A few participants in the group expressed that they did not want to encourage religious extremists and anti-evolution groups emerging at public expense. I argued that overall there would be a rich diversity of unique, more-cohesive communities with a sense of neighborhood togetherness, something that is lacking in today's society. Twenty years later, I retired from teaching in the public schools, and after working with the bureaucracy and hierarchy within the public schools, I can say I still support neighborhood control of neighborhood schools.
The Occupy movement failed, at least in part, because it lacked leadership and could not agree on specific demands to make of Congress. So, I am currently thinking, what if there can be a central clearinghouse, or several websites, that can assimilate the results of a political survey. From that survey, progressives can find common ground and make specific demands of Congress. Members of Congress can then change the laws and add the new amendments, or be voted out of office, as mass support for a powerful agenda gains momentum.
I have my own package of ideal demands to make of Congress, which has been made into a survey, for which on each item, participants can choose whether they disagree, are not sure, agree if slightly modified, or totally agree. But other surveys could easily be used. If my survey only offers food for thought, then I will be thankful for that. Here are my 27 ways to improve local communities, our nation, and the world.
____ 1. Dismantle all nuclear weapons and nuclear energy power plants, simultaneously and voluntarily, the world over as soon as possible.
____ 2. Bring home all U.S. troops and close down the government's 700-1000 military bases around the world. Even with such a drawdown, our nation would retain more than enough capacity to defend its own borders. The money previously spent on the military would be used to create jobs and rebuild our nation's infrastructure: "[A]nd they shall turn their swords into ploughshares." (Isaiah 2:4). Military ships, submarines, and planes can be used for low-budget travel and tourism.
____ 3. Establish Single-Payer Health Insurance with the federal government as the single payer.
____ 4. Remove the influence of private financial contributions and of lobbyists on members of Congress in the traditional way. The Library of Congress will create a website that will become an online forum and clearinghouse for the advocacy of all public policy. All positions and arguments will be publicized. Everyone will know who is lobbying for what and why. Publicly provide the same finances to the political campaigns of the seven largest, national political parties, and give all seven parties equal public exposure.
____ 5. Elect the U.S. House of Representatives through a system of Proportional Representation, and abolish the U.S. Senate: Why should California and Wyoming have the same number of senators when California's population is about 70 times greater? The seven largest, national political parties will be empowered in a single-chambered, national legislature. Under proportional representation, the National Green Party may get 15 percent of the vote, for example, in the 435-membered House of Representatives, and Indiana's population currently allows it to have ten members in the House of Representatives. But it may be that of the seven national political parties, the Indiana Republican Party will get to select five of Indiana's ten representatives in the House of Representatives because Indiana is a conservative state.
____ 6. Abolish the Electoral College System for electing a president. A president must win by a majority of individual votes (not just a plurality of votes) using the method of Instant Runoff Voting, in which each voter will rank slated candidates from most favorite to least favorite. And it may take two or more rounds of voting to eliminate the candidate with the least amount of votes, until eventually one of the remaining candidates captures at least 51 percent of the vote.
____ 7. Allow Congress--not the president--to select Supreme Court judges who will serve for 4-year terms. Judges may serve multiple terms.
____ 8. Implement a decentralized, non-hierarchical, or grassroots, approach to public schools: The neighbors who live within the boundaries of each public elementary, middle, and high school will democratically establish their own school philosophy and curriculum, using public funds. There will no longer be federal, state, county, or township control of neighborhood schools. This should improve neighborhood togetherness, as neighbors ideally become tribal, in a new and modern way.
____ 9. Abolish the Federal Reserve and allow the Treasury Department to oversee a publicly owned banking system like the Bank of North Dakota.
____ 10. Strive to establish a democratic world government that provides equal pay for equal work, with no one earning more than three times the wages of the lowest paid worker. This will eliminate the extremes of poverty and wealth and provide adequate food, housing, and jobs for all citizens of the world. A system of workplace democracy will be instituted. The world map can be divided into 500 rectangular-shaped, legislative districts of equal population. The World Legislative Council could then make executive and judicial branch appointments.
____ 11. Implement a Progressive income tax up to 94 percent for any income amounts over $100,000 with a simplified tax code.
____ 12. Abolish compulsory education--learning is a choice.