Culture

How To Fix The Government: The LIL GOVERNMENT Manifesto

Culture

How To Fix The Government: The LIL GOVERNMENT Manifesto

It's going to take more than a hammer and nails to fix American democracy.
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Politics are complicated, but not as complicated as they’re made out to be by the flapping heads on campaign podiums and major news outlets around the world, spray-tanned puppets debating whether trans kids should be allowed to wear dresses to school or people with cancer should be jailed for some harmless 420. I’m no PoliSci major, and in fact, I never graduated from college, but particularly since Obama’s second election and the feeling of helplessness that comes with knowing that promises don’t equal results, I’ve been intrigued by the notion that even could do better.

Do I blame Obama for where we’re at as a country? No, I do not. But from a man who trotted out “hope and change” like the “I’m lovin’ it” of every McSpeech he made on his way to election, I’m disappointed by the stately-yet-downtrodden routine, rife with manipulative rhetoric that’s replaced his insistence on a supreme loyalty to the American people.

Let’s see a real return to common sense, to putting people over profits, to advancing beyond the dollar-induced aggression and the same-but-different second-class citenzry of centuries past. For every technological advancement we’ve made, humans have let more rudimentary problems like hunger, sickness, and violence take a backseat to power dynamics and the heartless mathematical functions of today’s markets. It’s time for a common sense approach to politics; people have been eating, sleeping, and fucking since the dawn of time, and rather than bickering over how and when they do it, we need a system of governance that upholds individual freedoms at any cost other than the freedoms of others.

I may have no intention of ever running for government, but that doesn’t mean I can’t daydream of a world where the United States sets an example for the international community: how to be more than a self-hating bully that will inevitably, and unfortunately, have its crown knocked off if business continues as usual. Ideally, a candidate will come along and run on the following platform, so the idea of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness becomes something other than a cheap corporate platitude chosen by some focus group to get screen-printed on Made In China t-shirts.

Basically, we need to…

Redefine democracy.
There must be a way to streamline the real purpose of a governing body, which is to translate the requests and interests of its constituents into policy, with an eye towards the future and no shortage of pride in the Constitution our great nation is supposedly built upon. Unfortunately, human history has been marred time and again by racist and oppressive policies designed to keep global citizens fearful, desperate, and devoid of any sense of community. This is why I say redefine democracy–greatly increased political transparency and access to unbiased (factual) information relevant to engaging in responsible civic duty, as well as universal voting ease are all essential to modelling democracy beyond capitalist manipulation. It also wouldn’t hurt to examine knee-jerk timewasters at the systemic level such as secret holds and filibusters, petty theatre in the context of making decisions regarding the well-being of the American public.

Stop relying on military solutions to complicated problems overseas.
Lessons (un?)learned from the first round of like-totally-existent WMDs hasn’t stopped Obama from threatening punitive military strikes in Syria to discourage Bashar Al-Assad from the future use of chemical weapons, despite questions that the sarin gas used to kill over 1,000 Syrians, did in fact come from Assad. The fact that a (risky) deal may be coming together between the U.S. and Russia to diplomatically eradicate the chemical threat doesn’t change our reputation for emotional, drop-of-a-dime warmongering. Killing more Syrians was and is never going to be the answer to far too many dead and suffering Syrians, and we’ve kind of learned by now that the inaccuracy of “no boots on the ground” drone strikes often lead to civilian casualties. Future military action in the foreseeable future should be backed by multinational support, simply because we don’t have the resources to swing our dick around overseas while seeing to our needy citizens–including veterans–at home.

Implement universal health care.
By alleviating shopaholic defense spending, we can invest in something other than guaranteed death. How about health care? Canada and the UK haven’t been bankrupted yet by their single-payer systems, which both enjoy significantly higher approval ratings from their citizens than the USA. While the provision of affordable doctor visits and medication seems like a no-brainer, paranoid conspiracy theorists will continue to squawk about THE GUB’MINT CONTROLLING MY HEALTH CARE. Relax, because as is the case in Canada, the government would not be given access to an individual’s medical records, or jurisdiction over specific care choices. You’ll just be able to afford said choices without taking out a second mortgage.

Place a strong value on transparency and accountability for systems (including corporations)…
Be it in regards to the aforementioned defense or healthcare, voter registration, or privacy laws, our biggest weapon against corruption and cronyism is transparency. It has become increasingly common to cite broad national security threats as justification for the erosion of both clarity and civil liberties, but it’s time to give “extrajudicial” activity (think FISA courts that secretly demanded mass domestic phone records from Verizon or shadowy Afghanistan prisons) the boot. Additionally, corporations are not people. An entity made up of many but headed by one or few cannot, in fact, be a person, and given that precise hierarchy, it is easy to see how damaging it is to consider them as such. Corporations should have no political pull outside of their employees’ collective (and likely divergent) influence. This should be expressed through the standard practice of voting, not lobbying.

