Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Snow and politics

We got our first big snowstorm of the year. They had predicted 2 inches and we ended up with a foot of snow. I haven't seen them this wrong on a snow forecast in ten years. Fortunately, I am a weather geek and I did see it coming so instead of driving to the hinterlands Monday for my afternoon courses, I took public transportation. Apparently the afternoon commute was a three hour drive for most people. Even with public transportation, it took me an hour and a half, but so what, I got to read and play games on my ipod instead of feeling frustrated and nervous driving in a winter storm. Georgie just loves to romp in the snow. I tried to take a video last night but it came out too dark. Above you see him rooting around looking for his toys buried in the snow on the back patio. It has been snowing since 1pm Monday and it is still coming down this morning.

It's been disappointing watching the gridlock in Washington. I was watching the talking heads on TV the other day and it was pointed out that compromise is political suicide for candidates, so instead everyone digs their heels in and no governing really happens. Plus, no money is pouring into candidates from corporations over social issues like marriage equality, so those issues don't get addressed. It got me thinking on how the system could be changed so it could actually work again. Yesterday's "deal" extending unemployment benefits coupled with tax breaks for the top 2 percent seems wrong on all kinds of levels to me. Shouldn't one of those have paid for the other? Here are some of my ideas, naive as they may appear.

1. Voters should be qualified. You have to pass a test to become a citizen, but not if you're born in the US. Why not? This may sound elitist, but why do simpletons get to shape our country? You have to pass a test demonstrating your knowledge of the issues and candidates' platforms to have the privilege of voting.

2. Corporations are not people. They should have no business shaping the debate. Individuals should be the only supporters of candidates.

3. A viable third party needs to gain seats in Congress

4. Term limits. Not just for the president, but for everyone in Congress. Once your term is over, run for some other seat. This would lead to more compromise and less intractability on towing the party line.

5. Votes need to be weighed differently. Why do 80 year olds have the same vote weight. The younger people have to live longer with the legislative consequences. So, 1/2 vote to those 18 -30 (immaturity penalty), full vote to those 31-55, half vote for those over 55.

6. Wealth inequities will lead to civil unrest. Thus a maximum wage should be in place. Say at 50 million. If the rich want to avoid the 100 percent tax rate above that amount, they can give the excess to charity.

7. The only TV ads when running for office should be the candidate speaking to the audience. If they're gonna smear, they'll have to do it face to face.

Any one of these would improve the gridlock. What do you think? I don't even have to care about this since I am a citizen of Canada, but it's hard to watch your homeland wither.

Happy hump day peeps, the weekend is in sight!


Mel said...

Agreed on #2. On #1, I'm more of the mind that we should follow Australia's lead and make voting mandatory. It might force more debate, particularly if we took corporations out of the mix. Really, though, I think it's going to take outright revolt to see things change in a positive direction.

CoffeeDog said...

You have valid points about voting. So many people vote for the wrong reasons, or are mis-informed.

In a related note ...Joe.My.God has a blurb on his blog about Tom Brokaw saying we should allow all the freaks to have their say-so, so that they get more visibility and people will see just how awful they are. I tend to agree

Mark My Words said...

LOL, I think you were the only one to see that storm coming. All day Monday, I kept saying, "Boy, that's a lot of flurries."

Birdie said...

Term limits! The machine that is in place needs to be broken so that power is no longer the greatest factor in decision-making.

According to this chart, college graduates in the U.S. comprise less than five percent of the population and over fifty percent of the voting public. The great majority of those who vote have some college or a college degree. They may make poor decisions, but they're not unqualified.

Jim said...

Simpletons Do run our countries!! Voting is a right of all citizens whether one is born here or not. There are a lot of 'simpletons' who vote who were born here.
Corporations have always 'run' western countries/governments.
Yes a third party could help.
#5...that would give moi a half vote!! No way!
We already have civil unrest, mind you it is not as vocal as it used to be. Maybe THAT IS what we need more of.
Canada isn't that different from the US.

Anonymous said...

I'll add campaigning spending limits. No candidate can spend more than a set amount. This would give everyone an equal change not just the ones who are rich or can call in favors. It would also reduce the influence of lobbyist and our elected officials could spend more time governing and less time fundraising.

I don't think we could qualify voters, it would be nice, but I do think we should qualify our elected officials. They have so many laws and bills to read, understand and enact.

GayProf said...

The problem with the exam idea is that the U.S. did used to have such measures in place, mostly as a means to keep African American and Mexican Americans from being able to vote. It would be open to serious manipulation. To my mind, the more serious problem is that most Americans simply don't vote at all.

I remain astounded that average Americans imagine that the interests of corporations are their interests.

rox said...

I agree on all points. Is it our Canadian-ness? The US system seems so complicated and to me, it doesn't seem like it needs to be.

It's snowing here. I hope we get a ton of it. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

No to number 5, most of the elderly vote but most of the young do not.
Myself, I will never vote again. It seems every candidate only says what we want to hear to get elected then forgets about it.
Obama said he would bring all troops home from Iraq and Iran, he said the rich tax break would stop. I voted for Hillary who promised an immediate close to the wars and troops being brought home starting on the day she was sworn in. I suppose she lied too, since she now seems to be a warmmonger like Condy Rice.
Georgie is soooooo cute. Ted

Blobby said...

