Thursday, March 29, 2012

Marriage: It's Not Forever

As the divorce rate in America hovers around 50% it is obvious that many people do not like the idea of life time marriage.  This does not mean however, that people do not want to be married. The goal then should be to create a system whereby marriage is entered into without the lifetime commitment aspect already in place.

Therefore, a new system needs to put in place whereby the original marriage license would have a term of 7 years.

If the marriage is not to be continued beyond the 7 year period then all that needs to be done is that documentation be submitted by the parties involved. It does not matter if one partner wants to remain married, the other is able to end the marriage unilaterally. If the couple opts to remain together than nothing needs to be done and an automatic renewal period of 5 years would be added to the marriage period.

As a means of encouraging long-term marriage, a series of tax incentives would be developed by each of the individual states to keep couples together. As well, one time administrative costs of $2,500 per partner would be warranted at the time of marriage dissolution.  This fee serves as not only a minor deterrent but as a revenue stream to self-fund the cost of operations.

Distribution of marital assets would be conducted based on legal title holding and tax returns.  For example, if homes are in both names then it is split.  If the home is one persons name then they keep it. This deters splitting assets for taxation purposes and keeps them assigned as they should be. Income derived during the marriage remains the income of the earner.  Child support would be legally mandatory and cannot be over-looked under any circumstances by either party.

The goal of termed marriage licenses is two-fold. One, to decrease the spirit of acrimonious break-up between people and two, to reduce the costs involved to the individuals by reducing the involvement of the legal profession.  By removing the life time portion and making it easier to separate, people do not have to endure the strained and quite often prolonged impact on their lives.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The New American Dream: Crafting Ones Own America

The American Dream is changing to one whereby individual citizens have input and control over their world such that they have the opportunity to live free and define their own measures for success.

The traditional dream of being free and working hard which subsequently leads to financial success has become antiquated as most people no longer feel that the system is fair or accessible to them. America's domestic economy has evolved into a tremendously inequitable system whereby a financial oligarchy has complete control over it and manipulates the system to their advantage at the expense of the many.  Many Americans do not even have the ability to strive for an improvement to their existing situation as the middle class formula for growth has diminished. Even a minimal goal of home ownership has eroded for way too many people.

Americans now feel the USA is a place where they are manipulated and controlled to the point that they have no contribution or input into the current system.  This unease with the current system is the root of the social unrest we are witnessing. The Tea Party movement is a social movement to affect political control and the 1/99 movement is a protest over economic inequality. Though each movement represents a very different philosophy, both are the same in their origins in that all the members are asking for is the same thing...access and influence for more American citizens.

The evolving new definition of the "American Dream" is one in which individuals feel they have the ability to influence and craft their own immediate community so that they can have a platform for success.  Success itself  is also being redefined as less of a financial reward but rather one in which American culture, society and the economy is more equitable and accessible to everyone.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

George Clooney: A Good Role Model For All

George Clooney is a good example of how private citizens should be doing things.

He selects a cause and then goes on-ground to actually see first hand what is happening and then uses his democratic freedom to try to make changes.  He provides funding, he lobbies Congress, he goes as far as to  get arrested (for some reason?) to make his point and to bring about relief in Sudan.

Whether you agree or disagree with his causes or his methods is inconsequential.  The fact is that anyone and everyone has the opportunity in America to do the exact same thing.  Of course, George has access to his personal resources that allow him to take on a very active role in foreign countries and being an actor he also has the celebrity factor to make his chosen causes more prominent in the media.

All individuals have the ability to do the exact same thing in their local community.  The freedom to choose to be involved and to push for the social or institutional changes that they deem relevant to them.  As we enter this period during the evolution of "engaged democracy" people are starting to realize that they can have access and influence by doing things themselves rather than turning to government for solutions.  There is further, no requirement that an organizational component be present.

Government has proven itself incapable of solving virtually any problem in today's modern world and it is up to the self-directed and impassioned American citizen to craft the future of America. George Clooney is doing his part in the societal areas that affect him the most.  He does not choose to try to fix everything just the areas that concern him the most.  That is truly what freedom is and is the real essences of a new definition of the "American Dream" whereby individuals have the right to be involved in societal development.

The old definition of the American Dream which is predicated on "hard work leading to success" is being usurped by a new Dream "that one has the power to craft the society in which they will succeed".  The requirement of having to accept the current roles no longer exists.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Awareness is Pretty Meaningless

Awareness is never effective.

