The best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy, but the best weapon of a democracy should be the weapon of openness.
~ Niels Bohr
Establish by Constitutional amendment a Truth Commission with dedicated funding and abilities to look into anything and everything controlled by the federal government. Its primary power would be its independent voice. It would necessarily have a broad mandate to overcome issues of national security. National Security exemptions have become the bane of a Republican form of government by constantly using the exemption to prevent transparency. The citizens never really know the real intent of their government because of this Iron Curtain of information tyranny. This commission would be responsive to the will of the people through an electronic system of voting for issues the public feels needs addressed. It is completely reprehensible that with all the technology that our era affords us, that the citizens should not have the means to directly impact policy by forcing relevant information into the public domain.
It should have broad powers to offer immunity from prosecution for those willing to testify. Current fact finding and accountability groups of the government are spread within the government but are usually accountable to the branch they serve. This Truth Commission would be people directed and controlled. Its goal is to discover truth for the people to use as they see fit. It might be cathartic knowledge that simply settles a historical issue such as the Kennedy Assassination or just clear information to decide a thousand different issues. The Truth Commission would not subvert our other Constitutional institutions or their respective powers and responsibilities. It would be the bully pulpit of the people intended to inform, shame, and if necessary prosecute those that break our laws but avoid prosecution.
Within the jurisdiction of the Truth Commission would be a branch dedicated to protecting and encouraging whistleblowers. The Truth Commission would circumvent the current system of oversight by individual agencies. It would have the authority to not only protect the whistleblowers but also to reward them. It could shelter whistleblowers in a witness protection program if necessary.
The creation of a Truth Commission is warranted because of the strength of the moneyed interests in formulating public policies, the impenetrable nature of the military industrial complex, and the loss of control of our Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches resulting from globalization. Also, because the media is controlled by corporate power and those invested in the ruling intellectual paradigm, truly revolutionary policies and technologies will never see the light of day without a people directed organization. Lastly, and probably most importantly, this new institution recognizes the common sense fact that no part of our government has any real interest in revealing their true intentions or admitting their mistakes or crimes to the American people.
By law or constitutional change we need to find a system of financing federal elections that prevents our government from being dominated by large donors. This would allow our political representatives to lead and represent the common good of the country. Big money prevents organic grass roots development of good ideas and independent political leaders because these candidates and their ideas can be overwhelmed by large institutional money. Compounding the money disadvantage is the corporate control of the media. When these overwhelming advantages are wrested from large businesses and they realize that government can’t be bought, they can then focus on operating successful businesses that are rewarded for good conduct and innovation.
There is nothing wrong with being a billionaire and expressing your views. There is nothing wrong with corporations expressing their views to legislators. But those views are no more valuable, and arguably less relevant than the views of the millions who don’t have the access that those resources buy. Reforming our election laws and if necessary amending the Constitution, must be done by balancing the tension between people’s right to speak their mind and use their own resources to further those ends, and the ability to have a political system which allows the will of the governed to be expressed and implemented. Our Freedom of Association and the Right to Seek a Redress of our Grievances with our government
means nothing if tremendous wealth can thwart those efforts. The balance we need is not served by the system we have.
The large banks that have endangered our economy should be broken up using existing Anti-Trust legislation.
Glass-Steagall or similar legislation should be enacted to make our banking system boring. Banks should not be commodity brokers, insurance companies, precious metal speculators, ship owners, etc. They should make loans based on credit worthiness without government guarantees and protect depositor’s money.
Investment banks can take whatever risks they feel are appropriate. But the government will not guarantee their survival by insuring directly or indirectly their loans. Personal responsibility as partners should be reinstituted. This will certainly make them better stewards of their money and the money they invest for others.
Any bank that fails shall be nationalized when FDIC intervention is not sufficient to orderly liquidate the institution. The government will dispose of the institution in the best interest of the country. Banks will not be rescued for the benefit of shareholders or bondholders. If they cannot survive independently, they will be sold to bankers who can run them successfully.
The constitutional war powers will be revised to restrict and limit the President’s ability to conduct war without the specific approval of the Congress. Endless, clandestine wars will be restricted and congressional oversight will be strengthened. Black budget items will be audited. The Defense department will be audited. The missing TRILLIONS of dollars that the Defense department cannot account for will be accounted for and those responsible will be prosecuted.
It is reprehensible that the banks and not the Public should own and control the most powerful economic tools. How can the people’s interest be subverted to the interest of bankers? The common answer is that our Congress and President aren’t smart enough to mettle in such issues. That is the claptrap reasoning of oligarchs who really don’t believe in the concept of democracy but understand that if they control the money, they control the government, the economy, and the military. You can never have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people if the banking system remains in control. The U.S. Treasury will issue currency.
I am not calling for the repudiation of our debt yet. But if the system implodes, the debt will need to be repudiated so that future generations do not suffer from the economic sins of their fathers. Generally, debt owed to citizens and American companies would be honored. Debt owed to foreign banks, foreign countries, and citizens of other countries would be repudiated. This is radical but honest. Otherwise, you inflate the currency so that ordinary Americans effectively pay the debt while the banking system and international companies legally or illegally protect their assets in ways not available to the average citizen.
Part of the narrative that we have drilled into the heads of our youth is that a college education puts a person on the road to success. This is certainly not untrue. However, the “Education Cartel” which delivers this education has created a system that abuses these same students with levels of debt never experienced by other generations of students. It may very well be that certain portions or types of the debt held by students should be cancelled. A prime target of change would be excessive fees that accumulate above and beyond regular interest. Any consumer protections, which apply to the general public, should also apply to student debt.
Not only is the system infused with a good deal of financial fraud and abuse, but it suffers from the most wicked of requirements, that applies to no other person or business, the inability to discharge student debt in bankruptcy. I am not for deadbeat borrowers. Nor do I think that bankruptcy should be a walk in the park for those that find themselves in that position. But for our youngest and most vulnerable adults to not have that same option afforded to a business or average citizen is deplorable. The very group of people who will run our country, raise our grandchildren, buy our products, pay for senior benefits, and carry on the American experiment, are being made wage slaves by system that values finances above learning. Learning is paramount. The education system and the money that finances it are not.
Our founding fathers clearly and unequivocally voiced their view that political parties fundamentally undermine our democratic institutions. Ideally, we need people running for office not on a label, but on their ideas and character. People often state that they vote for the candidate and not the party, which is ideal. But the candidates that are selected almost always come from a pool of candidates acceptable to the parties.
We certainly can’t ignore the freedom of association. But the entrenched power of these parties to control candidate selection, legislation, debate formats, and media messaging, etc. should be abolished. There is no magic in two parties. The only reason more parties aren’t viable is because the system inevitably makes them irrelevant. The refrain from the political parities is always, “Why throw your vote away, it won’t mean anything if you don’t vote for a Republican or a Democrat.” The logic is sound. But the assumption that it must be that way is a lie.