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Summing up your political philosophy

As I See It

During a recent “Imus in the Morning” radio broadcast, which incidentally will no longer be heard in Mississippi beginning today, CBS News anchor Dan Rather was a guest on the program.

During the course of conversation, acerbic host Don Imus accused Rather of having a liberal bias. Rather responded, saying the he believed in strong defense, tight money and clean water.

How neat and tidy to have your political philosophy encapsulated into such a succinct package.

There are so many political issues of importance coming at us every day that it could be helpful for each of us to divine our own political philosophy. Mississippi is a consistently conservative state and can be counted on to line up on the conservative side of most issues. I think that most of us would agree with Rather’s support for strong defense and judicious control of public funds. Clean water is certainly desirable; however, the subject conjures up images of environmental whack-a-dos that are distasteful to many Mississippians.

There is much talk these days of what to do about illegal aliens residing in our country. There is some support for granting amnesty and citizenship for those already here.

For many years, America welcomed immigrants with open arms. The Irish, eastern Europeans and, more recently, Asians have flocked to the United States, have assimilated themselves into our culture and made important contributions to out society. Do we feel that America is full now and that no more foreigners should be allowed in? All of our ancestors immigrated here at one time or another, including Native Americans. This is a difficult issue that deserves consideration.

Many Americans, including myself, would like to see our shameful Internal Revenue Code scrapped and some type of simplified, flat tax substituted. Recent tax legislation has reduced the income tax brackets a couple of percentage points and provided for ending the estate tax over the next decade.

Proponents of the estate tax argue that it is a tool to prevent a few families from accumulating unconscionable wealth and thereby gaining absolute control or to exerting undue influence over the government of our country. Is that possible? As the law now stands the estate tax will be phased out completely over the next 10 years or so.

Assuming the highly unlikely scenario that some future Congress doesn’t undo the estate tax phase-out before its demise is complete, are we laying the groundwork for the return of the robber barons that became so powerful before legislation, including the estate tax, clipped their wings? What about the billions of dollars donated to charity through the wills of wealthy descendants as part of their estate tax minimization plan? In its simplest form, the question is whether death should be a taxable event.

In passing the Sherman Antitrust Act, Congress accepted that monopoly breeds poor performance and high prices. Though that act deals with business monopolies, the principles are equally true for other organizations.

Public education is the largest monopoly in America. Would competition improve education and lower cost? In my view, it would. The problem is how to offer competition fairly.

Any move toward widespread school choice for everyone must be carefully considered. Kids in rural areas need to have choices just as much as kids in metropolitan areas. Additionally, local governments are now supplying public education and a massive change toward competition would have to be accomplished in a manner that is fair to them. Systems of vouchers and tax credits have been mentioned as possible solutions. Competition is a powerful thing and in all likelihood would improve education if a delivery system that is fair to all can be devised. What do you think?

There are hundreds of other political issues that are under scrutiny and worthy of consideration. Giving some thought to the issues and their present and future implications arms us with a personal political philosophy that keeps us from being blown asunder by every wind of change.

Just as Thomas Jefferson was deeply concerned about the importance of an informed electorate, so should we be.

Thought for the Moment — Be careful not to do your “acts of righteousness” before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. — Matthew 6:1

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. Contact him at cpajones@msbusiness.com.


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