Need to Know, December 17, 2010

This week on Need to Know: Jon Meacham reflects on the legacy of Richard Holbrooke, special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, who died suddenly this week. And we sit down with former diplomat Frank Wisner to take a closer look at the state of President Obama’s foreign policy strategy, following a recent status report on the war in Afghanistan.

In the next installment of our Watch List series, reporter Brett Shipp guides us through the state of natural gas pipeline safety following a fatal explosion in Texas earlier this year.

How do we fix America? We asked some bright thinkers to give us one big idea and got a wealth of interesting takes on immigration, race relations, the environment and poverty.

Plus: Comedian and crafter Amy Sedaris gives us her decidedly unique advice on crafting for the holidays. And Peter Sagal is back with some sage advice — this time for the commander-in-chief.

Watch the individual segments:

Invisible Lines: A Watch List investigation

In a Watch List report on the issue of natural gas pipeline safety and oversight, Need to Know presents the investigation of award-winning reporter Brett Shipp from WFAA, Dallas, who has covered the issue in Texas for four years. Shipp investigates the cause of a fatal pipeline explosion in Johnson County Texas in June 2010.

In perspective: Richard Holbrooke’s legacy

Jon Meacham provides his thoughts on the legacy of Richard Holbrooke, U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, who died this week at the age of 69.

Interview with Frank Wisner

Does talking really get results? With the death of Richard Holbrooke, and this week’s review of the Afghanistan war, Need to Know takes a look at the state of President Obama’s foreign policy strategy with former diplomat Frank Wisner.

Fixing America

Need to Know asked nine of the brightest thinkers in America to tell us one simple thing they’d do to get America moving again. Among the voices, Gary Shteyngart on immigration; Professor Tricia Rose of Brown University on race relations; author, activist Anna Lappé on the environment; and conservative writer Reihan Salam, on how he’d deal with poverty.

Interview with Amy Sedaris

Comedian Amy Sedaris sits down with Alison Stewart to discuss her decidedly unique take on crafting, and her new book, “Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People.” Plus: Amy answers your questions.

Just ask Peter Sagal

Peter Sagal has some much-needed advice for a beleaguered commander-in-chief.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.

 

Comments

  • Bernie

    Re: Fixing America. Why didn’t any of the speakers propose ending the wars in Afganastan and Iraq and drasticlly cutting defense spending. How much money could be made available to social programs and addressing the deficit long-term.

  • guest

    I would like for all US govt spending to be online 24/7 and updated daily, arranged by general category, and then digging deeper in sub-categories. So for e.g., I’d like to see what we’ve spent YTD on military spending, space exploration, public parks, public education, and then support to other countries and what those countries were, and for what the money was earmarked. I think people would be actually shocked and outraged to see hard figures of where we are spending our money, while all the while we are told we don’t have enough money for schoolbooks for many of our public schools!!

    The US is way overdue for a revolt. People have been far too passive. Where is the outrage and activism? I think access to the aforementioned info would be the catalyst.

  • Jack

    I would phase in a new retirement system that would eventually replace SS. Starting with the youngest workers where over time SS would be replaced by and inflation indexed retirement program so at a minimum all people over a certain age would have a retirement that allows them to live with dignity. Basiclly an explaned SS program that is funded by the retiree and not the current workers as is the SS program. The difference between this and a 401K is it would not be tied to an employer.

    I would also do the same with health care. Combine all the medical programs into s single program that every citizen could buy into. Very similar to the public obtion. I would also make it a law that employers can’t fund a persons health care.

  • The Lewises

    Re: Fixing America We agree with the speaker who stated that educating girls has immense benefit, since the world has clearly demonstrated that men are only interested in power, money and control. Women would clearly do a much better job. Our suggestion to fix America’s ills is quite simple… get the congress (that we elected) to actually work together across the aisle. Wouldn’t that be refreshing, instead of worrying about their own re-elections.

  • Spanky55566

    It’s sad. Nothing can be done. The world, as well as this country, is controlled by mentally challenged individuals. The only way meaningful change can occur, is for a massive catastrophic devastation of all major governments, leaders, those who believe they are above the common people. The people of this world are brain washed, squelched, or chose to live in their simple life, oblivious to that which happens around them. Hopefully those who are our true human relatives will intervene before the current activities of uncontrollable mega-companies destroy us all. At least give those of us who believe the truth, the ability to step aside and be reinserted into this world, to rebuild, when those of insanity are no longer a danger. Dangerous to people who just want to live, live with families, loved ones, all working to benefit everyone, everywhere. Waiting for the obvious to occur.

  • Ernestleejr

    The Answer to fixing America, if not the world, is education.
    I realize this has been suggested by some of the “big-brained” guess featured on your show and their ideas about educating girls, races and segments of people are good, but limited in terms of the education that will enable, empower and embolden the young and old to not just contribute, but also to restore those who have not been able to contribute, due to the lack of the kind of knowledge that, quite frankly, kills us all.
    The proverb that says, “the people perish for lack of knowledge”, refers to the level of self-ignorance that creates fears, which creates hatred that corrupts every child out of the creative innocense we’re all born with but are forced to abandon for a lack luster life of carbon-copy images of success.

    Consider this:
    The human genome is a perfect, yet sublime blue print that, to this day, has never been explained to the masses in a way that levels the playing field of everyone’s potential…science knows there are ways to enhance a person’s memory, their physical health, and even their potential to recover from things like mental and physical illnesses but this is the mainstream of information, even though just hearing it in the proper context, continues to give people concrete hope, which causes them to access a new sense of ability to overcome their current information…so, I would saturate the airwaves and media print with whatever the current research has found about the human potential to be…well, to be less violently competitive and more genomically necessary…by genomically necessary I mean, some of us have evolved to a level of understanding thqt there is more than enough resources on this planet and more than enough minds to keep those resources flowing, if we can get our serpent-brain to stop seeing our “other-selves” as enemies and allow our neo-cortex to recognize our genome family.

    Minister Charles Lee, Jr. -CMPS, Sp. A
    ernestleejr@yahoo.com
    (314) 601-3289
    St. Louis MO 63116

  • RDC

    I enjoyed your show on Richard Holbrook. I was stunned, however, by the positive comments vis-a-vis Ryan Crocker. I worked with Ryan Crocker as one of two Commissioned Foreign Service Officers in Beirut. Ryan was insensitive and very self-serving. Not the objective and altruistic diplomat needed in these trying times.

  • njg

    I would like to see us set a ceiling on what can be spent on a political campaign. In conjunction with that, the length of time for a campaign should be significantly shortened….no more continuous campaigning and fund raising.

  • American

    To Fix America:
    1. We currently have a tremendous prison population. We’re now locking up our own people for long periods of time on misdemeanors and/or on flimsy charges. Laws need to change, and the millions who are now in prison must be able to receive educational opportunities and counseling. Laws such as Megan’s Law and The Adam Walsh Act are unproductive and do not save anyone; however, these laws PREVENT an offender from re-entering society as a productive, tax-paying individual, and prove to be a tremendous burden upon their families. Laws which incarcerate for minor drug possession should also be changed. Private prison companies, listed on stock exchanges, should not be allowed at all.
    2. Our railroad system for both freight and passengers should be built up and modernized to compete with rail expansion projects in Asia and Europe. Streamlining transport of people and goods leads to efficiency, productivity, economy and cleaner air.
    3. Businesses which manufacture goods are being stifled and choked by the numerous laws they must abide by, both on a federal and local level. Local zoning codes, EPA codes, sexual harrassment laws, discrimination laws, tax laws, hiring laws, firing laws, product laws…..too many laws, which make it impossible for companies to compete.
    4. Government workers should not be able to demand higher wages through their unions; as they are not being paid by profits of a corporation, but through taxpayers.
    5. Executives and workers of quasi-government agencies; such as transit agencies, commissioners, etc. should be well-qualified to hold such positions. These jobs should not be granted through political connections, nepotism and/or favortism.
    6. There should be better policing and checking of counterfeit goods entering The United States, as sales of counterfeit goods are rampant in every corner of the Nation.
    7. Simplification of the entire tax code. The average taxpayer should be able to fill out his/her own taxes at home.

