I would like to continue discussing differing viewpoints of the two major parties on critical issues over the next couple of months, but first let me respond to the thoughtful letter by Steve Plutt in the May 31 edition of The Flume regarding President Trump’s support for Red Flag bills.

I can’t think of any friend I have who I agree with on 100 percent of the issues, nor would I vote for (or against) any candidate based on a single issue. It may be unfortunate that the President supports these laws, but I am mostly in agreement with the direction the country is headed under his leadership on the majority of the issues.

I read an interview today with Kirsten Gillibrand, one of the Democratic contenders for next year’s presidential race. She has an interesting idea to help young people in our society earn credits to be used for college education or other technical training.

She is modeling this after the GI Bill for veterans and is proposing giving two years of financial aid for one year of some sort of public service, or four years of aid for two years of service. Bonus dollars would be awarded for choosing to work in disadvantaged areas of the country.

This reminds me of FDR’s Works Progress Administration, and by itself is not a bad idea. I’ve always felt young people in the 18-21 year age range should be encouraged to do some sort of public service, whether it be Peace Corps, military service, or some other aspect of public work.

I feel I learned so much about myself and my country serving in the military rather than going to college right out of high school, and I was much better prepared for college afterward. I was more aware of the opportunities that awaited me and had more confidence in my abilities.

While I don’t think the current economy is anything close to the Great Depression era, there is some merit to tackling the backlog of infrastructure issues this country is facing. A program like this, provided it is properly designed and administered, would provide skills training and self-respect for our emerging citizens rather than just putting people on the public dole with no requirement for putting anything of value back into the economy.

One of the things I like about her proposal is that she is not offering a free ride or forgiveness for current education loans. Many students in the 70s and 80s, when college costs began skyrocketing, took out loans of various types to finance their higher education, and then proceeded to pay those loans off as they began their new careers. All of the people holding debt today for their education signed promissory notes agreeing to whatever terms were being offered and were not coerced into the debt they assumed.

A blanket amnesty program would be financially disastrous for this country, affecting millions of folks who were not party to those loans.

The thing that bothers me most about this proposal is that she is proposing to create a new cabinet-level position to oversee this program. This is just another example of the way the Democratic Party would like to grow the government and control the economy at the federal level.

There are other federal agencies that could provide high-level administration of this without federal bloat, such as the General Services Administration or the Army Corps of Engineers. The majority of the work and decision-making in an effort like this should be done at the local and state levels, where citizens such as you and me and our locally elected officials can decide on which projects would take priority. We don’t need bureaucrats in Washington telling us which roads have the worst potholes.

As citizens, we need to listen to all of the details surrounding the issues our country faces and educate ourselves on what makes the most sense for the future of our society.

Does our entire health care industry need to be put under centralized decisions at the federal level on who gets what care, or do we just need practical oversight and simple policies while allowing a program of competitive facilities and consumer choice to find the right provider for each family?

Do we need a national curriculum dictated by folks at a desk in D.C. who have never even been in our community, or should we trust our neighbors, elected by us to our local school boards, to oversee our children’s (and theirs) education?

These questions all boil down to having a larger federal government with more control over our lives (and more money out of our pocket) or a smaller federal government with more local control and more personal freedom to choose. The choice will be yours next year, so get informed.

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