To The Point

Politics are difficult.  Governing is complicated.  That today's society feels issues can be summed up in a single sentence or paragraph is depressing.  How will change occur?  Why should it occur?  The reasoning is far more important than the ideas, themselves.  None the less, brevity allows one a glimpse into the mind of another. Below you'll find the short and sweet of what I'm proposing.  I laid out a number of issues I wish to see tackled, but how and why needs explanation.  This page will cover how to a degree I'm willing to accept.  More details can be found in the various pages under the Issues menu of this site and throughout the campaign.

Campaign Finance Reform

  • The Problem
    1. First Amendment - the Supreme Court in Citizens United and McCutcheon feel that access, favoritism, and other perks that money can buy in politics are natural, protected speech and expression.
    2. Quid Pro Quo - the only type of "corruption" the Supreme Court feels Congress can address is direct monetary donations, in other words the type of thing one might see on an old Saturday morning cartoon.
    3. Weighing the Risks - the First Amendment is powerful in its broadness. Is it worth the risk to limit it?
  • Solutions
    1. Constitutional Amendment - very difficult to achieve, especially when the ones needing to vote for this are the ones whose jobs are being put to the torch.
    2. Term Limits - also difficult to achieve for the same reason. Theoretically, money wouldn't be wasted on incumbents which helps eliminate some money from politics (but not all).
    3. Increased Competition - in true capitalist fashion, competition spurs innovation and lowers costs. Here it means creating new politics and increasing access/awareness of politicians to multiple perspectives instead of handfuls of rich contributors.

Education Reform

  • The Problem
    1. Lack of "Learning How To Learn" - there is an ever-decreasing amount of "learning how to learn" in today's education process. Many people feel education has become a matter of regurgitation coupled with test taking. This fails to prepare students for the real world.
    2. Religion/Politics Influencing Subject Materials - a trend has emerged amongst states that takes potentially controversial subject matter and gives educators. This includes evolution, climate change, American history, world history, and more. Because these topics are not 100% set in stone, an opening has emerged to allow political and religious thought to dictate "truth" in the subject matter.
    3. College Use Taxpayer Funds to Profit Off Patents - intellectual property abuses have brought about a patent business model to colleges. Research grants, taxpayer funding, and the like go towards innovation and invention that colleges then hold on to, licensing it out as a method of revenue generation. It's akin to "double taxation" on those whose taxes helped fund that research.
    4. Lack of Concrete Education Fair Use - fair use in intellectual property law need a lot of work. Educators have to be overly careful in determining whether their use of a methodology or a portion of a book is covered by IP, restricting the ability to teach/learn effectively.
    5. Academic Journal Costs Through The Roof - academic journals and journal subscriptions are a necessary but increasing cost to universities. It amounts to billions of dollars in expenses across our nation. Even academic articles written by a college's own staff can get stuck beyond the journal paywalls.
    6. The College Textbooks "Monopoly" - while not a true monopoly, college textbooks are in permanent demand thanks to professors who blindly pick the books their students need. This means saving money on a used textbook becomes challenging due to the newest editions rearranging some homework problems. The material remains the same more often than not, but students are forced into thousands of dollars in expenses over the course of their degree.
    7. Cost of College is Too Damn High - the cost of college as a whole has skyrocketed, almost three times the CPI rate of increase. Students are becoming buried in debt, making it difficult to afford a car or a home. With wages also not increasing, this debt weighs even more heavily on today's kids and future generations.
  • Solutions
    1. Mandatory Logic Classes - make logic classes (semantic/predicate logic) a high school requirement across the country. This will give kids a foundation in critical thinking skills, allowing them to construct meaningful arguments and debate premises others might seek to use against them. Logic, reason, and critical thinking is a cornerstone to democracy. It's time we get all kids to understand it.
    2. Common Core Review - conduct a thorough review of Common Core practices across the nation to see if kids are being given the experiential learning they need. Memorization and repetition does not help students "learn how to learn." It also doesn't give them the experience of success and failure associated with the ideas being taught in school. Five years into the program, such a review is a must.
    3. Stop Religion/Politics in Public Education - especially in science classes, the point is to learn about the science behind everything. This means theories like evolution and how changes to the Earth's climate affect life. It does not mean removing theories and replacing them with God or political questioning. Science is a process of experimentation. The scientific method ceases to exist when you seek to replace strong theories with easy explanation. In social subjects as well, we need to give credit where credit is due and not rewrite history, especially when it comes to the Civil War and civil rights movements.
    4. Taxpayer IP Becomes Public Domain - universities that receive state/federal funding and that use those funds for research will have the results of such research (articles, patents, etc) go in the public domain. Taxpayers should not be paying for access to taxpayer funded research and innovations. This will also help bring academic journal costs down.
    5. Encourage Open Access Journal Usage - strongly encourage institutions to use open access journals to make their research free/more affordable.
    6. Create Competition in the Textbook Market - create a system that aggregates textbook prices around the world to offer students the cheapest possible versions. Thanks to recent Supreme Court decisions, this is fully legal and forces textbook publishers to price equally around the world (hopefully cheaper). Also allow professors a fair use exemption to provide textbooks they have written on the subject matter free to all their students.
    7. Make College Affordable - through a combination of federal and state funding, a college education should either go way down in cost or be made free entirely. This would be done through minimizing student loan interest, offering tax free loan contributions through state/federal/community employment, allowing the current $1.2 trillion student loan debt holders to refinance, use money saved in healthcare reforms to help fund, provide super cheap loans to states having education budget issues, move towards digital classrooms that cut out room/board costs, and tax increases in various areas (main capital gains/corporations) to help fund the endeavor.

