Background

It's a good idea to read The Matrix page first; the explanations here may not make sense without that bit of background.

The State of the Current Model in the United States

  • The state and the church are too close together, but not by much. There is pressure to teach creationism in schools, which is mostly being thwarted. Religious monuments erected by local governments and endorsements of deity on currency are annoying, but probably not dangerous in any practical sense.
  • The state and the corporation are too close together, and it worries me. The push to privatize all government functions and turn even essential functions over to contractors is really problematic. The amount of power that corporate lobbyists have is ridiculous.
  • The corporation and the church are too close together. Many churches still exist in a more or less “pure” form, uncorrupted by money, but the Evangelical movement is growing more powerful and rich by the day. Churches with lots of money are dangerous.
  • The media has become corrupted.
  • The unions have been under siege for 30+ years and are facing existential crisis. There is little standing in the way of authorities abusing people.
  • PACs are corrupt. Corporations can basically buy enough power in PACs to buy elections, and directly influence legislators to do what they want, rather than what the people want. PACs that actually represent the will of the people are fewer and poorer than corporate and church PACs.
  • The result of all this is that pressure on the people to survive has been increasing for the last 30+ years, and shows little sign of decreasing. The Matrix exists to demand more and more of people while offering less and less, and that's what American society does now. It used to be possible to support a family with a modest lifestyle with only a high school diploma. Now you need at least a Bachelor's degree for a modest lifestyle. In most nuclear families, both parents work outside the home. Single people have to work multiple jobs just to stay afloat.

Theory

A totalitarian government is one in which the three exploitative actors are effectively one thing, and the three protective actors are suppressed or outlawed. We are closer to that than I'm comfortable with.

Idealism

An ideal society has clear and unbreakable walls between state and church, state and corporation, and corporation and church; protections of media, PACs, and unions to ensure that they always exist and have the tools and abilities they need to serve their purposes; and protections against the corruption of media, PAC and union. Here are some ideas of how that could be accomplished within the current framework, along with problems I don't have any idea how to address.

  • On separation of church and state:
    • We need more legal precedent that teaching creationism or “intelligent design” in schools is an unconstitutional encroachment of religion on government.
    • Less important: Stop endorsing deity on currency and in public displays.
    • Kill all private school voucher programs. The state should not be paying people to send their kids to religious institutions.
    • Public schools need to be able to teach evolution, astronomy, and physics fearlessly. That will require a hell of a lot more money, and some innovations in the structure of the system.
    • The power of church lobbyists needs to be taken away. I don't know how to do this.
    • The freedom of churches to influence their members on legal or political issues needs to be curtailed. What this would look like:
      • A church cannot choose its congregation. It is a public service and MUST be available to the public.
      • A church can suggest morals. For example not to have abortions or enter into homosexual relationships
      • A church cannot tell its members (for example) that abortion or gay marriage should be illegal. (Actually, I think laws to this effect would be perfectly constitutional under the current system. I'm sure the current supreme court would disagree, though.)
      • (It's worth noting that, under the tax code, a church saying that something should be illegal is illegal. But it's also written to be basically unenforceable.)
  • On separation of state and corporation:
    • Contracting government work to private corporations should be severely curtailed. Military contractors should probably never happen.`
    • The power of corporate lobbyists needs to be taken away. I don't know how to do this.
    • The freedom of corporations to tell people how to live their lives outside of work, or how to vote, must be taken away.
    • It might be necessary to require collective bargaining in certain sectors.
    • Corporate taxes, capital gains and top-marginal individual tax rates should be tied to indices of how well the economy is performing for median and low-end citizens, and the prevalence of poverty.
    • Amend the constitution to prevent the interpretation that individual rights apply to non-individual entities; in other words, congress can take away individual civil rights from corporations.
    • 100% public financing of elections.
  • On separation of church and corporation:
    • Churches should be taxed and required to publish their financial records. The people should have a right to know how much money churches are taking in and spending, and on what.
    • The state should recognize that endorsing or encouraging belief in unprovable or incorrect things exacts a high toll on society; therefore, the state should be free to tax churches at higher rates than corporations.
    • (In general, preaching should not be lucrative. Church as business violates the principle of singular relationships.)

On Improving The State

  • A Fundamental Shift:
    • Instead of the legislature making the laws, they make the priorities and create committees. The executive branch populates the committees. These committees are tasked with creating laws to fulfill on the priorities, goals and target measurements set by the legislature, and there are hefty incentives for performing well.
  • On Accountability:
    • The Justice Department really shouldn't be part of the Executive Branch.
    • Congress really shouldn't be in charge of impeachments.
    • Create a system of constant oversight of the Executive and Legislative branches, under the Judicial branch.
  • Social systems, social systems, social systems!
    • Single-payer health care that covers EVERYTHING: Medical, Mental, Dental, Optical, Chiropractic. Everything that can be scientifically shown to reliably produce helpful outcomes.
    • College tuition, books and supplies are 100% paid for by the state.
  • Presidential Election Reform:
    • The Presidential Ticket expands to include many cabinet-level positions.
    • Political parties nominate teams of people rather than just a president who chooses the VP.
    • No restriction on parties nominating some of the same people another party nominated. No reason for it anyway!
  • Campaign Finance Reform:
    • We'll probably never get to 100% public financing of elections. But corporate and lobbyist contributions need to go away.
    • This could begin in states, perhaps with ballot initiatives. “Because Bribery Should Be Illegal!”
  • Instant Runoff Voting with Tolerance Categories:
    • Of all candidates / tickets / parties, put them into categories:
      • Would be ideal
      • Would be satisfactory
      • Indifferent
      • Would be sub-optimal
      • Would be unacceptable
    • Instead of “points” or “first past the goalpost,” victory means working for the largest number of people.
  • Budgeting:
    • Could the government just ask for money?

Compromise

In a pure Democracy, whatever gets the most votes, wins. This is sub-optimal. The goal should be to arrive at a solution which is optimal or at least tolerable by the greatest number of people. We're past the point where a small number of people can come up with something that will work for everyone. Consensus building needs to be as much in our bones as voting is now.

Incentives

Tax the things you don't like. Subsidize the things you do like.

Here's a jag I've been meaning to go off on for a long time: I think the top marginal income tax rates in the US should be tied to an index of things like median wage, unemployment, and how many people are living in poverty. The richest 1% of the country includes so many people with so much power, we should just directly reward them for making the economy go the way we want it to go.

Communism didn't work because people didn't have an incentive to produce. Capitalism doesn't work because the incentives reward greed and unethical behavior more than they reward honest, hard work.

On Improving The Media

  • We have the technology now to fact-check things as they are happening, or at least within a few minutes. Use it.
  • Hold the talking heads accountable for what they say. Demand that they are correct.
solutions_for_america.txt · Last modified: 2011/09/20 04:49 by naptastic
 
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