  • Corinne

    I agree with Bernie, above. Before we can do anything meaningful, we have to end this war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We should use the money this saves (did you say 200 million A DAY?) and work on promoting jobs. We could start factories like FDR did, during the Depression, and put people back to work. The same amount of money that is now given as Unemployment and Food Stamps, could be earned by the individual. And that would produce a remarkable difference. People need to work. They need the dignity of earning their money and all sorts of trouble follow when we just hand out money to those who need it. We have created an industry to take care of the problem. We can solve this… but we need to get out of this war, first.

  • Thomas

    Want to fix America? 1) End “free” trade agreements which have served only to line the pockets of big business and to export _all_ our high paying production and eventually all of our technology jobs. 2) Put trade sanctions on countries which deal in unfair trade practices, namely China, and OPEC nations. 3) End the pointless wars in the middle east and redirect that treasure to rebuilding our own failed/failing infrastructure. 4) Jail and fine businesses that hire illegal immigrants and deport all illegals. Why are we allowing illegal immigrants to take jobs that 15 million out of work Americans could have. Americans will work any job as long as it pays a living wage, and if a business can’t afford to pay a living wage it isn’t sustainable and should disappear.

    Btw, who chose this panel of “smart” people? They definitely weren’t representative of the America I know … seems pretty clear they were chosen for diversity purposes more than their skills or talents. I find this annoying and a pretty common problem with PBS programming. :(

  • Pat lundy

    Put all Americans to work on infastructure, in particular goods transportation, Interstate connected magnetic rail system, across country, Americans do not buy because they cannot afford the shipping cost. Cut oil cunsumtion from trucking goods and flying goods by 50%. I picture goods going across country in one day or less by electric magnetic rail system. We have to streamline freight transportation some day real soon, lets do it when everyone is out of a job. Lets bring the American spirit together again, like Roosevelt and Kennedy did with CCC camps, and landing on the moon.We have to move away from gas buring, pot hole fillig mentallity. Lets face it its got to be done, we got 20yrs of oil left, by then it will be $60.00 a gallon. Every year Americans like to travel more and more, What about those jets carring people and cargo? What a waste oil (in 20 yrs what oil). I invision shipping cargo across country, like big containers in a magnetic tube, multi lane tubes, for lots of shipping needs. When we get real good at that, then we transport people on magnetic rails. We have to buy up some land to make straight lanes across country for hi speed travel. Get some coal and iron ore out of the ground, to make some steel. remember we used to do all that stuff 30 yrs go. It’s something we have to think about pretty soon , or our grandchildren will be working their butts off to pay off the national debt we handed them and they will be taking vacation on a horse and buggy.

  • Michael M. Thomas

    Why not start by asking your commenters to go on camera, instead of that sorry lot of pundits, professors and journalists you actually asked, none of whom showed the slightest evidence of ever having had a real job in the real world. Take Mr. Shteyngart to, say, Toledo or Detroit or, closer to home, to downtown Newark and let him try out his shtick on the locals.

  • MM

    How to Fix America…

    This is a many varied topic, but we are a very creative group of people and we CAN figure this out. Here is but one aspect of something I think could be a part of Fixing America:

    I would start a national program that utilized and connected all the states through high-speed rail system. The workers for laying the lines, surveying, building rails, cars, gears, wheels, and all the mechanical engineering and everything else related to the high speed rail system will come from the ranks of the unemployed. If someone has not found a job in a year, then to get the next year’s unemployment checks, they would have to come work on the RR ☺ If they get a job other than this, they can leave anytime with 2 weeks notice. The wages would not be so great as to prohibit people from wanting what they really want in a job, but great enough to be a living wage…their unemployment $. If they have a responsible, self-directed manner and come us with an idea for an economic enterprise, they would have access to bank loans for a small business at low rates of return. I believe this would all increase jobs and new industries in the private sector. This is just a brief sketch of what could be done, but I think it’s a direct addressing of our unemployment issue. No, we will not come out of the economic issue without jobs. We need jobs AND we need people to start being honest and responsible.

  • hose and buggy travel

    Corinne has the right idea………..I think we have to tell the government what we want for meaningful work, real infastructure … not just filling pot holes and calling it infastructure.
    How about magnitic rail system across country for goods and poeple…before we run totally out of oil.

  • Hal Green

    Dear Need to Know: This is how I’d improve America.
    Diminish the current absolute power of lobbyist and make elected officials more accountable:
    1. Assign the prerequisite that incumbents or any citizen running for elective office must submit a petition containing the signatures of at least 3 to 5% of all registered voters in precincts across their district each election cycle (percentages may vary to reflect the desire of particular communities). These percentages are well below the required 50% plus 1 to win
    2. If a citizen or incumbent fails to secure the required electorate signatures, then campaign funds or assets raised by these individuals to run for an elected office, will become public election assets to be distributed equitably among those who qualified to run for office
    3. No exceptions, except maybe- a little minor tinkering!
    Hal Green

  • Hal Green

    Dear Need to Know: This is how I’d improve America.
    Diminish the current absolute power of lobbyist and make elected officials more accountable:
    1. Assign the prerequisite that incumbents or any citizen running for elective office must submit a petition containing the signatures of at least 3 to 5% of all registered voters in precincts across their district each election cycle (percentages may vary to reflect the desire of particular communities). These percentages are well below the required 50% plus 1 to win
    2. If a citizen or incumbent fails to secure the required electorate signatures, then campaign funds or assets raised by these individuals to run for an elected office, will become public election assets to be distributed equitably among those who qualified to run for office
    3. No exceptions, except maybe- a little minor tinkering!
    Hal Green

  • Ralph Gardner

    I would insist that China let the Yuan float. Its low value has resulted in US companies moving their manufacturing and engineering operations to China and higher unemployment in the US.

  • Anonymous

    Not necessarily in order of precedence.

    1)Campaign reform similar if not identical to what was mentioned. The funding is the problem. Something as simply as disallowing the funds to be kept once the campaign is over and randomly distribute them to charities would devalue the “get rich” factor to such an extend the representatives would stop running. (Yes it would require a closer look at where the money goes.) If you remove the profiteering from the system no one will play the game.

    2)Giving women the choice of being pregnant and being educated *anywhere* will have a profound impact across the board.

    3)Public options for such things as health care, internet, utilities. You can still run a private corporation offering those services. If you are so much better than the big lumbering “public/gov” entity you should no problem competing against it. We need a checks and balances though and private corporations are not that. They owe their allegiance to the bottom line. If it costs less to fight the lawsuit than follow regulations etc they higher lawyers. The same people running the public option are running the private. They are people. The difference is the public option is beholden to the people. The private is beholden to the dollar which is passed onto the investors. (Credit Unions are a perfect example).
    3a)Allow medicare/cad to negotiate pricing. Allow all (especially the young) to buy into that system and provide incentives for doing so. Maybe a credit to SS in the long run?

    4)Education and funds for it. Prevent the debt. We need Engineers, physicists, biologists, etc.

    5)Cut military spending and bring our people home and put them to work in more constructive jobs.

    6)Raise corporate taxes. They continue to profit at an accelerated rate and work us more and more hours with fewer and fewer benefits. Dont give me the crap about fear of the economy falling back. At the most basic level: If no one has money to buy your stuff your stuff doesnt sell.

  • http://twitter.com/andrewsiff Andrew Siff

    Lay off every fourth person on the federal payroll. After one year, do it again. Repeat for ten years.

