Learning is no longer just a diploma; it is a lifelong process. We are failing our children by setting a minimal goal of a High School education. In today’s world, that is simply not enough for most high-quality and well-paying jobs. We must provide the opportunities and tools (through programs, facilities, financing options, etc.) for young adults to be prepared for rewarding and productive careers. We must also recognize that, as careers progress and technology changes, workers must be given opportunities for job retraining so that they can advance or re-enter the workforce.
Recovery from the Great Recession has been uneven. Government has a duty to protect those, who are most economically vulnerable. Everyone benefits when there is an effective social safety net, and no one should lose the benefits from a lifetime of hard work due to circumstances beyond their control. We must demonstrate a commitment to all workers by shoring up the Minimum Wage so that it is not eroded by inflation. An incremental increase to $10.50 / hr. would do just that.
We can pay some now or even more later. America’s roads and bridges along with utility systems, such as water and electricity, are collectively rated as “D+.” Our nation’s infrastructure was formerly the envy of the world, but rather than plan for the future and act proactively. Government is engaged in management by crisis. Too often, something has to break before it is fixed. The result is increased costs and unnecessary inconvenience. A proactive infrastructure program not only addresses the existing problems, but it has the added benefits of creating jobs and putting money into the local economies.
In North Carolina, we enjoy both bountiful beaches and majestic mountains. Locals and newcomers alike choose to live here because of the natural beauty. Government necessarily serves as protector of our environment and as steward of the state’s natural resources. It is important that we utilize those resources wisely, preserve the environment for future generations, and protect our quality of life. To this end, government should protect our coastal communities from offshore drilling and from other development activities, which recklessly threaten the environment, wildlife, and tourism.
Our state is proud of its longstanding commitment to our nation’s armed services. Eastern North Carolina is home to bases and facilities used by the Army, Air Force, Marines, as well as sailors from the Navy and Coast Guard. These facilities serve as economic engines in the local communities, and our state should continue its active role in serving as home to these thousands of servicemen and women, as well as their families. We must also assist in transitioning such talented and sought-after personnel into civilian jobs and assure the availability of benefits and programs, which promote their professional and personal well-being.
Present and future retirees pay into these programs throughout their entire professional lives, and workers rightly expect that the financial and medical benefits will be available upon retirement. All of America has an obligation to make these programs work effectively and efficiently. In order to do that, government must be tasked with making the programs financially viable for the current recipients and for those coming into the system. It is no less than an investment in our futures.