Yellow Rose Platform

Yellow Rose
By Howard Cary Morris

© February 2016, March 2019
Codes:
1 - First year
2 - Second year
3 - Third year
4 - Fourth year
N - To be negotiated with Congress
F - Favors, but relatively unimportant

Note: Some of the blue lines you see going across the page is where page breaks occur if you print this document.

Politics seems to be a slow process. Politicians tend to be cautious and do not want to endorse anything that fails. This allows things to be tested. If it works, politicians can go full steam latter. Sometimes tweaks are needed and there is nothing wrong with that. On occation things fall far short of expectations and can be withdrawn without much damage being done.

There are two types of bipartisan politics. One is when all sides tends to agree what needs to be done. Another is when one side has goals and the other side has concerns. When the two sides get together and try to address both the goals and concerns is when true bipartisanship occurs. Some say bipartisan politics is "Do it my way", no it isn't.

Sometimes politicians reject a bill because "it's not perfect". Bad argument, nothing is ever perfect. If te bill makes things better, go for it. The real decisions have to come when trying to determine if the benefits exceed the costs. However, there are times when the emotional costs have to be included as well as the physical costs.

Some politicians (and debaters) seem to think the argument is won by yelling the loudest. No, it isn't. To win a debate, you must agree to what the facts are and show that the facts favor your side.

Too many people are up to their elbows in Credit Card Debt. We cannot forgive the debt, but we can make it easier to get out of debt. We all know that Usury is immoral. For starters, we will declare that no federal law or regulation can be interpreted to allow interest rates of greater than 1% a month compounded monthly (12.7% APR). We can make it illegal for any bank to charge more than that, or at least lose their Federal Deposit Insurance Protection if they do. We could also bar them from using the Federal Reserve Board for cashing checks, etc. We would also deem it a violation if bank allowed its name to be used by a company that charged more than the bank is allowed.

We could bar companies from using the mail to solicit or send statements to their borrowers if they do. If a holding companies (as bank holding companies, mutual funds, and investment firms) own a (share of a) company that complies with the 1% limit, it cannot also own a (share of a) company that does not comply with the 1% limit. If a company solicits business over the phone or internet, the local laws where the customer lives will apply.

Some background: During the early 1980's inflation ran rampart and interest rates with them. The rates have never been trimmed back. Some Credit cards charge customers interest rates of 24% or higher. A Supreme Court ruling allowed companies to go by local laws of where the company was doing business from. We would change this to where the customer lived, with some exceptions when the customer moves from place to place.

Parting Shot: Some companies may complain that they cannot make money at the lower interest rate. If they do, the reply will be "If you cannot make money at 12%, do the country a favor and get out of the business."

Credit card companies tend to use 'average balance' to determine the interest charges each month. Most of the time, this is not fair. If the credit card company charges the (retail) company more than 1% of what the customer charged, it should be considered prepaid interest - the loan was discounted. When we were better off, we used to pay the balance on out credit card every month to avoid interest charges. One month we (personally) accidently wrote the check for 10 cents less than the balance. We were charged a lot more interest than the dime we were short. Reward cards will disappear if we do this. We think you will find that cheaper prices in the first place is more beneficial. We are assuming that most companies will pass on the savings to their customers. Even if they don't, the overall economy will improve because it will help a lot of small businesses instead of a few banks. We note that companies are now allowed to give customers a cash discount if the customers pay in cash, though most don't. This means if you pay cash, you are overpaying because the price includes enough to cover what the credit card companies charge them.

Some companies only take certain credit cards and not cash. Except when not paying in person, we do not like that. We can think of some gasoline stations that do that. The Postal Office has switched its stamp purchasing machines from cash to credit cards. We do not want anymore useless credit card purchases. If something is not done about this, maybe we should change our money to say "THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE". Oops, we just checked, the IRS does not take cash payments either. Should we drop the statement altogether?

The Federal government is up to its nose in debt. It currently owes over 22 trillion dollars. At a modest 3% interest rate (what we paid Liberty Bonds in World War I) that would amount to 660 billion dollars a year (currently only 363 billion). We are not sure what the Federal government owes the Social Security is part of that number or in addition to that number. It may be that both parties are hiding that debt. The budget for this year is 4.4 trillion dollars with a projected to add about another trillion dollars in debt. If interest rates were to rise to paying 3% a year on the debt, either the amount of discretionary spending would have to be reduced by 23% or the yearly deposit would increase by 30%. The historical interest rate the United States has paid on its debt is 7%. At that rate the interest on the Federal debt alone would be 1.54 trillion dollars, more than the current discretionary spending.

