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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Governmental Reform: It may not be what you want, but I am open to suggestions, unlike politicians

To change the direction of this country, it is my belief that several initiatives should take place to rectify much of what has gone astray under the recent administration, and many prior ones. If I screw this up, well, at least I’m not going to run for office ever.

A. Term changes in Congress and the Presidency:
1) U.S. Representatives – 3 years, maximum of 5 terms or 15 total years.
2) U.S. Senator – 6 years, maximum 3 terms, maximum of 18 years, 1/2 up for election every 3 years.
3) President – 6 years, 1 term only: Vote of Confidence by U.S. Senate in 3rd year, but prior to the National Election.

Term limits are necessary to get people working on government instead of working to be elected for governance. It will still allow for adequate experience in the procedure and policy arenas, while introducing new blood into the mix regularly. The amount of time in total could be shortened - however, experience in governance is still needed.

The Vote of Confidence process is a way to reverse an election wrong without impeachment proceedings. As much as we can dislike a person for their subterfuges, some that are necessary in the world of governing, not all rise to a legal necessity of high crimes and misdemeanors. But when confidence flails in a leader, an immediate remedy of this sort should be available. A 60% supermajority would be needed to remove a President from office – with the Speaker of the House inserted as interim President until the National Election if the vote deems a removal. The Vote would take place 120 days before the November election cycle, or the 1st week in July after the 4th of July holiday.

This radical change in Presidential Power would be balanced by the Line-Item Veto for Military/Pentagon appropriations only. As commander-in-chief, it should fall under his purview to strike items or send back bills related to the proper working of the U.S. military. However, for non-Defense items, current limiting veto powers would still apply. In essence, military spending would be a separate bill from the Budget submitted yearly.

B. Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Combining the Dept. of Energy & Interior, the goal is to step up coordination of Energy and Environmental concerns. With global warming concerns, energy impacts and our nation’s failing infrastructure tied in many ways together, it falls on this new office to carry out a new strategic plan.
Education of Americans – starting in elementary school – about impacts to, and betterment of, the environment would fall under this office, via a liaison to the Dept. of Education. By high school, a nationwide program in environment and business operations taught via Internet, computer and practical applications should be in operation by 2016.

Expenditures on nuclear power plants, eco-friendly fueling stations (subsidizing where necessary) and solar, wind, tidal & wave, hydropower and geo-thermal resources will be ramped up dramatically.

Businesses that make significant contributions in reduction of carbon emissions; work alongside government/university recommendations; or, design better technology or environment protecting services, will be given tax breaks in line with their work.

Individuals that do similar improvements will receive even greater incentives for a limited period of time. (3-5 years.)

Coordinating with other nations to achieve significant progress in favorable ideas for unilateral or multi-national energy plans and discussing cutting edge technologies to address energy shortfalls would be a high priority.

Lastly, national infrastructure would be reevaluated to optimize the distribution of future resources and properly design for the next 50-150 years of United States development. Agricultural, Eco-Industrial, Eco-Transportation and Electrical would be restructured to fit with energy and environmental models designed and developed by experts in Urban Planning and Environmental Protection.

C. Criminal Statutes & Punishment.
The laws of America have become too unwieldy to manage effectively. Sometimes, the task should be to clean up the criminal and civil code instead of adding more pages to the rule of law. State to state, the legal code is as varied as the legal representation received by defendants and the prosecutorial talent running the jurisdictions. As a result, it not only takes a law degree – it takes several men with law degrees to sometimes sort out what exactly a law means, or what it meant when it was applied. Somehow, simplicity needs to be a goal. Things like mandatory minimums, sentencing guidelines, archaic drug laws and technology related statutes need to be revised and gutted appropriately. A few specific thoughts are below:

  • The adversarial system has proven to have its flaws in the determination of justice toward our people. It works too hard on pinning guilt on one side or the other and works little to spell out the truth and reformation of the guilty party.
  • The criminalization of a variety of offenses is also weighing down America’s judicial system. The extreme and frivolous cost to provide shelter without dignity, without obligation to improve the inmate, without developing interpersonal skills of said inmate is actually causing more violence to occur while serving the sentence and further promotes it after service of their sentence in society.
  • Environment and genetics play more than just a passing role in our makeup as individuals. People instinctually are driven to what they know too well – ask any psychologist or psychiatrist. They take up the actions of their role models and care providers. Their genetic background is even more decisively influential than in others with less prevalent contact with negative influences due to how we find cyclical problems take place due to poor backgrounds and genetic misalignment.
  • In concert with that thought, I would ask for reduction of sentences for less heinous crimes to foster the reduction of convicts in the prison system. America is the most penal society in the world. (Over 2,200,000 prisoners) Why? Because many crimes involving lesser offenses are being considered for long jail time, instead of immediate rehabilitative and positive-reinforcing situations. We start many persons at such an early age toward a wrecked life, without nearly no possibility of correction, due to a society that judges the idea of someone "doing time" as being an irreparable human, not worthy of further consideration. It takes a long and lucky road to manage out of it. (Nearly 4 in 5 inmates come back.) It also takes love of an unusual sort, not found in many hearts I am afraid to say.
  • If this impetus was done appropriately the results would work in a decade or two of time – we would raise children in loving environments, remove at least the environmental aspect of destruction, give a better opportunity to make it out of the situations, and have punishment fit the crimes in many cases.

D. Education. A forward looking model should be worked out that addresses widening disparities in social-economic, racial and gender situations. With the advent and pervasive use of computer and applications, the balance of knowledge has (or can) shift to those whose access is greatest to the latest technology. Standards are often preached in regards to student’s achievement, however, those standards should also apply to teachers, whose goal is to enlighten minds, shape possibilities and grant access to knowledge both well-known and little-used.

Curriculum needs to incorporate business understanding, individual finance, understanding of media & its role and scientific topics to a greater degree. It may be wise to come up with 2-3 different learning tracts - based on curricula, not a student's level of achievement solely - to somehow improve each student's knowledge base related to their level of interest in certain subjects.

E. Foreign Policy.
Somehow, we should be engaging all nations in order to improve upon the ideal of the United Nations. Its main goals are peace and human dignity. With the environment so vital to all nations, whose climates stretch from rainforest to desert, plains to mountains, warm and tropical to cold and arctic, the interaction between all of us needs to be moving to a peaceful, unified future, not to sectionalism, religious affiliations or back to Nation-first WWI mentalities.

With the current war on terrorism, often shaped by political missteps, back alley deals and religious fanaticism, America has to open up lines of communication if we are going to succeed in improving trust and addressing, forcefully, those that are actually seeking to do the United States greatest harm.

To somehow improve the path other nations are on, by political discussions and incentives, not by threats and sanctions.

To further the development and strength of the United Nations – by championing the work of other member nations to address crises when they arise. Instead of insisting on a United States path, we should empower the Nations more often, to address economic, social and military issues. (This should be done within a Security framework that protects Americans foremost among the concerns.)

These are "just for beginners" - as to the improvement of our U.S. government.
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