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October ideal time to consider nation’s scary future

On the Chinese calendar, 2015 is the year of the wood sheep. Wood sheep are "artistic, calm, reserved, happy and kind."

Based on these warm and fuzzy attributes, 2015 sounds like a healing year: a kick back and relax year allowing us to recharge our batteries before being blasted into 2016, the year of the monkey.

Ugh! 2016, another major election year. Monkeys will rule. How appropriate.

I used to look forward to presidential elections. I was one of those diehards who watched political conventions for hours. Somehow, the monkey qualities of "witty, lively, flexible, humorous and curious" (our political essence) has turned into a monkey with rabies — vicious, dangerous and prone to a very painful and prolonged cure.

I truly believe that we live in the most blessed and vibrant nation in the world. My dad was a World War II Marine; my uncle was a "lifer" Marine pilot serving in England before the U.S. entered WWII, and subsequently in Korea and Vietnam. My "semper fi" heritage is one of which I am proud. Patriotism and being an American are in my blood.

And so, I find myself saddened by the current political climate. America is in a dilemma. Most people know our direction needs to change, that there is an ominous quality to the air we breathe. Change must come about. But how?

A dear friend is taking on the system. He ran for Congress during the last election and is doing so again. He doesn't have much support; his views are pretty radical. He calls himself an "Andrew Jackson democrat:" "a democrat that cares about people at home and around the world." He believes the solution is "more missionaries and fewer ambassadors, bureaucrats or soldiers."

He and I banter back and forth about a cacophony of issues, from the size of government to questionable laws that seem to overstep the U.S. Constitution's provisions; who should take care of those in poverty; and jobs.

I don't spend much time following the news anymore; it is so repetitive. I am not up on current issues as much as I used to be. I do know, however, that if you or I overspent our income the way our federal government does, we would be thrown into court.

I know people laid off from their job who rely on unemployment, and do so comfortably enough that they don't make getting a job their job. I was astounded to learn that Las Vegas, with the highest unemployment rate for a large city, held a job fair in May where job recruiters outnumbered those looking to find a job. What is wrong with this picture? Was attendance not a requirement to receive the next unemployment check?

My political-savvy friend would cut unemployment benefits down to a two-week window, and with ill-attended job fairs, I can see his point. I, with my a more "socially conscious" attitude, feel some assistance is needed. But how much? That seems to be the question.

My friend touts that government oversteps constitutional lines when it is influenced by media, corporations or interest groups.

My daughter, a junior high math teacher, was invited to an education consortium by her state's representative. Scheduled two weeks after school began, midweek, 300 miles from the representative's election area but within 10 minutes from his vacation home, only one other teacher attended. But vendors and special interest groups attended in full force. Was the professed point of the consortium "to understand the environment, needs and input of education in the classroom" really for the representative to align himself with vendors and special interest groups?

Is it any wonder that our teachers are forced to teach from canned computer lessons sold by these vendors? Handcuffed to the purchased system, teachers are then rated as good or bad based on the computerized format. And we wonder why our kids aren't learning!

Big government means more deficit for the public coffers and a far-reaching hand in our individual lives.

My idea to replace the income tax is to create a small flat rate for everyone and then allow each of us to contribute a portion of our tax to the programs or agencies we support. Do you support a strong military budget? You could designate X percent of the tax you pay to go toward military spending. Perhaps strengthening NASA is your wish; put your money toward NASA.

The bottom line would be that the programs the American people designate would receive funding. The rest? They would go by the wayside.

Our politicians are assembling their costumes for the coming year; trickster or treater? We face a scary future. We have a lot of skeletons in our nation's closet. It is going to take discipline and courage to refuse the promise of tainted candy a year from November. But, it is after all October, the month when we face scary monsters and skeletons. What better time to open our Pandora's box and start to tackle what really lies within?

Cat Trico has been a resident of Boulder City since 2003 and is a past president of the Senior Center of Boulder City and co-founder of the Decker Lake Wetlands Preserve. As an author and editor, she contributed to "Rights, Responsibilities, and Relationships" for youth. She can be reached at cat.circa1623@gmail.com.

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