Policies That Legislators and Government Executives Should Consider
By Alvin Mason
All legislators (Federal, State, and Local) should review the following:
- God Bless America
- Terms for Members of the United States House of Representatives
- Voting Representation for the Residents of Washington, DC
- Commitee Chairperson Abusing Power
- The Death Penalty
- The Response When a Person is Released After Serving Time for a Bad Conviction
- Veterans Day
- Minimum Sentence for Sports Fixing
- Lotteries One Draw a Day
- A Balance of Freedom of Religion With the Separation of Church and State
- Privatization of Toll Roads
- Protection for Seniors Against Financial Abuse
- The Cost of Higher Education
- Drug Treatment
- Veterans Assistance
God Bless America
When we say, “God bless America” it is a saying that invokes patriotism. It also recognizes that there is a God, a higher power who has blessed this country immensely. I ask shouldn’t we say God bless America and the rest of the world? For those who complain about refugees maybe if the prayer was for the whole world and not only for America there would be less atrocities in other countries, thus less people would flee their homelands.
I ask, how many people pray for other people? What is wrong with praying for other countries? Isn’t it somewhat selfish to only ask God to bless America? Think about it. The true Christian should ask for God’s blessings for the entire world, just as we should pray for peace in the world.
When most public officials take office during their oath they say, "so help me GOD". If you ask for GOD's help shouldn't you ask for GOD to bless or help others?
Terms for Members of the United States House of Representatives
The United States Congress and the President should review the policy that a Congressman or Congresswoman serves a two year term. By the time they take their oath of office, they immediately have to focus too much of their attention on getting re-elected. When the framers of the Constitution made this decision public office campaigns and campaign financing were not what they are today. At that time backroom deals were routine which many times decided a party’s candidate. Today with primaries and the general election, the time and money spent on public office should be a concern. Today’s closed door meetings too often involve deals for campaign contributions which are not in the best interest of society at large. I advocate increasing the term of a member of the House of Representatives to four (4), years or instill a law that caps the amount a candidate or office holder can collect and spend on an election.
Voting Representation for the Residents of Washington DC
The United States Congress and the President should review the current situation of Washington DC. Consideration for the residents getting full voting representation should be thoroughly reviewed and all equitable measures should be put on the table.
I advocate making Washington DC a city/state, in a similar fashion as Berlin, Germany. Hamburg and Bremen are also city states in the German Republic. The District should have 1 senator and the requisite number of congress persons that the population mandates.
Too keep the number of senators even which would be 102 there should be a senator at large. The rationale used for not giving District of Columbia residents full voting representation because the founding fathers created the city without any congressional representation is in affect saying that everything the founding fathers did was perfect. Was recognizing Negros as 3/5 of a person perfect? In addition Washington DC was created to house the Federal Government. The founding fathers were concerned that states would squabble over hosting branches of government within their borders. Today the Federal Government is spread out all over the country and many of the offices are not necessary regional centers. Whenever a new Federal building is to be built such as the new FBI building, jurisdictions outside of Washington DC lobby for the right to house a Federal Government location.
So if the original purpose of having a capital city can be minimized, why can’t the citizens of the District of Columbia have full voting representation? Is taxation without representation fair? Is it fair for a District of Columbia resident to fight in a war and have no congressional representation?
All lawmakers should review the policy on lobbying. My biggest problem with lobbying is that lobbyist have access to lawmakers and regular hardworking tax paying citizens do not. A nation of the people, for the people, and by the people, if that has any merit than citizens should not have limited access to lawmakers when lobbyist have an open door. The original framers of the Constitution designed the government with separation of power to limit abuse by one person. The framers also intended government to be responsive to the people. They did not foresee special interest as it exist today.
A law that prohibits lobbyist and the organizations they represent from making any campaign contributions could limit some of the self-interest and self-dealing that exist today.
There have been several times that I have attempted to see a government official. Of course I was stopped by security at the front desk. The documents I had prepared to give to a lawmaker to supplement my face to face had to be sent upstairs to the lawmaker’s office. So I was not and still am not important enough to be seen by a government official or talk to a lawmaker other than when I encounter one campaigning.
When I got a response from the documents that went to the government officials office, every time the response took no less than 3 months. By that time the issues were old or had been resolved. This is what our government and country have come to. Are the framers of the constitution turning over in their graves?
