Friday, March 13, 2015

Ten ballot questions

This is a follow up on my previous blogs recommending Election Reform and an Open Call asking “What is your ballot or candidate question?” I have come up with the first ten Ballot question that I think the public should be allowed to vote on; these questions are preliminary and they should be reviewed by a larger segment of the public and input should be collected on whether or not they should be phrased this way; however I think this could be a good starting point. In order for this to come to anything there will have to be much larger follow up by bigger organizations that can mobilize a large number of people; and some decisions will have to be made about which questions should be asked first. It would be inappropriate to put to many questions to the public at once and there should be ample time to debate each question that is put before the public. In order for this to be a sincere democracy the public should have the opportunity to consider each issue carefully before voting on it.

In some cases when it comes to controversial issues caution may be advised when putting them to the public to ensure that they’re not done based on emotional appeals. Examples of this may include the death penalty and abortion. I haven’t included them in my list but I think that eventually they should be put before the public and they should be handled without manipulation or demagoguery if at all possible; which is the way they’ve been handled in the past. I wouldn’t oppose these ballot questions but I would also not push them to the top of the agenda until the public is more educated and less emotional about them; perhaps after an Educational Revolution or something similar. These are often used to divide people not to improve democracy but they have to be dealt with anyway.

For additional information on ballot issues in your state see the Initiative & Referendum Institute and Project Vote Smart.

These questions will be either yes or no depending on whether you approve of them. The questions as I recommend for the ballot are in bold the comments following them are my own opinions on each question. Ideally recommendations for yes or no during any campaign should not be made unless they include the question or some explanation. This has been routine in many ballot initiative in the past and it defeats the purpose of the ballot initiative. People should understand what they’re voting for.

The right to free speech shall not be determined primarily based on how much money the speaker can afford to spend; if some regulation is necessary then additional considerations should be given to equal rights for all to speak and those with the academic credentials on any given subject shall be allowed to speak also. Broadcasting licenses shall no longer be given to a small percentage of the public that does not share the decision making process with the rest of the public. Any private or public organization that accepts a broadcasting license shall be required to provide no less than twenty percent of prime time TV or radio to educational purposes. Private corporations may not be required to pay high prices for these slots but educational organizations that make educational material available to them shall not be rejected or censored. This educational material shall include full political coverage of all eligible candidates for public office in any given area. Decisions about priorities shall be made by elected citizens groups in any given area. 
Clearly the assumption that “money equals speech” that was established in the Buckley v. Valeo ruling is blatantly corrupt and this along with the Citizens United decision should be overturned. This essentially means that bribery equals speech and that those with the most money can control the government with little or no input from the rest of the public who they can give propaganda as they’re doing now. The right to a free press should also be equally available to everyone as much as possible. In some cases there may be some question as to how we’re going to raise the money for the investigative reporting and research to produce the educational material but that can be worked out once we get started and review the details. I discussed this more in a previous blog about Free Speech which considers many of the most important issues that aren’t even being considered in the Mass Media and the fact that a small percentage of the public has overwhelming control over what is presented to the vast majority of the public.

Universal health care shall be available to all. This shall be paid for by a series of taxes that include those that apply to activities that are detrimental to the health of the public and cause health care costs to go up. These taxes shall be collected in the most efficient manner possible. For example when tolls for low traffic areas cost a lot to collect this method shall not be used when it could be done more easily by collecting taxes on gas or coal which contributes to air pollution and negative health effects. A review period to develop this new system will begin immediately and it shall include a review of all the current systems that are being used around the world to enable the public to recognize which works best. The insurance industry shall no longer be allowed to dominate the debate. 
the information being presented to the public by the Mass Media on this issue doesn’t discuss many of the most important issues; instead they essentially repeat the propaganda supported by the insurance industry which makes an enormous amount of money by taking a large cut when ever the public obtains health care. The well being of the public takes a distant back seat to the profits of the health care industry in this country. Money kept for profit, spent on bureaucracy, advertising, lobbying, campaign contributions don’t go to the health care of the public and drive up insurance premiums in the current system. This is discussed further in Health Care Premiums and Where they Go and Health Care town hall meetings: Divide and Rule Tactics that were used during the debates in 2009 where they turned it into a shouting match without doing an adequate job addressing the issues. Clearly neither the reform that Obama passed nor the lack of reform that the GOP recommends is in the public’s best interest.

