I’m getting a little annoyed. Several people have expressed enthusiasm for the idea behind my Citizen Congress proposal, but they hate the name “Citizen Congress.” OK, so come up with another. The important thing is to act upon the idea. …Alright?
Here’s a little more fleshing-out on what I propose we do (no matter what we call the effort):
1. Rule of Law. We’d demand that politicians fully comply with the Indiana Constitution, as written, by 2012 (either amend it, or even better, cut Indiana government to fit only what’s authorized by law). Politicians have nor more right to “interpret” laws than I have to “interpret” speed limits. Our rules must be written down and obeyed as written, so must theirs be. Simple as that. It’s silly that we’ve never asked for legitimate government under written law obeyed as written. We’ve given politicians too much rope, and they’re hanging us with it. That’s nuts. What’re we thinking?
2. As a first step we’d separate Common School funding from everything else, as is constitutionally required. And we’d finally, sensibly and legally determine what “uniform” schools are (I propose it’s a greater number of simple, small buildings closer to students’ homes, books, teachers, educational equipment like microscopes, a smallish exercise facility for calisthenics [not sports; that’s what community centers should be for] and nothing else). It’s crazy that we decided that book fees aren’t a part of tax paid school, but swimming pools, stadiums, cafeterias and half-million-dollar-a-year coaches are. That’s just whacked. We need our state-funded schools to be equal between rich and poor areas; and we need state schools to be state schools; not some hybrid of local/state/whatnot funding.
3. Along with number 2 we must separate local funding from state funding. We’ve got it all intertwined and that’s stupid. Local governments can do property tax (though I’d prefer a direct tax levied for services more like a land rent so that you don’t get dinged for improving your property) or whatever other taxes they want. If local/state funding is separated, we can easily get rid of property tax without getting an ugly slug of income and sales tax.
4. I’d also propose (but this is highly negotiable since it’s a slightly different tangent) that we get rid of all exceptions to our retail sales tax on all new goods and services. A simple, flat retail sales tax would be much, much saner. We could keep the rate the same as it is now and raise a whole lot more money, while setting the theme of simplicity in all taxation. That, plus the above steps (particularly number 1) would be enough to kill the individual property tax (only corporate tax is constitutionally required for the Common School fund) and probably state income tax to boot.
5. It does no good for us to fragment ourselves into subgroups that hack at the branches of our problems. It does no good to work on new laws or constitutional amendments when the problem is that politicians don’t obey laws! We must ignore the branches and unite upon the root. We won’t get what we don’t ask for, and we will get what we demand; if we demand it together.