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Where Do We Want to Go?

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Carroll G. Robinson and Michael O. Adams
February 7, 2017

America is getting older and not enough senior citizens have enough money saved for retirement. Social Security and Medicare will not be enough to keep far too many retirees from falling into poverty in their golden years.

Retirement insecurity needs to be addressed and it can’t bchange_ahead - Brantleye done by gutting public pension funds.

Younger Americans are increasingly people of color and multi-racial. Too many of them are not getting a good enough education to help lift them above poverty and move them into the working class and keep them there.

The strength and effectiveness of our nation’s education system will impact our long term economic growth and national innovation potential. To address this challenge, we need to restructure our education funding priorities to invest more money in pre-kindergarten and early childhood education.

The earlier we can get students reading at grade level and competent in math, the more educationally successful they will be in terms of high school and college graduation, as well as career readiness.

America needs a prosperity and accountability agenda focused on encouraging, growing and supporting entrepreneurship and shared prosperity.

Subsidizing poverty is no longer enough. The new goal must be helping and incentivizing people to turn income into wealth.

People need an income that allows them to take care of themselves, their family, pay down household debt, pay off college debt, buy a home, start a business and save for a safe, healthy and quality retirement.

Moving our nation from a fossil fuel economy to an alternative, renewable and clean energy economy will require investing in innovation through research and development as well as economic and tax incentives.

Air pollution, climate change and polluted water are more than environmental challenges — they are health challenges that disproportionately impact people of color and their neighborhoods. These challenges impact both urban and rural communities as well as the suburbs.

Technology, in terms of big data, the Internet of things and artificial intelligence (A.I.) are changing the world. These are “forces of change” that will either shape us or be shaped by us. Our preference is to shape these changes and technologies.

To shape change, we must know where we want our nation to go over the next decade and beyond. Where do we want all Americans to be in terms of achieving the American dream? What do we want our cities — large and small — to look like? How do we modernize government at all levels to make it “great” as Jim Collins defines greatness in his book Good to Great for the Social Sectors?

The decisions we make today will shape our future history.

Criminal justice reform, smart infrastructure, better education, a clean environment, healthier Americans through wellness and prevention, and shared prosperity through equal pay for equal work, and elimination of the racial income and wealth gaps will help build a better America.

To achieve these goals, we must build a public policy and political strategic plan. To quote Stephen Covey, our plan must “begin with the end in mind.”


Authors: Robinson and Adams are members of the faculty of the Political Science Department at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas.

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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