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In 1913, Henry Ford wrote the following as the directors had been reaping the rewards of profits - "The wages we pay are too small in comparison with our profits. I think we should raise our minimum pay rate".

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Solutions for a Fair, Free and Just Society

PUSH THE RESET BUTTON!  Constitution of the United States 2.0
When the representative body have lost the confidence of their constituents, when they have notoriously made sale of their most valuable rights, when they have assumed to themselves powers which the people never put into their hands, then indeed their continuing in office becomes dangerous to the State, and calls for an exercise of the power of dissolution.
On the Federal level, the first thing I would do is wipe out all laws, amendments, federal agencies, bureaus, councils and conglomerates passed, ratified or set up since December 15, 1791.

I would then go through and edit out all of the remnants of slavery and sexism that were in the original Constitution and Bill of Rights and make (small) necessary adjustments to update the document to modern times.  The (tweaked) Bill of Rights would become an integral part of the Constitution as opposed to Amendments.
"Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of nineteen years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force, and not of right." -- Thomas Jefferson
"I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also and keep pace with the times." --Thomas Jefferson
Then, when we are back to a Constitutional Basis, I would :

Work up amendments that :
  • Establish and protect voting rights of all citizens, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, descent, ability, disability or political philosophy. This would just expound and enshrine all voting rights.
    I would likely try to dictate that voting districts be based solely on geography, political boundaries (city, county and state lines) and population.  A square grid system being the most ideal 'redistricting' method.  These squiggly, wandering lines based on voter race are just anti-democratic and the GOP takes way too much advantage of the system to control election outcomes.
    I would try to include real consequences for elected officials or anyone who tampers with election outcomes or voter turnout. I would expand definitions of 'poll tax' and outlaw such things as well as any voter disenfranchisement practices.

  • I would address the "Corporation" issue that (some of) the Founders wanted to, but ultimately failed to, address.  I would constitutionally limit corporations to their original intent and ensure that their board of directors, CEO, staff and to a more limited degree, their investors, would be held responsible for corporate misdeeds and malfeasance (if they were actually involved).  I would also ban the corporations from becoming involved in politics, influencing politicians or contributing in any way to political campaigns.  The real people who own, manage and work at the company are still more than free to get involved in politics, but the legal fiction 'corporation' can not.  Note that Unions are also usually corporations.
  • I hope we shall take warning from the example of England and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our Government to trial, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
    I linked to it, but like this so much I figured I'd include it here for all (both?) to read :
    "in his State of The Union Address in 1902, Roosevelt stated his intentions toward corporations.
    “Our aim is not to do away with corporations; on the contrary, these big aggregations are an inevitable development of modern industrialism, and the effort to destroy them would be futile unless accomplished in ways that would work the utmost mischief to the entire body politic. We can do nothing of good in the way of regulating and supervising these corporations until we fix clearly in our minds that we are not attacking the corporations, but endeavoring to do away with any evil in them. We are not hostile to them; we are merely determined that they shall be so handled as to serve the public good. We draw the line against misconduct, not against wealth.”
    To that end he fought for corporate regulation, he fought for fair wages for workers, he fought for safe and healthy work environments, and he fought to protect consumers. And the people loved him for it. Roosevelt’s policies toward corporations were immensely popular. He busted up so many giant corporations that he became known as a “trust buster”. The busting up of these corporations created a lot more competition for customers and for employees, resulting in higher wages and lower prices and more jobs. And you know what? Corporate profits did just fine."

