Core Values


Let me convey three core values that shape how I think about the world and approach solutions to its problems.

Value #1: It’s Our Children

I value and care for others — their health, their happiness and their prosperity. I care not one iota about their race, their religion, their sex, whom they love, their nationality, their degrees, their wealth, their physical condition or their pedigree. I particularly care about our children, all our children. I also care deeply about people who aren’t Americans. But a President’s first priority is the security and welfare of the American public, including its future members.

When Bill Clinton ran for the presidency in 1992, his campaign’s mantra was, It’s the Economy, Stupid. His slogan was chosen to remind his campaign staff that the path to victory involved stressing economic problems. My mantra is It’s Our Children. I didn’t invent it to get elected. I’ve been focusing on the treatment of children for decades. A primary area of my research has been “generational accounting,” a method to measure the fiscal burdens we are imposing on our children. It’s no coincidence that the first three books I mentioned above all have the word “generation” in their titles.

It’s Our Children should be our permanent national mantra. Unfortunately, it’s far from it, thanks to the politicians. As Jefferson put it well: “A politician looks forward only to the next election. A statesman looks forward to the next generation.” Our country is sorely lacking in forward-looking statesmen and stateswomen. But we’re chock full of politicians – politicians who have gravely damaged our country and our children’s future. Unless they are stopped, they will do even more harm. Fortunately, a growing number of Americans are turning away from the politicians. The share of unaffiliated voters is now almost 50 percent – the highest percentage in 75 years. Trust in the government – that is, in the two parties — is at an all-time low.

Our treatment of our children is, to use Mark Twain’s expression, passing strange. Each of us would name our children as more important than anything else in the world. But as a group we let one-third grow up in abject poverty, provide many if not most with second-rate educations, watch two of them die each day from gun violence, let them go deeply in debt, let new technology take their jobs without raising as much as an eyebrow, incarcerate them at extremely high rates, bequeath them old and crumbling infrastructure, leave them a mountain of fiscal bills, make them fight unwinnable wars, threaten their climate and place them at existential risk by letting rogue states acquire nuclear weapons. Add to this the high rate of youth unemployment and the fact that inflation-adjusted wages are no more than they were in 1965, and It’s Our Children becomes a moral imperative.

I’ve been connecting these terrible dots for many years. I’m not the only one. Candidates Sanders, Clinton, Trump, Kasich, Cruz, Rubio and other candidates have, as a group, raised many of these issues during their campaigns. The real questions are whether either party understands the magnitude of this collective child abuse, whether either party knows how to stop it and whether, given our nation’s vicious political civil war, the two parties can work together without a politically neutral President to lead them.

Value #2: Respecting Others’ Opinions

My second core value is tolerance and respect for others’ opinions, including those with extreme views. Just because they are extreme doesn’t mean they are wrong, let alone completely wrong. I try to go beneath the words and figure out where people are coming from.

Take members of the Tea Party, many of whom view government as public enemy number one. That sounds extreme. But we are all fed up to the gills by government bureaucracy.

Consider as an example the paperwork facing a hypothetical small company — ABC Corporation, which sells its products in all 50 states. ABC has to file a federal corporate tax return annually, withhold FICA taxes for each employee monthly, withhold federal income taxes for each employee monthly, withhold unemployment insurance premiums for each employee monthly, withhold state income taxes for each employee in the 42 states and cities with income taxes monthly, file 42 state corporate income-tax returns annually, file 42 quarterly estimated state corporate tax returns, file 50 state sales tax returns (quarterly, in many cases), send separate annual reports to all 50 states, pay annual special registration fees to most states, file a special annual report to ABC’s state of incorporation, pay a special fee to ABC’s state of incorporation, and the list goes on.

ABC, recall, is a small business. It can handle all this paperwork on its own — and have time to do nothing else — or it can hire a fulltime bookkeeper, a payroll processing firm, an accounting firm that specializes in state income taxes, another accounting firm that specializes in state sales taxes and yet another firm to help it comply with reporting to its state of incorporation. This can easily cost ABC $150,000 a year – a lot of money for a small company.

Social Security, with its maddening rules within rules within rules, like a million Russian nesting dolls, is another example of government out of control. Unfortunately, it’s just one of roughly 40 transfer programs and tax systems that bureaucrats have, it seems, designed to drive us stark-raving mad. This complexity has a purpose. It provides the bureaucrats lifetime employment. It also let’s politicians slip provisions into complex legislation that favor their contributors.

Now when a Republican like Ted Cruz says that he wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, my first reaction is: “Gee, that’s crazy.” But then I think some more and realize where he’s coming from. Ted Cruz is not my friend, my acquaintance or someone I admire. But he and his supporters are coming from a place the President has to understand. Abolishing the IRS isn’t on my agenda. But radically simplifying our taxes and transfer programs certainly is. So too is directly helping small businesses comply with their paperwork at an extremely low cost.

Being able to listen carefully to people’s legitimate frustrations and respond to them is a prerequisite for leading our country. I talk to both Republicans and Democrats and hear the same refrains. Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and former Democratic Congressman Barney Frank have both told me, while shaking their heads, that the relationships between politicians of different parties are simply poisonous, particularly in the House. It’s not just that Republicans and Democrats in Congress no longer grab a meal together to talk and listen to one another. It’s far worse. House Democrats and Republicans seen riding an escalator together have, I’ve been told, been disciplined by their respective leaders! Yes, it’s that crazy these days in DC.

