The Hard-Work Recovery Program

It's time to get real. Let's ignore the politicians with their nibble-around-the-edges happy-talk "solutions" to our biggest problems, and let's talk about what it will actually take to solve them.

Why start with illegal immigration and try to ignore the bigoted hang-'em-high shamefulness of the Republican candidates? Maybe one answer is that employers need to offer wages that will attract citizens and others who are here legally. What they do now is fatten their profits by paying substandard amounts to undocumented laborers who are so desperate to stay hidden they'll accept any pittance they can get. Maybe by doing away with this shadow economy, the jobs that cause so many to sneak across the border will not be waiting for them.

Unlike immigration, many issues are beyond demagoguery. For those, the candidates resort to obfuscation. Their double-talk is designed to suggest that we can "gain without pain." It's supposed to demonstrate that they're dealing with "substance" but they know full well it's just poll-driven, meaningless babble.

Let's talk about global warming. Now that we've come to a rough consensus that it's caused by people, we should face the fact that the biggest culprits are the people of the United States. We are far and away the worst global warmers, although other nations are trying hard to compete with us.

So what should we do here? If we're really serious, we should stop driving, or least significantly cut back. We should adopt policies that take as many automobiles as possible off the streets and highways. At the same time, individuals, meaning all of us, should stop looking at driving, when and where we want, in whatever behemoth we want, as a god-given right.

Healthcare is another one of those issues the candidates try to finesse. No one wants to say so, but sooner or later we'll have no choice but single-payer. Actually, we have what amounts to that now. The insurance companies collude to offer us only one payer, practically speaking, a system made worse by greedy profit-mongering.

One more. We all lament the outsourcing of our economy. But we all enjoy paying lower prices for our goods. Those prices result largely from manufacturing that has been moved out of the U.S. to unregulated sweat shops overseas — places that, with their low overhead, translate into slave wages and dangerous lack of product safety protection. That way we get low prices for our children's toys, along with leaded paint and lost jobs here. When Rep. Duncan Hunter (Calif.) suggested during the Republican debate Wednesday night that we should "buy American," I laughed out loud. "You gotta be kidding, Duncan!" No wonder he's barely registering as a candidate.

The list goes on and on, and maybe we should talk about some of our other problems another time. But here's the main theme. This country has spent a long time on a long downward slide. The only way to recover is through hard work, sacrifice and a true reordering of priorities and the way we live.

The other thing we'll need to do is reject the politicians who suggest there's any other way.