Things I’d like to see happen in #2016

The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency....
The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency. The first use was in September 1966, replacing an older seal which was used briefly. For more information, see here and here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is never too late to start this, right?

So, here is my list of things

  • Scrap the Patriot Act
  • Institute a real Civilian Review Board to oversee all NSA activities. Non-partisan. Non-political.
  • Legalize marijuana. Institute a national sales tax on it. Advocate the growing of hemp to replace trees for paper, etc…
  • a progressive flat tax
  • a single payer health care system
  • bring home nearly all foreign-based troops
  • Toughen the Glass-Steagall Act.
  • Ditch the student loan debt
  • restore the space program
  • end the payee-Ambassador program

What about you? What do you want to see in 2016?

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16 Replies to “Things I’d like to see happen in #2016”

  1. That looks pretty good, actually. There are some societal/social justice things I’d like to see such as an end to people whining about “political correctness” and being more interested in seeing that people are cared for than that they’re not the ones paying for it. I’d also like to see people stop blaming everything on “mental illness” as a category so broad as to include everyone from violent schizophrenic-psychopaths as well as those of us with depression and anxiety disorders.

    From a legislative angle, though, I guess I’d add:

    – reversal of Citizens United ruling

    – meaningful campaign finance reform, including disclosure requirements

    – Meaningful background checks for gun purchases and reasonable federal controls

  2. “Institute a real Civilian Review Board to oversee all NSA activities. Non-partisan. Non-political.”…There already is a civilian review board, i.e. administratve branch, president, and his selectee for the NSA head. There are already too many leaks everywhere. Can’t have more people, with top secret, compartmentized clearances to review those with top secret, compartmentized clearances, without more leaks. Do you want more leaks, or more openess. I have nothing to hide, NSA can view everything I do, if they want to (although they would be board-stiff). I’d rather have secrets kept, than being blown-up in a terrorist attack.

  3. Some thoughts on the wish list thus far:
    .
    Patriot Act-type laws recycle about every half century in American history. The first one, part of which is still on the federal law books, was signed by the second President of the United States. They tend to recur during times of war or fear of war.
    .
    A Civilian Review Board would be hijacked about as quickly as the railroads converted the Commerce Commission into a rubber stamp.
    .
    The failed war on drugs has closely paralleled the failed Prohibition of alcohol.
    .
    Although such schemes exist, a progressive flat tax is a contradiction in terms. Flat taxes benefit the rich while progressive taxes level the playing field. The American economy thrived when the rich were paying a marginal tax rate of 90 percent because thriving allow for a prosperous middle class.
    .
    A single payer healthcare system isn’t likely until the present scheme proves unworkable. Since Obamacare, insurers are crying crocodile tears all the way to the bank.
    .
    The troops will come home, or may even be abandoned, when the empire collapses. Britain provides an example of the former alternative. Rome was an example of the latter. As things stand, too many political prostitutes in Washington and their corporate johns on Wall Street like the smell of empire.
    .
    The Banking Act of 1933, which separated Wall Street from Main Street during the Great Depression, was replaced by the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act in 1999. The only alternative is to write Glass–Steagall II.
    .
    Student loan debt is a win-win for business. Interest generates income for the investment class while students have to pay back loans creates de facto indentured servants and wage slaves.
    .
    The space program is in a period of transition during privatization. It really isn’t that much different from converting taxpayer-funded public education into privately-owned charter schools. In both cases, government merely becomes a middle man allowing corporations access to the public purse. It is just another form of corporate welfare.
    .
    From the schoolhouse, to the clubhouse, and onto to the courthouse, America is a pay-to-play scheme. In politics, it is the name of the game.
    .
    Citizens United is merely the latest capstone of a scheme devised by 19th century railroads. The simplest way to repeal it would be to insert the word “natural” before the word “persons” in the first sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment to The Constitution.
    .
    Campaign finance reform will prove impossible so long as it is based on the rule of law. Trying to reform politics has much in common with designer drugs in the failed war on drugs.
    .
    In a nation of 300 million people and 200 million firearms, gun control also has a lot in common with the failed war on drugs. It also has much in common with locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen!

  4. To add to Joel and Ken’s lists of liberal causes, and to help to fund them, I would suggest some immigration reform: offer a green card to anyone who has been in the USA, legally or undocumented, for five years – then citizenship after another five. Get them to pay any back taxes, and modest fines for illegal entry. Then make it much easier to get visas and green cards for highly skilled employees and those in particular demand. The consequences might be surprising e.g. fewer Mexicans in the south west, as the ones who are there could then come and go freely. (Oh and my wife and I would be able to stay, so perhaps I should declare an interest here.)

    1. Oh, man! How did I miss immigration reform?

      And when did I become a liberal? I pretty much admit it, now, but it wasn’t that long ago that I was pretty far right. I know that I’ve moved a bit to the left, but mostly I think that the right has just moved so far out of reason that I’m lost.

      1. Along with job export, unchecked Hispanic/Latino immigration was part of a union busting strategy that swung into high gear when Ronald Reagan was playing Mr. President in the White House. It only became a “problem” when conservative elites realized whites were on their way to becoming a minority. This visceral fear of minority status also drives the conservatives’ war on abortion and birth control.
        .
        If one takes the time to examine the broader Republican agenda, it become obvious that the goal is to get country back to the late 19th century. Viewed from the Republican perspective, most of the 20th century was a wrong left turn. Women got to vote. Even worse, they learned about birth control. Beating one’s wife actually became a crime. So did raping her! Beating the hell out of kids was also outlawed. Children went to school instead of into mines and mills. Uppity blacks went to college instead of into fields. Government started taxing incomes! Workers could organize and could retire instead of having to work until they dropped dead. Not only that, the lazy bums could get money if they were injured on the job or got laid off. There was a minimum wage. Impure goods were outlawed. Oh, when would the misery of the rich white man end?

