Are you, like me, getting both mesmerized by and sick of the palace intrigues in Washington DC?

John deGraaf suggested a remedy. He picked a 5 item common sense agenda that would help a very confused and distressed populace with their real lives. What does everyone really want and need in their daily lives – that a national government could facilitate?

Before I give you John’s list, let’s set the scene around a kitchen table of a family that needs some financial first aid. Dad’s getting erratic – some days up, some days surly. Will he get fired? We don’t know but it’s scary. Mom’s … well, Mom. She jabs at him with little asides but doesn’t stand up to him. I don’t know what hold he has over her but I wish she’d screw up her courage and just make him stop with his rants and lies. Me, I’m worried that if Dad loses his job will we lose our house. I’m a junior in high school. I don’t want to leave my friends. And I don’t know how I’ll be able to go to college. My baby sister’s intestines got twisted and she had to go to the ER. She’s better but my parents say we’ll never be able to pay the bill. My older brother is like the family super star. He’s smart and good looking so we encouraged him to take out loans and go all the way to a law degree. Fingers crossed he’ll make enough to pay his debts – and help the family too. We are hoping to take a 2-week vacation this summer, and figure we can afford used camping gear from Craigslist and go to some National Parks.

We have our bills and our bank statements spread around the table. Mom’s put everything in a spreadsheet and we each have a copy. Life just got serious. There it is in black and white. What we own. What we owe. What we spend and on what. Our pitiful savings Mom protects like a She-bear.

If we had 5 wishes for the kind of help the government could give us, wouldn’t it be something like John’s list:

1. Guaranteed annual income of $1,000 a month for all Americans.
2. 32-hour work week and at least three weeks paid vacation.
3. Single-payer healthcare–saving lots of money
4. Free education through college
5. A national environmental restoration and rural revitalization campaign–MAKE AMERICA BEAUTIFUL AGAIN

People don’t need what the congress is dishing up – complex, inscrutable laws that take away our rights, privileges and taxpayer funded services wrapped up as if they were gifts. Both Dad and Mom have gotten us into the pickle. The kids trusted them yet may never get the benefits their parents got from a more benevolent government.

  • With a guaranteed income of $1000/month for all Americans (presuming over 18), our family would have $3000/month… whether or not Dad had his job. Boy would we breathe easy!
  • With 3 weeks PAID vacation our family could relax together and maybe some of the tensions would ease. We used to have so much fun.
  • With single-payer healthcare baby sister’s twisted intestine would be paid for.
  • Free education through college would mean both brother and I could go… and he can get scholarships for law school.
  • Environmental restoration means our family, and all families, can get away to the beauties of nature and restore our souls.

Now it’s your turn. Which of John’s 5 essentials make sense to you? What would you add? Subtract? Don’t assume it can’t work. Common sense and common good are natural inclinations of our social and inventive species.

Which agenda item would you tackle first? I can tell you mine. Guaranteed  basic healthcare for all people, the expense funded through a tax on financial transactions that’s so small it won’t discourage participation in the market but in aggregate yields more than enough to assure everyone a lifetime of drugs, doctors, hospitals, tests and procedures as and when needed. We are collectively holding our breath watching the health care debate with mostly old white men determining what we will have access to. No one – not even congresspeople – has the time or perspicacity to read the current bill and tinker. We need to clear the decks and start with Medicare for all and work backwards on how to fund that so the United States once again is at the top, not bottom, of developed countries in our collective health and longevity.

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