Each party speaks with its own buzzwords, which drive the other side to distraction. For example, when Republicans say the words “flat tax,” the Democrats hear “help the rich,” even though the Republicans are thinking about work incentives, including better work incentives for the poor. And when the Democrats say the word, “inequality,” the Republicans hear “90 percent top tax bracket,” even though Democrats have nothing close to that in mind.

Only a politically neutral President will be able to translate for each side and get each party to listen to the other. But my election will also materially alter how people, including members of Congress, view the two political parties. It will demonstrate that the candidate, not their party, matters and that in the internet age candidates no longer need the parties to represent them. This will make our elected officials start thinking and acting for themselves, which will radically change personal dynamics and free members of Congress to enact real reform.

Value #3: Telling the Truth

My final core value is telling the truth. This is the minimum every President owes the public, yet politicians aren’t typically keen on the truth. They are sure it will cost them votes. But the cost of their dissembling, half-truths and outright lies is far too often measured in something far more precious than election victories. It’s measured in the lives of young Americans sent to fight unwinnable wars and in the lives of civilians caught in the crossfire.

On the domestic front our politicians have, as I’ve said, been concealing our true fiscal condition for years. It’s now truly grave. I’ll make clear just how grave shortly. This policy of fiscal deception is a ticking economic time bomb that can destroy our own and our children’s economic lives.

For me, telling the truth is simply instinctive. It’s also the most fundamental duty as an academic. Society has given academics a sacred and privileged duty to extend knowledge – knowledge of what’s true, not what’s convenient. So as President, you can count on me to tell you exactly where things stand provided, of course, that national security will not be jeopardized.

7 comments on “Core Values

  1. May 18, 2016 francois monot

    Hi Lawrence,

    I talked to you a long time ago and read your book. My name is Francois Monot and I am a financial adviser. I just read an article about you on Bloomberg saying you are running for president (!). What a challenge!

    On my part, if you recall, I used to live in France and I am now in Miami with a 5 years visa.

    I hope you are well and wish you all the best with your campaign!

    Reply
  2. May 19, 2016 el

    As a stay-at-home mother, I left my career to remain in the house with my children so that mine and my husband’s traditional values of working hard, being honest, living within our means, treating others with tolerance and respect (and many more), could be the loudest voice in our children’s lives. My husband and I made this decision to forgo a substantial income and incur the burden of over $300, 000 in grad school debt so that we could focus on what is most important–the children.

    I know with perfect clarity that the impact I made–and could have made–in my career pale in comparison to the impact our own children will make in this world as they go out and become ambassadors of peace, industry, and fiscal responsibility.

    You have my vote, and good luck.

    Reply
  3. May 29, 2016 Rick McGee

    Hello – enjoyed your book and website. The duopoly running our country is clearly not working and an alternative is certainly needed. I wrote a book you might enjoy titled “The Independent”. It’s a fictional story about a US Senate race. Many of the themes are similar to your own and reviews have been very good. Happy to gift you an ebook or mail a paperback if interested.

    Best of luck to you.

    Reply
  4. May 29, 2016 Gary Bellomy

    Your knowledge of and position on various issues is impressive. I’m curious about how as a “neutral” president you would avoid absolute gridlock since you would face a congress populated with lifetime career politicians. Without term limits for congress why wouldn’t they just stonewall you into being just another outside the beltway do gooder. They’d likely be content to continue doing nothing while our country pays a horrific price. Please outline how you have any chance to win and if such a miracle were to come true how you would govern.

    Reply
  5. May 30, 2016 Katie

    I was made aware of your campaign when I read the article, “An economist for president would be a vote for sanity,’ written by Scott Burns. I read his Talking Money article every Sunday. I like the way he thinks and the knowledge he offers to others. I’m grateful he was able to point me in a good direction regarding the upcoming election. All the other news articles about Trump, Clinton, and the Libertarian options were very disheartening and I was hoping there was SOME other option I could feel good about. I believe you might be it. Thank you for having a solid foundation as to why you are running for President, how you are going to go about it, and what specifically you are planning to do if elected. Everything I’ve read so far sounds fantastic! Thank you and I hope to help promote your campaign!

    Reply
  6. May 31, 2016 Hassel Hill Jr.

    You understand what needs to be done better than any of the national candidates. There are liberals and conservatives who believe that they are completely right and will not change their views. So, our elected representatives are stuck in this situation and call each other names.. Nothing that Obama does is acceptable and the liberals are promoting socialism. COMPROMISE is absolutely necessary but nobody is pushing it. I believe that our public opinion on the issues of our day are sort of like a bell shaped curve, not perfect for the many issues, but like a bell. Both political parties are controlled by their extremes and with closed primaries us people in the middle are not represented. Hassel (Bud) Hill Jr.

    Reply
  7. September 19, 2016 Tome Walters

    Scott Burns, the Dallas financial writer whose column is carried in the San Antonio Express News, recommended you as an option in this presidential campaign in his September 11th column. I just logged onto your website and had to smile when I see Admiral Bill Owens’ endorsement. I spent many years in the Pentagon as a senior Air Force officer and have great respect for him. Their two endorsements alone were enough to sell me. Then I read your positions on this site last night. I’m on board. As the two parties move to their respective extremes, the nation badly needs a new option, one that moves past the gridlock of political partisans–so deep in their fox holes they can’t even consider common sense solutions and compromises. You are that voice. I endorse you and will recommend you to anyone who wants to talk the 2016 presidential campaign with me.

    Tome Walters
    Lieutenant General, USAF (Retired)
    Director, Defense Security Cooperation Agency 2000-2004

    Reply

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