4. Religious tolerance is necessary for our country to grow and to heal the deep divisions that radical elements have created. Our education system should include, in every student's curriculum, a course in comparative religion. This would greatly lessen the misunderstandings now so rampant as to what the history and beliefs of our fellow world citizens truly are. As in so many other cases, only through open and honest discussions can wisdom begin. Also, contrary to the hype so prevalent these days, our founding fathers desired a country without a state religion. Thomas Paine, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were Diests or Unitarians while even George Washington championed freedom from religious intolerance and never spoke of or wrote about any personal religious convictions save a belief in "Providence". We cannot allow our country to be any less than what they envisioned.
5. Our system of taxation and collection has become a farce and a terrible injustice. The wealthy and businesses are allowed loopholes in the law not available to the average citizen, forcing us to pay a much higher percentage of the overall tax load than is fair. The IRS has become a government unto itself, wielding enormous power over a constantly changing and far too complicated set of rules and laws even tax professionals barely understand. Only through a flat tax, national sales tax or value added tax can fairness be returned. These would eliminate the huge bureaucracy of the IRS and ensure all parties would pay their fair share while saving taxpayers and businesses billions of dollars in time and personnel engaged in researching and filling out the myriad of forms each year. Limited deductions could be retained but only if they benefited society at large (to increase employment, charitable causes, maybe mortgage interest).
6. We have no current method of travel that can take our world's population between the stars. We have no proof that there is even any other place in the universe that can sustain life for our species. Therefore, unquestionably, the most important challenge facing us and all other creatures great and small on this tiny planet is keeping it clean enough for our survival. We must control, if not eliminate, all sources of pollution possible while researching all practical methods to neutralize what we have already dumped into the soil, the atmosphere and the air. The politicians must stop the nonsense of protecting polluters in exchange for the massive campaign contributions they represent. The earth belongs to all of us and all future generations. It does not belong to business or politics. The Republicans and business lobbies are currently trying to destroy the only government agency committed to the protection of your environment, the EPA. If they succeed, it will simply be another step towards the extinction of the human race.
7. We are one of the richest nations on earth. We have the ability to ensure that all of our citizens are well fed, well educated and healthy. Yet we squander that wealth on a bomber that none of the armed services want or need, on massive tax breaks for profitable businesses, on assistance to foreign dictators who use the money to further enslave and kill their own population and on inane pork barrel politics that benefit only the politician who delivers it. We must make it a priority to protect the poor, the needy and the weak in our society. We must devise and implement policies which help our fellow citizens once again become productive members of the work force. Programs which provide a decent standard of living while educating or providing employment are already in place but , again, the Republicans are in the process of completely dismantling or severely cutting back on them (California's 1995-'96 budget cuts the monthly welfare check for a mother and two children in a "high cost" area like LA from $607 down to $565. The disabled and elderly poor are seeing a cut from $614 to $584 per person. Could you survive on that? This while increasing funds for prison construction and personnel 13.5% to almost $3.5 billion dollars and cutting the tax rate for incomes above $100,000 from 10-11% down to 9.3%).
Next issue we'll conclude our contract. In the meantime remember, an informed and active voting public controls their government, an indifferent population is ruled by government.
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