We have the new "foe" (if you will) of countries putting money towards political advertising, shaping our elections around their needs/wants.

Totally illegal, but they skirt the issues through how they donate money to groups who can advertise legally.

It is such a fucked up system right now. I had been giving Obama the benefit of his circumstances until yesterday.

But I want the McConnell to stand up and say that yes, he is for the wealthiest population and just own it. He is one creepy man.

Perplexio said...

1. Voting is a right. While I too would prefer the electorate be educated, I don't believe it's the government's right or responsibility to dictate the criteria of who is and isn't qualified to vote. This would also lead to the politicization of intelligence. A Republican president would enact measures that tip the criteria to be easier on Republicans and more difficult for Democrats and a Democratic president would do the opposite. It would make the political process even more polarized than it already is.

2. While I agree on some levels, our Bill of Rights doesn't put any limitations on Freedom of Speech. There is nothing in the Constitution limiting Freedom of Speech to individuals.

3. I believe there are definitely benefits and merits to this idea-- if nothing else, a small presence of thid party representatives in Congress might force the 2 major parties to compromise a bit more and move both parties more towards the middle.

4. I agree completely with term limits as the culture of government in Washington is one of corruption. Even the most well intentioned candidates fall prey to this culture and end up serving themselves before their constituents. Limiting time in office reduces the chances of our best candidates getting corrupted by the polarized and corrupt nature of DC.

5. While I understand and somewhat even agree with your logic. I disagree completely on doing this. It puts an artificial weight on a person's age and screams of age-ism. It says that a person under or over a certain age doesn't have as much of a right to representation as people within a certain age span. It gives too much power to a single generation of people at the expense of the young and the elderly.

6. Wealth and poverty is not a zero-sum game. People who are wealthy are not necessarily wealthy at the expense of others. It's not the wealth that is the problem it's the access to opportunity to create that wealth that is the problem. One of the better ways around this is to tax consumer goods rather than personal income. People should be rewarded for hard work and earning wealth. Tax how the money is spent, not how it is earned.

7. As much as I'd LOVE to see this and completely agree with you on this one, sadly I doubt it will ever come to pass. I once read that Barry Goldwater was really looking forward to running against JFK in 1964 as they'd been good friends in the senate. They were planning on actually debating the issues and policies. The assassination of Kennedy essentially killed our chances of civil issue and policy based debate.

Anonymous said...

I think I'd rather watch your dog play in the snow than Congress deliver the same old snowjob.

Maurice said...

Provocative ideas! No, I don't agree with all of them but I understand where you're coming from. This would make for an interesting and respectful conversation, I'm sure.

Well I certainly didn't see this snowstorm coming! The time of year to use the m├ętro more has come. They definitely had the right thought in the '60s when designing it to keep it all underground so that weather doesn't affect it.

Lemuel said...

I certainly agree with #'s 2, 3, & 4. I would add to #4 that there not be special health care nor lifetime pensions for politicos. They should be subject to the same (Social Security, etc.) as the people they govern.
I certainly agree that a *viable* third (or more) party would help.

May I also suggest limited campaign time? and *criminal* penalties for any campaign ads that make false claims and accusations?

Cubby said...

OMG what a blog post! So much to deal with, you should have published this as a seven-part series.

"...why do simpletons get to shape our country?" I am most definitely going to steal this question.

Patricia said...

Interesting. Usually I read along and nod and think, "yup, yup, yup" but today I differ. Still, it's fun to think about and then jump in:

I don't want someone (whom would it be?) to prepare a test for voters. Granted we need to educate people on voting but I don't think a pre-test is the answer.

I think campaign finance reform is critical and that a third party could only help ease the divide.

I'm not a fan of term limits because I don't think they work. Responsible voting should be the true way to limit one's term in Congress and I think we need the experience or else it's always going to be a bunch of freshman Reps and Senators deciding policy.

Taking votes away due to age scares me. Like a lot. As does a meximum wage. While we need to do a better job of dealing with wage inequities and poverty, I don't want the govt controlling that.

Number 7 should be enacted into law immediately. Brilliant. And not just the "My name is Patricia and I approved this message" nonsense. Full responsibility.

Anonymous said...

We're agreed on every one of your points. It always amuses me that every now and then some news site will put up the citizenship test questions and ask people to take the test.

The results are usually pretty funny. Every time I take them I score in the top percentile, or way out on the right side edge of the curve.

Then I look at the distribution of scores and shake my head.

But #1 is a given, and #2 is something I actively campaign on. Corporations are not the same as people and I think of what a better world we'd live in if the corporations had no say in the political sphere.

Snooze said...

I do think that a bit more of political awareness should me mandatory in schools. I thought that they did have a bit of that in the US. I do know that when I took my citizenship test for Canada I was 21 but had lived in Canada my whole life. Some of the questions were completely foreign to me (about our political system) and I thought - hmmm. Maybe I should have learned this. Still, I agree with Perplexio that the knowledge shouldn't be tied to the right to vote.

Now please promise me that you will go skiing this year. All that lovely snow and big hills!