All candidates for public office shall be required to fill out applications that are controlled by a citizens commission that solicits input from the public to decide what questions to ask. These questions shall include answers on how they stand on any given ballot question that is pending at any time. Candidates shall also be required to answer questions during several job interviews that are controlled by the citizen’s commission with the help of academic scholars with background in several different subjects. These interviews shall be made available free on-line and they shall be aired free of charge to the public on TV in exchange for allowing any TV or radio station to have broadcasting licenses. 
Any true democracy should involve allowing the public to control the interviewing process and the public should be allowed to debate, directly the process that should be set up to do this. This is discussed further in the previous blog about Election Reform and a more recent one about a “Don’t even go there” job interview where I reviewed an example of how absurd it would be if we hired anyone in the private sector the way we elect public officials to high office.

All legislation shall be done in the open; all votes shall be recorded and published for the public to see. All meetings on public time shall be recorded and disclosed to the public; this shall be available on-line and a portion of them can be made available on TV. Any legislation that is opposed by the public can be overturned through a ballot initiative; the number of signatures necessary for this shall be no more than 80% of the amount necessary for other ballot initiatives. Leadership positions within the congress or state legislatures shall all be temporary lasting no more than three months so that different leaders with different priorities can help chose the agenda at different times. No legislature shall be allowed to hold the same position more than twice in five years nor shall they be allowed to hold more than five different leadership positions in that same five year term. All votes for leaders from the legislature shall be disclosed. 
This is additional follow up that is also partially addressed in the election reform blog previously cited. The politicians have been hiding their activities behind closed doors for way to long and it is long overdue to stop this by any means necessary including the ballot initiative.

No increases in prison building shall be made unless it is accompanied by increases in education budgets that are three times as large. 
Clearly, the escalating building spree on prisons that has been going on over the last thirty years while, cutting social programs, has proven overwhelmingly to be a failure and it should be reversed as fast as possible. This has led to a large segment of society that doesn’t have the opportunities to get ahead and has created the crimes that we need the prisons for. It is much easier to prevent these social problems from escalating than to address them after the fact.

Education funds shall be made equally available to all on a national level. The National Educational department can continue setting the criteria for recommended policies but the final decision shall be made at the local level. Any educational “intellectual property” that is produced using public funds shall be entered into the public domain for all to use without charge. Any Educational “intellectual property” that is donated to the public domain by volunteers around the country shall be available to all. No copyrights for additional material shall exceed 50 years or 20 years after the author’s death, whichever is shorter. 
In order to have equal opportunity for all and a sincere democracy the public needs to have equal access to education. A democracy is a government ruled by the people, of the people and for the people. In order to have this, the public needs to have access to the educational opportunities necessary to understand the issues. By providing the wealthy with a good education and the poor with substandard education that often resembles indoctrination more than education they’re setting up a class system. The ownership of “Intellectual Property” should also be considered detrimental to a sincere democracy since it enables the well connected to decide who has access to that information that they need to participate in a democracy. It is true that we have to find a way to fund the research that is necessary to develop this information but there are other ways that this can be done if we try to find them. I discussed this further in Copyright Violators are Thought Criminals and Copyright Bureaucracy. 
All proprietary information laws shall be overturned unless justifiable cause is presented. When justifiable cause is presented the information shall be subject to review to ensure that it meets the criteria assuming that there is any justifiable criterion. 

No exceptions shall be made for cases where proprietary information has been used to conduct consumer fraud or any other fraud on the public. 

No exceptions shall be made where the health and safety of the public is at stake. 

No exceptions shall be made when it comes to human research projects that involve studying the public. This shall include any marketing research projects or psychological obedience to authority projects done by either the corporations or the military. 

No exceptions shall be made by any research that is financed by the public. 
An enormous amount of effort has been made to convince the public that we need an open government and at the same time the secrecy of “proprietary information” or “intelligence information” should be sacrosanct and necessary to protect the free enterprise and democracy. This has resulted in one of the most absurd examples of doublethink in history. Either you provide the public the information they need to make good decisions in a democracy or while conducting business or you don’t; you can’t have it both ways despite the efforts to convince everyone you can. Proprietary information has always been used to guarantee that only the business people have the information they need, not the consumer and the workers and this has been used to hide an enormous amount of fraud. “Intelligence information” has been used to ensure the same thing about foreign affairs. This has led to one war based on lies after another and it has done the opposite of what the people in the government have been claiming it does since the beginning and there is an enormous amount o evidence to prove this. I discussed these more in Proprietary Information is by definition a conspiracy, Espionage isn’t Intelligent and Cults of Espionage. 
Any military activities abroad shall be subject to approval by the public if they extend for more than six months and they don’t involve a direct threat to the security of the country. All bases around the world more than one hundred miles from the borders of the USA shall be closed unless they’re approved by the voters. 
The public has been misled by the government about all foreign affairs and it is abundantly clear that they can’t be trusted to make these decisions for us. It is also true that it will be necessary to reverse the enormous amount of War Propaganda that has been presented to the public but clearly a democracy shouldn’t hand over the most important issues to secret organizations that have proven to be untrustworthy. This may not be successful the first time around but it is important to have a debate about it that isn’t controlled by the usual propaganda machine.