The first thing we need to do is balance the budget. This may mean cutting services and or raising taxes. This will mean a lot of negotiation with Congress, but we should not accept any budget that is not balanced. Some minor things we may do: Remove peanut growing regulations. This is left over from the great depression. If we remove it, we save the money used to enforce those regulations (not much). Remove farm subsidies. This should save at least 21 billion dollars a year. Some of our European friends think this is violation of some trade agreements. It is not clear if this would increase or reduce the price of corn to the consumer. Locally, the price has been raising - it has been at least a couple of years since a local store has a sale for six ears for a dollar. We do not wish to sound anti-farmer. We think adding an export tax on American food goods would be a good idea and we could use the money to give farmers seed money each year.

If we were to cut the number of planes we buy each year in half. The cost is from 100 million to one billion dollars a plane. It may be cheaper in the long run to let the military build its own planes. Require all Federal contracts to be approved by the President, with copies given to Congress. The biggest benefit will be reduction of end of the year spending. The various departments want to spend their entire budget each year. There is a "Spend it of lose it" psychology by the departments worried about getting a smaller budget next year. We need to negotiate with Congress about minimum versus maximum spending for each department and programs within the department. An extreme case is the budget for national disasters. If no natural disasters occur one year, none of that money will be spent that year. No special allocations will have to be made until there are no funds left. We may even consider splitting 10% of under-budget savings equally among each department's employees.

We should mention that the budget will assume a modest increase in the economy - an expected rise in income for those already working and a slight reduction in the unemployment rate. To be realistic, we will assume the additional jobs pay low wages.

There is a law on the books that a certain percentage of each department's staff be contractors. It is very expensive to pay contractors a premium for their work. When a department cuts staff, it cuts regular employees to keep the percentage of contractors. That is nonsense. It may make some sense to hire some contractors on a temporary basis, but for the most part that isn't needed either. There is something about that law that gives states extra benefits for the contractors, we cannot afford that either. If we award a contract to a company, if that company decides to hire contractors, that is their business. However, we will start requiring the bids from those companies be fixed priced. If they lose money on their bid, that is their problem.

If we start to have surpluses, there will be some pressure to cut some taxes. We will still have way too much debt but there are some changes on taxes we think are needed anyway. We would like to cut and eventually eliminate the tobacco tax. We are as bad as the tobacco industry in relying on tobacco for income. If we really want people to stop smoking we have should do without the income. We would not be adverse to requiring permits to sell tobacco that could be revoked for something like selling to minors.

We think any interest a person pays should be partially deductible. As the current law reads, it appears to be a gouge on poor people. We would subtract interest paid from the total of interest received and dividends received before itemizing deductions. On itemized deductions, we would allow a maximum of $15,000 additional interest paid to be deducted from income. This is negotiable, but we would not consider an amount greater than what one could earn on the minimum wage at 40 hours a week and 52 weeks a year.

We will propose new taxes to, in part, balance the budget. They will also bw needed for a replacement for the affordable care act or medicare for everyone (see below).

Minimum wage has been around a long time. It was $.25 an hour in 1930; $1.00 an hour in 1956; it's $7.25 an hour now. To us, it seems to have become like duct tape, shoring up something that is broken - adding more as it seems needed. It may be time to replace it with something else. We suggest that we change the unemployment law to include being paid less than the poverty level for a family of four be a legitimate reason for quitting a job. We may revive the slogan "A decent day's pay for a decent day's work." We note that some organizations want "equal pay for equal work". Their hearts are in the right place, but that is easier said than done. We think "a livable wage for all" is easier done.

We note that this policy may eventually put some companies that pay low wages out of business. As it is, we are subsidizing those companies. Underpaid employees get welfare and medical care - like from a county hospital. This would save state and local governments more than it would save the Federal government. We expect many state and local workers/politicians will support this idea.

We also note that many families are a two income family these days. We have no objection to that. However, too many families are a two income family out of necessity. That bodes ill for the economy and for family life. This means there is poor adult supervision for our children. Where are our children learning their values? When we were growing up, there were also some two income families. However, if Judy's parents weren't home at the end of the school day, she would go over to Susie's house. A generation ago, the term 'quality time' became popular. We think it was a euphemism for "We hope things aren't as bad as we think they are."

