Apr 11, 2010

The last part of my "political" postings for now.

So, we've had some interesting discussion here on political things, haven't we? I want to go off on a different tangent tonight, but will jump off something CK and, I believe, Corinne were saying about eduction being the key.  I have to disagree.  No amount of education is going to overcome peer pressure, parental influences and immediate societal influences, even over time.  At least in my opinion.  The DARE program proved this to us.  Kids aren't going to take to being taught better values, personal responsibility and ambition when they don't see it among those they love and respect the most - family and friends. Oh, sure, you'll get the occasional success story but overall?  It won't work.  What will work, I think, is being tough on people.  Fair, but tough.  I'm going to lay out a plan I spoke of years ago and I still believe it will work.  I'll enlarge on it now, based on today's circumstances. 

So, my plan for rebuilding our country? 

1.  Announce a 5 year plan to eliminate all welfare programs, barring exceptions such as the terminally ill, mentally retarded, severely physically handicapped, etc. "Welfare" means food stamps, TANF, WIC, EITC, Section 8, SSI, etc.  If you're on one of the plans already, you can continue on for your promised span but new children conceived after the start date get nothing.  No medical, no WIC, noth-ing.  Be responsible for what you do.  So, this being the case, you better be prepared to do it on your own or face child neglect charges if you have kids and don't care for them after the 5 years is up.  Those already on assistance have 5 years to figure out how to get off...go to college, go to tech school, whatever.  Five years is a long time.  It *can be done, even in this economy.

2.  Loosen up domestic adoption costs and requirements. Of all things, *this is a good one for the government to actually run and make free for qualified people.  Gays, "older" parents, single but well-established parents, parents who have an illness but are still able to parent?  Let them adopt and let them adopt children of races other than their own.  Kids will get good parents *and we'll make strides in diminishing still-existing color barriers.  Win-win.  You don't comply with #1?  #2 kicks in.

3.  Repeal the law that states you're a citizen simply by virtue of being born here but open up our borders to legal immigration via checkpoints like Ellis Island was.  If you can come here legally by the new standards and work, pay taxes, support yourself and prove you can be a contributing, law-abiding citizen, we'll be proud to give you that citizenship and have you join us.  In 5 years.  Prove it for 5 years and you're an American, we'll make your ass legal.  If you sneak in? We will assume you mean harm and seeing as how we're pretty easy under the new plan and we'll react accordingly.  Think of our country as your literal new home...if you ring our doorbell and politely ask to come in, as long as you aren't the dangerous sort, we'll welcome you as family.  We just ask that you cook and clean up after yourself and supply your own things...you're no guest, after all.  But if you sneak in the window knowing how lenient the doorbell policy is, we reserve the right to shoot you in self defense.

4.  Parents need to be held responsible for their kids until age 18.  Period.  No more of this "I can't control them....waaaah!"  When you know you won't be held responsible it's too easy to put your head in the sand and your kids?  Just laugh it off and know that as long as it's fairly small-time crime or misbehavior, not much will happen. That needs to change.  Your kid under 18 does damage, gets in trouble, steals?  You pay for it and out of your welfare, if necessary.  If you have to sell a car, sell your house, perform community service, whatever...you made them, you pay for what they do wrong.  If your kid doesn't care about the hurt this puts on your ass, you've screwed up somewhere in raising them and deserve it anyway.

5.  This one will shock a few here to their core but I say require 2 years of mandatory public service of some type (the military would qualify) for every 18 year old (if they don't graduate, in which case a GED is required) or graduating senior unless they opt for college. If they graduate from college, the public service can come afterward and be in their chosen field, so that it will also count as work experience.  Alternately, 4 years of half-time service would be acceptable since some will be immediately working in family businesses or whatnot.  This country gives us a lot - we need to give back and not just by way of taxes. 

