(Please note: I wrote this a few weeks after the Occupy Wall Street movement began. I had aimed to send it to the 2-3 most "official" Occupy Wall Street websites to jumpstart some discussion on the subjects herein, but have held off because A) I'm not sure if the OWS movement *wants* a coherent message, and B) I'm not sure if I want to be assassinated yet if this took off.)
This is my opening salvo to the Occupy Main Street movement. Your system of decision making and belief in equality is exemplary, but you still need a cohesive plan to truly help this country. This is a start for your consideration, and may be the answer to the problems we face. Many things provided inspiration for this, especially the enigmatic "Downfall of Democracy" essay (attributed to Alexander Tyler), and the way it is presented at http://www.apatheticvoter.com/Article_DownfallDemocracies.htm.
Our founding fathers believed in the principles of democracy -- one man, one vote -- but unlike previous examples in history, they allowed all but the most minor of decisions to be in the hands of a select few. This was because they knew that most people could not yet read and write. We have since then instituted education for all of our citizens. We can now read, write and understand. For similar reasons, they believed that women and slaves should not be allowed to vote. Women are just as well-educated as men now, and we do not engage in slavery. All citizens are now capable of voting and in a more educated manner, and we should now amend the Constitution and give all U.S. citizens the right to vote on congressional bills and other decisions that affect the future of our country.
The only way we can save our country at this point is to remove the politician's role from the system. Corporations have removed our wealth, first with pay freezes, outsourcing, layoffs with rehiring at lower rates, fraud and gambling away even their OWN wealth. While simultaneously electing OUR representatives with their money. Corporations cannot vote in elections -- they should not be able to contribute to campaigns. For their contributions and lobbying, they receive service from elected officials -- WE should receive that service from the elected officials, since we are the only ones that can vote. Most of this service is in the form of deregulation (allowing them to defraud us and destroy our wealth and resources) or subsidies (taking our money directly out of our pockets and handing it to them) or guaranteed contracts (giving them business that they do not have to compete for in a normal, free market way). Corporations and our own government have been allowed to steal almost all of the money from OUR pension and social security funds for their own use. All of this means that it is no longer a free market, and our political system is not acting in our own interests -- it is only acting in the interest of gaining money for corporations and the governmnet. The Republican party has done the most damage to this effect, in part by co-opting Christianity as "belonging" only to their party and using it to get us to condone their actions and even support them, because Christians can be led to assume that if people are suffering, they have done something wrong and/or are not Christian, and they deserve it. They tap into the natural attitude of any religion of "we are right/we are better" and this allows them to turn a blind eye to those that are suffering, because they assume that they are bad people, cheaters of the system, lazy, or in some other way deserve it. We assume that the ones that are truly in poverty and have done nothing wrong will be taken care of by our church, not the government! But there are two huge flaws in this logic: 1. Many people are not Christian, and those people will most likely not go to a Church for assistance because they will not feel welcome or they feel that they are taking advantage of an ideology they do not support. But much more importantly: 2. Their church cannot POSSIBLY have the capacity to take care of all of these people in poverty if the businesses of this country have been systematically trying to eliminate as many jobs as possible (by simple thrift or moving operations to cheaper countries), paying workers as little as they can possibly get away with, and stealing our benefits, and have thereby created a country of impoverished citizens -- who have increasingly less "safety net" from the government (and perhaps soon no pension/social security in their old age, since it has been stolen). Beginning near the middle of the 20th century and for decades afterward, there was sort of a "gentlemanly agreement" in this country that our businesses would pay employees a "living wage," a wage that they could live reasonably well on. This accomplished three things: citizens with their necessities fulfilled make happy employees, and employees receiving a living wage can afford the companies' products, creating an endless loop that enriched everyone involved. We have utterly destroyed that for quicker, faster profits that corporations are ravenous to get "while they still can," because they believe our way of life is going to die. Their actions have made this a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The six-step plan to solve this: (It is written in present tense as we would see it as it was happening -- make no mistake, none of this has happened yet.)
