There is a common divide in America. Whether it be between political views, genders, race or age, everyone has their own opinions, and thankfully, the freedom to share those opposing views. President James Madison warned that factions can “divide mankind into parties inflamed with mutual animosity rather than unite towards the common good.” While those warnings have become reality, it is important to realize the benefits of diversity, which can lead to conversation and change. In an effort to start that conversation, we have searched across campus for those we find most outspoken in their political views. Economics Professor Dr. Richard Bilas and student Meagan Mousset discussed their perspectives on economics, politics and the future of the United States.
Dr. Bilas has an A.B. in mathematics from Duke University and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Virginia. Along with serving on the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission, Bilas has been a faculty member at several universities, including the University of Southern California, California State University Bakersfield where he held the E.C. Reid Chair in Economics and the University of Oklahoma where he held the Brock Chair in Energy Economics and Policy. He is the author of several books on economic theory and numerous articles in professional journals. Bilas is also an ordained minister in the Anglican Church in North America
What do you make of the current political climate in the US? Is there anything you would like to change?
“The federal government was not supposed to be all encompassing. What we have is a situation with elected representatives looking out for themselves and not for the citizens who elected them. Term limits might help. At least it is an attempt to get rid of the career politician. Career politicians become corrupt and waste our scarce resources by looking out for their futures rather than ours.”
What is the United States’ largest economic issue?
“The national debt and entitlements. Soon these items will make up the entire federal budget and then we will collapse as a nation.”
How do you view the current presidential administration?
“It appears to be in chaos but I believe the president has finally figured out that he is in charge and he has the courage to clean the swamp of those who make a career living off others (career politicians on both sides of the aisle).”
What is the largest problem in the United States right now? How should it be remedied?
“People do not and have not read the Constitution and as a result they have the misguided belief that government will solve their problems. The Preamble tells us what the role of government is and it is very limited but we expect Washington to care for us. It has not and will not happen.”
What will the future of the United States be politically, economically and socially? Why?
“Going along the current path we will soon be like Western European countries — failed socialist states. As Margaret Thatcher would say, ‘Socialism is great until you run out of other people’s money.’”
How do you predict technology will influence global economics in the future?
“[Subject] should make more information available at lower costs. This can be good if capitalism survives. Otherwise, it can and will be used against the citizen to completely remove our freedoms.”
What should the US’ role be on the world stage moving forward?
“Leadership period. If we are not the world leader we will be just like the rest of the nations: followers. Russia wants to be the leader but Putin wants to enslave more and more people. If we stop going down the socialist path others will follow because most people want freedom, which can only come from free enterprise capitalism, but not the capitalism which we now, in my opinion, have since our career politicians grant too many favors to those who make large political contributions.”
While most people feel that there is a divide between students and professors politically, our campus finds a common ground in our economic problems as well as the advances that we can make in technology.
Meagan Mousset is a freshman at the College with an interest in pursuing a career in the medical field. Mousset has taken summer program classes at Hofstra University and Long Island University. She is originally from New York City, and her father, along with his family, immigrated to the United States from Havana, Cuba.
What do you make of the current political climate? Is there anything you would like to change?
“In our current state, we are divided. We’re a selfish country, and with our government only focusing on what is beneficial to them, nothing is getting accomplished. If I could change anything I would change the way our president handles situations that he does not want to deal with. We seem to be in a reality tv show with new drama every week. Our administration throws tantrums on both sides of the aisle and nothing is getting done. It would also be nice if our elected officials could put a bit of pep in their step with travel limitations and immigration. It’s affecting a lot of families, especially locally, and it’s unfair.”
What is the United States’ largest economic issue?
“Our biggest issue is our national debt. We’re currently 18.96 TRILLION dollars in debt. We need to stop with the handouts.”
How do you view the current administration?
“As much as our administration changes, there is no real way to determine how they are doing. I do believe that Trump, over time, has the ability to improve how he approaches this scenario.”
What’s the largest issue in the US right now? How should it be remedied?
“I think that one of the United States’ largest issues are mass shootings and gun violence. Many people want to ban people from buying guns to decrease the likelihood of school shootings, mass shootings and terror attacks, but I think that there needs to be detailed background checks and qualifications that need to be in place to decrease the opportunity that people with bad intentions have on getting their hands on weapons. I also think that banning guns is not a good idea because if you take away guns from the citizens, they will just find another way to create havoc and cause terror. Things such as knives, grenades, fireworks and other explosives can be just as dangerous as guns if they are let into the hands of the wrong people. People with psychological disorders, history of violence and people who have gone to jail due to aggressive actions are the kinds of people who should not be able to have guns in their possession.”
What will the future of America be politically, socially and economically? Why?
“Politically, I think that the future of America has the potential to improve and find a way to better handle current issues in the nation. Socially, I think that the citizens can come together and improve current issues, since we all live in this country and our generation IS the future, so it is up to us to make our country better than what it is now. Economically, if we can provide more jobs to more citizens and provide equal opportunities to people, regardless of their race, there could be potential improvement. We can only fix what we are willing to improve.”
How much should we consider technology to be part of the future?
“Technology is very important to our future. With medical, with engineering and so much more, technology has provided many outlets to our country that will only continue to grow. At the rate we are going with technology, we have the potential to create miracles and discover things we never thought we could do.”
What do you think the US role in the world should be moving forward? Why?
“As a country we still have a lot of adaptations to make. There are so many other countries that have progressed farther than we have with things like healthcare and legalization of certain materials for medical purposes. We are falling behind in things that as a progressive country we could excel at.”