Committee Chair in Congress Abuses Their Power
This country was created under the Constitution with the concept "Seperation of Power". For the most part, the president cannot act without Congressional approval. Why is one committee chairperson allowed to obstruct the government process? Isn't one person yeilding total power to hold back the Congressional process against the intent of the Founding Fathers and the Constitution? All legislators, Federal, State, and Local need to address such abuses of power. This issue should be presented to the United States Supreme Court.
All Legislators and Government Executives should also realize that taxes in itself is not always a bad thing, but waste is. The ability to raise money was one reason the US Constitution was written to replace the Articles of Confederation. People don’t mind a reasonable tax but we want to see our taxes working efficiently and effectively.
I also advocate that a person’s total taxes (Federal, State, Local, and Social Security) should not exceed 35% of their income. Only legitimate business expenses, medical, and some child expenses should be allowable deductions. People should be encouraged to make as much as they can without sheltering revenue or income.
The Corporate Tax Rate structure should have been addressed long ago. Why can’t our government fix the Corporate Tax problem? The Corporate Tax rate is always mentioned but never adequately addressed.
Some situations like charity should not be taxed. If a person wants to do a good deed for example give a gift to someone to help them out especially money for a health issue why should there be a gift tax. Some gifts should be non-taxable and still be allowed as a write-off (deduction).
Inheritance should be taxed at no more than 15% of the total wealth being passed down. Much of the wealth that was accumulated should have been taxed at the time it was earned.
Tax Payers should receive better treatment. A person with a tax problem or issue should be given the consideration of having a case worker. Today when you call the IRS you wait all day to talk to someone who may or may not be knowledgeable. They do not take a call back number in case you are disconnected. The next time you call you get another customer service representative and many times you have to explain everything over again.
The Biblical perception of how people viewed tax collectors is similar to how people view the Internal Revenue Service. One purpose of taxation in addition to funding the government is to redistribute income. Just as the publican Levi who wrote the Gospel of Matthew proves that people associated with taxation can be good. The concept of taxation can be a mechanism to improve society.
Why are there commercials stating that these so called tax professional can do something for a citizen that any American cannot do for themselves. Those services are not free and for something as important as paying taxes which is how everyone in government gets paid, scams should not be allowed. Why are commercials saturating black radio for tax relief? There are radio commercials stating that the IRS is hiring additional enforcement agents at the same time there is a Federal Government hiring freeze. Why is the government allowing these scare tactic commercials? Why isn’t our government making these announcements about tax relief programs? Does it bother any lawmaker that your constituents are being taken advantage of?
Since the New Tax Bill has been passed
Congress passed a tax bill on 12/20/2017. The bill lowers the tax rate on corporations and many citizen taxpayers.
The opponents argue that the tax bill lowers corporate tax rates permanently while the lower individual tax rates expire in 2025.
One of the rationales of the tax bill was to encourage corporations to bring plants and jobs back to the U.S. mainland. Why would a corporation go through the expense and trouble to bring operations to America for a limited time? The corporate tax rate should be permanent. However there should be some contingencies. One contingency should be that any business entity that takes operations away from the US will have to pay a significantly higher tax rate. There should also be a penalty for businesses that do not make efforts to bring operations here and a reward in the form of a bigger tax break for business that bring operations back. Such a reward should be doubling the write-off of the cost of moving back.
At this time I will not comment on the Bill’s individual aspects.
The Death Penalty
All lawmakers should give deep thought to their beliefs and opinions of the death penalty and know why they believe what they believe.
First everyone should reflect on what it means to take a life. The death penalty should not be used as a crowd pleaser as it was with Jesus sentence.
Many proponents of the death penalty say it is demanded by GOD (Exodus 21:14; Leviticus 24:21). In that regard it should also be remembered that the death penalty should not be given based on the testimony of only one witness (Deuteronomy 17:6).
In 1972 The US Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional. Many proponents of the death penalty thought it was spineless liberals that halted executions. The rational of the majority in the 5 to 4 decision was that the death penalty as administered was in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, the death penalty qualified as “cruel and unusual punishment,” primarily because states employed execution in “arbitrary and capricious ways,” especially in regard to race. This was the first time that the nation’s highest court had ruled against capital punishment. Could it be possible that the justices determined that one innocent person being executed was too many.
In my opinion before the death penalty is requested by the prosecution or ordered by the judge, the family of the victim should be consulted. If the immediate family wishes there be no execution, then there should be no execution unless there were multiple victims and the families of the other victims feel justice is served with a death sentence.
There are some situations where the death penalty is an act of mercy by taking one out of their misery. There are other instances where the perpetrator might be better off suffering for the duration of their life for what they did. For those of us concerned about the souls of people, a person can confess their sin and ask for forgiveness in the time between the end of the trail and the execution.
