By Tim Imholt
Until recently I was recently a declared candidate (now thankfully back to private citizen) for the US Congress. It gave me a chance to discuss privately, candidate-to-candidate many topics with voters, party officials, and sitting politicians (from both parties) various topics that are facing our country today. I also dove into potential solutions to a variety of those topics with those same people.
Voters care about solutions.
Voters care about character.
Voters care about the future of the country.
The famous actor Matt Damon once said it perfectly in an interview with Playboy Magazine and I will now rephrase his statement.
Politicians don’t care about anything being different than it is today; they care about the next election cycle and their campaign funds.
In short, politicians care if your check clears. More importantly, the majority of them care about how to get more of your money through either taxes or campaign donations than they do about solving problems.
What makes me say this?
Several times, ok every time with one exception, when I sat with an elected official to discuss a solution to a problem the same thing would happen. They would listen, there would be a meeting, there would be a follow up and ultimately I would be told, we know that would solve it but we can’t do that.
Why would they not want a solution? Well, because solving a problem, especially doing so fast, would limit their ability to yell about that problem on the campaign trail. It would limit access to people who care about that problem and their campaign donations. They had much better ways (more politically correct) of phrasing the situation but this was the crux of their argument.
Solving a problem too quickly means they have nothing to argue against.
Who can run a campaign if you aren’t against something?
Well I thought we were about solving problems through the laws of the country put forth in the Constitutions (Federal and the various States).
Let’s look at one such problem.
There are a flux of questions surrounding the polarizing subject of same-sex marriage in this country. How is marriage defined? Is marriage a religious sacrament or is it a tax filing status? Is a civil union the same thing as a marriage? Should marriage be resolved by the federal government or handled at the state level? These are all important questions up for discussion.
But what if there was a different way to approach this issue?
My experiences as a professional scientist have taught me how to discover resolutions by focusing on the origins of a problem rather than implementing a “quick fix” solution. By understanding the fundamental issues at hand, we can work to find a more elegant and lasting solution to the problem.
After researching a variety of views and opinions on same-sex marriage, I decided to seek a voice on the matter. My aunt has been involved with the same women for nearly half a century, and I was curious to get her perspective. I asked her if there was difference whether or not the government recognized her commitment, and if so why? I had never thought twice about the government’s opinion on my marriage, so her insight was quite valuable.
Her response what quite blunt (and always with a smile), and she told me her reasons why it matters. The first and possibly most important reason was the defining of same-sex couples as second-class citizens. By adding provisions that a same-sex marriage is not equal to those of a different-sex marriage, a two-tier social system is created and is clearly in violation of basic human equality.
Her next example involved a state of emergency. There have been many cases where a spouse is unable to visit his/her significant other because of a hospital policy limiting visitation rights to immediate family members only. By current law, she wouldn’t meet the requirements of immediate family to her spouse. In case of an emergency she could only sit in the waiting room despite their substantial tenure together. AND if there was a decision to be made involving life support or treatment plans, my aunt would have no legal opinion on the matter. Ridiculous to think that you could spend your whole life with someone, and not be involved in these critical decisions.
The third issue is equally bad. When my father passed away, my mother inherited the estate without having to pay an inheritance tax. They were married. They spent a lifetime together building what they had, and that makes sense. Why is it, then, that if my aunt’s spouse passes away, my aunt won’t have that luxury? That makes no sense.
So how do we solve this problem? Some people say these marriages are not the same as my heterosexual marriage because their religion says so. I respect that opinion, but separation of church and state should preside over the matter. I think the answer become simple and obvious.
We get the federal (and state) governments out of the marriage definition business. On my federal (and state) tax form it asks if I am single, married, or head of household. Why is that? This should be simplified.
There should be two options: DEPENDENT and HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD.
Some questions arise.
What about deduction differences? Well, tax codes change all the time. Why not change this one to work as well. Rearrange the deductions for head of household with 3 dependents to be the same as married with 3 dependents. Perhaps we change the deductions from having a special category for married to an increased deduction for dependents. No muss, no fuss and we are done.
We also need to figure out what to do about inheritance taxes. Again, the answer presents itself, if you are part of that household; there are zero inheritance taxes. Couples who built a household together should not have to have that chopped in half when one member of the couple passes away.
What to do about hospitals? Well…we just passed a sweeping healthcare law that right now isn’t terribly popular, so let’s amend it to enforce this policy nationwide. Alternatively some new, simple, 1 page bill could be passed that says this must be allowed. Partnerships are partnerships after all.
I know through various advanced work involving legal documents for medical purposes much of this can be solved…But should we put American citizens through that trouble? I don’t think we should.
There is one other issue I would like to state as plainly as can be for the record. I do not want the government in this issue at all. That states, means, or otherwise implies, that the government can not force the various religions to marry someone. The religions must decide, the pastors, the ministers, priests, and justice of the peace, must decide for themselves what couples they feel comfortable marrying.
Why should this be allowed? Allow people to make up their own mind? Simply, that is they way it works now. We wouldn’t want, or even condone a Catholic Priest conducting a Jewish Wedding (offered merely as an example and I can name 10 more examples).
I discussed this topic with sitting politicians of both major political parties. No one could convey a country argument to the viability of this solution. Everyone agreed it would work and give both sides of the argument what they want, need or desire. I have spoken to voters of both extremes (Liberal and Conservative) and gotten largely the same response. So why is this not moving forward?
Simple, follow the money. How much money is raised by people on both sides of this topic. No solution will be seen without either extreme pressure or taking the money out of politics. My guess is, we won’t see this problem go away anytime soon.
Somewhere someone will be upset with me bringing up this topic as an example. There will be other posts in the near future involving other solutions I proposed on a variety of topics, and in some cases, far more bizarre statements from relatively famous (infamous?) politicians.
Timothy Imholt PhD
Physicist by training, Engineer by paycheck, fiction writer for fun, and co-author of the critically acclaimed Forest of Assassins available now on Amazon.
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