The recent KONY 2012 campaign is a very good example.  Yes, now a whole lot more people know about the situation in Uganda but nothing will change just because of this.  Lets face it, a genocidal tyrant will not disappear just because a bunch of people have tweeted, shared and hit the like button on Facebook.

In the new world of engaged democracy people must get more involved first-hand and on-ground rather than just spreading the word.  Sharing and being involved is now the easiest thing in the world.  However, it is completely useless at this point in time.  Genuine and personal on-ground action, funds and commitment are required.

The fundamental flaw with awareness is that it assumes that there is strength in numbers which we know is not an effective way to get anything done.  A few individuals that are passionate, action-oriented and well-funded have a better chance of reaching good solutions or solving problems than many "concerned and well-intentioned" citizens of the world regardless of how upset they are over the specific issues at hand.

The bottom-line for democracy and to try to really solve the world problems is to have the concept of majority rules abandoned.  Less people should be involved but they have to have more knowledge, be a financial stake-holder, an international organization, a corporation or hold a "significant" interest.  These should be the only people involved.

This approach should lead to institutional reform for our national democratic evolution.  Congress should be repurposed to oversee the process rather than be the involved in making the policies or taking action.  "Engaged democracy" works best when only those who know what is actually happening are involved and the rest of the population are left matter how well-intentioned or aware.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"Contribution" -- The Future is not so Bleak

More and more people want to be involved with the political system.

A spirit of disillusionment with all levels of government has crept into the psyche of many Americans.  In general, people want America to continue to be a global powerhouse but have lost faith in those who govern as well as our institutions.  This current spirit of disenfranchisement if permitted to continue will lead America further away from position as the worlds thought-leader as well as its economic engine.

The culture of selfishness that is the defining characteristic of the "ME" generation has lead to the place we are now.  This generation sadly has abandoned the spirit of JFK who requested of his fellow Americans to "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country".  I feel it is pretty safe to say that our current members of government and the financial elite of this nation do no think this way in the least.  This is not surprising that these same individuals have lived a hedonistic, self-centered life in terms of their own lives, careers and families.  They hold little regard or interest for their "fellow Americans".

This innate selfishness of the current generation of power-holding Americans however, is being over-shadowed by a movement that embraces compassion, contribution and personal responsibility within the under 30 group of Americans.  Younger Americans want to make a difference not only for themselves but for those around them and not just in their immediate sphere of influence.  Young people want to make a positive impact not only for themselves but for their neighborhood environment as well as the national and global communities.  

The "Occupy" movement was a tangible manifestation of this new spirit of Americanism that the younger generation feels.  However, where they stumbled was in their ability to properly articulate and coordinate themselves during their attempts to express their level of frustration if not outright contempt for the current systems.

Our next generation genuinely puts America first even if they don't know how to say that just yet.

"Contribution" as the foundation of ones personal success will be the hallmark of the new generation and is the correct future for America.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"Engaged Democracy" - The Way Forward

Representative democracy is dead.

What needs to evolve is a spirit of "engaged democracy" whereby individuals have the ability to contribute to the democratic process in whatever areas of the public domain that interest them.

Individuals should have the ability to contribute not only input but also in the formulation of legislation.  Expertise exists in volumes in the modern world across America and this brain pool needs to be included in the legislative process so that greater and more effective solutions are reached.  Through "engaged democracy" differing opinions and agendas can be included in the public debate so that the legislation that is reached is broader in consideration than it currently is today.

Non-partisan solutions should be the goal in the "engaged democracy" process so that fair and equitable information is collected and considered with the objective that America moves down a forward-thinking path.  Party politics has lead to way too much emphasis being put on all-or-nothing style legislation that pushes a philosophy, which unfortunately usually comes at the expense of good government.

In today's world of technology and communication, collecting opinion and expertise should be simple so that the social divides are considered and mutually beneficial policies are arrived at.

In the new system of "engaged democracy", the Congress would become a managerial institution designed to oversee the process of developing legislation and would abandon it's role as a legislator itself.  Only in this way can agenda-driven partisanship be left behind such that America can reclaim it's democratic roots.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Health: A Fundamental Freedom

Our health care system has gotten too far out of reach for too many individuals.  Government providing health care is a standard feature of every modern country in the world.

Our nation was founded upon individual freedom and finding your own way, but access to a minimum quality of health needs to be considered a foundation of that freedom.  Freedom has become misinterpreted to mean the ability to pay for health care insurance or medical services.  Health care should not be considered just another commodity with inequitable touch points for those who have financial security and those who do not.  Rather it needs to be a vital part of a strong and powerful America.

