On Things I’d like to see

So I do a lot of mumbling and pontificating and sermonizing, but, oddly enough, where I enjoy the stuff the most is in the crafting of stuff.

Not things, but policies — I enjoy challenges that interest me, you see, and among the challenges that are most fascinating is fixing social problems.  Comes from the predictive side of my work, I suppose, but there is absolutely left over crap from that period in my life where when someone said to me that I could’t do it, I went and did it.

Obstinacy and issues with Authority. Bad combination.

I have in the past (and on the previous version of this site) noted that I dislike the automobile infrastructure in the US — and that’s something that goes back to before global warming was a thing. It is part of my interest in the wild and natural world, and the damage and seemingly impossible scars we have left on the planet in the last 60 years.

But then, I tend towards an agrarian outlook, which is unrealistic, but mighty appealing to someone who has been surrounded by tales of The Frontier her entire life, and lived among the places and the byways that make up the Old West.

I mention that because it is important to know that the things I want to see are distinct from the things I would love to have become a reality within my life — most of what I think of is either inevitable or as unlikely as a tower made of ivory floating in a cloud.

Note that an Ivory Tower would involve the death of an enormous number of living creatures, some currently unobtainable technology, and likely the net worth of half the incoming Administration’s Cabinet.

So, yeah, no ivory towers for me.

Among the major changes to US law and policy I would like to see are the ones I have recently noted:

Setting the base of our legal system so that Law and Justice must serve Human Rights.

Making a thorough list of Human Rights currently known and placing them into law — into the constitution itself, but basic law is good enough for me right now.

There are others, however.  Some I haven’t spoken of recently, and some I am not sure I have spoken of ever. So let’s get into those, real quick.

I would like to see…

  1. Constitutional term Limits on the Federal Congress of five terms, effective immediately, with a reduction of one term every election for the next two, meaning that on the third election cycle, those who are elected will be able to serve a maximum of three terms. This is because we need to undercut the system of professional politicians, without sacrificing the seniority system — to do so would tremendously disrupt the function of the Congress.
  2. Apportionment changes so that no individual House of Representatives member represents more than 100,000 people, and no less than 50,000.  This would shatter much of the current structure, slow down the rate at which any given party could dominate the legislative process, and create a more responsive Congress.  It would also necessitate building a new Congress building. Jobs!
  3. Reductions of around 40% in the Military spending budget. Increases to the budget for Ocean Exploration, Space Exploration, Space Colonization, and Education – this last with an equal emphasis on Arts and Culture as there is on STEM and basic Language skills. From that reduction of the Military budget. This is because if we invest in these areas, the benefit to the military will be greater than any expenditure given directly to them.
  4. Corporations to have three restrictions placed on them: taxes without deductions on all business conducted within the Nation, a requirement that they place social good over profits, and that they lose the recognition of personhood they are granted. In terms of liability, the corporation can still provide for the protection of the shareholders and officers.
  5. A maximum wage to accompany the minimum wage. This seems reasonable to me, and there is significant math to support it in terms of increasing the amount of wealth present in the economy at large.
  6. The elimination of Pensions and Health Care benefits for the Federal Government that are not consistent with the equivalent benefits for the majority of Americans.  That is, yeah, if the majority of Americans have great health care, then they do — but if not, then they don’t.
  7. A limit on the amount of time that an in office Representative (at any level) can spend campaigning or fundraising to campaign, not to exceed 120 days. This particular one will run afoul of Citizens United and some related rulings of SCOTUS, as it places them at a disadvantage in relation to those who are not in office. Which, to be frank, I don’t give a shit about. They are elected to represent, not run for office.
  8. That federal officials be subject to recall. Like several others here, this one requires a constitutional amendment, so is highly unlikely under the current political structure.
  9. That political Parties be easier to form,  and that funding for them, by any means, be structured so that no party can rely on greater funding than any other party (as being less well funded is, under Citizens United, effectively a limit on their freedom of speech). By easier to form, I mean that if one percent of all voters in a given precinct decide to form a party, and submit their signatures and have them validated, that they are officially a party so formed. Combining this one with the apportionment one from earlier would not only devastate the two party system, it would create a more parliamentary effect in our bicameral Legislature, as in order to get something done, there will need to be greater cooperation.
  10. The abolition of the Electoral College. That, however, is less likely than a law which needs to passed in all the states which assigns electoral votes as representative of the popular vote. Also, this second solution is more elegant, since it will screw with the gerrymandering mathematics.
  11. Requirements that redistricting be structured so as to be as diverse as possible according to age, race, gender, wealth, ethnicity, disability, and party, with no district having a greater population than any other or a greater percentage than 3% in any majority.

