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Friday, March 17, 2017
It's Good To Be King Part II
As you'll recall, I mentioned discussing politics and current events with a friend of mine recently. I had just posted an article and was doing research for my next articles. During our conversation, he suggested a topic---being King (or Queen) for a year. Whatever you decree becomes the law of the land, but it had to be practical. So, after considering the possibilities, I decided to give it a go. Besides, it sounded like fun and would me clarify my thoughts on some topics. As a disclaimer, none of my comments, either in this edition or in Part I, are set in stone. Situations change. Woe befall those who never evolve. People should continually educate themselves and be willing to change their opinions as the situation dictates. So, with that said, let's continue with "It's Good To Be King" Part II.
Next on my royal agenda would be to overhaul the tax system. Personally, I don't think the tax code should be any longer than short term paper. I think we need to institute either a consumption tax or a flat tax. Under the first option, you pay a tax on whatever you buy. If you buy only a little, you only pay a little; great for those on fixed or limited incomes. If you're a big spender, you'll pay more because you can obviously afford more. The second option would simply be a fixed tax that you'll pay regardless based on your gross income. Of course, certain items such as food, medicine are exempt along with income that's double the poverty rate.
No more NAFTA. No more TPP. No more secret trade agreements. We will focus on Fair Trade instead; one that protects our labor market from unfair foreign trade practices. If a foreign government underwrites a particular industry in order to undercut our market, it may be necessary to support that market domestically in order to protect domestic jobs. The next project I would embark on is to reduce US military presence overseas. Currently, we have over 1000 bases overseas (the actually number is publically unknown). In some cases, we are there to provide backup in case that nation is attack. In other cases, we are there as the defacto military force on behalf of that country (Japan comes to mind). I think that unless we're being compensated, we need to withdraw our military from any country where our national interests aren't directly impacted. Along with that, I think we should seek closer cooperation with Russia which would go a long way in reducing global tensions, plus both the US and Russia could work jointly on certain global issues militarily and economically. Besides, we alone have enough nukes that no matter what Russia or China do independently or jointly, we could literally blow the Earth into a cosmic dust cloud a 1000 times over. Not even cockroaches would survive.
I would take the savings and rebuild our infrastructure. Internally, our highways, roads, bridges, and transportation systems are as decrepit as the government in Washington. We need to refocus on a train system similar to Europe's or Japan's. We need trolleys and subways too. We need to update and secure our power and water stations, and yes, we need a serious commitment to solar and wind power too. We need to see ourselves as conservators of the Earth, not just for ourselves but for future generations. Besides, this would be great for our national unemployment. The jobs and contracts would be open to all US citizens and domestically owned companies; especially small businesses. Finally, there would be a minimum tax paid by all corporations. No more making billions, obtaining taxpayer paid loans,tax abatements, federal contracts, corporate officers making tens of millions of dollars, and paying nothing. As an aside, I would not tax savings accounts under $50,000 in order to encourage people to save. The US has the lowest savings rate of any industrialized nation. Additionally, this would make more money available to loan and would help keep interest rates low. While Social Security would be remain intact, individuals would be allow to invest up to 50% that amount themselves---with a signed "no-harm" agreement.
With respect to national healthcare, I do favor some form of minimum national healthcare. The fact is that some individuals simply can't afford healthcare on their own and small businesses can't afford to offer it, which is key in attracting and keeping qualified applicants. Therefore, I would support a single payer which offers a guaranteed minimum coverage with an option to buy additional insurance in the marketplace if you so desire. This makes it easier and cheaper to operate, help those unable to acquire insurance otherwise, and keep small businesses competitive in the employee marketplace. All federal employees, including elected officials, will be on the same plan. Lastly, members of Congress and the Presidency would not receive lifetime salaries. They would receive what any other federal employee receives for the same length of service. The Presidency will have the option of either using two Secret Service agents for a maximum of five years or hiring private security for the same costs.
Speaking of employment, non-citizens (aka illegal immigrants) should be deported. While we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws, and those laws must and will be enforced. Anyone assisting these individuals violate US immigration laws will be fined, starting with the first offense. Repeat offenses will result in steeper fines and jail time. Employers will face suspension of their business license starting at 90 days. Repeated violations will extend to six month suspensions, one year suspensions, and finally, a permanent suspension. The company president and senior board officers will also face up to six months in jail. In addition, no federal business will be conducted with any company if these individuals serve as a corporate officer. Any religious or non-profit institution or business will face a loss of their tax exempt status and business license starting with 90 days and continuing along the same lines as the corporations. Anyone who wants to be here needs to have a work permit. Anyone who wants to stay here had best take the appropriate legal steps to do so. No individual here illegally will be allowed to use any taxpayer services. By the way, the forms will be in English. In addition, all illegal immigrants will be fingerprinted and photo scanned along with a DNA sample to aide in future detection (this would be especially useful for those who are members of criminal gangs or have a felony record). They would then be taken to the nearest embassy of origin and deposited there for deportation. The cost of processing the detainees would be deducted from any aid provided to that country, so there would be no need for a wall.
Continuing with the topic of immigrants, I'm not sure I would follow President Trump's travel ban, which seems to keep hitting legal roadblocks. Of course, the idea to restrict travel from nations with large pools of potential terrorists isn't bad. Nevertheless, I don't think I would impose an outright ban. I would, however, impose stricter security screening on individuals who come from certain countries with high incidents of terrorist and extremist activity, including nations like Saudi Arabia since that's where most of the 9/11 hijackers came from as well as Ben Laden. We should, however, allow individuals such as the Assyrian Christians, Yazidis, and Kurds, who are being aggressively persecuted by hate driven terrorists like ISIS or Al Qaeda, and prohibited by countries like Turkey and Syria from leaving, a preferred immigration status. In conjunction with this, I would employ a similar scanning procedure as used by the Israelis. They utilize a profile type visual scan and a relatively simply monitoring process. To date, the less evasive Israeli procedure has been highly successful everyplace it's been employed.
