10/24/2016

Making 'Merica Great "Again"

Aside from the Trumpetes’ foolish jabber about turning back the clock on technology, trade, energy and natural resources, employment and management skills, and reality, I think an examination of what it would take to return our economy from a deficit to a surplus system is an interesting idea. Of course, Republicans deserve massive credit for driving the economy deep into deficit spending: Reagan and Bush II were both huge deficit spending believers. In spite of their big talk about the terror of deficit spending, Republicans absolutely rebelled when Obama told them he expected future spending bills to be on a “pay as you go basis.” The Party of Stupid is also the party of “borrow and spend” and nothing is going to change that in any foreseeable future.
 
However, if we did suddenly become responsible and decide to put on our big boy pants and do the dirty work of turning around the economy, what would we do? This is my list, in order of importance:
  1. Money and politics has to go. Not only does Citizens United need to be overturned, but we need a Constitutional Amendment banning private money (corporate and individual) from our political campaigns. That law needs teeth, as in “you get caught, you hang.” We won’t seriously look at any real solutions until our government is not bought and sold on a daily basis.
  2. The tax system has to be fixed. We’ve been at “war” since 2003 and the only way to pay for wars is to progressively tax income until the war debt is gone. I can see how eliminating the corporate tax could be incentive for business in the US, but that has to be coupled with doubling-down on unearned income taxation, inheritance taxes, and upper-income tax rates. Continuing to encourage rock stars and athletes, banksters and money laundering, and Trump-like con artists with tax incentives to do unproductive money-shuffling has cost the country at least two generations of scientists, engineers, and people who could be doing actual work. Incentives are everything and our current tax system provides incentives for exactly the wrong things; including activities that endanger national security.
  3. The world is on the metric system and the longer we put off moving to modern weights and measurements the less competitive American companies and workers become. Face it, nobody but us cares about the length of the King’s fuckin’ foot. If you think that is an exaggeration, the only non-metric countries in the world are: Burma, Liberia, and the USA. Talk about being late to the party! Thomas Jefferson was the first President to recommend the metric system and we still can’t figure it out. Not being comfortable with the world’s weights and measurements puts a serious crimp in the abilities of American workers, technicians, and engineers. It makes many of our manufactured products useless to the rest of the world. Constantly doing mental or paper/computer conversions slows us down, creates errors, and makes Americans look backward and foolish to the rest of the world.
  4. graphThe current slow death of religion has to speed up. Currently, about 18% of people 60 and younger attend church and fewer than 50% believe in God. That's an improvement over the past 50 years of superstition, but not enough and not nearly quick enough. Every thing from science, energy production, employability, democracy, to national security is being damaged by our national proclivity toward superstition and fantasy. To keep up, we’ll have to grow up.
  5. The war machine and military-industrial complex have to go. Not only do we have to quit pretending we're the world's policeman, we have to admit we suck at the job. We can't tell national security from corporate interests and until we can we need to put our weapons back on the shelf. The US loves war, but we can't afford it. As a peace-keeper, we’re not that talented.
  6. Our public education system needs to be overhauled. First, private education needs to die. When the wealthy can abandon public education and do everything in their power to contaminate the discussion about how to educate the whole country to benefit their class, the whole country gets screwed. Finland provides us with a terrific example and, since our own experiment has been a disaster, we need to look to someone who has built a wheel that actually turns and supports weight. As Jeff Beck said, “Amateurs borrow, professionals steal.” We need to rip the pages out of Finland’s education reform book and paste them into our own system.
  7. We have to go back into space. The brief moment when 'Merica was great by almost everyone's standards was when we were in the Space Race and were focused on a big accomplishment. The scientific and industrial spin-offs from NASA were incredible. We owe much of what we know today about climate change to NASA's research. As crippled as our industrial and scientific power is today, without the space race we'd be 3rd world. This is a no-brainer.
  8. Every “for profit” industry in the country needs to be re-evaluated to see if it is working better than when those activities were performed by non-profits and government. Personally, I think deregulation and privatization has been a disaster, but I have not made a scientific study of every area where it has been applied. I have been upfront and close to education, health care, energy, and infrastructure and I am unimpressed with the performance of the private sector.
  9. Our legal system needs to get over its power tripping and empire building and develop a sense of proportion. Police need to go after big crime and quit screwing around with the easy and safe stuff. Victimless crimes do not belong at the top of the priority list. The War on Drugs was a fraud and it’s long past time to admit it. The big money and long-term damage to society is in white collar crime and that’s where the main enforcement and prosecution focus needs to be: cybercrime, financial fraud, corporate environmental and consumer abuse, and the government contracting corruption and bribery that risks national security. Our prison system needs to be refocused on rehabilitation rather than punishment and revenge. We can not be the country that leads in citizens incarcerated and hope to be anything resembling “great.” National, state, and local police departments are over-staffed with unskilled goons who are great at beating up protestors, jailing small-time criminals, and protecting corporate criminals, but they are helpless when it comes to tracking down the lowest-level hacker who has ripped off a few thousand retirees bank accounts. Our law enforcement system needs to be updated and technological to get the right job done. Use the Pareto principle to identify the most effective places to spend time and money and quit knee-jerk reacting to squeaky wheels.
That’s my list. What have you got?

2 comments:

  1. Excellent points! Too bad the elected representatives do just the opposite and continue to pillage the country into oblivion. They will never address your point number 1. Politics has become a path to riches!

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  2. We could fix all of that. We keep electing people who have no interest in fixing anything, though. Congress is where the solutions have to come from and voters have to do the work to be competent enough to elect decent people to congress.

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