Pillars for a Better America, Chapter 4

A Series on Priorities for the Biden Administration

Happy Solstice, Everyone!

I hope you had the opportunity to observe the planetary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn last night. Best such celestial show in over 800 years. And the Solstice has arrived. Every day ahead for the coming months will be brighter. This is true both astronomically and politically.

Pillars for a Better America – Pillars 10-11

As noted earlier in this Pillars for a Better America series,  the list will run up until the inauguration. It is not all inclusive, nor is it presented in priority order. It offers important choices for the new administration to tackle.

This list exists in part to address our requirements and shortfalls. It is also exists to encourage dialogue about what we want to be as a country. We need t to get things done.
What Do We Have So Far?
We have started with the first nine pillars:
Pillar 1: Hunger is Not Allowed
Pillar 2: Affordable Medical Care and Drugs – No More Excuses
Pillar 3: The Ghost of FDR for Infrastructure and Broad Band
Pillar 4: Benchmarks for Advancing Out of Poverty
Pillar 5: Civil Policing
Pillar 6: Court and Penal Reforms
Pillar 7: Transportation
Pillar 8: Education Costs and Access
Pillar 9: Education for Thinking
Let’s see what is next.
Pillar 10: Campaign Reform
Where to begin? On the one hand, it would seem that about everything is broken. Still, we just had a national election full of pitfalls. It actually went better in many ways than we could have expected. So, all hope is not lost.
Let’s focus for a start on the easily observed issues. Number one is campaign financing. Too much of it is hidden, reporting is unacceptably slow, influence goes to the highest bidder. Most politicians hate the time and process involved in fund raising. We will never get money out of politics, but we can do a heck of a lot better than this.
Here are some suggestions that could help. Override the terrible Supremes decision equating money with free speech in all cases. Shorten campaign seasons by controlling primaries and similar steps. Increase public funding for candidacies that get vigorous contribution counts from small donors. Match 3 or 4 to 1 for small donations, subtract that pool for large donations.
In the current system, presidential candidates do better financially to forego government spending. Obama was the first to prove that. Let’s change the calculus with the right kind of matching funds. Require near real time online reporting of contributions. Include way more clarity on who these nebulous organizations are. Sorry, if you are  buying influence in our government you do not have a right to privacy. Clean up the Federal Elections Committee, including the appointment process.
Look at how some states appoint redistricting agencies for examples of how to do this. Make it not so subject to gridlock. Speed up its findings and punishments. Take the ethics committees in Congress out of the hands of the same people they investigate. Set up independent models such as with Inspector Generals.
A lot of campaign finance reform seems hopeless, but this is one of those core issues. If we do not solve this, a lot of the rest of our goals for this nation will rot in the fields of our aspirations. Let’s enable our elected officials to govern. Let them do so without worrying about who is paying their campaign bills.
Pillar 11: Childcare
You may be surprised to see this one on the list. Those who know me are aware that kids are not exactly my thing. But the lack of safe, affordable, accessible childcare is a disaster. It limits people at least as much as the transportation issue we discussed earlier. This shortfall keeps families poor and keeps people out of the work force. It begins a child’s life with disadvantages unlikely to be overcome.
Providing quality childcare solves all that. It also boosts the economy and gives kids a good start on socialization and early education. My sensing is that the incoming administration gets this and is likely to move on it as an early priority.
We lived in Europe for a while and saw such systems well established. They paid for themselves many times over. This is a classic case. Government intervention, by setting standards and providing resources, can empower people. It is not a gift; its an investment.
We Are at the Halfway Point on the List
That is eleven of the twenty-one pillars so far, ten more to go. How are we doing? Are we hitting your key list? More to come, but of what we have so far, any that you would reject? Let us all know your thoughts.
At the risk of being repetitious, Stay Safe, Stay Well.
By all means, stay home for the holidays.
By now, better than 1 in 20 Americans have the virus. Every outing carries real risk. Wear the darn mask! Choosing to ignore the safety measures, even for a bit, is a selfish act we no longer have room for in America. How about we have a bit more patience and we take care of each other, please.
     Bill Clontz

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2 replies to Pillars for a Better America, Chapter 4

  1. I’d go one better on campaign financing. Eliminate private and corporate funding entirely. Candidates would get a fixed amount depending on the scope of their office. Elections should be about ideas, not money and influence. There are many things that need funds more than politicians or campaigns, and this would remove even the appearance of influence.

    • Would not break my heart, although I would doubt getting over the political and legal hurdles of a complete ban. Maybe move that way in steps? I sort of like encouraging small donations, but I surely see your point.

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