One more thing on this topic. In accepting immigrants, we need to take a look at culture and religion. While some will choke on the terms "racist" or "Islamophobia" or some other popular buzz word, we have to realize that some religions and cultures are simply not compatible with Western democratic values. When they demand a second or third class status for women, demand others refrain from flying an American flag, infringe on others (notably females) walking down the street or practicing their religion, so-called "honor" murders, saying the US Pledge of Allegiance, female genital mutilation, selling certain products, or even that we adapt to their religious laws and/or language, they're in the wrong place. If you come to this country, we will try to be tolerant. However, do not expect us to conform to your laws and traditions --- religious or otherwise. If you can't do that, don't bother coming.
With respect to the prison system, we have some serious work to do here. The US incarcerates more individuals than any other nation in the world. True, we have a lot of crime, especially in the inner cities. But we also have some outdated laws and some outdated notions about punishment. First, all first offenders of misdemeanors should not be housed with harden criminals. The emphasis here should be on getting these people back on track. Most flunked their way through the public education system, which also has to change. Nevertheless, remedial education to reach at least a 10th grade level should be required if they graduated or assistance with getting a GED if they didn't. Next, learning a productive trade like dry walling, painting, carpentry, etc., followed by a job assistance and mandatory counseling program which includes avoidance of drugs, writing resumes and developing interview skills. As for felons, if the crime is non-violent, they should be eligible for the same program after 1/3 to 1/2 of the time is served.
In addition, if they stay out of trouble for one year, all voting privileges should be restored (it should be automatically restored if they serve all their time and remain out of trouble for one year). For life sentences, violent offenders or repeat felons, they should have the option of entering a long term rehab program to learn a skill to be used within the prison and/or the opportunity to earn a GED and to take various continuing education courses. For those who fail this program or opt not to enroll, they should be used for state projects such as picking up waste, working on roadways, etc. All federal prisons should be as self-sustaining as possible, that includes growing their own vegetables, laundry, data entry, etc. I would, however, remove all gym equipment. The last we should want is felons having the time to beef up and become physically stronger than the guards. All prisoners should also receive "salt peter" or other medication to reduce any "anger issues" or other aggression. Lastly, as "King", the drug policy in this nation would need to be seriously overhauled. Certain drugs like marijuana should be decriminalized (and those convicted released), while alcohol, perhaps the worse drug of all, should receive a harsher penalty on par with hard drugs instead of a "wink and nod".
So, what about other issues? In area of foreign relations, as I alluded to above, the emphasis would be on Fair Trade. I think we should seek out commonalities with other countries and focus on ways to grow and expand that, provided it's a reciprocal! As for these whinny-ass countries like North Korea who've learned to survived by blackmailing the West, I say too bad. I wouldn't hesitate to call their bluff. Either they'll attack like they've been threatening to do ...and lose...so we'll be done with them once and for all, or they'll lose credibility and face being overthrown, so again, we'll be done with them (of course, we'll do our best to help the people). We will stop interfering in foreign affairs; specifically in overthrowing governments the ruling corporate Oligarchy dislikes. We will NOT jump through hoops to appease any religious or racial minority. This is America, learn to accept it or leave it. We don't own you anything for simply existing except the opportunity to make your way. If you have any questions, please refer to our instruction manual---the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Regarding gender matters, I don't really have a problem with same-sex marriages or unions; call it what you like. I also don't need it waved in my face all the time either. Some argue that "God", "Jesus", "Allah" or whoever disapproves, you should remember that it's unlikely these individuals believe your deity, and no one has the right to impose their religious or moral interpretations on anybody (that's the problem we're having with Islamic extremists remember?). Besides, love is love and if there's one thing there is a shortage of, that's it. I can't see any god having an problem with that can you? Now for transgender, "undefined" genders, "gender neutral", and so forth. You are born with either a dominate "Y" or "X" chromosome. That means that no matter how you "self-identify", you're biologically either a male or female. If you're male, use the men's room. If you're a female, use the women's room. A compromise would be use of gender neutral public restrooms or dressing rooms. They'd be easy enough to set up, and most place already have them. As for the Armed Forces, we have an all voluntary military. If you join, don't expect any special treatment. You will be treated just like everyone else, which is as it should be. If this "offends" you, then maybe you're not ready to go out in public yet.
Well, there you go. Now you know how my "royal" reign would play out. What would you do? In reality, little to none of it would ever come to pass. There are far too many special and vested interests to see any real change. Besides, power is never willingly surrendered. In our current Oligarchic system, the figureheads are replaced while those who actually control the power and wealth in this nation remain behind the curtains. Could things change? Without a doubt. If were any other way, the Oligarchy wouldn't be so desperate to divide and confuse us. They spend a great deal of time and money to pit us against each other; to divide us along every conceivable line possible. They've ensured that they control the elections; the media; and as much as possible, the public message. This last election showed just how flawed their system is. Their "chosen one" failed to be "crowned"; an usurper was elected instead. Now they will devote their efforts to discredit and delegitimize that individual and their administration as much as possible, and in doing so, to set the stage for a dramatic comeback fitting of any epic from the golden years of Hollywood. So, grab a box of popcorn and something to drink everyone. The prequel is starting. The Empire is about to strike back.