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NineTeen Proposals for Obama and Biden

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These are 19 randomly arranged political positions I drafted in consultation with the founders and members of TeenDemocrats organization, whom I mentor. These are proposed ideas and are open for discussion. After each point is discussed sufficiently enough, after their pros and cons become evident, they will then be presented as the TeenDemocrats Manifesto or TeenDemocrats Agenda.

1.      Enact Community Service for Graduation (CSG) program. To instill a sense of civic duty in future generations and to familiarize them with work, two months of community service should be a requirement for graduation from Middle and High schools. Similar to the "work study" program, the government should pay minimum wage to graduating students and they should be assigned to their work place through a lottery system. Middle school graduates might be assigned to elementary school classes to tutor and assist teachers. Secondary school graduates might be assigned to assist seniors, work in city and local government offices (no church or political parties), and to tutor and assist in middle schools. Assuming the total of graduating students would be about 10 millions per year, the cost of the program would be 22 billion dollars, which is less than 5 percent of Pentagon's budget.

2.      Support and promote exchange student programs. Encountering and interacting with different cultures help both parties to appreciate their positives and notice their negatives. For instance, if American students and teachers visit a Chinese classroom with 60 or 70 students studying diligently and with outmost attention to their teachers, they might learn important lessons. A scholarship similar to the Fulbright scholarship should be funded for high-school students. Students with good academic records or leadership skills should be given the opportunity to explore the world. With less than 1% of the national budget, 10,000 exchange high school students could travel around the planet and plant seeds for a better world. 

3.      Create more parks and recreational centers and fund more community based physical activities and games for teens. From unhealthy food peddled by fast food restaurants and vending machines filled with junk food and sodas to chemicals used in food preservation. From addictive video games that deprive us from physical activities to policy that caters the interest of the auto industry. All these contribute to the national epidemic of obesity. Now, one of every three American teens is obese. Obesity related diseases, such as diabetes, are increasing among teens at alarming rates. The government can help society change this reckless trend. A portion of the tax money saved from current unpatriotic and reckless military waste,  (which produces only destruction, death and more enemies), should be used to create more public sports facilities, parks, and sports programs that are free for every citizen. Many parents cannot afford signing up their children for sports clubs or gyms. To promote a healthy lifestyle and create better community involvement in sports, games such as soccer, football, or basketball should be scheduled such that while children are playing on one side of the park, at the same time their parents and grandparents play on the other side of the same park. Or mixed games could be organized...

4.      Include Critical Thinking and Philosophy Classes to the core curriculum of every high school. It is imperative to educate teens about how to use their logic, so that they gain skills to apply critical thinking at an early age. This will also help to solve the public controversy regarding Evolution versus Intelligent Design argument in biology classes. The Intelligent Design argument, which is a philosophical take on evolution, could be discussed in critical thinking or philosophy classes. Before putting anything in our mouths we observe the color, sniff its smell. If it looks rotten, or smells bad we do not touch it. If a food passes the eye and nose tests, then our taste buds will be the judge. If a harmful bit fools all those examinations, our stomach come to rescue, it revolts and throws them up. There are many other organs that function as stations for testing, examination, and modification of imported material into our bodies. They ultimately meet our smart and vigilant nano-guards: white cells. Sure, there are many harmful or potentially harmful foods that pass all the way through our digestive system into our blood, such as alcohol and fat.  Nevertheless, without much using our reasoning faculty, we have an innate system that protects our body from harmful substances. Then, it is a mystery how we put information and assertions, especially the most bizarre ones, into our brains without subjecting them to rigorous test of critical thinking. We should not turn our brains into trashcans of false ideas, holy viruses, unexamined dogmas and superstitions! We should be wise!

5.      Lead the world in reducing pollution and global warming. The government should invest billions of dollars in scientific research to innovate clean and reusable alternative energy sources. This will provide jobs for millions of people and also boost our national security by eliminating our reliance on foreign fuel and our meddling with the politics of oil rich countries; this can be done by slashing the pentagon's inflated budget. According to International Energy Agency, in 2006 the US spent only $3.2 billion dollars on alternative research energy, such as wind, solar, nuclear, etc. The Pentagon spends more than that in just 48 hours.

6.      Adopt metric system. All countries, except the US, Liberia and Burma (Myanmar) have officially adopted the metric system. There is no good reason not to adopt a system that is used by the world and is also much easier to work with. Remember our metric confusion caused the loss the NASA orbiter in 1999. Another problem in international communication is caused by different ways of indicating time. For instance the 7/1/2008 is read July 1st by us but it is read as January 7th by the rest of the world, including Europe. This creates confusion and misunderstanding in scheduling international events.

