06 July 2013

If I Were Elected King of the Country

My new friend asked me a few weeks ago, "what would you change about the world, if you had the power to?"
She said she tried to ask all new people she met that question.
She said it was surprising how many people didn't have an answer because they had never thought about it.
I couldn't answer, but for a very different reason.
I just couldn't sum up, couldn't choose from the list what to say first.
I've been thinking about it ever since then, and I still can't find any way to tie all the various things together, so, instead of going into the detail about how and why for each one, I think I'll just list as many as I can think of.
(and if anyone wants elaboration on any in particular, ask me as a comment, and maybe I'll make that one its own post)

These are in no particular order:


Election day would be a national holiday.  No one could be forced to work more than a 4 hour day on election day. 

Anyone not registered to vote would pay a small annual penalty with their taxes.

Judges would be subject to recall by popular vote.

Congressional, presidential, and governor terms 6 years.

All term limits would be eliminated.

All elections would be instant run off type (or another equivalent to eliminate "lesser of two evils" votes).

Party, primary, and electoral college systems eliminated.

Voter initiative process on federal level, and all 50 states.

All campaign related ads would be banned from TV, radio, print, direct mail, and billboards, starting 1 year prior to any election.  Each candidate or initiative would receive expanded space in the official election guide.  All statements made that could not be verified by an independent 3rd party fact checker would be marked with an asterisk.
No individual could donate more than $500 to any campaign or political organization in a year.  No company or corporation could donate any amount to any campaign or political organization.  No union, church, or other group could donate without 100% unanimous consent of all members, and then no more than the equivalent of $100 per member.  For any amount an individual spent out of pocket for a campaign, they would have to contribute an equal amount to the public campaign fund. 
All of this would be less important, giving the ban on media ads.

Media (of any form) which reports any mistaken information or error as factual, would be required to report the correction with equal or greater prominence and length of time as the original mistake (if error was headline for 3 days, retraction must be headline for 3 days)

Public school would be paid at the national level, by number of students (regardless of performance).  Any outside income (gifts of cash or supplies by parents for example) would reduce funding by 50% of the amount of income (i.e. parent donates $100, then federal funding is reduced by $50), used for the pool, to benefit schools with less generous parents.

Teacher training and classroom curricula would be evidence based
No multiple choice test could be used for assessment.  Guiding principal should be teaching for understanding, not just retention of facts.

Preschool and kindergarten would both become mandatory and free.
2 and 4 year college / university would be voluntary, free for any family below median national income.
All college finals would be administered one semester after the end of the class (to test for long-term retention)
Public school teacher salaries would be cut by roughly 5-10% (approximately the amount private school teachers make), principals and administrators by 25-50% (to be within 25% more than teachers).  All of this extra money would go to hiring more teachers to reduce classroom size. 

Teachers would have at least 15min of prep time for each 55min of instruction.
They would be eligible for overtime after 112 hours per month(equivalent annual hours to other jobs, considering summer and other breaks - after reduced work hours, (see below))
Cognitive biases, logical fallacies, and predictable irrationality would be a required course in middle school, high school, and college (beginning, intermediate, and advanced, respectively).

Drug use would be decriminalized.  Selling without a license would not be.  Prostitution and gambling would also be legal, (though regulated and taxed).
No law or regulation could stay in effect unless it can be shown to tangibly benefit some individual or society as a whole.
No censorship of "indecency" (nudity, sex, language)
Sex ed would be taught in preschool, 5th grade, and 12th grade, each class more advanced and in-depth (the first would be similar to current Jr High level, the last would be equivalent to college Human Sexuality course).  It would be a graduation requirement, so no opt out.

It would be illegal to formally teach any child below the age of 18 any form of religion, (other than in a historical or sociological context).  This would include attending services.
Churches would no longer be tax exempt.
No government recognition of religion or God, even in a neutral, non-specific way (e.g. "...One Nation, Under God..." or "In God We Trust")

All pronouns would be replaced with gender neutral ones.
All restrooms and locker rooms would be unisex (with individual stalls, and/or separate areas of the room optionally)

Combat and infantry roles would be available to women in the military.

No government or business could mandate different dress codes by gender.
This would include that women could be topless anywhere that men could.
Public beaches and parks would be clothing optional.
All laws on sexual assault, age of consent, marriage, etc would be gender neutral (this would, among other things, inherently legalize gay marriage).

No cosmetic surgery (including circumcision and pierced ears) before the age of 18

All subsidies and price controls for feed crops would be eliminated.
Minimum standards for animal welfare would include daily access to outdoors and a diet resembling a "natural" one - i.e. herbivores could not be fed animal by-products, nothing would be fed manure, nor its own specie, nor a reciprocal specie (i.e. Animal A is fed animal B, and animal B is fed animal A)

All new cars would be governed to a maximum of 65mph, or to the maximum of the state is is sold in, whichever is lower.

