Common Sense: The question

February 13, 2015 JERRY KASSAR
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Ronald Reagan’s birthday was last Friday, February 6.  It would have been his 104th. Conservatives like myself tend to judge all political, philosophical and governmental things comparatively to his eight years in office.

Considering that he practically coined the expression, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” in an effort to focus voters during a political campaign, I think it is appropriate to raise the question today as it relates to America.

I think, when looking at the international situation, most Americans would say no. The strangling hold terrorism has over so much of the world has affected us all. And unfortunately there seems to be no reason to believe that we have turned the corner on this war as of yet.

I suspect many Americans would question if the promise of President Obama bringing about a new and improved phase in race relations came about. If anything, it seems that violent unrest and protest have reached points that we have not seen since the Vietnam War.

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Civil discourse seems to have taken second place to heated and emotional confrontations fueled by social media that lead to physical altercations.

The economy presents a mixed bag at best. Although the last recession appears to be behind us, there is ample statistical data to indicate that the divide between the wealthiest and poorest has grown.  And the middle class as a whole has shrunk these past 20 years.  The promise of America remains, but obtaining it has become harder for many.

Of course, America remains great because its foundations are built upon a strong and clear Constitution bolstered by a Bill of Rights and amendments that have kept this living document alive and relevant.

And our strong tradition and laws that guarantee freedom, liberty and for the most part the pursuit of happiness for these past 239 years place us head and shoulders above any other place on Earth.  Ronald Reagan understood what makes America great and during his Presidency his vision , beliefs and leadership combined to cause many if not most Americans to feel good about their nation.

That does not seem to be so much the case today. So I think, as Ronald Reagan’s birthday passes, we should be additionally reminded that, above all, Ronald Reagan offered hope for all Americans that our country had a bright future that simply required one regular ingredient – an American people that believed in our nation’s greatness and is willing to work to make and keep the United States great.


 

Governor Cuomo would make a terrible dart player. I am convinced if he played the game like he pushes certain issues that he would constantly miss the board.

Take for example the governor’s renewed interest in taxpayer-financed elections. He renewed his call as a response to the arrest of now former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver who coincidentally was also a big supporter of taxpayer-funded elections.

Now, frankly, I must really wonder how taxpayer financing of state elections at the tune of better than $100 million every four years would have kept Silver from being indicted for taking around $4 million in bribes.

Taxpayer funding of elections will not make a crook honest.  Not one of the many legislators that have been indicted and convicted of crimes in the past five years would have been dissuaded by taxpayer-funded elections.

If the governor wants a real reform that might do some good, he should come out in support of term limits for legislative leaders. No one should ever be speaker for 20 years.

In fact, something like six to eight years maximum would make a lot of sense. Longer terms allow for too much power to become concentrated in the office, reducing the roles of individual legislators and contributing to our current ethics problems.


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