(Concerning Some Modest Economic Proposals)
To participate in THE CONSENSUS PROJECT:
> Read PART FOUR below; > state your thoughts about the numbered consensus items by clicking on “LEAVE A REPLY” at bottom of this page. At the least, please give each Consensus Item a score in a range of 1 to 5, where 1 = Hate it and 5 = Love it. (NOTE: Further details on these and many other proposals for changing our economy are available in the book Populist Corrections accessible on this blog’s home page.)
> If these proposals interest you please Invite Others into The Consensus Project by clicking on the media icons at the end of each Part (email is under the “+” icon). After 100 people respond, I will post summaries on fixypopulist.com for all to see. Thank You.
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PART FOUR: LOCKING IN THE FIXES
Innovation & Conservation. The Cooperatives Bank of America (CBA) will strongly promote co-ops’ development of heavy-lifter dirigibles [The Consensus Project #24] to revolutionize American industrial transportation, drastically reduce its costs, and wholly replace the trucking and airline industries, thereby eliminating their profligate exhausting of carbon dioxide pollution into the atmosphere. The CBA will urgently promote a National Cisterns Project [The Consensus Project #25] designed to halt and reverse the growing shortages of clean water in much of the water-blessed USA. With cisterns catching the free rainwater all over the USA and common sense governing the project, we will outlaw installing new water mains and diverting whole rivers for human use. Most dams will be removed, [The Consensus Project #26] natural river flows and wetlands will be restored, and watering lawns will be prohibited. A “National Service To America Corps,” [The Consensus Project #27] a modern version of the Civilian Conservation Corps and successor to AmeriCorps, will be created to employ large numbers of young men and women in these and other major public works, thereby helping them understand the personal growth that comes through service to others by personally experiencing it.
Taxes ethically restructured. Sales taxes on consumer goods and services, which harm the poor disproportionately more than they affect higher-income consumers who can more easily afford life’s basic essential goods and services, egregiously contradict the constitutional mandate to promote the general welfare and will be permanently abolished [The Consensus Project #28] throughout the United States of America. Income tax obligations will be reset [The Consensus Project #29] to the percentage gradations prevailing in 1950. Wealth and inheritance taxes will be reset to sixty percent (60%) [The Consensus Project #30] to 1) prevent the nation’s common wealth from accruing generationally to an increasingly smaller minority of wealthy citizens; and 2) to help fund a Life Opportunity Voucher (LOV) for every child born in the USA, its territories, possessions and colonies (such as Guam and Puerto Rico). Upon high school graduation or age 18, every young American will be enrolled in the National Service To America Corps (NSTAC) [The Consensus Project #31] for three years—alternatively, military enlistment will fulfill this obligation. NSTAC will include a special program for the disabled. Upon completing NSTAC or military service, the LOV may be redeemed, up to age 30, to pay for college education or to help finance an entrepreneurial business startup.
American citizens found to have untaxed money unpatriotically hidden away in foreign bank accounts, including citizens in charge of organizations that are found to have untaxed money disloyally hidden away in foreign bank accounts, will be summoned and given a choice [The Consensus Project #32] to 1) bring their money home and fully pay all back taxes plus fines and penalties and pledge their allegiance (allegiance that is real and true, not that pro forma rote recitation) to America, or 2) bring the money home, pay the back taxes, fines and penalties anyway, relinquish their U.S. citizenship and leave.
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Other desirable fixes. This could go on quite a while, for needed fixes by the dozens tumble in my mind, wanting out—a personal in-my-head new New Deal Equivalent of experimentation and beneficial social innovation updated for relevance to our modern situation. It includes several constitutional amendments, profoundly deep educational reforms, and quite a lot more. Indeed there’s ninety-five of them spelled out in a book I call “Populist Corrections” (see home page at fixypopulist.com). I’ll begin wrapping up this article with a few examples.
Affordable housing. [The Consensus Project #33] With affordable housing being problematic throughout the nation, and affordable housing being an economic right long neglected by American developers and amoral economists, NSTAC’s first assignment direct from the President will be to lay to rest the nationwide housing shortage by training thirty thousand NSTAC enrollees within six weeks to build, in every community, comfortable houses that are quite affordable under a living wage income for first-time home buyers under age thirty and renters of any age. This initiative will be launched in expectation that many young people so trained will continue to build affordable housing as entrepreneurs after completing their three-year NSTAC service obligation. If perchance they do not, co-ops will of course take up the slack to prevent an affordable housing shortage from ever arising again in this fantastically wealthy nation.
