I bear no resemblance to Jack Nicholson or Morgan Freeman, but their movie got me to thinking about the possibility of seeing changes in the nonsense that seems to pervade our national life. Therefore, the following is a list of socio/political “events” that I would like to see in my country before I kick the bucket.
You may not agree with all of them, or any of them, but they comprise some corrective measures for the things that bother me the most about our present political-and-social scene in America, as directed mostly by the thuggery in Washington, D.C.
1) Public financing of elections. Take the corruption, bribery, incest and hypocrisy out of our government lawmaking and administration by outlawing campaign contributions to individual candidates/incumbents and replacing them with a public-provided equal sum to all state-approved candidates.
That way, all candidates would be on an equal financial footing, and there would be no advantage for the incumbent other than name recognition and record of job performance.
They do it that way in the United Kingdom. About eight U.S. states have some form of partial, public financing of elections.
Imagine: We could send people to Congress, and they actually could work on solving the nation’s problems instead of having to spend all their time raising money to get re-elected. They could also tell the lobbyists to take a hike. Contributions to a political party still would be permitted.
2) Term limits for all members of Congress. Twelve years is enough time for anyone to spend in Congress, House or Senate. The Founding Fathers probably never meant service in Congress to be a career.
Dismiss the nonsense that we need to have experienced leaders to run the country. Look at what a mess has been made by all those “experienced” career professional congressmen and women!
If someone is smart enough to serve in Congress, he or she is smart enough to get up to speed in two months. Besides, most of the organizational work is done by the staffs, and they could continue on in their jobs following a change-over and be the real professional, behind-the-scenes work horses. Imagine the good work that could be done.
3) Adopt a balanced-budget amendment. Governors must do it. Homeowners and parents must do it. Businesses and corporations must do it. Churches must do it. Even non-profits must do it.
Except in time of warfare or national emergency, the federal government should have to do it. It is a no-brainer. Suffer the economic dislocation resulting from the loss of unnecessary government jobs and get on with life.
4) Develop a meaningful energy policy. Consider the ridiculousness of a nation having 5% of the world’s population that uses 25% of the world’s energy and not having a meaningful energy policy — or any energy policy.
We should be drilling for oil and natural gas in every place where we might find it — offshore Florida, offshore California, ANWAR, Alaska Naval Petroleum Reserve — while we aggressively press ahead on wind, roof-top solar, more clean coal (we already have the technology) and expanded use of natural gas and nuclear.
And, we can start with a gradually increasing federal fuel tax to cause the fleet to be down-sized — by choice (price). The unfavorable balance of payments would be helped enormously.
5) Pass a sensible guest-worker program. People who are here in this country illegally should not be given amnesty for breaking our laws under any circumstances. It is an outright crime to break our immigration laws.
Other countries have functional guest-worker programs with limitations on stays and registration for taxation and location. The program would protect the worker from exploitation, yet provide low-skilled labor to industries and services in need.
In addition, most every nation in the world has stopped giving citizenship to children born to illegal aliens in their country. It’s time we did the same thing — a birth in America to a non-citizen should not convey citizenship to the child.
6) Capital punishment for selling illicit drugs. Sounds harsh, doesn’t it?
If you think it sounds harsh, then consider how many millions of lives are ruined by our recreational-and-addictive drug culture; how many families are destroyed, how many crimes are committed to get money for drugs; how many thousands of users are incarcerated with living-time lost for recreational or addictive use.
The cost of our drug culture to our society is incalculable. Society has already taken draconian measures against tobacco smoking, so let’s take another step toward outlawing those nasty drugs that cause so much human misery and death.
Join Singapore, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia in not having a drug problem by executing the pushers. We wouldn’t have to execute many of the scumbags, because the little guys (low-ranking pushers) would plea-bargain and snitch on the next guy up the distribution ladder.
7) Pass a maximum wage for publicly traded companies. Congress has already decided it has the power to promulgate a minimum wage for American workers; now is the time to pass a maximum wage for publicly traded stock companies.
Let’s say, 200 times the minimum wage, or roughly $3 million a year in wages and bonuses for anyone working in a public company (about $1,425 per hour or $11,390 per day). The top executives still will have their perquisites, but they could not run off with countless millions that they really have not earned.
If someone doesn’t want to work for such a “pittance” in a public company, my guess is that there would be plenty of people standing by ready to take their jobs.
No one is worth the ridiculous salaries paid to these corporate crooks.
The workers and the stockholders (owners) are being shafted under the present open-ended, laissez-faire, rip-off system.
Everybody would benefit except the goons at the top. Private equity and entrepreneurs would not be covered; let them keep what they earn.
Stock options would be restricted to a five-year waiting period before exercising.
8) All laws of the land should apply to Congress. Members of Congress should not have a special retirement plan or medical plan, but instead must pay into Social Security and Medicare, just like the rest of us citizens. Maybe then Congress would have the guts to fix these two programs that the rest of us have to live with and that are on the verge of collapse.
Congress should not have the right to vote itself a salary increase — just, perhaps, a cost-of-living increase.
9) Encourage industries to return to America. It used to be that wealth was created by manufacturing goods, finding resources, growing crops and providing services.
Services are still provided and a lot of things are still being manufactured, but, too, often it seems like wealth in this country is being developed by someone sitting in front of a computer screen — almost a zero-sum game as Wall Street fleeces Main Street.
We should lure industries back to the United States with tax breaks and foster the creation of new industries with similar tax breaks.
10) Miscellaneous. Set up a federal department at the Cabinet level whose objective is to cancel all federal programs that are out-of-date and don’t work.
Bring back the death penalty for spies and traitors.
Let Israel go out and borrow any money it needs instead of us sending them $10 million a day in foreign aid like we have for the past 40 years — so now the United States must go out an borrow the money we send them. Same for Egypt.
Practice real free trade. When our goods are kept out of a country (i.e. Japan) for some inane reason, let their goods rot on the dock. Don’t be afraid to start a legitimate trade war; the world has been raping our markets long enough.
Stop allowing foreign countries (Japan, China) to manipulate their currencies to our disadvantage in trade.
End the double taxation on the 35% of our Social Security payments that relate to wages that were already taxed once. It’s OK to tax the 50% that was an employer deduction.
Bring back one or two years of national service — either in the military, civilian conservation corps or community service.
Weldon Frost is a resident of Emerald Harbor.