Other reasons for "a livable wage for all": After a divorce it has normally been hard for a woman to make ends meet, especially if she had children to raise. Nowadays, even if she already has a job, she often has trouble making ends meet. That is a strong indication she is being underpaid. We also note that financial instability has caused an increase in divorce rates. While that may not be what the Constitution means by 'insure domestic Tranquility', we have no objection to meaning that also. Note: Some would change the laws to make divorce harder to get; we disagree - no one should be stuck in a bad marriage.

In our proposed change to the unemployment law, we expect there will be some negotiation on how to include benefits. Obviously, the poverty level for a person not receiving medical benefits is higher than for one who does receive those benefits. It will get real tricky to determine how to evaluate differences in health benefits, etc.

We will not debate whether global warming exists. It is more of a warning to a far greater problem. Carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing at the rate of 2 to 3 parts per million yearly. There is 2 to 3 less parts per million of some other atmospheric component – oxygen. Reasoning: You mix fuels (carbon) with air (oxygen) and get energy and fuel emissions (carbon-dioxide). Luckily, at that rate it would take at least 70,000 years to remove all the oxygen from the atmosphere. We are very slowly suffocating the animal world. We are producing carbon-dioxide faster than nature can release the oxygen back into the atmosphere. Another problem is that the extra carbon-dioxide is making the ocean more acidic - endangering ocean life. Already, deep sea life is in danger due to a shortage of oxygen,

Things we can do to help alleviate the problem: We need to maximize photosynthesis. When we were growing up, some driveways had a strip of grass down the center. More of those won't have much of an impact, but 50 million would. Require every parking lot have at least one evergreen tree for (say) every 30 parking spaces, where practical. (Not practical: Parking Garages. Where there is only enough space for the tenants / condo owners. Guest parking is practical.) A few hundred thousand parking lots would have an impact. This would be a reoccurring cost, but the time between reoccurrences would be at least ten years. If you were to harvest pine trees every 10 years, it may even be profitable. Note we do not advocate replacing non evergreen trees with evergreen trees. Nature is helping by lengthening the growing season for non-evergreens. Nature also shortens the growing season during colder years. This is a nice balancing system in the long run. We can encourage farms to have evergreen trees around their fields. This would help things year around. For farms that aren't covered with ice and snow most of the winter, we should encourage ground cover in the non-growing season. Note that winter rye helps replenish nitrogen in the soil, a cheap fertilizer, and earns income. We should have the department of agriculture investigate what (variations of) plants release the most oxygen. We expect it will be the fastest growing plants. Rough calculations say that for every 100 pounds of carbon used in the growth of the plant, 250 pounds of oxygen will be released back into the atmosphere.

We might also rethink our fuel standards. Instead of looking at miles per gallon, for the freight industry we should look at freight-tons per gallon. It does not make sense to double a truck's gas mileage if it now takes three trucks to carry the same load. For passenger vehicles, we should look at passenger miles per gallon. For busses, planes, and trains that is easy to do. For passenger cars, that is controlled by the car owners, not the car manufacturers.

Of all the plans we see for removing the greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, we do not approve of any that would sequester (hide or bury) the carbon-dioxide. That is treating the symptom not the problem. That would only lead to bigger problems later. We were impressed by a plan that would release iron fillings in iron poor parts of the oceans to increase plankton growth and greatly increase the release of oxygen back into the atmosphere. The originators of that idea (they tested it) were worried that the plan could cause changes in sea circulation. I would chance it since it seems we may be experiencing changes in the sea circulation anyway. However, we would do it once and wait at least 3 years before doing it again. The extra oxygen and plankton might also encourage more sea animal life in those areas. If there is a market for excess plankton, it could be sold. Since the sea is essentially an international zone, it may be nice to let the United Nations get the income.

We have mixed reactions to proposals to convert carbon-dioxide into fuel. If no oxygen is released back into the atmosphere, it will have minimum impact. If half the Oxygen is released back into the atmosphere we consider it a 50% solution. We have over-simplified the effectiveness.