Representatives to any international trade organizations including the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Health Organization shall be elected directly by the public. All globalization treaties shall include equal right to protect the environment, free speech, human rights, and workers rights. Competitions between some countries that obtain advantages by suppressing the rights of their own people shall no longer be off limits when it comes to tariffs. 
International trade has been handled in an extremely undemocratic manner. Clearly if we’re going to have some form of “Globalization” it should include the globalization of hum,an rights and democratic rights not just trade rights that are designed to benefit only a small segment of the population. This may be especially true when it comes to the environment, in the long term if they let this to continue to be destroyed then it will lead to the destruction of the human race and other life on Earth as well.

All gambling licenses shall be distributed equally. Those that accept them must provide full disclosure to inform the customer how much they return to the players. All advertisements for gambling must include this disclosure and it should include no less than 15 % of any ads and the disclosure in audio or video ads shall be as loud as any promotions. 5 % of all profits shall be paid to a public relations campaign to inform the public about the detrimental effects of gambling and the fact that it does nothing to improve the quality of life for the public despite the hype; this fund shall be controlled by a board that includes members chosen by gambling education groups not sympathetic to the gambling industry. 
This is essentially a truth in advertising issue. If the public learns how to think rationally and they understand the issues then they will realize that this doesn’t provide any improvement in the quality of life at all for them. It is just a scam. This question would inform the public that the survival of the gambling industry depends on their ability to deceive the public. This would be similar to the decision that is mostly forgotten from the sixties when the tobacco companies agreed voluntarily to stop advertising on TV. The original proposal was to allow them to continue advertising as long as they provided equal time to the dangers of smoking; the tobacco companies knew that this would destroy their industry so the compromised. The same would happen to the gambling industry and they would be in the position where they had to recommend accurate information or justify why they should be allowed to continue to distort the truth.

As indicated above these are all preliminary ballot questions and they’re subject to amendment before being presented to the voters and any attempts to collect signature. Feel free to make any suggestions on how they should be changed or if you have your own questions or to indicate how you would vote and why on any of these questions. Results should not be considered statistically representative of the opinions of the public.

(For more information on Blog see Blog description and table of context for most older posts.)

The following are the original replies when this was first posted on Open Salon.

As far as healthcare is concerned again any debate over Healthcare using the media as a forum is carefully regulated by the CIA at the behest of their employers in the insurance companys. The 3 main criteria for public health used by the World Health Organization are never even mentioned: The United States has an obesity rate of 30.6%, and Mexico is 24.2%. Is it a coincidence that the two countries without socialized medicine have the highest obesity rates in the world? The United Kingdom has a rate of 23%, Slovakia 22.4%, Greece 21.9%, Australia 21.7%, New Zealand 20.9%, Hungary 18.8%, Luxembourg 18.4%, Czech Republic 14.8%, Canada 14.3%, Spain 13.1%, Ireland 13%, Germany 12.9%, Portugal 12.8%, Finland 12.8%, Iceland 12.4%, Turkey 12%, Belgium 11.7%, Netherlands 10%, Sweden 9.7%, Denmark 9.5%, France 9.4%, Austria 9.1%, Italy 8.5%, Norway 8.3%, Switzerland 7.7%, Japan 3.2%, and South Korea 3.2%. The infant mortality rate in the previously mentioned countries out of 1000 are Slovakia 7.1, United States 6.4, South Korea 6.1, Italy 5.7, New Zealand 5.7, Greece 5.3, Ireland 5.2, United Kingdom 5.0, Portugal 4.9, Netherlands 4.9, Luxembourg 4.7, Canada 4.6, Australia 4.6, Belgium 4.6, Austria 4.5, Denmark 4.5, Spain 4.3, Switzerland 4.3, France 4.2, Germany 4.1, Czech Republic 3.9, Norway 3.6, Finland 3.5, Iceland 3.3, Japan 3.2, and Sweden 2.8. Slovakia is the only country with higher infant mortality rates than the United States but in standard of living Slovakia is closer to Mexico. The infant mortality rate in Mexico is staggering, 19.6. The average life expectancy in the Unites States is 78.06. The comparison countries in order are: Japan 82.02, Sweden 80.63, Australia 80.62, Switzerland 80.62, Iceland 80.43, Canada 80.34, France 80.59, Italy 79.94, Spain 79.78, Norway 79.78, Greece 79.38, Austria 79.21, Netherlands 79.11, South Korea 79.10, Luxemburg 79.03, New Zealand 78.96, Germany 78.95, Belgium 78.92, and Finland 78.66. Countries with a lower life expectancy than America are the Czech Republic 76.42, Poland 75.19, Slovakia 74.95, Hungary 72.92, and Turkey 72.88. Most of these countries are the bankrupt former satellites of the Soviet Union again they are more comparable to Mexico 75.84. The only aberrations are Ireland 77.9 and Portugal 77.7.

