Five Laws I’d Like to See

(@ noon – promoted by NLinStPaul)

Over the last few days, the blogosphere has been abuzz with the idea that we should be asking the Obama administration to reflect the progressive wishes of his supporters (or conversely, letting us know that those were all used up at the ball, and it is back to pumpkins and mice).  As a cynical outlier on the queer edge of queer and the socialist edge of left, my wishes might as well be for glass slippers and don't seem worth stating except as a general plea for solidarity and recognition from other lefty types (waving frantically with big grin).  My wish is for a commons, for a shared floor for society, for social justice in the positive sense; and for a society which does not disintegrate around me, in the negative.

I did start thinking that there are some smaller things we could fight for.  Levers of modest size which because of their length or tensile strength, would bring greater change.  Here's my list…

1. Abolish felony disenfranchisement in political and civil life.  The idea here is that if someone has “paid their debt to society” they should be able to participate in that society.   People who have been on the short end of the stick understand things about our society and about powerlessness that we need to have reflected into our laws and government.   The only way we will ever get this is as a law on the federal level, pushed outside of statehouses and the local fray where public executions for shoplifting would probably help re-election.  It should not matter if a convicted felon owes the state or their victims money, if they are on parole, or if they hunted kittens.  When their time in The Big House is over, a person should be restored — as a matter of federal law — to the franchise.

Similar protections should be considered for job applications, in some circumstances. 

2. Credit reform.  As more and more people go into debt, and find themselves unable to pay that back, we are effectively creating an entire class of people who will be unable to obtain housing or jobs.   A way in which our society is quickly splitting into “them” and “us”.  I don't think we can sell the virtue of the poor to the electorate.  What I think we can sell is the idea that every human being who can pay for it deserves a place to live, and if you can do a job, you deserve a chance.  We need a federal law to require landlords to rent to individuals who can provide first, last and deposit, and to bar consideration of credit history.  Such a law could include the ability to evict people in that second month, if they can't pay.    A similar protection is needed for job applications, where the job does not require directly handling funds.

3. Universal ID as voter registration.   “What kind of shitty liberal are you, jessical?”  Well, it's like this: if a society is going to think of itself as a group, and extend both protection and control of its members, it has to know who belongs to that group with a high degree of certainty.  If you know who your citizens are, you know — with real solidity — what it costs to help them or to punish them.  Along with the abolition of felony disenfranchisement, this would go a long way to eliminating the current electoral scheme, where a moderate centrist has a spirited fight with a bonafide fascist every four years. 

4. 10 year residence, regardless of legality, vests citizenship.  Like France, before Sarkozy 🙂  A society which is busy rounding up, abusing and deporting members who have lived here all their lives — but who do not have the proper papers — is a society which rests on fear.

5. An end to federal mandatory minimum sentences, and replacement with Federal recommended maximums.  Let's take “sentencing chicken” out of the vocabulary of state and federal government, and restore — if not justice — at least, at the very least, a system which looks more like law than the organized destruction of human beings. 

Hah hah.  I know.  Snowballs in hell.  But these are all things could be passed as individual laws, or as part of a single act to restore social justice and “just give people a chance”.  Not one requires actual fairness in government or revolutionary change.  Together, these laws just might give us a shot at a society which does not crumble, bitter and friable,  below us.


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    • jessical on November 8, 2008 at 15:44

    ..than last night’s abortive attempt.

    I want the revolution.  But I’d be thrilled with these.

    • Edger on November 8, 2008 at 15:59

    to universal ID. I like anonymity and don’t like being in databases if I can help it. I don’t know what could work better, I admit, but I just don’t like that one. Maybe they could scan DNA or something to make sure everybody only votes once?

    The rest are fine, except maybe add abolish felons in the white house? Better yet, drag them out in chains and bolt them to a wall in a basement somewhere.

  1. seriously smack of common sense.

    Especially the immigration debacle. One would think since I am here legally I would get all huffy. But I have seen the non-tourist Mexico for example and if I lived there I would try to get here as many times as I could.

    Also agree with the restoring franchise to those convicted of felonies. We really send them a double message which is pay your debt but once you get out we don’t really want to hang out with you. So they get out and find that joining society is fucking hard even if they are determined to do so. You can’t vote, hard to get a decent job if one is honest and on and on.

