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So you want to fix America? Here are four simple ways to start

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posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 08:57 AM
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Fellow ATSers,

We are all on this site because our interests run far and wide, because our minds require more stimulation than cable TV can offer and because we seek to commune -- or debate -- with other like-minded folks. But like the rest of the world, we are human and thus prone to tribalism and that leads us to fight against each other, even within this community. The latest example is the "Message to all Americans" threads. A key criticism of many in those threads has been the lack of concrete solutions offered by those of us who are extremely critical of our country (me being vociforously and provocatively one of them). I would like to offer four simple changes that I believe would drammatically alter the United States for the positive. I would like the community to flesh out and debate these ideas please. Now these changes may be simple, but they would face considerable opposition. They may be simple, but their effects would be far reaching. I will do my best to explain my thinking and look forward to this community's feedback.

1. MANDATORY TWO YEAR DRAFT FOR NATIONAL SERVICE FOR ALL, INCLUDING CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS...BUT NOT NECESSARILY FOR MILITARY SERVICE
I should note I am a veteran. It is my belief that service to one's country makes one a much better citizen. You become more informed as to the rest of the world and you suddenly have a stake in peace and sanity. Service teaches you genuine patriotism, not reflexive jingoistic patriotism, because you end up learning respect or at least perspective relative to the U.S. to the places you visit, the people you meet. You learn not to fear people who are different than you. Mostly though, it ups the ante -- if you are going to have to serve (zero deferments, save for mental instability) you and your parents, your community are forced to experience the consequences of national decisions. There should be zero doubt that we'd be out of Afghanistan right now if there were a draft, because polls consistently show the vast majority thinks the war is pointless. But since that majority does not feel the pain, not in blood or treasure, they can simply flip the channel, so to speak, and ignore the costs. Everyone needs to feel the pain because if so, they'll not be so apathetic. Importantly as well, if all share the pain, as a society we will be more willing (read: to fund) to properly mend the broken bodies and souls of those returning.

Further, regardless of claims otherwise, mostly underpriviledged fight our battles. Not exclusively I know -- I came from an upper middle class family and I freely chose to join -- but predominantly kids join because they see the military as a way to better themselves, to gain money for college, to learn a skill, to escape crippling poverty or gangs. So in this sense, volunteer or not, the poor fight our wars while the offspring of the rest of society by and large goes to college.

I know the military services actually do not like the concept of a draft because it results in a less motivated service. Fine, once in, let members volunteer and be selected for those units that require the highest drive and motivation. Make the others serve the rest, clean their mess, whatever.

If you are a conscientious objector, fine, do as the Brits did in WWI and make them medics. There was a famous unit of Brit medics who were highly decorated for their valor in battle, but none carried a gun. These were real conscientious objectors and had courage beyond most. They of course can also serve in other units, like intel, maintenance, logistics and construction, etc. They can even be "drafted" into the Peace Corps. The object being to instill a sense of national service, a sense of gratitude for the fortuitous miracle of your birth into this society and a goal of broadening horizons and understanding of the world.

In my view, not all draftees should be carted off to military service. Some should be trained as community workers, baton carrying (but not weaponized) support personnel to police officers and sent to different communities outside their state.

In any event, I think you get my point. What are your thoughts?

2. FULL REPEAL OF THE PATRIOT ACT
We all understand the concept of "self-fulfilling prophecy." If one reacts consistently as if something they fear is happening, then that thing will often actually be caused to happen. Right now we allow our government to treat us with disdain and suspicion without cause. And in opening that pandors box, it has permitted to steady and sure erosion of our rights and even our tolerance to that erosion (e.g. unprovoked and forced TSA body searches, etc.). I do not know about you, but it makes me furious and has made me even more sour on our government. It granted authority to treat us -- government's supposed masters -- as its subjects.

National culture and character are more fragile things than some might appreciate. There are things that historically have made Americans, well, Americans. We value privacy, we have an acute sense of fairness and justice. We are supposed to be the land of "innocent until proven guilty." These were sacrosanct concepts. These were high moral concepts that gave credence to American claims of some moral high ground in my view. But in allowing our government to spy on us in the purported interests of public safety, we are eroding, nay corroding, these values. That corrosion literally changes the character of us as a nation. It has allowed us to accept invasion of other nations without cause, to give a pass to our persons and our loved ones being violated without cause, to make us suspect our fellows. When will we begin to ask ourselves, "At what cost?" Not only that, let's demand proof of effectiveness before we blindly tolerate such massive encroachments and assaults on our national character. I am telling you, the Patriot Act and the avalanche of other acts imposed on us for dubious claims of "public safety" are killing part of our national character. We must stop this now.

