1) Public financing of elections:
Public financing might be the most-important change our nation could need and it may be the best hope of saving our democratic principles. It would help institute ~ while not assuring ~ fair and honest elections. The argument that private financing of elections is a form of free speech is nonsense because the only free speech involved would belong only to those persons or corporations that can pay for "free speech." In all other matters involving "free speech" money is not a factor and it should not be a factor in elections.
This nation expends a great amount of money conducting trials, both criminal and civil, and in neither instance does government allow special-interest money to decide victors or winners. The same should be true for elections. We don't allow trials to be "swiftboated" by outside concerns nor verdicts to be bought, and we shouldn't allow elections to go that way. A misstated word in a trial could result in a mistrial; that's how dedicated we are to fair trials. We must do elections as we do jury trials with government acting as judge and the people acting as jury. A decision of "miselection "in 2000 or 2004 might be warranted, but we shouldn't have allowed elections to reach that point.
A public financing-scheme might go as follows:
The federal government would set aside $1 per US citizen per year~ based on the most recent census ~ to finance presidential elections. The money would keep pace with population growth but not inflation, thereby controlling costs of future elections.
No outside influence would be allowed ~ why we need a constitutional amendment ~ after Labor Day in election years, and no government activity would be allowed in primaries, leaving the parties free to select their candidates in any manner they choose. Public financing would pay for all advertising and debates, which would allow third- and fourth-party candidates a forum for their views. Third- and fourth-party candidates may never come close to winning, but their views must be aired so the American public can decide if those views are worth considering.
Any advertisement that challenges another candidate or the candidate's position must be submitted to that candidate for rebuttal, and that rebuttal would be tacked onto the original advertisement. Perhaps this may eliminate or cut down on the smears, character assassinations and slanders dominating present elections.
And while we're at it, a clause establishing a nonpartisan body to draw congressional districts after each census would do wonders returning the government to the people. That needs a constitutional amendment to take that function away from corrupt state legislatures.
2) Eliminate the income tax and institute a profits tax :
We should fund government with three budgets and no crossover to borrow money from one by another. There must be no running away to Dubai (Halliburton) or the Caymen Islands (numerous companies) to avoid paying US taxes. Do business in the US and make a profit, pay US taxes, with no exceptions.
Corrupt corporations like Enron feasted on the manipulations of the income tax. With no taxes to be paid by Enron, executives would bring in money by borrowing, selling bonds or stock, then calling the income profit to keep the stock price soaring. As the stock price soared, executives would exercise their options, buying millions of dollars worth of stock at a low price (such as $10 a share), then immediately turning around and using the now-pricey stock as collateral to borrow (say at $70 share), from the company, netting a profit ($60 a share). As the scheme unravels the company was left with virtually worthless paper while the executives could feign innocence by claiming they didn't know of the companies problems and citing their stock "purchases" as proof of innocence. If Enron were required to pay a hefty tax on its "profits" there would have been no scandal or failed company.
The profits-tax program would work thusly: Everyone would be paid a livable income. In could average $1,000 a month or $2,000 a month and would be subject to no taxation. No income tax, no payroll tax. Then everyone would be entitled to share of the profit their labor creates. Profit sharing should be such that it constitutes more than half the average income and it would be taxed. That would insure that employees make their bosses honest. Executive compensation would depend on a company's growth, not on how much friends in the board of directors will give the CEO in order to keep their board seats. As a company grows bigger on improved products or services, the CEO's compensation package can grow in unison. Profits tax on individuals would fund Social Security, universal health care and nothing else. Workers in nonprofit firms and governments would be taxed as if they worked at for-profit outfits. Those Americans on Social Security and Medicare would be taxed exactly the same as those employed. As a bonus, there would never be a "Social Security crisis" or Medicare problem.