America Is Suffering From Chronic Poor Leadership

America Is Suffering From Chronic Poor Leadership

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

At the end of the Cold War in 1989, the common understanding was that, with the emergence of the United States as the world’s single superpower, an era of order and peace would ensue. The perpetual struggle between nations vying for hegemonic dominance was over.

America had won, and the world was better for it. Compared to Nazis, Communists, Islamists, and others seeking control, America, as the world’s leading democracy, was clearly the least self-seeking and most committed to the common welfare.

It hasn’t worked out that way. Unfortunately, over the ensuing decades, Americans have elected a series of manifestly unqualified leaders. Two undistinguished leaders of small southern states, two scions of a well-respected family with limited leadership instincts, and a leftist “community organizer” who had been an inconsequential member of a state legislature, but who orated well and wore great suits.

We most recently elected a lifelong politician with a reputation as an incompetent plagiarizer and a weakness for outrageous lying and corruption. At this writing, he seems set for a rematch in the next election against another incumbent who must be one of the most incurious, entitled, and self-absorbed people to ever achieve high office.

Elections have consequences. America’s record of electing mediocre-at-best leaders has created a world very different from 1989. America’s standing in the world has sharply declined. Competition and chaos once again dominate international affairs.

America’s leaders no longer understand the critical importance of peace through strength. Instead, they seem to believe that successful statecraft is based on accommodation and concession. In a nuclear world, acting forcefully with enemies is just too risky. Better to make nice with autocrats and hope not to rile them up.

So, we get the contrivances of “leading from behind” and “red lines” which disappear when needed to obscure the lack of resolve. Autocrats just read the concessions as weakness. Allies learn to not depend on us.

For example, by 2010, the U.S. was on the verge of a lasting victory in the Iraq war, which had been brokered by the Bush administration. But Obama, in his eagerness to respond to America’s war-weariness, botched the job.

He needlessly interfered in an Iraqi election, destroying the fragile coalition that had contained the terrorists. Then he mishandled the withdrawal of U.S. troops, ignoring the agreements that had been forged with the Iraqis. The result was the collapse of American goals in Iraq and the resurgence of Islamist terrorism. A new organization called ISIS was inflicted on the world

In August 2021, President Biden ordered the immediate evacuation of troops and personnel from Kabul to end the Afghanistan War, based, he said, on the advice of senior U.S. military officers and information that a collapse of the Afghan government was highly unlikely. But no such advice was actually given.

Instead, Biden’s haste to end the war without proper preparation squandered 20 years of American blood and sacrifice. Thirteen U.S. service members were killed in a terrorist attack, hundreds of Americans were abandoned, and our trusted interpreters and local advisers were left in the lurch.

Military weaponry worth billions was simply abandoned as the Taliban once again assumed de facto control of the country. Sharia law and Islamist oppression of women resumed. Biden to this day insists he did nothing wrong.

America also regularly folds like an accordion in hostage negotiations. The deserter Bowe Bergdahl and basketball star Brittney Griner were both exchanged for pennies on the dollar in strategic value.

Recently, our negotiating geniuses agreed to swap five higher-value Iranian military personnel for five American civilians—and we even sweetened the pot by releasing $6 billion to the Iranians, which could only be used for humanitarian efforts.

Whoops! The Iranians immediately announced they would use the funds for whatever they pleased, including enriching uranium ore to near weapons-grade levels. State Department spokesman John Kirby explained that the deal was “the best we could achieve.” The impotent superpower was humbled once again.

In a democracy, voters get what they deserve. Our leaders’ obvious mistakes are ours for electing them.

America needs to elect leaders who are principled, competent, and decisive. Our next chance is coming up in 2024. It could be our last.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.

The Unconscionable Surge At The Border Must End

The Unconscionable Surge At The Border Must End

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

The immigration crisis is crushing New York City. According to ABC7 news, last week alone 2,900 new “asylum seekers” entered one of the city’s 200 new emergency shelters.

Mayor Eric Adams says the city spends $383 per day per family on food, shelter, and other expenses, which are deemed the migrants’ right to receive for no charge or obligation because well…just because.

The formerly elegant Roosevelt Hotel has been designated the nerve center for services to accommodate the 120,000 illegal immigrants now in the city. Mayor Adams estimates the city will incur a $12 billion deficit as a result of the influx, meaning that “every service in the city is going to be impacted.” Fifteen percent across-the-board budget cuts are seriously looming.

