Sunday, May 3, 2009

Political Third Rails

The problem of Political Third Rails is more severe now than ever before as we face a crisis of governance. Not only are we having to redesign our military, but the time has come to update and/or cut many social programs that have been the hallmark of our social system for decades. A few years ago, Social Security was called the political "third rail." This was somewhat true, but not as much as a reform of the healthcare system or the military is. Each policy or practice has a vast number of adherents who will defend it, a problem that has prevented us from improving social programs like welfare or being willing to cut military bases when they become no longer useful. At a time when the government is being called upon for a growing social role, I believe it is more important than ever to establish a strong regulatory and government oversight agency to prevent us from falling into the problem of third-rails. The new liberal agenda of better, expanded education, health care, and the like has great potential to solve a number of severe problems, ranging from our failing schools to our huge population of uninsured to the burden that healthcare places on our companies, but only if we are willing to constantly reevaluate, update, and expand or eliminate programs as necessary.

By the way, defense has also gotten a pass for too long. It needs to be reevaluated. Just as a point, if you give the military less money, they just might get rid of some obsolete weapons systems and waste less money.

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