  • Davidsteeves

    Fixing America depends on having Congress run the country and being accountable to the voters instead of to the wealthy so corporate donations have to be limited to $25,000 and the balance is funded by government for every candidate including the President. It depends on literacy of all peoples no matter who they are or where they live. It depends on ending all wars the US is engaged in currently because this is wasted resources needed at home. It depends on reducing the military spending by 50 per cent and not having a war plant in every political district. It depends on changing tax laws so the wealthy start sharing with the other 95 per cent of Americans. It depends on cleaning up Wall St. and large Banks with strict and enforeable regulations to end some of the greed and dishonesty of the finance Industry. It depends on reducing discrimination of non-whites and stop filling up jails with Blacks because the government’s war on drugs is a dismal failure. It depends on better leadership to help make America great again and almost as good as Canada is now.——David Steeves

  • Jay e Johnson

    I think public financing of election campaigns would be the first on the list connected with the elemination of political parties, which are the ones that really control the politicans thru the caucas they all have

  • Denny

    Jon,

    Your discussion with Amb. Wisner was the best segment I have seen on “Need to Know”. It is about the need to know the right questions. This by the way is how I would fix America. Prioritize the questions. We are spending too much energy on ideology/self interests and not enough energy on supporting the foundations that we need to build the future. That future is important to our mutual interests.

    Denny

  • WV Guest

    Fixing America … that’s easy. Fixing American attitudes … now that’s the challenge. There was a time when the main motivation was not monetary, but instead, there was a general attitude of contribution to the betterment of American life, products. Today, there’s not much to be proud of because we apparently don’t make anything but … money. Of course, the quick buck is the slogan for the day, but how lasting is that: Look again at the recent history and the problem becomes ever so clear that a quick buck brought us to an economic H-A-L-T. How can a mostly unemployed society purchase its own products (if it had any)? Ship them out to someone who can buy them … export, export, export. O, but we don’t have much to export, do we.

    What do I know … I just found out that perhaps not only was Jesus possessed by the Holy Spirit, but good grief … He was also flesh & blood … and had a penis. So, I’ve been lied to before because I was taught He was so holy that He didn’t need one. My attitude has changed, but it’s also Amazing what understanding comes from ‘simple truths’.

    Thanks for PBS and the excellent programs offered to perhaps help change American attitudes for the betterment of all.

  • MARLIN

    communicating the truth that equality was lost in the beginning–everyone didn’t have a equal start- we must 0 out all old bad debt=goverment take the lost-start every human from scratch–let the people no that life experiences are not criminal-and non violent acts are fines-not prison–anyone on goverment assistants give them cleaning and recycling jobs –no money–labor to live-healthcare & utilitiesshould be apart of are taxes–but we know government doesnt want to fix ther mistakes–NO HUMAN LEFT BEHIND is my plan to save the world–please pbs let me share my idea in a business way–

  • Edward Zia

    Dear anchors of NEED TO KNOW, I have a couple observations and then a couple suggestions:
    1. I congratulate you for the contents of your weekly shows; it is a breath of fresh air discussing topics that really matter.
    2. Your program tonight was excellent talking about a topic that is at the core of the country’s problems; that is we really have many important problems that have been neglected for a long time by successive leaders at all levels of governments. How would I fix the problems? Simply we need leaders and managers who understand the real problems and in their deep heart want to solve them. The way it is right know the special interests and rich people are running the country simply to enrich themselves, many of our leaders have very little connection with ordinary people’s struggles and needs and their real problems.We know that in this country all professions must have professional certification (registered nurse, registered engineer, certified accountant, etc.) to practice their profession except POLITICIANS and may be TV/Radio talking heads! So in order to weed out the people who really want to serve from those who are just in it for power and influence I would require that POLITICIANS at all levels become registered/certified by taking a rigorous test in social sciences, ethics, religions of the world, economy, international relations, industrial management, geography and history of the US and the world, etc. In effect since they vote on many issues that impact the whole nation and the world lets make sure that they understand the basics about it before they run for the office. It will be really nice to look at the test results of somebody like George W. Bush, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and many others who have generated this mess for us. There have been many occasions that I have watched Senators, Presidents, Cabinet Secretaries, Congressmen/women that they were flat wrong discussing an issue that impact the country and the world. In short, lets make sure that we can quantify the basic knowledge, leadership and management of our leaders before they are put into the high offices just like other professions. If we do that then we have take the most important step to solve our problems by weeding out the incompetents.

  • JoelT801

    Fixing America) Disband the Federal Department of Education, return to the States any and all funding using the population data from the 2010 cencus. Drill a three inch hole in the bottom of the foreign aid bucket. The free trade law needs a quick death. The information baced economy isn’t working, we need to return to a manufacturing baced economy. All riders and pork spending added to any bill in congress will be required to have an identifiable origional congressmens name attached to that addition as a footnote on the same page of the legislation as an addendem at the bottom of the page, as it appears in the legislation. Any employer found employing any alien without a verifyable and lawfull work visa will be subject to a $150,000.00 dollar fine per occurance. Disband the Department of Homeland Security, return the responsibility to the FBI.

  • Alferdepacker

    Re “How to Fix America”: Good, interesting, and valid ideas, all.

    But not surprisingly, no one mentioned the one, taboo subject that is at the root of virtually all of not only the nation’s, but the world’s problems, and has been for millenia. That taboo subject is POPULATION.

    There is, and has been for millenia, a geometrically expanding human population pursuing an ever shinking resource base.

    It took from the first human until about the year 1800 c.e. for the human population of this planet to reach one billion; now just over 200 years later, we’re rapidly approaching 7 billion.

    Virtually nobody has the “guts” to even bring this subject up, much less disciss it, yet unless we do — and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT — any and all our best efforts, no matter how good, well intentioned, or well executed, will be just postponing the inevitable : World-wide ecological collapse, and the attendant end of civilization as we’ve come to know it, and quite possibly the extinction of our species, and perhaps most, if not all, other life on earth, as well.

    Whether we admit it or not, the unvarnished truth is that the current change in the world’s climate is at least partly influenced by human activity, although the amount and degree may be open to debate; and we’re in another period of mass extinctions, and there’s no denying the fact that it’s at least partially human-caused. The Permian extinction took place over roughly a million years; the current one, only a few thousand.

    It’s time to wake up, people !

  • Victoria M. Young

    Fixing America must be approached with both immediate and long-term vision. And as president Obama said when he began, we need “two-for’s.” Expanded public education has that potential and we have the answers to fixing that “system.”

    Now, we need the People to rise up and demand that we do it right. Finish what was started with our Constitution. It begins with offering children an even start in the race of life, equal educational opportunity…All men are created equal; they start life as children. But we aren’t hearing the voices of our youth. Who speaks for them? Where is the outrage at the inequality Americans have accepted as “disadvantaged”?

  • Larry

    It’s all about jobs. Bring them back from Asia, and Mexico. Cancel NAFTA, get out of WTO. Set up tariffs to protect our products, and thus give no advantage to corporations who stay away from our shores. To do this would mean replacing 100% of the Republicans in Congress, and their presidential enabler. Other than the two wars we need to exit from asap, jobs affect everything else we do.
    Larry

  • Theo

    America can only be fixed through education because our workforce has to be technology based. Education costs need to be brought under control before we get to a point where economic recovery will be severely hampered. Our willingness to spend more money on education reminds me of the current housing crisis. If education costs come down then we will begin to fix ourselves over several decades.In the words of President Clinton it is Education ….

  • Stan

    I would make it illegal for public officials to receive money from corporations.

  • Paul64Paul64

    It’s true! Vouchers are the answer. They need only be very simple, and of one nature!
    Colonics! Every politician, elected official, and government official should receive one.
    It would clear the slate, and start a ‘movement’ that could potentially be unstopable.
    Think about it, while your reading your newspaper, magazine, or having coffe in that little private place.