We have little problem with the right to bear arms. We have little problem with the right to freedom of speech. However, there are bounds to freedom of speech. The main limitation is in the libel laws.* We think there needs to be gun (arms) libel laws also. This need not be much more then laws in some states in which they inform the public "Use a gun - go to prison." We could easily allow the FBI or Federal Marshalls to assist state/local law enforcement when a gun (arm) was used in committing a crime. We would enhance local laws by adding a minimum jail sentence without parole for such violations. The minimum sentence would include several factors: Was it a misdemeanor or a felony? Was any one injured? Were they injured lightly or heavily? Was anyone maimed or killed? We would allow state/local juries to add the sentence to another time - sentences to be served concurrently. Appeals of such a convention would go to Federal courts. If the Federal courts do not like that, we could allow automatic referrals to the Federal courts after such a convention. There needs to be some logic of the original local/state convention is overturned, exonerated, etc. If need be, we would also add civil libel suits - like when someone forces another to sign a contract.
* There is a secondary limitation not to induce incitement - like yelling "fire" in a theater.

We are a bit confused to why many people and states interpret "arms" as "fire arms" only. Bows and arrows, crossbows, swords, knives, and blow guns are all examples of arms. Some states bar some while allowing guns - we do not understand why. We feel that there must be limitations to the right to bear arms. If any judge said we must make nuclear weapons available to the public as part of the right to bear arms, we would have the judge impeached while we changed the constitution.

We think any government killing its own citizens is wrong. We would like to remind Russia that Communist era ended when the army refused to kill its own citizens. If Russia wants to do the Syrian Government's dirty work, they will pay a stiff price later. This is not a direct affront to Russia as it is fodder to the current Russian government's opposition. The Russians claim to be only attacking ISIS, but the rebel groups claim they are attacking them. The Russians deny this and claim others are doing the attacking. This could be resolved by giving the rebels anti-aircraft weapons and seeing who gets shot down.

* The following paragraphs seem out of date, but we are not sure how to revise them.

Donald Trump would curtail Moslem immigration to the United States. We don't think this would be the best solution. A better solution would be to create safe zones in Syria where the Syrians would feel safe and not need to immigrate and for Syrians who have fled already would feel comfortable going back to. That solution has problems also. It would involve sending in ground troops to secure the area, which we think the United States should avoid. But do offer that as a possibility to our European friends who seem most affected.

One initial implementation we would consider is to make the Druze area the first safe haven. We might go one further and unite the Druze populations in Syria with those in Lebanon and Israel. With Israeli backing it would become a stable region in the area. It would also stabilize Israel's norther border. However, the Druze area should not become a safe area for the Syrian rebels to come and go from. They could go to the Druze territory, but if they left to fight in Syria they couldn't come back. If an adjoining area became stable, it could either be annexed or allied with the Druze.

Before the 1967 war, the Gaza Strip was part of Egypt. The Israelis are no longer living there. It might be simplest giving the area back to Egypt.

We think the two state solution as currently stated will not work. The main problem is that Palestine would be a junior power and Israel a senior one. That won't work. We favor a variation of the Saudi plan. We think it would be better to create a commonwealth called either "Greater Abraham" or "Nations of Abraham" (English translation). At a minimum, it would consist of Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Other nations in the area would be welcome. However, any nation joining the commonwealth must fully recognize Israel. Since Israel will not be the only senior power, it would make it more palatable to the Palestinians. It would be mainly an economic union and a military union guaranteeing the sovereignty of Palestine. We think the capital should be in Hebron (Hebrew name) / al-Khalil (Arabic name) where the cave Abraham is buried in. The nations involved will have to negotiate the agreement. However, any country that says it will not fully recognize Israel even if an agreement is reached will not be a party to the negotiations. As a small aside, The Palestinians might have an easier time negotiating if they changed the name of their country to Ishmael. God promised Ishmael that his descendants would grow into a great nation. It might also be relevant that Ishmael was the uncle of Israel (Jacob).

