Over a dinner conversation tonight I started to come up with various reforms to make this country a better place. These are in no particular order and there are undoubtedly many others which I haven't though of yet. Feel free to post your wishlist in the comments.
- Restore the US Constitution: habeas corpus, right to privacy, right to free speach, separation of church and state, checks and balances, right to pursue happiness (ie not be tortured). These are just some of the rights we have lost, in part, or in large part, since Bush assumed Presidency.
- Smart Regulation. Regulation became a dirty word thanks to what would become the monkey chorus. What huge corporations don't want you to know is that time and time again we've proven that market forces work towards a monopoly in many industries - completely crippling consumers unless regulation exists. We need better regulation in many industries - regulation which fosters competition instead of nipping it in the bud - which stokes innovation instead of vendor lock-in.
- Health. Care. For. Everyone. It's wrong when illegal immigrants get health care for free whereas the citizens get put into bankruptcy. Illegals should get health care - so should the rest of us. If everyone has access to preventitive medicine the productivity (read: economy) of the nation will improve. This should reduce our emergency care expenses (I wonder how much our largely successful anti-smoking campaigns have benefited us?). I don't know if we should socialize medicine like Canada or have some other progressive / hybrid solution. What I do know is when corporations who own hospitals and health care providers encourage sufferring in order to profit. Life saving and health maintaining services should be provided for the sole benefit of the individual, and, roughly at cost. Right now at hospitals all over America patients are given expensive drugs they don't need (cheaper alternatives are often not used), or are kept on life support even when they have 0% chance at recovery just because corporations can bill for it.
- Media Reform. We tacitly have a right to free speech but everyone on cable / satellite TV is completely filtered and has had all intelligent content removed. There should be a law disallowing false advertising in News, eg "Fair & Balanced". TV stations used to have to prove that they benefit society in order to use our airwaves - these days it's granted by the FCC automatically. It's even getting worse: FCC Chairscumbag Kevin Martin is trying to remove decades-old regulation making it illegal for one company to own both broadcast and print media in the same region. It's astonishing and ironic that the most objective news and the best journalism comes from government-sponsored PBS. Let's resusitate the barely breathing art of American journalism.
- Election Reform. Abolish the Electoral College - that way every American's vote would matter. Campaign managers wouldn't be able to game the system based on region anymore. Limit the campaign period to a much shorter period of time. This would mean that candidates have to raise less money overall, and would be less in the pockets of corporations. All of the churn we go through right now for well over a year before an election simply cannot be healthy for an economy. Also, set a voting machine standard: use open-source, peer-reviewed, non-proprietary software and hardware, with a paper trail (allow paper ballots as a backup, for people with handicaps, or for people who prefer them). I will never ever put my vote in the hands of a diabolical corporation (diebold).
- Fiscal Reform. Stop spending money that we don't have. As an individual I'm free to charge an amount to my credit card I can pay off each month. As a citizen I'm tied and beaten when I suggest not buying sh*t we can't afford. Republicans say nasty things about the Democrats when the Democrats spend money, and vice versa. Neither of them care about saving money. Both of them care about pork and benefitting their campaign's particular benefactors. Our National Debt is out of control and China has practically funded the entire Iraq War. If China ever gets pissed off and sells all our Treasury Bills we are going to be severely f*cked. Because our politicians can't keep their hands out of the cookie jar we are subjugated to the foreign powers who own our debt. Economic downturns due to structural failures are not going to be aided by reducing the Fed prime rate - that's just going to make things worse. We need to cure the disease, not the symptoms. While we're at it, let's clean up unethical industries wherever we find them.
- Voter apathy. Citizens, wake up! This does matter and it DOES affect you! If it doesn't affect you directly then it will your kids or grandkids. Do you really want to leave them a shitty country or world? As the saying goes, all that is necessary for evil to triumph is good to do nothing. I'm afraid the only cure for this one is going to be a ruined economy - of course by then it will be too late to avoid a ruined economy / society. Ignore that iceburg, USS Titanic, full speed ahead!