LZ Article 001: Dr. Bruce’s Radical Remake of America
DrBruce on A Radical Remake of America (Constitutional Convention)
By and for the 99%, a visionary Blueprint for a Radical Remake of America (or any country) – DRAFT 3d
Third Draft-mod D, November 14, 2011
This is a piece I wrote back in November 2011 in the time of the Occupy movements. It’s relevant to bring it out again on this election eve, November 4th, 2012. I participated in a couple of radio shows on this topic which are online in podcasts if you are interested. Let me know — Dr. Bruce
Where do the Occupy and other progressive movements go from here? The grievances and the villains have been clearly identified, the philosophy and the operational principals established and there is a sense of optimism in the air that change is possible. I respectfully ask you to roll forward your clock to a day not too far in the future when, by some set of amazing and unforeseen events, the ideal outcome has arrived. Hold this thought for a moment. So, what would this ideal world look like? Anything you can imagine, so let’s put it together! To get us started I have penned a modest Blueprint for a Radical Remake below. Why do this kind of exercise you might ask? Having a vision for the best possible outcome is essential as it gives you a point in space to aim at. And we have all experienced that when a shared, clear vision is held and actively pursued, the universe always seems to provide all of the steps to reach it.
So, assume that all of this, by hook or (in spite) of crook, has come to pass and it is going on all across America and on your street…
It’s the wonderful spring of 20XX and this is what is going on? How about this…
A) A radical remaking of our political system:
Change can only really come from the Top, but our Top is broken, so change must come from the Bottom changing the Top. Through the persistence, intelligence, argument and effective collective action of “the 99%” it should be possible to bring about the “quiet revolution” we seek. Ten million people committing to press for this change over many years will bring it about. History is on our side on this one. More about this later. One day it will therefore be apparent that our future has been handed back to us. We must be ready for that day with a solid set of steps to build a new Top we can trust and that works for the benefit of all of society. This therefore is the first priority and the first part of the blueprint.
- As dawn breaks on that great day in our ideal future the Constitutional Convention is just about to get underway with an open registration of delegates representing a true plurality of American society.
- After some pressure and by eventual consensus all sitting politicians have taken leave of their offices, including the president and cabinet. The people have spoken and have finally been heard, making it clear that the system of powerful interests that gave these politicians their offices was not representative and not legitimate, so it was time for all of them to leave. These leaders had become utterly untrusted by the people they were supposed to be serving, warped by the demons of money corruption politics, dangerously ineffective and tied up in endless partisan gridlock, and therefore no longer performing their fiduciary duties.Trained career professional civil servants were nominated to form interim directorships of agencies and the executive branch under short term contracts and things are running just fine.
- None of the departing politicians are offered any entitlements beyond those available to ordinary citizens. These and past politicians are subject to a ten year prohibition of involvement in politics which can only be forgiven through sizable citizen sponsored write-in campaigns not funded by the politician or wealthy interests. No politician convicted of criminal offenses while in office or having access to significant wealth is permitted involvement in politics unless supported by a sufficient write-in campaign. Entitlements for past politicians are being reviewed and many are subject to immediate cuts. Entitlements for all retired government workers are honored unless they became wealthy through clear cases of corruption or the “revolving door” with industry in which case they will fail a means test and no longer qualify for the entitlement.
- Next, the duopoly parties (Democrats and Republicans) are dissolved, similar to Boris Yeltsin’s 1991 decree dissolving the communist party of the former USSR, and new parties are being energetically put together for the upcoming Convention. These parties will represent the true groupings of national citizen interests. The Tea Party now has its own party. The Greens have theirs. Veterans and retirees have theirs. MoveOn has theirs. Flat taxers have theirs. Occupy may have theirs or Occupiers may simply work within many parties. There may be fifty parties formed by the time of the Convention. This happened when democracy came to Eastern Europe and now in the Arab world. This is democracy booting up and it’s a beautiful, messy, creative and organic thing to watch. The stage is set for the Convention.
- The Convention opens both physically in multiple locations around the nation and online and the first set of laws are put forth and enacted by direct citizen simple majority vote over the Internet or through local voting places connected to the net. The crucial first law to pass makes lobbying and contribution of private money to politicians or their campaigns illegal. This cuts the umbilical cord between the “1%” and the body politic. Campaigns will now be funded solely by direct, capped individual donations, Lawrence Lessig’s “democracy vouchers”, and some support from a public fund.
