If I were drafting the Republican Party's platform, these would be its central planks:
Schools and colleges must issue a report card on themselves. Today, schools and especially colleges get away with terrible-quality teaching and have essentially no accountability to students. Every school and college should be required to prominently issue a report card on itself (spot-checked by government) to prospective students and their parents. The School Report Card would report (on an A to F scale):
- How much growth in reading, math, thinking, etc. its students make--broken out by initial achievement level.
- Graduation rate. The report released two days ago by the American Enterprise Institute shows the shockingly low percentage of college freshmen who graduate if even given six(!) years--it averages only 53% across so-called four-year colleges, but even that is misleadingly high because the most selective 100 of the nation's 1600 "four-year" colleges have extraordinarily high graduation rates--because they accept mainly superstar students.
- The results of a customer satisfaction survey, in which students (and in the case of K-12 students, parents) rate the quality of the school's teachers, curriculum, campus climate, and extracurricular activities.
The New Republicans will create a nation of entrepreneurs. If we're being honest, American manufacturing and even most services will never be able to compete with low-cost countries such as China and India. And businesses need ever fewer and fewer locally based knowledge workers, creatives, and leaders, in part because ever more work product can be transmitted over the Internet and because services such as GotoMeeting, WebEx, and Skype are making worldwide virtual corporations ever more viable. Sure, short-term, our tax dollars can create government jobs for such workers but with other countries successfully competing with us, there will be fewer tax dollars to pay those government workers.
The only way to create sustainable, good jobs is to create new, important products and services. And key to that is entrepreneurship: a nation of people trained to keep their antennae out for unmet needs and with the skills to convert those unmet needs into viable businesses, those that can make money without cutting ethical corners and which can afford to pay their workers a decent wage
The plan to create a nation of entrepreneurs has two components: 1. Make entrepreneurship a required subject in school and college. It's far more important that every high school graduate have entrepreneurial skills than that they know the use of the doppelganger, quadratic equations, stoichiometry, and the causes of the Peloponnesian Wars. 2. Increase the quantity and quality of Small Business Administration- and private-sector-offerings: business-plan and business-operations courses, and the use of current and retired successful entrepreneurs as mentors for aspiring and ongoing entrepreneurs.
True Freedom. Republicans like to paint their party as the party of freedom yet many want to restrict women's rights to choose if and when to have a baby and whether gay people have the right to marry. Internationally, the Republicans (as well as many Democrats) tend to meddle in countries that choose to have a government it doesn't like--whether Latin American countries on the left or right-wing regimes in the Middle East. The New Republicans must respect that it is not their way or the highway. They need to honor the libertarian wing of its party so that it is not hypocritical when it calls itself the party of freedom.
Health care is a right but the same level of health care is not a right. I believe that, by virtue of being human, everyone is entitled to basic health care: preventive and routine diagnosis and treatment by a nurse or nurse practitioner not of one's choice, expensive specialist-physicians and treatments only when clearly cost-effective, etc. If you pay--whether fee-for-service or into a new single-payer government-run system--you're entitled to choose a physician, more readily get to see specialists, and have access to a fuller range of treatments, even those which, from a population-wide perspective, may not be cost-effective.
The New Republicans will treat taxpayer money as carefully as their personal money. The government, Republicans and Democrats alike, spend taxpayer dollars as though it can always print more. (Whoops, it can.) The problem is that when you print more money, each of our dollars are worth less, so we have less buying power, our savings are worth less, and our children's future is mortgaged. And if we keep diving deeper into debt, America's credit-worthiness withers, which means that the mammoth cost of servicing our debt will continue to grow and eventually no one (read, China) will lend to us.
The New Republican Party must treat taxpayer money as if it were its personal money. That means fewer and more tightly-budgeted projects, and importantly, requiring good evidence of cost-benefit before spending. For example, the Democrats are massively funding efforts to control global climate with little regard to cost-effectiveness. So many respected climate scientists remain uncertain that even the unimaginably expensive efforts and painful restrictions being enacted and contemplated will make much difference. Too little attention is being paid to cost-benefit and risk-reward. You and I don't go into great debt on wildly expensive, risky schemes. Neither should the government with our tax dollars.
What do you think? If you were drafting the planks of a new Republican platform, would you include the aforementioned? What changes would you make in them?