Fixing America – Ideas 10 – 13

By December 9th, 2019

Blog No. 110
December 10, 2019 

Fixing America – Ideas 10-13 

Reading Time: 7 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen, Recipient of Eight National Book Awards. For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/ and hit the “Blog” tab on the header bar. 

Introduction 

This is the fourth article in my series of Ideas Blogs. In this series, I present ideas which might help in “fixing America.” 
Some of the ideas are my own. Some of them I have come across in the course of my research over these last now 12 years for my last two series of books – The Relevance of Reason (Vols I and II) (2013-2014) and Dead Serious and Lighthearted (Vols I, II, and III) (2018-2019). A few of them are older, even well-known ideas which I believe reconsideration.
These ideas cover a wide range of subjects. The ideas are presented without lengthy comment or recommendation, but I believe that you, like me, may conclude – like the title of my initial blog in this series – that many of the ideas already percolating out there in our America “are good … and some are brilliant.”  Enjoy.

(Related) Ideas Nos. 10-11-12 

Cap or Tie Congressional Pay Increases,

Scrutinize and Eliminate Congressional Health Care Plans,

Eliminate the Congressional Retirement System  

Background:  At first blush, these may seem to be radical ideas or even retributive ideas due to what many Americans view as, at best, a broken or disappointing U.S. Congress. However, these recommendations are not meant to be either harsh or punitive. Instead, they are suggested merely because each idea is, in a sense, almost overlapping and rooted in logic, fairness, and history.
         (1) Cap or Tie Congressional Pay Increases. Logically and fairly, the U.S. Congressional pay increase should not be a matter of debated legislation. Instead, it should track an independent standard or scale such as the average real wage increase or decrease of Americans workers, the consumer price index, or the average percentage raises of active duty military personnel or full-time public school teachers.
        (2) Scrutinize Congressional Health Care Plans. It is not inherently obvious why Members of Congress (and certain designated staff) have their own health care plans. The Congressional Health Care Plans are offered through Blue Cross and Blue Shield. If the benefits materially track those offered to citizens elsewhere in the U.S., then this separate Congressional Health Care system may be curious, albeit arguably acceptable. However, it is here suggested that Members of Congress should probably be required to enroll in (and suffer under) the private industry plans available to the other U.S. citizens.
       (3) Eliminate the Congressional Retirement and Pension System. This recommendation is based upon this author’s belief (as discussed previously in Blog No. 106 (October 16, 2019) the context of Term Limits) that the holding of Congressional office should viewed as public service and that such fixed-term offices should be held by citizen politicians as opposed to lifetime and “career” politicians. As such, there is and would be no appropriate necessity for a congressional retirement or pension system. The elimination of the Congressional Retirement and Pension System would be far less impactful if such Members were subject to term limits, but even without term limits such elimination would advisable. While there would be a number of implementation complexities, upon the elimination of such Congressional Retirement and Pension System, the funds in such programs could be transferred to the Social Security Administration. Even more importantly, Members of Congress thereafter would, like nearly all other Americans, share the benefits and endure the challenges of the Social Security System.
Idea 10.  Cap or tie Congressional pay increases to an independent standard.
Idea 11.  Scrutinize and possibly eliminate the Congressional Health Care System.
Idea 12.  Eliminate the Congressional Retirement and Pension System.
Implementation Comments. Each of these ideas will face unique implementation problems because each Members of Congress is, definitionally a beneficiary of the current Congressional pay system, health care system, and retirement system. For this reason and because this author – even in the context of public officials – finds it loathsome to change any person’s retirement plans without long advance warning, it is recommended (a) that these changes be implemented over a number of years and (b) that no planned balance of any Member’s current retirement accounts or rights be decreased. This cautious and time-deferred implementation may also diminish the self-interest of the voting Members of Congress and enhance their voting objectivity. Very bluntly, it may be advisable for these changes to become effective immediately, but the likelihood of implementation will be greatly increased if the effective date is moved out four to six to even eight years (i.e. two to three to four Congresses) from now.
Source: Some – Mack W. Borgen; Some – Long-standing Ideas Deserving of Reconsideration.

Idea No. 13

The U.S.’ Insane Coinage System

– The Easiest Way in the World to Save $118,900,000 – 

Background:  We all work hard. You work hard. I work hard. My wife works hard. My cousin, Bobby, works hard. And it is not often that any of us can just reach down and pick up a quick $118,900,000 every year. Basically, that is the annual cost incurred by the U.S. mint in the production of each year’s crop of about 8.4 billion pennies. If this was not so sad, it would be funny. This absurdity is literal proof that “it takes money to make money.” But, in another vein, this is not comical. Basically, it costs the U.S. mint about two cents to produce each one cent penny. The exact annual loss varies from year to year because of the fluctuating costs of the component metals – zinc and copper. However, this is serious money. And if we wish to get picky, the cost of the U.S. nickel is more than five cents as well. However, for now, let us focus just upon the penny. Shockingly, Congress has not seen fit to eliminate the penny or to alter its metallic composition. The empty reasoning rests largely upon the fact that “overall” the U.S. mint “makes money” due to its production of paper currency. Using even the “quick math” of Big Shaq’ rap song Man’s Not Hot, the U.S. mint’s loss is about $1.2 billion each decade – you know — enough to deliver about $88,000 to every one of the U.S. 13,506 school districts in our country. 
Idea:      Cease production and eliminate the use of the U.S. penny. 
Implementation Comments: The production cessation should be immediate, however in order to allow time for retailer and advertisers to modify their pricing ($3.00 will replace today’s $2.99) and to allow time for citizens to use their last pennies, it may be advisable and appropriate for the penny to be recognized as valid currency for some several  years.  But then, let us stop to loss. This “saving” will not balance the budget, but $118,000,000 is at least one place to start.
Source: Mack W. Borgen – Among other commentators.

See Additional Previously-Presented Ideas 

Idea 1 –  Consolidated Interstate Database for Reports of License Suspension or Revocation (Mack W. Borgen Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019). 
Idea 2 – Term Limits (Mack W. Borgen Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019).
Idea 3 – The Media – Report Corporate Settlements, Awards and Fines as Percentage of Annual Net Profits (Mack W. Borgen Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019). 
Idea 4 – Award of Attorneys’ Fess to Winning Party (Mack W. Borgen Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019).
Idea 5 – Inclusion of Positive Aspects of American Society as a Distinct Part of U.S. History School Curricula (Mack W. Borgen Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019). 
Idea 6 – Office of International Comparisons (Mack W. Borgen Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019). 
Idea 7 – The Need for Climate Scientists to Retain Professions for the Development of an Educational Campaign (Mack W. Borgen Blog No. 109, Nov. 26, 2019). 
Idea 8 – Redefining the Concept of “News” The Need for the Regular Infusion of Positive News (Mack W. Borgen Blog No. 109, Nov. 26, 2019). 
Idea 9 – The Necessity of Mandatory Public Service (Mack W. Borgen Blog No. 109, Nov 26, 2019).

The Fancypants Word of the Day

Chandler (Part of speech: Noun; Origin: Middle English)  1) A candlemaker, 2) A supplier of specific products, most commonly for ships and boats.
Examples of use in sentences: “At the market, there was a fine chandler’s booth; and “Before the ship headed out, the crew needed to visit the chandler for more supplies.”
Source and thank to wordgenius.com and Shawna Borgen.

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