3. TAX ALL CHURCHES THAT ENGAGE IN OVERT POLITICS
Your freedom to practice your religion must STOP at the point when it interferes with my life or seeks to impose its values upon me because then you are interfering with MY rights to practice my faith as I see fit or not. For me, this is a biggy and it needs to happen soon before we institutionally forget there ever was an intention that Christianity (an evolving concept with evolving values in itself) is not be the basis for law and order in this country. In particular, the evangelical wing of Christianity has as a central goal the conversion of everyone to its claim of Biblical truth and salvation, just as extreme Islam does. It uses this mandate as authority to justify imposition of its version of Christian values into everything. I would argue it is NO different in concept than Sharia law, since it sees everything, from science to politics to social roles through the distorting lens of religion. Read this interesting article for some explanation of why -- if it is does not unnerve you, than I'd argue you that you are a Christian first, American second, just as a Wahhabiest is Islamic first. That's a problem for other Americans. news.nationalgeographic.com...

Just like in extreme Muslim nations, religious dominance of societal thought leads to dangerous ignorance that results in bad decision making because it substitutes beliefs for facts, science with literalism, education with indoctrination. And indoctrination prevents us from seeing real solutions, teaches us fear that keeps us from engaging those different than us. It has us thinking, "Gee something called the 'Muslim Brotherhood' must necessarily be an extreme organization that wants essentially, ultimately, to impose Sharia, to kill or convert us!" when in fact it might be a group made up predominanly of university eductated professionals who value rationalism, rule of law and democracy, just as the lay Christian does (or should). Should the rest of the world see the Westboro Baptist Church as a correct representation of your Christian faith and your belief system? They WILL, DO and SHOULD when American Christians see ANY and ALL Muslims as an existential threat.

If we tax politically-engaged churches, perhaps they'll give up their interference in politics. Maybe they'll revert back to what religion is at its best, a social and moral construct that provides inward strength and community cohesion and acts as a social bulwark to trajedy and loss versus a political radical wing that pits Americans against each other. I sadly suspect many such churches, such radical activist pastors, love their money first and will dump politics in a heart beat if it affects the pocketbook. Perhaps it will help us nationally to once again consider our faith our personal business, with your faith being none of my business and vice versa.

4. CONSITUTIONALLY ELIMINATE CORPORATE PERSONHOOD
...and make it a felony for business donate to a campaign in any way (soft or otherwise) AND shoot down the concept that money equals speech. Allow them to lobby, but with strict sunshine laws and transparency, but not donate. Allow corporate officers to donate to the same levels as any other citizen. This should be a no brainer and this may be the root of all evil in America, so to speak. Corporations are not moral constructs, they have no civic or social value system, no conscious. They are purely fictional creations of law whose literal and sole purpose is make money. By its very definition it does not and should care about issues of morality, life or death, decency, justice, etc. except to the extent such things affects its profits. And of course it cannot die (do not try to argue that bankrupcy equals physical death). As such it must not and cannot be made a person. This is especially true since its investing members are individually already persons, and so long as they are citizens, they already enjoy Freedom of Speech, the right to vote, assemble and other INALIENABLE rights.

Corporations are NOT endowed with these INALIENABLE rights because they are entirely creations of law. They do not exist it the real world as much as an insect or plant. We do not give insects and plants the rights to vote (though our votes may seek to protect them if we want).

Money must not equal speech. To say it does means logically and in reality that more money equals more speech. Corporations have so much money they can dwafts all other interests (let's not pretend we as humans have no interests, we do and that's legitimate for us to organize in our interests). That means its "speech" can drown out the speech of others, by literally buying up the capacity, etc. I really should not have to go into this at any great length; I think we all intuitively know this to be both true and right. The Constitution does not say, "We the People and the Corporations..." and the Declaration of Independence does not say "...that all men and corporations are created equal...they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..."

So friends, these are my concrete things I think need to change and if are changed will take America back to a nation that is both prosperous and just, where its people see themselves as fellows and not adversaries.

I'd like to read your thoughts. Thanks, Pajoly


edit on 4-2-2011 by pajoly because: edited for typos and grammar

edit on 4-2-2011 by pajoly because: made clear the call to service is not just for military

edit on 4-2-2011 by pajoly because: edited title




posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 09:14 AM
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I liked them all. Especially #4. Though, you might want to add unions in there as well.

Well thought out. Relavent.
S+F



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 09:28 AM
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Meh, I liked all of them except mandatory military service. I consider myself a good person with a well balanced sense of ethics. I go out of my way to help those that ask or are under my care. And I have made it a priority in my life to constantly learn about science and history. I, however, have never needed nor wanted to learn how to fight as an infantry man.

Besides, I was born with a cogenital progressive hearing loss... hard to follow orders that you cannot hear.