6.  Medical care. Life is rough and often not fair.  Accept it.  Health care being a "right"? I'm iffy but I'll give you that for the sake of argument.  *Paid health care is a privilege, though.  This new health care plan is a joke and, as I've said, will bankrupt us.  Instead, let's put medical/nursing/pharmaceutical students who can't pay for their own education outright through school but require a year of service in their chosen field for every year this country covers for them in college.  What then?  So many towns have houses sitting empty, foreclosed upon.  Same with whole apartment complexes.  Even empty lots.  Use whatever is available for housing for these brand-new medical professionals (think dorm or student apartment type housing) and have these new graduates live there rent-free, paying them minimum wage for their personal expenses.  Build medical clinics close to said housing.  Free/cheap clinics, where people can come and get basic medical care and even specialized care, at no cost if they can show they need it...unemployment papers, bank statements, utility statements, etc....or they can pay very affordable rates if they cannot prove the need for free services. If you choose to live beyond your means and spend money on things that could be put to insurance, too bad.  You're out of luck and have to pay clinic rates for care.  Look at that - you still win.  Your kids, however, are not out of luck if you refuse and will be treated but it will be looked upon as child neglect by you since you chose the nicer home, newer cars, expensive cable package, etc.  Child neglect is punishable by law. This will serve many purposes - providing health care for our citizens, forcing parents to be responsible, allowing our new medical professionals to gain more experience, and preventing the default of many students loans.  It should also serve to help revitalize some run down areas as a side bonus.

7. Legalize drugs but enact far harsher penalties for crimes committed under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  There are many, many benefits to this idea.  For one, the price of street drugs will fall and crime will naturally fall with it.  Big score.  Let's relate it to health care, shall we?  If you're sick due to substance abuse problems, you chose it.  You pay for it.  We have low cost clinics under my plan, remember?  But employed or not, we aren't directly paying for your stupid decisions; you are an exception.  You die from drug abuse?  No great loss.  Sorry.  Self-inflicted illnesses?  On you.  Own yourself.

8.  You'll notice I've been mentioning legalizing drugs a lot...yep, we should and all of them.  Let those intent on using them do so...but have far stricter penalties than we do now if a crime results.  Driving under the influence of something?  We all know more people die from drugs than guns; therefore, attempted murder charges apply because you were intentionally "shooting" at people with your car,  an object far larger than a bullet.  Selling drugs?  Attempted murder.  Someone dies of an overdose and the supplier can be found?  First degree murder. Using drugs, though?  Simple possession?  Ehhh, slap a dumbass label on their forehead.  They'll either get over it or kill themselves off.  Treatment for addiction, though?  Out of pocket.  You made the choice, you pay for it.

9.  About the whole foreclosure situation?  Here's a thought - if Mary bought a home for $500.000 and it's now in foreclosure, look at what Mary *can afford for a house payment.  Can she afford a $250,000 home?  No?  How about a $100.000 home?  Yes?  Great.  Take that $100,000 home that Joe owns in Mary's general area (or any home she prefers in a pool of similarly priced foreclosures) and that he can't pay for and *require Mary to step into it (or a similar one) and take over those payments. Instead of having a mass of foreclosures bringing our economy down, require people to honor their commitments to the lending institution but help them out of a bad situation by allowing them to downsize into something affordable with no penalty. Again, win-win.

10.  Eliminate our federal income tax system and institute a percentage-based sales tax system instead.  Say an additional 2% tacked on to what states and counties already charge, but for everything...food, drugs, services, etc.  The income generated from this would be staggering yet fairly painless for everyone, even the poorest of people, and it would be the fairest system we could have.  You don't like paying?  Fine. Cut back on your spending.  You are in control here over what you pay in federal taxes for the most part and everyone will pay a fair share, commensurate with income, for the services they receive from our government.  The poor will naturally pay less than the wealthy, yet they will still contribute...as they should.

Trust me, I could go on and on but I'll stop here.  I just felt that it was important to balance out all my complaining with fair and viable solutions to problems we are facing as a nation. If you can't offer alternative solutions, you have nothing.  I'm curious what you think of mine...let me know.

And with this, I'll end my "political" posts.  For the moment, anyway.  Tomorrow (okay, today) will bring pictures and fun junk.  If my lazy ass gets in gear, we might even get that new cooking post or something.  It's after 4am and the hell with spell check or making sense.  I'm posting as is, so deal with it and goodnight.

9 comments:

Bella said...

Hey girl-

Gosh, I have a lot to say about all of this, but I am going to focus on one point, so I can make it well. #1 is difficult. What popped into my mind is people who have lived in cycles of poverty since their grandparents. I don't think that you can drop into Detroit, or West Baltimore, and announce that y'all have five years to shape up or starve. Poor people are poor in more ways than money; they are poor in family, health, and education as well. The middle class and the lower middle class still, for the most part, have way more opportunities for advancement than someone who's mom had her when she was 14, and is a crack addict. These kids suffer from illnesses that are caused by neglect, lack of parenting, and poor nutrition. For #1 to work, there absolutely has to be some sort of social programs in place for that to become a reality. I just don't see it being a viable option right now. That being said, what is happening with our social services is ineffective and best, and damaging, locking folks into a life of poverty, at worst.