The issue of settlements might need to be tackled first. There should be no settlements on other people's properties. The Israel justice system has confirmed this. However, the political system seems slow to comply despite court orders. It seems strange that a nation that aspires to be a nation of priests and a holy people would try steal someone else's land. On the other hand, the Israelis feel that Jews have a right to live where they want. We can buy that. But if Jews can move from Israel proper to the West Bank, then non-Jews should be able to move from the West Bank to Israel proper. That may also conform to the Palestinians call to allow Arab refugees from the 1948 war back into Israel. Until the movement from Israel to the West Bank is a 2-way street, we consider it discrimination by the Israelis. We also think that the refugees in the West bank be free to move outside their camps in the West Bank. Otherwise, it appears that the PA dislikes the Israel Arab refugees and are keeping them in desolate conditions. We are a bit confused why Israel didn't close those camps when they were in the West Bank (and Gaza). We would be willing to moderate negotiation between the sides if they wish.

We should probably stay out of the conflict between various branches of Judaism in Israel. But, we wish to throw in our two cents anyway. There seems some reluctance to let women pray at the Western Wall. We would remind the Orthodox that Hannah went to the Temple of the Lord. Anyone could pray in the Temple of the Lord, what are your objections? We would also remind the Orthodox that they were not happy when the Wall was under Jordanian control and they could not pray there. They should remember the advice of Hillel "Do not do unto others what is hateful to you". The Torah was given to all the tribes of Israel, not just Judah (and Levi and Benjamin). They are not the sole interpreters of the Torah. If you wish to say that others are not "Jews", that is your interpretation. You may not say they are not "Hebrews". Other Hebrews include the Samaritans and Karaites.

Kurds are minorities in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. The regions they occupy are almost contiguous. For the most part they are suppressed. We wouldn't mind making them a separate nation, but that has not worked out well in the past. We were upset when the Kurds in Turkey were attacked by ISIS and the government of Turkey did nothing to protect their citizens. We would have told Turkey to either protect their citizens or we would protect them and declare them separate from Turkey.

We would only give advice to Egypt. The country now supports its Army. If el-isi stays in power, eventually something will go bad. We suggest that he retire from the Presidency at the end of his term and let his successor be democratically elected. Then the Army will still be supported when the next crises comes.

We have not decided what is proper to do in/for Yemen.

Recently Social Security's Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund was facing depletion. We do not know how this has been resolved so far, but we wish to offer a long term solution. SSI should be a separate insurance from Social Security. The premiums should be split apart, as we did Medicare. If we did that, we would need to give SSI some leeway. The best way to do that is not to cap the amount of premiums paid for SSI. Otherwise Social Security would be negatively affected.

We think that Social Security Administration should be separate from the Federal Government. The main reason it isn't is to hide how much the Federal Debt really is. The Social Security Administration should be given US bonds in the amount they are owed. This way, in case of a government shutdown, they could sell the bonds and continue giving benefits. We would also allow a second way for the Social Security Administration to invest its funds. They should be allowed to loan part of the fund out to financial institutions. The institutions would be required to bid on the funds and not be allowed to borrow more than 2% of its worth. The government could get a 15% tax on any interest income above the higher of 3% or the Federal funds rate that the Social Security gets. This would reduce the Federal debt in the short run and add income in the long run. There would have to be some controls to prevent double dipping - if a bank took a loan its parent firm could not claim the same funds to make another loan. We would not consider stock held by brokers for their clients as part of the brokerage company's worth. (It is their client's worth.)

We stated before that Social Security should get a reasonable rate of 3% on the money it is owed. If they did, in ten years the fund would increase by one-third. Unfortunately, that won't happen in the current climate. However, our proposal would make things better.

This is a bit out of place, but it will also explain how we think Social Security should be redesigned. Currently, if you receive Social Security (retirement) Income and work, you pay additional Social Security Taxes on the new income. That seems fair, until you realize the retiree is putting more money in and not getting any additional benefits out.* We could argue that the retiree should not pay any more Social Security Taxes. However, we have another plan that is better in the long run. Give the retiree a separate account and put the new taxes (s)he pays into that account. Once a year (quarter?) the Social Security Administration will calculate how much interest income the account will earn and add divide that into equal payments to the retiree until the next calculation period. When the retiree dies, 10% of that account will be added to the retiree's death benefit (currently just $255), and if there is a surviving spouse (or dependent child) the rest of the account goes to the surviving spouse's (dependent child's) account. If there is not a surviving spouse, etc. at least 40% of the rest of account gets split as a special interest payment to the other retirees (but no additional income until the next recalculation), at least 40% goes to the normal Social Security fund, and maybe the rest could go to the Federal Government. Note: These funds will not be subject to cost of living adjustments. With any luck the special interest payments will do instead.
* The retiree would get an income adjustment if the income is relatively high to what (s)he earned before retirement.

