Thursday, December 22, 2011

Reforms to Rebuild America

The absurdity of some ambitious politicians and the timidity of the rest makes me wonder if the U.S. may need revolutionary reform in order to survive, i.e., a legal, non-violent movement (imagine Occupy gone nationwide minus police brutality) so profound that it generates revolutionary restructuring of the political and financial system. OK, nice dream, right? But what might the policy goals be?

1. If corporations are "persons," arrest them. If you can't figure out how to arrest a criminal corporation, then obviously corporations are not persons, so let's get over this nonsense.

2. Ban unearned income. The super-rich got that way through government welfare in the form of what is literally called "unearned income." That means just what it says - you get something without working for it! Obviously, the money comes from somewhere, and since they did not earn it, one way or the other, it came out of the pockets of those who do work. Worse, having been spoiled by their government handout at your expense, the super-rich now want to avoid taxes on the unearned income. They get a huge gift free from the hard-working taxpayers and still are not satisfied! Why? Simple - the super-rich are not patriotic; they do not think they owe anything to the country that gave them the gift of unearned income. How selfish can you get??? Now of course we could deny them the right to be defended by the U.S. Armed Forces, and we could deny them the right to drive their Mercedes on the national highways, and we could deny them the right to drink from the public water supply, but it would be a lot simpler just to ban unearned income. If you don't earn it, you don't deserve it.

3. Ban mercenaries. Ever since Caesar Augustus used his private palace guard to destroy the Roman Republic and found the Roman Empire, the danger of mercenaries to the state that hires them has been clear. Today, the U.S. has a massive mercenary military force essentially free from Congressional oversight or judicial restraint. This highly dangerous way of subverting the will of the people and its elected representatives to fight foreign wars will eventually come back to haunt us. If a war is worth fighting, then uniformed U.S. soldiers should do the fighting.

4. Welfare for corporations in return for giving corporate profits to the people. If a great corporation encounters adversity, by all means give it welfare - call it a bailout, call it opening the Fed's discount window, or just call it socialism. Socialism means using government to help people, and the people working at great corporations of course deserve charity just as much as everyone else. But corporations are NOT PEOPLE! Corporations are abstract legal/financial entities, and they do not deserve anything. A corporation may be judged too big to fail because it is of value to society, but that is the only reason - we do not "owe" corporations anything any more than we "owe" kindness to the cement blocks their headquarters are resting on. So here's the bargain: if the members of a corporation desire Federal welfare, in return we the people desire their profits, and we will consider paying the CEO at a rate commensurate with that of all other employees.

5. One-Term Leaders. No one should be allowed to be president for more than one term: the temptation to start a war just to get reelected is just too strong. Similarly, Congressfolk should similarly be restricted to one term, with no post-term benefits. Of course, no one is in it for the money, but still the temptation to think about the money rather than about how to help the country is distracting. Anyone who wants a life in government can work his or her way up through the bureaucracy. Seriously - don't you know thousands of people who would make better legislators than the clowns we currently have?

Bottom line: real reform to sustain American democracy requires simultaneous reform of the political system, the economic system, and foreign policy to place all three on a consistent foundation of empowerment of the 99%, i.e., the weaker individuals, groups, and societies.
Additional reform proposals would be welcome.

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