Energy Policy

  • Problems
    1. Climate Change - the climate is changing, no one should be denying that. Whether you believe it's caused by man or not (I do) is another story. Either way, we absolutely should not be contributing to the problem nor should we take a "wait and see" approach.
    2. Fossil Fuel Volatility - the collapse in oil prices together with the huge decline in coal exports has brought about economic turmoil across a chunk of the US. Some states saw negative GDP growth due to the strain on fossil fuels in the global economy. Volatility is not good for a system that holds stability as its key tenet.
    3. Fossil Fuel Health Concerns - fossil fuels posses serious health risks to individuals and their communities. Especially coal, the ash, slurry, and waste can inflict long term mental and physical ailments, ailments which then cost more money to treat and inflict a greater burden upon the sufferers.
    4. Renewable Energy is Intermittent - wind and solar suffer from the problem of intermittence. When nature doesn't cooperate, these sources of energy cannot operate at full capacity. Capacity factors for wind are in the 33% range and solar in the 20-30% range.
    5. Renewable Energy is Expensive - because of intermittence, a larger buildout of wind and solar are required to achieve the desired energy output. This means a larger land footprint, more expensive upfront costs, and higher maintenance costs due to 30-ish year lifespans. This doesn't take into account costs for storage or transmission across the country.
    6. Nuclear Energy is Feared - people are consumed by fear of nuclear radiation and the potential for a nuclear weapon to be harvested in an attack.
    7. We're Slow With Next-Gen Nuclear Designs - generation 4 designs, breeder designs, and nuclear waste recycling designs are slow to receive approvals, slow to receive funding, and slow to have regulations written. This puts us behind the curve of other developed countries pushing for a strong nuclear future. Those countries would also seek to become the leader in nuclear design, giving them an economic advantage.
    8. Energy Investment Costs Money - we currently have a deficit. No one wants to spend hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars on energy when they see other pressing matters facing the nation.
  • Solutions
    1. Implement A Carbon Tax - a carbon tax is the simplest, most efficient way to combat the externality of climate change and fossil fuel emissions. A carbon tax is superior to a cap system (cap and trade/cap and dividend) due to the latter's potential for problems with the WTO. A carbon tax would be more accepting and more inclusive compared to a cap system. It would also generate a lot of revenue, revenue which is offset (in part) by other tax reforms that lower corporate and personal income taxes more than enough to offset increased energy prices. This plan would curb emissions tremendously.
    2. Get Over Nuclear Fear - nuclear designs have advanced from Chernobyl and Fukushima, not to mention the US government is ridiculously good about nuclear safety. Our Navy is largely powered by nuclear, after all. Safety and security in new designs far, far exceed anything currently in operation. We must get over this mental block.
    3. Upgrade Existing Hydro Plants - upgrading existing dams and hydropower plants maximizes efficiency, effectiveness, and involves that which already exists. Fairly cost effective to do so, too!
    4. Invest in Nuclear Research - the sooner we can get next-gen nuclear plant designs built out and regulations written, the better. We must not get left behind in this market.
    5. Invest in Nuclear Plants and SMR Installions - nuclear plants are more cost effective than wind and solar due to their effectiveness at turning fuel into energy. At a 90% capacity factor, you would need a roughly 3MW capacity wind farm to match a 1MW nuclear installation. Small Modular Reactors also offer opportunity for more agile buildout, requiring less initial investment and less buildout time.
    6. Invest in Utility-Scale Solar Farms - knowing that nuclear installations take time, we should invest heavily in solar farm installations while we wait. The energy boost will help, curbing emissions will help, and utility-scale solar farms offer a more efficient capturing of solar energy compared to residential rooftop installs. I recommend solar over wind due to lifespan concerns with wind turbine upgrades. Solar panels degrade, but keep a set efficiency over time while wind turbines need upkeep or replacement after 30 years.
    7. Begin HVDC Buildout - if we're going down the path of nuclear and renewables, we need to effectively transmit energy across the country. HVDC does just that, but costs a lot of money. This would likely be a multi-decade project, but should still be started today for future generations.

Foreign Policy

  • The Problem
    1. Lack of Cultural Understanding - current and previous foreign policy decisions have been made under the erroneous assumption that cultures around the world behave similar to culture in America. This is not the case.
    2. Language/Metaphor Confusion - especially in the Mid East, lack of cultural understanding is compounded by language barriers. The West takes a more literal view and translation of non-English, making it very difficult to understand the metaphoric phrasing used in ancient cultures of the Mesopotamia, the Far East, and elsewhere in the world.
    3. Confusing Policy and Strategy - since Vietnam, ideological conflicts have been labeled matters of strategy. Instead, matters of policy have been confused with strategy. Bringing peace to the Mid East is not a strategy, rather a policy. Confusion over the differences between policy, strategy, and tactics continues to this day under the Obama Administration.
    4. Presidential Ignorance in War Study - because of the policy/strategy confusion, previous and current Presidential Administrations have not listened to generals, war vets, and war scholars like they should have. Understanding the nature of war, how war works, what makes up strategy in war, and what real strength is about is a key component to being a world leader that is currently missing.
    5. Technologically Attached Intelligence Community - our intelligence agencies have become more and more attached to technology, thinking that technology is a substitute for human feeling in various situations. This needs to be addressed.
    6. Trade Agreements' Unintended Effects - especially concerning immigration, current government officials don't seem to realize that trade agreements like the TPP, TTIP, and TAFTA could lead to GDP and income declines in countries that already pose problems relating to (illegal) immigration for America and Europe. These agreements would make countries that already need more economic growth suffer even more, thus encouraging more immigration to America/Europe/other countries with "wealth."
    7. Allies Using Our Bad Example - because of the incidents with NSA surveillance, countries (particularly in Europe) are taking our bad example and implementing them to the extreme, resulting in mass surveillance, data retention, and more of millions of innocents. Essentially our actions have OK'd the "Big Brother" concept in allied nations.
    8. Missed Opportunities Around the World - the Obama Administration has had numerous missed opportunities around the world in dealing with Central America, South America, the Mid East, Far East, Russia, and sub-Saharan Africa. Our stances towards these regions and our actions/aid towards them needs to be reevaluated.
  • Solutions
    1. Realize Importance of Cultural Differences - there is great depth and meaning within non-American cultures. Nations have histories spanning millennia, with long memories to go with said histories. America cannot just lazily ignore these cultural differences.
    2. Language/Metaphor Understanding - don't take every word, every insult at face value. When anti-American, anti-Israeli, or anti-anything words are used, make sure there is no language confusion and/or that there is no metaphorical principle behind the words. "Death" and "killing" does not necessarily mean the physical body when it comes to understanding the Mid East, Far East, or even African nations. "Death" and "killing," for example, can refer to the spirit, the will of the opponent. Very different meaning and, as such, requires different stances in foreign policy.
    3. Put Policy and Strategy Together the Right Way - policy is wishful thinking, what a government seeks to do. Strategy is the means in which to accomplish policy within a finite realm. Policy influences strategy and strategy influences policy back. They are not the same and do not exist in conceptual vacuums.
    4. Listen to Military Commanders - foreign policy and war cannot be handled the same way as a corporate business. The Commander in Chief cannot say "get it done or I'll find someone who can." Our leaders must know that their policy must be achievable through strategies developed with an understanding of the tactical elements available to America. Simply bringing democracy to a nation does not a strategy make. Leaders must listen to commanders and engage in strategic/tactical debate as necessary instead of ignoring the reality of situations.
    5. More Human Intelligence Gathering - increase the amount of human-involved intelligence gathering. More agents in the field doing quality work, augmented by technology. The human factor kept America safe for decades and we must not forget that in the 21st century. Humans have a knack for feeling intent that computers just can't read.
    6. Stop Bad Trade Agreements - as mentioned elsewhere, the trade agreements currently being pursued by the Obama Administration are terrible on numerous levels. As a matter of foreign policy, implementation could lead to more illegal immigration and international hostility as nations see their economic worth fall thanks to American interference. Hostile nations make foreign policy that much more difficult.
    7. Get Allies Back on Track - especially in the UK and the rest of Europe, America needs to be a leader and steer our friends back towards good, civilized behavior. Mass surveillance programs, spying on innocents, data retention of every bit of digital communications, handling immigration influxes, and more need to be addressed. If America can't get its friends and allies to change, what message does that give to other countries?
    8. More Involvement on the World Stage - the Mid East poses a big problem, for sure. But we cannot ignore tension in the Far East, with Russia, conflicts and corruption in Africa, or even troubles in Central and South America. If America is truly a world leader, we need to offer assistance everywhere. This doesn't mean thousands of troops to every country or billions in international aid to everyone, rather it means providing neutral grounds for negotiations, providing peacekeeping security, providing hunt/kill teams as needed for terrorists, and working with all nations to achieve stability, security, and economic prosperity.
    9. Peace Must Be Foremost In Mind - peace and harmony are the greatest assets to our unalienable Rights. It provides stability, security, and the opportunity for further changes that can lead to even greater freedoms around the world. Anyone that supports peace, anyone wishing for peace, anyone who wishes to end violence, corruption, and is willing to sacrifice to do so must have the blessing and support of the United States of America. This is what we represent- potential, opportunity, and possibility. Change may not occur today or tomorrow, but we can certainly show the youth of today and generations to come what prospects await 50, 60, or even 100 years from now.

