The United States is the most influential country in the world. Although not all nations will copy what America does, our policies and cultural practices seriously influence what the rest of the world can and will do. When the United States embraces policies and practices that serve the rights and interests of the American People, it makes it far more affordable and sustainable for other nations to support the rights and interests of their Peoples.
The decisions by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to treat internet service providers as utilities is one recent example where individual rights and interests are being protected by the United States government. By treating all internet traffic equally, ISPs will be required to improve internet access for all instead of forcing consumers to compete on ever increasing prices for slow growing bandwidth. That is, if they want to compete with their fellow telecommunications companies as they must now do, they will have offer better services at competitive prices.
Abandoning the notion of “net neutrality” would have created a perverse incentive for telecommunications companies to limit their investment in additional bandwidth, i.e. they would have been able to pressure consumers who need faster internet access to pay more by limiting the access of those who are not willing, or able, to pay a premium . That said, critics are correct when they proclaim increased regulation will add costs. The costs associated with enforcement and adherence to regulations are real; however, the benefits of regulations are also real.
In the case of the internet, regulations are being implemented before the harm done by the telecommunication industry’s drive to charge more for access to the internet is fully realized. Luckily, the cost of regulations can be minimized by the creation of streamlined regulations that are based on already existing industry standards. Recognizing the US government has subsidized the expansion of bandwidth, the telecommunications companies that are dragging their feet when it comes to expanding America’s networks are the ones who will be eventually outcompeted.
Furthermore, what the big guys do in the private sector also influence what the little guys can and will do. One powerful win for the American People is Walmart’s decisions to raise their minimum wage to $9 per hour then $10 per hour, which is a policy shift being embraced by other major chains as well. Higher wages will, of course, add costs and could further undermine Walmart’s ability to increase its profitability and global market share; however, there are benefits that can ensure Walmart has a solid future.
If the human resource departments of these companies are capable of using higher wages to sniff out better workers, this policy change will successful make WalMart and its cohorts far more competitive as a brand while forcing other employers to raise wages in order to retain or attract quality workers. Although this wage increase will not be insufficient to retain quality workers forever as it is still below what workers will need to survive and thrive, i.e. Walmart workers need greater opportunities to get raises, it will help force changes in how much all US workers are paid, because Walmart is America’s largest employer. This, in turn, could help increase loyalty to Walmart as well as give employees more money to spend at Walmart.
With these developments in mind, the near shutdown of the US Department of Homeland Security serves as an example of how the US government fails to serve the interests of the American People as it should. In essence, Republicans chose to delay funding of this component of national security, which is a top GOP concern, in order to use its shutdown as leverage to force Democrats to agree to changes to human services policies in the realm of immigration, i.e. a top concern for Democrats. It comes at no surprise that the Republican-lead House and State has failed in its efforts to change President Obama’s immigration policy.
Unfortunately for House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell managed to put the entire burden of funding the DHS onto his House counterpart when he originally allowed a successful vote on a clean funding bill. In turn, John Boehner has managed to drag out the process by rejecting that bill and settling for a continuing resolution that is sure to lead to either a DHS shutdown or another continuing resolution that funds the DHS separately from the rest of the government for a few more days or weeks.
At any rate, Republicans are fighting a battle that the Democrats are not interested in fighting when they could be devoting their effort and taxpayer dollars to actual immigration reform, which would completely nullify the President’s contentious Executive Orders. What puts House Speaker Boehner in a tough position is that he must either upset the majority of the country and more responsible Republicans by playing chicken with the White House over funding the Department of Homeland Security or alienate a large portion of his far-Right Republican colleagues. In truth, the choice is actually very obvious, if politics is a distance second to serving the American People.
The so-called “Tea Party Revolution” within Republican ranks is tearing the GOP apart and forcing it to behave increasingly dysfunctional in order to maintain its voting bloc. Because the Tea Party cannot be appeased without fully catering to their demands at the expense of responsible Republican interests and the interests of moderates from both parties, the best solution for Boehner is to use the Tea Party as a block when necessary to derail far-Left proposals and join Democrats to pass compromises that actually address the interests of the American People.
In other words, John Boehner needs to stand up in front of the US House of Representatives as its leader and say, “we are here to serve the interests of the American People, not our political agendas.” After all, a true leader is someone who stands up for what is right and what must be done, not what others want him to do. Over time, this strategy will help him regain control over his caucus while allowing him to mitigate the more liberal impulses of Democrats without isolating the GOP from the moderate majority of Americans.
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