Things I’d like to see in the US government

Since the election, a lot of people have been talking about what they don’t like. I think it might be important to also talk about what we would like. Having such a list can help us focus on specific actions to increase the chances the future we would like comes about as soon as possible. What follows is a current list of things that seem like good ideas to me.

Address the Big Challenges

  1. The earth is warming and carbon is the cause. We need to address this serious problem. I am an optimist on climate, but we must act. I don’t think it will hurt he economy to solve the climate problem, but inaction could be catastrophic. Basic prudence, even if you are a skeptic (which almost no one with training in climate is) should motivate action. I’d like to see a revenue neutral carbon tax (which might offset lowering or eliminating corporate taxes or income taxes).

Constitutional issues

  1. An amendment to clarify human rights. Currently we overly rely on the courts to interpret rights. Something like the E.R.A. But also explicitly addressing LGBTQ rights.

Voting issues

  1. We should make it as easy as possible to get and stay registered to vote. Requiring an automatic registration when getting a state ID or driver’s license, for instance. We could consider a tax incentive to vote (if you vote, you automatically get a tax credit on federal taxes). We may decide it is time to have a US citizen ID, such that presenting it on the day of voting is enough. We have a patchwork now (passports, social security cards, birth certificates), it may be time to simplify things.

Policing issues

  1. We need to demilitarize our police forces. Militaries attack enemies, police serve and protect the citizenry. We must not confuse these roles. I am a big fan of safety and law and order, but we can’t let that blind us to the reality that even some police are criminals. We have to investigate rigorously when policing results in death especially when the dead were unarmed, and we have to be unafraid of punishing criminals on our police forces.

Tax issues

We don’t have a lot of fairness in the tax code. The very wealthy usually pay very low tax rates (see Warren Buffet’s challenge on this). Additionally filing taxes is one of the main interactions with the federal government and for many it is very painful and costly. This can be improved.

  1. Make the tax code simple enough that filing is not required. IRS should send a statement and a check or bill for 90% of tax payers. The statement should include a break down of where your money is going. How do we get there?

In the next four years, rather than only venting about government actions with which I disagree, I hope I work towards concrete changes to realize some of these views.

Machine learning, Programming, Hadoop, Scala.

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