Over the years I've had the opportunity to hear many of the better known motivational speakers. My favorite is Jim Rohn and I especially like Rohn's references to bettering yourself and your station in life by asking yourself “the tough questions”. He usually adds that if you want to be better, you shouldn't “hang around” with an easy crowd – you need to associate with people who will ask you tough questions and challenge you to think through your answers to ensure you are on the right track for success.
As I write this column, we are one month away from an election that I believe to be the most important in my lifetime, and I have voted for president 12 times! This election will determine what type of country our grandchildren will inherit and, to a great degree, will shape the future of the free world. I think it is a good idea to ask ourselves “the tough questions” concerning the challenges we face both at home and abroad.
Those tough questions must include some that follow. Although not the most pressing, the one that seems to dominate our current news is the financial crisis. Much of the problem here is the result of something called the Community Reinvestment Act, passed in 1977 by the Carter administration. This act mandated that lending institutions meet the credit needs of the communities they serve. In 1995, the Clinton administration expanded the scope of CRA to ensure that banks committed funds to increase lending in affordable housing and economic development and services to low-income consumers.
This action might have been well intended, but the result was that banks lowered their qualification standards to enable people to buy homes whether their credit indicated that they could repay the loans or not. A large number of defaults occurred with a lot of bad paper passed to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The taxpayers are now picking up the tab for both bad judgment and outright fraud. We should ask ourselves if granting loans to people whose ability to repay the loans is in doubt is good policy.
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Then there is the matter of energy. Congress, under both political parties, has prevented us from tapping into the vast oil reserves known to be available to us here at home. The result is that we have been sending billions of dollars abroad – much of it to countries where the rulers don't like us very much. Is that a policy that we want our government to continue?
Oh, and don't be fooled by the statements that it would take 10 years to bring new domestic oil to market. People saying that sadly underestimate the ability and the ingenuity of the American people. Besides, we have got to start somewhere.
Alternative fuels must be examined seriously. We need to develop realistic plans and put into place a delivery system that will work and be cost effective. Nuclear power plants will allow us to safely meet our expanding need for electricity and at low cost. Do we want to continue to prohibit the construction of new nuclear power plants or do we want to begin construction as soon as possible?
Finally there is the matter of international Islamic terrorism. We are at war with an enemy that attacked us and murdered over 3,000 of our citizens. This same enemy has attacked us overseas thousands of times. Do we want to win this war, no matter what it takes, or do we want to take a chance that we can talk our way out of additional attacks on civilian targets?
These are all tough questions but they are questions we must not ignore. They are questions that we should keep in mind when we are marking our ballots. The choices we make should reflect our commitment to our children and not just provide us with more instant gratification.
I can't remember an election where the differences in philosophy were so great or so obvious. We need to pray for the wisdom to choose wisely.