1. Give everyone in the United States access to a cellphone. Most of us already have one; many states are already offering free cellphones (with access to the Internet) to their citizens that are living in poverty. If nothing else or in addition to this, tethered/secured cellphones could be posted at public places (grocery stores, churches, etc) that citizens could use to vote with (logging in with a pin number).
2. We ALL vote on all issues, federal and then hopefully local. There would be ONE online system for posting petitions for bills and officializing them. Want a vote on something? Get enough interest in the vote, and we VOTE on it. As simple as that. The votes are processed on a distributed peer-to-peer network, so that NO one is in charge of it and can singlehandedly alter it. The rest of the government stays in place, but politicians' role is greatly reduced -- WE are the voters, not them. WE should have voted on whether to enter Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and others. WE should have voted on the jobs bill, health care, you name it. We would still need someone to explain the upcoming votes and what the options mean, and they could fill this role, making their role match what they truly are -- bags of hot air (which would no longer be bought by corporations, or would severely reduce their corporate allegiance's effect on our democratic system). The president becomes the conduit through which our wishes are enacted, and the judicial system has the right to decide the ethics of our actions (whose decisions we can change if necessary through amendments to the Constitution). Congress and the House of Representatives are now US collectively, or they are figureheads who draw up the bills we vote on in official language (if needed) and make OUR votes official -- and we vote to remove them if they don't. When these Congressional representatives were created and given their power, we were a fledgling country that could barely read and write, let alone understand important issues. Women and minorities were not even allowed to vote, partly because of prejudice and partly because of these educational barriers. A national educational system and the globalization of information through the media and the internet have removed these barriers. We are ready to govern ourselves.
3. Democracy has its exact say, without any entitled elitists doing it for us. Even if they don't, corporations lose their say apart from traditional media advertising, and we get a chance to repair theincredible damage they and the government have done to us, the world, our wealth and the environment. No more "pork" added to bills. Bills are bills. We decide to vote on something, and we do it. Just this simple fact will save us trillions of dollars in a short period of time. We will face tough decisions, and do what we need to. Even if we make mistakes, this will eventually be the only way we can save our democracy from failing due to its own bloated debt, the percentage of the population in poverty, corporations' and the government's removal of almost all of our past and future benefit funds for their own use, our completely unprepared free-fall into a world without fossil fuels, and our jeopardizing our own future (physically and financially) by killing people in other countries for decades at a time. The crash these things will cause will only be solved by switching to a cruel military regime, unless we become the first true democracy since Ancient Greece and give each man and woman a vote on each major decision in our future.
4. All government employees, including the president and congress, are treated exactly like other citizens with regard to benefits. They are given a middle to upper middle class salary ($40-$70k), must use the same health care system we do (not paid by the government), and must pay into any pension they receive (and no other government funds will go into this pension plan), or simply receive the same social security benefits we receive. If this causes them to reform social security, which would be doing fine if they hadn't stolen the baby boomers' contributions years ago, so be it.
5. Corporations are not allowed to give money to election campaigns anymore. CITIZENS elect government representatives, not corporations. Citizens should be responsible for the advertising, funding and media exposure they receive.
6. Arbitration must be removed as a way of resolving legal disputes. Arbitration is generally decided by individuals or entities in the industry in question, and therefore will usually side with the corporation over the individual. Also, decisions made through arbitration are not legally binding and there is no legal body (government) to enforce the decisions; corporations and individuals do not follow through with payments/actions required by arbitration with extreme frequency. The right of the individual to receive just compensation/legal action through the court system should not be systematically circumvented with arbitration.
I'm not advocating revolution, we can change our system from within it, but we need to start the ball rolling on this NOW, before it is too late.
By William A. Otis, ancestor of James Otis, who gave a swift kick to get the ball rolling on that whole "American Revolution" thing, and William and Elisha Otis, who jump-started this "Industrial Revolution" that's going on some hundred-years strong (with elevators, steam shovels and the Panama Canal). My father Harold R. Otis did his part in inventing the way most of the world's wires are made (corporations took all the money - are you surprised?), no small bit in itself. I'd like to help get the millenium's first true democracy going in their name, and most importantly, in YOURS.