Role of Government

A major point of disagreement among citizens in the USA is the degree to which government should be  involved in people’s lives. Should government try to control the economy?  Some want free markets.  Others want government regulations, but in the absence of a direct democracy, the most powerful people end up making the regulations. Some…

Fiat Currency

In 1913, the U.S. government gave its right to create currency to the Federal Reserve Bank. Prior to that the Federal government had created money itself. These were called Greenbacks. The value of a Greenback fell dramatically during and after the Civil War because too many had been printed to fund the Union war effort….

Universal Basic Income

Many politicians are telling us that our modern digital and post-industrial economy has reduced or transformed whole classes of jobs. With online shopping, retail sales jobs are disappearing; robots are replacing factory workers, and industrial farming has replaced field laborers. In response, some countries, such as Finland and Netherlands, are testing out a Universal Basic…

Public Banking

A public bank is essentially a nonprofit organization, owned by a local, state or federal government that manages its own checking/savings accounts, accepts deposits and makes loans. Governments are already in the lending business. Most governments have a portfolio of loans to small business, farmers/ranchers, and homeowners, managed by different governmental organizations. A public bank…

Minimum Wage

In the US, while the cost of living per year has increased since 1970, the average income has not increased.  This means that a lot of people are not earning a living wage, about 30% of non-self-employed workers over eighteen, according to the Pew Research Center. Behind an increase in the number of people working…

Anti-Monopoly Laws

Anti-Trust Laws were conceived to break up big monopolies in order to allow fair competition between similar companies and guarantee consumers fair prices and quality products.   This assumes that competition leads to best practices and encourages innovation. Some claim that anti-trust laws are used mainly by smaller businesses suing larger more competitive businesses, in…

Utilities

Utility companies provide electricity, cable Internet, cell service and natural gas. The free market may be less capable of providing utilities because generally only one utility company can operate in each area, and/or because governments often regulate or subsidize the construction of lines and access, and this benefit should not go to any private corporation. …

Hospital and emergency care

No civilized society allows people to die just because they don’t have money for medical care. The United States is the only developed country without a universal health care system and where medical bankruptcy is a problem. Even people covered by insurance may suffer bankruptcy when insurance covers only 80% of care that runs into…

Public Education

When public education was established in the U.S. back in the 19th century, cost efficiency was undoubtedly a primary concern and a main motivating factor. A dozen children could be educated by a single well-qualified teacher for far less than the cost of hiring a private tutor for each family. Today the average cost of…

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

Some are against Direct Democracy because they fear that poor people, who outnumber the rich, will vote for more government welfare services for themselves and higher taxes for the rich. Taxes Funding for government activities does not have to be provided by an income tax and was not provided by income tax before 1913. Using…

Privacy

The Library Bill of Rights affirms the “ethical imperative to provide unrestricted access to information and to guard against impediments to open inquiry. When users recognize or fear that their privacy or confidentiality is compromised, true freedom of inquiry no longer exists.” In a library (physical or virtual), the right to privacy is the right…

Military – Defense

A military defense system against foreign invasion is an obvious service that every state might provide, since this is not something that an individual can provide for him/herself.  Nevertheless, there are some who argue that maintaining a standing army in times of peace is not conducive to democracy or a  healthy economy. A purely defensive…

Volunteer Support for Warfare and Welfare

Partisan groups are often divided over the issue of spending tax dollars on war and spending tax dollars on welfare. What if decisions about going to war, sending weapons, or funding police actions could be made by the people instead of Congress or the President? What if those who voted for war were expected to…

Regulations

Licenses and regulations are intended to prevent people from doing harm to others. Consumer protection regulations, many of which exist due to Ralph Nader efforts, have saved many lives. Critics of the practice say that this is preemptive justice, effectively punishing people (with economic harm) who have not committed any crime; instead, they claim, the…

Prison System

Enforcing laws created by the state (or, with a Direct Democracy, the people) is an indisputable, essential role of the state. How can this service be performed without creating a financial burden on the people? Critics of big government often point out that, without profit motivation, bureaucracies do a poor job of running programs efficiently….

Welfare for disabled persons, children, crime victims

Some believe that a healthy state takes care of individuals who, through no fault of their own, cannot take care of themselves. Does a state have the moral duty to care for disabled persons and children? What should the state provide?

Workfare for the poor

Assuming that providing welfare for children and the disabled is considered a separate issue, should the state provide welfare for those who cannot find work?  If so, under what conditions and for how long?  During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt  started a number of social welfare programs to keep citizens from losing their homes or…

Mass Transportation / Public Roadways

All citizens share the roadways and mass transportation systems.  Even those who do not use mass transportation can benefit from these services insofar as the systems increase property values by making commuting more efficient.  No individual can have access to such a system without a community or a corporation to provide it.  Since roadways and…

Immigration

The United States is a land of immigrants. Our rich cultural heritage is very much part of what makes us a great nation.  Nevertheless, those who have been born in this country sometimes feel threatened by newcomers.  If those newcomers are taking jobs, some people may feel as if their government is not protecting their…

Higher Education

The cost of higher education has increased drastically in the US as the quality has decreased. In public institutions, open admissions drew many more new students to higher education, many of whom had not received adequate secondary school education. Schools and educators were pressured to pass students to show a higher success rate so as…

Access to Culture

Some believe that culture –literature, visual art, music, theater and etc.– is an important aspect of a healthy state.  Culture, as distinct from entertainment, is often not commercially viable. How, then, do artists support themselves?  During the Great Depression, the Work Progress Administration funded many public art projects. Some of these state-sponsored art projects were…

Court Reform

Currently our courts tend to convict poor defendants more often than wealthy defendants. How do we make our criminal justice system more fair, convicting those who cause harm to individuals and/or to society?

The Separation of Business and State and the Privatization of Public Education

Because US public schools do poorly compared to those in other developed countries, those who support a “free market” approach argue the quality of education would be improved if public education were subjected to the effects of competition:  schools that are inferior will go bankrupt; schools that are good get more customers. (This leaves aside…

Environmental Protection

The environment belongs to all the people and future generations.  It must be protected. Those who currently hold the deeds to property should not be allowed to abuse their own land, water and air, making others suffer.   Those harm the environment should be required to pay for restoring it, if it can be restored.  A…