Healthcare Reform

  • The Problem
    1. Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) - huge focus remains on this divisive law instead of the other problems it fails to address.
    2. Ever-increasing Cost - through government-backed monopolies in the form of drug patents and other assistance, healthcare costs continue to rise. It costs both individuals and all levels of government budgeting (ie, taxpayer money that could be spent elsewhere).
    3. Lobby Problem - healthcare/pharmaceutical companies are a powerful lobbying force capable of getting both parties to bend to their will.
    4. Evergreening - extra government granted protections after a drug patent expires, aimed at protecting profits and the company's ROI.
    5. Few Advances in Medicine - profits, stock prices, and overall revenue is up while research, significant improvements to existing drugs, and entirely new molecular entities are way down.
    6. Inconsistent Worldwide Pricing - some drugs cost tens of thousands of dollars in America can be found in other countries for a fraction of that.
    7. Drug Companies are Responsible for Testing Safety/Effectiveness of Their Own Product - when companies are responsible for testing the safety and effectiveness of their own product, a product they may have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on, studies show that these test tend to be favorable towards the drug in question. The problem exists when the tests are outsourced as well since the contract research organization (CRO) doesn't want to lose money either if results are unfavorable and, thus, the drug company finds another CRO.
    8. Poor Post-Marketing Monitoring - pre-market safety/effectiveness data are limited in what can be diagnosed. Post-market data is already required to be reported, but the FDA has no means of ensuring compliance and companies can delay reporting for up to a year in some cases. Data submitted also need not be complete, leading to misunderstandings of what is reported.
    9. Off-Label Uses - there's a big gap between what the FDA approves and what doctors can prescribe based off external information like medical journals.
    10. Healthcare IT (HIT) Woes - the path of acceptance of HIT systems by doctors, nurses, and hospitals is still very bumpy. The HITECH Act paid out a lot of taxpayer money for quick compliance, compliance that was super basic and far from what is really needed in HIT.
    11. Hurting the DoD and Veterans - DoD faces an electronic health record (EHR) threat in the form of lobbyists and ignorance. The choice of a multi-billion dollar system could lock the government in to an incredibly bloated, costly, and ineffective solution that costs taxpayers for decades. The current systems aren't even allowing the DoD and VA to "talk" with EHR's, leading to delays and problems with helping out with veterans' healthcare.
  • Solutions
    1. Move Beyond the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) - millions of Americans have health coverage that previously did not. This is a good start, not a perfect healthcare law. It's now time to move towards better, cheaper healthcare.
    2. Tackle Lobbying - healthcare lobbying is incredibly powerful and wields tremendous influence on members of both parties. Transparency and tackling the lobby problem will help curb this.
    3. IP Reform - tackling the problem of drug costs begins with addressing the problems with drug patents.
    4. Evergreening Reforms - raise the bar on "significant differences" when it comes to the US Patent and Trademark Office issuing new drug patents where less than 25% of new drugs offer "significant difference" and where less than 20% are entirely new molecular entities.
    5. Give Back To Taxpayers - creations funded with taxpayer money by a pharmaceutical company should see reduced protections or be made public domain entirely, depending on how much of the research/development cost was done with taxpayer money (ie, 100% funded, immediately public domain).
    6. Address Globalization Cost Problems - companies subsidizing cheap medicine in impoverished nations by charging Americans out the wazoo needs to stop.
    7. Require Real Independent Testing - having the FDA require real independent testing of new drugs eliminates the problem of drug companies steering the market towards favorable results in order to maximize profit. Quality medicine is more important than financial gain.
    8. More Complete Disclosure in a More Timely Fashion - require complete data (not partial) from post-market studies on drug effects. Require it in a timely fashion (ie, not 1 year later).
    9. Off-Label Use Disclosure - new/creative ways of using a particular drug must be reported to the FDA for approval. Database containing approved off-label uses would be regularly maintained.
    10. Do Healthcare IT (HIT) Right - previous administrations focused so much on making the transition to better electronic health records (EHR's) and better overall HIT that they didn't stop to think that cheap (taxpayer funded) and fast might not yield desired results. Encourage interoperability and open source, flexible systems that can be maintained by developers without need for proprietary knowledge.
    11. Get the DoD and VA on the Same Page - keeping our military and veterans healthy is incredibly important. We need an EHR system that's open source for future flexibility and compatibility, something that can all military agencies can interact with.

