Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Presidential Wish List

The Democrats winning Congress and the Presidency has most people I know full of a great deal of hope. I am far too cynical for that. Perhaps I will be proven wrong though, the democrats have a strong mandate to shake up Washington as much as they can. To prove me wrong the Democrats could institute any of the following changes in the next four years:

Balance the Budget. Sure it might be best to wait until after the recession to do this, but they have four years. If Clinton could do it, Obama has no excuses to fail to do this.

Scale back the war on drugs. The United States currently is putting more people in jail than just about any country in history. We have many more people in Prison than China despite having a quarter of their population! Why? Because of the war on drugs. it is crazy for a President who admits to have used cocaine to put tens of thousands of people in jail for long periods of time for the same crime. Nonviolent drug crime penalties need to be dramatically reduced or completely eliminated. Yes this includes drug dealers - they are about as inherantly evil as liquor store attendents. Marijuana laws should be ceded from the Federal Government to the state governments. If they at least did this, so liberal states have the right to legalize it, than I would be happy.

Eliminate farm subsidies for commodity crops. If you want to subsidize vegetables I probably wouldn't object as strongly but subsidized corn simply leads to cheap fast food and an expanded national waist line. Oh, and completely eliminate all subsidies for corn ethanol while you are at it.

Put at least a $40 a barrel(~$1/gallon) tax, or tariff, on crude oil. We are sending far too much money out of the country to prop up dictators. The only way to stop that is to simply make it cost Americans more money to send money to these countries through their oil consumption. This policy helps our trade balance, helps the environment, and supports our national security interests. There is no more beneficial policy Obama could set than this.

Put at least a $15 a ton tax on coal. This is for strictly environmental reasons. Even "clean coal" is the most environmentally damaging energy source we use. It results in the death of thousands of people a year from mining and air pollution. As the biggest contributor to mercury, and CO2 emissions it is one of the easiest targets we have to improve the environment.

Move towards socialized medicine. I doubt Congress will even try to make something similar to Germany's system, but there are many simple steps they could take. The easiest would be to ban insurance companies from turning down, or kicking out, patients because they are not healthy enough. Also ban them from charging different people of the same age different premiums. To work this would require allowing a six month grace period where insurance companies are not required to pay for major procedures to prevent people from waiting until they are sick to get insured. Insurance should be there to help the sick afford the expenses they face, not leech money off of the sick.

Throw significant amounts of money into actually building Carbon free energy sources. Research and development is nice and all, but with current technology we could cut our carbon emissions from electricity generation to zero. All we need to do is build high voltage DC power lines from the midwest to the coasts, while building some massive wind turbine factories, and at the end of an Obama presidency we can get around 20% of our electricity from wind. Think of how many tanks we built in World War Two when the nation decided it was a priority. We can scale up wind turbine production just as fast. Geothermal can be scaled up nearly as fast to at least 10% of our electricity. And if Obama is really serious, Nuclear power can replace Coal on a thirty year time scale. Use what is left of the gas and coal tax money after you balance the budget to fund these massive construction projects.

I should send each of these paragraphs as letters to my Congressmen. Perhaps right now they are just crazy enough to make some of these changes.

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