- The Convention runs for 60 days in which time a new Constitution is drafted which contains and preserves the original US Constitution, but modernizes it at its outer edges. This process was supported by hard working delegates, but also through extensive citizen input through the Internet and social media.
- The new constitution finally provides for Jefferson’s originally proposed periodic constitutional “remake” every 20-30 years to support its further evolution. The current amendment system is therefore no longer necessary as these conventions allow society to amend the document directly. Drawing from Wikileaks’ philosophy a declaration of the right of the citizen for an open, transparent society, government and business environment is enshrined in a newly expanded bill of rights.
- Elections are then called and from that point the electoral system is operated as it is in democratic countries around the world: short 30 day campaigns on unpredictable general election dates but within a set period of years kicked off either by votes of no confidence or at the governing parties’ option. Primaries and other resource-wasting electioneering are a thing of the past. Party leaders are simply chosen by delegate votes at their own conventions. Citizens then directly vote for their executive branch and the Electoral College is dispatched to the dustbin of history.
- The election is wildly successful with an 85% turnout. Hanging chads are a thing of the past as a non-profit independent election grid operator supports secure online voting just as has been deployed in many other countries such as India. The elections are also overseen by an independent Electoral Commission which includes international observers as a backup and an example for the rest of humanity. This commission has the power, after an independent arbitration, to nullify and recall any election, even for president, so no court needs to become involved and spectacularly fail in this role as happened in 2000. America will show the world how a “Democracy 3.0” can be exceptionally executed, no longer running its archaic 18th Century 1.0 version.
- As a bit of a shocker to older Americans but a fresh breeze for the rest of us, the first true national government in the history of the US will be formed through an unwieldy coalition of parties, some of whom have vastly different philosophies. Everyone would agree that this is preferable to one party carrying 50% or more of the vote and the return of the corruption and stagnation of the past. The parties would then push and shove and compromise, sorting it out over time and forging an effective and the first truly representative government in the history of the nation.
- Before the election gets underway, all appointees to major posts and those seeking office including state governors, justices, cabinet members and the president and vice president would be subject to psychological screening similar to that required of airline pilots. Failing such a screening would disqualify the individual from their appointment or from running. Looking back years in the future, we will see that this has done wonders to prevent individuals with serious psychological disorders including diagnosed psychopathy, addictions, extremist religious or other closed-belief fanaticism, and other maladies from inflicting damage on the nation and the world.
Having reached this point we now have a brand new Top with top people, chosen by the people. Now our next work can begin: the task of radically remaking America. The following sections of this blueprint propose the largest of the structural changes in this makeover. Much detail remains but this is a sincere effort to patch the biggest holes that are sinking the ship of our state.
B) Reassuming control of the messages we say to ourselves:
A human society is defined by the stories it tells itself and by the things it then comes to believe. Ideas are our most powerful tools and when encapsulated in mass messages they become our greatest hope for renewal and a wonderful, sustainable civilization or our greatest danger and threat to our health and survival. In our ideal world of the (near) future, humanity would have learned to treat messaging seriously and developed the best practices around them. An experienced balance would have been struck between the right to freely express and the right for protection from from clearly damaging messaging.
- Another measure passed by directly at the Convention is that the rule abandoned in the 1980s which prohibited media outlets from lying on the air is reinstated. A newly formed, independent Truth and Health in Media Commission would shortlist broadcasters and online media companies which have built up a record of unfair, untruthful and damaging coverage and their licenses would be pulled. These outlets would have a year to adjust their approach apply for new licenses. Canada still enforces this rule and recently denied a license to one US broadcaster. There is no reason for us to live without this kind of public proection any longer. As one example, the severely damaging practice of modern “attack ads” in political campaigns was only invented by Lee Atwater in 1988, about the time of the rule change. Before he died, Mr. Atwater publicly expressed regret about his creation and attempted to apologize to every person these ads may have hurt. This strongly suggests to us now this type of messaging crosses the line of societal acceptability and would be a candicate to be rolled back by the Commission.
- This same Commission would also shortlist commercial media content and advertising deemed a threat to public health (mental and physical) by independent and corroborated scientific research and order the carriers to pull this content or risk losing their licenses. Common sense protection of adult and children’s psychological health found in other countries would finally come to America.
- Media monopolies which would have been deemed illegal under old laws would be pursued and broken up. Percentage ownership in media outlets by one entity would then strictly enforced. Public and new alternative independent media would then be given expanded access to airwaves.