  • Banking and Financial Institutions.  Just like corporations, these entities must be kept from doing more harm than good.  Practices of abusing and exploiting individuals in order to enrich shareholders must be stopped.
    The system of banking [is] a blot left in all our Constitutions, which, if not covered, will end in their destruction... I sincerely believe that banking institutions are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity... is but swindling futurity on a large scale.
  • Federal Reserve.  Eliminated and shut down. It is a private institution and printing and issuing currency should be done by The People, not any corporation.
    I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a moneyed aristocracy that has set the Government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs.
    If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.
  • I would re-establish, with constitutional limits, the federal organizations necessary to manage the duties and obligations of the Federal Government.  This would include the Armed Forces, Social Security, Postal Service ( from which I would strip the absurd retirement requirement ) and Federal Transportation department for infrastructure.  Keeping in mind that the law of the State should override the law of the Nation on everything not expressly enumerated as Federal Powers.
  • Department of Education - yes, I am afraid I would rebuild it.  We need to ensure that all children are getting a basic education no matter where they live in the country.  I hope that I would be able to make the department a lot smaller and a lot less invasive while still able to accomplish it's goals.
    I would include in the requirements a Life Lessons course that would include budgeting, money management, smart shopping, selecting insurance, home ownership versus renting, personal responsibility and independence subjects.  I imagine this course would start in High School and continue for four years.  I might also require lessons on how to follow government, research bills and laws and keep informed on reality.  Some might deride this as an Anti-Fox agenda, but I think that would speak more to the character of Fox News than anything else.
    Above all things I hope the education of the common people will be attended to, convinced that on their good sense we may rely with the most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty.
  • Internal Revenue Service.  Taxes have been around for a very, very long time.  They are needed to run the country.  For those who say they are not constitutional, I would ask you to read the Constitution of the United States, Article 1, Section 8
    I would find a static formula for yearly personal income tax rates.  I think I would start it at 1% and add based on the bracket's share of national income.  I would treat all forms of income equally - work, investment and inheritance. 
    There would be no loopholes and few tax shelters - such as IRA, HSA, 401k and other such 'encouragement' investments. Tax shelters would only be allowed if there is conclusive evidence that the activity given tax advantage promotes a healthy economy and personal independence. 
    Tax brackets would be in 10k increments up to 100k then go to 20k up to 200k, 30k up to 320k, 50k up to 520k, 70k up to 800k, 100k up to 1.5mil and keep going like that, with each bracket paying a slightly higher rate on that bracket of income.  I would try to keep it so that nobody pays less than 1% of their income and nobody pays more than 20%, with most people paying around 10% of their total net incomes. 
    The nice thing is that congress couldn't hand out tax favours in exchange for funding or votes.  It would be automatic and set in stone, no favours, no abuses, no evasion.  
  • I would not tax spending at the federal level. That is like a poor tax and would make life harder on those with less income.  It would also discourage spending large sums, which would be detrimental to the economy.
  • On Taxes - I would likely eliminate and outlaw property taxes.  These are used for nothing but allowing a government to steal land from the rightful owners. At the very least, I would outlaw taking land for back taxes.  There would have to be some good laws written to consider land abandonment, possession (squatting) to ownership and other items.
  • Business and Corporate taxes. I would make this where it is a tax on profits only - after expenses and payroll - maybe after dividends to shareholders.  I would hope to be able to create an adjustable rate based on a formula that takes a base rate of 5% and adds something like
    ((average real executive pay(not vps)/average worker pay)*.10)
    so a company where executives make 250 times more than the average employee would pay 30% taxes on profits and a company where executives make only 25 times more would pay 7.5% taxes on profits.  Founders, Owners and those who were responsible for starting the business would have some salary advantages in that formula to not penalize small business owners for reaping the rewards of their hard work.
  • I would establish anti-black-market laws and regulations.  This would kind of replace the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), which I doubt I would rebuild. The big change that these laws would bring is that they would effectively legalize and regulate recreational drugs.  It would no longer be illegal to grow, sell, possess or use any drug or alcohol.  It would no longer be illegal to grow the non-drug plant Hemp.  However, any crime, damage or harm done while involved in any of those activities would have increased penalties.  There would be a lot of 'while intoxicated' additives to crime descriptions. 
    Selling to or use by minors would also be illegal, although age limit would be decreased to 18 with a 'If you can go to war, you can whatever' policy.  Maybe 18 would only be if you are enlisted, 21 otherwise.  This would also end the DEA and related agencies.
    A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement.
    Laws provide against injury from others, but not from ourselves.
  • Speaking of 'enlisted,' I would abolish all forms of sexism in military service.  Women can go front-line if they want to. Gay people of all genders can serve openly and without discrimination.  Punishment for sex or orientation based hate crimes in the military would be harsh.
  • Consumer Health and Safety Agency.  Oh, yeah.  I would create this Agency and roll a lot of the good function of other agencies under this one.  This would protect the consumer from all kinds of things - food that would make them sick, drugs that are contaminated or harmful if used wrong,  financial predation and abuses of all kinds.  This would take up the good and necessary roles of the FDA, DEA, CPA and other regulatory bodies.  It would likely need departments under it such as a Department of Recreational Drugs and Alcohol, a Department of Financial Regulation, Department of Medical Safety and others.
    It would be largely independent with minimal congressional oversight (aka - political control) so that it would be fair and balanced in it's rulings.
    Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.
  • Freedom of Religion.
    The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts as are only injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
    Freedom only exists until it becomes tyranny.  There is no freedom to oppress others, discriminate against others nor to force others to endure your prayers and rituals in order to enjoy an otherwise public, secular event.  A government building posting religious texts or images inside or outside is a signal that the religion represented is an official religion of the government that put it there.
    The point of Freedom of Religion is that you are free to practice your religion.  The Separation of Church and State means that you are not free to use government to advance your religion or force others to endure it nor adhere to it's beliefs.
    I will repeat myself here - you are free to practice your beliefs, have your beliefs, speak about your beliefs and even keep silent about your religious beliefs.  You are not, in any way, free to pass laws that force your religious beliefs onto all citizens, regardless of their beliefs.
    Government is not free to limit your religious belief nor practices - until you infringe upon the equal rights of others to remain free and enjoy public spaces and events.
    You are not free to use Public Education to indoctrinate your beliefs onto the children of other people, some of whom may not share your religion.  Religious education should be done in churches and homes, not in public schools.
    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State.
  • Supreme Court.
    You seem ... to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps.... Their power [is] the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.
    The structure of the Supreme Court would change drastically.  No more lifetime appointments, much higher ethical standards. Our current court is dangerously right-wing activist and has not arbitrarily ruled on a constitutional basis. They have done outrageous things such as the Citizens United ruling making corporations equal to people.  Clarence Thomas not recusing himself from a case that his wife was paid to lobby against one side is reprehensible.

