8.10.2007

TypeAMama's Domestic Agenda Priorities

TypeAMama has opinions about politics, too, if you hadn't noticed those entries. With the presidential candidate debates already strangely swinging into gear at this early date, I've had a lot on my mind. Note that I don't cite studies or statistics to back up my opinions. I read a lot. I've got a decent education with a couple of graduate degrees. I'm an active participant in my community, the economy, and the political process. And I have formed some opinions.

1. Universal Healthcare

It's crazy and indefensible and inexcusable that we still have the antiquated, inefficient, and enormously costly private insurance-driven healthcare system that we have. The cost to the economy, corporate profitability (except for pharmaceutical companies and the health insurance industry), and the bodies and health of fully employed Americans and their children is staggering.

2. Public Education

No Child Left Behind - the right goals, the wrong methods. Penalizing a failing school by withdrawing funding only assures it's continued slow and painful demise. Ultimately who suffers? The children whose futures are wrecked and the communities who will have to deal with them as they turn into adults.

3. Energy

Seriously enhance programs to support the growth of domestic, clean (i.e., non-greenhouse-gas-emitting), sustainable fuel sources. Invest in infrastructure to support the widespread adoption of emerging alternative fuel sources. The beneficial impacts on expenditures to secure foreign supplies of oil, on the environment, and on creation of new jobs domestically will more than offset costs.

4. Crime

Has anyone noticed the creeping (and in some cases leaping) crime statistics rising around the country? Especially for violent crime? What gives? Spending to update police departments with current technology and equipment and training and to hire more officers for patrol is not enough. We need to invest in proven crime-prevention resources - after school programs, job development programs, substance abuse treatment programs, family violence shelters and education programs, and mental health treatment programs, for example. Also, increase controls around who gets access to guns, how quickly, after how much scrutiny. Require all current and prospective gun owners to obtain a license, just like driving a car, and to demonstrate a minimum level of proficiency in safety, judgement and skill. Again, just like driving a car.

5. Immigration

Requiring a person who came here without a visa (and there are precious few of those available, even to highly skilled workers) to pay a fine, register, become a regular taxpayer, learn English and get integrated as a contributing member of society is not amnesty, people. Currently there is only a very narrow path to citizenship available to allows immigrants with basic (but not specialized) skills to work and contribute and become part of society while they continue to live here to meet the residency requirement to either apply for legal resident status (takes 10 years of residency within the US) or citizenship via naturalization (takes 5 years) - those are the "Diversity" visas, of which there are currently only 50,000 granted, by lottery, each year. And they are alotted primarily to immigrants from countries which are under-represented in current immigration numbers, so the visa "relief" is directed where it is least needed.

6. Government Accountability

Increased transparency to the lobbying activities of special interests. Higher penalties for corruption - perjury, accepting bribes, tax fraud, etc. For starters, members of Congress or any other elected official convicted of any of the foregoing automatically forfeit their pensions. Increased reporting of public expenditures - both forecast and actual.

7. Get Practical.

Allow gay marriage. Prohibit pharmacists from denying women contraception or other prescriptions ordered by their doctors. Follow evidence-based education programs to reduce teen pregnancy: abstinence-only education is not the most effective approach for reducing teen pregnancy - "abstinence plus" has a much higher success rate. Keep religious instruction out of public schools and textbooks. Improve family leave options and create deductions for childcare costs (including after-school programs) for working parents.

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