Qualification for office means full transparency

If you are going to be in charge of where my taxes go, who gets to make the rules of our society I need to know that you are doing this for the common good, not for the good of a few folks who are paying for your campaign.

Your taxes for the past ten years will be published in full by the IRS and the states in which you’ve lived.

The donors to your campaign will be listed including the amounts they have contributed. And anyone who contributes more than $1,000,000 in cash or in-kind is automatically disqualified from holding any government position.

A principle of common law is that justice must not only be done, but it must be seen to be done. The same applies to the appointment of ambassadors, heads of departments, cabinet officers, and all the way down to staffers. If their only qualification for office is the size of their contribution they are, de facto, not qualified.

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Civil Service Exam

Our system has many flaws but non so egregious as the appointment of amateurs to run our nation’s most important civil programs.

As far back as the 6th century, China exams were introduced for anyone who wished to be appointed a position of leadership within the government bureaucracy. The exam ensured the candidates knew the law, understood the ethics expected, and it ensured that those in power were not influenced by pedigree or affiliation but were bound to the law.

In the 1850s the British Government realized that relying on a system of selection based on “preferment, patronage, and purchase” was rife with opportunities for corruption and inefficiency so they instituted the Civil Service Commission who set about minimum standards for anyone employed by the government. These minimum standards included literacy, numeracy, understanding of the common law, and the workings of government (the constitution [with a little “c” in the case of the UK]).

We need to do this too. Cronies and patrons no matter how worthy their credentials do not necessarily know how the government works. If they cannot pass an exam they should not be permitted to earn a government salary. I’m suggesting this for the appointees, not the politicians.

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Voting is a right, not a political toy

Voting in the USA is an international joke. How can it be that countries are offering to send observers to ensure our elections are free and fair?

Personation is not a significant problem but it does need to be reported and the penalties need to be severe but this should not be the basis of our electoral policy. Driving people to vote in whatever way is safe and easy should be the framework that guides our elections programs.

The right to vote is as fundamental as the right to fresh air and clean water (also threatened for some of us). It is not a political football to be manipulated to partisan ends.

The goal of every politician should be to turn out as many voters as possible, for whichever side. When less than half the population vote any mandate is devalued. The more votes the more certain we can be that result is the will of the people.

We need a national body to certify standards for voting and the ability to enforce them on election day.

We need:

  • Early in-person voting starting one week ahead of the election
  • Polling places for every 1,000 electors
  • Polling places need to be open from 09:00 to 21:00 on each day
  • Anyone in line must be allowed to vote
  • Same-day registration must be allowed
  • Vote-by-mail for anyone who wants it


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It’s time to revisit the rules

Congress has demonstrated that it is more adept at bending the rules to their political will than it is to doing their job. Delaying hearings on congressional appointees, never bringing bills to the floor, running out the clock on programs, and all the other tricks.

There is work to be done for the people.

We need time limits set on the work of the people. We are never going to change the constitution to make this happen so we need to write the rules for the behavior of the elected officials (not just in Congress, but in the state houses too) that will result in their removal if they do not do their job.

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Packing is out of control

I know you get your regular daily dose of packages. Trash day has become quite the event as we flatten all the boxes we have received and try to squeeze them into recycling.

But have you noticed how the volume of the packaging vastly exceeds the volume of the contents?

We need to solve two problems here. First the over-packaging of items being shipped and second the misleading over-sized packaging of the contents.

1: Anyone needing to package their products must make every effort to minimize that packaging. The smaller the package the more can be loaded on to the truck, the container, the cargo ship, and the fewer the fossil fuels we will need to ship them.

The packaging must be completely recyclable. No more styrofoam. Should be made from recycled materials. Plastics should be minimized in the packaging.

All packaging should be able to be returned the vendor for free via the shipping company or by returning the packaging to the store.

2: Packaging must not be used to make the product look bigger (think about the candy packets in movie theaters). This is both wasteful and misleading.


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