Yet the expenditures are not adequate to address the surge. Immigrants are occupying the sidewalks in front of the Roosevelt, locals are fuming over the takeover of schools, parks, and other public facilities while reports of subway crime are beginning to pop up. Maybe the sanctuary status the Mayor pressed for, when the costs were borne elsewhere, isn’t such a great idea after all.

Mayor Adams correctly points out that since border law is a federal matter, the feds should help alleviate the distress they are causing. What we’re getting instead is outrageous gaslighting. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre insists that President Biden has actually done a great job of protecting the border “and you have seen him do that.”

We have? This is the president who unilaterally eliminated policies like Remain in Mexico and Title 42, which effectively reduced the number of illegal border crossings. The result has been a surge of approximately 2.7 million people on Biden’s watch, 260,00 this August alone. That doesn’t include the “gotaways”, who are uncountable, but estimated to number at least 1.5 million during the Biden administration.

It’s no wonder Americas are starting to feel the strains in social services, healthcare, schools, and prisons. Their advocates claim illegal immigrants are an economic boon, but if that were, why do leftist enclaves complain bitterly about receiving them instead of requesting more?

Truth check: immigrants cost taxpayers $150 billion annually and growing. Even worse is the humanitarian crisis caused by cartels victimizing women and children vulnerable to “human trafficking.”

Illegal immigrants are often erroneously referred to in the popular press as “asylum seekers.” That’s a lie. Imaginary asylum seeking is the (very successful) strategy used to circumvent lawful border enforcement. Immigrants not otherwise eligible for entry are coached to say “I feel unsafe” to border agents. That automatically entitles them to an asylum hearing, which, because of the crowding at the border, is scheduled years in the future.

It’s a farce. They pretend to be seeking asylum, and we pretend to believe them. Fewer than 10 percent are eligible for legitimate asylum. Most never show up for their hearing.

Democrats also like to pretend there is nothing they can do about the ongoing border invasion because Republicans once voted against a bill that included additional border funding. But if Republicans were willing to discuss comprehensive immigration reform, maybe we could talk…

That gives away their game. “Comprehensive” reform is a euphemism for citizenship. The Biden administration willingly pays a high price politically for their devastating border policies. The hardships caused by unlimited immigration are causing widespread resentment. An election looms.

Yet they soldier on, refusing to consider even the most reasonable measures to reduce the ongoing surge. There’s only one possible explanation: they are playing the long game, taking hits now to achieve future political domination.

They see the 20 million or so foreign nationals now living here as future Democrats, who they will relentlessly portray as victims if not eventually granted citizenship. The gambit will work again. The American political landscape will be changed forever.

There is a way out. It’s not more money. It’s not more laws. It’s not even a wall. We must simply follow the example of decent, self-respecting nations throughout history and employ the lawful force of government to maintain our sovereign borders.

Follow the Law. It’s doable, it’s moral, and it’s necessary to protect legal immigrants, American citizens, and America’s future.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.

Race-Based Reparations Don’t Make Sense

Race-Based Reparations Don’t Make Sense

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

When the notion of race-based reparations was first advanced, I didn’t take it seriously. Surely, something so costly and unhelpful would never gain traction with the American public, so why worry about it?

But on further reflection, it seems several ideas have graduated from the unthinkable to reality over the last few years in today’s America. The idea that reputable physicians would actively encourage even pre-adolescents to retard their sexual development and permanently mutilate their bodies, based on nothing more than a probably transient feeling of gender dysphoria, would have seemed absolutely bizarre not long ago.

So would the idea that schoolchildren should learn to reject the teachings of Martin Luther King and instead be taught that there were irreconcilable inborn racial differences that warranted further discrimination. Spending trillions of dollars we don’t have on unnecessary programs. Allowing immigrants by the millions to illegally breach our border. Even allowing a top government official to walk after intentionally destroying thousands of evidentiary emails during an active investigation. We can no longer count on rational thought to prevail.

Thus, the drive for race-based reparations continues to advance. Nearly every year, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee introduces a bill calling for a commission to compile documentary evidence of slavery(?), analyze its effects and recommend ways to remedy the effects of servitude including an apology and, of course, cash.

Now others are joining the chorus. California’s Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African-Americans issued a detailed calculation of recommended awards. They include $13,619 for each year of residency in the state for healthcare disparities, $3,336 per year for housing discrimination, and $2,532 per year for over-policing and mass incarceration. That’s up to $1.2 million for each of the 2.3 million black residents of the state.

