Austin Hill
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Barack Obama is beating Mitt Romney.

Wait- Romney and Obama are tied in Pennsylvania.

And how about all those bungled calls from the NFL fill-in refs?

Americans are seriously pre-occupied as we enter the fourth quarter of 2012. Obsessions about the football season and “Dancing with The Stars” are a pleasant diversion from our present hardship and gloomy future, and frustrations over the logic-defying presidential polls makes for interesting talk show fodder.

But after the election – and after the close of 2012 – Americans will need to grapple with myriad problems in our government. Whoever wins the White House will face an avalanche of trouble in the months ahead, and the ways in which these problems are addressed will reverberate for generations.

Americans must begin to see through the rhetoric of politicians and the slant and soundbytes of the media, and demand better government from those elected to serve. The “pass the bill and then figure out what’s in it” approach is unacceptable. So let’s start with our “get a grip” agenda with this: Americans must sober-up about our economic and fiscal condition.

At present it would seem that we’re taking the upcoming election about as seriously as a football game. Team Obama has the home field advantage, while Romney and company are the visitors trying to upset Obama at his homecoming. The make-up of the Congress will then round-out each team’s roster, but the “players” are thought to be all essentially the same.

Yet America is in serious trouble. Private industry is suffering shell shock from the flurry of demands and restrictions placed upon it in the last three years, most of which have stemmed from environmental constraints, so-called “banking reform,” mortgage restrictions, and Obamacare. Our currency is being debased by the minute, as our government’s debt exceeds 70% of our GDP and the Federal Reserve continues to print money while keeping interest rates artificially low.

President Obama is committed to making matters worse- he promises higher taxes and more government spending, and has offered no vision for undoing the disastrous and damaging components of Obamacare. Mr. Romney is moving in the correct direction by proposing an expansion of free trade and modest spending cuts, but does not (and in political terms perhaps cannot) come close to where we must go.

So Americans must decide – do we want prosperity and opportunity for the long-term, or do we want the short-term yet unsustainable pleasure of politicians satiating our petty jealousies towards “rich people” and dolling-out lots of free goodies? If it’s the former we want, then we’ll have to seriously change some things: freeze income tax rates where they are; cut corporate taxes; raise the Social Security eligibility age to 72 (for, say, American workers age 45 and younger) and allow for private investment of portions one’s withholdings; gut Obamacare and start over; and cut taxes on small businesses and restrictions on small business lending.

And here’s another agenda item: America must begin utilizing its own resources again. While the currencies of Europe, Japan and the U.S. have fallen in to varying levels of disrepute over the past four years, the dollars of Canada, New Zealand, and Australia have remained relatively strong. And these three countries share something else in common as well- they all harvest and export their own natural resources.

Canada exports oil and natural gas. Australia exports iron ore. New Zealand uses its land to produce and export food, wood products and heavy machinery. Americans must decide – do we want to be more prosperous and secure, or do we want to feel like we’re doing something nice for plant and animal life by not using our natural resources?

A radical environmental agenda has co-opted the national dialog to the point that we only talk about drilling and refining when gasoline surpasses four dollars a gallon. And as for manufacturing and farming – plenty of us blindly accept the notion that these endeavors do nothing but rape and pillage the earth and consume “too much” energy (if you don’t believe this, ask a farmer in California). It’s time to utilize our resources and unshackle our farmers and manufacturers – and to do this we have to demand change with our government.

And agenda item number three: Americans must respect private enterprise as the necessary engine of our sustenance, instead of allowing it to be co-opted for political agendas. President Obama’s “renewable energy” agenda sounds noble and makes people feel good. But after running up untold billions of dollars in debt with the financing of “green energy” companies (over 80% of which were headed-up by Obama campaign donors), there has been no such energy produced and a majority of these companies have already lapsed into bankruptcy. What masquerades as the “green energy industry” is nothing more than debt for future generations spent financing the President’s environmental politics of today.

A similar phenomenon took hold last decade. Despite President Bush’s attempts to slow things down, both Republican and Democrat leadership in the Congress enabled the cheap credit, lax lending, and “affordable housing” policies that supposedly drove “home ownership” to an all time high (it’s hard to say no when “everybody gets a house”). It made the politicians popular in the short-run, but it drove us to the brink when the bubble burst. Government co-opted the real estate and lending industries, and it failed us in painful ways.

We are not helpless victims of politicians. But will we demand better?

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Austin Hill

Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.