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A few thoughts:
The primary function of government is to protect individuals, businesses, the environment and society from harm.
Government needs to enable Business and the free market to be successful.
Government services should be paid by those that benefit from those services.
About Taxes - we need some. The question is "How much and who should pay"?
We each have our individual needs and wants. We have many needs and wants in common. We want safety; we want our children to succeed in life. We want to minimize conflict with others. We want to make a contribution and be recognized for our efforts. We need a job which matches our abilities and interests.
Our government is failing us because we are failing our government. This is a democracy. We get what we say we want. We just need to want the right things. Each of us must weight our own needs and wants against the needs and wants of everyone else and make reasonable requests of our elected officials. Money is not the goal in life. It is a tool for deciding what each of us will contribute to our collective lives on this earth.
About Free Trade - it should be wide open. In order to get the maximum benefit from trade we need to remove obstacles.
The most important obstacle is the concern by workers that their jobs will go away. In order to remove this obstacle, we should have a full employment policy in each country. It is not so important what any given worker does, only that their skills and interests are engaged in being productive for their own local economy. The free market system will find the right jobs for each of us if we force everyone to share the work which needs to be done in a fair manner. It is not fair for some people to be un-employed and others to be working 80 hour weeks!
Government needs to put the proper constraints on the free market system to ensure fairness.
About Education - we can do better.
The current system measures one person against another. This produces both successes and failures. The group which scores in the lower quartile has their self esteem damaged by the (unfair) comparison. In fact, we are trying to teach something for which this group is not ready or we are forcing a failure in order to make the curve come out as expected!
Please see the article "The vital role of self-esteem" in Business Week for 02/02/98 p. 26.
We need a system which is pass/fail for all course work. Then test to determine interest, skills and knowledge in subject areas to determine where the individual should best spend their time to achieve their full potential. Not everyone wants or needs to be a doctor of philosophy. Some people would be much happier stocking the shelves in a store.
The goal should be to achieve maximum quality of life for each individual and society as a whole.
Elements of a solution:
About Politics - the system is off the tracks. We have a two party system where the goal has become about winning rather than about offering the best solution to society's problems and challenges.
We need to refocus on the problems and agree on a basic framework for solving them. We need to focus on consensus, rather than confrontation!
Politics should be about selecting the best people to carry out solutions with which most of us can agree.
We need a public debate about the issues free of political party concerns. We have tried to get the political parties to discuss the issues; but, they do not want to give the other party any concession which can be used to that party's advantage.
The debate to identify the high priority issues and proposed solutions needs to be handled by a neutral third party and then the political parties can focus on selecting the best candidates to implement the solutions.
If only we could learn a common language, we might be able to work out a consensus.
We need to decide on a national policy of how we handle two different types of personal expenditures - taxes and insurance.
Retirement, health care and employment are issues of risk. Each person needs insurance against the risk of insufficient money for retirement, expensive health care events and loss of employment. We need a cost effective, national insurance policy for each of these areas of our lives.
Raising money to fund essential government services is a separate area of our personal responsibility in my opinion. Government should employ as few people as possible directly. Most services should be contracted out to business. Government should publish the rules and people and business should follow the rules.
This is the main important distinction which divides the political parties. If we can adopt a common language then we can reach consensus on how to address our common problems in a common sense way and avoid all the non-productive arguing over non-issues.
About the Economy - it is the collective work we all perform.
Resources are limited. We can not all have everything we want (maybe). If we want the right things, I believe we now have the technology to provide the necessities for everyone and the reasonable wants for most people.
We need to refocus our efforts to improve the economy. There are two sets of responsibilities - those for the individual and those for society.
For the individual, we need to strive to be productive and efficient. We should always try to find a more efficient way to perform our jobs. The more efficient we are, the more things we can have for any given level of effort.
For society, we need to make sure that the productivity gains of technology and efficient use of talent and resources are shared fairly among all members of society.
This should be self-evident.
For the individual, the most important contribution to a good life should be a rewarding job. The job provides income for the family and self satisfaction for the individual. Society needs to be organized to ensure that anyone who wants a job will find one in a short time frame. This should be a corner stone of our organization. We now have the Internet to match people who need additional help with people who are willing to provide that help at a reasonable wage!
Each of us will achieve a different station in life based upon our needs and abilities. We should each feel fulfilled at our chosen position in society. We all have different needs and there is no requirement that everything be equal. But, everything should be fair! It is fair, if we collectively believe it is fair.
The basic requirements are education and consensus. Education is about sharing knowledge. Consensus is about negotiating fairness.
Please see About Economics for more details.
About immigration - there are two issues which need to be addressed.
There is immigration and illegal immigration.
Illegal immigration should be easy. We are either a society of laws or not. Laws which are not enforced should not be on the books. Laws which can not be enforced should not be on the books. Otherwise the people lose respect for The Law.