Also, I think that by removing the "volunteer" aspect of the US Military would infect the military with a virus of corruption. Most military people I have met who are career have a deep sense of pride and honor about the nature of the military. A conscripted force would be much more cynical and less honorable. (personal opinion)

But then again, the idea of being forced in some way to do public service... maybe military or politics? If government is supposed to be "of the people" then perhaps a political corps as well as a military corps?
edit on 2-4-2011 by rogerstigers because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 09:28 AM
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There are a lot of people in this country who are simply too instable to go through the brutal tactics used in the military. I've got a whole family full of suicides and attempted suicides because they were stupid enough to go into the military or not dodge the draft. This country is full of extremely instable people, and what you're basically saying is that you want to not only subject them to intense mental rigor that will probably make them snap but also teach them how to use extremely deadly weapons. There are people who would be unable to fulfill military duty because of physical ailment or they don't have the skills. There are some people who are not cut out for the military. Period.

Aside from that, why don't you just line 1/3 of the women of this country up and let it be a rape free-for-all? That's the equivalent of a military draft for women.
edit on 4-2-2011 by gnosticquasar because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 09:39 AM
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We need forced "National" service rather than required military service. This two years will allow our youth to gain maturity and gather a better sense to which direction they want their lives to go. Do this right after high school and give back some education to those that serve afterwards whether it be trade school or traditional college.

We need to eliminate all political donations from everyone. Campaigns need to funded by the state 100%. Take the money out of politics and we rid ourselves of politicians that are in it for the money.

We also need full government control over energy, food, water, communications, healthcare. Anything that is not essential to modern life can stay in the for-profit capitalistic arena. This doesn't mean workers in these industries will suffer, just their owners. BTW I currently own nice chunks of stock in all these industries but would be willing to give it up for a better future.

Repeat all the above worldwide.



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 09:45 AM
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Originally posted by sligtlyskeptical
We also need full government control over energy, food, water, communications, healthcare. Anything that is not essential to modern life can stay in the for-profit capitalistic arena. This doesn't mean workers in these industries will suffer, just their owners. BTW I currently own nice chunks of stock in all these industries but would be willing to give it up for a better future.

Repeat all the above worldwide.


The same government that gave us the DMV, the IRS, you want THEM to control our food, water, energy, healthcare?
Oh my goodness. What a bad, sad, idea.



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 09:46 AM
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reply to post by pajoly
 


Well thought-out list... good on ya. I mostly agree, especially with your #4. Calling a company equal to an individual person in terms of rights is nuts...

I do disagree with your #1, in the fine points. It puts too much emphasis on "serving the country" = "serving in the military". There are dozens of different ways a person can serve the country, even if it is at the purely local level, that are not military based.

I agree with the idea of everybody serving a term of service to the country. And if someone wants to volunteer that they spend their mandatory service time in the military, fine. But don't have the military be the funnel-point for every citizen's mandatory service.

That will still get everybody involved, and still keep the military segment of service as an all-volunteer outfit.

I'd add one thing... every member of Congress, the Executive or Judicial branches of gov't that starts, votes for or supports a war has to serve in it. Or if they are physically unable, then a member of their family has to serve in it. That would drastically reduce the number of BS wars the US seems to continually stumble into.

Note: They have to serve in the current war they are supporting. Service in past wars does not fulfill this obligation.



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 09:50 AM
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reply to post by rogerstigers
 


I would argue you should then do other service that is not military in nature, but should bear the sacrifice as the rest. Shared sacrifice is key. No one should be exempt because no one is more special than another.

Additionally, it'd not instill corruption because only volunteers "re-up" to make the military a career. Only the lowest echelon of the service would be made of not elective personell.



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 09:52 AM
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Universal service would be acceptable,as long as those who would serve were the ones making the final decision.

If you really look at it,our young are being groomed to see war as a cool thing.

Too bad they're too inexperienced to make such a decision wisely.

War is wrong,the military is nothing but wasted lives and resources.

Don't try to justify your military experience like an ugly tattoo you got when you were too drunk to know better.


edit on 4-2-2011 by chiponbothshoulders because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 09:56 AM
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reply to post by gnosticquasar
 


You did not read my entire post with respect to service, but I have edited to make clear it does not need to be limited to military service. The key is shared sacrifice. As for the rape hyperbole, were you in the service or are you just projecting a wild guess on your part. In my two years in, I did not hear of one case of rape among the women I worked with, nor fear thereof. I don't deny some may have happened (I am not a woman), but your fears are silly and by default say the rest of us are latent criminals.



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 09:57 AM
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reply to post by pajoly
 


You may be right about the corruption bit... was still on my first cuppa joe..


I think the concept of a mandatory 2 years of community service is good. There could be military, political, medical, etc. Low pay jobs that help the kids get started in the workforce and understand what it means to fend for themselves and help others.



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 10:00 AM
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A lot of the real problems we have in america are not being addressed here.

Think more deeply about the conflict between technology and human labor.