  • TheSecondSetOfFacts

    I am attracted to the fixing America idea espoused by Reihan Salam, political columnist: that vouchers be provided to the poor to meet their needs/wants – get the middle persons out of the poverty business. I’m attracted to this idea, but I’d like to hear implementation ideas. Why am I attracted to it? The District of Columbia, during the summer of 2008, spent somewhere around $49 million dollars for one program (Summer Youth Employment Program) in an agency with many programs. This amount covered about 19,000 youth (over 20,000 registered). It would have been cheaper to have paid each youth’s family $1million and call it a day. Those families that were in need would not have been in need any more and all the money spent on staff, rent, supplies, planning, training providers, hosts, etc., would have been unnecessary. Just looking at the money spent, vouchers to each family wouldn’t have bust the budget.

  • carol

    Agreed, there should be a cap set on expenditures for candidates and shortining campaign time in addition to this eliminating “large donations” special interest contributions must be considered.

  • http://www.mckaywatches.com Benefrank6

    What about debit cards to buy the things they need instead of cash. We could eliminate the big chains from the program and maybe keep some small businesses/farmers alive. Also why does everyone have to have a job? I don’t want about 25% of the population working for me because they will do a poor job. How about paying people to stay out of the way (and trouble) and pay people that really do the work a better wage. It would be cheaper in the long run – you know, rewarding good behavior instead of just punishing bad.

  • Cmrced

    Alfred,

    I’m stunned and delighted to find out I’m not the only one who was thinking this thought. Cudos to you. :-)

    Craig Dunkerley
    San Jose, CA

  • Xfusionj

    When Theology becomes a Confidence Prescription…Change the Plus Sign to govern the Scientific Defect…Peace and 1Candidacy

  • Craig Dunkerley

    Fixing America:
    1. End the Senate filibuster rule so the majority chosen by the voters can actually govern.
    2. Full public financing of campaigns at all levels of government starting with the Fair Elections
    Now Act (as suggested by Roger Hodge) so public policy can more accurately reflect the public
    interest.
    3. Have the FCC reinstate the requirement that those seeking broadcast licenses devote some
    portion of their programming to public service so voters have some clue as to what’s actually
    going on in our ailing democracy.

  • R D JAMES

    Fixing America.
    Fixing America is simple, Americans usually make simple things complicated. The experts touched on a few points, here is my analysis. 1] stop playing God and get out of the wars. This will save 200 million a day. Get rid of the Federal Reserve and in the elected people should manage America’s finances not the corporations not the rich warlords. Stop funding Israel, Pakistan, Egypt and Jordan just to mention a few this for save at least $10 billion, the amount America makes selling arms which aids mini wars–revolutions in poor countries, and aids terrorism. 2] made corporations accountable and transparent. Managerial fee, movie stars, athletes and sports personalities are paid criminal amounts–increase the minimum wage and pay workers a decent wage. Stop outsourcing. Reduce the gap between the rich and the poor.3] Create employment by building the infrastructure schools public hospitals, get and universal health care and make it accountable and subject to audits, this will prevent over servicing in every department. This will make an affordable healthcare for all.

    These are some of the suggestions – easy to follow so we have to create the people of America to be sophisticated and socially conscious to institute these.

    We need a government by the people for the people and not one by the corporations and interest for and lobby groups. Education should be public and almost free for everyone – improve the inner-city schools and don’t worry about private schools. Educated women and the people to be socially conscious and politically responsible.

    Help countries to help themselves with their cooperation. Best of luck

  • Davy d

    Yeah! Yay for NTN! You’re getting your feet under you!

    SDH de Lorge

  • Davy d

    Of course, I only saw the latter portion of the show.

  • Thankdickbush

    I have a global soulution to fixing America. It would be to redo the entire antiquated public educations system that burdens and plagues our cities and states. In all states Education consumes over 60% of it’s budget to support about 30% of it’s population. Unlike the police and court systems who take in monies to help with their cost the education systems just consumes cash. This is great if you’re an adult in the mind numbing beaurocratic system making a 6 figure salary thinking of new ways to get more money from the government.

    My proposal is to 1st, do away with government employee unions, take from countries with better education systems what works best, and use corporations to fund the schools. So how do you get corporations involved: have students learn and work in actual buisneses to make money. The money the students make goes to the education system. Also, incorporate the higher education systems to compete in the real world market with and or against corporations thus giving corporations a taste of capitalism and still make the education system money. Let’s face it every kid is not going to end up in college. A large percentage of high schoolers drop out. Give all kids a diverse variety of opportunity via corporations/buisnesses early in life before they figure before they cop an attitude that there is nothing in the real wold for them. If you fix the education system, the cities and states will do better financally, corporations will do better kids will do better, and more opportunity will be created. This is just my rant, but if a real scholor would get a grant, do the research on cost, and the impact of what these changes will bring, I’m sure it could be done.

  • Davy d

    Your reasoning is unarguably correct. Unhappily, one problem remains unresolved. American-style Capitalism *must* grow in order to function. This is not a values claim, but a statement of fact about the mechanics of our technoeconomic system. Bringing us to the realization of this way-beyond-inconvenient truth is the challenge.

    Until conditions are compelling, Americans simply will not consent to reversing growth – it leaves no method (as presently understood) by which individuals can increase their wealth. When we can acknowledge that unconstrained infinite growth becomes, in every case, cancer, we may be able to stop growth. I have a hard time comprehending how we will stop population growth otherwise. (That’s why “developed” economies must stimulate immigration when their birthrates fall too low.)

    Without radical changes to our systems of finance and production, cessation of growth produces diminution of wealth, not merely homeostasis. We must figure out how to assure future generations of their opportunities to create their own wealth, and lives of satisfaction.

    Doesn’t mean impossible; just, as things stand, not doable. Obviously we must stop growing ASAP, but we don’t know how to. Therefore the buck keeps getting kicked down the road to some future generation.

    Only by articulating and confronting this reality can we begin to correct it.

  • Lonnie Wiens

    Fixing America may begin by realizing we are all born out of a reality that is comprised of pure unadulterated ignorance. The Stars and the Atoms have zero abilities to be aware of themselves let alone we cognitive entities. At the same time what we Americans are comprised of, is made of the same ignorant stuff. Therein it is hardly surprising, like so many people and countries of peoples before us, we have yet to realize that we are very prone to reflect the same ignorant environment from which we derive.

    Yes, over the centuries we have evolved many instinctual abilities like hearts, lungs, muscles, brains etc. but again they like trees, and bugs, and many animals are far from able to be aware of themselves any more than the stars and the atoms. And again they are too, comprised of the same ignorant stuff and act solely out of pure oblivious action, reaction and interaction.

    And yet there is something unique about we cognitive entities that are caught in an otherwise totally ignorant, totally non-cognitive environmental and we often have difficulty putting our proverbial fingers on it. And yet it is as plain as the noses on our American faces.

    Yes, bottom line we are the ability for the whole of a reality to be able to aware of itself, as well as each other, and ourselves simultaneously. And that is huge.

    In America we have the right to discover and realize this without persecution. I think we need to realize this for a change as a nation and begin fixing our nation by rewarding such recognitions instead of getting down on each other for some otherwise natural and non-self correcting ignorant tendencies.

    To date America has yet to develop it’s own religion, if you will. It has borrowed or blatantly copied all the other major and minor religions that have so affected the earths peoples in both good and literal evil ways, but a religion, a belief system, a Bible, or a Koran etc, of its own… not yet.

    The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are a good start, mind you. Read them sometime… very interesting, and not all that long a read.

    Some say America’s religion is Science, and religion is supposed to be about Truth, and as Science discovers truths that leap of faith may have some merit and value.