Determined not to be outbid, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously endorsed a proposal to provide a $5 million payment to each black resident to compensate for past wrongs. Each would also receive forgiveness of all loans including credit cards and income subsidies for the next 250 years to bring them to the median city income, currently $97,000.

Two years ago, Evanston, Illinois became the first American city to actually pay racial reparations, $2,500 to each black resident to pay for housing improvements.

But the notion of reparations awarded to all members of a racial or ethnic group contains no guardrails to determine where the practice logically starts and stops. While reparations for specific incidents like the Holocaust and Japanese internment are easier to define and limit, abuse by and against races has been virtually constant in human history.

Slavery has been widely practiced for millennia. That doesn’t excuse it, but it does make just compensation awards more problematic. Do all the nations who practiced, or are still practicing, slavery owe compensation? Should descendants of the tribal chieftains who fueled the African slave trade by capturing and selling fellow Africans into bondage be liable? Should people whose ancestors never owned slaves have to pay anyway? Once the foolish principle is established, we’re just quibbling about amounts.

But the ultimate objection to raced-based reparations isn’t affordability or morality. It is that reparations are economically devastating to the recipients.

Think of America’s own history. Our modern relationship with the indigenous peoples was based on promises to atone for our admittedly shabby treatment of them. They were soon transformed from proud, capable human beings to highly regulated dependents who couldn’t build a bridge, provide their own housing, or obtain medical care without federal government permission and aid.

Black Americans were making significant social and economic progress until the entitlements of the Great Society in the 1960s broke up their families, robbed them of self-sufficiency, and preempted their prospects for prosperity. Many sank into dependence, criminality, and despair.

The newly proposed reparations would likely be just as toxic, killing the incentives for self-sufficiency. The greatest gift we could give to lagging minority groups would be to double down on equipping them with the tools to fully participate in the American dream.

Helping them to rebuild families, schools, and social structures, although difficult, would be helpful. Reparations and more entitlements are the road to nowhere.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.

Is The Fair Tax In Our Future?

Is The Fair Tax In Our Future?

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

Critics of Donald Trump once counted tax evasion among his many faults. But it turned out that he wasn’t breaking any tax laws. He was simply utilizing the complex web of exemptions, deductions, and other rules available to reduce his tax bill to near zero.

It would be hard to imagine a worse tax system than our federal government’s. It is based on taxing economic productivity, which in a free-market system, benefits us all. Politicians use taxation not only to generate revenue but to pursue a grab bag of policies ranging from welfare programs to “climate change,” home ownership, and subsidization of state and local taxes.

The tax code is hopelessly complex and expensive to operate. Individuals and businesses spend around $37 billion and over 3 billion hours annually in tax compliance, up to 10 times as much as taxpayers in other wealthy countries.

Phil Gramm was right 25 years ago to suggest that the best option would be to scrap our entire tax system and replace it with a single national sales tax. He didn’t succeed, of course, but the concept is so sound it still remains active in academia, think tanks, and government white papers.

Representative Buddy Carter introduced the Fair Tax Act of 2023 in Congress this year and was promised a floor vote. This bill would eliminate all personal and corporate income taxes, payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security, estate and gift taxes, as well as the Internal Revenue Service itself.

Instead, there would be an effective 30 percent consumption tax, but households would get a tax rebate check each month adjusted for family size and income. The rebate would have the effect of exempting all purchases up to the poverty line from taxation. The tax rate and rebates could be adjusted to make the tax revenue neutral and roughly as progressive as our current structure.

Still, Democrats and their media buddies immediately attacked the proposal as “tax cuts for the rich, period” and a “Republican dream to build a wealth aristocracy.” Even the Wall Street Journal criticized it on political grounds, worrying that even though it “made sense,” it might hand Democrats a juicy campaign issue.

But its critics, perhaps intentionally, misunderstand the bill. Americans would not on the net pay more taxes. Nor would low-income earners be punished. The tax burden wouldn’t grow but only be redistributed.

Outsized deductions and other tax shelters would vanish, meaning the ultra-wealthy and the big spenders would pay taxes more appropriate to their incomes. Savers would obviously benefit. Investments could grow tax-free.

Some critics argue that tax evasion would be a problem. But that’s true of any tax scheme, including the one we have now. The IRS estimates that Americans underpay their taxes by $500 billion annually, in addition to the billions of fraudulent claims in programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The Fair Tax wouldn’t have to be perfect to be more efficient and less cumbersome than our current system of self-reporting buttressed with audits. Avoiding the stressful hassles with the IRS would be a welcome relief to many Americans.