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 10:02 AM
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reply to post by chiponbothshoulders
 


Wow. Really? You see me justifying my service and I must have enlisted when I was drunk? I enlisted after leaving college as a freshman. I was not ready for college and thought the military would be productive and get me some college money. I served in peacetime. Mostly I did guard duty, brushed rust off vehicles and broke up fights of drunk German civilians (amonst themselves) or drunk off duty soldiers.

Being that we are human, militaries are a necessary evil, like it or not. I'd agree 100% if your point is that our military is being improperly used right now, but to pretend they are a total waste is utopian, which is just silly.



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 10:10 AM
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reply to post by chiponbothshoulders
 


Are you saying that what I propose would not help measurably? I say it is a good start. I disagree about the technology vs. labor argument -- one could have asserted that upon the invention of the first tool that created any efficiency. I would agree though if your point included our exploitation of cheap labor and our modern capitalism allows for labor to be disregarded even in the face of record profits. Remember, corporations by definitions are not moral...or immoral for that matter. They are AMMORAL. "Morality" can only be instilled through regulation, which is perfectly acceptible since corporations are creations of law and their creations were made possible because humans have needs and wants. In other words, the law that established corporations was made originally in theory as a benefit to society at large, not for its own sake. We can thus with complete justification modify those laws in the benefit of that same society.



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 10:39 AM
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Originally posted by beezzer

Originally posted by sligtlyskeptical
We also need full government control over energy, food, water, communications, healthcare. Anything that is not essential to modern life can stay in the for-profit capitalistic arena. This doesn't mean workers in these industries will suffer, just their owners. BTW I currently own nice chunks of stock in all these industries but would be willing to give it up for a better future.

Repeat all the above worldwide.


The same government that gave us the DMV, the IRS, you want THEM to control our food, water, energy, healthcare?
Oh my goodness. What a bad, sad, idea.


Food - Have you been to the grocery lately? Fresh produce is about the only thing that we get worth eating.
Water - A high percentage of the population refuses to drink the current water supply.
Energy - You like being held hostage on the prices you pay, even when they are not based on natural supply and demand? We have excess energy supplies and the prices just keep rising.
Healthcare - The private healthcare system is a joke and unsustainable. Medicare and the VA are run much better on a per dollar basis than private healthcare.

Yes. I would welcome the government having control of these industries given the record of private industry.



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 10:43 AM
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reply to post by sligtlyskeptical
 


Son, and I say that because I feel that you are young, . . . the problems that we face with regulation in our food/water/energy/healthcare ARE A RESULT OF GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION.

Whenever the government pokes it's ugly head into an industry, we are scroomed!!!!



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 11:56 AM
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reply to post by beezzer
 


So where is the law saying that all foods must contain HFCS, Aspartame, MSG and a long list of other desirable products? The problem is that when profit is the motive, quality usually suffers tremendously. Things that need to be done, aren't done, because it takes a dime out some profiteers pocket. What if profit on food went away and instead that money was used to produce higher quality foods? What if the profit on telecommunications was lifted and instead that money was spent to bring us best of world infrastructure? What if we took away the profits from the utilities and energy companies and used it to build a much smarter and efficient system of energy delivery? What if the profit on healthcare was eliminated and that money was spent to make healthcare better?The list goes on and on .

Profit is the great destructor. Man will always innovate as we continuously strive for a better life. Innovation has just been used as an excuse to justify profit. I don't buy it. And please don't mistake profit for rewards/wages/bonuses reaped through hard work and innovation. To each their just rewards, but one should not reap the rewards just because they already have money. It only ends one way, with the



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 12:19 PM
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reply to post by sligtlyskeptical
 

If a company is making a better product at a cheaper price, then they should get the business.



It's called a "free market" society.

If a company is making a poor product, then they should go out of business. Not get (currently) government subsities!!!



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 12:27 PM
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I like all the suggestions here. In regards to #1, I agree and wish now that I would have done some kind of service when I was younger. I like the idea that it would not be tied to solely the military as well, meaning that young people would have a choice in what areas they chose to affect. Additionally, I would extend this to a mandatory two year service after graduating from high school within whatever field and provide housing/meals and stipend during that time. After service, you can either go to college or trade school with money saved/earned through the program or even get a one time payout and move directly into th workplace.

Let's face it, college is not for every one and I feel the above answers the apathy we get a lot of times with youth these days. Of course, after the two year service, an individual could also choose to stay within the program and move up through the ranks so to speak as well.

Great post OP!



posted on Feb, 4 2011 @ 12:35 PM
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reply to post by beezzer
 

I hate this particular topic. I go back and forth between wanting regulation and wanting a "free market". There should be a middle ground because I think both full regulation and a fully "free market" are both ideas that have the potential to backfire greatly. But what kind of middle ground could there be between these two polar opposites?




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