Immigration permanent fix. [The Consensus Project #34] The obvious fix: 1) Immediate unconditional citizenship for all persons brought here as children, the only life they know; 2) a one-time last-ever amnesty and citizenship offer to the ten million(+) longtime illegal immigrants who willingly apply and comply with all requirements of the amnesty; 3) deportation and lifetime debarment for any immigrant who enters our nation illegally or otherwise violates the immigration laws we, like every nation, must rightfully maintain; 4) severe fines for U.S. employers who hire illegal immigrants, with truly vile penalties for employers who exploit poor, vulnerable workers and pay slave wages while bleating that they can’t find Americans willing to work; 5) new U.S. Regional Population Carrying Capacity Assessments to guide regional planning and policies of federal and state agencies through this century.
Cheap continuous sustainable energy. [The Consensus Project #35] Extremely low-cost electricity constantly generated by thousands of horizontal tube turbines submerged along both banks of America’s thousands of miles of rivers, the turbines turned by the constant river currents, more than ample to meet our nationwide energy needs for centuries ahead on a decentralized national smart grid, all implemented on an expedited schedule over the next five years. Massive federally-sponsored R&D on 1) long-charge cheap batteries and energy-storage alternatives, 2) on exponentially increasing the efficiency of the riverine tube turbines, which flow day and night year around, and 3) the efficiency of solar and wind power generation which work only when the sun shines and the wind blows. Conversion within five years to renewable energy at all U.S. Government buildings and facilities including military bases, and within seven years at all state-owned facilities in all states that accept a penny’s worth of federal matching funds or grants. A Nuclear Fusion Initiative will offer $50 million dollar prize to anyone who presents a design and plan for safely making electricity by nuclear fusion within the next ten years.
Millions of new rural and urban jobs. 1) A National Family Farm Restoration Initiative [The Consensus Project #36] transferring twenty million acres of farmland at rock bottom prices from [formerly] corporate ownership to young farmers, with federally sponsored training and low-cost loans to buy affordable good used farm equipment; 2) A National Urban Truck Farming Initiative [The Consensus Project #37] creating tens of thousands of new jobs and organic crops, with massive recycling of compostable waste crops, food and leftovers; 3) An Appalachia Leads America Initiative [The Consensus Project #38] creating thousands of new entrepreneurial and co-op enterprises suited to mountainous terrain, with unemployed coal miners receiving priority for a million new jobs; 4) another version of the same thing with hiring preference for Native Americans [The Consensus Project #39]; 5) the aforementioned National Cisterns Project to capture naturally distilled rainwater for every home and building in the USA to fullest extent feasible, beginning in arid areas now experiencing water shortages most severely; 6) Conversion of industrial rust-belt wastelands into modern neighborhoods [The Consensus Project #40] with residential variety, ample retail outlets, schools, parks, entertainment, new entrepreneurial employers, urban farming and new governments.
Transportation. The aforementioned heavy-lifter dirigibles and a nationwide high-speed rail passenger system [The Consensus Project #41] will be brought to full use over the next ten years. A ten-year moratorium on construction of new interstate highways , [The Consensus Project #42], effective immediately across the United States, will automatically renew unless amended. Massive maintenance needed on Interstate highways, bridges and associated infrastructure will use tax dollars that would otherwise have been spent building still more new interstate highways and ring roads. These measures will 1) begin the great transition from cars to public transportation, and 2) walking access to consumable economic rights within most communities across America.
Stop and reverse global warming. [The Consensus Project #43] 1) Assisted by NSTAC enrollees, dismantle all fossil fuel power plants—coal first—as rapidly as possible through a National One On, One Off (NOOOO) policy that shuts down a fossil-fuel facility every time equivalent capacity of sustainable energy comes online in the form of riverine tube turbine, solar and wind generators; 2) phase out f—ing fracking over three years; 3) outlaw new oil and gas wells, new coal mines, and burning coal in the USA; 4) by Congressional fiat totally (meaning totally) restore all energy- and environmentally-relevant federal regulations that were abolished or degraded between 2016 and 2021; 5) convert all new US cars and small trucks to electric motors within three years with no average price increase allowed; 6) install solar cells atop all semi-trailers, designed so as to power new heavy-duty electrical motors in large semi-trucks driven within the speed limit; 7) replace millions of long-haul semi-trucks with heavy-lifter dirigible capacity within six years; 8) mandate a new State Department initiative to freely share and promote these new technologies with all nations worldwide.