I think an overhaul of welfare would be the way to go...to help people out if they meet certain requirements, as in going to school, NOT having children, etc. People should have a hand up as they are trying to make themselves better, as they are working towards being a productive member of society.

My last thought on #1, how do you feel about the elderly poor? Does your plan mean that Maude has to go back to work bagging groceries or else she is going to lose her home? Or not eat dinner tonight? What if she has no family to help her? What if she is completely alone, not in good health, and has no job skills because Mr. Maude was the sole breadwinner before he died? Is a $7.25 an hour job going to cover her medication, her rent? As the population of Baby Boomers gets ever closer to "elderly" status, what is going to happen to the people who did not save the approx. $1 million dollars that is needed to modestly take care of yourself from retirement to death?

I love how you make me think!

CK said...

Lots to say too, but I have to comment on your first paragraph.

Sometimes you and I define words very differently (remember black and white?). So, to clarify, when I say education, I mean not just formal education, but teaching people about choices and options, and how strong families are created, and how to parent, and how to advocate for yourself, how to be part of a community (big or small) and the value of being a productive citizen.

A lot of these things parents can teach and model for their children, but they didn't learn them themselves, so don't pass them on. Other adults can also be involved - aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, family friends, community leaders, librarians - anyone who is involved in the child's life.

Off to read more.

CK said...

Hi AP,

Here some thoughts:

Your ideas assume that people will "get up off their asses" and learn to take care of themselves if they don't have another option. Some will. Some won't. And some can't.

You know as a mom that one size doesn't fit all when it comes to disciplining kids. I would say that's true for people too.

#1 - There are not enough jobs in the US for everyone who needs one. Especially not enough paying a living wage. So even if people get trained, some won't be able to get a job, or one that they can support themselves on.

What do we with those who don't make it?

Who pays for the college/tech education?

Many educational programs require more than 5 years.

#2 - Love it!

#4 - So, our kid messes up and we get punished. And we deserve it.

I know plenty of parents who did a great job raising their kids, but their kids made bad choices. No fault of the parents. You can't force your kids to do anything once they get to be a certain age.

#5 - LOVE IT!~

#6 - I think we need affordable health care, not paid health care.

I believe the "high cost" of health care is in part due to people's obsession with avoiding pain at all costs combined with wanting to feel in control, and the overuse of health care. It's the result of inappropriate procedures, treatment and surgeries in order to avoid facing that we don't all live forever.

I get angry at the extreme measures used to save tiny (one pound) premies that God never intended to live outside their mother's uterus.

I get angry at prolonging the life of people with cancer who have a poor prognosis in spite of the treatment.

It's not looking out for the best interests of the patient when the chances of survival are low. It's protecting the family from facing their loss.

Re: your proposal for educating doctors/nurses/pharmacy students - good idea. Who's going to pay for that? I think one of the reasons doctors make so much is because of the years and $$ it takes to become a doctor. Their training is lengthy and expensive.

I guess in general, on all your ideas, what do you propose for the people who don't respond to the "stick" approach? Do we watch them starve? Or beg on the streets? Do we have another way of motivating them? If they don't respond, do we just leave them to suffer, and say "it's your own fault". Especially when it's children who's parents aren't being responsible.

heather said...

Pretty interesting. Without going into deep thought further than reading your ideas and thinking they don't sound too off, I think they are worthy ideas.

Here are two probably way "out-there" ideas I have for our country.

1. I really believe that a woman/girl should have to pass qualifications of some sort before being allowed to have children. Now the family structure doesn't concern me, traditional or not is fine. But I think women/girls should be able to afford and properly care for their kids before they have them. I really wanted to be a mom, but I had the sense to wait until I had an education, a job with an income to support them, a home...things that just make sense.

I haven't deeply thought about how this could be managed, but it would cut down on teen pregnancy, abortions, welfare, child abuse, crime (if you believe in the "Freakonomics" ideas), orphans, medical utilization and costs, the environment (carbon footprint?), etc.

I got this idea when I realized that I had to undergo more scrutiny to adopt a cat from the animal shelter than I did to have children.

