Free speech without constructive ideas contributes little to progress - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

Free speech without constructive ideas contributes little to progress

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Bob Beane is an economics graduate of the College of Wooster and an MBA accounting graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He is also a bicycling advocate and has been a resident of Ahwatukee since 1992.

Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 4:00 pm | Updated: 10:38 am, Tue Aug 14, 2012.

Another Jim Thompson submittal ("Start-ups don't generate jobs right away") was published in the AFN on Aug. 3, consisting of a few selective quotes and one personal experience. Quoted opinions don't constitute facts, and my personal experience in a start-up was that it created over 100 jobs within three years and employed people of various skill levels and disciplines. Beyond this introduction, the letter was merely a full-column criticism of current presidential leadership with no alternative constructive ideas offered.

I'll restate my wish that AFN editors publish commentary backed by facts, reasoned logic and that which is presented in a civil and positive manner (i.e. in the interest of moving the country forward). It would also be nice if the commentary published here contributes to thoughtful examination of important issues, rather than tabloid criticism. Thompson, where is your proposed policy outline for the country? So far, we've heard nothing about what you propose we should do ... only random quotes and a few selective experiences supporting why you dislike President Obama.

Believe me, I am not enamored with President Obama's leadership skills or agenda, but under his presidency we are not living in a "fascist-led country" (please check the definition of fascist in any reputable dictionary).

OK, in order that I not fall in the same camp as Mr. Thompson, I'll make a few suggestions that I think are positive (after all, somebody has to step up to take on tough issues):

• Let's re-emphasize private sector jobs, growth and international competitiveness in any discretionary spending and tax policy proposals, and hold all elected officials accountable for contributing to progress.

• Because Social Security, Medicare and Defense are the biggest (by far) segments of our federal budget, let's start by asking our politicians to responsibly cut spending in those areas. It won't be politically easy (or it would have already been done). But, many wealthy folks would accept means-tested eligibility for both Social Security and Medicare (i.e. if you make big bucks, you aren't eligible or have increased taxability or contributions), and maybe we need to push back eligibility somewhat and/or modify cost-of-living adjustments to keep those programs solvent.

Also, let's swallow our pride and look at other medical delivery systems (Canada and some European countries) that deliver very good care to see if there are some "best practices" we can adopt. Let's also shift to incentivizing preventive rather than reactive care (let's address the obesity epidemic via incentives for better lifestyle habits, for example). And, surely there are some foreign military bases that can close, and some weapons programs that deserve a second look and/or delay as far as "bang for the buck."

• Let's reduce tax advantages for special interests that are not in the broader interest. For example, when we are sitting on huge reservoirs of natural gas that can be extracted (with proper safety protocol that our best engineers can define), why are we subsidizing ethanol (the effect of which is to divert corn from food production).

• Let's have our federal politicians be bound to a balanced budget or very low deficit levels (with reasonable extenuating circumstances provisions, such as response to bona fide attacks on our homeland) so that the taxpayers really do control the overall size of the federal budget and we force our elected leaders to make the best choices when spending our tax dollars.

On a very personal and local level, I will commit to taking more local trips on foot, by bicycle or bus (e.g. four-item shopping trips), and use my saved gas money to support local businesses and nonprofits. If 20,000 (25 percent) of the 80,000-plus Ahwatukee Foothills residents would do that to the tune of just $50 of gasoline per year (less than 6 miles a week of walking, biking or bus use instead of driving), that's $1,000,000 of immediate economic impact over the next 12 months (plus any local re-spending of that money).

Combine that with a goal of having 20,000 of us donate $50 of additional clothing or food to AF/Phoenix organizations, that's another $1,000,000 going back into our community to support those who are homeless and/or out of work.

Writing to the AFN, parroting a few quotes and simply criticizing current leadership really doesn't contribute much to our community's or country's progress.

The folks who should get published, here, are those who have the courage to put forth ideas for discussion and debate where-in their intent is to rally the public to chart a positive, winning course for our community and our country. Purely unconstructive criticism does nothing to make that happen.

Let's encourage letters and commentary from people who are willing to "put up" and/or truly inform and educate (I'm hoping for the next Walter Cronkite), and tell the others to "shut up" by not continuing to publish rants not accompanied by proposed solutions.

Free speech without constructive ideas and proposals contributes little to progress. And, reasonable editorial discretion does allow for the choice not to publish offensive or unconstructive opinions.

• Bob Beane is an economics graduate of the College of Wooster and an MBA accounting graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He is also a bicycling advocate and has been a resident of Ahwatukee since 1992.

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