Immigration Reform

  • The Problem
    1. There are Lots of Illegals - anywhere from 10 to 13 million illegal immigrants currently exist on US soil. More than 40% of them came here on legitimate visas and simply never went home.
    2. Increased Agency Budgets Lack ROI - the influx of immigrants has occurred even with 2-300% budget increases to Customs/Border protection over the last decade.
    3. Proposed Wall/Deportation Solutions Suck - millions of Americans want to build a fence and/or a wall across the border. They also want to find and deport all illegals. The timing and costs associated with these actions is in the hundreds of billions of dollars range coupled with decades of police and court hours.
    4. Skilled Migrants (STEM capable) and Service Labor Migrants Both get Ignored - depending on the desired point to get across, either STEM capable immigrants get ignored because politicians talk about the poor/uneducated (ie, humane approach) or STEM gets praise while the poor/uneducated get ignored due to the former's economic viability.
    5. Both Immigrant Groups Suffer Abuses - cheap labor abuses for poor/uneducated migrants pose risk to life and limb. STEM capabale workers face H-1B abuses by companies looking for cheap salaried workers that can be abused by threat of visa revocation.
    6. No One Cares About Illegal's Tax Contributions - all immigrants (even illegals) that have an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) pay taxes. They pay even without receive the benefits of such tax payments (ie, no social security, Medicare, or food stamps)
    7. One Side Perspective on the Problem's Origin - people tend to care about the immigration problem as it exists in the United States. Few politicians have even considered the idea that immigration occurs because of issues in foreign countries. The lack of foreign policy discussion in immigration reform issues is depressing.
    8. No Path to Citizenship - there is no good, clear path to citizenship for illegal immigrants that have been here a long time, long enough to start families.
    9. Visa Reforms/Backlogs Need Addressing - the current systems used by government suffer typical government bloat and likely need a complete update to provide better service in handling visa backlog issues which will allow visa amounts to increase.
    10. The DREAM Act and Startup Act Aren't Law Yet - both pieces of legislation provide necessary reforms to the immigration process. Many states supposed these inititiatives, but lack of Congressional approval means they don't apply to all states.
  • Solutions
    1. Address Foreign Policy - foreign policy is another topic altogether, but if you want to combat illegal immigration you need to know what is going on in the region. Problems in foreign nations lead to immigration influxes, both in America and around the world. Stop ignoring foreign policy when it comes to immigration.
    2. Stop Fence/Wall/Mass Deportation Suggestions - hundreds of billions of dollars and decades of effort is a bad ROI. You cannot be the greatest nation on Earth and seriously consider such bad ROI proposals, not just in terms of economic return but also in human utility return.
    3. Realize that Illegal's Pay Taxes - they may also get tax breaks/credits, but anyone with an ITIN pays taxes without getting the benefits US citizens get from social programs.
    4. Create a New Startup Visa Program - immigrants come to start a new life. They are twice as likely as US citizens to start a business. Since startups and small business are the biggest job creators in America, let's encourage more startups. The program also comes with revenue and hiring requirements to ensure societal contribution. The number available would reflect current market wants/needs.
    5. Startup Visas Compete with H-1B Visas - the H-1B visa program faces backlash and cynicism over poor labor practices for salaried STEM workers. Startup Visas give H-1B holders other opportunities, meaning H-1B employers that abuse the program cannot hold deportation over the employee's head as readily as they currently can.
    6. Complete Analysis of E-Verify and Existing Systems - it's not a government system if it's not bloated and broken. Let's get some real technical analysis done on the system to learn how to fix current issues
    7. Create a Real Path to Citizenship - amnesty is no good, but constant economic and social contribution to America is. A real path to citizenship brings labor protections to illegal immigrants while also forcing mandatory check-ins and employment/wage tracking. The program would also include American history, English as a second language, revenue, and other requirements for visa extensions. Consistent production and success is what America wants and needs. Let us make it part of a path for those who truly love this country enough to dedicate their lives to it.
    8. More Visa Reforms - with a path to citizenship and technological hurdles tackled, real visa reforms in terms of backlogs and being able to raise the number of visas available can be addressed.
    9. Realize Immigrants are People, too - if our nation is to be a beacon of hope and protector of those in need, we cannot ignore the unalienable Rights of immigrants (illegal or not) nor can we overlook their right to equality of opportunity.

Infrastructure Policy

  • The Problem
    1. End Of Life - roads, bridges, water treatment plants, and more that were built with federal investments 40 to 50+ years ago are reaching their end-of-life, needing repair or replacement to provide value to our nation.
    2. Investment has gone up; cost of materials rose faster - infrastructure spending has increased overall between 1956 and 2014, but cost of materials (concrete, asphalt, etc) far outpaced normal price increases starting in 2003. The result is same general spending level as a percent of GDP (about 2.7%), but less to show for it due to materials eating up investment.
    3. US Infrastructure Rankings on the Decline - the World Bank's Logistics Performance Index and the World Economic Forum's Competitive Index both show US declines in global infrastructure rankings. While we're still fairly high on the lists, every year sees those ranks drop.
    4. No One Wants To Spend - the recession is still fresh in everyone's mind. Allocating additional funds to infrastructure is viewed as politically toxic given the perception of national debt and spending deficits being bad.
    5. Our Internet Sucks - the state of US broadband is downright embarrassing. Less than 25% of the country has connection speeds over 15Mbps. Competition and innovation in technology, internet traffic, big data, and more suffers because of this poor state of things.
    6. Lack of Public-Private Partnership Foundations among State/Local Governments - part of our infrastructure investment could come from PPP's, but many states and local governments lack a framework for working on such projects.
    7. Infrastructure Failures Affect the Economy - clean water failures, slow internet speeds, traffic congestion, and more affect overall economic success of the surrounding regions. For example, a 10% increase in traffic congestion can reduce employment growth by 4% over the long run. Current commuting gridlocks result in roughly $160 billion taken out of the economy.
  • Solutions
    1. Invest! - thanks to my tax plans and other economic reforms, we can provide almost $1.4 trillion for energy and infrastructure needs over the next 10 years, with $943 billion going towards infrastructure. Augmenting current investment by federal, state, and local governments, we're looking at a possible 10 year, $5 trillion investment opportunity.
    2. Interest Rates are Low. Invest!! - interest rates are at historic lows still, making investment now that much cheaper in the long run. Waiting will not only prolong and exacerbate needed repairs, but higher rates will cost us billions extra. That's an incredible waste!
    3. Cover All Infrastructure - billions will go towards upgrades/repairs/replacements of roads, bridges, sewage and wastewater systems, levees, ports/navigation channels, inland waterways, rail backlog elimination, national park service backlog elimination, electricity transmission needs, and more.
    4. Build a National Gigabit Fiber Network - given the sorry state of our internet connections, a national gigabit (1Gbps) fiber network that reaches all Americans will provide individuals, families, and businesses with a much needed resource. It's economically viable, provides more competition, allows for innovation in content delivery/analysis/use, would encourage business migration to US soil, etc.
    5. Establish Rules for the National Gigabit Fiber Network - without fundamental rules in place to ensure fairness, access, and elimination of usage limits, there is a danger this national network could become an abusive source of profit for ISP's or, worse, a Big Brother spying system for the federal government. These rules aim to eliminate those possibilities.
    6. Establish Frameworks for Public-Private Partnerships - working with state and local governments to build or update a PPP framework will ensure those types of projects are done in an efficient and effective fashion. Without this, project will likely face delays, waste billions, and generally anger all parties and stakeholders involved.
    7. Seriously, Invest!!! - studies show an investment of another $136 billion per year for the next 10 years would result in a $400 billion per year return in 20 years. It's absolutely silly to not invest in these fundamental aspects of American life!