- “Memetic” (idea messaging) protection laws would be put into place for an experimental trial period. These statutes would establish liability for clearly demonstrated psychological trauma perpetrated by media, commercial entities, religions, cults or any entity messaging the public. It becomes a prosecutable offence for a group or individual to repeatedly and clearly psychologically traumatize a child or an adult and to radicalize any individual or group to violence or other harmful acts. The same protection would be applied to groups or individuals negatively affecting an adult or child’s human rights as defined in the charter in the updated constitution. This would also apply to groups who seek to restrict the rights of their own members or others in society.
- In the ideal outcome, strict separation of Church and State would have been been re-asserted in law and in educational policies. No public funds would be allowed for religious organizations and organizations operating religious schools would be subject to compliance with childhood memetic protection laws and human rights (no Christian hell and brimstone and no Talibanization). A traumtized child is a lifelong sufferer and great loss to society, as has been recently born out so vividly.
C) End of war mongering and state sponsored terrorism:
In our ideal future, virtually all US troops would have been called home, leaving forces in place solely where humanitarian assistance is requested specifically by the local authorities and/or citizens. Should an evidence-backed threat to the US or its interests and citizens at home or abroad be identified, appropriate action will be taken once duly authorized by the elected branches of government. Whenever possible and when all other avenues, including diplomatic, economic and grievance-hearing have been exhausted, small operations rather than oversized land invasions would be undertaken to minimize trauma on local civilian and US personnel. Lastly, the military would be constitutionally guaranteed a public voice and a vote in the committing of its forces in any operation. Major actions would be authorized only though unanimous support by the elected and military branches.
- A new charter would be written for the US military which would include community and national infrastructure projects, border protection, disaster and humanitarian relief, peace keeping as invited by the international community, and threat reduction as discussed in C.1. The US would then have largely eliminated its “global policing” role which previously often resulted in its own commission of crimes against humanity and state sponsored terrorism. Local and foreign interests or governments would no longer be permitted to lobby and steer US national policy toward disaster. All of these measures should interrupt the cycle of the radicalization of youth to commit their own acts of terror in response to US violence. To further support this true counter-terrorism strategy the US could then adopt the Lebanese model, which deradicalized and demilitarized groups by directly supportig lifestyle changes through financing and family support alternatives.
- The US military budget would be taken through a rapid “build down” first to 50% of its currently inflated level with a goal of reaching 20%, or a level appropriate for a role for a peaceful world. The US currently has no identifiable enemies posessing standing armies and weaponry to match it so can afford to back off from Cold War era outlays. A similar build down last occured in the early 1990s and helped produce the first budget surplus in generations. The enormous savings this time around would be used to radically improve the now dire balance of national accounts and provide much needed funding to benefit the whole nation by supporting many of the initiatives we will list later in the blueprint.
- With some of these savings, veterans would be able to receive greatly improved benefits, training and direct entrepreneurial grants going way beyond the GI bill of WWII to ensure that they are not abandoned to a life of poverty and can become prosperous citizens of the new society. The people and causes that sent them to war may have been suspect but their service and their sacrifices were real.
- All “black ops” (government and private) organizations would be subject to severe cutbacks, and enter a period of transparent, public review with the opening of all secret documents as was done in the former Eastern Bloc in the 1990s. This new transparency will then expose their record of failure and crimes causing the public and elected officials to determine that some of these organizations must simply be eliminated outright. Individuals who under the auspices of these organizations have committed Crimes Against Humanity (CAH) or facilitated state sponsored terrorism for previous US client regimes would be offered amnesty if they admitted their crimes before a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) modeled on the TRC which helped rebuild South Africa. Individuals who did not come before the US TRC would be subject to prosecution in the US and would be pursued if abroad. Senior officials or officers who created policies or ordered others to commit crimes would be prosecuted first and most severely. Those ordered to commit crimes would be offered the most protection under the TRC.
- As a result of a full remaking of foreign policy, nations and regimes that use US aid to engage in terrorism of their own populations or those of neighboring countries would have an immediate termination of all support. This would imply immediate termination of support for both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Countries could after a one year review re-apply for support under the new restrictions.