…and privacy for individuals.
Post-9/11, we have shown that fear, not freedom, is the primary guiding principal from which our laws are made and into which our people are indoctrinated. Call me old-fashioned, but all those Law & Order episodes I began watching as early as high school have made me thirsty for a soon-to-be relic known as “probable cause.” Would police like to stop a young man on the street and search his pockets? Would the NSA like to comb through your phone records? Probable cause, go find some! The IRS using terms like “conservative” and “progressive” to flag potential tax-exempt-status applications is merely one example of today’s lite McCarthyism, evidence that unfettered access inside the minds or pockets of the American public is too dangerous a tool for the self-interested eyes of those at the top.

Fix our corporate tax structure (including religious non-profits)…
From making it fiscally wise for American companies to send jobs overseas, to a company like Facebook getting a $429 million refund due to a reduction for executive stock options in 2012, it couldn’t be more clear that our tax structure needs a makeover. While streamlining bureaucracy to decrease startup costs and reward entrepreneurship is a good start, tax breaks down the line should incentivize creating jobs at home, profit-sharing, and responsible treatment for employees, and ethical supply chain practices. A cap on deductions for highly flush entities such as Facebook would ensure that nobody walks away with a literal billion in untaxed profits, regardless of breaks given, as well as render it useless to milk every possible loophole for additional savings. It’s also time to legitimize the separation of church and state by taxing the former, particularly as funds from the coffers often end up funnelled into support of various political causes. Jesus may have paid for your sins, but it’s time to start adjusting for inflation.

…and also overhaul individual income tax.
The more money you make, the more of it you should pay in taxes. Period. This could be accomplished with a universal set percentage that begins above a set minimum income, or perhaps a percentage that rises with your tax bracket but guarantees you won’t be penalized for increasing earnings (i.e. a credit for the difference until you’re taking home equal or more than you did while in the previous bracket). Trickle-down economics are a false construct that relies on the charitable inclinations of the wealthy, despite loud and clear evidence that huge profit margins often fail to effect those helping generate them at the base level, even within the same entity. It’s crucial that the responsibility of “giving back” be integrated in the structure of society, for the purposes of both proper future budget planning and a guarantee that those upon whom fortune has smiled are smiling back. Smiling with money.

Stop privatizing services that should operate outside the realm of free-market economics.
I’m all for capitalism, but certain essential services need to be socialized for the sole reason that profit should not inform them, even a single iota. This includes health care, the prison system, schools, and the police and fire departments, at the very least. Privatization is touted as “more efficient” than government-run services, but we all know this is a thinly-veiled euphemism for “able to be manipulated for new revenue,” no doubt at a cost to someone. Citizens’ health, safety, education and ultimately freedom should–and ultimately will–exist independent of the bottom-line, and by curbing wayward defense spending as well as through corporate and personal tax reform, we can subsidize these services for all, including those who can’t afford them. A healthier and more cooperative society are still a win for everyone.

We should REALLY take a better look at public education.
Maybe we shouldn’t have a standardized education system at all, but as long as we do, it shouldn’t be part public and part private. In other words, fuck a charter school. Both public and charter schools are both experiencing equally “dismal” performance, perhaps a sign that we should be looking at how we’re educating our students rather than where. Critical thinking, creativity, and technical skills all need to be reintroduced into the classroom, as well as teaching information in a focused, thorough, and multilateral way rather than our current emphasis on speed, short-term retention, and standardized test scores. The fact that life is not multiple choice should be an effective indicator of how worthless our current setup is.

Get private money OUT of politics, and accountability back IN.
Campaigning should be about the issues, plain and simple. Perhaps there should be a registry of candidates (for any elected office, not just president) where the long-list of eventual options are anonymously presented through their policy choices only, which voters can then use to narrow the pool to a few candidates that will then participate in a standard election as we know it. Either way, limitless campaign cash from private donors is a supreme waste of money that encourages allegiance to those donors’ interests. Additionally, elected office-holders should not go on to be employed by the lobbies they surely gave no particular favor throughout their terms. Regular companies have non-compete agreements, and I see no reason something similar should not be in place to reduce corruption and backdoor favors in Washington. Private donations should not be the defining difference between electability and abject failure, and politicians should be bound solely to their constituents and not to the (also self-serving) interests of big business.