And as for “intelligence information” there were no intelligence agency's before WWII and we did just fine. There is something called the freedom of information act yet there is no such thing as placing the security of the nation in the hands of card carrying imbeciles. The OSS was little less than a dodge for the sons of the rich, who did not have Bush Seniors balls, to avoid combat. They sat around the brothels of England posturing for prostitutes and plotting to make Hitler's mustache fall out while our grand fathers and great uncles died on the beach's of Normandy and the European countryside. That’s their pedigree and it gets only worse and worse from there to the present. From the fiascos with Castro (again with the dam facial hair is there some kind of envy involved with that) to failure to anticipate the collapse of the Soviet empire, to 9/11, to the management of the Opium crop in Afghanistan, you would be hard pressed to invent a fictional organization that could duplicate its record of ineptitude and chicanery.

Jack Heart December 01, 2011 02:12 PM

trying to hang democratic functions on an oligarchic constitution is a waste of time.

al loomis December 01, 2011 02:20 PM

One more thing Zachary, I think you are placing far to much emphasis on live debate. Do you want to elect a trial lawyer or a leader. Candidates should be able to forgo live debate in favor of writing out their views on subjects. Otherwise you are doing a great job imagining a better country, probably better than anyone else on OS but as I keep emphasizing to Dr Stuart none of the ideas will ever see the light of day without a bloodbath. No one is going to just relinquish the power that they have spent the last 50 or so years lying, cheating, and murdering to acquire because it suits your sense of justice. If you really want it you better be prepared to kill your own family and neighbors to get it, you cannot reason with a zombie. A zombie has no soul and with that loss has also lost the capability to reason that go’s along with a soul.

Jack Heart December 01, 2011 02:34 PM

Jack, there is an enormous amount of evidence to indicate that a major part of the problem with obesity is the fact that the decision making process is being heavily influenced by advertising that has reached such an epidemic level that it qualifies as propaganda. This begins with marketing to kids in schools as I have indicated in the previous blog about Channel One. then they attempt to present the government as if they’re trying to “force” people to eat right when they provide more accurate information about diet; this is just more propaganda for profit but, like many other crisis’s, this can only go on for so long before they destroy their prey and they have no one to prey on; assuming the prey doesn’t bite back first one way or another.

There were espionage activities before WWII but they came and went and they weren’t maintained in an organized fashion when there was no war on; this was once emphasized when someone said, “gentlemen do not read each others mails.” Or something like that but back then this didn’t apply to spying on the lower classes whop weren’t considered “gentleman.”

At time I have recommended that they have time to respond to questions over a longer period of time, sort of an ongoing internet debate; so I agree with you on that although it may not have been emphasized on this post.

Also, I don’t think that a bloodbath is a necessity, or at least not too much; the reason for this is quite simple, the rich are too cowardly to fight their own battles so they need to get people indoctrinated into their beliefs to do their bidding so if you can tear away these people and educate them then a bloodbath can be avoided. Somewhere along the line the military will face the choice either follow orders and become mass murdering criminals or do things that could escalate to that or recognize the fact that the protestors are the people that should have some control over the government not the corrupt in power.

Al, committing to the rules that were designed to protect the current system is foolish but disobeying them in the wrong way could be equally foolish and doing nothing the worst of all.

zacherydtaylor December 02, 2011 09:56 AM

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