  • Freedom of the Press and the Media.

    Freedom of the Press must be preserved.  News is important to our society.  Mishandling a news story to create propaganda should not be allowed.  I would implement a Truth in Broadcasting law that would require News Programs to adhere to only factual and accurate reporting.  News would also have to report the full story, not just a piece of the story where the limited facts shared would create a bias.  The law would also require Opinion shows or pieces to be labelled, with tv shows having a disclaimer before and after each commercial and/or segment.  Question is, how to keep government from forcing it's version of 'truth' onto the press and keep the press honest??

  • Health Care

    This is one area that needs some serious revamping.  I firmly believe that when corporations started owning hospitals and physician practices that we started doing less healing and more 'treatment.'  I would probably make it illegal to profit from providing health services.  We would have to set up a salary schedule for all types of health care workers.  You would still have to pay for services, or have insurance that covered it - but all the costs would be much lower.  Right now, corporate masters are requiring doctors to see a certain, high, number of patients per hour - destroying our health care quality.  I would make it so that doctors have an incentive to Cure and Heal patients instead of just treat symptoms and actually prolong illnesses in order to profit from return visits.  I'd be tempted to set up one federal hospital in each state and one federal physician's office in each town that requested one.  The yearly salary would be the same no matter how many patients they saw or procedures they performed - maybe some outcome bonuses for curing patients.
  • Insurance

    Most insurance is a big rip-off.  It usually doesn't cover whatever happens and they have 'loopholes' for what they won't pay for.  Big changes here.  For one, insurance would have to cover things that actually happen.  For instance, a water heater leak could not be excluded because it 'falls under flood damage.'  I would also consider some way to recoup part of your money if you never used the insurance or some of the difference between what you paid and what you used.  Otherwise, it is gambling and a rip-off.  Especially when it is government required.  This may fall under the Consumer Health and Safety Agency.
I suppose that is enough for now.  What do you think?  Comment, Ya'll!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Rode a Vulcan to see Vulcan

On Saturday the 8th, 2013, I set out to ride my Vulcan 1700 Classic to see Vulcan in Birmingham, AL.

