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As I See It

When Tuesday rolls around, vote early — vote your convictions

Tuesday is Election Day and I, for one, am glad this campaign season is coming to a conclusion. All the bitter rhetoric, unending news coverage and misleading advertising by both parties has worn me out.

Optimistically, we’ll know the winner of all the political contests by Wednesday and be able to get on with our lives. Realistically, it isn’t gonna happen. Both parties have engaged a legion of lawyers to supervise the election process and lawsuits aplenty will be forthcoming.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to be the primary concern of the American people. And, well it should. We are mired in a situation that, no matter how nobly undertaken, will take a decade or more to resolve. I smelled Vietnam in the air before we ever launched the invasion of Iraq. Sadly, my worst fears have been realized. Our military invasion of Iraq has destabilized a culture that we don’t understand. Now we’re frantically trying to put the pieces back in place to create a new Iraq in line with our concept of how we want them to live. Iraq has not chosen democracy in over 5,000 years of recorded history and is unlikely to do so now.

This shouldn’t be a major presidential campaign issue since there isn’t much difference in how President Bush and Senator Kerry would conduct the war from this point forward. We’re there now and we can’t just up and leave. I believe that Senator Kerry would be unsuccessful in persuading other nations to share in prosecuting the war. It’s our baby, and we’ve got to take care of it. It’s going to be a long, drawn out experience that will try America’s resolve for years to come.

Having said all of that, I am not opposed to the war on terrorism. I believe that President Bush was correct in initiating a pre-emptive strike rather than waiting for more terrorist attacks against Americans. In years gone by, the better solution would have been to let the CIA handle it through clandestine assassinations of Saddam Hussein and his cohorts. Unfortunately, the bleeding-heart liberals have so emasculated the CIA that they are no longer effective at espionage operations, so now we have to destroy an entire country to get at the bad guys. Sometimes being nice and politically correct just doesn’t get the job done.

The economy is the other big issue in this year’s presidential election. And, particularly with this emotion-charged issue, the spin, exaggerations and outright misleading information coming from both parties have been disgusting.

Economic globalization and the technology explosion of the 1990s are facts of life that neither candidate can do much about. Consumers (that would be you and me) demand cheap prices for stuff and utilizing offshore labor is the only way to make good stuff cheap. Neither candidate has a proposal to stem the migration of American jobs offshore nor will one be forthcoming because nothing can be done. End of story.
Similarly, the technology revolution replaced a lot of people jobs with computer applications. The good news is that business now operates more efficiently than before. The bad news is that unemployment has risen as a result of improved technology. Again, neither candidate can do much about this permanent loss of American jobs.
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n the brighter side, employment growth has finally begun in the last quarter of this year and it appears that net job increases will be with us for the next year or two anyway. These are not necessarily high-paying jobs, but they’re jobs nonetheless. The turn came too late to do President Bush much good, but it will make things better for the country nonetheless.

While on the subject of jobs, we need to be mindful that presidents have little impact on job creation. That is a function of our free market economy and does not result from an executive order. They have the ability to manipulate the tax rates and interest rates and thereby set the stage for economic prosperity, but directly, they have little influence. Thus, it’s all fluff when both parties crow about their success in creating jobs. That accolade rightfully belongs to the business community.

Well, what will we be talking about after the election is over? Again, naively assuming that the election results will be finally known shortly after the voting is done, we’ll still have the war and the economy. But, they won’t get as much publicity since the hundreds of millions of dollars of political advertising will be gone from the tube and newspapers.

I suppose we can all just go to Wal-Mart and buy us a shirt without a trace of guilt over the “Made in Bangladesh” label. Such is America.

Please vote your convictions in this, and every, election. It’s an obligation and a privilege that has been bought at an awesome price. Failure to exercise our right to vote dishonors the men and women who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Let’s have a record turnout for this election.

Thought for the Moment — Freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves. — philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

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

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