Jan 4, 2007

What to do Next? Here are some Modest Suggestions.

A New Beginning, or Business as Usual in our Nation's Capitol?

Most of the cheering took place in the early hours of November 8, 2006, but I'm happy to see the change of power in our House today. I wonder if the Republicans still hold the mantra of former House Speaker Hastert, that only the majority of the majority matters? Actually, I do want to see a change under Speaker Pelosi. Here are my suggestions.

Corruption. Public service should be left to people who are really patriots and want to serve their country, not see it as an opportunity for personal financial gain. Bolster the ethics rules and the Ethics Committee. Sunshine is a good disinfectant. Stop the revolving-door practice. I find it offensive that people from an industry (say, oil & energy) come into our government to facilitate their former companies, and, after a brief stint, they go back to the same industry and the big bucks! Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton, did just that a few days ago. [the link will give you more info on other Bush cabinet members too]

Energy. Much about anything relies on proper education. The public needs to be educated on the need for conservation and how to do it. It starts from replacing the incandescent bulbs with the new fluorescent ones that consume 75% less energy, and a simple act of turning off the lights of an empty room. If we could send a man to the moon within a decade, I'm sure we could muscle our resources to come up & implement better energy sources/uses. What we pay for gas at the pump is a small fraction of its cost. Think of all the wars (ours & others'), the adverse health effects, the environment, etc.

Immigration. Com'on, it's about time we look at this seriously and rationally. The US asked for a labor force, but humans came. We've already given amnesty to American employees for using this cheap labor. Even Congress passed legislation (and amnesty) to exempt the Marianna Islands (US Territory) from immigration & labor laws--and allowing slave-like conditions to persist there. The immigrants who have invested a great deal in this country and have been within the law after their initial trespass should be given residency and a path to citizenship immediately. It's a fair and smart thing to do. Immigration may save
our Social Security too.[I'll return to this subject in the near future]

Internet. Information is power and access to many goods & services is often a few clicks away, if you can afford it. I advocate free and fast Internet for everyone. It'd take about $4 billion to construct wi-fi networks that would cover 80% of the US. Maybe another billion to extend it to the very remote, sparsely-populated areas. In the modern age, our country already has fallen behind. Korea and Japan, for example, have 100-times better (and faster) networks, because our Telcos have been in bed (asleep) with our government. [Where's the ..unbridled free market forces here?]

Education. I've made my case through many posts here, but if we believe having a highly-educated populace in the US is good, we've got to make higher education more accessible--which translates into more affordable. Education should not be a privilege, but a right. Yes, students have to take this opportunity seriously too--I teach at a university, so I see the lack of interest & proper attitude--but the amount of ignorance in this country is astounding. For example, more than half believe the universe is less than 6,000 years old, not to mention other scientific knowledge. Some 44% believe in prophesy, that the end of the world is near, and that Jesus will return to Earth in their lifetime.

Economy. We need smart economics that preserves the middle class. America was considered the land of opportunity, of equality of opportunity. Today, class is the most determinant factor in a person's future success. In the last 30 years, it's become harder to move up (more chance to go down), and the gap between the very rich and the rest of us is growing--this would presumably be OK if it improved the lives of most people. But it hasn't. Even Oprah says so.

Healthcare. It's obscene that we don't have a universal healthcare system. Well, maybe we do, if you say that we have a crazy system whereas the cost of treatment for the uninsured means two things: financial ruin for the patient, and transferring the cost of his treatment to the insured. Oh, add to this the cost of a vast bureaucracy buried in paperwork, and the profits of the many agents/actors involved in this scheme. We pay 16-17% of our GDP for healthcare, more than any other country. Others universal care, so we have many models to examine. We should extend Medicare to all Americans.

We have a representative system in order to have a say in what our government does for us. Right? It's about time we demand government for & by the people--not for & by the special and narrow interests. On the other hand, we have to realize that we cannot change our politics unless we change the people we send to Washington! We gave the Dems an opportunity; lets keep their feet to the fire. I understand, the president is divorced from reality and he's beyond reason--we have to wait until the 2008 election. But, the process begins in a few months, when we'll have more choices among candidates. Let's pay attention.

We have to remain interested and engaged in the affairs of our commonwealth. The quality of our politics reflects the people involved.


Anonymous said...

Yes, most often the real choices are in the primaries, not in the general election.

Kelly said...

Excellent suggestions. I'll be happy if the Dems enact legislation on a couple of the items you put forth.

It'll be hard, since Bush will have to sign on to any leglislation, for he's got Veto-proof power in this Congress.

On the other hand, even if reasonable legislation is vetoed, then more of a reason to elect a Dem to the WHite House in 20 months.... Gosh, I can't wait.

Anonymous said...

Sweet (but harmless) revenge. Charlie Rangel, the new Ways & Means Chairman, kicked out Cheney from the best office in the House! That sends a message. Btw, Cheney didn't need an office in the HOUSE (his only business is in the Senate), but he had an office in the House to arm-twist Congress....

Samantha said...

I listened to many speeches of the incoming leadership and I like what I hear. I'm watching CSPAN now and I'm very impressed with the substance of the issues they're talking about. I hope it's not only talk, and that they won't compromise with the Repubs on vital legislation. Better not get a new law, than a flawed one. This holds true for so many issues.

Anyway, I'm hopeful after so many years of dispair.
Thanks for your suggestions.

Anonymous said...
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drew said...

Yes, the people have an important role to play, and it ain't just complainin...

Today, it's so easy to contact your elected officials... it's called email! Let them know. IF enough people were more involved and paid attention politics would've been better.

alter ego said...

Well, I think we need to do several things, a comprehensive approach if you like. If half the people believe in superstition (ie the end of times within 50 years), it's very hard to promote science and measures to protect the environment!

Anne said...
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Anne said...

I'm so thrilled to see the first woman as Speaker of the House! (and a Democrat too!)

Andros said...

A few housekeeping points:
* I read all the comments; it just takes a while, because I don't have the time to be actively looking at this blog all the time.
* After a few days, when I feel the topic has been exhausted, I don't publish more comments and "close" the topic. Again, I'm notified by email every time a comment is submitted and I read it.
* Although I welcome any point that can contribute something to the discussion, this is a private forum and I don't allow just ANY comment to be published. I believe in the free exchange of ideas, but this is not my full-time job (to moderate this blog) and, as you know, there are many, many opportunities for everyone to express anything somewhere on the Internet.
* This blog's aim [at least up to now] has been to put forth a progressive, liberal perspective, and to strengthen the voice of this community.

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