There is no way to change Social Security and keep everyone happy. We will explain what we would do and tell the drawbacks later. Basically it is the same as what we would do with the retirees Social Security Taxes. Everyone would have a personal account. When there is no surviving spouse, etc. everyone's account gets a special interest distribution. We are not as sure about regular interest distributions. For non-retirees it could be distributed to all their accounts. Probably best because of the enhanced death benefits.

The downside of this is the elimination of spousal benefits. However, this makes all benefits fairer. The spouse inheriting the remaining fund may even things out. How to handle divorced spouses may be a problem.

We are not sure how Social Security cost of living adjustments are made. We are sure the last time Retiree Medicare payments rose, they were not fully included in the cost of living adjustments. We suggest some changes that would make it the adjustments fairer. It used to be that Congress had to vote on any increases on its pay. However, now some commission decides on automatic raises and Congress no longer had to embarrass itself to get a raise. We suggest that Congress annual raise cannot be greater percentage-wise than the cost of living adjustment for Social Security each year. We also suggest that the amount of increase dollar-wise cannot be greater than the top increase for any Social Security retiree. If Congress decides that the Retiree Medicare payments should rise the same percentage each year as the cost of living increase, we can live with that (as long as the dollar increase is not larger than Social Security Income dollar increase).

It is our opinion that a 401K plan is a good addition to a pension plan, but a poor substitute for one. Unfortunately, at most companies, that is what they have become. Some Republicans would turn Social Security into another 401k plan. This is a bad idea on several counts. In some ways, the 401K plans are ruining the stock market. Most of the 401K money is going into mutual funds these days. The mutual funds have little choice than to put that money into the stock market. That causes an artificial demand for stocks and later when it becomes apparent there was no real reason for that demand, the stock market plunges. It does not matter what the 401K funds are invested in, an artificial demand will follow with similar results. (Later, we will talk about one possible exception.) The Republicans have a bad history when it comes to messing with the economy. They deregulated the Savings and Loans Industry- result the Savings and Loans Industry went belly up. They deregulated the Utilities - result the Enron scandal. How anyone could think forcing utilities to sell their power generators was deregulation amazes us. All it did was create new middlemen who wanted their slices of the pie. The deregulation didn't save any consumer a penny. And if they changed Social Security into a 401K plan, what would happen? A lot of people will be embezzled out of most of their Social Security Savings. Unless those Republicans are willing to put up a 3 trillion dollar bond of their own, not the government's, money we will see the biggest scandal ever.

We would add that the current Social Security system is basically fair. Two different people, the same age, making the same salary year after year, and retiring at the same time will get identical benefits.

There might be one investment for you 401K that would not cause an artificial demand. That is to put it into paying for your own home. Unfortunately, that investment is barred. We would let the 401K buy part of the principal of the home loan. As the owner makes house payments, the portion of principal and interest the 401k owns is added to the amount of the loan the 401k owns. (The 401K may also add more to the principal it owns). Eventually, the 401K plan will own the entire loan and then either the owner will make payments directly to the 401k plan or bank (note holder) will forward the payments to the 401k plan. Note, this also has a positive side for the banks. If their cost of money becomes higher that the interest rate on the loan, they will be in less of a bind. Before implementing such a plan, some thought must be given to what to do in case of a foreclosure.

There are two issues concerning tree farms - clearing trees and lack of wild life on tree farmland. We would clear strips of forests the width of a fire break (roughly equal to the height of the tallest tree in the area). This has an advantage of having a fire break partly cleared in case it is needed. This also has the advantage of rotating crops (trees) if properly done. We would also let the cleared land lay follow for a couple of years. We would let nature reseed the area more randomly that might induce wildlife to comeback. We would allow non-trees to grow to give the forest animals a more diverse diet and habitat. We would start this with the National Forests. Leaving small areas untouched (uncut) might also help.

What is happening in the Amazon Forests is a tragedy. We are at wits end to suggest what to do. Encouraging the loggers to replant for future logging might work, but we doubt it.

