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If I Were the power behind the President

None of America's current political parties, whether major, minor, or insignificant, have a platform that matches well to even half of my personal views. If I were independently wealthy, I'd start a new party. Since I'm not, I'll just post my plans here and freely offer them for adoption.

Dollars, Taxes
Small Government. Washington DC should only regulate (and fund) things that affect the nation as a whole. Eliminate any federal department whose actions are predominantly local. Return their budgets directly to the states where the taxes came from. Here's your money back, buy your own stop signs as you see fit.
Balance the damn budget. If you propose new spending, you must also show where the money will come from.
Lobbyists and loopholes be damned; it's time to simplify the tax code drastically. My proposal:
  1. Net income (all sources, minus deductions) is taxed at a flat rate, maybe 20%. Thanks to smaller government (see above) and easier forms, total costs will be lower for almost everyone.
  2. With a linear code, a couple filing jointly will have the same tax bill as if the two individuals divided their assets and filed separately.
  3. Each adult gets a personal deduction worth 2000 hours (1 full-time year) of current minimum wage. Please refer to this amount as a Wage Minimum Deduction (WMD).
  4. Working-age adults who declare one or more dependent children receive 1 additional WMD (maximum of 4 WMD for a multi-child two-parent family). This has the added benefit of encouraging every family, rich or poor, to have exactly two kids (aka ZPG).
  5. All other deductions must be itemized: recognized charitable giving, mortgage interest, business expenses, etc.
  6. Changes to the tax code may occur only in three specific ways: the flat rate number, the minimum wage (affecting the WMD), and the list of allowable deductions. Do not under any circumstances create special tax status for anything.
  7. Frankie's alternative minimum tax: 5% of gross income (no deductions). This means that even the poor will pay a little tax, and even the wealthy have a limit to how much they can cook the books. The middle-class is likely to be unaffected. Frankie's second alternate AMT: additional 5% for personal income beyond 10 WMD (20 for couples).
  8. The same rules (including AMT) for corporate income tax. If "Foo Corp" claims $1 billion in revenue on their Wall Street report, they better pay at least $50 million in tax.
Social Security is doomed, but at least stretch it a while longer by reducing the COLA, increasing the payroll cap, and eliminating non-payroll loopholes.
Online sales should be taxed if and only if all remote sales (mail order, telephone, etc) are taxed the same way.
Retire the penny.
Drastically scale back the Dept of Education (among many others) to be only a clearinghouse of resources & curricula. Refund the rest of its budget.
Allow school choice and voucher programs on the state or local level, including parochial schools. However, any school accepting government funds must have open admissions and retention policies equivalent to those of public schools. You can't just cherry-pick the best students and leave the rest to rot.
Eliminate admission preferences based on race or ethnicity; reach out to all students from poor backgrounds. Colin Powell's grandchildren (for example) don't need any special breaks.
Addendum: personal recommendations based on my experience as an educator, which should not be codified as federal law since the federal government should not be in charge of schools or their funding:
  • Elementary school (grades K - 4) should focus on language development. Young children's brains are wired and ready to learn languages. Every K-12 student should be taught fluency in English and at least one other language. Further, every district/system should offer at least log10(#students) total languages.
  • Middle school (grades 5 - 8) should emphasize critical thinking & the sciences. I'd also encourage single-gender middle schools. Puberty and school are a difficult combination at best. Middle school is when most girls slack off academically due to peer pressure; removing competition with boys alleviates this.
  • Science education should focus on the prinicples of logic, the scientific method, correlation vs causation, etc. In particular, every 8th grade student should design & conduct at least one complete experiment, with a testable hypothesis, methodology, and analysis of confounding factors.
  • High school (grades 9 - 12) should use subject-based magnets. Prepare for your future with science schools, art schools, vocational schools, etc. Most courses should involve more practical application. Math should require probability, statistics, and some economics.
  • State colleges should automatically accept the top N percent of graduates from each in-state high school, where N is no less than half of that school's overall acceptance rate. Furthermore, some (or all) of those students should be eligible for need-based full tuition scholarships.
