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Opinions, issues shifting in our post-9/11 world

As I See It

Public policy issues are changing in the United States, as we struggle to understand and to operate in a post-9/11 world. The context for these debates, and even the issues upon which we should focus, shifted radically as soon as international terrorism found its way to American soil.

A couple of the more significant changes include:

• any interest in balancing the federal budget has been tossed out in the name of homeland defense;

• profiling, once denounced as un-American and unnecessary in fighting crime, is now seen as a promising tool in countering future terrorist attacks.

Several other issues, not related directly to the September 11th attacks, are also being reconsidered with:

• affirmative action losing its appeal; and,

• school choice gaining ground among traditionally hostile groups.

It is important to analyze the ever-changing landscape to better understand where we are and where we might be going, the issues taking us there, and the values we depend on to make critical decisions.

After all, as individuals and as a nation, we are only as stable as our values and our commitment to them.

The U.S. of A. — what a country. Our immigration policy is a mess. Officially, we claim to control immigration — as millions of illegals enter the U.S. every year with scant difficulty.

More outrageous for our staggering health care burden, countless illegals are now claiming, and receiving, medical benefits under the Medicaid programs. America is likely the only place where you can break the law and be rewarded with public health coverage. What a country!

Once, America was a beacon to the “huddled masses,” who risked everything to come here and start life anew. Now, we are a magnet for the few, selected for immigration, and the illegals, who select themselves, to break through our borders.

Security of our borders is a joke, but not funny. Any 14-year-old Mexican can enter our country anytime he wants to. How can we stop a highly-motivated and well-financed terrorist from doing the same thing? The answer is that we cannot. We are wasting billions of taxpayer dollars trying to convince the American people that we can stop terrorists at the border when, in fact, we are powerless to do so.

We need to admit the obvious and develop policy for dealing with the situation as it is and not as it is represented.

Rather than trying to stop terrorist penetration at our borders, we need to be much more aggressive in infiltrating, disrupting and eliminating terrorist organizations throughout the world.

Covert operations by the FBI, the CIA and military Special Forces, which have been trained and funded for the difficult task at hand, might not be the most politically-correct solution, but they might very well be the most effective. Disposing of terrorist leaders is integral to that scenario. Not a pretty sight, but effective.

Sticking with the politically-incorrect

And while we are in the realm of the politically-incorrect, we should broach one more divisive issue: profiling — racial, ethnic, whatever.

No doubt abuses have occurred. However, the advantage of targeting likely suspects without the necessity of targeting an equal number of unlikely suspects in order to appear balanced would remove a stumbling block to law enforcement.

Since the terrorist attacks last year, the outrage over profiling has been muted. Even the dullest among us has noticed that none of the terrorists were of, say, Welsh descent. Thus there is likely a payoff for scrutinizing folks from the Middle East rather than wasting valuable law enforcement resources on the Welsh. To my knowledge, the Welsh have no organized groups who are committed to eradicating American civilization and thus we should concentrate our efforts on those groups who do have such a goal. Politically incorrect, but sensible.

The right to choose

School choice is becoming much more accepted, particularly in minority communities. In the future I think parents will have some options for choosing where their children attend school.

In passing the Sherman Antitrust Act, Congress declared that monopoly breeds poor performance and high prices. Those principles are equally true for education as they are for business. Today, public education is the largest monopoly in America — and it performs poorly and is expensive.

The idea of school choice is gaining acceptance at a steady rate and will eventually become available to America’s school children. When public schools are forced to compete for students, the quality of public education will improve to the benefit of everyone.

Twilight of affirmative action?

Increasingly, Americans are learning that affirmative action keeps minorities from having a chance to compete on a level playing field and interferes with learning the skills to succeed in a global economy. In addition, it advances the perception that minorities cannot survive without some sort of government-mandated advantage.

Perhaps this program had merits at one time, but that time has come and gone.

In America, no one should be discriminated against based on race, sex or religion.

No one.

And that might be the most important American value of them all.

Thought for the Moment — Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.

— politician William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925)

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

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