    But, some of what Science has entertained as truths has shown to be more bologna than any religion has ever exercised in the name of all that is holly on the occasion. Particles, give it a rest. Every time Science discovers another particle, it breaks down into another and another sub-particle, and what you have left over is an essence religionists have called spirit, or “Quantum” particles made of Hadrons or wave densities of change, as compared to a “Solid”… give it a rest. It’s what the religionists thought all along… it’s the literal spirit of a reality. Can’t put your proverbial finger on it, but it is change, plain and simple… Get over it. We have computers now, use them. We’ve been praying about a solution for cancer and other illnesses for over 4000+++ years, now we might want to consider letting Science take a turn at it for change..

    Ask, yourself sometime the question, “What when removed from a reality, 3. 4, 5D, or more dimensions wise that renders it non-existent.” What has to exist for any reality to literally be able exist. And it is other than a Deity or deities. They would have to have this same characteristic to persist also.

    Also, ask yourself what is the one characteristic that all Religions assign to their respective deities, anthropomorphic or other wise. Some have said we create our Deities in our own images, as compared to them creating us in their respective images. And either way that single characteristic we always include when describing our deities is the ability of being Cognitive, or aware or what some call is sentience, the OM…, or the ability to collect, store and act upon information.

    Even our respective cartoon characters on Saturday or Sunday mornings all contain that ability to reflect awareness to be successful. Yes, re-enacting, the ability to see, hear, smell, touch, taste or any mix of the same, often called the 6th sense, helps, but bottom line they have to reflect the ability to be aware, age appropriate, to really capture our attentions for any profit making successes.

    The neat thing about America is we have the right to find that middle ground between what is truth and what is beyond fiction, but in fact is totally fabricated non-sense. We often call that ability a correct frame of reference.

    It’s like I spent many years of my American Religious youth looking forward to being a missionary in Africa in particular, and one day putting all those witch doctors in their place, and replacing them with real Northern Baptist Christian values. Then one day I realized the Christian values were as based in superstition and bologna as the witch doctors premises. A little more complex, and organized, but way to much silliness than should be allowed in any socially responsible application, expecting for some value to be derived from it. GIGO.Further more I realized the American Christian, Jewish, Muslim and so many non-recognized smaller based religions were as based in lies needing to be addressed before I ever thought of visiting another countries peoples to set them straight.

    In other words I had to get my own act together as an American before I began laying a whole lot of trash on other peoples and peoples of other countries.

    Fixing America has to do with fixing our selves from the bottom up, to the top down.

    As long as we live under the umbrella that the Atom Bomb will shield us from all the evils of the rest of the world as compared to a “God or Goddess” protecting us, we will continue to stagnate in direct proportion. Very common tradition amongst all nations historically.That stagnation as compared to taking the time to progressively move towards discovering the real truths of a reality and having the guts to move progressively forward with in those truths boundaries, then we will suffer the consequences accordingly.

    American’s have a simple choice. Let a reality solve its difficulties for them, or take the bull by the horn and solve them as free cognitive entities have the right to do.

    Yes, reality has an absence of rights, but we Americans have the ability/freedom to make up our own rights based in “Truth” as compared to the “good ol’ lies”. That is also an American Tradition.

    When we realize good and bad are purely relative to Cognitive entities then America will begin fixing itself.

    When we realize 99.9999… % of a reality avoids being able to recognize the concept of “Good and Bad”, and or “Good and Evil” and it’s only we cognitive/aware entities that have such a notion, then perhaps the true nature of our needing to be responsible for our own actions, reaction, and interactions will Americans begin to really get their respective acts together and gain some respect from other nations of peoples around the surface of the earth for a change. Instead of the fear of an Atom bombs misery, or a God/Allah’s wrath, which ever persuasion you are of there are much better ways to address the worlds and Americas difficulties.

    When Americans begin realizing Good is bottom line that which extends the longevity of cognitive entities and bad is simply that which deters from extending the longevity of cognitive entities with in an otherwise Non-cognitive reality will we begin acting in relative correct ways, making correct as compared to incorrect decisions accordingly.

    When we free thinking Americans all realize that there is literally “ultimately” an absolute absence of a reason to persist; but equally and at the very same time there is an “ultimate” absence of a reason to avoid persisting, will we may realize we may be part of an only way anything that can occur is able to occur. Too many of us forget that second part, where there is an absence of a reason for a reality, and us, as an integral part of that reality to avoid existing, literally.

    In other words we are okay, and we should be acting like it.

    I do think we need to consider continuing controlling our overpopulation growth and extend those considerations to the illegal and legal aliens from all countries coming into this Nation from a variety of venues. One thing about a reality, it will control our overpopulation tendencies whether we control those tendencies or otherwise. If that were a tradition in this country then maybe people from countries that believe uncontrolled population growth is somehow a good thing, may re-consider there options of coming to this Nation in a first place.

    By the way, I did cheat, and did start a “New Bible” after some 25+ years of consideratio and notes and its called the “Book of Correct Change”, if anyone is ever interested.

    The first stanza reads, “Correct Change is about when a reality becomes able to be aware of it’s self”.

    In a reality comprised of a constant of change, a cognitive entity may want to consider Correct Change/s as compared to Incorrect Change/s.

    Later on in the book I imply that the one thing when removed from a reality that renders it non-existent is the inability for “change” to occur. Or remove the ability for change to occur and even Deities have a difficulty tossing lightning bolts, as even lightning bolts avoid existing.

    Anyway, cognition in a reality is huge. Turns out there are a few other attributes we cognitive entities contribute to the persistence of a reality as a whole too, and therein contribute to our own continuance at a same time. Probably will avoid ever publishing until after I pass away, but I have faith Americans will persist, it is our choice to make correct decisions, and after all is said and done the Truth will prevail.

    For me as an American trying to fix myself, it has been again at least for me what a Bible or a Koran etc. should be about. May be a time for a new Bible or Koran to emerge? This time we might consider defining what a cubit is, or some real science. Lotsa truths in them thar Physics and math books.

    Like if you were a realities only way to choose to persist, what choice would you as a reality then make? Love goin’ there, puts a whole lot of things into a correct perspective.

    And then to go out and live your daily life, the mere concept of road rage, or doing illegal or legal drugs etc. takes on a whole new American Fix.

    Anyway, there are answers to Fixing America. If there is anyway to do so, we Americans will do it.

    I have a drawing of an Eagle entitled the “Healing Bald Eagle”. Its a picture of an Eagle, claws and beak drawn, and in a way so that it appears to becoming out of the very fabric of the substance of a reality or no where, ready to address any thing that comes its way. It’s colored in 3 different shades of Red, White and Blue. Very diverse perspective to say the least. Who ever said what shades of Red, White and Blue our flag is comprised of. Yeah white has shades too. Get over it.

    Anyway, that captures how I feel about what America is all about. And yeah, sometimes we need fixing too. Where there is a will there is a way.

    Thanks for the question. Good show.

    Lonnie Wiens
    Peace 2010
    Planalism@yahoo.com

  • Elaine

    I agree with the over population comment. We have four million people born in the US each year, and one million jobs outsourced each year. Business isn’t creating jobs. Over population equals more people on welfare, more pollution, more crime, and less jobs. It’s a numbers game at this point. I’m one of the unemployed and I can tell you that I’m not happy. US citizens need to get off their duff and volunteer instead of popping out more humans that are unsustainable.

  • Jreid764

    Fixing America: I enjoyed your show last night and wish to comment regarding fixing America.

    While I believe ALL of the solutions proposed by your guests are valid and should be attempted, none would work in and of itself without a political solution first being implemented. Our politics and politicians are working in a toxic situation which does not lend itself to making the best choices for the American people but rather solely along political lines for political groups. I am not talking about any groups becoming Centrists or Triangulation or any of this sort of claptrap. Rather, working for what is best for the nation. Once this chaotic situation has be resolved, all other solutions for America then have a chance of resolving our problems.

