Thursday, November 12, 2009

Eight Modest Proposals

Here are a few points I posted over at Truthdig the other day, which I thought were worth repeating here.

1. Reinstate a progressive tax system. The first $30,000 of an individual’s income should not be taxed since it is probably the minimum necessary for basic living expenses. All compensation or consideration, including deferred consideration for insiders, over $250,000 should be taxed at 90%. Any amount paid by a business to any employee in excess of $250,000 in a year should not be tax deductible by the business. Eliminate capital gains and other preferential tax laws which allow rich people to avoid paying taxes. Tax estates at 90% of everything over $500,000.00. Eliminate the sales tax and all other fees which are regressive and have a more severe impact on lower-income people (i.e. the soda pop tax).

2. Make it illegal for any politician to take anything of value, or for anyone to offer anything of value to any politician, for any purpose whatsoever. This includes cash, contributions to campaigns, jobs for spouses and kids. Prison time for those who ignore the law.

3. Make all politicians comply with strict new blue sky laws. Make it illegal for any communications to take place between any politician or their associates and any person or entity on any subject that could, under any conceivable circumstances, come before the body of which that politician is a member. End the private meetings like the ones Obama had with the health industry. No more secret communications. Everything must be public. E-mails, phone calls, luncheons, dinners—everything must be public, recorded and posted online within 24 hours. This is equally offensive when Obama has secret meetings and cuts deals with the health insurance industry, and when Cheney has secret meetings and cuts deals with the oil industry. These politicians work for us, and they have no right to have any secret communications with anyone unless it involves a life or death national security issue. Something like the identity of an undercover CIA agent.

4. End the private charities. They are just a tax cons. People put money into a private account under their own name, call it a “charity,” pay out 5%/year, and avoid paying taxes on the money they put into that account. Cap the tax deduction for charitable contributions to $1,000/person per year.

5. Make it illegal for any politician to work for, or accept anything of value from, any person or business which had any dealings with the body to which the politician belonged for a period of 5 years after the politician leaves offices.

6. Stop expecting the Democrats to help us. Let’s make our own platform and tell politicians that we will only support them, and vote for them, if they commit to our platform.

7. Recommit the national government to serving the people. Not the businesses. Businesses are not citizens. Politicians have no right to put the interests of businesses or foreign nations in front of those of the citizens. Yet the opposite is our current situation. The government proudly announces that they have saved the banks and brokerage houses, they have saved Iraq, they are sending the military to occupy Columbia, they are standing firm behind Israel. What about the citizens of this country? Where are our jobs? Where is our national healthcare plan? Where is our pension program? We are supposed to be first, and none of those other groups should even be on the list. We the people, just us folks.

8. The national government must immediately create and implement a plan for our nation’s future which includes a living wage and good jobs for all citizens, a fully-funded government-provided pension, a national healthcare system (perhaps modeled on the one in Israel funded 1/3 by business, 1/3 by individuals, 1/3 by a government fund, and to include dental), and a new national housing plan which requires all communities to build apartments and affordable condominiums, because the suburban single family residence is economically and environmentally unsustainable.

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