Illegal immigrants are here because we allow them to be here - this is wrong. People should not be allowed to hold a job if they are here illegally. We can control this by holding the employer accountable. Heavy fines and prison time will remove the reason for a person to come here illegally for a job. If a legal immigrant brings others into the country we can hold them responsible. These two steps should remove most illegal immigrants from the country.
As for the case of how many immigrants should be allowed to enter the country, this also should be easy. There should be simple requirements - they must learn the language, follow the law and be able to support themselves and their families. The other social requirement should be that they do not take a job from a citizen. In order to fulfill that requirement, we should require full employment in society. That is, anyone who wants a job will get a job in a short time period. Once this process is in place, if there is a job which can not be filled, we should actively look for immigrants to fill these positions.
We can solve our problems with a reasoned approach.
About controlling taxes - we need a plan.
In the interest of fairness some actions need to be carried out by government with the consent of the governed. In the interest of efficiency, government needs to perform its functions in a business like manner.
We believe that a proper balance between efficiency and fairness can be achieved by making government more transparent to the people. The Internet gives government a powerful tool to educate the people on the operation and performance of government in providing our common needs and wants.
To that end, we recommend that each department of government build a web site which clearly shows the function of that department, the results of that department, the cost of the department and the source of funds for that department.
Further more, we believe taxes (and fees) should be collected to provide specific objectives and not left to the discretion of individual office holders.
How do we reach consensus on how much government the people need and how to pay for that government? Surely an educated people can make this determination in a rational manner without needless partisanship.
Perhaps we can put government on a more business like footing. Let's relate a tax paid to a service received and let the people determine how much tax makes sense for any given service at the federal, state and local level.
As a starting point I suggest the following alignment.
|Type of tax||service provided||where collected *|
|income tax||national defense||federal level|
|full employment||state level|
|property tax||fire and police protection||local level|
|sales tax||essential government services||state level|
|social services||state level|
|inflation tax||economic stability||federal level|
|rainy day funds||state level|
|sin tax||restoration||state level|
|ex. cigerates - health care|
|service fee||specific government service||local/state level|
|drivers license, ID||state level|
|water, trash, sewage, etc.||local level|
|fuel tax||roads, highway system||state/federal level|
* this is a collection service only - the funds are then directly transfered to the spending authority
About support for education - taxes for education should be funded by the income tax only. Having a better education will in general provide a better income. People who benefit from a service should pay for the service.
We need to move from generalities, to specifics. Some people are paying too much in taxes and some people are paying too little in taxes.
Some things are being done by government which would be better done by for profit companies. Some government priories do not reflect the general public priorities.
Having a better educated population would benefit everyone in a global economy. The older generation needs the younger generation to succeed in order to support our retirement directly or indirectly. The older generation has stacked the deck against the younger generation by borrowing against their future. We are shipping their jobs to low wage countries. We do not consider that to be a conservative policy.
Rather than complain about taxes, we should be managing them as we do any other household expense. Relate a tax to the service it provides and vote on the amount of service we want rather than trying to control the total tax bill which is not in our control.
About School Boards - in a Democracy, the citizens should vote for their representatives.
If there are not two candidates for each office, the political parties are not doing their job!
If you are a member of a party, ask them to select the best candidate who will agree to run from their ranks. People should not be concerned about running for public office.
If the candidates are attacked unfairly, we should all complain. We must have fairness in our daily lives.
About Freedom - What is freedom? Should there be limits on an individual's freedom?
I should be free to do anything I like until it begins to interfere with your freedom. So, yes there needs to be limits on freedom.
One individual or a group of individuals should not be allowed to reduce the freedom of another. But, that is a direct violation of the freedom of one or more individuals.
So, how do we decide which freedom to uphold? The principle should be the greater good of society.
In the health care debate, one Senator raised the concern about requiring people to purchase health insurance. The concern was that a lost of freedom had occurred. However, individuals should not be free to steal from others by being irresponsible and not having health insurance and then needing medical service which they can not afford. That would amount to an illegal taking from others.
People should be responsible, if they chose to do otherwise, they may either leave the Just Society or accept the common view that everyone shall have health insurance, retirement savings and employment insurance.
About free market capitalism
If we all believe in the power of free market capitalism, then we need to make a few changes.
First, remove retirement from employment - everyone should have their retirement funded in the same way, by a 401K type fund which travels with the employee and does not depend upon the business or government unit.
Second, remove health care from employment - everyone should have their health insurance in a large national pool without regard to their employer.
Third, we need to provide for full employment.
With these changes, people are free to move from job to job to maximize their income over their working lifetimes and we will have a way to set the pay based on the value of the service provided rather than the whim of the employer.
Knowledge is the result of creation.
Knowledge belongs to all.
Technology is the manifestation of knowledge.
Technology is the common property of mankind: not the few.
Profit is the manifestation of technology.
Profit can be used to do good or evil.
That is a choice left to society.