OK, you’ve lost some readers with your thoughts on religion. What else have you got for us?
How about politics?
My son Jason, who’s very solidly on the left, considers me a moderate. I agree with him. But we’re the only ones who see it that way. So many people have moved dramatically to the right that the middle has shifted. Now to my evenly moderately right-winged friends, I’m considered some kind of radical socialist bomb-thrower.
That’s not even close.
Of course not. I’m pro-capitalism, I just want it done right. I’m pro-democracy, I just want it done right. I’m for giving people a chance to get rich. More than anything I believe Jefferson got it mostly right–virtually every human being has a powerful right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
There’s a little bit of a weasel in your wording there: not an “inalienable” right?
“Inalienable” would mean we couldn’t be separated from the right: we can’t give it up and we can’t have it taken from us. That would mean the government could never kill or arrest anyone. Nobody really believes that. That said, America has become much too trigger-happy. Thousands of innocent civilians have had what should have been their powerful right to life taken from them in the wars we’ve started. We had a legitimate reason to track down the Al-Qaeda thugs. But that should have been a targeted police action, not an attack by armies. Policemen don’t blow up neighborhoods to capture one or two bad guys.
Yeah, yeah, everyone knows we shouldn’t be in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo . .
I couldn’t stand to be president, but I think I’d be a pretty good king.
I couldn’t stand to work with congress. Eric Cantor, the NRA, the birthers, the science deniers and the Tea Party tribe give me the willies. Unfortunately, the president of the United States has to suffer fools, if not gladly at least patiently. I don’t know how he does it. For almost 200 years, America was the most progressive and successful country on the planet. Now we’ve got an ignorant minority that’s brought progress and success to a standstill. They are grossly un-American.
…. But, a king?
Well, if we’re going to be ruled by a king, wouldn’t it be good to know we’ve got one who isn’t going to live too long? Just to keep things from getting out of hand.
What could we expect from your reign?
So much to do, so little time. Off the top of my head: we desperately need a new constitutional convention. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were the most brilliant founding papers any country ever had. Period. The only ones that come close are the ones modeled on the American originals. But the American documents are a product of a different era and they were the result of ingenious compromises that were necessary for the times.The first thing I’d do is appoint the best thinkers in the country to update our national manifesto and charter—built around the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for every person in the world. I’d stay close to this personally.
I’d immediately start a second group to completely revamp and simplify the tax code. There would be far fewer entitlements and loopholes. The rich would pay more. Organizations (companies, not-for-profts, etc.) would pay more and would have a harder time hiding their profits.
We’d seriously revamp our budgeting. If we believe all our citizens have a powerful right to life, liberty, etc., then we believe they all have a right to food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, protection from evildoers, rehabilitation after disasters, a job, etc. (Yes, without question, we can afford to do all this. Read Krugman.)
Is that all?
Nope. We’d set some ambitious five-year goals for societal changes: in five years, we’d move to a 32-hour workweek, creating millions of new jobs.
In five years, we’d no longer schedule education primarily for children and young adults. Starting in 2008, five-days-a-week school would be for 5- to 20-year-olds and for collegians. Taking advantage of the 32-hour workweek, one-day-a-week education would be mandatory for all adults to age 65. In five years, we’d have single-payer universal health coverage.
You’ll expand on all these ideas in the weeks ahead?
I’ll try to answer questions to the best of my ability. But remember, I’m new at this king thing. We all think we’re smarter than the average citizen, but obviously half of us aren’t. I’m pretty sure anyone actually in the upper half could do better as king than the politicians in place in Washington right now. And anyone actually in that top half would know that long term, a republic will be better than a monarchy. Even a monarchy with me as king.