When you’re a politician, it’s easy to spend money. Actually, it’s easy to spend money for pretty much everybody. Frankly, I don’t want to increase taxes unless there is a big payoff and consensus. But if I am given a little extra money from a cut budget here or a shrunk program there, this is how I might spend it to benefit America.
6 Mbps broadband drops to $5.00 per month
If the internet was spawned by DARPA seeking to connect research institutions, why can’t DARPA (or someone) crank up the thru-put? Internet2 is up and running. Why isn’t government or business getting us a piece of that? Oh, I see the prices dropping a little now and then, but if we want to get to the next level, some serious infrastructure needs to be happening.
What’s the hurry? Well, if you want the US to keep pace with the rest of the world in education, science, and technology, then faster connections will be a critical component. Yes, perhaps it will largely used for trivial things like gaming and movies-on-demand, but this businessman sees other possibilities. And this humanist sees even more.
PS - Rural broadband access should become as much as a priority as was rural electrification in the 30’s and 40’s.
PSS – While we’re at it, why not spend some foreign aid on telecommunications infrastructure for the world? Ditto that for electrification too. (More coal plants? I believe we can find better options. But the distribution network still needs to be in place regardless of the power source.)
No Cash” foreign aid policy
“Zero Tariffs” for bartered goods
(Note: This is an idea borne out of ignorance and should not be taken too seriously unless implementation will help more than it will hurt.)
It seems to me that if we want to help the US economy, it would make more sense to spend foreign aid dollars on buying “US made” goods and shipping them overseas instead of sending cash. If this won’t undermine certain governments who are dependant on our cash, I think it is a superior idea. Cash can be so easily misused.
Moreover, I am wondering if trade deficits might be ameliorated by allowing foreign companies to “barter” goods with US companies, and offer no tariffs as an incentive to promote this. It would be interesting to see the outworkings of this, especially as I am contemplating raising tariffs on countries for whom we have enormous trade deficits (like China).
Reform the Legal System
Our legal system is over-priced and over complex (too many procedures, too many opportunities for delays). Rather than my conjecturing about how to make things more accessible, it would be better if attorneys did this. So I would pose the question to them: “If you could change the ‘system’, what would you like to see?”
I sincerely believe that persons trained in jurisprudence have as an integral part to play in society as doctors or scientists, but like doctors, there needs to be found ways to efficiently access their knowledge and skills without taking up too much of their time. We currently use them as knights for combat, not scholars for good judgment. (Which they in fact are. Stupid people don’t pass the Bar Exam.) This is not a good use of such formidable talent.
Here are some ideas for better use of those trained to discern fair and unfair:
• Bar Associations to license and inspect community portals
Sometimes a legal assistant (a.k.a. clerks) can answer a question or suggest options. They would know when to bring in the big guns, and when a thing can be resolved in more expedient (read, less expensive) ways. They can also help with form preparation, legal instruments, and filing instructions. So what’s wrong with John Doe paying $25 for a half hour of help and advice?
• Binding and Preliminary Arbitration
Don’t sue. Compel them to go to arbitration! Or at least preliminary arbitration. If one could force a defendant to appear before an attorney to get a professional opinion as to how a case would go, then he/she could perhaps convince the same person to submit to binding arbitration, rather than the expense of a lawsuit. I’d pay $100 to start this process, especially if, A) If the person refuses to agree to binding arbitration, that $100 could be added to my damages, or B) If he person agrees to the arbitration, I’ll forfeit the $100, but will get my complaint addressed quickly.
• Internet consultation via webcasts
Person talks about their problem/question and a lawyer replies. ($100 per hour.) Now spin it. Rebroadcast the questions and replies. Charge a subscription fee to access same.
• “Ask a Judge Night”
All judges should be required to donate at least 2 days per month in community outreach. Where? Schools, churches, civic centers, shopping centers,… anywhere there are lots of people. It would do untold good to hear the reasoned response of a guardian of the law, when what people mostly hear is TV courtroom contrivances and histrionics.
Ratchet up censorship of violence and sex
We are the biggest hypocrites on the planet. We moan and complain about violence on the streets and AIDS epidemics, but we won’t lift a finger to touch the root cause of their proliferation, namely, sex and violence in the media (specifically TV, Movies, and magazines)(and video games). Are we so in love with death that we can’t stand the thought of seeing one less grisly dismemberment? Are we so enslaved to our sex drives that we can’t bear the thought of seeing one less act of coitus (from many different camera angles)? Well, I’ve got the cure.
If we are too weak to define and enforce censorship, then tax the stuffing out of it. It worked on cigarettes. Why not this? [It used to be that half of Americans smoked. Now it’s a little more than 20%.] Don’t tell me that cigarettes are physically debilitating but that sex and violence are not. I tell you that more harm has been done by the objectifying of women and the multiplying of scenes of violent death, than was ever done from the tip of a cigarette. More divorces, more venereal diseases, more teenage shootings, more domestic violence. (Or said more eloquently, “Cigarettes kill the body. Pornography kills the soul.”) If you want statistics, I can provide them, but do you really need them? Doesn’t your heart tell you that things have become too… much?
Can’t find the courage to forbid it? Then at least discourage it by taxation. Double the ticket prices for “R” rated movies. Double again for NC-17. Tax advertisers for TV shows that contain an act of violence or sex. Make the internet porn industry pay a per click fee. Video games: You must be licensed to possess certain ones.
Don’t like these ideas? Then come up with better ones. I’m not particular, just incensed. And when enough of us finally become incensed as well, then the world will change.
I have other ideas (“No kidding, Simmons.”) but so does everyone else in the world. Some should be funded (or legislated) by government, some by philanthropists, some by businesses or individuals. If there could be a Wikipedia of Ideas that also allowed people to contribute money towards the implementation of an idea (“vote with your wallet”), then we might get somewhere. Oh, I’m sure that some people want to protect a proprietary idea that they believe they can make money off of. But I’ll bet you that there are 10 times as many people out there (like me) who have wonderful ideas and just want to see a good idea tried out and don’t care who makes the money.
PS – The biggest problem with this “Wiki” idea project is human nature. It seems that if someone else thought of an idea first, we don’t become as enthused as when we thought of the idea ourselves. So let me put it this way: It takes just as much creativity to see the implications of a good idea, as having the good idea. I have visited many websites that purport to have “world changing ideas” only to be disappointed at their depth and discernment. To get behind and support a concept shows the recognition that the concept is more than just wistful imaginings. [Go read about the Tango electric car, and tell me that the time is not NOW for this vehicle.] Voting with your wallet avoids ‘ballot stuffing’ and gives a truer portrayal of an idea’s potential.