A two-tiered system is certainly manageable with both private and public options.  The public options have to be funded by the tax system at this point until a better way is found.  It is just a small contribution by individual citizens to fund an America where every person has access to the medical community.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Just the Facts: A New Goal For Criminal Trials

The ultimate goal of any criminal trial should solely be to determine what actually happened.

The prosecution as well as the defense has to have equal onus on identifying the facts and then coming to a conclusion as to guilt or innocence of the accused.  The concept of reasonable doubt needs to be eliminated such that genuine criminal activity is punished rather than excused.

Criminal lawyers on both side of the table need to be evaluated and subsequently compensated for their ability to arrive at the actual conclusion i.e. the truth, and circumstances of the crime rather than merely trying to prove guilt or innocence.  In the modern world, no criminal should ever win their freedom as a result of simply having a better lawyer.  An innocent verdict when someone is actually guilty should never be a result that the criminal justice system permits.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Proper Usage of Military Forces

The American military has three primary roles:  1) to protect American interests around the world; 2) to assist nationally and internationally in times of natural disaster;  and 3) to intervene in foreign genocidal conflicts and wars of aggression.

The American military can no longer exist as an instrument of American political will unless formally engaged by the ruling government or a treaty organization.  The era of America embracing a "manifest destiny" mindset as rationale for being involved in foreign national development is over.

American intervention should no longer be used even as a threat in the modern world.  Let's face it, we no longer follow through anymore so the threat is rarely a deterrent anyway.

American interests need to be clearly defined as those with business, social or individual components.  Humane and appropriate economic treatment of corporations and citizens that are operating or living within a foreign land need to be adhered too.  If any attempt is made to nationalize businesses, inflict inequitable taxation or operating standards, or inflict personal injury upon individuals then the military has a right to defend it's institutions and citizens.  Intervention however,can only occur when these injuries are incurred outside the legal parameters of the country in which they are are incurred. Americans though, need to be cognizant of the threats inherent wherever they do business and if they choose to enter a specifically dangerous area then they assume that risk as part of their normal freedom of operations.

When natural disasters occur the American military as well as the military units of other countries should be made available in terms of manpower and resources to incur a safe zone within the affected area and to support relief efforts.

Intervention is warranted whenever tyrannical foreign leadership is utilizing genocidal tactics as instruments of control and power.  A prime mandate in the 21st century for the American military is to uphold human rights and protect civilians from persecution by their own government.  The world has to come to realize that the number one offense that any government can inflict on it's citizens is death.  Government has inherently an obligation to create a peaceful environment for it's citizens and orchestrated extermination of any portion of that population will meet with immediate intrusion by military forces.  The style of government is inconsequential.

Intervention by the American military during periods of national uprising or civil disobedience is not warranted at the outset of any conflict.  Civil uprising and governments defending their position is a natural part of nationalistic development and America has no role in disputes of that nature. However, that being said, if conflicts continue with no resolution in sight, then America can be invited to participate by the ruling government.  It is not America's role to pick sides in civil conflicts.  Let's face it, if foreign countries had decided to support the south during the American Civil War then the results may have been very different and our nations sovereignty and right of self-determination would have been severely undermined and we likely would have developed very differently.

Any act of aggressive attack by a foreign country by another nation shall meet with American intervention as well.  War of acquisition is no longer a valid form of conflict in the modern world and has to be opposed by strength.  Historical boundaries are still quite often in conflict and on occasion governments have tried to re-establish historical boundaries.  This is not a valid reason for military action against a neighbor.  The era of extending national boundaries and influence through international territorial expansion is a thing of the past.

In the future, it is is highly probable that wars of acquisition will occur in order to gain access to the world's most valuable natural resources (oil, water and precious metals). When conflicts of this nature arise America has the right to be involved as a means of protecting the assets of foreign countries and establishing a global rule or territory and ownership. America will also have the right to intervention if any valuable resource is being withheld as a means of the foreign country establishing some type of political advantage. The military however, cannot be involved if resources are being sold elsewhere as this would have to be addressed in the private and public sectors.

The bottom-line for the 21st century is that our military has a definitive role that can be utilized in a more specific roles.  The end result will be the ability for America to adopt a more consistent role in the deployment of it's military and one that will be welcome and appreciated when it is utilized. By managing the military in this manner it will give America a favored position in the world as the military becomes seen as a beneficial presence globally rather than an unwelcome intruder.