Intellectual Property Reform

  • The Problem
    1. Vague Patents - companies, organizations, and individuals abuse the patent system by acquiring vague patents or patents on something that should never have been granted.
    2. Monopoly Power - the exclusive monopolies granted to patent holders and copyright holders leads to dangerous behavior just like non-IP monopoly situations do.
    3. Censorship - companies, organizations, and individuals abuse the DMCA by claiming copyright on unfavorable content to have such removed.
    4. Guilt Before Innocence - the current digital copyright system uses a "guilt before innocence" mentality where DMCA takedowns occur because guilt is presumed. Innocence must then be proved, sometimes to the very corporation issuing the takedown (on YouTube, etc), creating a system that goes against the American ideal of innocent until proven guilty and being judged by our peers.
    5. Hindering Innovation - especially in the technology sector, vague patents together with the sheer volume of possible patents to check against make it practically impossible to not infringe on a patent in some industries.
    6. Widespread Abuse - most every industry in the country is affected by IP law and faces economical restrictions because of entities using IP to extract extra payments, restrict serviceability, etc.
    7. Removes Ownership - companies have started to erode the concept of "ownership" through IP law by claiming that purchasers do not own what they bought, rather they own a perpetual license to use. This leads to conflicts where repairs, changes, and more become technically illegal.
    8. Poor Business Model - companies, organizations, and individuals are using IP law as a business model. Non-practicing entities purchase patents for the sole purpose of litigating or threatening to litigate. Copyright holders do the same thing for file downloads (torrents and more). This is due to the high range of statutory damages (up to $150,000 per infringement).
    9. Reduced Entrepreneurship, Less Competition - threat of litigation and costs to venture capitalists keep potential startups and entrepreneurs from getting afloat, leading to less overall job creation and less competition.
    10. Keeps Costs High - because of the government granted monopoly, prices go up and remain high.
    11. Double Charging Taxpayers - government grants fund a lot of research, some of which goes into published articles and patent creation. The entities that receive these benefits then restrict access to the published articles and use the patents to leverage fees from others, essentially double charging taxpayers who helped fund the creation in the first place.
    12. Lack Of Understanding - judges and most people in Congress are not technologists and do not understand how technology works, leading to misunderstanding of how statutes and legal ruling would affect others.
  • Solutions
    1. Civil Statutory Damage Reform - technology makes it possible for the Copyright Act to yield trillions of dollars in damages since one view or one download can be considered infringement.
    2. Punish DMCA Takedown Abuse - because the system promotes guilt before innocence, companies, organizations, and individuals abuse the DMCA by taking down content that is fair use or even content they have no right to in some cases. These actions need to be punished.
    3. Reduce Copyright Terms, Extensions with Penalties - the current length goes far beyond what the Founding Fathers had in place. Extensions would be allowed but face penalties such as increased taxes to make up for the monopoly-like control.
    4. USPTO Reforms - raise the bar on "significant differences" when it comes to the US Patent and Trademark Office issuing new patents. Setup reforms to allow experts ability to show prior art before issuing patents. And ensure patents are specific and not just covering XYZ "on a computer."
    5. Give Back To Taxpayers - creations funded with taxpayer money by a government entity must immediately go in the public domain (ie, laws, committee reports, judicial rulings, etc). Creations funded with taxpayer money outside of government would see reduced protections or made public domain entirely.
    6. Searchable Copyright Database - mandatory signup of all works wishing copyright protection. Orphaned works and works not found in this database after setup would go into the public domain.
    7. Greatly Expand DMCA Exemptions - add exemptions for security research, jailbreaking/unlocking computer/phone/tablet/game hardware, repair and modification allowances to vehicles, to aid those with physical disabilities, rip audio/video from DVD's/Blu-Ray/CD's/etc for personal use, rip and emulate old video games unsupported and unavailable on current gen consoles, ability to modify software for personal, etc.
    8. Eliminate Software Patents and API Copyrightability - all software does is perform mechanical steps and business method calculations to produce something quicker/easier than a human could. The limits to software logic means many programs share the same systems and code patterns. Software patents and API copyright lead to reduced innovation and severely restricts technology startups.
    9. Down The Chain Immunity - anyone using an official API or set of functions that are patented/licensed needs to be immune from lawsuits by the patentor/licensor. Individuals and small businesses should not be sued because they used API calls from an official API of a major programming language, for example.
    10. Due Process Fee Shifting - we need a solution to grant legal fees to victors of frivolous and bogus litigation by NPE's and other entities that seek to settle for quick cash. Too many NPE's seek a few thousand dollars in exchange for not suing for millions. Since the typical patent defense cost is over $1 million, the setup is close to extortion. A fee shifting methodology (better than the current SCOTUS-defined eligibility) would help deter companies from engaging in these type of "settlement suits."

Privacy & Digital Security Reforms

  • The Problem
    1. Social Media Invasion - more and more entities, especially educators, are monitoring social media. Schools should not be surrogate parents.
    2. Misunderstanding "Public" - entities assume that any content posted anywhere, whether it's restricted or not, becomes "public" and, thus, is available for monitoring/scraping/storing/etc.
    3. Blindly Making Haystacks - in the quest to gather any/all information that's perceived to be pertinent, entities grab content that may be outside of their scope, ie grabbing tweets from adults instead of tweets targeting kids.
    4. Retaining Data Forever - hard drive space is cheap, meaning all information gathered up becomes a near permanent log of your activity, especially when it's a private corporation with no legal mandate to erase gathered data.
    5. Lack of a Digital Security Standard - data breaches occur more than anyone would like. The lack of even a minimal security standard means our digital systems are at an ever-increasing risk.
    6. Security Hurts the Bottom Line - businesses measure the ROI of securing their data (which may involve info on you or me) to determine whether updates, upgrades, or entirely new systems might be needed. Major breaches don't happen often, meaning statistics show a company is more than likely not to be hacked (in theory)
    7. Personally Identifiable Information (PII) at Risk - in the quest for "big data," entities circumvent PII protections to better know and target you for marketing purposes (ie, $$$).
    8. Retained Data is Ripe for Abuse - entities (corporate and government) face great temptation to look at or make malicious use of data being held, especially in response to unfavorable action against them.
    9. No Real Transfer Protection - if an organization goes bankrupt or gets acquired, there are no real protections in place to keep your data from being given to another entity. Acquisition does not mean I want the new entity to have my info even if the old entity did.
  • Solutions
    1. End School Surveillance - schools are not parent substitutes. No school should be actively monitoring student behavior and then acting upon said online behavior.
    2. "Public" Does Not Mean "Stalk" - in the digital world, content is made public on social networks all the time, but that content usually doesn't have context. Gathering, retaining, and analyzing for personal/corporate use is akin to stalking.
    3. Same Needle, Bigger Haystacks - data acquisition prides itself on "big data" which means gathering and analyzing many records. Finding a needle doesn't become easier when you keep enlarging the haystack. Better analysis is needed instead of gathering more stacks with hopes of a needle appearing.
    4. Stop Hoarding Data - data collected in relation to public activity without a warrant and not associated with any active criminal investigation must be expunged after a brief timeframe. Anonymous marketing data retention remains as is. Government and active criminal investigations can retain data for up to six months after last "incident" on record. If a case hasn't been made and no further incidents occur, data must be deleted.
    5. Notification of Transfer - bankruptcy, sale, or acquisition of user data must involve notification of the users whose data is being transferred of such activity. Users who do not wish their data to be maintained must have it deleted by the new possessor.
    6. Understand The Cost - in today's digital age, digital security has become a cost of doing business, just like buying pens and paper. Ignoring the cost in favor of profit should not be tolerated.