Public oversight and regulation of private business [The Consensus Project #44] will be instituted exactly like civilian control over the military, for the dangers to democracy are consummately the same. Citizens United and “corporate personhood” will of course be abolished by Constitutional amendment, and the Second Amendment will be substantially rewritten to clarify its meaning in modern language. Private ownership of military style weapons will be federally outlawed and local and state governments will be presented irresistible incentives to pass model gun control legislation, including locally collectible fines, over and above the new federal gun control legislation. The federal government will take charge of all (meaning absolutely all) pharmaceutical research so that development of affordable life-saving new drugs is no longer squelched by the profit (i.e., “surplus”) motive.
Federal and state initiatives to stimulate and support new business entrepreneurs [The Consensus Project #45] are a high national priority, and any suppression of small entrepreneurs by larger established entrepreneurships or co-ops shall be prosecuted as a felony. For the first time in U.S. history we’re gonna be real serious about competition and free enterprise. Multinational business entities, entities of foreign or indeterminate ownership, and US-based businesses avoiding taxation through offshore machinations will be permanently banned from doing a nickel’s worth of business in the United States of America. Ever. Americans are going to totally own their own economy, top to bottom.
Universal civic responsibility. [The Consensus Project #46] Curricula for every grade in every public school will teach the golden rule, emphasizing that our national purpose is to help each other and all Americans share responsibility for our mutual wellbeing. All personal income above the cost of the basic Economic Rights is a privilege of being an American citizen privileged to live in the USA, and privileged incomes and accumulated wealth are taxable in the common interest of All The People of the USA, in support of each other and in loyalty to our national commonwealth. For the first time in a long time, all federal agencies will be fully funded as necessary to carry out all duties the Congress has mandated to them.
Defense policy. [The Consensus Project #47] The Department of Defense exists to defend, not to aggress. The overriding purpose and highest priority of the U.S. Department of Defense, the armed forces including the Coast Guard and Customs, U.S. intelligence entities of every nature seen and unseen, and all federal law enforcement agencies of every nature whatsoever, is to protect the citizens and residents of the United States of America, its territories, possessions and colonies (such as Guam and Puerto Rico) from aggression, attack or hostile action 1) by any foreign nation, or 2) by any other entity or person, foreign or domestic, that/who seeks to overthrow or by subterfuge seize control of our constitutional government, our democracy, and the freedoms and economic rights guaranteed to every citizen. These governmental agencies’ purpose is not to force our judgment or will upon any other nation, or to make the world safe for corporations’ inroads into foreign markets. All sales of American-made or brokered military weapons will be banned; however the President may, with prior consent of Congress, direct the lending or leasing of limited amounts of conventional weapons for purposes of conducting diplomacy.
Defense budget. [The Consensus Project #48] We will bring home the enormous, costly, unknown legions of U.S. forces, estimated at roughly a million personnel now deployed at more than 1,000 locations around the world, and station them in contiguous military bases established along the entire Mexican border, with any overflow going to the Canadian border. We will mandate U.S. military capability to deploy in force anywhere on earth within 24 hours, and in full force within 48 hours, provided that in event of such deployment the Congress shall within five days enact into law either 1) a termination date or 2) specific conditions for returning all such deployed forces to their U.S. bases. We will launch an unspecified number of new state-of-the-art submarines and aircraft carriers to peacefully patrol the world oceans. Each year for the next twenty years not less than five percent of the total Defense budget, including its very substantial hidden components, will be incrementally shifted to combat global warming and develop sustainable energy sources.
Fair and democratic elections. [The Consensus Project #49] A new Responsible Citizen Law patterned exactly after the nation’s locally-administered Selective Service (military draft) System will impose fines for 1) unexcused failure to be registered and 2) unexcused failure to vote in any federal election. State governments will be presented with compelling incentives to adopt comparable laws for all in-state elections. Ensuring one-person-one-vote with civic responsibility, a new independent agency shall establish demographically fair and equal voting districts for all federal elections immediately after each census. Gerrymandering will be declared a felony and outlawed forever in the USA.
Reverse population growth. [The Consensus Project #50] Too many people, everywhere, are fast using up all the earth’s natural resources that our descendants’ lives and wellbeing will depend on—including mined ores and minerals, fertile soils, the oceans’ food fish, clean fresh water, wildlife habitats, species diversity and much more. Our combined sheer demand—a consequence of irrational overconsumption driven by ubiquitous profit-motivated advertising and economists’ dead wrong ideological belief that a national economy must grow ever bigger and bigger with each passing year—is fast driving it all, everywhere, toward collapse. We shall reverse consumption and over demand by engaging every peaceful means to reduce the human population as well as by changing to a no-growth steady-state economy designed for fairness, adequacy and declining population.
