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In the comments I had a couple questions directed at me.
If you were (dear lord) made President for the month, what would you do to "solve" the problem you are so big on pointing out?
Without writing a 300+ page "What I would Do if I Were President" I will outline a few things that I think are vital to being a good president.
First, I would be a non-partisan president. I would not give ideas or people preferential preference simply because they are from my party or the opposition party. I would value ideas above anything else and I would not play to re-election. I would try to do what is right and that would determine if I was re-elected. It should go without saying that any of the following ideas would be open to critical debate and subject to change.
I would not view corporate entities, their executives or Wall Street financiers as first class citizens and working people as second class citizens. I would not treat workers as cogs in an "economy".
I would apologize to our friends in the world, the nations that share our ideals of freedom and democracy, for all the "with us or against us" and "Old Europe" rhetoric from the previous administration and I would ask them nicely if they would help us clean up our mess in Iraq. Decades of lopsided policies in the Middle East has ruined any credibility we have in that region. The longer we stay in Iraq the more we confirm the worst fears that we are looking to establish a military footprint in that country. I would work hard to make sure that strong civil institutions like schools, hospitals, media and transportation infrasctructure are funded because that more than anything else will convince people that we really want them to succeed. I would try to get our role down to a support role where our presence can no longer be used as a convenient boogeyman by those working to build up animosity against our country. Share the costs, share the blame.
I would make a radical shift in the way that we spend money to defend our nation. I would take on the established military-industrial complex and tell them that the world has changed and can no longer waste billions of dollars each year to buy their products that have proven themselves impotent at addressing terrorist threats. No mini-nukes, no star wars defense shields and no more ospreys. Every penny spent on big weaponry is a step in the wrong direction. I would keep a reasonable number of troops and weapons that would provide for defense but I would not see military spending as simply a way to funnel money to congressional disctricts. (that alone will get me impeached!)
I would take that money and divide it in two ways. One half would go towards training and building a true screening system for cargo and people that travel across borders. This, as well as making sure that first responders across the country would have what they needed to rescue and care for people should another attack take place. The second half I would take to help fund a multi-national worldwide education program to address what I see is the fertile earth for future terrorism, young minds. This would not be a program coming from America but I would like to be a supporter. What I would like to see is an extensive program of new schools and universities built in countries that are right now not providing good secualr education to their youth. I would also encourage a greater exchange of ideas and people amongst countries who have been tradtionally isolated from each other. I would focus on trying to open up societies like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria. Not with threats but with a direct overtures to the people there. I believe that if we can get young people connected through shared ideas and connections we can go a long way to reduce the appeal of terrorists that prey on people's misperceptions.
I would actually do what George W. Bush promised. I would approach the world from a position of humility and cooperation instead of one of bullying.
Domestically I would try to get government out of the business of choosing winners under the guise of defense. That $500 billion we spend is not all essential for defense. Much is pork flown in under the cover of the Pentagon to avoid scrutiny. Much of that spending is actually creating stagnation in our economy by letting government pick the same winners over and over again. And much is actually squeezing out real defense spending, like how we can spend $500 billion and not have enough to provide veteran's health care? Just because we spend millions of dollars on pork under the hubris of defense doesn't mean we are safer for it. (this will get me impeached for sure!)
Trade is easy. I would try to steer us in a direction that allows the most free trade as possible but only with countries that are on equal footing as the United States. I would do away with agreements that give countries with no labor or environmental laws an unfair advantage by giving them a level playing field on trade. Countries could acheive better trade status with us by being more like us. If they decide to bring their laws in parity with us they will have no trade barriers, but as long as they have conditions that would undermine our quality of life, such as unnaturally low wages, child labor, corruption, pollution, etc. they would face an equalizing financial penalty. This would go a long ways towards protecting U.S. jobs from flowing to these nations and lowering the overall quality of life for people all over. We need to put upward pressure, not downward pressure on freedom and rights. You want better trade, join the civilized world. (impeached again?)
Taxes, I think reducing waste is better than raising taxes. I don't think we should ever raise taxes to support programs we need simply because its politically unfeasable to kill ones we don't. Pork must die. Cronyism must die! I would protect Social Security, Medicare and push for a nationwide health care system that provides a minimum level of care that helps people stay healthy. People could spend more if they wish but you should never have to be left with nothing between jobs or simply because you got a cheapskate employer.
I would work to reduce debt payments and if needed I would raise taxes in the short term to do so, its only going to debt holders as a diversion of needed monies from where it could be used to where its simply redistributed back to a chosen few. That's not governements role either. In the long run we should only borrow when vital, not as a way to keep spending up while lowering taxes. Keeping debt low will free up money and give us room to borrow in the future if needed. A short term tax hike might be needed if it will provide longer term flexibility. (this will get me kicked out for sure!)
As a general goal I would work to make sure laws are fair. I don't want government picking winners. If we are to keep the current capitalist system I feel we need to make sure government addresses some of the main grievances. I think that as long as all companies are on a level playing field that the winners are the ones that are better, not simply those with the best lobbyists that can tilt the rules in their favor. We can raise standards of conduct as long as we don't allow anyone to undercut those standards and get ahead of others. We should make government's role working for the people of the country directly instead of working for Wall Street and hoping that helps people as a consequence.
(deep breath) ... and that's just part of it....
If a Democrat were able to get in the White House in November and for ever election for the next several decades, would you still blame every one of our problems on the Bush Admin?
No, I wouldn't. I am not a partisan, and I would love to get a chance to criticize a democratic president! If a president doesn't work for what I want then I will be cirtical.
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