#321 – Bob Barkley: Declaring for President.

Bob throws his hat in the ring for 2012 (his bio is at the end of this post):
Declaration of Candidacy
I’m running! This is the declaration of my candidacy for the Presidency in 2012. I have no idea with what Party as I expect them to pick me rather than I picking them.
[If Palin or Bachmann could be anywhere within the realm of that possibility then I am certainly supremely qualified.]
However, I’m not going to do a book tour, even though I’ve written books. And Tina Fey couldn’t imitate me – ever. Also, I’m not offering non-absolutes like “change,” or “hope,” and I will pick my Veep very carefully but quite likely not from Alaska – nor Delaware either for that matter.
Yes, the devil is in the details and all of that. I have no illusions about having it all perfectly right – or even having it all covered. All my numbers and dates are open to review and adjustment as I learn more. Certainty is, after all, a sure sign of insanity it seems to me. But what I’ve outlined here is the beginning of what must happen to realize the better world I hope and dream that my children and grandchildren will at least begin to experience in their lifetimes.
So here’s what I stand for as of today:
1. Every US budget must account for both expenditures and revenue. Therefore, with no more than a five-year lag, anticipated revenue must cover the projected expenditures. And a really non-partisan panel of economists (as opposed to “politicians”), and including progressive who just might have Nobel prizes in their resumes, must advise the public and Congress as to whether this guideline is being met.
2. Tax rates must be set to cover the revenue required to meet the requirements of #1 above before any budget may be enacted.
3. Income taxes must apply to all income received in whatever form, and regardless of the source. If you have it this year and didn’t have it last year, it is subject to tax. The maximum rate, on annual incomes of $10 million or more will be 60% — and that percentage will reduce by 1% for each drop of $1 million in income until we reach current (before Bush’s cuts) rates. There will be no deductions for anyone at any level. Taxes will be applied only to those earning above the US government defined poverty level (once it is adjusted to a more realistic number from the current outdated figure). And these rates may be adjusted to coincide with #1 and #2 above. If that won’t produce enough revenue, we need to cut our spending expectations.
4. Usury (lending money at exorbitant rates) will be controlled according to the following guidelines. Borrowed money will be paid back at no more than 7.5% if repaid within one year of borrowing. In the second year any unpaid balance will be charged at no more than 10%. And thereafter, any unpaid amount will be charged at no more than 12½% until repaid in full. This shall apply to loans of less than $100,000 for any purpose. Home loans will be established as the market will bear but shall not exceed 8%.
5. The foreclosure fraud would be eliminated and home owners given priority over bankers.
6. The USA will move to a single payer health care system as follows. The Medicare eligibility age will be reduced three years every year. Those who select Medicare under age 65 shall pay the full premium until reaching age 65. Also, all youth attending school full-time, up to age 25, shall also be eligible to buy into Medicare and continue that coverage for life. Medicare shall have full bargaining power to negotiate with providers as to the cost of medical care and prescription drugs.
7. All federal elections shall be fully publicly financed, and active campaigning shall be limited to 4 months in duration. Office seekers who hold public office shall not be excused from attending to their elected duties while campaigning except for that four month period. No elected federal office holder shall serve in that office for longer than 12 years.
8. Universal voter registration will be established.
9. Anti-trust laws shall be strengthened and strictly enforced. Anti-trust provisions shall be instituted and strictly applied to the media and insurance in all its forms.
10. Each state shall be required to establish a chartered publicly run bank. (a la North Dakota). And a national infrastructure bank will be created.
11. The US military budget will be cut 50%, adjusted for inflation, over the next 10 years. The only delay in implementation thereof shall be the advent of a congressionally declared war against another nation (not just an innocuous concept such as “terrorism”).
12. The State Department budget shall be increased four-fold over the next 5 years.
13. The U.S. military and pentagon leadership shall be kept out of politics and action taken to keep retired military from retiring into positions lobbying for the defense industry.
14. No public monies shall be allocated directly or indirectly to any religion or religiously affiliated institution for any reason unless and until all religious entities pay taxes.
15. Public education shall not be subjected to any unfunded mandates. Teacher education shall be entirely at public expense and all licensed teachers benefiting there from will be required, subject to acceptable performance, to stay in the service of public education for not less than 10 years after completion of a mandatory 3-year internship.
16. The US President shall hold a minimum three-hour public session with Congress every 3 months in which all members of congress, alternating between Parties, may ask questions, and all media shall be required to carry the session live.
17. The current US debt shall be retired through funding increases and/or spending cuts in not longer than the next 10 years.
18. US corporations shall not have the rights of individual citizens under the Fourteenth Amendment, and their executives shall be personally and fully responsible and liable for the behavior of that corporation.
19. Public education shall be funded on a per-pupil basis and students will be free to attend any public educational institution of their choosing, subject to space alone, and with consideration for controlling random and untimely transfers that will destroy appropriate institutional planning. There shall be no curricular or staffing requirements for public schools and they shall be free to offer programs of their choosing and in the manner most appropriate thereto. Free public education shall be available to all citizens to age 21. Students reaching age 15 shall be allowed to withdraw and reenter school one time prior to reaching age 21.
20. There shall be on-going publicly funded longitudinal studies regarding the impact of each students educational experience on the formation of lifetime learning habits.