The death penalty is supposed to be a deterrent for future behavior by others. Hangings were once performed in public even in front of children. With today’s appeal process the execution is delayed for many years. When the execution takes place there are only select witnesses.
I advocate that there be a one year maximum holding period between the sentence of execution and the execution unless there is doubt or the procedure process was not proper. All courts including the US Supreme Court should give priority to matters concerning the death penalty.
The Response When a Person is Wrongly Convicted
The perfect transition from a death penalty discussion is this topic. Let me mention that some people who were on death row were subsequently released years later after DNA or a witness recanting their testimony proved their innocence.
When a person serves time for a crime they did not commit, they should be compensated. There have been instances when a person who was wrongly convicted had to agree not to sue the state or jurisdiction as a condition for immediate release. Even when the evidence proves their innocence they would remain in prison until a hearing which could take months to happen.
Whenever a person was found to be wrongly convicted there should be an investigation into the facts, evidence, and procedure that led to the original conviction. Prosecutors and police investigators should not be immune from some type of punishment or sanction when there is culpable behavior such as misconduct or neglect. When it is determined that an innocent person served time for a crime they did not commit the judge, prosecutor, police, and jurors should all be informed of the mistake. Only the jurors should be excused from fault.
Any prosecutor or police officer with multiple wrongful convictions should be investigated. When a person gets out of prison and the evidence is such that a reasonable prudent person would have investigated further and formed doubt then the wrongfully convicted should be able to sue those individuals responsible for that conviction. If a police officer or prosecutor is retired and it can be shown that the wrongful conviction was due to negligence or misbehavior than part of their retirement pension should be used as compensation for the wrongful conviction the same way that an ex-spouse can receive a portion of the his or her ex’s retirement pension. When a jurisdiction passes a wrongful conviction compensation law than the prosecutors and police should not be liable.
Legislators need to take a look at wrongful convictions.
Every Veteran should be paid for Veterans Day. If a person served their country and received an Honorable Discharge than they should be honored with a paid holiday. If the veteran is employed by an entity that will conduct business on Veterans Day then they should have a choice of a paid holiday or double time. Unemployed veterans should be compensated for one day ($100.00)
I worked for a company Pritchard Industries and they received a tax break for hiring me (an unemployed veteran). After 2 years I asked to be compensated for Veterans Day. It was never addressed. As a government contractor our union agreement was for vacation pay for 8 of the 10 federal holidays. So we were off for Columbus Day and Veterans Day but those were unpaid days off. I called my union Service Employees International Union (32BJ SEIU) at the New York headquarters and asked why they made an agreement that did not compensate veterans for Veterans Day and I was told I should try to become part of the compensation committee.
I am happy that today people acknowledge the service of veterans. When I got out, of the army society actually did not care. However, instead of just saying, “Thanks for your service”, why don’t you pay us?
Minimum Sentence for Sports Fixing
Sports is such a major part of people’s lives today. People are passionate about their favorite teams. Also people spend a lot of their hard earned income on going to a sporting event or watching sports on television (cable and pay per view). Due to the importance of sports in people’s lives the governments (federal, state, and local) should have protections in place to protect the integrity of sporting events.
There should be mandatory sentencing for sports fixing. Anyone who is involved in sports fixing should have to serve time. This would cover players, coaches, and referees. A mandatory sentence would be a great deterrent against conspiring to alter the outcome of a sporting event. With fantasy leagues and gambling both legal and illegal growing, citizens need protection. This should also include lotteries. If there is mandatory sentencing for drug offenses there should be mandatory sentencing for sports fixing. Of course some of the mobsters and gangsters who contribute to some of your campaigns might be against such a law.
Lotteries One Draw a Day
Lotteries in every state should have a drawing only once a day. When lotteries first came out many states were against the concept. In the United States, 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have lotteries. The concept of midday numbers is greed. Why would a state official condone multiple draws a day? There was once a concern that people who could not afford to gamble would bet on numbers spending money that should be used for household expenses.
There is an old saying that when you dream of a number you play it for 3 days. Following this belief if you play your dream straight and box for 50 cents then one would have to spend 6 dollars instead of 3 dollars and that is if you are not on the border of another state.
I believe it is totally irresponsible and unconscionable for lawmakers to have multiple daily drawings.
