Our 2014 resolutions for <em>other</em> people
As the New Year begins, hopeful signs abound that the U.S. economy is finally getting its mojo back. Employers are creating jobs at a faster pace, more houses are being built than at any point in the last five years, consumer spending is rising — the signs are promising enough for the Federal Reserve to start tapering off its extraordinary efforts to stimulate the economy.
Which is not to say that everything is going swimmingly, either at home or abroad. Far too many Americans remain unemployed. Major, divisive issues, such as immigration and climate change, remain to be addressed. Much of the Middle East and Africa remains in turmoil, Europe is still struggling with excessive sovereign debt and sluggish economies, and North Korea continues to be North Korea.
Nevertheless, we resolve to remain hopeful about the coming year, at least until another nasty election season gets under way. In that spirit of optimism, we have some New Year’s resolutions that we’d like to see adopted by our leaders and even our readers.
Congress: Try going an entire year without doing anything to undermine the economy. For starters, that means avoiding another government shutdown by passing the necessary spending bills on time. More important, it means not threatening to default on the federal government’s debts or to stiff its creditors — in other words, raise the debt ceiling without delay.
Lawmakers should also resolve to enact the immigration reforms that have broad bipartisan support. At a minimum, that includes better approaches to seasonal workers, highly skilled immigrants, border security and longtime residents brought into the country illegally as children.
And instead of waging pointless, symbolic battles over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, Congress should actually try to make the healthcare system work better. In particular, it should do more to rein in the rising cost of medical care, which is the biggest long-term problem for the federal budget.
President Obama: Under-promise and over-deliver on healthcare reform, after having done the opposite to disastrous effect.
The U.S. Supreme Court: Let ordinary citizens listen to oral arguments online the same day instead of having to wait until the end of the week. Then reexamine the question of why the public is permitted to listen to arguments but not see them.
Conservatives who argue that religious liberty is under siege because of gay rights, Obamacare and a “war on Christmas”: Choose your battles better. Crying wolf means that you won’t be listened to when there is a legitimate argument that a public policy undermines religious freedom.
Pope Francis: Do something that will make people angry; the good press you have inspired is becoming monotonous.
Hollywood: Produce a superhero movie in which a woman is the star and not the love interest or sidekick.
Los Angeles County residents: Vote in the June 3 elections for sheriff and county supervisor in numbers that suggest you think it matters who wins. Because it does, and you shouldn’t leave the decision to someone else.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca: Leave the department in better shape at the end of the year than it is right now. And we at The Times resolve to wish you happiness in retirement.
Councilman Jose Huizar: Avoid extramarital affairs with your staffers, and collisions in city-owned vehicles.
The Los Angeles Unified school board: Talk less. Do more. You’re a group of people with sharply differing opinions and philosophies. That’s great. Disagree. Succinctly. Then find an area of agreement and take a vote. The current board meets more often and longer than at any point over the last several years, yet accomplishes less.
Supt. John Deasy: Calm down. Just a little. Sure, you’re committed to making life better for your 650,000 students, and any obstacle to your doing this swiftly and in the way you think best feels like an outrage to your agenda and your schools. We applaud you for this and don’t want you to lose that fiery sense of urgency. But pick your feuds in 2014 so that when you make an angry fuss over something, everyone knows it must be for the best possible reasons.
The Army Corps of Engineers: Back a more extensive revitalization of the Los Angeles River that goes beyond ecological restoration to also create parks that let Angelenos walk to the river and experience it for themselves.
The smokers among us: Kick the habit. For the most part, life with cigarettes is shorter, smellier and more expensive. Smoking is still the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States. And if you need any more incentive, check out the interactive Finnish website tobaccobody.fi to see the effects of smoking from your hair down to your, well, genitalia.
The “young invincibles” reluctant to sign up for health insurance: Recognize that youth is no protection against sickness and injury. You may be young, but you are not invincible.
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