    I thought it was interesting that neither candidate really mentioned immigration issues during the GE.

  2. on creating a “shared floor.” I grew soooooo weary during this campaign of only hearing about the “middle class.” I don’t dismiss those concerns, but there are WAY too many people who are still under the middle class in terms of our economic hierarchy. I think that is the perfect place for a “left voice” to continue to push the envelope.

    • kj on November 8, 2008 at 17:04

    fascinated by what we each bring to the table right here at DD.   all the ground that is covered by the regulars here.  our experiences, stories, passions, thoughts.   the more we are able to jump over our own boundaries to communicate what it is we know or see or think or feel, the stronger we grow as a community.  

    with 14,000 ‘pronged’ ability.  (isn’t ‘pronged’ a legal term? lol!)  back to reading.  😉

  3. I resist the ID thing too….til I realize how many s=databases I am already in. IF we are not already in a COORDINATED database under the NSA, I would resist even more.

    But I think that ship has sailed.

    I think what we may need is some VERY strict firewalls as to who has access. Right now iirc, any local cop can look you up and check for ‘terraism.’ We need to find out where we are at, first, methinks

    • robodd on November 8, 2008 at 18:41

    if you extend credit to someone, you must be willing to provide a decent job so it can be paid back.

    You must provide health insurance, so if the creditor gets sick, he will not become financially destitute.

    If he becomes a soldier, you must do your best to protect him, since when you extended credit, he invested in you and you equally invested in him.

    You must protect his fundamental rights, so he feels what he has purchased has actual worth.

    Did I say creditor?  I guess I meant citizen.

  4. Jess has made some valid suggestions here.  I think we need to recognize and clean up the rat’s nests that exist at the bottom of our social structures.  

    Until we clean this up and implement fairness, the police state will continue.

    Thanks, jess, for this thought-provoking essay.  

    • pfiore8 on November 9, 2008 at 12:10

    and to do that, we may have to push back harder at the religious element. like how about this for a campaign:

    belief in god is OPTIONAL! or…

    your mythology should not drive my government’s legislative agenda!

    • pfiore8 on November 9, 2008 at 12:20

    ID theft. those who give credit to anyone for any reason without making sure of identity ARE responsible for any and all loses. why should i have to pay for their mistake???? and credit score companies must immediately erase all false credit history. this should not take years.

    another thing: credit cards should never be accepted over the internet without requiring billing address/zip and some other thing a thief would not have… and all live purchases should require another form of ID.

    lastly, insurance. no fault? the guy behind you on the cell phone should shoulder the entire cost of the accident. yeah: get rid of it. and when someone walks on your property without being invited and gets hurt, you can’t be sued. nor can you be sued by a contractor in your home doing work if he falls off a ladder. or if the state owns the side walk in front of your house, why are you responsible if someone falls if it hasn’t been shoveled??? i just dont’ get that.

    but i do think that if you’re stupid enough to give a teenager a brand new red sports car and they hurt someone… you take ALL the responsibility for it.

    common sense things that seem to have gotten away from us. oh. and work place safety. and like when a company pollutes, they ought to pay, not us. and tobacco and and and and and and and


  5. Any elected official, at any level of government, who through the auspicies of their their office, accrues ANY financial benefit to themselves, family or business associates while on the public payroll, should:

    1- Be removed from their position and never be allowed to run for political office again.

    2- Be forced to repay said monies three-fold.

    3- Be convicted as a felon and spend no less than 20 years in gaol.

    4- Same punishments for all co-conspirator’s.

    Repealed Laws:

    LEGALIZE MARIJUANA!! Immediate pardon and complete erasure from criminal record for anybody serving time for marijuana related crimes, and expungement from criminal records of any past marijuana related crimes.

  6. I saw about five years ago that has some distant bearing on what you’ve outlined here jess. I have been kicking myself for awhile now that I didn’t save the citation. I’ve looked and looked for it and can’t find it. So you’ll have to trust me. LOL

    The study originally set out to look at some aspect of children’s mental health in a Native American community. The researchers were unaware that the population they were looking at was split in two…those who would receive a regular check from their tribe’s casino resources and those who wouldn’t.

    What they found was a significant reduction in children’s mental health issues among those who received the checks.


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