Privacy & Local/State/National Security Reforms

  • The Problem
    1. Drugs, Children, and Terrorism - three things that are used and abused in the quest to get what politicians want. "War on Drugs" with "Protect the Children" and "Terrorists will kill again" are the monikers of fear that gets propagated in an effort to act in ways that erode our liberties.
    2. Computer/Network Security Viewed as a Threat - security protocols with legitimate use for protecting personal and corporate data under attack by our own government. If it hides information, it's a threat to the nation's security (drugs/children/terrorism)
    3. Still Reeling from 9/11 - the tragedy and horribleness of 9/11/2001 will never be forgotten and cannot be understated. But the threat is used as a blanket of fear to erode liberties and rights from the Constitution in the name of security.
    4. Security is More Important than Liberty - the perception that saving one life is worth sacrificing freedoms and liberties than hundreds of thousands fought and died for in the last 200+ years of our nation's history.
    5. Intelligence Agency Issues - NSA, DEA, FBI, CIA, ODNI, and more have issues when it comes to respecting the rights and freedoms of American citizens. Programs designed to circumvent those liberties with plenty of Constitutional violations occurring. Agencies strong-arming of private corporations into violating privacy rights. Also false or misleading statements to Congress and overseers regarding the nature of various programs.
    6. No Measure of Effectiveness - we have no idea how effective these programs have been, no measure of the number of terrorists caught or stopped. Not even a ballpark number.
    7. Anything International is Fair Game - once it passes the border, the perception is data and information is fair game for intelligence officials. This goes for data into and out of the country, regardless of whether U.S. citizens are on one/both ends of the conversation or not.
    8. Secret Courts and Warrantless Watching - the FISC hides much reasoning for granting warrants on just about any measure of surveillance from the public and Congress. "Probably Cause" becomes an overarching statement reason to monitor anyone/everyone.
    9. Malicious Profiling of Innocents - state and local law enforcement have engaged in profiling American citizens based on race and religion, taking a "guilt before innocence" approach antithetical to our nation's beliefs.
    10. Unknown Tech, ie Stingrays - new technology is created to aid in the finding and capturing of information. Very few details are publicly available on how these devices work. Agencies are willing to drop cases and risk contempt in court to avoid discussing functionality.
  • Solutions
    1. Reign in Intelligence Agencies - agencies need to do their job, but don't need to ignore the rights and liberties of American citizens to do so. End blanket capture programs.
    2. Get Real Warrants with Real Purpose - "probably cause" cannot be the measure for giving agencies a warrant to monitor anyone. Real associations, real connections, and real incidents are needed.
    3. Stop Invoking Drugs/Kids/Terror - the world is a dangerous, scary place. We cannot stop everyone and everything. Potentiality exists whether we like it or not. Even planting a chip on every human being on the planet cannot prevent every possible problem. Stop thinking it can.
    4. Freedom Must Be Respected - freedom gives us our potential for good and evil. Foster the good. Nurture it. Do not kill potential for the sake of possible evil.
    5. Secure Software/Networks Are Not Evil - more legitimate than non-legitimate uses exist for encryption and software/network security. Building a "key" or "backdoor" into any of these systems is a recipe for disaster.
    6. Security Through Obscurity Sucks - entities that feel security is maintained by not revealing methodology or equipment (ie, keeping it obscure) fail at security in the first place.
    7. Replace the Patriot Act - the current manifestation of the Patriot Act grants far too many allowances to Intelligence Agencies at the expense of individual liberties. Keeping our nation secure is important, but not like that.
    8. Beef Up Digital Security Standards - mandatory SSL (or another encryption protocol) on all web traffic, WHOIS privacy guards on all domains, DNSSEC on all systems, mandatory encryption of government files, and more.
    9. Stop Indefinite Data Retention - data collected by government or private entities without warrants and without active criminal investigations (known or unknown) must be expunged in a timely manner, say one month.
    10. Security System Disclosures - to ensure privacy is respected, we need open discussions on security systems like the Stingray and how they work. Capturing everyone (innocent or not) in an area of effect is morally and politically dangerous (ie, diplomats caught unaware).

