Thursday, December 28, 2006

10-Point Program

Back on Barack (B.O. Barack):

He doesn't want to announce a 10-point program--maybe he's afraid it's too limiting to his scope. I think that he needs to have some focus, besides bringing everyone together and all that nice-sounding stuff. Personally, I can't imagine someone running for President who doesn't have a program.

Anyway, here's mine (no, I'm not running--I'm using it to evaluate those who do), once again:


1. Get control of climate-changing gases.
We did it with chloro-fluorocarbons. That was a warmup for the next challenge, carbon dioxide, methane, and other “greenhouse” gases. Our goal is to be able to show a reduction, even a short-term one. Massive reforestation would help, but there is not one fix; we have to do all of the twenty or so things that make sense. Now.

2. Preserve our biosphere.
This one encompasses our water, our agriculture, national parks, zoos, and wildlife refuges, as well as both plant and animal biodiversity. We have the power to destroy; now we have to show that we have the power to preserve successfully, and that means making some difficult decisions.

3. Rebuild our relations with the world.
The top objective is to transform the GWOT into an effort to marginalize Jihadist Fanaticism. Marginalizing the jihadists means getting allies back, showing some comprehension of Islam and how it can work for our objective, living up to our high responsibilities and simultaneously showing some humility. Above all it means recognizing the unity of humanity.

4. Visualize our children’s / grandchildren’s society, and the implications of that vision.
In many ways we live in the “World of Tomorrow” of the 1950’s (except for everyday space flight, I guess). The suburbs, interstates, car aesthetics, primal longings dreamed about in those days are how we live today.We need to think about things like how our children and grandchildren will retire, how they will educate THEIR children, build homes, make a living (or at least have the means to feed, clothe, and entertain themselves). How does immigration relate to this vision; how does the quantity of unwanted children born in the U.S.?These visions will inform our long-term domestic investment policies. As one who was born in the fattest part of the pig in the python, I know a few things. For example, I know our generation’s numbers and famed selfishness will take care of us—it’s the ones after us, and those after that, who need to be looked after. I also know that around 2025, when boomers stop being dominant politically, our retirement income tax rate is going to rise.

5. Reform the UN Charter.
Everybody complains about it, but hardly anyone has anything constructive to suggest. Yet the organization proves its value constantly; similarly, it proves its deficiencies constantly. We need to collect thoughts, have a Charter revision convention, and move past the post-WWII phase of this organization. Two recommendations to chew upon: have a representative assembly, and move the Security Council to Jerusalem.

6. Get control of armaments.
The Nonproliferation Treaty has done a great deal for us all, but it is on its last legs. Changing the metaphor, there are more holes in the dyke than we have fingers. The key to controlling the proliferation of nuclear weapons is making it a burden to have them, not a bonus. In that sense, the Security Council resolution regarding North Korea is the best news yet in terms of restraining Iran.We have to look beyond nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, though. Any arms designed basically for killing other human beings need to be controlled and phased out, even if it takes us centuries to do so. Phased out from governments' stockpiles, as well as from private individuals'; it’s the only humane way to look at it.

7. Establish clearly the political dimensions of privacy and of permissible government intrusions into it.
Unlike many of these issues, for which the “no-brainer” nature of my viewpoints is controversial only because they have been “no-brained” into crises, this one arises from our cleverness and does not have such easy answers.For now, I’d propose two guidelines which might help us come to consensus on some of the easier cases: 1) No government intrusion in private activities when it has no identifiable benefit. 2) Government intrusion (or, for that matter, government secrecy) needs to make its case before the judicial branch in some way.It’s hard to imagine that the prevailing point of view in this Administration has been that the Executive branch needs to regain power, that their freedom of action has been too limited. It is also hard to imagine that the next Administration, of either party, will look to give up power that it has gained due to Bushite aggressiveness.

8. Provide health care to our people.
It is obvious that the health care system we have today is a failure. Adopted by default after the collapse of HRC’s legislative initiative in the Clinton administration’s first years, our insurance and treatment costs are out of control. One change since then is that the costs in blood and treasure are now transferred to health-care's paying customers much more efficiently than they used to be.

Health care is now the main economic reason we can not employ all at the levels they need to be employed, or at the levels they want to be employed. For that reason, it is the premier quality of life issue and goes beyond merely staying alive and active.

I would start by making Medicare-level health service available to everyone residing in America, on a fee basis (either monthly, or the more expensive a la carte option). Off the menu, you need to go private. Some people would get their fee refunded or waived—the elderly, children, the poor. Employers could still offer any kind of health care as a benefit, but people would have some viable alternatives, and it wouldn’t need to be compulsory as a cost of doing business, either. Medicare would then offer a variety of services that would change according to what we as a society could afford, but it wouldn’t cost as much, either.

9. Electoral reform
.How can we lead the world into democracy when we can’t get it right ourselves? We need to move toward universal suffrage for adult citizens, with more representative institutions and accurate counting of enhanced electoral decision-making. We want better quality decisions resulting from better information and less waste. And, please, let’s get rid of the stupid Electoral College!

10. End the "War on Drugs" (or at least give it some focus on the more harmful ones)
This one is really a corollary of point 7, principle 1): “No government intrusion in private activities when it has no identifiable benefits.” There are benefits in controlling the manufacture and distribution of many harmful substances in society; the problem is that the current methods of trying to maintain Prohibition on many of these are not producing benefits. They’re not controlling anything, they’re just putting lots of people in jail.At the highest level, it’s just an endless game of cops and robbers. At the micro level, just a lot of poor people getting ground up. There are plenty of remedies that have been proposed, but there is zero momentum behind anything, including “stay the course”. Everyone’s too scared.

Some of these need some elaboration, and some discussion of why others are not included. Finally, my Iraq proposal (not part, an adjunct to #3). Coming soon.

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