Five easy pieces of a brighter future

One of the things that surprises me talking to young people across the nation is their frustration that nothing can be done to fix the political pains felt at home and abroad.  They are often pleasantly surprised to find that there are easy steps to take toward a better world here in America and abroad.  The big changes in the Congress portend some incredible possibilities.:

  1.  Adopt a positive American energy policy to transform the world


Democrats and President Obama point to gasoline prices being below $3 a gallon as proof positive of the President’s positive economic accomplishments.  But to paraphrase the President: he did not build that.  American energy entrepreneurs have built a unique economic edifice that portends an outcome more radical than landing a man on the moon:  American energy independence.  Ahead of schedule, the United States is the leading producer of fossil fuels, surpassing Saudi Arabia.  The economic ramifications of this are staggering. 

The United States regularly transferred half a trillion dollars a year to foreign powers in order to feed its appetite for fossil fuels.  That money can increasingly stay at home creating jobs and surplus budgets for local governments from North Dakota to Texas.  North Dakota wastefully burns enough natural gas to fuel many Vermont winters.  What is lacking is an energy policy that delivers that wasted gas the same way it is delivered from petroleum fields in Texas.  For the first time since its inception, the United States has an opportunity to break the global yoke of OPEC. 

The oil cartel has never had a benign global purpose.  Its purpose has been to break the economies of Japan, Europe, China, and America.  The cartel was an alignment of some of the world’s most nefarious enemies of human rights.  A serious energy policy would not simply help the United States, it could jeopardize some of the most important practices of global sovereignty that annihilate thousands of innocent human beings from Somalia to Yemen and Riyadh to Khartoum. 

2.  Lower corporate tax rates

America has the highest corporate tax rates in the world.  Politicians pretend that lowering taxes means reducing revenue and hurting our fiscal standing.  The globalization of the economy now applies to sovereign tax rates.  Americans are losing vital business tax revenue to nations that offer lower tax rates.  The simplest example was the Burger King merger with Tim Horton’s that on paper moved all of Burger King’s revenue to the lower tax realm of Canada.  These proliferating paper shifts of capital are destroying tax revenue from businesses and increasing the tax burden on individual taxpayers.  High corporate tax rates are reducing revenue and increasing deficits for the United States.  Lowering corporate tax rates would increase federal revenue to the treasury in exactly the same way lower state tax rates have moved businesses within the United States and boosted revenues in places such as Texas. 

3.  Return federal lands to the people

In most of the western United States, huge percentages of the land in many states are owned by the Federal government.  Through systemic mismanagement, these lands destroy the financial integrity not only of those states but our larger federal revenue system.  There is little or no prospect for energy production or other activities to be pursued on lands held by the Federal government.  In fact, while energy extraction has increased dramatically on private lands since 2008, energy production has decreased on Federal lands.  There are many things the Federal government could do with these lands to increase national prosperity, including creating property trusts for the people of Western States that allow mineral rights to benefit citizens of those states as is common practice in places such as Alaska. 

Federal mismanagement leads to dramatic forest losses as overgrown forests and vegetation are surrendered to lightning strikes that destroy millions of acres of wilderness.  In an increasingly urbanized nation, it is absurd for the Federal government to maintain such vast resorts banning human presence across wide terrains.  It is important to understand that federal management of the lands does not protect the environment.  It is natural gas production in the United States that has brought the nation into unexpected compliance with the Kyoto CO2 production goals without ever signing the treaty.  Private energy production is helping the environment globally, not hurting it.

4.  Create a national goal for a balanced budget passed by Congress in 2018

Don’t spit out your coffee reading this.  It can happen.  The process begins by an earnest budget process led by cooperative figures in the House and Senate.  Senate leader Harry Reid was defiant enough to refuse passage of a congressional budget for three years.  The election of Republican leadership in the House for January of 2011 began to disrupt the skyrocketing deficits enacted in 2009 and 2010.  Similar to the Republican sweep of the House and Senate in 1994 and 1998 that lead to budget surpluses, the federal government is well situated to achieve balanced budgets by 2018. 

Since 2010, the annual deficits have already fallen by more than half from one trillion dollars to about 450 billion dollars. This past October, federal government revenue surpassed 3 trillion dollars for the first time ever.  If federal spending grows slower than the economy grows, a simple trajectory toward a balanced budget can easily be established.  The billions of dollars flooding the fiscal coffers of places such as Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota can easily lift the federal budget toward the same kind of balances achieved in 1999, 2000, and 2001. 

If Congress simply ends the threats of regulatory “crucifixion” by way of regulatory agents such as the EPA, business in America can easily grow at a pace that outstrips federal spending.  America now has some of the lowest energy costs in the world.  This is bringing manufacturing businesses to America.  If Congress can stifle executive hostility to corporations, those businesses can create jobs and prosperity here at home -- no matter what Hillary Clinton believes.

5.  Reassure our allies

Democracy and freedom continue to hold the global upper hand in the world.  The champions of freedom must certainly be scratching their collective heads with regard to our recent foreign policy stumbles.  Our fumbles have elicited considerable rebounds among allies trying to step up into our gap.  Poland, Australia, Britain, France, India, Japan, and Canada all show growing resolve to confront the bellicose resistance to the global freedom agenda in capitals such as Beijing, Moscow, and Damascus.  In a potential future where America rejoins in earnest the fight against genocidaires and proposes a stronger rather than weaker military to support such a fight, we will find stronger allies ready to join our side.  This points to a world vastly less complex and intimidating than the one the greatest generation fought and died for in the 20th century.  One of the most obnoxious threats we face today is ISIS.  Yet ISIS is largely composed of forces that in 2007 joined American leaders in fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq.  Bin Laden understood a basic premise of military leadership.  The world follows the man on the strong horse.  The delay in the return of America as the man on the strong horse is coming to an end. 

America can easily return to a role of compelling global leadership that brings prosperity at home and the growth of freedom abroad.  As the third largest nation in the world, the largest economy, and the largest military, the United States has all the resources and circumstances to shape a better and brighter world that witnesses the same kind of collapse in Islamic supremacism that America saw in the collapse of communism just two decades ago.  It is time to embrace the new American century.

Ben Voth is an associate professor and director of debate in Communication Studies at Southern Methodist University.  He is an advisor for the Bush Institute and a Dedman Africa Studies Fellow.  He is author of a new book on genocide:  The Rhetoric of Genocide:  Death as a Text.