Procurement and Government Waste

  • The Problems
    1. Use It or Lose It EOY Spending - federal agencies rush at the end of the fiscal year to spending their appropriated budget, with some agencies spending on average 30% in the last month alone. This leads to huge wastes with taxpayer dollars and unnecessary increases in our deficit.
    2. EOY Project Quality Sucks - with the rush to spend all appropriated funds, government projects initiated at the end of the fiscal year are 2-5 times as likely to not fulfill desired quality requirements.
    3. Poor Handling of Cost Growth Factors - especially in the DoD, CGF's and Nunn-McCurdy breaches occur quite a bit. With a small plea by the Secretary of Defense, projects that are labeled critical in cost growth can- and are- continued.
    4. Incompetence Not Fixed - the GAO has found that the most cited cause for CGF's in DoD projects are engineering/design issues. This means poor planning and poor design. Schedule issues are the second most cited cause, relating both to poor design/engineering and poor management. This is unacceptable.
    5. Fragmentation, Overlap, Duplication, and Incompatibility - about 440 actions have been identified by the GAO as being fragmented (multiple agencies involved), overlapping (multiple agencies with similar goals/activities), or duplicated (multiple agencies engaged in the same activities or provide the same service to the same people). On top of this, federal IT infrastructure between and within agencies is quite incompatible with others, making interoperability difficult and lowering the overall effectiveness of government tech.
    6. Contractor Cost Too High - compensation caps went from $250,000 in 1997 to $952,308 in 2012 and are now $487,000 as of 2015. On top of this, data from https://calc.gsa.gov shows federal agencies overspending on various positions in procurement contract awards such as $826/hr for transcription services or $300+/hr for a high school graduate with no experience.
    7. Commercial Item Pricing Is Outdated - the current DoD Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars by considering as valid prices on commercial items from previous purchases regardless of whether they can be had cheaper at today's rates. If a $1 million payment for goods in 2008 would cost $500,000 at 2016 rates, DFARS considers $1 million an acceptable amount still.
    8. Excess Paperwork Reduction Act Overhead - the Paperwork Reduction Act reduced paperwork, but puts the OMB in the middle of anything that may involve requesting data (written or digital). Even asking a question on social media was considered a faux pas under the PRA until recently. What may be 10 hours of development time for a web survey may end up being 100 hours because of the need to run everything through OMB due to the PRA.
    9. Complicated Procurement Process Screws SME's - it can be very difficult for small/medium sized enterprises to participate in federal contracts. The SAM.gov registration and GSA scheduling systems are in dire need of a 21st century overhaul.
    10. Billions Spent on Closed Source Software - when it comes to a system as massive as the federal government, interoperability and general compatibility are crucial to efficiency and effectiveness. Billions have been spent on closed-sources systems that minimize that, a big problem in the realm of healthcare when, for example, DoD and VA systems can't easily share data.
  • Solutions
    1. Keep Up with GAO Reports - the annual GAO reports to Congress on fragmentation, overlap, and duplication are ripe with billions of dollars in implementable savings and/or additional tax revenue without raising taxes or cutting programs. It's a no-brainer to pursue these.
    2. Allow Limited Rollover of Budgets - wasteful EOY spending can be curbed with limited rollover, say 20% of the allotted budget into the following fiscal year. Such would need to be used in the next fiscal year or be returned back to the Treasury to prevent stockpiling money. Mid-year budget reports would be required to discern what kind of rollover an agency may be looking at.
    3. Terminate MDAP's with Critical Nunn-McCurdy Breaches - unless the breach is related to the quantity of the product being procured, any major defense acquisition program that crosses the "critical" threshold (25% from current baseline or 50% from original projected cost) must be terminated. Such projects were either mismanaged or too immature to be worth finishing.
    4. Develop MDAP Metric for Quality - outside of Nunn-McCurdy breaches, we need a metric that allows us to measuring quality of MDAP's. Quality is important when you're spending hundreds of millions to billions of dollars.
    5. Reform Contractor Compensation Cap - how the cap got over $952,000 in the first place boggles my mind. Even the current cap of $487,000 is too high. It should, at most, be capped to the salary of the Vice President of the United States- $230,700. Exemptions could be made on a case-by-case basis in writing for public review.
    6. Fix Commercial Item Price Reasonableness - the DoD tried to reform this policy, but failed. Congress in the FY2016 NDAA continued with this dollar wasting process. My suggestion is that anything designated a "commercial item" must actually be available to the general public and have uncertified pricing data where certified data is not required. Furthermore, previous procurement costs will only be considered valid if such occurred in the previous 3-5 years.
    7. Have 18F Spearhead More IT/Data Initiatives - 18F is a small "startup" group within the GSA that has showed technical aptitude and a desire to improve IT effectiveness and efficiency. They have done numerous small projects already and I would see them grow to become a leader in IT consultation for the rest of the federal government.
    8. Expand Open Source Usage - stop wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on systems that cannot be modified internally for current or future compatibility needs. It may require some re-learning of how to do things, but open source is the way to go with government IT projects.
    9. Mandate Compatibility - lack of interoperability between systems cannot be the norm for a 21st century government. Open source software and data standards will help push systems down a path of compatibility with minimal effort. Should a closed source system be procured, compatibility must be a contract requirement.
    10. Hire Competent Government Personnel, Fire Incompetents - without knowledgeable, competent project managers and government workers, contractors and goods/service suppliers can take advantage of employees with outlandish or untrue justification for excessive costs. These workers may be a little more expensive, but an extra $30,000 for a smart employee is worth saving millions through the curbing of poor procurement.
    11. Streamline Procurement for SME's - SME's are the lifeblood of America, responsible for the vast majority of job creation through entrepreneurship. We need to make more use of their efficiencies instead of farming out projects to the same overpriced vendors that are always used. This begins by streamlining how businesses can participate in the first place. Procurement signup and GSA scheduling is a complicated beast that must be more accessible.
    12. Fix the Paperwork Reduction Act - with technology at the forefront of communication, we cannot have our hands tied by inefficient OMB involvement. Millions upon millions of hours of work are at stake here. Paperwork reduction is good; overhead reduction is what we now need.

Tax Reform

  • The Problem
    1. Sense of Entitlement - a sense of entitlement exists not just among the poor and struggling, but among anyone who feels their wants are somehow more important than the wants of anyone else. It's a cultural problem.
    2. Concentrations of Wealth - our current tax system has created concentrations of wealth, a very dangerous situation given that wealth can be used to influence societal decisions more easily.
    3. Income Inequality - because of the way the current system rewards the wealthy, income inequality has become a problem. Wage stagnation is partially related to taxes at the personal and corporate levels.
    4. Globalization Leads to Giving America the Finger - companies that go global take advantage of favorable tax rules our system has in place in order to minimize the amount they pay back to the federal government. This is an insult to Americans who have contributed to help those companies with tax breaks and more while still based in the US. Inversions, "double Irish," and "Hollywood Accounting" keeps billions from ever reaching federal, state, and local government hands.
    5. No Encouragement to Save - IRA's don't do enough to encourage Americans to save. The lack of wage increases also doesn't help things.
  • Solutions
    My proposed reforms are somewhat complicated and lengthy. I would highly suggest reading them in full for more details.

    1. Adjust Corporate Tax Rates - lower the tax rate to 18%, allow full deductions on equipment immediately, change taxing of dividend payouts, provide tax breaks to startups and small businesses, and provide incentive for company growth via hiring and average wage increase rules. And more!
    2. Adjust Personal Income Tax Brackets - lower taxes for the vast majority of Americans, including the wealthy. The new highest tax rate would be 32% and single/joint filiers making under $30/35,000 will owe no federal income tax outside payroll taxes.
    3. Change Capital Gains/Dividend Taxation - lower the overall rates, changed rates on carried interest, change taxation levels on qualified dividends, eliminate capital loss carryover, and provide capital gain breaks for those with full time job that earn under a certain threshold.
    4. Provide Incentives to Not Invert - inversions and other tax schemes involving foreign ownership and foreign subsidiaries should already be countered by the much lower corporate tax rates and corporate tax deductions. Offer a one-time amnesty on repatriating of international profits at a super low rate as well, to help bring profits back to the US.
    5. Use Intellectual Property as the Stick Towards Inversion/Deference - if corporations still feel the need to invert or become foreign owned in order to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, implement penalties towards the IP the corporation may hold. This includes but is not limited to removal of government protection of the IP monopoly and putting the IP in the public domain.
    6. Student Load Debt Relief for Community Service - create programs that allow students working in certain government/charity jobs to contribute to the payoff of their student loans tax free.
    7. Create Universal Investment Accounts - replace IRA's with UIA's. These accounts have a sizable contribution limit of $30,000 annually while allowing for withdrawls at any time. Taxes would be levied at certain thresholds on a yearly basis, starting at $100,000. Anyone making under $100,000 in their UIA in their calendar year won't need to pay taxes on those amounts. Canada and Britain already have similar "universal savings account" setups in place to help out the middle class.
    8. Other Miscellaneous Tax Changes - such as making the R&D Tax Credit permanent, modifying Section 199 deductions, taxing campaign contributions, eliminating deductions on punitive damages, implementation of a carbon tax, and more.

