By Mark David Blum, Esq.
Since its first moments of birth through today, I have had the opportunity to study the Occupy movement. I have spoken with hundreds of people from all political and personal belief systems as well as reviewed arguments and proposals that have come from the four corners of the nation at all the occupy sites. In response to the call of the gathered for Ďchangeí, I took the time to gently interrogate and analyze the specific complaints and issues raised by all with whom I spoke, from neo conservative to anarchist and everything in between. Adding my own thoughts to the mix, I have synthesized what I believe are 15 principles that if implemented would respond to the concerns of the majority of the Occupy movement and provide a salve to the wounds of this great nation.
I did openly disregard the opinions of the extremes, the confused, those with ulterior or nefarious motives, and those ideas which run contrary to our nationís founding and the rights and privileges that are guaranteed to all. The principles stated below are an effort to work new ideas into the existing framework while at the same time holding true to our national heritage and basic human rights and shortcomings. In sum; it is an effort to fine tune an otherwise well functioning machine.
In response to the objections anticipated will be raised by the anarchist argument, I say that people are not equal in life. We are born equal and our constitution guarantees us all equality of opportunity. But as imperfect humans there will always be those who are stronger, faster, smarter, luckier, healthier, wealthier, and more powerful than others. That cannot be prevented; even at the point of a gun as history has shown everywhere it has been tried. It does a great disservice to all people if we hobble the successful to secure equality of outcome. Equalizing outcomes so that we all end up the same ignores human qualities and prevents the rise of new industries, ideas, and achievements. Competitive capitalism is the best system developed by humans, along with the creation of the patent and trademark, to empower great nations like ours to rise up. The enemy, if you will, of all our efforts, is the pollution of crony capitalism that has infected the body politic. Competition provides for the best outcomes and works to both keep our innate flaws in check and provide reward for achievement.
Finally, the proposals made do not reach beyond our national borders. The problems we face and the concerns of which I believe all but a handful of Occupiers have raised are uniquely American and thus my focus has been solely on finding a healing plan for our nation.
Consequently, I make the following proposals:
Whereas we are a great nation born of the fires of revolution and thereafter matured into a world power, but in doing so, the nation has turned itsí back on the majority of its citizens, and
Whereas the People who make up the heart and soul of the nation have risen up in anger and taken to the streets in numbers not seen in decades demanding great and sweeping changes to the political and economic systems that have become skewed against the best interests of the very People for which the very nation was created, and
Whereas our federal legislative and executive branches have turned their loyalties more toward their respective parties and ignored the best interests of the nation, and
Whereas in maintaining respect and connection to the basic tenets and foundations upon which the great nation was founded but in an effort to bring about the needed change as the nation continues to develop and grow,
I do hereby propose the following changes for consideration and adoption to both protect our national identity, our economic freedom, and our personal liberties:
First, the People shall have the power of Referendum. This political right would enable the People themselves to change laws enacted against their wishes, enable the People to demand that Congress and the Executive branches bring forth for debate particular issues, and provide for the removal from office any elected or appointed government officer whose actions or behaviors defy the wishes of the People, and
Second, our national calendar should be changed such that our national elections and the date upon which our tax payments are due should both happen on the same date each year so as to serve as a perpetual reminder to candidates and the People that fiscal responsibility is a duty owed to all the People, and
Third, it is the duty and responsibility of every citizen to take a stand as to where the national direction should face and thus it should be a law that every citizen be registered to vote and to be obligated by law, just as with jury duty, to actually appear at their place of elections and sign in on election day. Clearly every citizen shall have the right to not cast a vote but the People have the right to maximize and enhance the likelihood that they do in fact exercise their right, and
Fourth, our nation is of sufficient affluence that we can afford to provide the very best for ourselves, take care of our weakest, get out of the way of our strongest, and open the doors of opportunity for all. Toward that end, the People should provide for themselves a full and free education to every level desired by the individual and unfettered access to medical care without reservation because having a healthy and highly educated population provides the nation with the greatest chances of achievement and success, and
Fifth, while there are many ways proposed and pending to alter, modify, eradicate, and vacate our tax code; even keeping it in its current state, changes should be made to empower the People and take away the incentives that create significant economic disparity and so toward that end, the tax code should be modified such that that (1) all income from all sources derived, whether by paycheck, investment, chance, or inheritance, be taxed at the same rate in that income is income and an income tax should tax all income equally, and (2) no organization or corporation could deduct from their tax liability and calculate as being business overhead any and all salaries, perks, benefits, gifts, deferrals, or other payments in cash or in kind for any officer or director of the corporation when such benefits total more than 10 times that of the lowest paid employee because in preventing such a tax deduction from gross revenues, organizations, companies, and corporations will be incentivized to keep disparate income levels more equalized while still being able to protect the entityís right to pay what it wants, and
