Everyone seems to be proposing fixes for our country lately, whether it’s amendments to repeal the First Amendment or ban gays or whatever. I have a few ideas of my own that I think will go a long ways towards restoring some sanity in government and fixing what’s wrong with our society. Some of these will require constitutional amendments, and I don’t expect the entire list to actually get enacted unless magic somehow returns to the world and we resurrect Barry Goldwater, F.A. Hayek, and George Washington all at once.
I originally drafted a list of some 23 ideas, but I figured that it would be way too long for a blog post, so I shortened it to 14, a baker’s dozen. None of these are simple or light fixes, they are not tweaking around the edges to ensure a marginally better outcome. Judging from the situation our government and economy is in, from the horrific hard place our civil liberties are wedged behind, and the unmanageable mess that is Washington, I don’t think that “moderate” or “conservative” changes will do anything. We cannot pussyfoot around the issue; we need radical alterations to how our government works if we’re going to get us out of this morass. Again, most of these may never pass, but that’s to be expected.
Certainly, if you wish to hear my entire list, let me know and I’ll write it up, but for now, here are my 14 ideas for fixing our country:
1. Establish Approval Voting
I’ve already talked about this idea at length here, so I will not bore you again. In this post, all I will say is that I believe if we are to get anything done—and I do mean anything—we need to systematically reform how people actually get into office. That’s the foundation upon which any democracy stands, and when you’re up to your eyeballs in tar, the only way to get that fixed is to drain the swamp and start at the beginning.
We all know that public sector pensions—of firefighters, police officers, teachers, and other civil “servants”—are dragging state budgets under and imperiling other budget areas. But the question is, how bad is it? There have been numerous conflicting reports to the unfunded liabilities state governments are facing.
Well, as usual, it seems to be worse than we previously thought. From the Economic Freedom Project:
These facts should stop dead any further pushes to defend and keep public pensions sacrosanct. The left and public unions may get up and toot their own horn, but they can bleat about it until they’re blue in the face: the simple fact is we have no money. Eventually, people are going to get sick of the reductions in service and the hiking of taxes in order to pay for these pensions, and they’re going to come at them with hatchets.
Yet, for some inane reason, public unions cannot recognize this fact. They cannot see ahead even just ten years.
The good times are over. We all need to make cutbacks in order to get through this, and that includes our government. No matter what the left likes to think, reality does not have a liberal bias. It has a libertarian one.
If it were “Just the facts, ma’am,” then thousands of Florida police officers would be out of work:
Thousands of Florida officers remain on the job despite arrests or evidence implicating them in crimes that could have landed them in prison, a Herald-Tribune investigation has found.
Corrections officer Kurt Stout, already dogged by allegations he groped and had sex with prisoners, was arrested on allegations he raped two teenage girls. Nick Viaggio capped a string of violent outbursts at the Ocala Police Department by attacking his girlfriend in a crowded nightclub until bouncers dragged him away. Palm Beach County deputy Craig Knowles-Hiller, under investigation for sleeping with a 14-year old, had to explain why the girl’s DNA was found on one of his sex toys.
Even those officers with multiple offenses have been given chance after chance through a disciplinary system that has been reshaped in their favor by the state’s politically influential police unions. As a result, officers around Florida carry personnel files that are anything but heroic.
Some very interesting (and good) news out of Connecticut, courtesy of the Hartford Business Journal:
Now that Connecticut state employee unions ratified $1.6 million in concessions this week, Gov. Dannel Malloy’s administration will begin shrinking the state’s government in other areas as well.
Management positions may be consolidated, vacant positions will be left open, and the fares on the New Haven rail services may increase, said Office of Policy & Management Secretary Ben Barnes on Friday morning.
“The best way to restructure state government is to do it deliberately with time and make sure all the needed services are still provided,” Barnes said.
Beyond the concession agreement, the state wants to shrink its size while maintaining an appropriate level of service. Barnes said Malloy’s budget team already has identified hundreds of millions in potential savings reductions, although some are more attractive than others. Cutting grant programs to outside agencies, for example, wouldn’t be to popular.
As part of the union concession agreement approved Wednesday, the state and the employee unions will need to hit savings targets of more than $150 million through various cuts in health care, technology and general savings. The unions and the government managers will form committees to identify possible cost savings.
It’s good to do it deliberately, I think, and with time: sudden shocks will not bring anyone over to “our side.” But this is fantastic news in any case: a Democratic governor has obtained large scale cuts in government expenses from public unions, traditionally one of the largest forces in making sure that government stays bloated and expensive.
Wisconsin certainly seems to be where it’s all happening in state politics right now. My beloved Georgia simply avoids voting on some things, while Wisconsin Democrats pull a Taco Bell and “make a run for the border.” In this case, it’s the state border, and all because Republicans want to modify rules that keep unions in power.
Now, I haven’t read the law, but I don’t need to in order to know that there should at least be some discussion about modifying some of the rules that actually hurt jobs and make a group of people who produce nothing so powerful that they can cripple entire corporations and, at time, the entire nation.
From the MSNBC report about the whole thing (emphasis added):
MADISON, Wis. — Faced with a near-certain Republican victory that would end a half-century of collective bargaining for public workers, Wisconsin Democrats retaliated with the only weapon they had left: They fled.
Fourteen Democratic lawmakers disappeared from the Capitol on Thursday, just as the Senate was about to begin debating the measure aimed at easing the state’s budget crunch.
By refusing to show up for a vote, the group brought the debate to a swift halt and hoped to pressure Republicans to the negotiating table.
“The plan is to try and slow this down because it’s an extreme piece of legislation that’s tearing this state apart,” Sen. Jon Erpenbach said.