A more substantial concern is that future legislatures may try to augment the consumption tax by adding back income and other taxes so that we end up with the worst of both worlds. A constitutional amendment prohibiting an income tax would be preferable. Otherwise, careful consideration must be given to rigid self-activating safeguards to protect taxpayers.

The Fair Tax has never passed because of political opposition from groups that have too much to lose by giving up the status quo. Yet if government wants to subsidize things like housing, electric vehicles, or healthcare, it would be more transparent and accountable to appropriate the money rather than disguising it as a tax deduction or credit. Likewise, if Americans want to financially support charitable causes, and they do, they should do it with their own money, not a partial government subsidy that comes with strings attached.

Tax reforms are always opposed by those who benefit from the current structure. But the Fair Tax would be a far more equitable and transparent way to fund government. It deserves a look.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.

Let’s Get Serious About Eliminating The Department Of Education

Let’s Get Serious About Eliminating The Department Of Education

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

“The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2023.” If you’ve read this far, you have completed HR899, introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie.

Abolishing the DOE isn’t a new idea. The department was created in 1979 by the Carter administration, fulfilling a campaign promise to the NEA, the teachers’ union, which in turn gave him their first ever presidential endorsement.

But skepticism over the department was present even at its inception. The bill passed by just four votes in a heavily Democratic House. Ronald Reagan, always concerned about over-centralized power, immediately campaigned to unwind it. Several Republican education leaders since have endorsed its elimination.

1979 hardly marked the beginning of a glorious new age for American education. Per pupil spending on education since then has more than tripled, inflation adjusted, but there is little to show for it.

Achievement scores have been stagnant and still lag many of our peer nations in the developed world. The racial gap in academic achievement persists in spite of the department’s high-profile efforts. The bureaucrats and interest groups receiving the funding are fine with it, of course, but for the rest of us, it hasn’t accomplished much.

The DOE isn’t really designed to make an impact. It doesn’t establish or approve a curriculum. It doesn’t operate one school or educate one student. It doesn’t administer or create tests. It doesn’t establish standards for colleges and universities. We wouldn’t want it to do any of those things, but it naturally raises the question: is the DOE needed at all?

The department has over 4,000 employees who do research and write policy papers on education that are read mostly by each other. They administer the beleaguered student loan program and federal aid for education. Over 500 workers toil in the Office of Civil Rights.

Senator Joni Ernst notes that 94% of the DOE‘s staff were deemed nonessential during a government shut down. As one official summarized, “it really is just a grant making entity with a huge bureaucracy.”

Americans rightly respect the importance of education and are apprehensive about failing to support anything labeled “education.” The department doesn’t stir public animosity like Justice, Homeland Security, and other cabinet departments often do.

J. Luke Wood, president of Sacramento State University and a former professor of education at San Diego State University, asserts the attempt to eliminate the DOE has nothing to do with federalism or any legitimate substantive argument. No, the real motivation is…racism!

Yes, those darn Republicans are at it again, advancing unrelated pseudo-arguments to provide cover for their race hatred. They are engaging in “racelighting” i.e., racial gaslighting which is an “act of psychological manipulation where people of color receive racial messages which distort the realities and lead them to second-guess themselves.”

Opponents claim HR899 is just an attempt to shape curricula that teach a “fairy tale” history, omitting the ills of slavery as well as ignoring Jim Crow, miscegenation, and redlining. Furthermore, they say it is purposely intended to strip civil rights protections for minority students.

Yikes! Just being around Republicans, you would never imagine that they are such over-the-top bigots. Then again, maybe it is Professor Wood and his ilk who are the racial dividers, seeing racism as the explanation for nearly everything.

If they are so concerned about the civil rights of minority students, why not embrace school choice and charter schools? These reforms have demonstrated their capability to actually improve educational outcomes and lift children out of poverty.

Some see HR899 as a quixotic endeavor. Maybe it is. Bureaucracies, whatever their failings, are skilled, aggressive, and usually successful at defending themselves.

But there is one overarching reason why the DOE needs to go. We can’t afford it.

America is in big trouble financially. We have normalized intergenerational fiscal theft to finance so much wasteful, politically motivated spending that we are now $32 trillion underwater. Interest on the debt is crowding out other priorities and $50 trillion is in view. Still the Biden administration, with an election looming, continues to propose yet more new spending programs.

Instead, we should be desperately seeking out nonessential expenditures that could be cut without any significant harm. The Department of Education is an ideal place to start.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.