Trade Agreements

  • The Problem
    1. Super Secret - one of the biggest issues right now is the super, super secretive nature in these types of agreements. The Transpacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and Transatlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA) for example are being negotiated in secret without public awareness.
    2. I mean, it's SUPER Secret - for years, Congress wanted access to contents of these agreements and was being stonewalled by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on behalf of the Obama Administration. It took awhile before access was granted, but no staffers were allowed, no copies allowed, no notes allowed.
    3. It's Criminal to Discuss - Congressmen that have been allowed to see these preliminary texts have been threatened with criminal prosecution should they discuss with the public.
    4. The Contents That Have Leaked Are Not Good - WikiLeaks and leaks from the EU have given us various draft versions of the Intellectual Property Chapter. The contents are extremely pro-business, pro-patent, pro-monopoly positions that really go against the idea of what real free market capitalism should be about (competition).
    5. The TPP Full Text Has Issues - trade agreements should promote free trade through removal of tariffs/taxes, barriers to trade, etc. The TPP does this, but also has numerous other provisions that really make the agreement a poor one such as overly strong IP rights protections, dangerous measures concerning digital privacy/security, weak provisions on sanitary/phytosanitary/environmental issues, and more ruin it.
    6. The Internet Would Collapse Under These Agreements - the copyright requirements under the TTIP (based on leaks) place requirements on internet service providers and website owners/operators that are impossible to fulfill. Secondary copyright infringement becomes a real hurdle for any individual and/or business that accepts user content and links to external pages whose content may or may not change in the future. It is mathematically impossible to prevent secondary infringement in the manners contained in these leaked documents.
    7. Economic Inequality Grows - based the slim number of empirical studies available (remember, these are very secret), countries not part of these agreements (especially the TTIP) will face real income per capita losses, especially amongst existing trade partners like Mexico and Canada. Domestically, inequality will grow because companies with the monopoly-like control will abuse that for increased profits, regardless of the cost to individual, local, state, or federal government.
    8. No Going Back - you cannot easily get out of these trade agreements without renegotiating them. Doing so could lead to billions of dollars in sanctions, injunctions, and more... all to be paid by the taxpayer. Plus, the more agreements you're a part of, the more isolated you will get if you do exit from them.
    9. The Supreme Court and Congressional Law are Trumped by these Agreements - the Supreme Court should be the highest law in the land. These trade agreements trump SCOTUS decisions. Existing law has already been changed by trade agreements. These will bring about even more change, a lot of change that makes no sense which will hinder small business and the American people.
    10. Independent State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) - corporations already have the power to sue countries via the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) and ISDS provisions in other agreements like NAFTA.
    11. "Made In America" Becomes Worthless - the concept of "Made in America" becomes the legal equivalent of "Made in the EU" under the TTIP. This is done to give American businesses the ability to choose whatever resources are cheaper, even when it comes to public procurement projects where taxpayer money is being spent. The double edged sword of origination can hurt our nation's pride, for sure.
  • Solutions
    1. Just Don't Participate - back out of these agreements as they seem to be currently written. They aren't protecting the environment, they aren't protecting labor, they aren't protecting "Made In America," they aren't protecting the American consumer, they aren't allowing us any flexibility to change if these agreements suck, and more. Write these negotiations off as a loss and fix the underlying issues with the American economy.
    2. Seriously, back out of these agreements - they seem to be horrible, written by monopoly-like business to maximize profit while screwing over anyone else who would affect their bottom line.
    3. If you must have something, make discussions public - transparency is supremely important. The American people don't need to necessarily understand, but they do need to be able to weigh in, especially since Congress threw away their desire to regulate trade in favor of fast-tracking these.
    4. Did I mention "back out of these negotiations?" - I cannot stress this enough. These agreements as we know them are a disgrace to the Obama Administration, to Congress, and to America as a whole. The American people would never agree to a lot of this content.
    5. Focus on "free trade" and less on issue specifics - when you begin to address specifics like IP or sanitary concerns, you start down a path of corporate interference where businesses lobby for provisions that are favorable to them instead of the state or global society/ecology. Focus on tariffs, taxes, duties, and barriers to trade until a less corporate-pleasing ideology inhabits the world.

Transparency & Lobbying Reform

  • The Problem
    1. Access and Influence - through various means, including monetary donations, lobbyists, special interests, and monied entities gain weighted access and influence to politicians.
    2. Disclosure Acts Don't Go Far Enough - laws like the Lobbying Disclosure Act and the House Leadership and Open Government Act have loopholes which allow such influence to skirt existing law in what they need to disclose and/or how they need to disclose it.
    3. Astroturfs - biased, moneyed entities set up fake grassroots to support their side of the story, sometimes claiming support of individuals who don't even know they've been "recruited" to support said cause. Studies show these types of campaigns are effective, sadly.
    4. Revolving Door - government officials (Congress, staff, etc) can easily skirt law to go work for the private sector after "retiring" for high income salaries and still retain the ability to "lobby" Congress and other government organizations from behind the scenes
  • Solutions
    1. More Easily Accessible Public Data - transparency to allow all individuals quick and easy ways to keep tabs on all government representatives and spheres of influence.
    2. Fix the Revolving Door - remove minimum salary and increase length of time allowed for "lobbying" to commence.
    3. Ability to Oversee - ensure the overseers of disclosures and potential corruption are given everything they need to keep politics as clean as possible.
    4. Quarterly Ethics Reports - have the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader issue public, televised quarterly reports on ethic findings, violations, etc.
    5. Forced Bill Reading - force all representatives to read every page of every bill they vote for to ensure they know what it is they're getting their constituents into.
    6. Astroturfing Disclosure - mandate astroturfing disclosure by companies in TV, radio, and internet collateral. Much like political candidates must "approve" messages, so must corporate backers "approve" astroturfing. Give the FTC power to enforce such disclosures.
    7. Bring the STOCK Act back - Congress repealed it after the 2012 election, making it more difficult to access investment disclosures. The STOCK Act allows online access versus paper requests.
    8. Increased Competition - capitalism used to compete with the voices of the monied and influential. Give more voice to the people through technology and point to states and local districts to exert influence over possible "corruption" of politicians.
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