    How to do this is the question and it will take good men and women working together to bring it about. We shall see what will happen.

    jim

  • Xfusionj

    The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy is not a My Brothers Keeper collimation but a One-Up-Man-Ship notation of What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander…1Doctrine

  • MARLIN THOMPSON

    have a contest with the poorest unemployed humans in AMERICA-ON HOW TO FIX AMERICA- and offer jobs to the top 100 winners–pbs is big business –everyone is always trying to take someones idea and profit–let the poor profit sometimes—you will be suprised at solution to fix the world by poor people-after all– each promblem you discuss is about poor people–lol–successfull -educated people really don’t have a clue–816-405-8794–i have the answer for any successfull educated CEO–CALL ME –MARLIN THOMPSON-I TRULY want change for all people all over the world–NO HUMAN LEFT BEHIND is the proposal–NOW WHO REALLY WANTS CHANGE FROM PBS.ORG

  • NOHLB

    THEY also didnt tell you how much they are profitng by winning the war–control-war is a way of life –if not the military would be more visible helping people all over the world–they are designed to destroy-and control–have you ever asked yourself -why iraq-afgan-israel-are not paying us for helping there country–we should never worry about military money–any country using are men & women to get there country safe needs to pay that bill–wake up AMERICA ITS THE MEDIA GAME

  • quest

    I enjoyed the program last evening and actually fixing America ultimately would mean fixing the basic unit the family. At my age I have been watching a line of my family who have a deep religious belief of accountability to family and God. Their primary goal is to their families to work for them and love them and take care of them. Not having a job or taking unemployment for any length of time has always been something they just don’t do. Divorce has almost been a rarity in that line. They don’t need fixing. I liked the idea of a basic job for anyone physically able to work even at minimun wage. If not wishing to work, no government help. I know it isn’t that simple with mothers with children etc. but the basic idea would be the Biblical one of if one is able to work mentally and physically one should. My parents of the depression era always found a way to provide for our family. They had the pressure and help of their Christian relatives as an example. I am proud of my husband who has at times been unemployed. When he was unable to find work he couldn’t stand to just get unemployment. He worked at a gas station despite my fear for his safety, a Target and now rather then continue on unemployment at retirement age took a part time job.He was part of that generation that considered taking money when you could find any type of employment was a sin. I don’t see many like him any more and glad I found him. He also has a very strong faith which helps him through hard times and is a great help to me.

  • American

    Great comment, Thankdickbush, but you are wrong on one issue…..Education does not consume 60% of state budgets. PRISONS and all that goes with it – police, courts, parole systems, GPS monitoring, etc. are gobbling up most of our money.

    You would, or perhaps wouldn’t be surprised how many politicians have investments in private prison companies, such as GEO Group, which trades on the NY stock exchange. The system is set up to keep incarcerating our own people!!! They’ve passed laws and more laws to keep millions of our own people locked up forever. Prison is BIG BUSINESS in the United States. How many new prisons have been built in your state? A few, I’ll bet. How many people are under judicial supervision, such as parole, GPS monitoring, etc. Millions!

  • http://www.thegoodgovernmentproject.org Fred Hewitt

    One way I would fix the country is to replace the present Constitution. The United States of America, is plagued by a wide range of political problems: foreign wars, financial catastrophes, ecological disasters, earmark spending, negative campaigning, political instability, and a population very dissatisfied with the present political state of affairs. Our present political institutions and Constitution are not adequate to handle these problems. Indeed, the present Constitution promotes and exacerbates these problems.

    The foremost of these problems is the lack honesty and integrity in the current state of affairs. Of all mankind’s noble activities, the art of government is by far the one most tainted by deception. The structure of the U.S. Constitution encourages citizens to form gangs (political parties). Then the two largest gangs wage war for the power to impose the winner’s will on its enemies (the other gangs), and on the rest of the population, even on those who are members of no gang. Cooperation is not encouraged, but rather suppressed.

    Another serious structural problem is the unequal influence and power of individual citizens. Most citizen have little or no political power, while a some have enormous power which shifts over time among various elites. Political power should be much more evenly distributed among all citizens and be stable over time.

    A third serious problem is that the U. S. Constitution is severely lacking in meaning. Not even a Justice of the Supreme Court knows the meaning of the U. S. Constitution until the Justices take a vote. The meaning of the Constitution should be easily and readily understood by the overwhelming part of the citizenry. The citizens should inform the government of the meaning of the Constitution and not the other way around.

    Can a constitution be drafted that will solve these problems? Serious efforts might uncover several solutions. One possible constitution can be found at my web site http://www.thegoodgovernmentproject.org.

    Fred G. Hewitt
    Eagan, Minnesota

  • Anonymous

    Taking Anna Lappe’s argument a bit farther, we need to develop a more conscious economy, wherein production processes and end products are designed not only to be nontoxic, but to work with, rather than against, Nature. Instead of cranking stuff out with no thought of what to do with it when it wears out, we must tailor production to facilitate reuse and recycling, similar to what Mother Nature does on her own. We also need to let go of the silly belief in endless economic growth on a finite planet. In Nature, there is no such thing as toxic waste, because everything biodegrades, and the scale of production (and waste generation) is kept within the limits of Nature’s ability to support it. There is a ground-breaking book on these ideas, called “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things” by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. These gentlemen aren’t ivory tower theorists – they have put their ideas into practice in many different industries around the world, with excellent results. Perhaps you could invite them onto the program for an interview?

  • Paulcpub

    This Constitutional change would fix a number of things: Term Limits as Follows: President, one 6yr. term. Senators, one 6yr. term. Representatives, one 4yr. term. Each may run again after one term out. The advantages of this include 1) Reducing the money pressure to again run immediately after one’s term. 2) Their legislation will be focused more on problem solving than what will the voters think. 3) Add your own, etc. The benefits are obvious.

  • http://www.aspiritech.org Brenda Weitzberg

    Need to Know is THE best show on TV!

    One important way to fix America is to start today to plan on how our country is going to address the growing tidal wave of children with autism (500,000 by one estimate) that are expected to reach adfulthood in the next decade or so!

    Many adults on the autism spectrum are high functioning people, with average to above average IQs, who are incapable of achieving their life goals due to their inability to obtain or maintain employment. All too often, their vocational challenges stem from their difficulty managing the social aspects of a job interview or, once employed, handling the fast pace of change in today’s workplace or getting along with work colleagues, supervisors and customers. Most experts agree that, as a result, at least 85% of all adults with autism are either unemployed or severely under-employed resulting in poverty, social isolation and depression which results in their inability to lead independent, fulfilling lives.

    Aspiritech is a 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2008 with a mission to solve the employment challenge of individuals with Asperger’s syndrome and other forms of high functioning autism (HFA) by aligning their unique abilities with the needs of the business community. To this end we provide software testing services that harness those unique abilities – attention to detail, precision, an affinity for repetitive tasks, outstanding technology skills. By providing our testers a combination of intensive training, structure, and support to mitigate potential workplace challenges, Aspiritech provides an employment path for people with HFA to realize their potential and live more productive and meaningful lives.

    Companies such as Aspiritech make both sound social sense and business sense.
    http://www.aspiritech.org

  • American

    I forgot to add that one in every eight Americans is currently incarcerated or under some form of judicial supervision, such as parole, registration, GPS monitoring, etc.

  • guest

    What might be needed to fix America? some terrible whole country catastrophe. In the old testament when the Israelites forgot God and lived as they pleased the Bible says God allowed terrible things to happen. They would get down to basics, trying to live moral lives and things would improve. As a people we have placed our faith in our govenment,in subsidies and in everything else but in our own abilities and a God bigger then anything else We no longer help our neighbors or even our family members but depend on goverment help to do everything and we are draining our funds. With fewer putting in and all taking out what can we expect. I am afraid I and many of the baby boomer generations have placed our faith in the wrong places. I am afraid it might just take a huge catastrophe to bring us to our senses.

