I love the United States, and I love what it means to be an American. But let's face it, whether you think that America is the greatest country in the world or not, you're probably right. There are many things that make America a great place to live, but there are a number of issues which we face, and will continue to face, that are sending us down a road towards mediocrity (and even failure).
In a country where our discourse was once divided, and has now scattered into a spiderweb of varying political thought, we are faced with a great deal of political issues - some more important than others. Addressing these 10 issues specifically would allow the United States to lead by example, and inevitably restore America to what once made it great.
1. Another Housing Crisis
The result of government mismanagement and bad business practices, the sub-prime mortgage crises (or the Housing Bubble Burst) became the major cause of economic downturn for the United States in 2007 and 2008. The Federal Reserve has decided to double down on these policies, by spending billions of dollars a month to buy up mortgage backed securities. Peter Schiff says this is an attempt to re-inflate the bubble that already burst, and could cause another collapse of similar proportions.
2. Marriage Rights
Despite supposedly having the support of our current president, very little has been done in the way of legalizing gay marriage in this country. While this may not appear to be a major issue to everyone, it is a civil rights issue where the United States is well behind the curve. Marriage is a right, not a privilege, and should be guaranteed to all consenting adults. It is time for both parties to lay down partisanship, step over bigotry, and get the ball rolling.
3. The Decline of Privacy
With the Surveillance State growing exponentially over the last decade in the way of drones, the TSA, the PATRIOT Act, stop-and-frisk, and other similar legislation, this has now become a serious issue. The Fourth Amendment is being thrown by the wayside in the name of "security." These policies do little-if-not-nothing to make us safer, and put us on a slippery slope toward an Orwellian police state where big brother is always watching you. It is never irrelevant to quote Benjamin Franklin, when he said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
4. A Massive Regulatory Burden
Be it the swath of new regulation buried in the Affordable Care Act, consumer choice in light bulbs and toilets, or the legality of drinking raw milk, the regulatory burden in this country is becoming unsustainable. When kid's lemonade stands are being shut down, men are being imprisoned for holding bible studies in their home, or the conservation of rainwater winds you up in an extensive legal battle, there is something seriously wrong with referring to America as "Land of the Free."
5. Ending the Drug War
There few more morally reprehensible acts which I can think of than the policy of locking nonviolent human beings in cages. It is time for us to end the war on drugs, and return to personal responsibility. There are two ways of looking at, the drug war is either a miserable failure or a great success. It fails in all the ways alcohol prohibition failed. But it succeeds in being one of the largest and most transparent rackets in the history of American government. To either end, ending the efforts now would have positive effects on the economy and greatly reduce violent crime.
6. The Broken Two-Party System
As Congressman Ron Paul asked in his farewell speech to Congress: "Why does changing the party in power never change policy? Could it be that the views of both parties are essentially the same?" The answer is yes. While Republicans and Democrats often tout very different rhetoric, and pretend to represent vastly different visions of government, both parties have frighteningly similar policies which have contributed to our demise: deficit spending, high taxation, endless wars, unfunded liabilities, destruction of civil liberties, broken monetary policy, corporate welfare ... cronyism, nepotism, despotism.
7. Unfunded Liabilities
Speaking of unfunded liabilities, if we don't do something to change it (i.e., cut spending or raise taxes) the money the United States has borrowed or will have to pay future recipients of programs like Medicare and Social Security is about $88 trillion. Even when accounting for future tax revenues, that number is about $65 trillion, an amount that exceeds the economic output of the entire planet.
8. The Age of Preemptive War
In the days of the Vietnam War, young people served as a major vocal opposition to (what they saw as) an unnecessary war. For my generation however, war has become white noise. Even more frightening is that the United States is going to war all over the planet without Congressional approval; similarly, many of the wars are fought on invisible fronts through the use of drones and other technology. The impacts of this may decrease the massive death once associated with war, but blurs the lines between what is acceptable behavior and what are war crimes.
9. The Collapsing Dollar
The dollar today is worth four cents compared to what the Federal Reserve started with in 1913. To put it another way, what you could have bought with $1 in 1913 would cost you $22.41 today. This path is absolutely unsustainable. Economists like Paul Krugman tells us that inflation is a good thing. However, as Hans-Hermann Hoppe asked: "Explain to me how the increase in paper pieces can make a society richer. If that were the case, explain to me: why is there still poverty in the world? Isn't every central bank capable of printing as much paper as they want? ... Please explain to me how a piece of paper can make society richer."
10. Restoring Constitutionalism
There is simply no issue more pressing to our time than restoring the principles held by our founding fathers and getting back to the Constitution. The fact that we have come so far away from these principles is the number one detriment to our society, and likely the cause of most-if-not-all of the problems we are facing. As the legitimacy of government is granted by the people, Constitutionalism demands that government power be limited and the people be free. This is the only practical path to liberty and prosperity.