That’s just 11 things I would like to see. The major reason behind most of them is that it is important to invest in the Citizens of the US — all of them. The current system, at 240 years or so, has been patched now and again, but still requires massive and necessary changes to be more effective in a population of 500 million.

Yes, that is a ways off — but not that long, and if we aren’t planning now for it, when it gets here, we will have to deal with problems.

There are other things as well — better systems and opportunities for Native Americans is a big one, as is dealing with the Territories of the US (PR, looking at you).

1,7, and 8 all require Constitutional Amendments. The ideal of 10 does as well, but that’s why there is the alternative solution.

4, 7, 9, 10, and 11 can all be done at the State level.

Now, a few folks, right about now, are wondering why I didn’t mention anythig about rights in any of those.

Let me remind you of the two points not listed with the others, but noted before it.

The first one being a change to law that all Law and Justice must be in service to Human Rights.

The second one being essentially putting my Line into law — and no, it doesn’t have to be in the constitution off the bat, but it if we get it into law, then it will get there pretty quickly.

That line in the sand is what some folks like to call an “evolving” or “living document” for me — and perusal of it will reveal changes I make now and again.  Like the two I made while writing this post, that I should have made a while back but forgot to do so.

This is important.  That Line contains the 30 human rights currently recognized in the UDHR, plus the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols, and then it adds the Yogyakarta principles into it.  So, basically, it is the International Bill of Rights. The format is different (I wrote it following some of the conventions used in state and federal law in the US), but the rights are all there.

The US has yet to officially make them part of its law.

I am often encouraging people to read The Line.  It isn’t exciting to do, and some folks have said it is too legalistic.  But it isn’t. It is pretty direct.  It still needs work.

But the reason I encourage them to read it is to recognize that these are the fundamental human rights that everyone has — and we are not always granted them because of the systemic oppression that we face, even in the US.

If I harp on Human Rights a lot, and I argue against certain political outlooks or ideologies, it is because of those rights.  First and foremost. It isn’t because I dont like your party — if I don’t like your party, it is because your party doesn’t respect those rights

The same goes for your politics. It is, without any exception, the Line in the Sand that you draw, and then you look at people and say that’s it.  That is the point I will not cross.

What’s your Line in the sand? What is your party’s line in the sand? If you don’t know them, then you cannot follow them. And I am willing to bet that most of you have never really sat down and thought about it.

My list incorporates the criticisms of the American Anthropological Association (you know, scientists) who noted the imperialism and colonialism that Western cultures have embraced (and that were the norms when the idea of Human Rights was first broached), as well as the Asian Values criticisms that favor economic development.

I did so because, well, the science is pretty sound, the criticisms valid, and, in the end, it does not alter the central concepts that underlie the greater idea — indeed, as with pretty much all the efforts towards diversity, it makes them stronger.

And this is so incredibly important — if you oppose just one human right, you are, no matter what, opposing Human Rights. Because they are all interconnected and dependent on each other.

So take a look at it.  A close look. A look and a study and if you don’t like something in there, figure out why and then then remember that human rights have to apply to everyone — even people you do not know, and perhaps most especially to people you dislike, strongly or otherwise.

The Line is here.