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Unlocking Our Unlimited Ability: Vision for America
Originally published by Charlie Breiton on DailyKos on June 13, 2017
America has inspired generations of people that the impossible was possible. Due to America’s endless opportunity — our futures could be whatever we desired. We just have to be willing to work hard enough to make it happen. No matter where we start in life — we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and through our hard work and enterprise — we can build a better life. America’s promise isn’t that all of its people would be born into prosperity, but that all of its people have the opportunity to achieve it.
We continue to hold this ideal very dear, but our history has shown that America’s promise hasn’t always been kept. Not all Americans have had the same chance at America’s opportunity as others. No matter how hard these Americans worked, they were prevented from achieving more. There are many reasons why, but the bottom line is — our government shouldn’t get in the way or keep us from being able to reach our potential. It instead should be there to help us when we need it. Government should focus on opening doors to opportunity; never actively working to close off opportunity to any American.
Through free markets, competition and freedom — Americans have the opportunity to work hard and change their fortunes. Generation after generation, Americans built a country like no other and through their optimism, labor, and effort many shared in the American dream — rising up to achieve economic independence. While not all Americans improved their economic standing, it was believed to be more about their work ethic than anything else. Therefore, it was their personal responsibility to do more to be able to live better and achieve prosperity.
Government can help us unlock our unlimited ability and foster a better, more prosperous America. For example, I believe some of what our government should be focused on includes:
- Providing all Americans a quality public education to build a strong foundation for life-long learning. An early education that helps our youngest learn to read, write and prepares them to be successful throughout their educational career is a must. We need to ensure that our schools remain strong. We need to continue to encourage and support parents, grandparents, other family members and the community in engaging, holding accountable and teaching our youngest the necessary skills to be successful in life.
- Ensuring college and post-secondary education is affordable. Our changing economy requires ever-different and new skills. A college degree has become a necessity for many Americans to remain competitive in the emerging job market. For many — the cost of college has risen so high that they either cannot attend or leave college with life-altering debt. Equipping Americans with the skills to keep America’s economy competitive shouldn’t be a profit center. Yet, student loans carry higher interest rates and less consumer protections than other types of loans. The system is broken and prevents many Americans from reaching their potential, while many companies are making large profits on the backs of students and their families.
- Protecting our health, so we are able to continue to work hard and leverage America’s opportunity. Americans should have health insurance that works for them. Our government should ensure that health insurance is affordable, isn’t dependent on our job and is accessible no matter what life stage we are in. Minimally, all Americans should receive a standard level of health insurance that provides good coverage and is there for us through good and bad times, so we can take chances, like starting a small business, and not worry about lack of health insurance coverage.
- Encouraging hard work and the opportunity to build our own enterprises. Many Americans do not have the money and access to capital to start their own business. Small businesses are the economic engine of our nation and our government should encourage their growth. Americans with innovative ideas and not the capital to bring them to fruition — should have access to low-interest loans to start and grow their businesses. In addition, we should not only encourage Americans to live up to their potential, but also provide a safety net to catch them if they fall. Unemployment benefits and health insurance are two ways government can support enterprising Americans who venture into the unknown to take a risk to build a better America — so that if they fail — they are able to pick themselves up and keep going.
- Provide a regulatory environment that allows Americans to be successful, but also protects our most vulnerable. Business practices that endanger Americans, damages the environment, takes advantage of consumers and labor, and unfairly affect other businesses cannot be tolerated. Our government must protect Americans, but be judicious in ensuring that regulations do not have unwanted side effects of overly penalizing those that are acting in good faith and trying to build a better America.
- Building world-class infrastructure. Good public infrastructure is essential for growing the American economy and providing more opportunity for business growth, higher wages and encouraging additional private investment. Investments in new transportation models, broad-band internet to all areas of the country and improved energy sources like solar, wind and smart-electrical networks will provide a means for more hard-working Americans to achieve economic prosperity and independence.
- Allow us to retire with dignity. After giving our best years working hard to achieve our potential, we should know that we have a base level of income and health care in retirement. In an age of disappearing pensions, flat wages, and rapidly increasing college tuition (starting younger Americans out with massive debt or eating up their parents’ retirement savings) — saving for retirement has become increasingly difficult. Social Security is even more important than ever and our government should look to strengthen it — not reduce or eliminate the program.
A compassionate America knows that competition alone will not allow enough of us the opportunity to fulfill on America’s promise. Instead, we need to nurture and invest in all Americans to grow our potential and in turn — improve our country. Through our compassion and ingenuity — we’ll be able to provide an environment that focuses on increasing the value of all of our lives. It’s this vision of America that I hope to help build, so all of us are able to be inspired by America and achieve greatness.
By Charlie Breit, Pleasant Prairie, WI (Lives in Paul Ryan’s district)