Energy - Clean energy will benefit both the economy and the environment. People will have everything they have now and more with vastly fewer destructive effects. Hydrogen, solar, wind, clean coal and other renewable sources of energy will provide all of people's energy needs at present and greater levels through processes that are non-polluting and non-destructive. Ultimately this will even be better for the oil producers; as oil would last longer and be used for production of higher-level goods such as plastics and pharmaceuticals, making more money in the end than if it is burned.
Environment - The greatest shortage in capitalist theory is its failure to put value on nature. Property is defined as "nature converted into productive use," but no value is seen for nature. This results in incentivization of brainless, destructive practices, such as burning the rainforest and flooding the atmosphere with CO2, and in failure to incentivize the ingenuity and intelligence that actually make capitalism work as advertised. There needs to be a price put on nature - both on its destruction and on its pollution - to disincentivize these brainless, destructive practices, and to incentivize the economy toward ingenuity and intelligence. It must be prohibitively expensive to do such things as ranch in the rainforest or burn dirty coal. Putting the price on nature will disincentivize destructive activity and incentivize activity that benefits people more than it hurts nature - incentivizing ingenuity and intelligence in the process.
Subsidies - The agricultural subsidies must go. America's farmland, with present technologies, could support 2 billion people. But because of the beef subsidy that makes beef artificially cheap, most of this land is used to raise cattle feed, resulting in it feeding a fraction of that number. Instead of reaping vast economic benefit from selling the food abroad and vast political benefit from giving it away in time of famine, America reaps obesity, diabetes and debt. Ending these subsidies will result in more of this land being used to grow lower-energy crops, creating not only a healthier diet but vast economic gain.
Taxes - While many Republicans claim that tax cuts have always created prosperity, that claim is false. The Bush tax cuts did not create prosperity. They created vast debt and an economic crisis. America has had a period of fiscal sanity and economic growth in recent history. It was called the Clinton administration. Through a combination of responsible taxation policies and growth-generating policies, the Clinton administration was able to achieve both fiscal sanity and a vast economic growth, resulting in 23 million private-sector jobs created during the eight years of the Clinton administration.
Raising taxes on highest incomes is neither envy of wealth, nor is it punishing success. It is simple reason. Such policies maximize revenues while minimizing suffering. A multi-millionaire is not made to suffer by paying a slightly higher tax, whereas revenues gained that way for the government are substantial.
Clinton has shown how it is possible to achieve economic growth and fiscal sanity. It is time to restore the successful taxation and economic policies of the Clinton administration.
International Trade - International trade results in prosperity for all parties involved in it. When everyone lowers tariffs and quotas, everyone benefits. However a party that does this unilaterally puts itself at a disadvantage. This is the reason for there being regulatory bodies such as the WTO to maintain free trade environment and to arbitrate trade disputes.
There are two problems associated with free trade. One is that countries with low labor and environmental standards become competitive as a result of these low labor and environmental standards. The other is that there is actually at this time a tax incentive for American companies to move production off-shore. This is ridiculous as well as unpatriotic, and tax incentives of this sort must be ended immediately. Labor and environmental standards, at least at a minimal level, must become an issue for discussion, and there should be an international discussion as to what standards are needed.
Defense - America's biggest, most wasteful and most inefficient bureaucracy is the Department of Defense. It takes $900 billion a year in taxpayer money and uses it to buy $200 hammers and $600 toilets and throw away perfectly good tools after a week in use. This spending can be reduced vastly without compromising the power or effectiveness of the military. America could have a military as powerful as it has now for one half the price, or a military twice as powerful as it has now for the same price as today. All that is needed is an audit of the expenditures of the Department of Defense and an end to wasteful and corrupt practices that take place in it.
A related issue that the people who want a restoration of draft keep bringing to public attention is the supposed shortage of willing recruits. There is an easy way to maintain the size of the military and to increase it if such is needed. And that is as following: Step up recruitment efforts in inner city. This will help the military avail itself of highly capable and experienced recruits: Young men who are exceptionally tough and courageous and who are already living in what amounts to conditions of war. These young men will be spared getting shot in a gang dispute or spending a life in prison and will instead become defenders of America. In the military they will learn skills and discipline that will last them through life and make it possible for them to become effective people. And, with all the scholarships that the military has, these young men will be able to pursue a better life for themselves and become productive, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens instead of becoming gansters and spending their lives behind bars.
Taliban - Taliban remains a threat to everyone. While most of their rhetoric is against America and Israel, in reality they want the world. They continue to infiltrate vulnerable populations all over the world and subverting them to their tyranny. Fighting Taliban must be done in a twofold manner. One is distributing facts and information to vulnerable populations in order to inform them of what they are being faced with - an effort similar to the Voice of America broadcasts that were beamed during the Cold War into the Soviet Union. The other is an international military effort to which every major country should contribute money or troops.