Each lane on any highway with 2 or more lanes in each would direction would have specified lane speeds. A two lane would have a maximum speed of 65 and minimum of 55 in the left lane, and max of 55 and minimum of 40 in the right. 
For a 3 lane, from the left, the speeds to maintain would be 60mph, 50, and 40 (each +/- 5mph).  A 4 lane would be 60, 55, 50, and 45 (+/-5).  A 5 lane would be 60, 55, 50, 45, 40 (+/-5). 
Speeds on all highways would be monitored by randomly placed, (and periodically moved) radar machines - a combination of the radar systems that say "your speed is:" and the camera detection system that catch red light and toll violators.  Like the latter, they would look up registration by plate number, and mail you your ticket.
The first 2 violations would be warning.  The 3rd would be a $100 fine.  The 4th would be a $500 fine.  The 5th would be one week mandatory community service.  The 6th would be license suspension for a year.

No one could get a drivers license without an intensive driver's ed class (50 hours minimum).  It would cover all the basics, plus: changing oil, checking tire pressure / fluid levels, changing a wheel, and safety check - cone tests, parallel parking, driving in reverse - calculating speed, distance, and time, as well as braking distance and impact force at different speeds - fuel economy, basic hypermiling - safe and legal bicycle operation - auto crashes, causes and prevention - practical accident avoidance, using simulator - poor weather handling, rain, ice, snow, fog, and glare - driving with manual transmission.  The final test could not contain any multiple choice questions, and would cover all topics, some as hands on skills tests.
Driving class (as above) would have a 2-3 day mandatory refresher course every 10 years - every 5 years before age 25 and after age 60, as well as after every moving violation or accident
No communication device while driving (including hands free) except 2-way radios used in the course of a job which involves driving (truck and taxi drivers, emergency services)
Public safety tax based on weight for all motor vehicles, added to annual registration (i.e. one pays for the additional risk to everyone else caused by their choice to buy a 3 ton SUV rather than a 1 ton car) - based on the grand total public cost of all accidents, divided by the total number of registered cars, proportioned by weight.
Anyone found to be 1% or greater at fault in any auto "accident" would be automatically charged with criminal negligence.
Revoke mandatory airbags, seatbelts, crash rating standards.
Traffic lights would flash green before turning yellow (as in Mexico).  They would flash red before turning green (so you know to turn your engine back on)
Stop signs would be considered yield signs for bicyclists (as in Ohio)
All 4-way stop sign intersections would be converted to either a 2-way stop, a traffic circle, or a stop light.
All major one-way streets would have timed / synchronized stop lights.
50% tax on retail gasoline, money used to subsidize public transit.
At rush hour, instead of a carpool lane, the left most lane would be for commercial vehicles (being used for work, not for commuting), transit, emergency services, and people with permanent disabilities only.  On highways with 3 or more lanes, the next one over from the commercial / handicapped lane would be for carpools of 4+ people, plus toll road paid by electronic RFID tag

Upper limit of inheritance or gifts of $10,000.  The government income from estates would replace all (or at least most) of the income tax.

The rate for any remaining income tax would be at least half for earned income (wages / salary / commission) as for unearned income (dividends, capital gains, gifts, prizes).

The tax rate on unearned income would be steeply progressive, with a maximum rate of 99% after $100,000.

One may only own land which you personally live and/or work on - i.e. a maximum of two parcels (one for work, one for home) per person.  They can be any size, so long as they are a) continuous and b) actively and directly used by the owner in some way.

No one could have more than 2 households as tenants, and then only if the tenants share the same parcel that the landlord lives on.

Corporate charters would only be granted for very specific circumstances, where it is demonstrated that the product or service offered could not be provided by a privately held company, and that it is of overall benefit to society.  Any charter application which met those standards and was granted would be for a specific and limited time period - 1 year by default, 5 years with requested extension, 10 years considered with an explanation of the need for a longer time period.
Patents and copyright would be good for 10 years, or until a 25% return on investment was made by the patent/copyright holder, or until the applicant dies whichever came first.

Business licenses and fees would be by percentage of net income, not flat amounts.
Business insurance companies would be required to offer a broad range of coverage and deductible amounts, so that small scale and hobby businesses with low maximum potential risk could afford coverage.
Any form of business could be run out of one's residence unless a specific risk or harm to the neighbors could be demonstrated.  "Lowering property values" would not in-and-of itself be a valid form of harm.

Employers would not pay for the employees' payroll taxes.  The employee would cover the full amount of their own social security and medicare taxes.

Employers would also not cover medical insurance, but that would be irrelevant, because there would be nationalized, single payer, health care.