I had proposed the ride on the Vulcan Forums some time ago and had some interest.  So, the 8th was the date.  I got up early and went to the Valero beside Home Depot to get a Monster Rehab (green tea) and a snack (Nature Valley Fruit and Nut trail bar).  Then I hit the Home Depot parking lot - just in case anyone had wanted to ride with me.  Nobody.  So, when I finished my trail bar, I put the Monster in my cup holder and went heels up.

Heels went back down 79.6 miles later at the Pilot in Meridian, MS (stage1 map).  I fueled up and finished off the Monster and threw it in the trash can.  I had fun watching the wind slowly spin the can around and around in the cup holder on the interstate.  I mean a full turn every few miles or so.

From there, I headed to met up with Gravy and his girlfriend at Mary's Travel Center in Brookwood, AL (stage2 map).  We met at the Huddle House and I had a great breakfast for under $5.00 - biscuits and sausage gravy with scrambled eggs.

Rick and his wife and Bobby (not me, I'm Graywalker) showed up and had some coffee, then we headed out to see Vulcan.  There had been an accident on I-20, so we took an alternate route (stage3 map).  This was my first group ride - four motorcycles - and I think we did pretty good.  I can see how some hand signals would have done some good - like the group lead signaling for the rear rider to change lanes and hold traffic so everyone could get over.  When we got there, I quickly got the photo:

 Tinker met us there - I was happy to see another 1700 with our Transformers tail light - and we all walked around a while, taking touristy photos.

 When we were done sight-seeing, we went for a ride!  Now 5 motorcycles with Tinker in the lead, we wound up on Hwy 25 in Leeds.... well, I don't know how we got there, exactly, but we stopped by the Vulcan gas station first :
Then we rode on to hwy 25. It was a great ride with some great views.  We stopped at an overlook (unofficial) and took some pics.  I didn't get a picture of it, but down the hill on the left of the next picture was a boat hull some idjot tosses over the side.  Big boat hull.  They apparently pulled the engine and any salvage they wanted to keep and tossed the hull.  There was lots of trash on the sides of the road - People Suck.  There was one guy, near the start of the ride who had parked on the roadside and was picking up trash.  I threw him a thumbs up, but doubt he saw it.

We stopped at Cafe Firenze and had a GREAT meal (stage4 map).  It wasn't fancy - cheeseburger and onion rings for me, but it was good, good food.  They had a good, live band and as we drove up they were playing Sweet Home Alabama - they are required to play that any time I come back to the state I was born in. ( LOL )

 After that, we headed on around through some nice scenery and easy roads to a gas station (B on the map) where we decided to split up and head to our respective homes.  Tinker took us on one more nice little road through some hills and turns before we hit 280 and the Interstates (stage5 map).  I followed Gravy to Brookwood, gassed up and got a Gator Ade, then headed on Home. I had to stop at the Pilot in Meridian to refuel - the bike and me.  Had a Subway sammich and took half home to Willice.  I wish she had been able to come with me... I've got to get a sissy bar.  Of course, if she had, we would have probably gotten a hotel room in Birmingham for the night.

It got dark on the way home and 5.2 miles before the house, it started to rain.  I stopped and covered my saddleman bag with the rain cover and prepared to get soaked - which I did.

All in all, it was about a 515 mile trip and somewhere around 14 hours.  It was great to meet everyone and they were all really cool people and I enjoyed hanging out and riding with them!