        1. Good point, but that was also the era when “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” was inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, and was a genuine invitation to the world, valid until 1921 (although Chinese immigration was controlled as early as 1882), according to Wikipedia.

          1. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886. The plaque of Emma Lazarus’ The New Colossus wasn’t placed on the Statue of Liberty pedestal until 1903. Two years later the infamous court case (Locher v. New York [1905]), which eventually came to symbolize Gilded Age labor philosophy, created a rather curious notion known as liberty of contract. This version of judicial activism basically said that for the state to protect workers would be an infringement on the freedom of individual workers to negotiate with bosses able to hire and fire them for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all.
            .
            In sum, the Statue of Liberty was an invitation to cheap labor with each successive wave of immigrants pitted against the pervious arrivals to work a little harder for a little less money. In the process, thanks to the newly imported IQ test, whole nationalities were literally considered to be morons. That’s how we got Polish jokes – may of which formed the basis for today’s blonde jokes! This imported labor scheme lasted until the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 slammed the door on immigration for fear that non-Northern European immigrants were a threat to American cerebral capacity.
            .
            Whether off the boat, off the farm, from the cradle, or out of the kitchen, American business has always been in search of a never ending supply of cheap labor. Labor from south of the border is just the latest inning in the same old ballgame.
            .
            There’s more, lots more, to the story. Schools and even churches were seldom friends of labor. The imported cheap labor scheme served as a breeding ground for both street gangs and organized crime. Books and desecrations have been written on the subject. Nevertheless, suffice it to say, the twists and turns of American labor history makes for fascinating reading.

    2. Peter, I do think immigration reform is needed, but I am hard-pressed, even as a ‘liberal’ – to offer it to those who have already broken the law. However, I do think those who are here legally and do want to stay, should be moved to the top and given a pass to stay.

      1. Joel, I take your point about those who have broken the law. My suggestion was anyway a bit tongue in cheek in being so extreme. Even so I mentioned payment of fines for past illegal activity, a proportionate response to what I would consider a minor offense.

        But there are legal principles like the statute of limitations and the age of criminal responsibility which need to be considered when dealing with undocumented immigrants, those who came here many years ago and often as young children. I don’t think it is reasonable to consider as a lawbreaker a person who was brought into the USA as a baby (like Alejandro Morales), and may not have even known that their documents were forged until they grew up (see the story of Jose Antonio Vargas). Such people are not so much criminals as victims of crime, often of criminal conspiracies which took their money for forged documents.

        Also I appreciate it that you would be happy for me, as a legal temporary resident, to stay.

        1. Peter, I am not so naive to miss the complexity of the situation. In my own mind, I’ve toyed with the idea of allowing current illegal immigrants to achieve a quasi-formal status.

          i.e., unable to vote. But, to be honest, I just don’t know what to do.

      2. I see the point, if I may butt in, but the truth is that we’ve always winked and nodded at the “illegal” immigrants. I grew up in Texas cotton country, and we had people who came up for harvests, worked their way north as the season went on, then went back to Mexico each year. Everyone knew it and everyone let it go.

        In legal parlance, I see a lot of this immigration stuff as mala prohibita (wrong only because it’s illegal) rather than mala in se (wrong because it’s immoral) and so I’m not bothered by making some changes to how we arbitrarily enforce immigration laws.

        1. Indeed, Ken. It is hard to see any violations of immigration restrictions, except perhaps on criminals and terrorists, as mala in se, given that most of these restrictions are less than a century old. Of course some people see themselves as personally wronged e.g. if they claim they have lost their job or are paid less because of competition from immigrants. But what we have there is legal enforcement of an economic monopoly, which is arguably an injustice in itself.

          All of this is quite apart from any arguments that as Christians we ought to welcome strangers, and especially our brothers and sisters in Christ among them.

  5. Below is a link to something more than a few Methodists in Texas would like to see happen:
    .
    http://gas2.org/2013/08/08/methodist-federation-speaks-out-against-fracking/
    .
    Meanwhile, 30 Texas towns are running out of water. Those folks would like to have some clean water in their wells.
    .
    The state government in Austin is so fiscally starved that about 80 miles of state maintained paved roads in Texas are going to be repaved with gravel! The new speed limit on these roads will be reduced to 30 MPH.
    .
    Given the above, and with apologies to songwriters June Hershey and Don Swander, it seems time for an update to an old Gene Autry song:
    .
    Folks voted right
    Are gettin’ up tight
    .
    Deep in the heart of Texas
    .
    Wells running dry
    While politicians lie
    .
    Deep in the heart of Texas
    .
    Roads paved in gravel
    While rich men dabble
    .
    Deep in the heart of Texas
    .
    They promised boom
    But delivered doom
    .
    Deep in the heart of Texas
    .
    Everything’s bigger
    Financial hole’s deeper
    .
    Deep in the heart of Texas
    .
    Mothers wail
    While schools fail
    .
    Deep in the heart of Texas
    .
    Oil wells gush
    As workers go bust
    .
    Deep in the heart of Texas
    .
    Talkin’ that drawl
    Guess that’s all
    .
    Deep in the heart of Texas

    1. Funny thing, Texas is propped up by RWNJ’s as the icon of what a state should be like. It doesn’t stand up to basic scrutiny, but it’s what they keep saying.

      I use the phrase “doesn’t hold up to basic scrutiny” disturbingly often these days in reference to things my friends fervently believe.

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