- The US would spearhead a global effort to not only continue to contain the spread of nuclear weapons but also seek severe cutbacks in all armaments production. The US would no longer fund other countries to arm themselves and even offer programs to replace arms sales and current arms in place with funding for productive programs. Thus the trend of disarmament which started with the reduction of nuclear arsenals would continue into conventional weapons. To make real progress the US could buy the assets of armaments producers and simply shut them down, thereby saving the enormous damage and costs that result from their business activities. The US would severly throttle back the majority of its own arms production efforts, and further reduce its own arsenals of nuclear and conventional weapons. Advanced weapons research and development, which has had a poor track record of high costs and failure rates, will also be cut back and then carefully audited. President Eisenhower’s prescient 1961 warning about the dangers of the military-industrial complex would finally be acted upon with full public transparency and objective auditing which will reign in the power and costs of this complex.
- As spelled out by Amory Lovins, by returning to strict fuel economy standards abandoned in the 1980’s, as well as the mandating of hybrid vehicle fleets and a major national investment in renewable energy, the proportion of imported petroleum will drop steadily until there is no longer any dependency on sources outside of the Western Hemisphere. Therefore, there will no longer be any justification for military involvement in these regions outside of invited humanitarian efforts.
- Proven, non-military, non-religious global assistance programs such as the Peace Corps would be expanded and would help to transition those with military careers into other areas of needed, humanitarian service.
D) Prosecution for economic crimes and a return to healthy markets:
The ideal future outcome woud have us truly put our economic and regulatory house in order and return the very ill patient that is our national and global economy to health. Due to the extreme emergency nature of the situation, radical triage is necessary to avoid this patient’s further deterioration.
- To facilitate this the US Truth and Reconcilliation Commission would also be open to the hearing of Economic Crimes Against Humanity (ECAH) committed by rich elites and others. Forfeiture of gains as well as full disclosure of crimes would prevent prison terms that these individuals would normally be subject to under current US laws and the laws of other countries.
- Funds donated by supportive wealthy individuals (e.g. Warren Buffett), plus forfeiture funds from the TRC, would be placed into a fund to prosecute other criminal elites and to support public institutions to enforce reinstated laws that previously protected the public interest from economic. Criminal elites and their assets would be pursued on US soil and internationally, regardless of citizenship.
- Laws regulating banks and securities firms established during and following the 1930s would be re-instated. New laws regulating the power of securities and currency trading organizations would be developed and the employing of automated trading software would be severely restricted, reducing much of their damaging dynamics on markets.
- Liability for executives and directors of corporations for economic crimes, some of which include the theft embodied in large payouts not backed by beneficial performance, would be clearly established. Executive compensation would be tied to an established multiple of collective individual worker’s benefits and company profits. Deviation from these norms would expose executives to scrutiny and liability.
- Monopoly laws are reinstated and reinforced by strong regulatory agencies which then dictate the immediate breaking up of large banks and banking groups as well as corporations which monopolize critical segments of society. Energy companies represent one such segment and oil producers, just like electric power companies, would now be regulated as a public utility with strict price and profit controls, as they are in other countries. These companies could be granted approval for rate hikes on fuel prices if the majority of their increased profits are sunk into renewable energy research and development.
- All manufactured goods which resulted from the off-shoring of US jobs would be subject to a mandatory import duty. The collected import duties would be provided to a fund making grants available to companies developing new manufacturing in the US as well as returning previously off-shored jobs to the US.
E) National priority of a healthy civil society:
If a time machine was invented and you could step back decades or longer, you might find the people you meet on the street to be far happier, healthier and less burdened than today. Over several decades but increasingly since the events of 9/11 the US population has been put into an ever increasing state of trauma, both mental and physical. Objective studies of this trauma would be carried out to determine the state of the patient. There is no reason we should have to live with this trauma and in our ideal future, we would invest in policies and programs to restore a sense of health to society.
- National priorities would be set which place the health, well being, and education of ordinary people first. Government and private institutions which work for the public good would be strengthened beyond any previous levels, drawing on resources saved from the build-down of the US war machine. The quality of care of children through adulthood is considered the national priority. University and trade school education receive investment not seen since the days after Sputnik and all current student debt is paid down through direct grants while federal assistance is made to lower fees and other barriers to obtaining a higher education.
- Food and nutrition are made priorities and stringent regulations are placed on the fast food industry based upon scientific studies. Fats and food additives such as high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners are regulated as controlled substances and their excess inclusion in foods would subject the producer to a sliding scale of product liability. Any person in a state of ill health would be able to qualify for community funded health and well being programs. These programs would be extended into a national universal health care system which would bring the US up to the par of many other nations. A parallel private payer system and expanded research grants would fund world class medical research and encourage it to extend to the national healthcare system.
