5 Things to Occupy Your Mind + 5 Things to Occupy Your Conversation = 10 Things That Lead to Action
by Roy W. Bakos
It should be obvious to everyone looking and listening that there is a general sense of discontent that is starting to dominate the political, social, and economic landscape of our country (and world for that matter). Starting with the contentious elections of 2006, moving to the election of Barak Obama in 2008, and then back again to the elections of 2010, we have seen great shifts in the political make-up of our national and local governments without seeing an accompanying shift in policy or reality for many Americans. This at first caused the anger from the right (with some from the middle joining) as expressed by the Tea Party and has now been joined in an anger from the left (again, with some from the middle joining) as expressed by the Occupy Wall Street folks. Thomas Jefferson and Ron Paul are about the only politicians that play well on both sides of the anger fence. I believe that this anger is born from a feeling of disenchantment with a system that has become so corrupt that neither side, when they gain power through an election, is actually able to get anything done that the people that backed them wanted. This then intensifies the anger and dismay at the state of things among the partisans which forces stronger and stronger rhetoric that starts to reach beyond the scope of compromise. As for the middle, those that “need to be energized” by someone or something, it causes a feeling of futility and we lose the participatory part of our democracy. Right now, about the only thing we can agree on is that a majority of Americans think that government, the financial system, politics, or some combination of the three are completely broken beyond repair and many no longer think that they, the People mentioned in our founding documents as being the ones that are supposed to run this unwieldy Democratic Republic, can have any say or make any difference in what happens in the world around them. This spirals on, and on, and on, and on, and on…
I would like to change this and I believe that the way to change this is to harness this anger and frustration into some meaningful action. To do this, we must concentrate on the things that we agree on and agree to compromise somewhat on our differences. In this spirit of discourse, I propose that we all list 5 things that we are not satisfied with/want changed and then list 5 things we would do to change things. If enough of us participate in this, we can gain a consensus to figure out the work that needs to be done to fix this broken system. I am going to start by asking everyone that reads this to compile their own lists of 5 and 5 and use the comments section of this website to post them. I will then attempt to get the most popular ideas together and publish the top 10 priorities at a later date. This is how democracy needs to be practiced…the people telling their leaders what they want them to do. Lets start with lists and then move to influence.
5 Things Things That I Think Need Attention:
1)The Banking and Financial System;
2)The Military Industrial Multinational Complex;
3)The Healthcare System;
4)The Tax Code;
5)The War on Drugs.
5 Solutions to These Problems:
1)Make the laws that apply to everyday Americans in regard to financial improprity apply to the people that run the large banks and investment firms. If you wouldn’t allow me to sell a broken down house to my neighbor as if it were a well kept one (fraud), banks should not be able to do the same thing without facing legal penalties for doing so;
2)Cap interest rates at 15% above prime (lower this to 10% if prime rises above 8% as I believe that the constant number that the Bible/Koran/Torah have regarding usury is probably the most reliable number in any of these texts) and pay us interest on our investments (deposits and the like) no less that 1/3 your highest rate charged on things. If a bank charges someone 10% to borrow money, it should have to pay me at least 3% to give it to them to lend out;
3)Cancel all Free Trade agreements with any country that does not pay workers the same relative amount that we pay workers here to eliminate the incentive to move jobs and industries overseas to cheaper labor markets. Cancel all free-trade agreements with countries that do not place the same environmental restrictions on business as our environmental laws do. Basically, the buying power of a dollar must be equivalent to the buying power of a peso or yuan or whatnot for the average worker and clean water and air must mean the same things to everyone;
4)Repeal all prohibitive drug laws and legalize, tax, and regulate all drugs. Take the money saved from fighting the abject failure that the war on drugs has become and use it to lower taxes and pay for entitlements.
5)Cut 500 Billion form the defense budget. Use 200 Billion to pay down the deficit yearly. Use the other 300 Billion to fund the US Army Corps of Engineers which would be deployed around the world to help build infrastructure that would feed, clothe, and shelter people that need food, clothing, and shelter. How do you pacify a radical? Let him/her feed their family, shelter their family, clothe their family, and treat them with respect as fellow human beings;
5.1) (Yes I am cheating…it is my idea after all!) Reform the tax code in this simple way: all income, regardless of source, is income. The only things that can be written off with income credits are a deduction for up to two children (or up to two adults that you care for in your home), a deduction for the one home that you live in most, and a deduction for educational costs. Let’s say $3000 per kid (or elderly parent) up to two, between $5000 and $10000 depending on the size of your mortgage, and between $3000 to $6000 for educational costs. After these deductions, all income (again regardless of source) gets taxed at 15%. I will give the right the “everyone should pay” as long as they give me “all income is income (see Capital Gains).”
Well, that is it for now. Read my lists. Make your own. Post them in the comments section or e-mail them to us at the Bull Moose website. Comment and take part in all of this. It is ultimately our responsibility as citizens to make sure that the “Great Experiment” that is the United States works. Its failure is our failure and its success our legacy.