Political Manifesto – 2008
Dear Mr. Future President,
As you take office in January, it should be obvious that things are pretty screwed up in our country. We've lost our way. I'd like to blame it all on the current administration, but in reality there have been many more architects of this stupidity. We are going to need a lot of work to find our way again. I don't expect you to read my little web page. But in the hopes that you do, here are a few suggestions...
- Credit Failures – Let big businesses fail. Pretty please? Nothing promotes corporate irresponsibility like bailing out CEOs. If something truly is too big or interconnected to fail, the government should provide cash in exchange for ownership and it should be placed in a trust. Then once it's right, it should be sold. In the future, organizations that are too big to fail are to be busted up once it becomes clear this is the case. Upper management must agree to stay on at minimal salary and zero bonus since they rode it into the dirt. If they balk, let the company fail. The next board of directors should look favorably on their resumes. Also, no one gets bailed out of their mortgages unless they can prove fraud. Buying more than you can afford is not the taxpayers' problem. Regulations concerning transparency of financial transactions need to be passed. Most of this happened because no one knew what was really going on and what things were really worth.
- Torture – The government of the United States should not under any circumstances sanction torture. Period. No torture warrants, no “torture light”, no extraordinary rendition. In the ticking bomb scenario, individuals closest to the problem might make a judgment call. It may be right, it may be wrong and they will be held accountable after the fact. God help them if they are wrong. All the legal rules concerning evidence obtained under coercion apply.
- Intelligence Failures – Find out EXACTLY what went wrong and who knew what. Follow it where ever it leads and make sure that there are CRIMINAL charges brought against the people involved if there is any fraud proved or obstruction of justice. The charge would be TREASON. It may not stick, but it's a hell of thing to have on your resume. This better never happen again.
- Deficit and National Debt. EVERY government subsidy should be reviewed and business rules applied. If there is not a tangible return on investment within 5 years, the program is axed. With the exception of infrastructure and research, new money from the government is in loan form only. You are expected to pay it back. All new programs must be funded through current revenues and not projections due the newfangled genius revenue increasing program you just implemented. Pass a balanced budget amendment to the constitution.
- Iraq – Hold an Iraqi referendum to determine if the US stays. If a 2/3 majority votes yes, then stay if very specific performance conditions are met by the Iraqi government. Otherwise, we scram. And we will be gone in less than five years, regardless.
- Health Care – Insurance companies cannot reject anyone and must provide basic coverage at $0 profit and a $25 copay per visit. No boob jobs or face lifts, just basic medical care only. This coverage needs to be standard across all companies, with no changes. They can charge all they want for extra services. I'm for an open market, but the insurance companies have shown that they are abusing the system by only insuring healthy people and rejecting treatment based on cost. Also, Medicare should be allowed to negotiate prices with the drug companies. This should provide enough competition to force prices down. Allow more skilled workers to provide healthcare. The family doctor you see for colds and such should be a physician’s assistant or a nurse practitioner. Leave the MDs for the serious stuff. Finally, it's estimated that administrative overhead is about 25%. Therefore, all health care institutions must participate in a standardized electronic medical records system. It will be smartcard based and contain an encrypted copy of the patient's records. A patient would always be able to find a copy of their records at the last doctors office visited if the card is lost. Billing will be fully electronic. Patients admitted into a hospital would receive a wristband that is scanned and all treatments would be based on their profile. This should prevent a significant number of medical errors.
- Energy – Start an “Apollo” program for energy independence. Battery technology, coal gasification, algal and enzyme ethanol technologies, wind farms and solar concentrators should be on the fast track. No food based ethanol sources. Implement the standard nuclear reactor design concepts and advance research into breeder reactors that can burn nuclear waste. Provide credit for home based wind and solar generation to ease the load off the grid. Natural gas is a boondoggle. Let the power plants burn it, if they dare. (They won’t)
- Research and Innovation – This is should be the nation's top priority and is our core competency. All efforts should be put behind developing new technologies and exporting them other countries. Think of the United States as a business. We need to make things to sell to the rest of the world so we can get money from them to pay our debts. Priorities:
1. Energy – See above.
2. Healthcare – Focus on technologies that reduce costs such as cheap MRIs like Japan has and resolve chronic issues such as diabetes. Next, take on spinal cord injuries.
3. Transportation - Specifically safety and efficiency.
4. Infrastructure – Develop advanced materials and techniques, such as robotics to accelerate the development and repair of our roads and buildings. Japan is kicking our ass here.