Sixth, the People should subject themselves to a limitation of their rights and agree ahead of time that any person who has worked or served in government or for the government in any capacity shall for a period of at least ten years from the date of their separation from such government service, be prevented from doing business with the government or representing anybody who does business with the government, and
Seventh, every Member of Congress shall be mandated to sign an oath under penalty of perjury that prior to voting on any particular proposed legislation, that said Member of Congress shall have themselves read and understand the proposed legislation in its entirety and that their decision is being made in the best interests of the nation and not in loyalty to any particular party, interest group, or entity. This same obligation shall be required of any elected or appointed member of the Executive Branch before enacting any Rule or Regulation and shall include the President before signing or vetoing any act of Congress that shall come forth, and
Eighth, it being a basic tenet of our nationís founding that there was not intended to be a class of elected persons or that elected office shall be a lifelong career, and that the duty and burden of elected office shall be shared by all those capable and willing, the salaries and benefits that accompany any elected office shall end upon the end of the tenure in that office of any elected person. No elected or appointed person in government shall be able to claim any retirement or medical coverage or any post office-holding taxpayer funded benefit. Though every person who serves is entitled to a fair and reasonable compensation, that compensation shall end upon the end of office, and
Ninth, power in the legislative branch has become too concentrated in the hands of too few persons and it shall therefore be the rule that the Seniority system in Congress shall be abolished such that leaders and committee heads and appointments shall be based on a merit or other system but that no person shall claim any title or office within Congress based solely on the number of years that person has held office, and
Tenth, all elected, appointed, and employed persons in federal service shall be subject to the same laws, duties, obligations, and burdens as is every other citizen and person in our society without exception and Congress shall pass no law nor shall the President sign any Bill or create any rule or regulation which exempts government agents and actors from any burden or duty imposed upon the People, and
Eleventh, all persons in federal service and in the employ of the taxpayer shall no longer have a direct pension benefit unless the non government free market is likewise offering pensions in at least 51 percent of all companies and organizations; instead, taxpayer funded job holders shall participate in the same 401(k) and other deferred retirement programs because taxpayer funded job holders make decisions that directly impact the market and the economy, and such job holders should have a direct stake and interest in the outcome of their rulemaking and policy decisions, and
Twelfth, every agency, policy, or law enacted by Congress shall have a sunset provision of no more than five years thereby enabling the People to have a voice in whether such policy, agency, law, or rule is having its desired effect or is causing harm. In doing so, subsequent generations can debate and reconsider the worthiness of any agency, policy, or law and whether it should be continued, and
Thirteenth, our nationís borders should be open and free with traffic allowed to proceed across the border unimpeded. No person from any nation should be limited in the amount of time they can stay in our nation nor shall any person, citizen or not, be denied the chance to work, to have access to housing, to secure licenses to drive, or otherwise participate in a free and open society. Though no non-citizen should be able to vote in national elections, that rule should not necessarily apply to local elections where residents thereof who may not be citizens but are long time active members of local communities and if such communities should so declare, non citizens should have a say in local governance, and
Fourteenth, at the time of our birth, we are all equal and none of us knows what level of success we may achieve, be it affluent, disabled, or unemployable and thus our social security and other social programs should serve as a safety net for those whose life efforts does not provide for their retirement. Thus, our social security programs should be shifted from a guaranteed annuity to an insurance policy based on a personís situation at the time of retirement, and
Fifteenth, the right of the People to work and have a job shall not be impeded and toward that end, unless it can be shown as being absolutely necessary for any particular employment situation, no employer shall be allowed to consider a personís credit history, criminal history, lineage, employment situation, or then current financial status as a factor to disqualify a person from employment.
THUS is it so recognized and respectfully submitted this 21st day of November 2011
I am more than willing to discuss and debate these proposals if in doing so the arguments can be substantive and not personal. The proposals themselves are general in nature with the intent, if adopted, could be used as tools to deal with specific issues ranging from student loans to the War on Drugs, to expansionist military policy, to lobbyists, to our national debt.
I look forward to your feedback.