I generally try to avoid political statements on this blog. But in support of a movement I agree with, and in support of fellow Mainers at the "OCCUPY MAINE" event, I have decided to overlook this choice for one day.
The OCCUPY movement is entirely grassroots, with individual facebook sites arranged for various locales. If you believe that corporate greed has gotten out of hand in this country, and that the current Government structure is a big part of the problem, type OCCUPY in the search bar of your Facebook page, and local groups will appear.
I came across this video, posted on my Facebook page by a friend, and it has irritated me into action. Just for the mocking tone in Mr. Watters voice, I will address this post to Fox News. As I like to think for myself, I simply know to avoid that station on the TV-it's like the 13th floor of an old hotel, I simply skip over it.
Of course they hand picked people that they thought they could most easily mock. It's easy to do so. Of course, this just reinforces the movement, as the average person does not spend half of their day on camera, the other half primping and having their lines fed to them like the Fox News anchors.
Keep laughing FoxNews......all you're doing is pissing more people off. I love it when Bill and his chronie here, with their pressed suits and $150k a year plus jobs, find this entire situation laughable.
Apparently, there isn't a problem. Everyone should just go home, and try to scrape by enough to pay for your winter heating bill with what you can spare after your meager salary is taxed, several times. Taxed at the income level, before you even receive it. taxed whenever you buy ANYTHING. Taxed when you give it away (Gift Tax) taxed if you somehow manage to evade paying sales tax....just for USING IT (Use Tax).
Obama may not be coming up with solutions fast enough (nor Congress allowing him to enact those changes), but the REAL problem is the Right Wing Tea Baggers, their propaganda machine (Fox News), and the impression that we should all trust big business, because big business has our best interests at heart.
Well,, we've tried that. And look what it led to-a silent (at this point) revolution that is spreading. But in order for everything to change, the people have to take on more responsibility as well.
We need to start paying attention. We need to start taking our own parts of the problem more seriously. We need to educate ourselves on what is being done (and what has been working and what hasn't). And in all honesty, in the end I think the result we will come to that works will involve more power falling to our local governments.
Decisions handed down from an ivory tower hundreds or thousands of miles away make it far too easy for our Government to hide from it's responsibilities, to hide from the effects of their uneven policies have wrought. If the decisions were being made a little closer to home, I think policy choices would be made in a more informed and accountable manner.
I mean seriously....14 dollar muffins for breakfasts at the capitol? NO ONE that takes the time to educate themselves realizes that the true price of that muffin was 14 dollars. That muffin cost a dollar 50, just like everywhere else, and the other 12.50 went to fund something else, a mere tickle of the keys across the keyboard and the balance sheet is silently and secretly adjusted.
Those in the Government may think us ignorant. Those in the Government may think us apathetic.
Those at Fox News may send their laughing lap dog into the streets to hand pick interviews that show the movement in it's worst light, and that's ok. That's what they do, they slander, they mock. They massage the truth until everyone that doesn't fit into their Tea Bag looks like a psychotic, or sadly misinformed.
Don't agree with this statement? Well, you can't negotiate with reality,
I found this article directly under the above video (conflicting views in the same news outlet? Yeah, it's NEWS, not a religion. It's how a NEWS organization SHOULD be run.)
We are not the sheep. We are not the ones that decided that "trickle down economics" sounded like a good idea.
At this point, I feel obligated to point out one very specific bit of information that most of the country seems to have overlooked-We do not live in a DEMOCRACY. We live in a REPRESENTATIVE REPUBLIC. We elect officials to operate on our behalf, so that we can have enough free time to watch reality TV and to do as we please.
Which is great, what good is freedom if you can't use it, but let's be honest here-if you had a job where, once you were hired you had a four year window to do pretty much whatever the hell you wanted to, with no real fear of losing that position due to your employer being dissatisfied with your job, wouldn't you try to parlay those four years into something a little more lucrative, or line your pockets as much as possible for that time, knowing the way the system works?
Oh, you wouldn't? Me neither, I couldn't sleep at night, and my personal needs are not that outlandish, but let me ask you this-could you say the same about all the people you currently work with? Because every cross section of America is a hodge-podge of race, creed, sexual orientation, and moral fortitude.
Once inside, eventually the problems will become rampant.
So, what to do? I have a couple of suggestions.
First-reduce the power of the Federal Government, and have more of it usurped by local and state agencies.
True, it will mean more jobs locally, and possibly in the short term a strained budget. Look around, financially, we're all being told we're already in the seventh circle of hell, so what harm can be done. Who should we be afraid of pissing off, the Chinese?
We're a business arrangement to them, one they tolerate because they need our purchasing power to keep their economy afloat. Trust me, they are laughing at us too, our inability to make ends meet. (Not that they are doing much better, but for now their industrial power is stemming the bleeding. Their revolution will come in time as well).
Eliminate Congress. With the communication technology available today, a physical representative for each state is no longer required in DC. Besides, below I will show how most of the decisions will be made at the local level, and the Governor for each state can step in when the Feds need to be addressed. (My fellow Mainers, if you have a problem with your Governor making these decisions on the states behalf....don't worry, just keep reading ;-)
The President? Again, much less need for continuity here, as most of the decisions will be handled at the local level. The President will still serve a four year term, but terms are capped at 1. No re-elections, and no Political Party is allowed to hold the office for more than one term consecutively. (If you look, it's pretty much this way now anyways).
Second-Have ANNUAL elections, and have every government budget voted on every year at elections time.
We have these inventions today called computers. If you are reading this, I am going to assume that you are familiar with them. We are more connected now than ever before. We have cell phones for when we are away from our computers. We have the ability to communicate at will, at any time. Yet we still require a physical presence to vote?
