I'm a bit of an oddity, I know. I don't make a whole lot of sense in the scope of things, and there's not really a clearly defined niche that I fit into. Whether it's the fact that I'm a semi-educated mom to be with tattoos and red hair that wants more tattoos and purple hair.... or the fact that I'm a loosely affiliated Christian that believes all religious beliefs / spirituality serve the higher, and highest good. Or... my political beliefs, which is what I wanted to discuss for this particular blog entry. Because, I'm not really sure that any candidate will do well enough on what I'd like to see happen for me to even worry about the election this year.
A teacher I greatly admire started a blog, How to Fix the America! -- I thought I'd give a run down in far less detail than he's started doing (although I don't know if he's ever going to 'finish')
The tax system in our country is flawed, and quite obviously. The rich can get away with being taxed as much as those in poverty due to the numerous loopholes in the system. Corporations can get away with paying no taxes what so ever. It doesn't make sense, nor is it fair. So, how do we fix this? There's no perfect system, and everything has a loophole and a way of abuse. However, the closest thing to fair that I've seen is the aptly named Fair Tax. None of the money you make either as an individual or as a business is taxed. The taxes fall onto each and every new good and service. If you're poor you pay less taxes, if you're rich you pay more. There's a prebate system which helps further instill this progressive system. I've been a believer in this system since I first heard about it - read more about it here.
It makes absolutely no sense to me the way the current health care system is set up in our country. Less than no sense, it's bat shit craziness. Those too poor to afford health insurance cannot afford to pay for their health care out of pocket, and state/federal programs are so ridiculous to qualify for it leads those who are poorer to either not getting the health care they need, or claiming bankruptcy every seven years due to medical bills. Those who can afford health care either on their own or through their employer often end up spending far more than if they had neglected to pay for health insurance in the first place. What we have is a corrupted system aimed at making money rather than a productive system aimed at keeping people healthy. With a universal health care system, the money raised from our taxes actually goes to something that serves the greater good, the intention of taxes in the first place. Everyone is eligible for the care they need, our bodies are healthier, our workforce is healthier and more productive, we live longer and support the tax base longer by purchasing goods/services, everyone wins. The health care initiative requiring everyone to have insurance is treating a symptom but not the real issue. The issue isn't that too few people have health insurance, it's that health insurance is needed in the first place. Having a market based system would help to drive down the price of medical care, but for some - any cost is too great. We don't necessarily need to go all the way free, adopting a system similar to Canada in which most is covered would be a great start.
Our entire education system from the ground up needs to be reworked. Essentially, we should copy Finland's system of education, as they have proven to have the highest statistics in the world in regards to graduation, college attendance, and performance. The adopt a policy of learning at one's own pace, learning through play, and all of it is universal beginning with day care at age 8 months. They also cover a mother to stay home with her child and provide in home education for the first three years of the child's life. Teacher's have more discretion with their classes, and everyone receives equal levels of treatment and education. It is not a society where those rich enough can afford private school and have their children excel where poor people in impoverished areas receive lower education and are forced into a downward spiral or at the very least complacency. Free school lunches, free field trips, free educational materials, ,minimal homework, focus on the arts, physical activity, the list really just goes on and on.
Secondary education, all education, should be universal for all citizens. This again goes into the same logic as the health care reform. All men are created equal, and therefore should be afforded equal opportunities. The higher education allowed by the entire reworked system produces bright and capable individuals who not only are versed within their particular field but have confidence and the ability and willingness to learn. We have a higher educated and adaptable workforce who produces better products and innovations, which then along with the Fair Tax creates a demand internationally, raises our intake of funds and feeds back into the economy.
The War On Drugs
I haven't quite decided my opinion on whether or not all drugs should be made legal, whether we should only outlaw those "unnatural" concoctions (meth, ecstasy, anything made in a bathtub...), or only allow select drugs which meet certain safety guidelines. Of course, with any instance any action which has the potential to cause harm would not be allowed. For instance, driving or watching children while under the influence. Marijuana is perhaps the most debated and nonsensically so in our current state. The effects have been widely documented as negligible for health, far less than legal substances (alcohol, tobacco), and the benefits as well. Hemp can be used in everything from fuel to plastic, clothes to building material. A huge crop with the potential to stabilize our economy without much if any reform on the current system. Creating jobs, generating revenue, and making us less dependent on outsourced materials. Let's not forget about the massive amount of tax payer money that goes into the ban of marijuana, prevention, corrective action, etc. Oregon alone spends 61.5 million dollars a year in measures related to prevention/punishment of cannabis. Let's take that money and instead put it into reforming our education system instead! I strongly suggest all my Oregonian readers (if you've made it this far!) to check out OCTA.
Keep it to yourself and do what you like. That's the gist of my belief anyway.