Republicans wantto replace Affordable Health Care (Obama-care); some Democrats want to extend it with Medicare for All. We consider it the same issue and make our recommendations. The first attempt made by the Republicans to replace the Affordable Health Care Act might be modified to get bipartisan support. Their tax credit plan was of no help to those who paid little or no income taxes. That plan gave everyone up to $4,000 tax credit. Let's change it to the government pays the first $4,000 of every adult's health care costs directly to the providers. This is fair to everyone and everyone would have the same federal (minor) health care coverage. People and companies could buy additional insurance in the form of a major medical policies. This reduces insurance costs for people, for companies, for Medicare, for Medicaid, and even for the VA.

More people and companies would be able to afford additional insurance. States (counties) will no longer have to treat the indigent – a cost savings. The indigent will get better care. Medicaid will only be needed for major medical problems. The Republicans are concerned that too many are eligible for Medicaid now. Major corporations will save hundred of thousands of dollars. They will still be better off if taxes rise to pay for the changes.

A 10% co-pay would be reasonable. While it may look like we are trying to pay for administration costs and fraud investigations, giving people the incentive to reduce costs is the real reason. People still need to try to keep costs down and we need to discourage unneeded comsmetic sugery, etc. We cannot exclude pre-existing conditions completely. If a person's medical costs are large in one year, they should expect to pay more the following year. Most people only have one annual medical checkup and would need no additional coverage. Additional savings occur by eliminating the profits of the middle men (read insurance companies) for the initial coverage. We do not need to guarantee (give?) medical insurers profits. In some ways, medical insurers are contributing to higher medical costs.

What counts as medical care may be debatable. Doctor visits, surgery, medications, eye exams, lenses for glasses, hearing exams, hearing aids, and dental costs all seem reasonable. The upper limit will probably keep things reasonable.

Medical savings accounts would be OK, especially if the amount deposited roll over from year to year if not used. Normally a savings plan is not as good as an insurance plan, but putting aside an amount to cover deductibles is reasonable. I would do away with (company) self-insured policies that the insurance industry, except Blue Cross / Blue Shield, foist upon companies. The reason they do that is because self-insurance by companies are exempt from state and federal insurance requirements.

Paying for the plan: Currently Medicare is partially funded by a payroll tax on our incomes (take home pay). Since the plan will reduce costs for Medicare, Medicaid, and VA hospitals, some funding could be shifted from those funds. We suggest taxing all income over $50,000 another one percent a year; taxing all earned income over $100,000 another 1% a year; taxing all income over $200,000 another 1% a year; etc. Limit for this medical tax would be 10% a year. We would also have companies may a matching amount. Note that ompanies that have not provided medical insurance for their employees will now be paying for some of it.

We have ignored children's health costs, though we could extend CHIP (The Children's Health Insurance Program). The problem is that if they were included, the cost of medical for children would increase. Why - because some providers would consider children's benefits as a new deep pockets and increase costs. In fact, that is partially responsible why health care costs have gone up so much over the years (insurance plans including Medicare). For children, it may be better to go back how it was done 50+ years ago - have schools let students buy into group policies. This still does not address children from child birth through pre-K.

We have also ignored the issue of climbing insurance premiums. That is more a function of how much medical providers earn and profits of pharmaceutical companies than Obama-care. We postpone discussion of that at this time.

We have heard too many horror stories about VA medical care. Many have the general theme that by the time the VA discovered what was wrong with the patient, it was either too late to do anything for them or the treatment was now more complicated and/or less effective. We should merge parts of it with National health care (see above). Have those benefits include initial examinations by any doctor. The veterans, especially those in rural areas, might have trouble finding an appropriate physician for initial diagnoses. Treatment could still be done by the VA, if done in a timely manner. It might be better to be administered by Medicare (call it VA-Medicare) to keep costs down. See National health care to help pay for the costs.

The nation has had several major rivers exceed flood stage in recent years. We want to investigate how the damage may be reduced. As rivers change locations, they leave old river beds. Some communities find them useful for water drainage. We would like the US Army Corps of Engineers to investigate rerouting some of the flood waters through old river beds to reduce the damage. Eventually, the diverted water will rejoin the main river downstream. This means that we cannot completely avoid the damage of the flood waters, but we can reduce the total damage. After the Army Corps makes its findings, the report should go to Congress if the plan seems feasible. It may turn out that some of those old river beds go near communities that have to pump in water today. Then the Army Corps could consider permanetly rerouting water to those communities to reduce costs.

