If I were President, there are a few things I’d set out to do.
1. Community Service in Exchange for Government Aid. Service in exchange for aid solves two problems. First, it means that there are more human resources to provide important services to parts of the community that needs them. And second, it provides a sense of belonging to people who may never experience it otherwise. As a recovering alcoholic, I’ve spent a lot of time in the company of drunks. One of the things that helps drunks get out of their own minds is service. In fact, Alcoholics Anonymous is based on the idea of service. And this concept works miracles. You require people receiving aid to start working in community service as payment for the aid, and you’re going to build communities and self-esteem.
2. Mandatory 2-year Service for All Americans. Following the completion of high school I’d make it mandatory for all Americans to spend 24-months in the service of the nation. This can mean joining the military, or serving in a civilian capacity that positively affects other Americans. Everyone would be paid equally. After the 24 months of service, you’re welcome to go on your way to do whatever you want. This two-year commitment solves two problems. First, it bridges the gap between rich and poor–resulting in a new understanding of what it means to be an American (to say nothing of establishing a sense of empathy.) And second, it further strengthens our nation from small communities all the way up to national defense. Too many people today have no sense of national pride. As a result, they don’t know how good they have it to live here. Mandatory service changes that.
3. Legalize Pot. According to research, no one has ever overdosed and died from using marijuana. Conversely, the CDC reports that roughly 75,000 Americans die each year from alcohol-related issues (and that number doesn’t include people injured, violent crimes as the result of alcohol, traffic accidents, etc.). I would commission a major study to support legalization, then I’d tax the hell out of it and put farmers across the country to work growing and harvesting it. This is 2012. It’s silly that we put 850,000 people in jail in 2011 for marijuana-related charges. Why? Because it’s illegal. Why is it still illegal? Because alcohol companies and prison facilities have powerful lobbyists on payroll. Enough. It’s time.
4. More Traffic Enforcement. This would be my pet project–force people to drive better. Figure out a way to disable phones and devices for drivers except in the event of emergencies. Discover a way to force vehicles to adhere to speed limits. Integrate technology in automobiles so that when a driver doesn’t use their turn signals, they’re ticketed. It’s clear that most drivers have forgotten that operating a vehicle is a privilege, not a right. Let’s fix that. Let’s get selfish people off the road.
5. 4 on 3 off. We put way too much emphasis on work in America. What we ‘do’ here somehow defines us. And that’s just wrong. If we put as much time and energy into making love and art as we do in making our companies profitable–the United States would once again be the best place to live on earth. It’s like this–we all work for money. We must. And working is good. But our work is not the most important thing in life. Spending quality time with family and friends beats sitting in a chair in a cubicle any day. We’re already the most overworked industrial nation on earth. But the fact we’re an industrious nation doesn’t mean we can’t learn to calm down a little to enjoy what’s important in life. To take less anxiety meds. To have normal blood pressure. On my first day as President I will begin the process of changing our archaic 8-hour a day, 5-day workweek to a 10-hour a day, 4-day workweek. Look, thanks to our strong work ethic, most Americans work more than 40 hours a week anyway–so I don’t expect a drop off in productivity. This is America. Let’s lead the world in what’s important–enjoying life to the fullest.
Feel free to write me in come November.