Support Verifiable Voting Elections & Voting
First and foremost, I'd require Verified Voting. No computer fraud allowed!
I'd push all states to adopt Approval Voting. Plurality Voting (our current system) is one of the worst ways to decide among multiple choices. Approval Voting has been mathematically proven to be better than Plurality (or even IRV), and it also avoids the complexity & paradoxes that plague numerical ranking systems like Borda and Condorcet. It's also supported by all current voting machines.
I'd push all states to ditch winner-take-all electoral voting, and use district-based electors like Maine. Each vote has an increased chance of affecting the outcome, and politicians can't merely pander to 51% of the state.
Speaking of voting districts, I'd eliminate Gerrymandering:
  1. Both state & federal voting districts should follow county lines whenever possible.
  2. If a district spans multiple counties, no more than two of those counties may be shared with other districts. Any other counties must be wholly contained within the district.
  3. If a county spans multiple districts, no more than two of those districts may be shared with other counties. Any other districts must be wholly contained within the county.
  4. When drawing district lines within a county, the 3 rules above must be applied to municipalities.
  5. District lines within a municipality may not cut across clearly-defined neighborhoods.
Energy, Economy, Ecology
I'd simplify vehicle standards by merging light trucks with passenger cars, non-light trucks with commercial vehicles, and off-road vehicles (dirt bikes, snow machines, jetskis, etc) with motorcycles. Fewer rules, fewer loopholes.
I'd tell Israel to get its settlers out of Gaza & the West Bank. Have NATO or the UN send in a lot of peacekeepers with broad authority. Palestine leads to peace leads to petroleum.
Remember that corporate personhood is a legal fiction granting limited rights to entities that should "serve the public good".
Copyrights shall have limited times to benefit the public, as stated in the Constitution.
Any USPTO employee who grants a clearly frivolous patent gets a mandatory demotion of their federal pay grade.
Puppeteer Rights and Wrongs
Fundamental Theorem of States Rights: wherever feasible, return governmental power to the individual states. Repeal federal laws about most matters that do not affect multiple states simultaneously (pollution, defense, banking, etc).
Abortion: let the states decide for themselves about early-term abortions (and costs thereof). After a fetus reaches viability, it should be considered a person with full rights.
Death Penalty: let the states decide for themselves whether to kill people, understanding that execution is neither prevention nor justice. It's revenge.
Gay Rights: let the states decide for themselves how to defend the sanctity of marriage.
Gun Control: let the states decide for themselves how to well-regulate their own militias. This includes the right to allow, reject, or levy interstate gun shipments and in-state transactions.
Tort Reform: rather than set artificial caps on damages, just repair the incentives. Plaintiffs may collect awards for both actual losses (e.g. burned house or lost job) and personal harm (e.g. maimed limb or failed kidney), but any punitive awards must be paid to the court as a civil fine. Ambulance chasers will no longer be able to extract mega-buck fees for relatively minor incidents, and the government gets bonus revenue.
War on Drugs: Is marijuana really any worse than alcohol or tobacco? Allow states to regulate all three of them as they see fit, including the right to allow, reject, or levy interstate shipments and in-state transactions.
Personally, I would recommend sin taxes proportional to drug content. As for harder drugs, if we reduce the demand, the supply curve will follow.
Foreign Policy
(Note: if you haven't already, here's where you'll decide I've gone too far)
Never start a fight, but always finish it. Diplomacy and open communication are first, best, and foremost, but make sure that your "Plan B" is decisive.
Refocus the UN: many of the criticisms against the UN result from the combination of overly broad goals combined with absurdly weak enforcement capability. The UN should do humanitarian aid, arms control, and not much else, but it should do those things well with a soft voice and a big stick.
Blue Thunder Squadron: Imagine that as soon as a local genocide begins, the UN launches attack helicopters (and appropriate logistic support). If the fighting hasn't stopped by the time the choppers arrive, they open fire on any armed combatants. Who'd win: 3000 horsemen with machetes & torches or 30 Apaches with chainguns & nightvision? Make sure all the world's bullies know there's a much bigger bully watching them.

...more later.

Creative Commons License Go to Frankie's Politics Page, or wherever you came from. Last updated: 2006 March 4