively. A local representative can provide a voice on these issues by explaining the benefits of time tested conservative solutions and by demonstrating the fallacy of liberal, feel-good ones. For this reason, I’ve decided to run for State Representative and have launched my campaign website at www.ABetterFlorida.com.
Another reason I’m running for State Representative is simple. Communism, socialism and a whole host of other dangerous dogmas have been allowed to take hold on every populated continent on the globe. Indeed, of all continents, only Antarctica has been saved from their bankrupt philosophies. After all, there’s no fooling penguins.
Had local politicians and civic leaders risen up against socialism in Chile in the late 1960s or in Venezuela in the early 1990s, neither of those countries would have been swept over by a sea of tyranny. Local officials must raise the rallying cry against the advocacy of seductive yet harmful policies and against the demagoguery that is the hallmark of the left.
Most importantly, the reason I’m running for State Representative is because our nation is in need of solutions if we are to continue as a strong and vibrant Republic. The answers are clearer than one would be led to believe and are routed in common sense and in a willingness to do what is right.
Accordingly, I’ve developed the following platform. It is a recipe for good governance, and for our continued strength and prosperity.
• Property Taxes – At a time when our district is faced with record home foreclosure, the problem does not need to be made worse by confiscatory government taxation. First and foremost, assessment values need to come down to reality. Government must find other ways to sustain revenue without further endangering the homes of families and individuals in our district, especially those of thousands of seniors who live on a fixed income.
This issue is profoundly important. Every attempt to address it has been met with an outcry that if we lower our property tax rates we endanger our essential services. But why is that police, fire and other emergency services are always the ones brought up by proponents of unsustainable property tax rates? Why is no discussion given to curbing arts funding, city sponsored recreation events or other noble, but non-essential projects that should not take priority over protecting the homes of our citizens? The answer is clear. We must find new and better ways to make government work, ways that do not involve endangering homes or otherwise harming families in the District.
• Encouraging Local Business Development – Small business is the bedrock of the livelihood of families and individuals in the District. Across the nation, most jobs are found in the small business sector. Simply put, family run businesses are vital parts of our community.
But family businesses have been ignored for far too long. As the federal government concentrates its efforts on propping up large banks and corporations, Florida must take a different route.
The most comprehensive solution is to allow struggling small businesses that are still deemed viable, to hire pre-approved counselors to help with restructuring and other critical needs. Such a move would enable teetering businesses to stay afloat. Unlike most government spending, this form of aide is quickly recoverable. It’s a step up, not a hand out, and it enables the bedrock of our economy to sustain itself.
• Protecting Our Shores from Terror – National security is also a State responsibility. Much talk is made of our porous borders, but all too many ignore the most porous of them all and the most rife for terror; our Atlantic Seaboard.
While protecting our coasts remains on much of the nation's backburner, you can be sure that terrorists aren’t putting it on theirs. It’s our responsibility to do something about it, fast. My plan is to strengthen monitoring along our entire coastline, including the Gulf of Mexico. Doing so is essential to our security. No part of Florida can be allowed to become a point of entry for those who seek to harm this nation.
• Protecting the Rights of Our Seniors – Senior citizens are the most valuable, yet most underappreciated segment of society. They are our parents, our grandparents and our mentors. They are the ones who built our District and who laid the groundwork for all that is in it today. They also have a lifetime of wisdom available to share.
We must strengthen the resources available to our seniors. We must make sure that current resources work effectively and efficiently. So as to avoid additional government spending, we can and must involve our youth in the process by working with local school boards to introduce an intergenerational component to high school community service hours.
Such a program would allow teens to develop a personal connection with senior citizens. Students will gain insight and understanding, while seniors will have a chance to share their experiences with a new generation.
Volunteerism sets teens on the path to become contributing members of society and community involvement has been shown to dramatically lower school dropout rates and juvenile crime. Channeling those efforts into visiting and spending time with the elderly provides even further rewards, to both seniors and students alike.
Additionally, we must ensure that access to health care is streamlined and that quality is not compromised. Health care options must be plentiful, competitive and affordable. Florida’s retirement industry relies on the availability of good health care options, so working with health care providers to improve services is both a personal issue as well as an economic one for our state.
A sound health care system needs to be based on private competition. Universal socialized medicine has hurt seniors more than any other segment of the population in every country where its been implemented. But we must also ensure that the system we have in place is one that keeps health care affordable, as well as widely available to all seniors.
Lastly, as someone who, during my student years, performed chaplaincy in seniors’ hospitals, I have witnessed elder abuse and neglect first hand. We must make sure that this never happens in Florida and I will work with local hospitals and eldercare agencies to develop further mechanisms to safeguard against such a nightmare from happening to our most cherished of citizens.
• Motivating Our Youth – There are areas of Fort Lauderdale in which less than 2% of young adults currently graduate from college. Such areas are generally riddled with crime. They are also ignored by society.
If we ignore them, we cannot help lift them up. And lifting them up is essential, first and foremost because it is the right thing to do, but also because when we do not, the culture of crime that is allowed to fester throughout our neighborhoods ends up affecting the rest of society as a whole.
The best answer to this problem is to instill in our youth a sense of values and hope. Refocusing trouble teens on achieving their best needs to be a priority for anyone in government or for anyone who seeks to make a difference in our society.
Reaching out to youth can be accomplished in large measure by getting into schools early and teaching kids the tangible differences that choosing the right path can mean in their lives. To this end, when I was a 29 year old businessman, I authored a course for high school and middle school students that showed them the clear and tangible difference that staying in school, avoiding of crime and refraining from drugs can make in their lives. The course teaches them to envision their lives in just a few years and showed them how saving money and positioning themselves for success can help make a real difference for them and for their families. This program is a first step. We must work together to achieve lasting success with and for our youth.
• Lowering Crime Through Effective Deterrence and Rehabilitation – We must stop making career criminals out of non-violent offenders. The greatest deterrent against crime, as has been proven everywhere it’s being tried, is that of short, intense labor/alternative sentences.
The matter is simple, but it is also one that threatens society as a whole. Short intense stints of labor serve as real deterrents and motivate offenders to abandon lives of crime. By contrast, long sentences have only promoted boredom and apathy. They also rob offenders of any sense of hope and force them to sit in boredom and despair, surrounded only by much more hardened criminals. That is a recipe for disaster.
It is essential for the safety of society that short hard labor sentences replace harmfully long ones. The difference between the two systems means a world of difference as far as rehabilitation, recidivism and the safety of society are concerned.
A few months of labor can set a first time offender back on the path to once again become a contributing member of society. Compare that to the despair and anger and the possibilities for criminal collaboration that have gone hand in hand with every long sentence.
This matter is also of vital importance to national security, as terrorists have been recruiting such dejected and angered people for their own purposes. Labor sentences are also a fairer form of punishment, being that they punish only the offenders, not their families.
• Education – Financial literacy, life skills training (such as how to avoid peer pressure and how to keep a job) and health and nutritional education must go hand in hand with any regular curriculum. Graduating students need to learn how to navigate through life and making such courses essential public school curricula will set our youth on a proper path. At a minimum, these programs should be a part of any state approved curriculum.