21. There shall be international fair-trade. However, there will be a 20% tariff on all imports and additional tariffs shall be applied where it is established that there are significantly different standards for wages, human rights, safety, and environmental concerns between trading countries. Read Hamilton – the US is fundamentally a protectionist nation first.
22. Through public monitoring, public corporations shall establish executive compensation programs where the maximum benefits shall not exceed 50 times that of the lowest paid fulltime worker in said corporation. The current US minimum wage of $7.25, assuming a 40-hour work week and fully paid vacation and sick leave, produces an annual wage of $15,080. Thus, a CEO would be entitled to at least $754,000. Corporations exceeding this guideline would be taxed proportionately.
23. Ownership of firearms, for sporting purposes only, shall be allowed and be subject to full public record. Guns shall be prohibited from any public building or institution. Concealed carry laws shall be outlawed.
24. The US shall reduce its international military bases to no more than 100, and no more than 2 in any single country, by 2020 – including Iraq and Afghanistan. And there will be no more than 1000 military personnel staffing any one of them.
25. Financial support for Israel will be gradually reduced and shifted to the Palestinians until a two-state resolution is implemented.
26. There will be a Government Efficiency Tsar who’s responsibility it will be to oversee coordination and cooperation between agencies. Said agencies will be expected and encouraged to operate in ways that cause them to vigorously pursue their missions while also saving money rather than seeking ways to spend it in order to selfishly grow their budget allocations.
27. All unauthorized immigrants shall be required to apply for citizenship within one year and shall be required to have regular employment (or maintain full-time student status) and to attend and pass English language proficiency classes. Any employer who employs non-citizens who have not complied with this provision shall be subject to criminal prosecution and penalties. Any unauthorized immigrant who is found guilty of any illegality shall be sent back to the country of their origin.
28. There shall be a public investment to assure that all students attend school absent anxiety over proper nourishment, receive appropriate early childhood educational experiences, and have access to appropriate health monitoring and care.
29. Most currently illegal drugs, such as marijuana, shall be legalized and controlled as appropriate – much as cigarettes and alcohol.
30. Capital punishment shall be ceased. Incarceration shall be limited to violent crimes. For non-violent crimes, other non-incarceration penalties shall be applied.
31. All citizens prior to age 30 shall provide the country a minimum of two years public service of their choice, including but not limited to military service.
32. Social security shall be funded by a tax an all earned income, and the SS fund shall be unavailable for any purposes other than paying benefits. And an early retirement option will be created therein.
33. Marriage shall be a religious ritual only and subject only to the creed of the marrying party’s religious choices alone. Civil unions shall be the legal equivalent, be state managed, and open to any and all citizens.
34. Population growth shall be a public concern with suitable investment, training, and controls.
35. Poverty is an unacceptable plight in the US. There will be every effort and investment to assure that poverty is gradually and regularly reduced. And included in such an effort shall be realistic upgrading of social security, workers compensation, and other such programs to bring them in line with the current cost of living.
36. U.S. nuclear weapons shall be reduced gradually by the year 2025, regardless of any treaties, to a level of no more than any other nation.
37. Elected officials must be excluded from becoming lobbyists for at least 5 years after leaving office.
38. The Senate shall be returned to its intended majority rule status by eliminating the unconstitutional Rule 22. The Senate was designed to fit a republic and to limit absolute democracy – arguably to allow for reasonable protections to the minority, but its rules have evolved to almost entirely block democracy.
39. Environmentally, those countries that have polluted the most, such as the USA and China, should have less right to pollute in the future. This would have the added benefit of shifting billions of dollars from the wealthy nations to the poorer ones.
40. Unionization shall be encouraged with the caveat that unions shall be expected to play a full partnership role along with their industry management in setting industry direction and policy and accept fully the consequences of poor company performance and reap equitably the benefits of company successes.
The role of a president is to establish a vision and set direction. It is not for them to compromise but to lead. If Congress chooses to compromise, so be it – but the veto power will be used as need be.
In summary, and at the risk of negating my pledge not to espouse non-absolutes:
I seek a world where peace and love abound.
I seek a world where tolerance excels but is also transformed into understanding and engagement.
I seek a world where greed is replaced by sharing and empathy for those less fortunate.
I seek a world where “politicians” are replaced with “public servants.”
I seek a world where the earth is honored rather than exploited.
I seek a world where all accept that we are a true community that accepts that we belong together.
Now let’s “get it done!” I seek your endorsements – and money (since I have only a little — which may be my greatest attribute as a candidate).
But before leaving I offer two quotes that give me pause. First, Kurt Vonnegut said in 2004: “There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don’t know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president.” And in 1029 H. L. Mencken said of who might get elected: “…all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre – the man who can most easily (and) adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
Anyway, I think Mencken’s prediction already came true at least once since he pronounced it, so maybe I can reverse the trend. Somebody has to.
Robert Barkley, Jr., is the retired Executive Director of the Ohio Education Association. He is the author of Quality in Education: A Primer for Collaborative Visionary Educational Leaders and Leadership In Education: A Handbook for School Superintendents and Teacher Union Presidents and Progressive Thoughts from a Liberal Mind: Essays on Creating a More Perfect World (unpublished). He resides in Worthington, Ohio where he studies and writes on education