From Banksters to Gerrymanderers to drone murderers to lobbyists to oil pipelines, citizens like us are screwed. We need big, big solutions to these issues, and none are in sight.
Follow me under the basket of oranges to hear some ideas that I have no power to implement.
Today's diary is inspired by Matt Taibbi's latest reporting. Read the whole thing, but as usual, he breaks it down succinctly:
Translation: When prices are set by companies that can profit by manipulating them, we're fucked.You can add similar conclusions to electoral politics, the Senate, the warming planet, our myopic jingoistic view of death and tragedy, etc. Aside from the occasional good news about how the culture is shifting away from hating gays, or that technology is catching up to real clean energy solutions (too late?), yeah, optimism is scarce.
I often ponder how I would just fix all this stuff. Navel gazing? Maybe, but voting every chance I get and small donations to the causes I love aren't taking up all my free time. I'd love to do some of this.
1) The salary cap: No one gets to earn more than 5 million dollars a year and keep a penny more than that (couples, up to 10M). All proceeds above 5 million go into the Citizen's Treasury (more below). I'm not against freedom or capitalism or incentives to work hard to make a bunch of money. Hell, I'd love to bump up against this cap, as I'm sure most of us would. The problem is that we have no recourse to stop the huge rivers of money flowing upwards, and we need Hoover Dam-like recourse. People can still earn more pay than that, and even perhaps direct their overages towards pet altruisms, but violation of this maxim earns you not jail, but among other things, seizure of all assets, loss of all public power, and banishment to the desert. By the desert, I mean someplace nice and hot in NV or UT that we'll build with Citizen's monies to humanely care for folks who thought they were better than everyone else. After a three year banishment, they can return to society.
2) The Citizen's Treasury: Humans invented money to ease the idea of trade and to keep from lugging gold or tulip bulbs or whatever around. We immediately enabled greedy bastards to screw their neighbors, and buy expensive lawyers to keep them free to get better at it. I have always thought that we have more than enough resources to enable real human rights, but the greedy bottlenecks around the globe prevent it. Enough. The Citizen's Treasury will pool all monies not collected by local/state/national taxes to enable human rights. Food, water, and shelter for EVERYONE to start. Parallel development of Water purification, housing, sustainable resource management, health care agriculture and nutrition, employment, recreation, disaster relief, fact based reality. This Treasury will be managed by a majority of citizen voters and referenda, rigorously monitored by numerous groups with open source methods and results. This is not intended to replace the Congress, and their power of the purse, but to do what they won't. Citizens could even decide to give more money to Congress for education or whatever.
3) The Public Citizen: The salary cap will take the wind out of a lot of greed, but not all of it. There will still be levers of power that need pulling. We need the kind of independence that only a removal from the profit motive can guarantee. A Public Citizen serves a 10 year term from ages 50-60 (I'm 39, btw) that guarantees, yep, the 5 million dollar cap on earnings. Their role is to be the Libor panel, be the torture prosecutor, the arbiter of justice on behalf of those struggling. They are chosen by electoral means that make sense for their occupations, and have few restrictions, except that they may not, nor may their associates and families gain materially from anything they do. Punishments for ethical violations are swift removal, and lifelong service to the poorest among us. Public Citizens should be running the Dept. of Justice, and enforcing laws against torture, etc.
4) Gerrymandering: All electoral districts will be drawn using the shortest distance of district borders possible, favoring natural boundaries like rivers, county and state boundaries, roads. This will be done immediately, where it will be painful for everyone all at once. Rip off the infected band-aid already. Where these rules are not sufficient, the new, independent American Election Monitoring Coalition will decide (Headed by council of PubCitz, natch). New districts will be ratified by 3/4 majority of both Statehouses before taking effect or will be discarded.
5) Congress, Voting, and the digital age: The current irresponsibility of these people is staggering. Not bothering to show up and vote, for example is not acceptable. Unless Reps are hospitalized, or caring for immediate family who are, I see no excuses. Miss your vote, and you're suspended from voting for 25% of your term. Also, why are we pretending we can't all navigate over to join.me or any of the other conferencing sites to show up virtually and vote.
Fail to pass a budget out of your chamber, and you are not free to leave the Capitol, punishable by the same suspensions. Stay until you compromise, or else. We treat high school kids who show up late and don't turn in homework more harshly than negligent lawmakers. That must end.
Immediately adjust the representation in Congress to end the imbalance in the Senate. Every state gets a minimum of 2 Senators, ok. For every 10 Million people in your state, you get one more. The number of Reps in the House hasn't gone up since early last century, but the population has tripled. That is stupid.
Why was secure point-of-sale banking ubiquitous before the turn of the century, but digital voting is just impossible? Nonsense. Big data problems like voting are childs play, and we should have verifiable voting online or using likewise verifiable paper ballots immediately. Election day should be a national holiday, and there should be at least 4 weeks allowed before election day to vote. There is no reason we can't achieve 90%+ voting.
Ah, I could rant along happily all afternoon about education, Habeas Corpus, the 4th Amendment, actually declaring war before warring or endless other big fat pustules of disgust festering on our country. If you have read this far, maybe you'll elucidate some of your own fantasies below.