- Control of firearms would be instituted for the public good to radically reduce gunshot fatalities and injuries. Weapons would be repurchased during an amnesty period by the government working with independent entities which would then oversee their destruction much in the way nuclear weapons were handled after the end of the Cold War. Just as in Canada, private ownership of handguns, assault weapons and other types of weapons is a prosecutable offence unless these are registered by legitimate collectors or for hunting.
- The “war on drugs” would immediately stand down and be replaced by a new drug policy derived in a depoliticized environment and which would prescribe harm reduction, treatment and education. Medically prescribed and non-addictive sacramental substances used for personal and spiritual growth would be decriminalized and protected under healthcare access rights and freedom of religion laws if taken under guidance of qualified practitioners.
- A goal of the reduction of the size of the prison population by one half to two thirds would be set and a review of all cases undertaken. Nonviolent offenders would be released into well funded community re-integration programs.
There is more to be added here, and much to be refined and most importantly, more voices to be heard, can we ask you to make one of them yours? Become a drafter!
A statement from the first drafter:
How would we “get there from here” and make this Blueprint a reality? I believe it comes down to ten million Americans signing a pledge to join and support a movement that aims to achieve this reality. Ten Million people can accomplish a lot. The Ten Million would build on the foundation of Occupy and adopt its philosophy and strategies. The Ten Million would accept nothing less than the full radical remake of American society. Year after year the Ten Million would get their message of positive change out, blockade political offices, businesses and media outlets. They would make donations, boycott businesses, file lawsuits, hold general assemblies, festivals and celebrations, create beautiful works and online gatherings of people and ideas until the old system gives up the ghost and this dream is realized.
What is the world we will leave to our children? Without a radical remake like the one evolving in this blueprint, pretty grim. With the will and the means to enact such a makeover we will leave to our children a world of wondrous possibilities, a healthy, happy, safe, learned, caring and forward thinking people, and very likely, a survivable civilization. We will get the world we all thought the 21st Century would be about, not the dystopian nightmare we are being driven into.
Join us in discussing this blueprint on Facebook at our Radical Remake page:
On the open Web you will (soon) find our hosted and editable/votable discussion around this blueprint at:
PS: There will be many more drafters!
-Bruce Damer, Cedar Lake, New Jersey, November 14, 2011
About the first drafter:
Bruce Damer is a Canadian who emigrated to the US in 1985. When Bruce was sworn in as a US citizen in 2000 the federal judge presiding over the ceremony explained that there is no democracy at the national level but you still have a chance for some representation at the local level so please fill out your voter registration card. Bruce has spent much of the last decade pondering this statement, wondering if America has ever actually been a democracyin the sense that Canada, Denmark and other countries are (no, as it has always disenfranchised large segments of its population). He then went on to investigate how America might one day become a functioning democracy, civil society and good member of the global community of nations.
This blueprint for the Radical Remaking of America resulted from this thinking and his interaction with a wide range of American society from Pentagon generals to NASA astronauts, Silicon Valley billionaires, activists and burners, Big Bankers, Nobelists, Christian home schoolers, off the gridders, cultural creatives, and just plain and wonderful ordinary folks. He has worked around the world, in the early 1990s helping develop one of the first software labs in Eastern Europe right after the fall of Communism, later speaking in South Africa during the transition from white rule, doing pioneering work in Internet virtual worlds and simulation for NASA, and is currently working in a progressive team in high tech to better lives around the world from the US to the Middle East, Pakistan and China and elsewhere.
If you are curious about Bruce and the team around the RadicalRemake Blueprint effort find Bruce and our page “Radical Remake” on Facebook or reach Bruce directly on the web at:
References (TBD) and Some useful background references providing some research support for the Radical Remake document
- Lawrence Lessig’s book Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress — and a Plan to Stop It
- Amory Lovins, energy
- Eisenhower, 1961 speech
- Yeltsin, decree banning Communist Party
- Lebanese de-radicalization technique
- South African TRC experience
- Czechoslovak Election (post communist)
- Dick Cheney’s build-down
- Jefferson’s proposal for constitutional conventions
- Julian Assange’s blueprint for the Govt of Iceland for a transparent society
- Rick Doblin’s writings on sane drug policy
- Lee Atwater’s apology
- Change in law governing lying by broadcasters
- Andrew Marshall’s proposals on energy, opposition to Iraq war
- Pete Worden’s opposition to Iraq war and consequences
- India’s online electoral system