A Balance of Freedom of Religion with the Separation of Church and State
The separation of church and state should allow people the freedom to worship as they wish. Since Prayer was taken out of public schools public education has deteriorated. Whether you are a liberal or a conservative we should agree that the schools need GOD’s help. I advocate a moment of silence every day at the beginning of the school day. Parents should instruct their children on how to use that time. Many silent prayers won’t hurt anybody, it might help if you believe GOD hears prayers, and a moment of silence should not offend anyone.
Privatization of Toll Roads
Our tax dollars should pay for all the repairs of America’s highways, roads and bridges. The recent trend of state toll roads where a citizen pays to encounter less traffic is unfair. Such a system discriminates against the lower economic sector of society. Why should the people with the highest paying jobs benefit over people who are struggling? Too many times the whole concept of toll roads is full of corruption and kickbacks. How is a toll road in the best interest of the people a government official serves? Does the company that manages the toll road pay the entire price for constructing the Road?
When tolls are collected the first use should be for the maintenance of roads. Have any of you ever been to a jurisdiction with multiple toll roads and the roads were in terrible condition?
There should be some system of health care for everyone. Almost all developed nations offer some form of universal healthcare. If America wants to be the industrialized leader shouldn’t some form of affordable healthcare be offered?
One way to offer healthcare would be to have doctors work in clinics from the 4th year after graduation from medical school for four years and at the end owe nothing for student debt incurred to attend medical school. The first 4 years after medical school would allow the physicians to get experience to be proficient. The cost of education could make this an enticing concept. After 4 years of practice in underserved communities the physicians would gain experience and the appreciation of the medical needs of the less fortunate.
There would have to be a ceiling say 1 million for malpractice with lifetime medical care. Such a limit on malpractice lawsuits could help make this system affordable.
In addition to healthcare, Legislators need to discourage high priced prescription drugs. The first solution to control the cost of prescription drugs would be tax breaks for the pharmaceutical companies.
Should a country that has been as blessed as America offer affordable healthcare to all its citizens? It is ironic that people (lawmakers) who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior do not advocate for healthcare. Jesus healed people free of charge and the biggest and best gift of all, salvation is free. We will all one day be judged. Please don’t bring damnation on yourself. What is the right thing to do?
Protection for Seniors Against Financial Abuse
The governments should do a better job of protecting seniors against financial abuse. There should be a federal agency and every state should have protections in place for senior abuse. It is ridiculous how hard it is to get a senior abuse claim investigated. The Federal and State governments need to accelerate their efforts on this issue as financial exploitation is a fast-growing form of abuse of seniors and adults with disabilities.
Many years ago one of the big scams against seniors was home heating oil. Houses that were heated using oil had tanks that had to be filled periodically. The driver would half fill a senior’s tank and sell the oil and pocket the money.
Today financial abuse by friends and relatives is more prevalent specifically with seniors with dementia issues.
The Cost of Higher Education
The cost of a college education is outrageous especially when you consider that the expense and sacrifice does not always lead to a well-paying job. First the governments Federal and State need to appropriate more money for higher education. Education is an investment in American citizens and the amount committed to education for Americans should be much more than it currently is.
Colleges and Universities have had to raise tuition and fees to offset the cuts many state budgets have done to education. For a family or student to have to pay $50,000.00 or more per year for tuition room and board and fees is outrageous. Americans in the middle class have not seen their salaries increase at the same percentage as the cost of college.
A college graduate should not be strapped with the debt that some graduates are responsible for. Higher Education Loans should have the lowest interest rate possible.
I suggest that a small percentage of some sales taxes be used for higher education. What about a 1% national sales tax on everything including internet sales that is specifically earmarked for higher education. For those who are against a tax come up with an idea. Somebody needs to do something soon.
Citizens in this country should have more access to free drug treatment. Help for substance abuse should be available for everyone, not just the rich and people with insurance that will cover drug and alcohol treatment. Adequate treatment options for substance abuse would reduce the crime rate and the number of people incarcerated. Thus the cost of corrections would be reduced. All veterans especially veterans of combat should have priority for free substance abuse treatment.
One big problem for veterans is employment. Some of the best available jobs require a security clearance. Older veterans who served their country and had top clearances cannot get jobs that require active security clearances.
The United States Government should pay for or reimburse employers who help a veteran obtain a security clearance to obtain employment. Employers will not pay the cost to obtain a security clearance to qualify a veteran for such a position.
Let me ask this, when you say thanks for your service, wouldn’t this country or corporations show their appreciation for a veteran who served this country by assisting veterans obtain a security clearance to qualify for a good job?