- Defense – We don't need $2 billion bombers and $300 million fighters. They are tres cool, but what if one gets shot down? The cost is too high. We need to focus on swarms of cheaper remote technologies instead of a few expensive ones. And they will keep some of our brave soldiers out of harm's way.
- Drugs – Legalize them. See here...
- Welfare and Entitlements – If you receive benefits from the government, you have to perform services for the government. It doesn't take a lot of job training to pick up trash. You just might learn some job skills that will get you employed. The only excuse for free money is a true disability. Even so, we need to work toward helping the disabled to participate in the economy.
- Intelligent Design – The only science that should be taught in school is that which has been tested under scientific rigor. If proponents want ID in school, then it must be subjected to critical review by the entire scientific community. Do that and we'll talk. Until then, shut the hell up.
- Government Transparency – Anything done by the government is subject to public review. If it is classified, then it is subject to review by a security committee in a different branch of government. If an individual uses a personal communications channel, such as email, for government communication, then that channel becomes property of the government and the rules apply.
- Marriage – Remove it from the government. It's a religious rite performed in a church and the government doesn't need to recognize it. Allow ALL couples to participate civil unions which are the legal equivalent to marriage today. Thus the gay marriage issue doesn't exist because it's a church problem now.
- Transportation – The obvious stepping stone to energy efficient transportation is electrical power. Cars can be charged at night when electrical demand is lowest. Next, work toward replacing petrol based power. Another is tires. People don’t check their inflation and this could affect 10% of your fuel economy. Airless tire technology exists. We need to encourage it’s use. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES PROVIDE ANY MORE MONEY TO THE AIRLINES. If one of them were to finally fail, then the industry as a whole will become healthier. Implement the full aviation ADS-B specification and trash the VORs and ADBs. We are spending way too much money to support these antiquated technologies.
- Social Security – Allow individuals to place increasing amounts into personal savings accounts if they want that option, but if you lose it, you're screwed. Others can elect to stay in the old system. Additionally, we can't sustain the current level of spending. Social security should shift to ages starting at 67 and end at 75 with payments that will be advantageous to the system. Discontinue age 62 in 10 years up to age 66 in 20.
- Taxes – Move to the Fair Tax. Consumption is a much better taxation method in a capitalistic society. We reward consumption currently with no incentive to save. This is dangerous and is one of the reasons for the financial mess we are in. Plus, 1040's suck most egregiously.
- Medicare/Medicaid – Co-payments should be raised to $25 for medical services. If you are on Medicaid and are either obese, a smoker or a drug abuser, you are required to get treatment or lose benefits. You have the freedom to live how you want to, but not on the taxpayer's dime.
- Immigration – Open the borders. See here...
- Taxes – Quit cutting taxes on the richest Americans. Focus on the segment of the citizenry that will give the most bang for the buck. The middle class is far larger and more likely to spend the money in the economy. Small business is the backbone of the country. Remember this.
- Affirmative Action – Kill it deader than disco. There should be no race based policies in the US. If there is a need to create economic parity, base it on economic factors, not the color of a person’s skin.
- Education – Implement reforms to the educational system to encourage competition and force schools to compete to survive. Provide easily obtainable teaching scholarships to college students that agree to work in certain areas of need for reduced wages. Add basic life skills classes to the high school curriculum. It should cover basic ethics, making responsible choices concerning your life and handling bills, finances and legal issues. Prepare people for the real world. Additionally, let students understand that public education is a privilege. If they are disruptive and place an undo burden on the system, expel them. Then they can pursue their education with their own finances.
- Personal Responsibility – Make national service a compulsory part of public education. Non-military, although that could be an option. We live in a great country that people take for granted. Provide a large array of suitable chartable and community service organizations that could greatly benefit from additional manpower. Build a house, clean up a park or feed the homeless. Exposure to the problems of the country would give others a deeper appreciation for the issues that we face. By the way, jury duty isn't a pain. It's a great privilege and huge responsibility bestowed up us by the framers of the constitution. The Chinese would dearly love to have our problems.
- Employment – Remove the minimum wage and let the market work. Instead of forcing companies to pay more for the labor they already have, provide job training to make those individuals more valuable to the economy. Thus they will earn more and provide skills to the workforce. More here...
- Trade – No protectionist tariffs at all. By propping up companies that are not performing, we reduce their incentive to innovate. If a business sector cannot survive without a subsidy, then it needs to go away.