Dear readers, this column is a repeat of one I wrote a few years ago. This weekend is devoted to our 50th anniversary and my birthday- a big bash- leaving zero time for my usual reflections. I did tweak it, though...
Lots of brochures and phone solicitations from aspiring politicians are starting to pour in, triggering a weird dream one night, where I find myself with the huge, temporary power to dee-cree American changes. And make one world change.
It went like this:
I (a little old lady who likes dirt and the stuff that grows in it) possess a smattering of hard-earned common sense, which has inexplicably morphed into a Marvel Comic-like ‘Power-To-Change-Things-By-DeeCree’. I could make massive political and social changes, implemented by my scrawled signature. Bling! All Dee-crees shall immediately become reality for the United States of America.
(Oh: I’m allowed just ONE world-sized decree, though. See #8.)
Here They Are.
1. Presidential campaigns shall last precisely six months.
Candidates (representing a maximum of four parties chosen in state and local elections) will be granted a budget of one hundred million public dollars each- and not one penny more- to map out and present their platforms. All major television news stations, as a public service, will feature each state’s chosen candidates on the first Sunday of every month, for three hours. Voters will dine on the ‘meat’ of their debates, arguments and proposals, which shall be presented concisely. (A disinterested committee will fund each candidate’s submitted ‘vote-for-me’ ads, using the money drawn from the aspiring politician’s hundred million dollar fund. (No one has to be wealthy to run, or win.)
The American public shall mine for talent and innovative ideas, and listen to- and debate- every debate.
2. Candidates caught in a lie (via ads or out of their own mouths) shall immediately be eliminated from the competition. A committee of eleven respected people dedicated to Truth, Honor and the Reasoned Way, will thoroughly check their veracity, then decide, based on collected verifiable evidence, if a lie exists. (Note: solid, reliable politically untainted statement checks will make honesty popular again.) The committee shall be paid well for this service, which shall last the entire six months.
Their decisions are final.
3. If one single ‘rotten’ ballot is discovered (ballots will be randomly reviewed to weed out dead voters and non-citizens from anywhere) then ALL of that particular county’s ballots shall be rendered void. Losing so many votes because someone tries to sneak in ringers would go a long way toward stopping dishonesty.
If an idea cannot survive without cheating to promote it, that idea should be chucked out.
4. Part of the oath every elected official must take shall include these words:
‘I am a public SERVANT, not the public’s Master. When a government fears the people, that is Freedom. When the people fear their government, that is Tyranny. Thus, the Lesson, repeated: I am a public SERVANT, not the public’s Master. The citizens I represent are my Masters.
5. The nation’s press shall report only fact-based news of the day. The awful ‘filler’ inclusions of death and psychopathic horrors that greet a soul over morning coffee encourage depression and despair. (Dozens of instances of character assassination, bear-eats child, woman tortures horses/babies, etc, offered as a steady diet every single day encourage reader despair and poor mental health.) Only factual research for the most up-to-date information shall be printed.
News readers shall read the latest regional, national and world news. Simply that.
Condemnation, expressed horror over what is reported, etc, shall happen in a forum designed for that purpose. All statements and declarations of horror and disgust shall be based on factual knowledge, and not attributed to ‘unnamed sources.’ No implants of erroneous ideas of why a behavior happens- “ perhaps he’s beaten his children, so that’s why they dare not look up” is permitted. That is Malicious Gossip, junk food for unwary brains...
6. The President and Congress shall serve six years, with no second term. Thus, their entire time in office shall be spent actually running the country, undistracted by fundraising or pandering to his or her base.
All presidential decisions, congressional bills and subsequent votes shall be posted weekly, in plain English on one page, for the country to read. The author of the bill shall be prominently printed.
No riders- ‘remora eel’ attachments- are permitted, ever. Only the bill, with a ten page-limit. The bill writers must KISS (Keep It Simple- Succinct).
7. The very first word learned in school shall be ignorance - a big word (though not nearly as big as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious) but one of the most dangerous to ignore. Ignorant people, stuffed with ideology, religiously inflexible precepts, or just plain pigheadedness, regularly say and do awful, unthinkable things to other living beings. Children shall learn, for example, that not one single human being has ever been able to choose his or her skin pigment, height, eye color, hair texture, parents, sex, or place of birth. So, hating people for something they have zero control over is, by definition, the very essence of ignorance.
(When one learns to reason, and becomes skilled as a ‘devil’s advocate,’ that is, a person who can grasp the other side of a plan, ideology, or platform to aid in understanding the other person’s reasoning, which makes it possible to minimize the number of times he/she makes an idiot of him/herself.
