2/01/2008

02-01-08 - 1

What should our next president actually do?

1. Get rid of the G.W.B. tax cuts. Politically it would be best to leave the tax cuts for everyone making $100k or less and phase them out above that. Restore the estate tax and dividend taxes. Our government desperately needs money to fix this country and putting back those taxes on the rich will hurt the economy the least. It's a damn shame those tax cuts ever passed.

2. Figure out a way to get out of Iraq and restore our military's morale and fighting capability. This is a mess so I won't go into big details.

3. Get more troops in Afghanistan. Hopefully get an administration with more leverage internationally that can get some more support from NATO. Then we have to do something about Pakistan which is a huge problem. Getting the Pakistani government to really go after the tribal areas is impossible, but it might be possible to get more of the Pakistani military on the border to try to reduce the amount of border crossings. Make it clear to the tribal leaders that they are not being invaded and they are free in their domains but they aren't to cross the border. That certainly won't work without a much bigger force on the Afghan side of the border.

4. Actually do something to improve education in the US. "No Child Left Behind" is such a retarded worthless law, it creates standards and holds schools to them, but A. the tests are horrible measures of learning and B. doesn't provide funding. We need a lot more federal money for schools. We need legal maximum class sizes, maybe 20 kids per class. We need to stop cramming together kids of different aptitudes; maybe require that the slower kids get even smaller class sizes. Offer more after school programs, particularly for the kids that don't have good home environments. Then we need to start thinking about doing something with the colleges. College prices are skyrocketing and at the same time the quality of education is going way down with lots of kids getting rubber stamp degrees.

5. Spend on infrastructure. This is just something we should be doing all the time that we cut at some point to save money in budgets. Infrastructure spending is great for the overall economy; no it's not a great way to get out of recession because it's not fast enough, but it provides lots of steady jobs, and the infrastructure that results makes many other businesses work better. We need roads, bridges, flood control, commuter trains, etc. etc.

6. Get a handle on health care. This is another huge mess so I don't want to get distracted by it. I will just point out how big of a problem it is. We already spend around 15% of our GDP on health care, which is far far more than any other country (many Western countries are around 5%). Furthermore, health care costs are still rising much faster than inflation. This is a huge drain on our economy that needs to get fixed. I think the basics of Hillary's plan are the right way to go, but reducing all the unnecessary expenditure and fraudulent profit taking is going to be politically very difficult in our pro-shyster culture.

7. Do something serious for the environment and energy independence. I don't want to oversell the importance of global warming, but it's high time we started doing something serious to reduce fossil fuel usage; if you like you can pretend that the reason is for strategic energy independence. It could also be very good the economy. There are lots of obvious steps that make sense. IMO the best thing would be huge taxes on water, electricity and gas, which would allow the market to figure out the best ways to reduce use and make it all financially driven. I'm sure that's a political non-starter, so instead you could start penalizing companies that are extremely inefficient with their energy use or waste disposal. Put a bunch of money into researching alternative energy. The amount of money needed for this is microscopic compared to the benefits. A few billion dollars is a HUGE amount to fund research, but is a drop in the bucket compared to our oil imports. A few cents of gas tax could easily fund alternative energy research. Tax subsidies for the shitty alternative energy solutions we currently have do nothing but give free money to businesses.

What are our current political parties actually about? They talk about this and that, but what have the parties consistently actually accomplished in office :

Republicans are :
tax cutters
deficit spenders
grow the defense/military budget immensely
anti-environmental controls, anti-parks
anti-gun-control
anti-abortion
anti-gay-rights

Democrats are :
????

It's hard to remember anything that the Democrats have really done in recent history. I mean if we list things done under Clinton it was mainly free trade, cutting welfare, etc. I don't know if we can really draw a distinction in terms of foreign policy, both parties tend to fuck around all over the globe in rather retarded ways that generally have negative long term consequences. Both Clinton and Bush allowed genocides to occur on their watch. I'm not really sure what the Democrats stand for other than being "not Republicans".

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old rants