Invest in renewable energy and incentivize “green” innovation.
We are taught to value God over nature, but God IS NATURE, the single most important factor in our own personal comfort and autonomy. And yet, people that would never treat “God” like shit have no problem littering, leaving the lights on, and driving a noxious automobile lubricated by war-plagued foreign oil. This is to say nothing of the corporations who lobby tirelessly to lessen environmental regulation while obliterating our natural resources for yet more profit. Our government should be able to properly incentivize clean and renewable energy use as well as the type of innovation/discovery that will speed up its use at the household level. Even climate-change-denying wingnuts should be able to get behind taking better care of the ground we walk on and air we breathe. Hardly trivial stuff.

Change the way we look at food.
While complacent couch-warmers have been busy dutifully opening wide for bite after heaping bite of artificially flavored, modified food starch, over 60% of our seed industry (along with virtually 100% of GMO’s) has been taken over by DuPont and Monsanto. The plight of independent farmers is no secret, and neither is the overwhelming and seemingly unchecked power of corporate agriculture giants over the nation’s food supply. Both our health and our environment depend on new policies that provide much-needed support and protection for smaller operators, while encouraging sustainable, as well as more localized production practices. Additionally, nutritional education for children should go beyond the questionable food pyramid (8-12 servings of grains per day? LOLWAT?) and focus on incorporating whole, nutrition-rich ingredients from quality sources–sources that probably won’t start in the cafeteria anytime soon, but that’s why this new doctrine is all about long-term planning.

Bring drug policy into the 21st century and stop stigmatizing addicts.
Prohibition is a wash, and should be replaced with a harm-reductive approach like that of Vancouver or Copenhagen, focusing on safe use and untainted product for those plagued by addiction and hardship. Harm reductive policy is actually linked to a decrease in drug use, as well as crime related to desperation for the acquisition of those few elusive moments of comfort provided by that little baggie of powder or pills. Would it be nice to live in a society where no one uses drugs? Sure, but show me one. In the meantime, it’s time to adopt drug policies that actually work to improve public health and keep illicit substances from lining the pockets of violent cartels, from marijuana all the way up to smack. Do your research before you skewer me for this, btw.

Stop wasting oxygen discussing a woman’s, or any person’s right to make choices regarding his/her own medical care.
It’s time to shut down the Coalition For Clammy White Dudes Obsessed With My Uterus, that elite group of rich assholes who claim that a clump of cells is a baby but haven’t yet made the move to criminalize jerking off, an activity which results in the tragic death of thousands of sperm–they’re basically HALF BABIES, right? Um, no. This utter foolishness has no place in the future, and neither do misleading “family planning centers,” which pressure emotionally-strapped visitors to just have the kid. Why are we choosing non-sentient cells over living women and well-cared-for children of the future who deserve stable homes, food and, an education? We’re not anymore. Done.

Eliminate legal “marriage” in the traditional sense.
Marriage is obsolete, a religious institution originally created to control the population, and deal with dowries and human property also known as women. I believe marriage should be used only as an umbrella of protection where children are involved. Perhaps some sort of “household” tax benefit could replace it, a benefit available to cisgender heterosexual couples, gay people, trans people, or even 2 brothers or sisters sharing a property. The law and love should stay as separate as possible, as one should be black-and-white, and the other is the grayest gray area known to man. Religious ceremonies, weddings, and all related activity could still proceed as usual, without signing on the dotted line. Congrats, you’re in love. Why the government needs to give a fuck is beyond me.

In conclusion.
Despite the bleak culture of perceived futility that permeates today’s political landscape, I refuse to give up on the idea that cognitive dissonance isn’t the norm, and that eventually a candidate will come along that embodies the REAL American values of honesty, open-mindedness, equal rights, and a free market that still has safety nets to keep a rich country from veering into second world territory. Say you live in an apartment with 9 other people; 1 person is excessively wealthy, 6 or so others are scraping by but okay, and the remainder are essentially starving and unable to care for themselves. The rich resident occasionally provides food or clothes out of goodwill or just plain guilt, but otherwise all are on their own. This living situation sounds toxic for all involved, right? Yes it does, and it’s basically America.

I don’t claim to be the foremost expert on how to fix the government, but for fuck’s sake, someone needs to do it, and that should be someone with as little allegiance to the current clusterfuck as possible. We know what doesn’t work, and it’s time to stop trying it over and over and over and over again.