Guns - I believe the Left should concede this issue. The Constitution clearly says that American people are allowed to have guns. In places where guns are disallowed, only criminals have guns, and that results in criminals dominating; whereas in places where guns are allowed, the law-abiding people can defend themselves. Instead of wasting time and energy on this issue, it is better to move that time and energy to more important issues. Let people have their guns.
Drugs and Prostitution - It is not up to the government to tell adults what they can put into their bodies, and it is not up to the government to tell consenting adults what they can do with their bodies. Most of the violent crime surrounding drugs and prostitution are not a result of drugs and prostitution but a result of these things being against the law. When something that is in demand is criminalized, only criminals can supply it. The illegalization of drugs and prostitution fills prisons with people who have done nothing unconstitutional. It also creates the demand for drug cartels, pimps and organized crime. If drugs and prostitution become legal, these brutal criminal entities will have nothing to do, and their members will have to become productive citizens. The jail population will be cut by up to 80%. And people will have the rights and liberties that are afforded to them by the Constitution.
Prisons - America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and most of the incarcerated are there for things that should not be criminal. It takes as much money to incarcerate a person per year as it does to send the person to Harvard. While the person is in prison, he is taught by the wards that he is trash, and he is taught by other inmates how to become a more skilled criminal. Far from being a place where criminals are rehabilitated, prisons are a place where they are hardened as criminals. Two things need to be done to correct this state of affairs. One is to legalize drugs and prostitution, resuling in an end to crime that comes presently with drugs and prostitution and in ending the criminalization of people who shouldn't be regarded as criminals, resulting in prison population falling by as much as 80%. The other is to get people in prison to work, thus reimbursing the taxpayer and allowing the inmates to learn work skills and discipline that they will need to stay out of the system when they get out.
Domestic violence - The greatest wrong facing women today, and in most of known history, is family violence. While severe violations such as rape, and minor offenses such as sexual harassment, are one-time events that one can move past, domestic violence is an ongoing grinding daily ordeal from which it is in many cases very difficult to escape. Strong measures must be taken to stop domestic violence and to help women and children at the receiving end of family violence to get away from it.
I propose two changes to laws that will do away with much of this wrongdoing. One is to illegalize false advertising in relationships. Most men who become abusers don't tell the woman that they are wooing that they will be abusers. They put on a nice and warm front, then spring the abuse on the woman when she is theirs and when they think that she cannot escape. Most abuse situations can be prevented, and others can be overcome, by making it as illegal to falsely advertise in relationships as it is now illegal in business.
Another change I propose is a sliding scale for domestic violence, with severity of the punishment being tied to severity of the crime. A man who breaks a woman's skull should get heavier charge and heavier punishment than a man who slaps a woman. I propose a sliding scale for domestic violence, with the following degrees:
Severe brutality (life-threatening, guns, knives, severe injuries)
Brutality (broken bones, smaller injuries)
Severe violence (whips, sticks, visible bruises)
Serious violence (fists, dragging by hair)
Mild violence (slaps)
Each charge should bear an appropriate sentence, with mild violence bringing a fine and severe brutality an extended prison term.
Incest and pedophilia - Given that one third of American girls, and one tenth of American boys, have been victims of incest or pedophilia, this is clearly a vast problem. Being vast it must be addressed in an intelligent and rational manner. It should not be acceptable to silence the victims of these practices, as has been going on for as long as anyone can remember. Nor should anyone be convicted without due process. There needs to be a due process in these crimes as there are in all other crimes. The people who commit such wrongs should be punished in manner severe enough to deter these practices. Ending the wrongful wars on drugs and prostitution will see enough prison space freed to make room for real abusers.
Abortion - The core of this issue is the belief as to when life begins. If you believe that life begins at conception, then you will be anti-abortion; if you believe that life begins when something exits another's body, then you will be for abortion rights. I believe that nothing has rights until it is out of somebody else's body; and for as long as something is inside somebody else's body, that person has full rights as to what to do with it.
Experience has shown that in many cases it's better to have abortion than to carry the fetus to term. An unplanned pregnancy can not only be life-ruining for the mother, but it can also result in life being brought into the world that is not properly nurtured. In the ghetto, where girls who get pregnant do not get abortions, we see 15-year-olds giving birth before they have any job skills or any parenting skills. Many of the children raised that way become gangsters, which we don't see happen in middle-class settings where teenagers who get pregnant get abortions.
Health Care - The real reason for the obscenely high costs of medicine in America is the shortage of doctors. Not enough doctors and high demand for medical care will in all cases result in demand meeting supply at a very high rate. This is an ongoing structural problem with American medicine; and while Obamacare reduces the pain for a lot of people, it does not address this core structural problem.
This shortage of doctors is maintained by the AMA through two practices: Maintaining a low level of medical school admissions and graduations, and having exceptionally high requirements on licensing of foreign medical professionals. The exceptionally high standards for admission into medical school, as well as the length and expense of medical training, makes medical profession only accessible for a tiny minority of people. One should not need to have a 4.0 GPA in order to be a good doctor, nor should one have a debt equivalent to having a house for going to medical school.