Bonus: tolerance and flexibility are thus nurtured.)
Information, gleaned from verifiable facts (never from consensus) shall be given out freely. Questions, especially at school, must be encouraged. (Teachers may never teach for tests.) When updated and verifiable data about any subject is discovered, students shall celebrate the updates. After all, a better, more complete grasp of ideas or theories is always a good thing.
After basic reasoning skills are mastered, there’ll be more time to luxuriate in love, compassion, generosity, fellowship, fun, and the gentle art of accommodation and compromise.
**8. THE WORLD RULE: There will be time to indulge in the things listed above because- Wars anywhere, big or small, will be extremely unlikely. Why?
The sitting president, his/her staff and Congress shall physically lead any war they declare or provoke.
*This same Dee-cree shall apply to every world leader- prime ministers, ayatollahs, mullahs, dictators, kings, queens, emperors, princes, etc., including his/her staff and their congress, politbody, rubber stampers or whatever these groups might be called.
Put simply: Leaders, whether old or young, must lead- and fight- on the Front Lines. No desk warriors allowed. No excuses.
9. The first book read to toddlers- and to all new American citizen adults- shall be The Sneetches and Other Stories, by Dr. Seuss. Children will ponder Sylvester McMonkey McBean’s Star-On and Star-Off Machines, and who was what, and why it seemed important….
The other three stories, Too Many Daves, The Zax, and What Was I Scared Of? are- well, just perfect for helping to sort out life’s vagaries early.
10. Everyone shall pay for doctor visits. Cash, checks and credit cards accepted. This method of payment is offered in hardware stores, clothing shops, food stores, airports, dry cleaners, etc. so everyone already knows how to do it. Just pull out the wallet and pay for the service. Second, third and forth party government bureaucrats are not allowed to interfere in a doctor-patient relationship.
The price of health care will plummet.
One’s private health information shall once again be private.
Comparison-shopping will blossom.
Word will quickly spread as to which physicians, clinics and hospitals excel, and which are sub-standard.
The price of every test, and all medicines, shall be posted.
- shall NOT have a Separate, Special Health Plan. They shall receive precisely what they mandate for the rest of the country.
- Terms shall last 6 years, with a good salary- better than what they’d been earning in their regular jobs, to compensate for uprooting their regular lives to serve in this way. A nice bonus at term’s end shall be awarded to those who have served their constituents with integrity and honor, and have not left Congress 1000% richer.
12. All Americans shall purchase Mandatory Catastrophic Health Insurance to cover any medical disaster, using the money they earn.
Anyone genuinely needful- people who just can’t pay for these awful health situations-either temporarily or permanently- will be assisted using a generous federal, state or local government fund set aside to fully cover their medical expenses. Prospective people in need will be carefully checked to root out fakers.
13. Lawsuits shall be filed with great care. Frivolous filers will incur a mega-fine for tying up court time. If a civil lawsuit goes to court, the losing side shall pay both bills. Nonsense will cease as offenders’ wallets become emaciated.
14. Elementary schools shall teach reading, mathematics, unredacted history, geography, English, logic (critical thinking) writing skills and a foreign language. A maximum of FIVE hours daily shall be dedicated to these subjects. Homework shall be rare, because home time shall be reserved for family interactions, after-school jobs, and play.
Furthermore, the above subjects shall be offered all day. So, if a child is naturally most alert, say, after lunch, he/she shall attend school then, during their personal best learning time. No more dragging children out of bed at 6:00 a.m. to present them at school half asleep, unable to absorb facts. No more forcing a child to learn in the afternoon, if he/she is naturally most alert and receptive during mornings. Understanding circadian rhythms greatly helps a brain absorb knowledge.
Parents may drop in anytime to quietly observe their child’s class, from a small one-way glass room, so as not to distract. Teachers, on the merit system, shall be tested periodically to insure professional competence, and to insure they teach only the subjects mentioned. Everything not academic shall not be mandated. Schools shall have sign-up sheets for sports, music, art, driver training, shop, etc. All are free. All shall be offered all day.
Large bonuses will be awarded for teaching excellence, as determined by the learning demonstrated by pupils. Older childrens’ reasoned, written evaluations of their teachers’ performances at years’ end shall be encouraged. Constructive criticism especially from children, is always valuable.
As chief Poo-Bah I make all this happen by signing a special paper- and Presto! The above dee-clarations become the new reality.
Smiling, I sigh and drift off again, perchance to imagine even more improbable profundities-
Dreams are still free, eh?