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I just got back from my Saturday run and was thinking about Tuesday and the importance of Election

Day in this country. I often really wonder why other than the past 2 elections, only 50% of the voting age population choses to exercise their right to vote and get their opinions heard. That of course is merely a frustration for me but not nearly as much as the frustrations I feel about this Tuesday and how people are looking at the choices. It feels to me that nothing has changed since the 1980 election and Ronald Reagan saying there they go again. Some would have us believe that the 2012 choice is distilled down to tax and spend Obama (he hasnt created enough jobs) or deficit & tax cutter Romney (he will create jobs). If only it were that simple. In light of Hurricane Sandy and its impact on so many, the role of government is certainly highlighted. In NY, NJ and CT, we have had people killed, lives destroyed, businesses lost, homes lost and people without food, shelter and clean water. We still have people trapped in their towns with little to go on. And you ask, Peter, why does this matter? Well it matters because all of these people are looking for help and they are looking for help from the government. In spite of all the malarkey that gets thrown around during the election cycle, even the most cynical know and believe that the government and we as a community have an obligation and duty to help those in need. And, the government is where people go to look for help (not just 47% but everyone). I am not advocating that government is the solution to everything but in these times of crisis, the government is where people go to for help. And, our government needs to be there to help them. Sure, private citizens and corporations and businesses play a large role donating money, goods, time and other support but the government is where we focus. Over the past few weeks, in spite of me agreeing with myself not to start any political conversations, I have started them and in those conversations I have asked many friends, family and colleagues do you fundamentally believe that our country has an obligation to help those who are unable to help themselves? This follows with my comments that I am not talking about moochers (poor and rich) and others that just boldly take advantage, I am talking about the family that goes bankrupt from medical bills or loses their house in a storm. Everyone (even those who have told me that Obama is a socialist) has said yes that our country has that obligation. I then ask if you think that the government does a good job with this. They say no and I agree. We then talk about how the government just spends money on programs and policies and it never seems to check on whether they are truly achieving their goals or asks if they are getting the most for our money? An example I give is school food programs. It is universally believed that children with full stomachs are more successful in school so it is safe to say that such a program is a success. I do wonder though if anyone has figured out if we need to spend $2 per student on food or $4 per student on food. Unlike most businesses, the government does not seem to test the efficacy or efficiency of their spending to make sure that they are achieving the right rate of return. Other than military spending and realizing that some technology is a failure, I havent seen the government acting this way. The

conversation then turns to the fact that the government doesnt build programs to incentive or give people the skills they need to get out off assistance. I believe (and I know that many will disagree) that most people on government assistance would rather be out their making it on their own if they were given the opportunity or had the right skills. Obviously there will always be some who will need the assistance indefinitely, but I just dont believe that someone wants to be on food stamps for the rest of their life. Maybe I am nave. People generally feel best about themselves when they feel they are productive and can support themselves and their families. People dont feel good on handouts. So where does this leave me. This leaves me feeling like America has lost its voice. The political dialogue is misdirected and the electorate has been hijacked by slogans, themes, falsehoods, misstatements and the absolute wrong conversation. We need to be talking about how we figure out that everyone (individuals and corporations) pays the appropriate, fair or right share of taxes. It cannot just be conversations about tax rates or the redistribution of wealth. It needs to be about fairness and proportional burden. Maybe it does just boil down to the more you make the more you pay but that just doesnt seems to be a good answer. Does anyone think that effective tax rates should be higher for those that make less because they cannot utilize all of the tax savings mechanisms built into our tax code? I hope not. We all expect our government to be there when we want or need it (daily services like garbage collection, police, fire-fighters schools and emergency services during a crisis or misfortune) but it seems to me that no one wants to pay their fair share for those services. Is Glenda the Good Witch supposed to wave her wand and make revenues appear? I dont get this attitude. Instead of arguing who should be paying more, we need to talk about how we should be spending our money and getting the best bang for our buck. Its not about just cutting spending a certain percent across the board or about threatening to cut benefits in a program as a terror tactic during budget conversations or campaigns. We need to talk about what works, what doesnt, where we waste and where we need to spend more (yes, there are probably places where we need to spend more). That is not the dialogue of this election. It is not the dialogue of most of our elections. We are a country of electoral slogans, platitudes, accusations, misstatements and gotchas. Lets not confuse this with political discourse and honest differences of opinion. We need to get answers to when, how, why and where? We let out leaders off way too easily with this fake dialogue. When both candidates say they will create jobs, we need to know how, when, and where. The next question is why why should we do it that way? I guess I am nave and would like to hear some real honest conversations. Walter Mondale famously told the electorate that he would raise taxes and we know what happened to him. Chris Christie says I dont give a ---about the presidential election and we cheer his candor and concern for his citizens.

Why shouldnt we expect that candor from all people who are asking us to let them represent us? Maybe they wouldnt get elected? When you go into the voting booth on Tuesday think about what type of America we have and want type of America you want. If you believe that we have the obligation to act as a community and help our neighbors and friends in need, then you should look hard at the candidates and decide for yourself who has that spirit, that belief and who has any possibility of doing what is good for the country and making the hard decisions (which if we are honest, means reaching across and aisle and compromising so that the business of government gets accomplished). Who will go beyond the crappy rhetoric that got them elected and roll up their sleeves and be willing to make tough and good choices regardless of wedge issues? I implore each of you to be smart about whom you vote for in your state and local elections. These politicians in general are reelected 95% of the time, yet they have a tremendous impact on our lives. Do not just go red or blue on the local elections. Make sure you are voting for someone who can possibly see the greater good and makes this country a place where people want to live and work. These local and state representatives have a tremendous impact on both social and economic issues and should not just be waved into office. The most noise we often hear is about some state legislature trying to pass something that seems bizarre like a mandatory ultrasound law (sorry but that was the easiest one for me to come up with to make my point). The same point goes for your local congressman/woman. Dont just wave them in or elect them on their campaign slogans. Look at what they say and figure out what they mean and how they have acted in the past. As for the Presidential election, it seems to me that taxes or social issues drive most people. Sure, I would like to pay lower taxes and have government services at my disposal but that is not reality. It doesnt seem to be the time to be cutting taxes and spending without a real dialogue about how, when, why and where. We cant afford to say oops and impede our recovery. We all want more jobs to be created. We all want to pay lower taxes. We all want the deficit to be lower. We all want to get moochers and cheats out of the system. We all want government to waste less. We all want a better and more affordable education for our citizens. So the question is, which candidate will best achieve this things within in the times and constraint that we live in today? GDP does not measure the strength of our citizens, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It doesnt measure our wit or our courage or our wisdom or our learning. It certainly doesnt measure our compassion or our devotion to our country. It really doesnt measure what life is all about. I paraphrased that from RFK but I think it makes a good point that economic indicators are not what life is all about or how our value as a country or as citizens should be judged.