2. I'm pretty much against the death penalty (though becoming a parent has challenged my thoughts on the death penalty). But I don't by any means think violent criminals shouldn't be punished. I think they ought to live their lives out and forced to acknowledge their crimes/victims every single day.

But, thinking of ways these criminals can repay their debt to society...medical research! Spare the critters and use the humans who were going to be executed anyway.

I believe that researchers would be able to perfect their treatments for efficacy with humans instead of animals. Of course the said criminal may have to be given whatever disease is being researched, but again-is that much worse than giving them a lethal dose of drugs?

Like I said these ideas are "out there" and would never come to fruition, but they make sense to me.

My passion is healthcare, and I haven't commented on your posts about that yet. It would require putting on my thinking cap, particularly to discuss the dollars and cents of it all.

I call it my passion because I have been on both sides of it. As a nurse, I've seen good, hard-working people who lost their lives because of our current way of doing things.

And I was one who was working one day and in the hospital with cancer the next, fully insured with a major medical policy that reneged on a pre-auth'd hospitalization and heart surgery. Thus leaving me with more medical debt than my mortgage costs.

If you want to read more about my thoughts on the healthcare debacle it's labeled in my blog. Though again, I didn't get into the dollars and cents of it all.

Anemone Pie said...

Sorry this took me so long - I tend to get this stuff out of my system then have to step back for a bit and not think about it.

Bella, 5 years is enough, imo. It's enough for reality to set in and for someone to get training and certified in various ares that don't require an actual degree - childcare, EMT/firefighter/cop, various medical positions, hvac, mechanic, insurance, welding, cosmetology, etc. Will there be people who are "collateral damage"? Sure. But there are now, too. A full generation to show we're serious about this and we'll see dramatic changes happening. I really do believe that. But we;re going to have to pick up a lot of pieces in the meantime. It will be expensive and hard, initially but then? We'll see a very different and very much better standard of living for most people living in poverty and on assistance now.

As for the elderly now? That million dollar figure is not accurate *if they planned accordingly. Again, though, I'll allow that in a very few areas of the country, this may not hold true. They should be in a paid off (or nearly so) home, to begin with, at retirement. If not, that's their fault. Look, I'm not talking about living the high life but our coming into elderly now ought to be able to live decently and safely, even if simply, on what they have coming in. They've had ample time to prepare. The very elderly now, the 80+ crowd? I'm fine with helping them out...they came from a generation who didn't have a clue what we'd be facing and I have total sympathy for them. They worked hard and expected to be able to live safely and comfortably. We, as a nation, led them to believe this so it should happen for them. Under 80 now? I have far less sympathy but could still be swayed. Those 65 and under now? Had ample warning and time to prepare for retirement. I'm not so game on providing anything beyond SS and Medicare for them.

Boy, that making one think thing? Yeah, ditto.

Anemone Pie said...

Ck said "Sometimes you and I define words very differently (remember black and white?). So, to clarify, when I say education, I mean not just formal education, but teaching people about choices and options, and how strong families are created, and how to parent, and how to advocate for yourself, how to be part of a community (big or small) and the value of being a productive citizen."

I mean the same thing, CK. I am *not* a supporter of the whole "it takes a village" thing. No. It takes one parent who knows how to parent, period. If a child doesn't have that, they need removed from the situation. Even the poorest of the poor in this country have access to enough information to know what is right and expected in a "normal" home. Schools are full of information, as well. There's no excuse now, in this age of modern technology. They *know, they choose to not do so and I'm not going to cut them any slack, sorry.

"A lot of these things parents can teach and model for their children, but they didn't learn them themselves, so don't pass them on. Other adults can also be involved - aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, family friends, community leaders, librarians - anyone who is involved in the child's life."

If they wanted to be doing this, they already would be. Again, the information is there. They don't *care. They are satisfied with the status quo as long as things are handed to them. It has become their culture and no amount of gentle retraining and patting will change a culture.

CK said...

AP,
Gonna disagree - we can't expect people to parent effectively when they've never been taught. Not everyone has access to the information or resources that are available. Or even understands there might be another way to parent, in order to go looking for it.

So, what about the kids whose parents don't step up, as your plan would "insist" they do? Who's gonna take care of them? It's not like we have a gaggle of foster parents lining up at the Department of Foster Care door looking for kids to take into their homes.

With love,
Misfit #3

CK said...

I agree there are some parents who have access to the information, but choose not to learn from it.

But I think there's a whole bunch or folks who are not equipped, or do not know about options or best practices.

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