Archive for the ‘Saving The Country’ Category

IDEA: How would America really vote?

Idea

Image by annais via Flickr

DISCLAIMER: I post ideas here as they come to me with the thought that somebody else may see them and express an interest in developing them or working with me to develop them. Of course, there’s nothing to keep you from going off and developing an idea on your own, but you should know that this blog tracks the times and dates of my posts and updates to them, which could be considered my copyright. All I ask is that if you like an idea you read about on my site and you want to pursue it, you make an effort to include me in the development as much as I want to be –which may be not at all. If I had time to develop every idea that came to me, I would do so instead of posting them here. 😉

Background…

Technology has come to a point where it would be possible to create a true democracy: one without representatives, one in which every person has a vote on every issue. Obviously, there are a number of reasons why this is not practical even if it is possible, but don’t you sometimes find yourself looking at how our representatives vote on something and catch yourself thinking “there is no way that vote represents the feelings of the bulk of the people in my state”?

You can’t trust polling services because their sample population is always too small. You can’t trust politicians because the surest way to know someone in Washington, D.C. is lying is to hear them speak a number. Jon Kyl‘s recent proving of this was both horrifying and hilarious.

So here’s what I propose…

  • Let’s create a website that anybody can join. Most information on the site would be available to all members, some would be only available to paying members as a bonus for their contribution.
  • On this site, we will have a daily posting of all of the issues being discussed in the House and Senate with special attention being paid to anything being voted upon that day. Each issue will have it’s own thread that will include a summary of the proposed legislation, links to the legislation for site viewers to review and a count of each of the members of congress and how they voted on the bill.
  • Members of the site will be able to enter their own vote (Yes/No/Abstain/Put this aside until later), which they will be able to change up until voting is finished in the House and Senate for the bill.
  • As site members vote, their votes will be compared to the members of congress and site members will be able to see how their representatives stack up against them personally.
  • Similarly, site members will be able to see stats on how often the actual vote was similar or different from that of the site members; how individual congress member’s votes stack up next to the votes of the site members.
  • We will invite essays from pundits on all sides of an issue for consideration by the site members.
  • There will also be daily polls for issues not being discussed in either branch of congress (What do you think the yearly salary of a senator/representative should be? What do you think is the most important issue for congress to address today? etc.)

What do you think? What would you change/add? Want to help me build it? Please comment below. I have been thinking about this project for a long time and would have done it myself if I had 1/8 of the technical skill needed to pull off something this complex. My intent would be to invite donations from site members to keep it going plus some limited advertising (like if one of the essayists has a book out, we would link to it on Amazon so we could get a cut of sales from our members), and I would gladly split any profits with any and all team members for the time they are involved in the project.

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SAVING THE COUNTRY: Helping “Sheriff Joe”

Vice President Joe Biden L'68

Sheriff Joey B. Image via Wikipedia

I’m on The President’s email list, and while I’m offended at how they use it most of the time for empty propaganda, it does occasionally give me some interesting food for thought. This email came today “from the VP”:

Good morning,

Did you know that the government spends millions to maintain buildings that have sat vacant for years? Or that your tax dollars pay to needlessly ship copies of the Federal Register to thousands of government offices across the country even though the same information is available online?

And I bet you didn’t know that your tax dollars pay for a website dedicated to the Desert Tortoise. I’m sure it’s a wonderful species, but we can’t afford to have a standalone site devoted to every member of the animal kingdom. It’s just one of hundreds of government websites that should be consolidated or eliminated.

This kind of waste is just unacceptable. Particularly at a time when we’re facing tough decisions about reducing our deficit, it’s a no-brainer to stop spending taxpayer dollars on things that benefit nobody.

That’s why President Obama asked me to head up the Campaign to Cut Waste—a new effort to root out wasteful spending at every agency and department in the Federal Government.

Like millions of American families, the Federal Government has to take a hard look at spending and live within its means…

…And that’s exactly what I intend to do with the help of a new Government Accountability and Transparency Board, a group composed of independent inspectors general and high-level agency officials who will help me root out waste, fraud and abuse across the government. Helping me ensure that your tax dollars are being spent on things that matter, like investments in education, innovation and improving our infrastructure.

Sincerely,
Vice President Joe Biden

P.S. If you’re interested in keeping up with our progress in hunting down wasteful spending, you can sign up for regular email updates.

Here’s the reply I sent back that he’ll never see:

Dear VP/Sherriff Joe:

Put me on the committee and mail me a copy of the accounts. I’ll be happy to red-line until I run out of ink. For starters, how about we combine resources and scale back the 10+ levels of law enforcement we have watching over every American?
Maybe we could get rid of lifelong pensions for senators that only serve for a couple years as well. That job was never intended to be lucrative, it was intended to be a service. The burden that paying for elderly statesmen that spent their tenure gouging their constituency puts on the US income is gross and borderline treasonous.
Seriously, I’d be happy to help, just give me a ring.
Mat Weller
Reading, PA
matweller.com

My question to you is this: what programs or other government funded ventures do you know of that we could do without? I’m not talking about the urban legend-y $5 Million study to find out why kids fall off bikes, I mean things you actually know about.

My favorite part of the movie Dave is when the fake President and his friend stay up all night red-lining useless waste from the budget. I have often fantasized at how different this world would be if I could do that.

I’m going to keep this post open and add more things I think about as they come to me, and I welcome you to do the same.

SAVING THE COUNTRY: Revitalizing Major Cities

PROBLEM: The US and it’s cities need companies to pay their taxes in order to continue providing valuable public services in a down economy. However, corporations tend to move into an area for tax incentives, and then abandon it as soon as that locale tries to impose tax of any kind.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because the debacle that is Detroit’s situation has been in the news a lot and because I live in a city where so much industry has abandoned that the hospital has become the biggest employer we have left.

Now, let me say that I am opposed to federal government controlling more than it needs to, but this situation has grown to crisis proportions in so many areas that I think there are situations where a new view is needed and there is room for a hybrid federal-local approach that can make everybody happy.

What I propose is this: a federal law that says every company is subject to the same federal, state and local taxes as the people living in the same area. The Supreme court has already ruled (in a topic that I’ll address later) that companies are entities like individual people. I say if that is true, then they need need to assume some of the same responsibilities as people and not just the perks.

A law like I propose here would leave state and local governments the right to lure industry in with tax breaks, provided that it gave the same benefits to its citizens.

The localities get the tax revenue they need, the citizens get the comfort of knowing they’re on an even playing field with the companies in their areas, and the companies know that no matter where they go, they’re subject to the same laws.

Am I being way too simple about this, or does it make good common sense? I welcome the discussion.

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