  • Thomas C. Turner

    In the pubic sphere and in other endeavors an American “fix” would include a much greater emphasis on our distinctive values of curiosity and invention, empathy and compassion. In problem solving, Americans should start with the complexity of facts which are the product
    of true curiosity, using a full complement of intellectual tools (and not with ideology). Inventive America should explore alternatives, how to solve the problems as a whole or in parts, really examining the full range of possibilities and the timing of those possibilities. What are the effects
    of the alternatives on real people, with all the variety of cultures and situations they find them- selves facing? Compassion should follow these empathic: which of the alternatives is fair, which is most helpful or causes less harm in the complex society in which we live? Curiosity
    and invention, empathy and compassion should be the fundamental lessons in our schools,
    colleges, and everywhere to strenthen the quality which have always made America a great country.

  • TCT

    Sorry, correct the previous to:
    “empathetic concerns”
    and
    “strengthen the qualities”

  • Anonymous

    Lots of excellent ideas, but mine will probably offend everyone. Americans must stop assuming that whatever they propose is right, and all disagreement is wrong. Stop bullying the world, concentrate on this country. I do not mean adopt a policy of isolationism, but stop believing you are always right. Iraq was a mistake, Afghanistan another. Iran couldl be biggest error yet, or urging the South Koreans to take a more aggressive stance, pull forces from Germany and Japan. Sign the Central Criminal Court aggreement. In other words, become part of the world, function within it, and cut out the threats.
    Alternatively dump Obama, and vote in Julian Assage as President. He tells the truth!

  • Pattlundy

    Good stuff JoeIT801 especially congressmans name on pork bills.

  • Mark-Rinehart

    To reintegrate ethics and morals into our narcissistic and ego-centric society, we must mandate compulsory Sunday church attendance at the demonination of your choice. To reacquaint ourselves to the virtures of thrift, budgeting and saving, we must mandate the elimination of ALL credit and debit card usage. To quellish our greedy, consummeristic urges, all individuals must take a manatory 50% income cut in order to reintroduce ourselves to the economic idea of needs vs. wants — so we can relearn the lesson of appreciating what we have.

  • Dave Smethurst

    This applies to many comments. To get needed policy changes, we must reform government. Get a bazzilionaire to fund an education effort and lobbying effort to have: direct election of the President (make every vote count and no more blue and red States) term limits (ten two year terms in the House and three six year terms in the Senate and a fifteen term for judicial appoints), all votes are majority votes (give time and difference to the minority with a real filibuster like it used to be but a majority vote cloture), all Presidential appointments have an up or down vote in three months, elinate gerrymandering by having non partisian experts create districts with no reference to voting patterns, and put some Senate and House Rules in the Constitution. Any PAC or C(4) ads are open and transparent with all funding sources on the Net before the ads are run. There are some more, but this is the idea. We need to improve the structure of our government or real policy changes will not happen. One policy idea, a modest surtax of 5 to 10% for several years on the richest 5% with proceeds to reduce the national debt. That would free up interest payments and help balance the budget without cutting social security. Oh, and a balanced budget amendent with some wiggle room. The system we have now has evolved over time and is not serving us well. Dave Smethurst

  • Reref

    We must decide one way or another whether the United States is to be a Great nation or a Great Empire. Adhere to our ideals and we can have dignity at the bottom, incentive at the top, and opportunity at every point in between. Flaunt them and we implode by ignorance, hyprocrisy, and pride.

  • Richard

    Re: Fixing America

    As was suggested, getting more information into the hands of Americans may be a large part of the solution… assuming the information is accurate. Many media outlets remain convinced that their safest and/or most profitable course of action is to present what is said without calling into question its veracity. Thus misleading, inaccurate, and downright false data is foisted on the public and used to form opinions, generate actions, or at the very least, call into question the facts of any given matter.

    Here in Kansas City, a local weekly newspaper, in an article about immigration legislation, made a point of taking the numbers offered by F.A.I.R. (Federation for American Immigration Reform) and comparing them to those produced by disparate entities (i.e., The Department of Homeland Security, Pew Hispanic Center, etc.). Each time, F.A.I.R.’s numbers were grossly inflated when compared to the general consensus arrived at by the other groups.

    The weekly then went on to show how F.A.I.R. arrived at those erroneous statistics, often by simply ignoring certain apparent but inconvenient facts. F.A.I.R. has a lot of company when it comes to this practice. There is no shortage of individuals or groups which gleefully resort to all the tricks of the demagogue’s trade to promote agendas unsupported by history, truth, or even reason.

    That a free weekly, or a comedy program like “The Daily Show,” does a better job of separating fact from fiction than most of the main stream media should be a source of great embarrassment to the media and to those of us who are media consumers. But ever fearful of merely being charged with bias, the press remains content to produce content that is unencumbered by even the most fundamental of fact-checking.

    Daniel Patrick Moynihan has been quoted (and misquoted) about how we are all entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts. Imagine just how much more informed and useful those opinions would be if we were also entitled to the facts, and if all media outlets felt it were their duty to at least pursue the process of presenting them.

  • Betty

    I can not imagine I would ever prefer to live anywhere but here in Florida, USA; still there is just so much that needs fixing.

    Looking at the problems in my home town, I have to say; we have to stop thinking like a throw away nation.

    The local shopping center became mostly vacant buildings when new growth sprouted south of here. Many of the buildings still remain vacant 5 years later. You can imagine the impact this has on a community…everything goes down hill.

    No new buildings until older ones have been brought up to usable standards and are once again in use. Expansion should not come at the cost of older communities or the environment!

    Legislation should not have a throw-away attitude. Dump this or that and just invest a lot more money into something new. New is not always better!!!!

    We have to learn from the past and the present technologies and then plot out a future that benefits our communities and our nation in general. If Development is considered the goal without consideration of its impact on all levels of existing communities, then it becomes the destroyer of the basic fabric of our community, city, state, and nation!

    Survival of our nation in the world must begin with a change in the attitude of those who make the most basic decisions about how we live. Truthful education about politics and politicians needs to be put forward in a way that anyone and everyone is exposed to it. Unfortunately, those who vote aren’t always well informed. Nor are they well educated or experienced in investigating the issues at hand…The advantage still goes to those who have more money and a better education…SO add better education for all, including seniors, to my list of what we need in America!

  • Rustyproductions

    It seems pretty simple to me and something we can all do. BUY AMERICAN! Though I do believe in helping other countries we need to start with fixing America first. Something we can all do is make a conscious effort to create jobs. Simple, supply and demand. We our outsources far too much and though companies say it’s cheaper to go offshore these same companies like the Walmarts and Target stores are still making billions in profits. Profits that are making unemployment rise. Also, strict laws on Unions. Unions are pushing these jobs out of our country for their own greed.
    Welfare should be more of a way to help people be trained for jobs not just free money. Create day care centers using people on welfare to earn a living working in these daycare’s freeing up time for the other mothers and fathers to work. If someone’s on welfare there is no way they can afford to spend money on day care. I’ve been to welfare offices and I’ve seen able body people making this a way of life. We need to break that chain.
    Education of course. Less money spent on prisoners who are serving time for less serious crimes could be working on cleaning highways etc. Earning their keep so to say. The money we could save on those jobs could be put into other things like education.
    Tax breaks for green improvements, incentives for hybrid vehicles, mandatory green building regulations. Abolish lobbyist! Stop campaign funding. I agree with the gentleman suggesting federal funding for elections and holding more debates about the issues as opposed to wasting money and OUR time on ridiculous annoying commercials. Let them sit down and hash it out, talk about the issues and what should be done instead of bashing each other every other commercial on T.V. stop telling us what your opponent did or didn’t do tell us what you would do and debate it with each other on television.

  • Samadamspatriot

    America (and the world) should “out” capitalism for what it is: a religion based on myth and superstition (like all theologies) that is exploited by a few high priests for their own, exclusive benefit, at the expense of about everyone else.