The nation stopped most passenger trains over 50 years ago. We wonder if that was a mistake. Now many people have to travel some distance to get to an airport. Some people in Memphis, TN, have been known to travel to Little Rock, AK, and Nashville, TN, to get reasonable air fares. We would like to see passenger trains carry people from towns without airports to towns with airports. For towns with airports, we think the train terminals should be close to the airport with free shuttles between the two. This may lead to laying down additional track causing less traffic between passenger trains and freight trains in cities. In some cases, some people might find it easier to go all the way to their destination by train. Trains cause less pollution and there may be an extra benefit of people taking trains instead of cars to get to the airport. We would like to see reasonable parking rates near the train stations. We expect this not to be an inexpensive program to start. We would wait for a time when we needed to push the economy forward to do this.

We have been informed there are some 8,000 new Federal Regulations each year. This keeps a lot of lawyers employed. Any regulations coming from Congress go before the President and are subject to veto. Regulations also come from Federal Agencies. We would delay implementation of any of those regulations until the President has reviewed and okayed them. We would also send copies to Congress and give Congress 45 days to review them and make comments to the President.

Some would scrap the Electoral College in favor of electing a President by popular vote. That would make the vote tp prone to fraud. Suppose someone figured out how to 'get' an additional million votes for their candidate. No thank you. However, we could make a minor changes that would make the Electoral College more likly to mirror the popular vote. Instead of each state giving all its the electoral voters by state wide ballot, elect one voter in each congressional district. I would have at least one of the other two voters for each state be given to the candidate receiving the most votes in the state. The other one could be given to the candidate most under represented by the number of votes (s)he has already received. To detemine the most under represented take the total votes the candidate divided by one more then the number of electoral voters (s)he has received so far. The candidate with the highest value gets the extra voter. If this sounds familiar, it is modled after Daniel Webster's apportionment plan.

However, some anti-gerrymandering legislation would be needed. No district would be allowed to have less population than 95% of the population in every other of that state's districts. Except im major metropolitan areas, the district boundries should geographical and continuous. Rivers, mountains, and county lines are geopgraphical boundaries. A major metropolitan area would be one that should have at least one Congressman representing it. It could be a city or a city and its suberbs. If the area should have n to n+1 (like 3 to 4) Congressmen, the area should be split into n+1 (4) Congrssional districts with one or more of those districts extending outside the area. Each district entirely in the area should have at least 99% of the the population in every other of that state's districts. Metropolitan areas are easily broken down into zip codes or blocks, so that shouldn't be a problem. Each district that contains parts outside the area should have at least 98% of the the population in every other of that state's districts.

Now how should we apportion the number of Representatives each state should get. Any method could start with dividing the total population by the number of Representatives to appoint. Any state with less population than that average should get its one representative and that's all. Subtract those states population from the total and the number of Representatives from the number of Representatives left to appoint. Recalculate the average population per Representaive. Any state left with less than that average will be assigned its one representative and be done with. Repeat until all the states left has a population greater than the average population per Representaive left. We suggest a choice of ways to continue from there. One way: Use the fairest apportionment method to apportion the rest. One way to determine that is use the 2010 census and do all the acceptable apportionment method. Add one to the number of representatives to apportion and use that method again. Add another, and do it again. Keep repeating until the number or Representatives has doubled. When done, for each state add up the total of all those tries and divide it by the total number of Representatives to proportion. If it is a good method that average should be close to that states actual percentage of the total population. We think that the best method found would be Daniel Webster's apportionment plan. That method has an interesting feature. Alexander Hamilton's method was basically fair, but had the flaw that it tried to apportion everyone at once. If after doing Daniel Webster's method you were to choose any two states and use Alexander Hamilton's method on just the two states, the result would be the same. Another method: Each of the remaining states would divide its population by the (last) average population. That gives the minimum number of representatives. Choose the fairest way to choose the rest, but no state would get more than one more than the minimum. Note this method is tilted slightltowards smaller states. Another method: Break the states into groups. Like – group one the states with a minimum number of representatives of 1 through 4; group two the states with a minimum number of representatives of 5 through 14; group three the states with a minimum number of representatives greater than 14. Apportion the remaining representatives by group and then apportion the groups' representative amongst the groups' states. Doing that, the method of apportionment won't matter much and if each group caucasus amongst themselves to decide which method to use. One could change this method to group sections of the country together (like New England, North, South, Midwest, West), but it would likely have its problems.