1/2 of company profit would be distributed equally among all employees, without regard for title or position.  Any increase in efficiency due to improved technology that were not passed on to the consumer would be distributed to employees either in the form of fixed hours and increased salary, or fixed salary and decreased hours.
No one could sue for loss of profit.
A company with more than zero profit could not lay off employees.

Overtime would be anything over 86 hours per month, would pay time and a half, no exceptions by profession, would apply to salary and commission as well.  Double time after 172 hours in one month.

No company or corporation could buy another.

No company could have more than one location, except in those cases where the nature of the company required multiple locations (such as delivery service).  Exception could be made on a case by case basis, if the expansion could be shown to benefit society as a whole enough to offset the anti-competitiveness.

Any company based in the US, or with a majority of US shareholders, or with 1% or more of product exported to the US, must follow all US wage, safety, and environmental laws and regulations, regardless of the location of production.  (For example, if a company builds a factory in China, they still must pay US minimum wage if they want to export the product into the US)

No US military protection of private property, on US soil or abroad.  For example, US oil companies would have to pay for their own private security to guard pipelines.  Private corporate interests could not be considered "national interests", even if the product they produce is of value to the nation.

Any action of military or CIA is automatically war, whether or not it is officially declared.

Any action longer than 5 days must be approved by congress.  Any action longer than 60 days must be unanimously approved by all 50 states (via senators and/or governors).  Any action longer than one year requires majority vote of all US citizens.
Military budget reduced by 90% (give or take).  It could never be increased to more than 10% less than whatever nation has the highest military budget.
Universal conscription of all citizens at 18, both genders, deferments for medical issues, but no other reason.  Everyone must attend bootcamp.  After that, choice of 2 years of either military service, or civil service.

In middle school, high school, and college, reversible long-term birth control would be provided at no cost to both genders (yes, the technology exists).  This would be voluntary, and either child or parent could choose to opt out for any reason, however it would be the default - everyone would get it unless they actively choose to opt out.
(Voluntary) permanent sterilization would be provided at no cost to all adults.

All forms of contraceptive would be covered in full through health care.

Child tax credits would be eliminated.

Welfare would provide a fixed amount per household - it would not increase with additional children.

Universal, single payer healthcare - however, in order to engage in certain high risk activities, you would have to opt out.  You would present your opt out card before buying cigarettes, and to get a registration sticker with a stripe which indicates you may drive a car without a seatbelt of ride a motorcycle without a helmet.  Possibly also for purchasing more than a certain quantity of alcohol at one time, and certain foods.  Anyone who opted out could be refused service at any hospital unless they pay in full in advance, even in emergencies.  They could still purchase private health insurance, if any private insurer wanted to cover them.

Citizenship would not be automatic:
At age 18, each person would need to pass the same citizenship exam that immigrants have to pass (this would be covered in high school). 
They would  have to go to military bootcamp, and then either serve in the military or in civil service for 2 years.  They would have to register to vote. 

Anyone choosing not to apply for citizenship would be considered a native resident. 

Native residents would not have to pay any taxes.

They also could not vote or run for office.  They would not be eligible for public assistance, including health care and (college level) education.  They could not drive motor vehicles on public roads, nor sue in court.  They would be responsible for the labor, fuel, and expenses if using emergency services such as police or firefighters. 

One could apply for citizenship at anytime, up to age 40, however, once revoked, you could not get it back for 15 years, and would have to begin the process from the beginning.


  1. Grat food for thought. Thank you Bakari!
    You are truly an independant thinker.

    I wish I can reach that level of intellectual singularity one day.
    I still have much media-induced cultural baggage to get rid off my limitations and biases.

  2. Found this thru MMM - I enjoyed reading through your ideas. Some are easy to agree with, others not so much, but it makes me wonder "what if". What if they were all implemented in some country somewhere? :)

    It was interesting to me that some (many) of your ideas espouse a greater degree of liberty (drugs, sexual activities/expression, etc) while others seek to restrict or eliminate liberties (cosmetic surgery, circumcision, and religion).

    1. I don't consider children to be an interchangeable extension of their parents. I consider children to be their own persons, and parents their caretakers. I wouldn't in anyway seek to restrict cosmetic surgery, circumcision, and religion to any adult. I simply would restrict imposing those things on another person, one who does not yet have the independence to decide for themselves.

  3. For all you focus on laws to restrict driving practices that endanger others, I noticed the conspicuous absence of anything about drunk driving. Also, teachers would have to work 22 hours a day before they get over time??? !!! --DK

    1. Drunk driving is already illegal, and the consequences are already severe. I suspect that, if people took driving seriously, that it wouldn't come up so often to begin with. How often do we hear about drunk flying a plane?
      Incidentally, mobile communication devices causes more crashes than drunk driving, and speeding causes more than either of them.

      That should have said 112 hours per MONTH, thanks for pointing out the error.

  4. I forgot to mention that I really like a whole lot of it (tho not all of it). --DK


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