7.      Slash the military budget by half. Our military budget is out of control. We are spending 600 billion dollars just to maintain an unnecessarily huge military and hundreds of billions more to finance unnecessary wars to keep the "military-industrial complex" going. We were warned by no other than a US president, Eisenhower, in his farewell address, about the danger of becoming addicted to wars. Our tax money, instead being used for the betterment of society (education, health care, scientific research, alternative energy, infrastructure, etc.) is wasted on an industry whose fruit is only to bring destruction, killing, and misery for many nations in the world. This in turn creates more enemies against us. In turn more enemies and hostility gives more excuse to the war profiteers to use paid talking heads and politicians to fear monger and warmonger. Spending more money on military and weapons leads to more wars which creates more enemies which justifies fear-mongering which is used as a propaganda to increase the military budget even more, which lead to war-mongering to keep the wheel of the killing industry moving. We know that those who live by sword die by sword. We know that what goes around comes around. We cannot expect living a peaceful life if we keep showering many nations of the world with bombs. Here is a fact that every American should know: The US military spending accounts for 47% of the world's total arms expenditures. Read again this sentence to the chicken-heart patriots who are easily manipulated by war profiteers and their agents. They used to scare us by exaggerating the power of Communism and Russia, and now they are scaring us by the exaggerated power of terrorists, which should be dealt with not by huge militaries and wars, but by FBI, CIA, Interpol and smart diplomacy.

8.      Create a “Presidential Teen Advisors Committee” and appoint nineteen teen advisors for the paid positions. There are tens of millions of teens in the United States, and they are capable of contributing to the national policy that would involve teens and their immediate future. The ages of teen advisors should be between 13 and 19, inclusively. When Teen Advisors reach age 20, they should be replaced. Creating such a committee will inspire teens to be informed and involved in vital political issues concerning them. For instance, it is mostly teenagers who will risk and lose their lives in wars, wars that are usually waged by corrupt and grumpy old men. Teen Advisors should be elected by Young Democrats and Teen Democrats.

9.      Require parenting and family planning classes for teen mothers and those who have more than three children. Overpopulation is the biggest problem facing the earth. It is a major factor in global warming, many conflicts and wars. Such a requirement may deter people from having too many children and those who got too many children will have chance to get some education about the problem they are contributing to. The cost of overpopulation and the uncared children is too high for the society. Thus, the right of an individual to be a parent should be qualified. As we educate and train teens before they drive a car; we should also require parents and would be parents to pass some tests. Children are more important than cars; and a child raised without proper care and love may be more dangerous for the society than a car driven by a drunk driver.

10.   Provide a single-payer universal health care system. Our country spends more than 7 thousand dollars per person on health care, which is much higher than Canada and European countries, but our health is worse in terms of life expectancy and infant mortality. In the USA, insurance industry, which is no more than a bureaucratic middle man, wastes about 600 billion dollars in bureaucracy and billing fraud. Furthermore, more than 50 million Americans do not have health care. Sure, we have the best technology and hospitals in the world, but only a few very rich people enjoy this. Ironically, insurance industry and their agents in political ranks point at a few hundred Canadian millionaires coming to the US to receive exotic health care, while they ignore that millions of Americans order prescription medications from Canada and Mexico and thousands of them travel to Mexico and even to India to receive less expensive but vital health care.

11.   Decriminalize soft drugs. The billions of dollars spent in the so-called "war on drugs" have not reduced the use and demand for drugs. To the contrary, in addition to usage of drugs, it also created criminal gangs trading drugs. The so-called "war on drugs" harms the society more than the drug abuse itself. Furthermore, the criminalization of drugs is costing the judicial system and filling our prisons with non violent people. The funds should be used for prevention and rehabilitation. For instance, educating youngsters about the harms of drugs, rehabilitating the addicts, and training them for jobs.

12.   Stop banks from robbing their customers. Every year, billions of dollars are stolen from bank customers not by criminals but by banks and other financial institutions through legalized robberies. They have created a number of ways to separate their customers from their money entrusted to them. One of the most lucrative ways of robbing their customers is through various fees, which are continuously increased far above the inflation rate. Early account-closing fees, paycheck fees, pay-card fees, account information fees, overdraft fees, overdraft protection fees, special fees such as for stopping payment on checks, ATM fees, and more fees. Unfortunately, our political system has been distorted through lobbies; banks have passed numerous laws to increase their exploitation and abuse. For instance they get away with by lending money to an imposter and then accuse you of not protecting your identity. They shift the burden of their reckless loan lending practice. You end up spending months of agony to clean up the mess created by banks that loan money to other people and then show the audacity of asking you to pay for their greedy and careless business.

13.   Stop the crimes committed by corporations. In a democracy that is infected by corporate money and lobbies, our government have become the government of corporations, by corporations and for corporations. Corporations get away with all their crimes against consumers and humanity.  We agree with Ralph Nader, the nation's top consumer advocate that "From pollution, medical negligence, procurement fraud, product defects, and financial fraud, to antitrust, public corruption, foreign bribery and occupational homicide, corporate crime is widely ignored by politicians – yet acutely felt by all Americans." Nader lists a twelve point program to fight against the aggression of corporations against American people. For more details about each point you may visit click here

* Increase Corporate Crime Prosecution Budgets

* Ban Corporate Criminals from Government Contracts

* Crack Down on Corporate Tax Avoidance

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EDIP YUKSEL, J.D. is a progressive American-Turkish-Kurdish author/philosopher/lawyer/activist (too many hyphens and slashes, I know). His recent English books "Quran: a Reformist Translation", "Manifesto for Islamic Reform", and "NINETEEN: God's (more...)
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