Surprisingly, there have been a whole string of really great pieces of legislation introduced or proposed in Congress. Here’s a quick greatest hits:
The Government By The People Act - a huge step toward reducing the influence of big money on politics. We still need a constitutional amendment but it’s a great step in the right direction.
The Open Internet Preservation Act - This works to restore network neutrality to the internet after the courts struck it down on a technicality. I would prefer more protections than this but at least it takes us back to where we were which is a heck of a lot better than where we are now.
The Smarter Sentencing Act - This reduces mandatory minimum sentencing which are a huge part of our excessive unjust prison situation and is even retroactive so that some people sentenced can get new hearings and reduced sentencing. This one has bipartisan support including support from Rand Paul and is making considerable progress.
The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 - This is a fix to the voting rights act to make it more fair and in line with supreme court expectations. I’d rather it was even more comprehensive but it’s again a lot better than where we are.
Properly Reducing Overxemptions For Sports Act or PRO Sports Act - A simple enough idea. It gets rid of the NFL and NHL’s ridiculous nonprofit status. This is a proposal put forth by a Republican and an independent.
Proposal to Let Post Offices Cash Checks - An excellent way to reduce or eliminate predatory payday lending and save the Post Office entirely. It may even lead to them providing other much needed banking services to the poorest communities.
All of this in addition to the still continuing to advance Immigration Reform, Minimum Wage increase to more than $10/hr, and the proposal to expand Social Security from last year are all really pretty positive signs.
Of course I don’t want to sound excessively optimistic. Proposing and introducing is a far cry from passing and I wouldn’t bank on more than one or two of these becoming law in the next couple of years, and if they do become law quickly I suspect they will be heavily compromised in the process and still have to contend with the Supreme Court. But over the long haul it’s nice to see people fighting for really important things some of which aren’t even often talked about. And most importantly, having these bills proposed and hopefully VOTED on, perhaps multiple times, will lead the country to be able to see exactly who is blocking progress on much needed legislation so they can vote those people out, hence increasing the likelihood that they can pass in future congresses.
Of course there are still a ton of problems out there and will be even if we got all of this done (Climate Change being the most terrifying), but If these 9 things were to happen relatively quickly, I’d feel enormously better about the state of our country and our chances of making things better in the world and for ourselves.
I’ve been trying to use facebook a little bit of late. I realized that I absolutely hate everything about its user interface. It is the most annoying platform to work with I have seen in recent history, I can only imagine people can only tolerate it because they’ve been forced to use it continuously for so long and have just been adjusting with the changes forced upon them as they came out. If a service that looked and worked like facebook debuted today I think there’s virtually no chance it would reach any significant level of popularity. No wonder young people who aren’t yet bound when given a choice choose to go some place out.
I fear Martin Luther King’s most true statement of all may be this:
Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words ‘Too Late’.
News reports of late have been mentioning that Trust in Government in the United States is at an all time low according to polling. That’s possibly the least surprising result in polling history of course. The detailed coverage almost makes it seem as if this question is key in some way to determining policy. It’s as if to say if American’s don’t trust their Government then their Government must be changed, reformed, shrunk, or eliminated or else that Americans must be educated or propagandized into trusting their Government.
I think not. The problem is the question itself is fairly meaningless. It’s like this. I don’t trust my computer. But I also don’t NOT trust my computer. I trust it on a day to day basis or else I wouldn’t work with it and couldn’t get anything thing. But I also don’t trust it. I don’t assume that it will always be there for me and always work perfectly for me. Sure as heck it’s broken down enough times that I’m well aware it’s far from perfect.
My computer is a tool. I am rationally aware that the tool can breakdown, that it can go slow, that it can be poorly maintained, that it can even be tricked into giving me incorrect results, that it can be applied to a problem that is beyond it’s capacity. But that doesn’t mean I think my computer needs to be destroyed or that I should just rip out the ram of it or make myself use it 50% less. It doesn’t mean I have to setup a Church of my computer and convince myself and everyone else that The Computer is ALWAYS Right. Of course not!
Government also is a tool. A very complex one. And for the most part it’s a reliable tool. But can it be corrupted from inside and without? Of course. Can it breakdown and fail? Sure. Is it sometimes not the right tool for the tasks for which it is applied? Absolutely. But this isn’t a matter of faith. We can know these things. We can examine Government and it’s effects on society to discover where it works and where it doesn’t work. We can see when it is the best tool for a job and when it is not. And we can fix Government when it breaks down. We can clean it of the virus of corruption and get it back to a functional system.
(And for the record the exact same things are true of Corporations and I feel the exact same way about them.)
Notice we don’t ask questions like “Do you trust the Economy?” or “Do you trust Society?” or “Do you trust the Environment?”. These are complex systems where in it doesn’t seem particularly relevant whether we trust them or not. These things can crush people and elevate people but they are just systems that exist. But so too is Government. We must deal with it as it is not worry about our feelings toward it. We can have a better economy or a worse economy. We can have a better society or a worse society. We can have a better environment or a worse environment. And we can have a better Government if we don’t let ourselves end up with a worse one.
That’s what I believe about Government. I don’t trust or distrust Government. I don’t love or hate Government. I don’t fear or have confidence in Government. I’m not proud of Government or ashamed of Government. I’m not giddy about Government or sick of it. I just want to make Government BETTER. That’s it. I believe Government can be made Better. Ever and always I believe in working toward making Government better. Just like the society, the environment, the economy, corporations, and even my computer. If we try, we can make them better. And we should.