Hercules: who and where are you?
Labor Day has come and gone. Itís time to get serious, to get out there and pick up all those nuts and pine cones and squirrel them away against the coming of winter. Donít we wish it were that easy?
While it is natural to hope our future will be brighter than our past, the reality of history tells us we have not seen an end to economic boom and bust. We have not seen an end to armed conflict. And, with so many unaccounted for atomic weapons available to the highest bidder, we may be at more risk than during the Cold War.
For sure, the business cycle will cycle. Stock prices will come down. We will see periods of inflation, even stagflation.
Red China is in serious economic difficulty and that means more repression at home and a more aggressive foreign policy. Terrorism is raising its ugly head throughout the states of the former Soviet Union. The United States has not had a coherent foreign policy in seven years. Instead, we have applied band-aids to foreign-policy problems that do not concern our vital interests and we have squandered our military resources on the internal disputes of other nations where our vital interests are not involved.
Currently, the once mighty U.S. Air Force is short 1,400 pilots and about 3,500 enlisted men and women. The U.S. Army will fail to meet its 1999 recruiting goals by 10,000. The U.S. Navy is short over 20,000 sailors. If the Clinton Administration has its way, our national promise of lifetime medical care to veterans with service-connected disabilities will be scrapped. If one set out to write a scenario designed to weaken our armed forces, one could not write a better one than the way our armed forces have been sent, since 1993, on foolís errands and with inadequate resources at that.
If you travel abroad, you soon learn we are envied for our material wealth and are, at the same time, an international laughing stock. Letís face it. Those who have occupied the White House since 1993 havenít given us our most shining hours. Not one to be overly influenced by what the people of lesser powers say about us, I must admit it is hard to hold oneís head up while abroad. There are Clinton jokes in every language.
Fortunately, our Founding Fathers gave us a way to wash out our Augean Stables every four years. But to clean up the mess being left in Washington will require a true Hercules.
As conservative thinker, Grover Norquist, likes to put it: Americans have a choice of two political parties: the give-me-more-taxes-party and the leave-me-alone-party. The latter want government to stick to its fundamental constitutional tasks of national defense and keeping its citizens secure in their property and their persons. The former must have more and more taxes to give away to their core constituent groups in return for their votes.
Therefore, the Democrats have reason to be alarmed by the Republican plan to cut the national tax bill by almost $800 billion dollars. If those dollars are not collected from the taxpayers, they will not be available to be spent on new programs designed to create more dependency upon big government. When Vice President Al Gore says the GOP tax cut will be dead-on-arrival at the White House, he is telling his big-government core constituency what it wants to hear.
Meanwhile, the Republicans must do a better job of taking their message of less taxation and less government to the voters. But it is difficult to overcome the biased media which are more than happy to help the Left paint the Right has uncaring millionaires who want to rob babies of their milk and senior citizens of free medicine.
The nation faces serious challenges in 2000, not the least of which will be picking someone who can clean the national stable. Now, all we need is a Hercules.
William Hamilton is a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today.