Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Qualifications for Senator and Representative

The New Arizona Senator

In Arizona this latest election is particularly important, due to the open Senate seat the voters will be filling for the new term. 
What does Arizona need from our new Senator and our Representatives?  A summary of situations in Arizona will reveal what is needed.

As of March 2012, Arizona has:

·         high foreclosure rate per capita

·         high dropout rate from public schools

·         drug smuggling problem

·         lack of excess water

·         many illegal immigrants

·         significant debt on governmental levels

·         abundant labor force and housing

·         open space and cheap land

·         high unemployment

·         Some valuable mineral resources

·         national parks and recreational areas

·         huge Indian reservations

·         a long border with Mexico

·         military bases and aerospace industries

A new Senator should have an intimate knowledge of these issues and others.  A senator should also be cognizant of international issues also, particularly since Arizona shares a long international border with Mexico.  A good Senator will work for their home state and for the greater good of the union of states called the United States of America.   Notice that I did not say that our new Senator should be responsible to donors, contributors, PACs, campaign workers or churches.  We don't need any Senators that are bought and paid for by some special interest.  We don't need any Senators who cater to lobbyists desires rather than representing the needs of the constituents. 

The first thing that should be on a Senator's mind is the revision of the General Mining Act of 1872.  Arizona has been heavily exploited by mining interests and has little to show for that exploitation.  Temporary jobs are now gone and the decimation of the landscape remains in the form of pits and dumps and poisonous runoff.  This 1872 law was enacted to facilitate the mineral resources of a developing nation, but is now used by foreign mining interests to exploit the mineral resources of Arizona for profit and jobs in foreign nations.  Responsible representatives of Arizona on all levels should call for revision of the old 1872 law before any more huge mines are permitted, in order to obtain state and federal  revenue and ease the tax burden on citizens.  Arizona is running out of resources and what remains must be protected against exploitation as a national security concern.  Any new Senator or Representatives must recognize that stripping all of our nonrenewable mineral reserves and allowing them to be taken out of the country is poor long term planning.  As world supplies dwindle, the price will go up to repurchase those reserves. 

A Senator must have a commitment to fiscal responsibility.  Even the Federal Reserve has stated that the future will be unsustainable if spending and borrowing is not limited.  It is obvious that sometime the deficit problems will be similar to Greece, where the income of the nation will sustain the nation but not the nation and the payments being demanded by creditors.  Wars have been fought over less. 

I wonder if a legal challenge about taxpayers being forced to pay for debts incurred beyond the elected officials' term of office would be in order.  Why should a politician be allowed to run up debt, without regard to the ability to pay it back or without regard for the people who are paying for it?  What was achieved by the borrowing and is it worth the interest and payments for a long period?  Sovereign long term borrowing should be strictly prohibited in all constitutions unless voted upon by the taxpayers.  A debt limit is supposed to protect taxpayers.   No more off budget non-declared wars.  The taxpayers need protection from this debt load.   Senators and Representatives should be ready for this gigantic hassle.

As for Arizona, Tourism, Recreation and Retirement Communities are important sources of renewable income along with the military bases and aerospace industries.  Arizona Senators and Representatives should be ready to support that which benefits the state.  The earmark controversy should end with a ban but for now I would expect our Senators and Representatives to obtain earmarks for our state.  It's foolish not to. 

Arizona has a high foreclosure rate and the economy was damaged by the boom and bust.  An Arizona Senator should be well versed in the facts concerning the recession, the bailouts and their results, current litigation concerning the housing bust, the enabling legislation that precipitated the crisis, the unregulated trading in oil futures and other issues.  We cannot afford to send an unread individual to Washington to represent us.  We cannot afford to send an individual to Washington to represent us who will depend on lobbyists to brief them on pending legislation.  If a candidate doesn't want to read the legislation they are voting on, they shouldn't run.  This decadence must be corrected.

I think lobbying and fundraising should be banned from Washington while  in session in an effort to curb dereliction of duty and corruption. 

