Government’s power of taxation should be used for one reason and one reason only; to raise money for essential government services. It should not be a tool for social engineering or a system of rewards for supporters. The heaviest tax burden should be born by individuals and corporations with the greatest wealth, therefore the greatest ability to pay. When the Depression-era bank robber, Willie Sutton,was asked by a reporter why he robbed banks, he replies “Because that’s where the money is.”
To saddle the middle class with a disproportionate share of the tax burden in order to reduce taxes on billionaires and huge corporations is simply backwards. And that’s precisely what the recently-passed tax bill does. “Trickle-down” economics is a snake oil sales pitch, pure and simple.
Religion in politics
I am a firm believer in the strict separation of church and state, and the doctrine was embodied in our Constitution by the founding fathers for a very good reason. I simply do not want the government passing judgment on my soul, nor do I want the church passing laws to govern my body. “Mission creep” whereby religious dogma slowly works its way into the government policy is just as dangerous as government inserting itself into religious life. Both are to be avoided.
I studied English in college, but I still can’t diagram the Second Amendment. But it very clearly does guarantee the right of a citizen to own firearms. What the Second Amendment does NOT guarantee, is anyone’s right to use firearms to harm innocent people. Gun violence, I believe, has its root not in firearm ownership, but in the breakdown of the social contract in this country. Too many Americans today have lost hope of having a better life, have turned to drugs and violence out of desperation because our institutions are failing them. Anger and hate are replacing reason. Rather than take firearms from law-abiding citizens, I believe it would be more productive to restore a sense of hope among our citizens, to reinvigorate the American dream that the individual and the family matter more than greedy corporations, to instill in our citizens a faith in our political system as a logical option to violence. I see nothing in our Constitution that would prevent restoring the American dream.
I support the legalization of marijuana in states that choose to do so. I do not support the federal government treating cannabis as a dangerous drug and enforcing laws against it. Opioids, fentanyl, heroin, meth and other hard narcotics ARE dangerous; they kill people and destroy families and neighborhoods. The federal government should tax legal marijuana sales, and use the revenue to combat drugs that are truly dangerous, and to constructively address addiction and rehabilitation. The War on Drugs has been long and costly, and without notable victories. I believe that is because the federal government has misidentified the real enemy in this war. The real enemies are pharmaceutical companies that manufacture opioids and medical practitioners that over-prescribe them, violent cartels that traffic truly dangerous drugs and the street dealers who sell them. The enemies are NOT citizens who use cannabis for medical or recreational reasons. Cannabis should be removed from the FDA schedule of dangerous drugs.
It makes for a very effective sound bite to proclaim, “Divest our public lands, turn ‘em over to the states, sell ‘em to private industry.” Its an attention-grabber, but its wrongheaded and shortsighted. Our public lands should remain just that . . . public! They are our legacy and heritage, and its true that they are not easy to manage with so many diverse interests competing to use them. But the federal land management agencies and these competing users have, over generations, developed a working relationship that serves these interests and, more importantly, serves the land. Not everyone gets everything they want all the time, but the process is predictable and everyone has an opportunity to participate in it. Should this process be abandoned out of political zeal or corporate greed, and these lands come under new ownership, the very face of Wyoming and the American West would tragically change.
Unless we want our children and grandchildren to see a fence around the Bighorns, and a sign that says “Property of Saudi Royal Family”, or signs in the Red Desert warning us not to trespass on land now owned by British Petroleum, we are best advised to keep our public lands under federal management, and to fine-tune the management process instead of abandoning it. We’re much better off dealing with entities that we know than we would be turning over our public lands to someone who has never had an ice cream cone at the Farson Mercantile.
It is mind-boggling to think that, in 2018, women in Wyoming – and across the country – must demonstrate for their fair share of the American Dream. Agency and autonomy over their own lives and bodies, equivalent pay for the same work, justice under the law, political equivalency, equal partnership in the home, financial equality, protection from threat and harm…are all deserving goals for the women who helped make Wyoming the Equality State. These rights should not be denied for any reason.
That demonstrations like the Women’s March must occur means that we are still growing and learning as a nation. That so many women are willing to take to the streets means that women are willing and eager to help in that growth and education. If America can finally and fully overcome destructive gender biases and unleash the power of women, the nation will be stronger and healthier. I take great comfort in knowing that our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and all the women in our lives won’t rest until that happens. None of us should rest until that happens.
Defending our homeland is one of the primary functions of our government. But defense spending currently consumes half of our budget. Any homeowner who looks at the household budget and sees half of the family’s income going toward security alarms, guard dogs or bodyguards while the plumbing crumbles and the kids can’t have new shoes, would take a good hard look at that expenditure. Don’t get me wrong, I fully support a strong military in today’s dangerous world, but every homeless veteran, every soldier’s suicide is a strong indictment of our defense priorities today. Additionally, the Pentagon is simply unable to account for billions if not trillions of dollars of previous expenditures. Defense contractors are making huge profits from this situation and we, as citizens, must take a good hard look at how we budget for defense. I support a strong, smart military, not one that is a profit center for corporations.
Additionally, if the nation is to send the fruit of its youth into combat, I believe it should only do so after a formal declaration of war, regardless of the scope of the conflict. Such a declaration is the responsibility of Congress but in recent generations, the President has used his executive power to put our soldiers in harm’s way. Congress needs to step up and debate military engagement, as is its duty, and if necessary declare war on our enemies. Using joint resolutions or any other instrument to send troops into battle is a cop out. When our troops are on the field of battle, senators and congressmen should have just as many sleepless nights as American familiies.