The Heritage Foundation was founded in 1973 and have more than 684,000 members who pay an annual fee of $25. so they are very well funded. Members include well-known conservative such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and also many not so well known, such as my father, who was much more conservative than I am. Unfortunately he died in 1995.
On their website the Heritage Foundation has a section called "Solutions for America," which is over 50 pages of their ideas of how to solve many of the problems facing this country today.
In the coming weeks I intend to look at some of the solutions offered by the Heritage Foundation and respond to them. Stay tuned
Here's my first response
Page 1 of Solutions for America is entitled "Changing America's Course. The authors seem to have an exaggerated idea of US uniqueness in the world. The first sentence says; "The United States is the world's strongest, most prosperous, most just, and freest nation."
Is that really a truthful statement? Let's examine it starting with strength. Strength can be measured in many different ways. If the Heritage Foundation means military strength, or our ability to attack and destroy other countries, we probably are the strongest. But strength also has to do with the possibilities available to each individual in this nation. If people are hungry, do we as a nation have the strength to provide them with food? If they are unemployed or homeless, is it possible for those needs to be met? If people are sick or injured and cannot find affordable health care, we certainly aren't a very strong nation. Sick, injured, hungry, homeless, and unemployed citizens do not make for a strong nation. I'm not necessarily saying that the government should automatically meet those needs. But if opportunities are not available for people to help themselves, then changes need to be made so people can have hope. When unemployed young men and women cannot find a job anywhere except by joining the military, we certainly have a very weak country. It probably means that we have devoted so many resources to the military that we are starving the other necessary parts of our economy, such as education, business, and health care.
The strength of a country can just as accurately be determined by its ability to respond to the needs of its citizens, as it's ability to attack another nation, or respond to an attack from another country.
Is the US the most prosperous nation? A study researched by Jane's Information Services and published in the British Sunday Times on March 25, 2008 addressed that very question. On the list of the top 50 most prosperous nations, the US was, NO NOT # 1, much to the dismay of the Heritage Foundation, but # 24 behind such notorious countries as Canada, France, Andorra, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, and Sweden. www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article3617160.ece
Is the US the most just country? Or to put it another way, is the US the country with the most justice. Justice has to do with fairness, especially in the judicial system. If we believe that all people "..are created equal and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" (Page 1 of the Solutions for America), than justice is certainly an important issue.
The Equal Justice Initiative at www.eji.org/eji/node/423 states that the United States is the most punitive country in the world. "Mass incarceration in the United States continues at record high level despite outsized costs. According to recent data reported in The Economist, the United States has the world's highest incarceration rate, locking up five times more people per capita than Britain, nine times more than Germany, and 12 times more than Japan."
"Recent reports have documented the magnitude of the increase in mass incarceration in the United States. In 1970, one in 400 Americans were incarcerated, compared with today's rate of one in 100. Counting people on parole or probation, one adult American in 31 in under correctional supervision."
Does this mean that there are simply more criminals in the United States? Of course not. It means that our criminal and judicial systems are essentially unjust, especially when you take into consideration that the portion of minorities incarcerated is out of proportion to their populations. Is this a just system? No way.
Is the United States the freest nation in the world as the Heritage Foundation wants us to believe? Any country in which the citizens have access to universal health care coverage is a country with more freedom than the US. This is especially true if there is a single payer plan. Then citizens have the freedom to change employers and living locations without losing their health insurance, or worrying about being unable to get insurance elsewhere especially if they have a pre-existing condition. Thankfully Pres. Obama has taken some successful steps to correct this problem with the passage of the Health Care Reform Act, but we still fall far short of nearly every other industrialized nation. Some countries like Canada are so far ahead of the US in this area that they've had coverage for over 60 years and we're just beginning to work at getting it.
In the US workplace freedoms have been disappearing for the past several decades. Mark Ames in "Going Postal" writes, "In Soviet times, workers often had to show an ID to enter their factories, which usually had a security entrance, but once a worker was inside they were never subject to the degree of full spectrum dominance as today's American workforce." Ames goes on to say that: "The strangest thing about all of this is that if you were to tell an American that his workplace is more Soviet than what the Soviets ever created, he would think you're simply a nutcase or a troublemaker" (Page 107-108).
According to Lewis Maltby in "Can They Do That: Retaking Our Fundamental Rights in the Workplace," your freedom "... disappears every morning when you go to work" (Page 1). Professor Bruce Barry from Vanderbilt University said, "Your boss can fire you for your politics, the books you read, or even the baseball team you root for, and there's usually nothing you can do about it" (Page 5).
Maltby writes, "Glen Hillier lost his job because he asked a presidential candidate an embarrassing question at a public political rally. During the 2004 presidential campaign, Hillier, who worked at an advertising and design company, attended a rally for President Bush in West Virginia. He attempted to ask Bush a challenging question about the war in Iraq. One of his company's customers, also at the rally, was offended by the implied criticism of Bush and told Hillier's boss. When Hillier came to work the next day, he was fired. When Hillier called his lawyer he was told that his boss had done nothing illegal."
"What happened to Hillier's freedom of speech? What Hillier didn't know is that, where his employer is concerned, he has no freedom of speech. The United States Constitution, (including the Bill of Rights) applies only to the government. It does not apply to private businesses. A corporation can legally ignore the constitutional rights of its employees"(Page 5).
As you can see the trend in this nation is loss of freedoms. Certainly employees who have union representation, a pension, paid vacations, and cost-of -living raises have more freedoms than those who do not, but those benefits are some the benefits that have been disappearing from the workplace during the past three conservative administrations (That includes the Reagan, Clinton, and Bush Administrations. Although Clinton was not as conservative as the other two, he was an accomplice to conservative regulation including welfare reform and NAFTA and was certainly more conservative than the Republican Nixon Administration) .
It was during these conservative administrations that many of our freedoms have been lost and not just the one I focused on, freedom of speech in the workplace. Now the conservative Heritage Foundation foolishly and inaccurately claims that we are the freest nation in the world. This ethereal platitude by the Heritage Foundation that I just dissected indicates that we have some problems with their approach. If they are going to make initial outlandish statements with no documentation, can we really expect them to offer credible sincere solutions to the problems facing America?
Stay tuned for Part 2.