Illegal immigration has slowed because there are few jobs but is still an issue due to the lawlessness of illegal immigration and the related drug smuggling.  Thus, an ideal Senator will sponsor legislation to revise immigration policies, a process that should be led by border state Representatives and Senators.  It appears that the federal government has not sent grants to Arizona hospitals and other institutions that are serving resident illegal immigrants at state and charity expense.  Money from Washington to help out those institutions would be a benefit to Arizona.  Our new Senator should work for those goals.

Considering the state of the real estate and related industries in Arizona, the retention of federal land as open space and national parks for recreation and ranching brings in tourists and college students, which benefits the local economies.  More land on the market will only erode land value further, due to the housing glut caused by overbuilding and foreclosures.  It is suggested that empty housing and commercial units be heavily taxed, like Israel is now doing in an attempt to lower rents.  If there is any tax break taken for foreclosures by the lien holders , it should be cancelled.  A tax  on foreclosing and on holding the unit empty should be instituted instead, which will discourage foreclosures.   Understanding complex tax issues is necessary for a Senator or Representative.   They must be able to vote for a bill that displeases a big donor, because the good of the country is more important than any donor.  Even a donor will ultimately know this. 

Arizona's water problems are not going away.  As the drought continues, water supplies are dwindling.  The declaration of drought on the Colorado River complex will cut supplies to Tucson and other areas, which will impact economic development and devalue land.  It is obvious that heavy water users in industry are not feasible in Arizona, with a falling supply and rising rates.  Arizona needs renewable businesses in aerospace, astronomy, medical research, defense, assembly lines, the educational institutions, and other businesses that do not require much water to operate.   There has been some talk of an international distribution center to be located near Tucson, related to the new Guaymas, Mexico deep water port.  It is important that our Senators and Representatives understand the business need to cooperate with Mexico.  Water resources are critical in the border states and a dialogue with Mexico is needed.   International trade is a huge business and Arizona is a part of that.   Arizona's border with Mexico is an economic advantage for our state and more could be made out of it.

Smuggling is rampant where ever a government attempts to control the free flow of goods, illegal or not.  Many Latin American countries, including Mexico under President Calderon, want to decriminalize drugs in order to stop the crime wave, rather like the ending of Prohibition of alcohol in the USA ended an organized crime wave.  The emissary to a recent meeting where this was discussed was Vice President Biden.  This issue is not going away.  The lucrative nature of this smuggling has caused vicious turf battles but the participants are able to halt the violence for a visit by the Pope, which shows  power.  This phenomena will not vanish and practical ideas to cope with the situation are needed. 

The responsibility inherent in the Senate and the House to cooperate and produce compromise in order to solve fiscal problems cannot be ignored.  The foolishness of signing a pledge to never raise taxes crushes a valuable tool to control social damage from the private sector, such as the subprime scam.  None of the perpetrators should have had a tax break on any of the failed  investments or foreclosures brought on by the housing bust.   There are proposals to rewrite the tax code and our Senators and Representatives must be knowledgeable in that area.

Another area of expertise needed by Senators and Representatives is that of the  bureaucratic focus of organizations, which will determine policy wherever possible.  A thorough investigation of the mortgage lenders FANNIE and FREDDIE and a comparison of their stated goals and their actual goals must be made and steps taken to change the business culture that led to a nonproductive focus.  They wrote policy to make money on creating mortgage securities rather than on financing affordable housing for the population qualified to take out a loan.  The question of mortgage derivatives, the involvement of Fannie and  Freddie and the financial adventurism that has led to questionable investments must be understood. 

In conclusion, any candidate for office must be able to understand that long term planning is crucial to our survival as a nation.  Dedication to short term planning is foolish, like forgetting to gas up before you hit the interstate.  A lobbyist is not AAA for a politician out of gas.  The voters need politicians who will read the documents, research the material and make choices on the basis of long term planning with prorated short term goals that benefit the people represented.