Think this over, I know many of you have a mistrust of technology. And I have a solution for you as well if you will bear with me.
Watching the video above, the question that everyone had a problem answering was, "Well, if Capitalism isn't working, what would you replace it with?" No one gave a convincing answer, though I suspect that several good ones somehow found their way to the cutting room floor.
I will offer one up here now, and while not perfect, I think that with some work it could do better than what we have now.
The problem with elected Government is that the combination of the Election process, along with the amount of power given to these officials, makes them celebrities. The words of a celebrity in our culture carry great weight, but there are ever expanding options to get your voice heard due to the Internet.
Those in the Tea Party movement like to scoff at the redistribution of wealth as being a foolhardy endeavor. They simply wish to have less taxation, and that be the only reallocation of wealth (from the government back to the people).
And on this point, I agree with them. Government regulated redistribution of wealth puts even more control into the hands of too few. What we need to exact change is a redistribution of POWER.
If power is redistributed from the federal government to the people, then the money will follow.
Alright, to the plan-
- Abolish Federal Income Tax.If it's not being collected, then it cannot be abused. As an alternative, increase state and local taxes. I will give you the reasons why below.
- Make the local (Town) budget (and officials) negotiable by public vote every two years, and make the STATE budget (and officials) negotiable by every two years, each set one year apart. You vote for your Town in 2014. Vote for the State in 2015. Eventually, once the process is streamlined, it could be possibly brought to both being done every year, six months apart.
- Produce a system to allow their votes to be passed electronically at the local level. No one agency should be directly responsible for a large percentage of the votes. Humans are fallible, humans are weak. Corruption will exist if an opportunity arises that allows for it. Accept this about ourselves, and move on.
- Allow those that do not have access to, or have a distrust of, the Internet to file votes at their local library, town office, etc. If you want everyone to vote, you have to make it EASY. Right now, politicians and PAC's don't want EVERYONE to vote. EVERYONE'S opinion is harder to shape.
- Make the vote counting process a public event. No more hiding vote counting behind closed doors. Have security to not allow physical access and to avoid tampering, but allow VIEWING of the votes. announce each one, hold it up for public viewing, as there will always be watchdogs there that will verify the count. This process would not be possible at the federal level, which is why it is being handled at the local one. It may be possible to divide larger cities to make this manageable.
- The local election results are to be posted as soon as the last vote is counted at the local level. No waiting three days for recounts. The count is the count, and since everyone already knows what the count is due to the public counting, there is no disagreement. This also makes the numbers public knowledge for anyone willing to collect them, and independently verifiable. Again, interested individuals allowed to verify the results=transparency. All votes will be required to have a unique identity number attached to them. Only Citizens will be allowed to receive an identity number to vote. Which stands to reason, if you aren't paying taxes, then you shouldn't have a say in how they are spent. Same as today, but the numbers will now only be used to verify authenticity of the voters identity, to avoid illegal votes being cast.
- Once the votes are collected at the local levels, they can rather quickly be accumulated at the state level, having already been verified. A one week period will be allowed for any challenges at the local level, as there always will be questions, and the previously elected officials (re-election is to be abolished, with new appointments every year) are to conduct a public recount and/or any investigation into wrongdoing publicly. The one week period is to make sure that all voices can be heard, but that it doesn't drag down the system as it can now.
- The budget is handled in a balance-able spreadsheet, filled out by each person at the time of voting. It will be filled out ahead of time with the previous years budget, and any shortfalls or windfalls from the previous year will be displayed prominently at the beginning of the budget. It will be clear, concise, and each department will have two paragraphs to describe what their department handles (i.e. what it needs money for), and the second paragraph will be to make it's case for increased funding. The people will be allowed to decide which departments get a bump of cut in funding, NOT the politicians who can be persuaded by gifts. Pork Barrel spending ends at the local level. The spreadsheet will require that it is balanced before it can be submitted. Meaning, if you want to increase funding for transportation because you think the roads need additional help from a localized natural disaster-then YOU will have to decide where that money comes from. If the roads are continually poor after several years of increased funding, it is clear that the money is not being spent efficiently, and it is within every citizens rights to cut their funding. If you think everything is being handled well, or simply don't care? leave everything as is, with minor changes to account for annual surplus/shortfalls. This keeps departments honest, and dare I say-accountable?
- Government will not be allowed to influence currency. The Federal Reserve is to be just another figure on the balance sheet. The resources of the Federal Reserve are to be merely a by-product of the departments that feed into it, each individually voted for funding annually.
- The Federal Government will receive it's money from the STATE. not from the people. The amount paid to the Federal Government will be something that can be voted on as well. The Defense budget, at present point an immense burden, will be trimmed once people begin to see the huge amounts allocated to it, as with other over-funded departments.
You may be thinking to yourself-this will produce anarchy! And to that I say...absolutely not. The people will know that their vote will be counted and not "accidentally" dropped into a trash can if the counter doesn't like what they have to say. This will drive voting rates up substantially. The public will have a voice, and will see their vote in action, from the local level all the way to the Federal Government and the collection of State Governors.
People may say that this is feudalism. People would be partially right, but the part that they are wrong about is that those in power will not be allowed to STAY in power for long enough to break anything in the system very badly, which is the problem now with Senators that are firmly entrenched.
You hate the political back and forth between parties? It will become much harder to dictate an unpopular direction for the country if the party in power only has a single four-year term before having to wait another four.
There is certainly more that would need to be decided to flesh this out, and this may not be the perfect situation, but something along these lines are what is needed, I have no doubt.
Politicians may preach accountability, but the system I have outlined above will REQUIRE it.
Please post any comments, criticisms, and questions below. I welcome a healthy, informed, as well as polite
The time for change is now.
About Chris Godsoe