America needs more doctors. It needs to graduate more doctors, and it needs to license more foreign professionals. Only when this problem is addressed will medicine in America become anywhere close to reasonably priced.
Medical Threats - There needs to be an international effort, both public and private, to anticipate new pathogens. We have been lucky that swine flu did not become a major pandemic; that does not however mean room for complacency. Bacteria constantly evolve, and there are any number of bacteria these days that are resistant to treatment. The situation is dangerous. There needs to be an international body to anticipate and confront new medical threats.
Education - The weakness of America's primary education system is a grave threat to America and to the rest of the world. An under-educated population is a bonanza for conmen; and when the majority is under-educated, a skilled conman could forge out of them an electoral majority by telling them lies that only those who have higher education would know to be lies. With a country as powerful as America, which is a democracy, this is extremely dangerous.
The problem with America's primary education system is not shortage of funding; it is the weakness of the curriculum. Students don't learn nearly enough, when for similar or smaller expenditures a number of other countries teach students much more. There needs to be a stronger curriculum, more homework, more learning. This can be achieved at present levels of funding but through strengthening the curriculum.
A related problem is learning-resistant cultures in places such as the inner city and some areas in the country. These learning-resistant cultures attack serious students, frequently traumatizing them to render their efforts worthless, while training other students to disregard the efforts made to educate them and instead to direct their energies toward beating up one another or getting pregnant as teens. This results in brain drain that severely weakens America. These destructive school cultures must be overcome, with those who take part in them disciplined, and those at the receiving end of their nastiness getting the assistance they need to rise out of them and excel.
Higher Education - The costs of higher education have been out of control. This denies higher education to most Americans, resulting in lower social mobility and a denial of American dream to more and more American citizens. The response to Ronald Reagan asking "Why should I pay for anyone else's education?" is that higher education creates a more informed citizenry as well as more people capable of higher-level careers such as medicine and engineering. Higher education funding must be restored to a level necessary for this to take place.
Science - Science is at the root of all technology, which means that it is at the root of all prosperity. Science must receive adequate funding for that reason, whether through public or private funds. More importantly still, respect for science must be instilled at all levels of society in order that real knowledge rather than conmanship and deception be formative to people's understanding of the world and to choices that they stand to make on the basis of that understanding.
Space Travel - Both public and private efforts to explore and to colonize outer space should be welcome. It is known that the earth will not remain habitable forever, and there needs to be a way for humanity to go elsewhere when the sun goes nova or if there is an asteroid heading to Earth. Human life does not have to end when the Earth becomes uninhabitable. There need to be settlements on Mars in our lifetime, and technology must be worked on to make possible travel outside the solar system when the solar system becomes no longer capable of supporting human life.
Public Works - Projects such as the Interstate and the Internet have been vastly beneficial in American prosperity. They have provided an infrastructure for business to do its work. Respect needs to be cultivated for such projects appropriate to the benefit that they exercise toward the economy. Government has shown to do significant economic good. It is wrong to portray it as a universally parasitical, destructive or wasteful force.
Immigration - Whatever is done, must be done with intelligence. Mexican illegals were welcome, or at least tolerated, when economy was good; they became less welcome when it became harder for American citizens to get jobs. Whether they are allowed to remain in the country or whether they are deported, one must keep in mind the future, including the possibility that the economy will improve and they will again be welcome. Brutal deportation practices or severe violence, such as took place under Idi Amin's deportation of Indian businessmen, would prevent these people from coming back when they are again wanted.
Civil Liberties - Patriotism cannot be coerced through oppressive and unconstitutional legislation. Patriotism is instead enhanced when the nation allows people meaningful liberties, resulting in people valuing the nation for having given to them these liberties. The whistle-blowers provide a service of informing the taxpayer of what the government is doing with the taxpayer's money. Instead of prosecuting whistle-blowers, America should welcome them as people who are providing a public service to the taxpayer, to the voter and to American democracy as such.
Lifestyle and Family - Freedom means freedom, and that means freedom to either practice a 1950s lifestyle or not to practice a 1950s lifestyle. There should be no coercion toward a single lifestyle in a nation that is intended to be free. People should be able to choose what kind of life to have. That is the meaning of liberty, and such should be uninfringed - both for those who want to live a 1950s lifestyle and for those who seek to the contrary.
Religion - Religious freedom does not mean the freedom to force one's religious views upon others. Religious freedom means freedom from those who would force their religious views upon everybody else. There should be protection for those who do not embrace conservative Christianity from those who would force conservative Christianity upon them, just as much as there should be protection for those who embrace conservative Christianity to live according to it. That is the true meaning of religious freedom.
Regionalism - Each region has a right to its own character. At the same time, people in a free country have a right to move between regions to find a place that works for them. There needs to be affirmation of both regionalism and freedom to roam. This will result in freedom being protected at all levels: With each region having a right to its own identity apart from whatever is in Washington - and each person having a right to choose a region whose identity is closest to their temperament.