Sunday, February 22, 2009

An Immodest Proposal 

The single biggest problem in American politics today is that there is too much money in it all the way around. It takes a fortune to run for office, so politics instantly exclude a vast majority of citizens who do not have the money or connections necessary to run. Consequently, we wind up with people in office who only run because they want two things: money and power. They use one to make the other and vice versa, in a never-ending cycle.

So... when big problems come up that need fixing, the elected always think of themselves first. It doesn't matter what their politics are when their wallet is affected. Most of the time, when given the choice, people will take the one that costs them less in the long run. (Exception that proves the rule, the voters of California who decided to pass a sales tax increase back in November. You are all idiots.)

So... until we have elected officials who aren't all power- and money-whores, they will serve the interests of the rich and the corporations and the bankers and the lobbyists, and our needs and demands will be meaningless.

How do we fix this? Change the law, like so:
  1. Getting elected to office means total divestment of all assets upon taking office, and elected officials are paid mostly in services rather than cash, getting free housing, transportation, meals and medical benefits, but earning a wage more in line with middle-management at a large corporation, rather than an executive.

  2. The jobs do come with a pension, locked to the top-tier payout rate for Social Security benefits.

  3. No sitting official is allowed to solicit or accept campaign donations or any non-tangible gifts from any person, committee, company, foreign national or other entity, or hold any funds in trust, escrow, or blind account.

  4. As part of their licensing requirements, media companies must provide free campaign advertising and coverage for all candidates within their broadcast range (whether TV, internet, wireless, or broadcast technology yet to be invented), dividing up a designated two hours a day for ninety days before the election among all qualified candidates.

  5. To qualify for the ballot, you just need to be a registered voter within the district who can show up at an office, fill out a few forms and sign your name. No candidate can spend more than ten percent of their own net worth upon applying for office for campaigning. (True, still economically biased, but it favors those who know how to stretch a dollar.)
Bingo -- what happens? The people who are in politics for the power and money won't go anywhere near it. Why? There's no profit to be made. This would kick the legs right out from under all the PACs and special interests and corporations, and make those who are elected responsive only to we, the People, since we'll have elected officials who lust after power and fame, their constituents the only source of either.

Once upon a time, people joined religious orders because they were interested in the betterment of humanity, and not their own needs. It didn't cost them anything to do it other than going to their local church and expressing their interest. Wham -- you're in the seminary or convent. And it was frequently the "weird" kid in the family who did this; the one who was smarter than all his or her siblings, always asking questions, always reading, always most likely to be taking care of things when someone was sick... The kid in the family who wanted to be rich and famous, of course, was ignoring everyone else, except when it was necessary to faun for support financially or otherwise. Which sounds like the perfect description for any elected official at all.

Now, I'm not a religious person, I'm a raving atheist. But I do think that the US Constitution and the duty of every elected official is sacred -- you serve the People, not yourself; you defend the Constitution above anything else at all. This principal of government has been long-forgotten, but making going into politics more like taking holy orders than winning an Oscar is a good start. We need to change the definition of "Service" in "Public Service" back to what it used to mean. Once upon a time, it meant "service" as in "wait upon" -- take Our orders, fulfill our needs. Somewhere along the way, it changed to "service" as in "to screw".

Until we put politicians back in their proper place, we're all going to continue to get screwed.


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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Douchebaggery Ahoy... 

Open letter to my State Senator and Rep in California... people who are about to push us over a cliff and kill us as a State...

I learned tonight with some dismay of the proposals being considered by California State Government in order to come to a budget agreement, and am writing to express my extreme disapproval of any and all attempts to increases taxes, fees or other compulsory payments made by the People of this State.

The budget did not sail into deficit territory because the People were not paying enough taxes. They landed in red ink because of mismanagement, pure and simple. With an unemployment rate of nearly 10%, California cannot afford to further tax its citizens. If anything, this is the time to cut taxes and fees across the board, from the bottom up. Nothing will stimulate the economy more than the poor and middle classes with more money to spend. Nothing will kill it faster with the poor and middle classes taxed to death, while the rich exploit their loopholes.

I strongly urge you to oppose any and all tax increases in the state budget now being considered and, instead, to solve the problem by cutting spending and taxes.

In the real world of real people, spending beyond your means leads to extreme debt, bankruptcy and, sometimes, homelessness. We don't have the option of forcing our employers to give us raises on demand, and then spending far more than we make anyway, only to go back to the company well for more money. In other words, we do not get rewarded for failure. State Agencies and employees should not be rewarded either.

I offer a simple solution to the current problem:
1) Determine all income from all sources for the next FY.
2) Calculate the percentage of budget for all State expenditures for the last FY in which the budget was balanced.
3) Allocate the funds calculated in #1 based on the percentages calculated in #2.
4) Any agency that comes in under budget has that amount added to the next year's budget. I.E., if an agency was funded for $ 1 Billion and only spent $ 900 Million in year one, their next year's budget adds the difference, and is $ 1.1 Billion. If they go over budget, then the next year's budget subtracts the difference. I.E., if they were funded for $ 1 Billion and spent $ 1.1 Billion, then their next year's budget would be $ 900 Million. Consider it Darwinism applied to economics -- ineffecient agencies will work themselves out of existence.
This, combined with major cuts in taxes and fees, will solve the current "Crisis" and, as always, present California as a state to watch for innovative ideas and solutions. Otherwise, the Governor and Legislature is just going to do to California what George W. Bush did to the nation -- destroy it in an economic firestorm not seen since the Great Depression.

Thank you for considering my suggestions.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Excuse Me, But... 

Memo to President Obama and the US Congress... Fuck the Republicans. Fuck them fifteen ways from sideways. Remember last November? When the voters handed the Republicans their asses? There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to even listen to them now. They don't like the stimulus bill? SFW. It's not their turn anymore. The Democratic party is in power. Time that they acd like they are...

Bipartisanship? Fuck bipartisanship. The Reublicans proved they are not capable of that back in 1993. There's no reason whatsoever to kiss their asses now.

Memo to President Obama and the US Congress: Democrats are in charge. Act like it. Tell the Whiny Baby Republicans to go to hell. They had their chance, and they lost it...

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