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Peaceful change. My ninety-five reforms are too lengthy to include them all in this essay, but perhaps those presented convey the concepts I want conveyed. My ninety-five differ from Martin Luther’s famous little ninety-five-part tome in that Luther did not intend to start a revolution. While I wish my reforms to occur a lot more peaceably than did religion’s bloody Reformation, history does not lend confidence. As economics historian and author Zachary D. Carter notes, “The greatest American victories for democracy and equality—the end of slavery in the nineteenth century and the defeat of fascism in the twentieth—came at the end of a gun.”
Vigilante threat. As you read these words a toxic paranoia, lately evolving into a movement called QAnon, is spreading among a growing nationwide subculture of those who feel most abandoned by this nation’s course over recent decades. Worse, and virtually unnoticed by the media and most of civilized America, large numbers of seriously paranoid white, rural, mostly low-paid and half educated evangelical gun-rights true believers—well armed ready-to-be vigilantes—quietly organize, preparing in the name of Jesus and self righteousness to defend themselves with as much violence as they feel may be necessary in the political Armageddon which—they absolutely believe—is real and imminently impending. Federal and state police recently arrested a gang of them seriously planning to overthrow the government of the State of Michigan and kidnap that state’s Democratic governor. To a man, these looney-tunes are armed and dangerous, their underdeveloped minds equating social programs, civic responsibility, liberals and Democratic Party with “communism” that’s going to somehow take away their freedom.
The real danger. This lunatic threat ranks as but disturbing distraction from the real foremost danger we face, the changing of our worldwide environment by global warming—degrading in major, permanent ways the habitat we humans and our little animal friends depend on utterly. For three centuries our marvelous industrial revolution enabled us to prosper, enjoying ever more sophisticated labor-saving devices, entertainments and unnecessary baubles as we zoomed from timeless horse-drawn power through new steam, new fossil fuels and new nuclear power to this powerful digital age of constant useless chitchat and virtual withdrawal from real life.
Deranging nature. While 24/7/365 advertising exhorted us to consume an ever-growing trove of “conveniences,” using up so very much of our planet’s natural resources, our population grew and grew until there were far too many of us for the earth’s carrying capacity, and so our growing mountains of polluting waste fouled all earth habitats, especially with plastic and carbon dioxide. Now as our Earthly home grows measurably hotter every year, the flowering plants and their pollinating partners grow out of synch even as insect populations are in freefall all over the world. We evidently didn’t notice that particular tipping point until too late, after it passed by. Migrating birds now arrive at the wrong time for the food they expect to feed their babies, and birds, insects and flowers are all producing a lot fewer babies. Those same pollinators are the guarantors of the food chain we humans too depend on for life. As the oceans rise a fraction more each year, the world being three-fourths ocean and our coastal cities being at the water’s edge, a few fractions is all it takes to drown them and send their mega-millions of refugees inland to vex the incumbents.
Blind inaction. At this Covid-complicated moment in history, facing humankind’s most terrible existential crisis in the form of urgent need to halt and reverse global warming, we have never seemed more helpless, more seemingly paralyzed, in our failure to make the necessary changes away from fossil fuels that are killing us—a fact many people still do not face up to. Our modern globalized and allegedly free-market capitalistic economic system is deeply grounded, you see, on fossil fuels whose corporate controllers will not—will not—give up their great riches without a fight to the end—everybody’s end in this case. Even as coal consumption goes down, natural gas use is going up and demand for oil-dependent vehicles is skyrocketing all over the world. Lacking true leaders with true moxie and laws with meaningful teeth, our only option is to basically change the game, leaving no choice but to abandon the causes of the problem. Whether greed will deny a civilized world to our great-grandchildren is really up to us, for we own the system.
Needless forfeiture. If we had had a fair and just economic system for the past forty years, not only would there be no need for welfare or labor unions—we probably would have a properly educated population far better in touch with reality, almost certainly actively engaged in reversing global warming, and looney-tune vigilante paranoia would not now be rising out of the needless tragedy of the long term economic inequality we even now, still yet, fail to correct in any way dramatic enough to notice. Neither would our educational system have so failed in its mission that some voters freely exercising their democratic franchise can elect buffoons to high public office—and actually want to keep them there, despising all contrary opinions. This is not the American dream.
My plea. For these reasons and more, I believe we need a much improved and humanitarian new economic system that leaves nobody poor and uneducated. If this thought resonates with your values, your sense of what’s right, good and ethical, please think about those four parameters needed to guide us in changing our economic system, as we must, and soon.
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Note: Readers desiring more details on the fifty proposals highlighted in this essay are referred to the book Populist Corrections cited on this blog’s home page.