  • Asburyh

    Fixing America:

    To make a system reliable all systems must work all the time, not fail in doing their function! To fix America we have to “fix” many “systems” that are all important in “Fixing America”! Even though we have the best “system” in the world, we have many places where we let it fail.

    The “Founding Fathers” defined Congress as a House of Representatives, thinking maybe that they would really represent “all” the people back home. We have wandered from that idealic thought to seeing if we can gerimander each district so that the majority are members of the party in power. Looking at voting results in some districts indicates that someone did the arithmetic very well where the one party comes in with a super majority. When I have a Representative in Congress from the Party that I belong to I feel represented and can discuss my ideas or thoughts with them. When they happen to be from the other Party, it is a waste of time to talk to them about anything serious unless you happen to agree with them, The major point here is that there are a large percentage of people (can be close to 50% in a close race) that DO NOT have a real local Representative. Those that belong to the smaller minority parties probably have NONE! Current Independents have selected to be just that, and they may have the right approach, but they too usually don’t have a Representative that is an Independent.

    I believe that we all should have a true Representative in Congress that speaks for us the way we would speak for or against a given piece of legislature. Congress should be a true representative body of the various multiple parties here in the United States.

    The objective is NOT to increase the number of Representatives, but make each Representative the spokesperson for a defined set of voters of the same mind. This type of change would really emphasize Registering to Vote since that would aline the voter with the vintage of Representative they wish to have as their spokesperson. How those “spokespersons” would be selected should follow the voters choice as far as possible. Each “spokesperson” Representative would represent the standard number of people as presently defined from Census Data. Details of the “how” can be worked out when the concept is serously considered.

    Education! As all the reports are saying, our Education System is failing to do the complete job! Yes we are still producing some very well educated students that are moving up the education ladder and accomplishing some remarkable things, but the percentage of students that fit that mold are dimenishing. What “track” have those outstanding students been on?

    Over the years some school systems have tended to “push them through”, meaning that a student that really hadn’t learned what he or she was supposed to learn is pushed on to the next grade! Where that lack of learning happened to be something like reading, arithmetic, etc. it meant that the student was not prepared for the next level and learned even less, but was pushed along anyway. Finally the student realizes that they are NOT learning anything and drops out! (they are smarter than you think)

    Today’s student has to learn a LOT MORE than we every had to learn just to stay even. We should make the curriculum HARDER and not dilute it to raise the grades. We should do everything we can to recognize why students are not “getting it” and fortify their learning skills until they come up to par. Don’t pass them on into the oblivion and “drop out” level! Continue to educate them until they are prepared to earn a living by some means. It is cheaper than having them end up on welfare a few years down the stream.

    All that would no doubt require some restructuring of the thinking and education system, but you are trying to make the system successful for all levels of students so that they each have the opportunity to succeed in their future. That future may be a future Professor, Doctor, engineer, lawyer, the best production worker in the State, a musician on the radio or TV, a clerk or secretary,a dancer on stage, an outstanding athelete. The curriculum should be designed and evaluated to meet those futures not just the local budget.

    Support to Those in Need: We have many people that have run into problems that have put them on welfare or disability. Those reasons run from the lack of education, jobs that damage critical muscles, accidents, etc.. The current support systems tend to assume that they will stay on the system forever! The systems give very little incentive to the participant to get off the rolls.
    First, we should direct them toward working skills that they still have and toward skills that will get them back to at least the working income that they used to have. They may not be able to wait on tables, but they can use their head to do other jobs. Incorporating work opportunities to enhance that incentive is a good direction to head. Provide incentive to find a new line of work or a new job, don’t make the support a life long source of income. Encourage and support them to develop new skills and a whole new line of work that may even include a business of their own. People want to be successful, we should support and encourage their efforts.

    Relook at the limited job opportunities that young teenagers currently have and create many more. Getting a good taste of accomplishing something on a job at an early age develops a healthy incentive toward learning more in school and really accomplishing something with their life. A young person that grows up on a farm has all those opportunities and it really shows when they enter the work environment.

    I was really impressed with this subject onyour Need To Know Show, but was not impressed with most of the responses I heard on the first hearing. A lot of the responses above are encouraging that we can really put it all back together if we put our mind to it.

  • Kmisha1902

    When I was born, the global population was just about two billion. Now it’s nearly seven. China and India each have populations roughly equal to that of the entire world at the beginning of the last century. That is THE problem underlying ALL the others. Yet you rarely hear it discussed in the media in any meaningful way. But If the problem’s not solved–i.e., if we don’t defuse the global population bomb fast–then any solutions to the other problems will amount to nothing more than temporary, superficial fixes: bandaids on chancres. And can anyone really say that, short of a plague or influenza or other natural disaster that wipes out 80-percent or so of the world’s population, that that’s going to happen? Not with the politicians and religionists who control the world today! So, don’t worry, be happy (or, better yet, go to the mall and spend)!

  • Durkin_michael

    Fixing America: Make it mandatory for every single US citizen to live (not fight) abroad in some other society for at least 6 months. That alone would alter the skewered mentality it means to be “true patriot”.

  • NativeAm.

    Intelligent discourse on population and the underlying problem.

  • NativeAm.

    This is a very good, sound, intelligent proposal.

  • ItsDaPoleece

    I think the Federal Government should create online forms for people to input their personal information and find out how certain laws/programs being voted on by Congress affect them personally, financially, and maybe their industry, county, state, etc. It would be like filling out your taxes online, only you’d only fill out info that is relevant to the bill you’re curious about, and as you fill out more info, it can save (if you want) your information online so you don’t have to keep repeating the same thing everytime you want more info on a bill being passed.

    Data and research on laws being passed should be available AND UNDERSTANDABLE to the citizens of this country, and we’re at a point where the People don’t trust their representatives to always vote in their best interests.

  • Mrz190

    I have always thought that there is a fundamental flaw in a business model that can’t exist
    unless it keeps ‘growing’, sort of like a pyramid scheme. Same goes for the modern city
    with its unending suburban sprawl, paving over all of the richest farmlands.

    I don’t know if capitalism is a religion to its practitioners, but there seems to be a large
    congregation who worship money.

  • Mrz190

    Absolutely an excellent observation. If the government is not going to rebuild the infrastructure,
    then there is no need for all the ‘spare’ workers we have in the world. And, if private companies
    are not going to invest in massive new industries, then we have no need for all the “spare’
    skilled workers that we have.

    Computers and robotics actually produce all the necessary staples of life with a fraction
    of the workforce that was once required.

  • Mrz190

    So, as your story about the Texas pipeline disaster seems to suggest, regulators are paid to
    establish a ‘cozy’ (lax) relationship with the industries they are hired to oversee, or, they are
    not paid to hire competent people to do the job, as in the investment bank disaster, or the
    regulations themselves are done away with, as in Citizens United and the disaster that followed
    that insane ruling. Well, that sounds pretty dire doesn’t it.
    Maybe, if we could find the cause of all this corruption, we could correct it.

  • Lenore

    To control population growth, educate women. This, strangely enough, reduces poverty. When women are educated, they have fewer children, and the ones they do have, go to school. Poverty creates overpopulation. It has to do with nature’s attempt at preservation of the species. Also, distribution of condoms is a very cheap way to affect overpopulation. Most women do not want to have lots and lots of babies.

  • Ellenkavanagh

    Re: Your comments on Holbrooke; I am confused. News reports said his last words were to the effect
    that we must get out of Afghanistan; yet you ended your comments with him saying almost quite the opposite. Please explain.
    thanks.

  • gretchen

    I want to thank you for your services agbalaxy@gmail.com! thanks to your spell we have now become that perfect couple i have only dream about being! We are so in balance with each other now that his lion-ego is tamed! He is also very much more comfortable around my children now! Thanx a bunch! Gretchen