Speech, religion, and media should be censored only when harm to another individual or their property is potential or imminent. Parents should be the censor on what their children can hear/see not the government. Love and marry who you'd like. Have free control over your own body - what goes in it, on it, what you remove from it. If you don't believe in abortions, don't have one. Same goes for gay marriage, drugs, alcohol, guns, or birth control. If you believe that every person that has an abortion, likes someone of the same gender, etc. is going straight to hell - that's fine, and you can say it all you'd like as you have the freedom to do so. But there should be no law which provides validation to your beliefs on the matter one way or the other. Just because abortions, gay marriage, drug use, and owning a firearm is legal doesn't make it mandatory. However, a ban implies restriction over your rights. If I want to smoke a joint and have sex with my girlfriend I should be allowed to do so. If I want to abstain from drug use and have heterosexual relations, I should have that same right. What my neighbor wants to do is none of my business, as long as (s)he keeps it within the confines of his/her property.
We should follow the basic rule that applies when you borrow an item from someone - return it in the same or better condition. Just as you wouldn't borrow a friend's car and return it dented and empty on fuel, we shouldn't rape our planet and hand it to the next generation to deal with. We don't own the planet, we're just renting it. When we die, the next generations will take over and so on. It's our duty to make sure that we leave it just as good as when we came into it, and hey, let's be the nice friend that details the car before they return it, shall we? The air we breathe and water we drink should be clean, there should be plants and trees, bunnies and streams. We should focus on renewable, 'green', energy. Actual green energy, your hybrid/electric car isn't the solution when it needs to be plugged in to an electric source fueled by coal, or when it's battery manufacturing and shipment causes a huge environmental toll as well. Though, the hybrid/electric car path is a step in the right direction. However, let's say we get marijuana legalized. We now have a huge, renewable fuel source in hemp fuel. Granted, car engine manufacturers would need to modify engine design to run on this fuel, but in the long run - we're thinking for future generations here - it would completely negate our reliance on foreign oil supplies. More money in the United States, more jobs, more people buying more things feeding into the tax pool, better environment. It all ties together you see :)
Jobs and the Economy
I pretty much covered the solutions to boosting the economy up where it should be and creating a plethora of new jobs, a healthier & more productive workforce, etc. We need to bring in more money than we spend, and by eliminating /simplifying the tax code, investing into hemp and other green energy sources (wind farms, solar panels, efficient engines, etc), and focusing on the people rather than the end result, we can do just that. Oh, and stop meddling into everybody else's business.
Immigration / Illegal Aliens
The Fair Tax stops the benefit of being paid "under the table" and ensures that everyone pays their fair share of taxes, whether or not they are here illegally. Granted, there are those that currently have legitimate jobs and pay taxes but find it difficult or impossible to get benefits (social security, welfare,etc) due to their citizenship status which in the end helps citizens by adding to the pool without subtracting. I find this to be a subject I'm on the fence about. No pun intended. I don't think that non-citizens should be able to get aide, and I don't believe we should offer immunity. However, I also am aware that a huge portion of our workforce is here illegally, and often doing jobs that most people feel are beneath them. If someone wishes to become a citizen, I think we should honor our "Give me your tired, your poor,your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" and give them the opportunity. Obviously there have to be guidelines to this, and there will be plenty who will be eligible for a visa that may not desire citizenship. I don't think though, that people should be allowed to live, work, raise their families, etc and not become citizens if they don't plan on returning home. Whether that be Mexico, Cuba, Canada, Russia, Bulgaria, wherever.
Affirmative Action / Race
In our current day and age, we need to get over the past and accept fully and with open arms that all men are created equal. You are not special or more privileged than anyone else because you are white, yellow, brown, black, or red. So, why should companies/colleges be required to judge based on that alone? Why are there scholarships for these "minority" groups? One may argue that there is this "hand up" mentality because there is inequality. Certain races tend to make less money, they can't afford the health care and education needed to raise to the occasion like other races can. Well, see above - problem solved. We now all have the same access to education and health care, it only makes sense that we have the same access to work and other privileges. There should be no legislature, no codes or laws which even make mention to a persons race in the slightest except for the generic statement we see, "without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, marital status, the presence of a medical condition or disability, or genetic information."
A brief answer to the other topics:
Women: same pay as men, same rights, full control over their bodies.
Social Security/Elderly: livable wages should be allowed, minimized ageism within policy (policies above accomplish)
War: undecided. the American people should have a clear voice/vote for international affairs - but are going to be too uneducated / lazy to make informed decisions. We should stick to ourselves as much as possible unless a threat is immediate or unavoidable, while keeping to allied agreements and UN practices to avoid more trouble. Spending to the extent we have been needs to stop in a hurry.
Foreign Affairs: Let the world sort out it's own trouble. Charitable donations would be tax free under Fair Tax, let Charities do the good work and the government focus on making the country better.
Death Penalty: Decided by individual states.'
Euthanasia: Allowed provided clear mental state can be shown.
Campaign Reform: Corporations/heads of corporations should stay far away from politics. Also, someone find me a politician who will do all of the above please?
So, there you have it, Stephanie's perfect government system. Seems like perfect common sense to me. This ended up being much, much longer than intended. It is True Blood and ice cream time now.