Americans need to understand that many of our problems are systematic and even Obama cannot fix them all from within our current political structure. We need to start asking ourselves what fundamental changes need to be made to the American political and economic systems in order to: close the income gap between the upper and lower classes; overhaul our social safety net while still rewarding hard work and innovation; weed out corporate corruption and financial systematic abuses with honest oversight and create a political system for the people, rather than corporations and lobbyists.
The American economic empire has been in decline for some time -- since the post World War II economic boom. The economic problems we are facing today have been predicted and well-documented for years and accelerated by the Bush administration's deregulation policies (laissez fair capitalism run amok), illegal wars, cronyism and unbalanced taxation policies.
Just like with the Great Depression, history will view this financial crisis as a watershed event and a time of great change. Greed and corruption within the American Capitalist model -- which is usually hidden behind a convoluted and unfair legal system, backroom politicking and shady corporate bookkeeping -- has been laid bare for all the "regular folk" to see. Everyone can easily understand what it means when the government gives 750 billion of their tax dollars to the banks with no oversight or when Wall Street's various ponzi schemes come crashing down.
Now is the time to strike while the iron is hot! America's anger and ingenious will is stoked and a new, more open administration is coming to power looking for innovative, far-reaching ideas. America has the opportunity to institute real, systematic changes and emerge from this crisis with a stronger, more egalitarian system.
Here are a few ideas to get us started:
-- Directly regulate mortgage rates to be closer to bank borrowing rates. So, for now, lower the mortgage rate for new buyers and people refinancing to 4% -- this will put money in the pockets of middle-class home owners rather than banks.
-- Nationalize banks and insurance companies.
-- Remove corporations' "individual" legal classification which allows them to enjoy the rights and privileges of individual humans, and instead make corporations and those running them more accountable to society.
-- Reduce oil dependency with innovative new energy sources.
-- Higher taxes for corporations and the rich with fewer loopholes such as the low capital gains tax. At the same time, cut taxes for the middle class and small businesses.
-- Tougher consumer regulations on the financial/investing industries.
-- Reduce the influence of lobbyists and institute public financing for all political campaigns.
-- More tax incentives for start-ups and innovative companies.
-- Invest in American infrastructure: education, universal health care, alternative energy, sciences, the arts, transportation, etc.
-- Remove the tax exempt status of religious organizations.
-- Break up the media monopolies.
Please comment below and tell us about how you think America can emerge from this difficult time with a stronger, stabler and more equitable economic system. Everyone has a chance to affect real change and contribute to the ideological discourse in 2009, so let's continue escalating the process!