Watching coverage of the Iowa caucuses this week and then the president's State of the Union (search) address got me to thinking about what I'd say if I were running for president.

How's this: My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for yourselves. You think you're entitled to something? You're entitled to freedom and opportunity. The rest is up to you.

Don't come crying to me if you're not motivated enough, won't make the necessary sacrifices and investment to be successful and engage in risky personal behavior. That's your problem, not the government's.

We should make it as easy as possible for you to succeed. In addition to freedom and opportunity, you should be allowed to keep most of the money you make and determine how you want to save or spend it. You should be telling government how much of your money you intend government to have. Government should not be telling you how much of your money it will allow you to keep.

Health care? Take care of yourself. Exercise, eat right. Don't smoke. Look both ways before crossing the street. The truly poor we can help, but there should be less incentive for being poor and getting a government check than there is in becoming wealthy and earning your own check.

All this bunk about helping "working people." Your grandparents looked after themselves and each other. Day care meant your mother was there when you arrived home from school. Stop divorcing. Stay married. Work it out. Don't abuse drugs and alcohol. Practice recreational basketball, not recreational sex. Obey the law.

Don't watch garbage TV and garbage movies. Read to your kids. Talk to your spouse. Live within your means. Plan for your own future so others won't be burdened taking care of you. Get a life!

One hundred years ago I might have gotten elected with a platform like that. But 100 years ago, most people believed those things. Not today. And that's the problem with our politicians and our country. God bless you and God bless America.

And that's Column One for this week.

What do you think? Send your responses to: afterhours@foxnews.com.

Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.