Twelve Suggested Amendments to the US Constitution to Extend the Bill of Rights to Ensure Equal Opportunity for All.
These suggested amendments fall into three broad categories: Separation of Business and State, Citizens’ Rights and Responsibilities Under Law, and Peace and Economic Justice for All.
Separation of Business and State
1) Elected officials at all levels of government shall represent people, not money. To ensure this, elections for all office holders, from the president and Congress of the nation down to local officials and members of school boards, shall be publicly funded by the taxpayer in their entirety. The legislatures at each level of government shall determine the level of public funding, and shall ensure it is available in the same amount for all candidates, incumbent or new, and that the only qualification for new candidates over incumbent is that they collect signatures from one percent of the registered voters in their district endorsing their candidacy.
2) Any citizen, of any jurisdiction, Federal, State, or City, shall be able to initiate a ballot in that jurisdiction, at the next general election, for a measure to establish or change a law, provided that citizen collects signatures supporting the measure from at least one percent of the registered voters in the jurisdiction. No congress or corporation shall be able to initiate a ballot measure, and no one person shall be able to initiate or otherwise sponsor more than one ballot measure in any four year period. No person or organization shall be able to pay for collection of signatures, buy advertising for, or otherwise fund a campaign for or against a measure. Only measures proposed by individual citizens and supported by signatures collected by volunteers shall be placed on a ballot.
Measures to change the constitution shall likewise be allowed, but shall require signatures supporting the change from at least three percent of registered voters, and a two-thirds majority vote, to succeed.
3) All elections, including presidential elections, shall use Preference Voting, otherwise known as Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), which allows voters to vote first for one candidate, and then give second and third preferences to other candidates. This is a single transferable vote, as the votes will be counted in such a way that should a voter’s first preference candidate be eliminated due to having the least number of first preference votes, then this person’s vote will go to his or her next preference candidate. All elections and ballots shall be by direct popular vote on paper ballots, shall be counted in a transparent, verifiably honest way, and shall not use any type of electoral college.”
Citizens’ Rights and Responsibilities Under Law
4) No law shall be made by legislators, or by ballot measures, to enforce ‘moral’ or other values, where that law would infringe on people’s freedoms, except where needed to protect other people’s rights, freedoms or safety. In order to reduce the funding and viability of organized crime, no substance or class of object shall be made illegal, or continue to be illegal; rather, the government shall ensure harmful and dangerous products are legally marketed under appropriate guidelines, with strict limits on how they are advertised. All laws, new and old, may be tested by the courts to ensure they meet these criteria of protecting people’s freedom and safety, while respecting the freedom of others, and promoting self respect in people, and respect for, and equal treatment of, all in society, regardless of race, religion, wealth, culture, gender or sexual orientation.
5) The purpose of the Criminal Justice System shall be threefold: to protect citizens from violent and predatory criminals, to rehabilitate lawbreakers, and to discourage crime. Judges shall be appointed by legislators on a consensus basis, where both of the two largest political parties must endorse the appointment. This is to avoid the appointment of politically partisan judges. There shall be no death penalty for any offense. Punishment shall be administered only to the extent that it is useful in rehabilitating criminals and discouraging others from breaking the law. Evidence from informers who have a motive to lie (such as to gain money or early release from custody) shall not be admissible in any court of law. Retribution shall play no part in the Justice system. Neither shall victims of criminals or their families have any right to retribution. Victims and their families, shall, however, be reasonably compensated, and be reassured that the perpetrator will be imprisoned until fully rehabilitated, and that steps will be taken to ensure there will be a reduced likelihood of similar crimes occurring in the future.
6) The prison system’s mission shall be to rehabilitate those in its care as quickly and as completely as possible, and every opportunity shall be given to prisoners to cooperate with the process. Once a prisoner has been thoroughly rehabilitated, and taught those skills needed to take a productive role in society, he or she shall immediately begin making the transition to living in the community, with the help of an appropriate mentor and counselor. For the safety of society, prisoners who cannot be rehabilitated, do not cooperate with the process of rehabilitation, or who after apparently successful rehabilitations become serious repeat offenders, shall not under any circumstances be released. Courts shall not sentence a person to any particular amount of time in prison, only ‘until rehabilitated.’
Once a prisoner’s term of rehabilitation is complete, all rights of citizenship shall be restored to him or her, including the right to vote and stand for office, and it shall be an offense to discriminate against a former convict on the basis of him or her having once been a criminal. Any mention that a person has been a criminal, or committed a certain offense, shall, after that person’s rehabilitation, be considered a defamation of his or her character, unless there is a compelling reason in the public good for this information to be known.”
Peace and Economic Justice for All
7) The purpose of our Defense Forces, including Army, Navy, Marines, Air force, Coast Guard and ‘Intelligence’ agencies, shall purely be to defend our country from attack by other countries, or groups within those countries, and to otherwise keep our country and its citizens safe. The ability to attack other countries shall not be a part of the mission of our Defense Forces. We shall maintain no bases on foreign soil, and our military hardware will be geared toward defense, not attack. Only five nuclear warheads will be kept, as a deterrent. Surplus Nuclear warheads shall be dismantled. Since aircraft carriers are largely offensive weapons, we will only keep two aircraft carriers. Surplus aircraft carriers shall be converted to cargo ships.
A purely defensive Defense Force will cost the country only about one fourth of what the USA used to spend on its military, but be just as effective at actually defending the country, and will set an example to the world on how to move toward peace. The reduced military spending will help build a strong economy, which past wars have shown is the greatest strength a country can have in defending itself. Once the largest countries, and most of the others, have shifted toward purely defensive forces, all countries, with the aid of mutual defense treaties, will be able to defend themselves well, but none will have the forces needed for a successful attack. This will bring peace and security to the world.
8) Every person has a right to a free education up to the standard he or she is capable of, and state governments shall ensure that this is provided within their states. Every person also has the responsibility to take his or her education seriously. States shall have the right to charge reasonable tuition fees for classes repeated or substituted by students at a college level, after they have failed or discontinued a class. Loans, repayable after graduation, shall be made available to cover the cost of this repeat tuition.
9) All people have a right to affordable health care, and a responsibility to keep themselves as healthy as they can. Consequently, every person who maintains a reasonable degree of physical fitness if it is possible for them, eats at least reasonably nutritious food, does not drink alcohol or use recreational drugs to an extent that adversely affects their health, and who does not smoke, shall be entitled to free medical and dental care, at the Federal Government’s expense. Accidents and illness resulting from high risk activities shall not be covered, and will need to be separately insured against. Those who do not take reasonable steps to stay healthy, such as keeping fit, eating nutritious food and not smoking, will be required to pay a health insurance premium reflecting their extra risk. Cosmetic surgery shall not be covered, except for repairing disfigurement.
10) The maximum wage or salary paid shall be fixed across the whole nation at seven times the minimum adult wage. The maximum untaxed wealth of any person shall be limited to three million dollars, a figure that may be adjusted for inflation each decade. Assets, of all types, greater than this amount, shall gradually be returned to the state for the community benefit, through a two percent annual wealth tax on the excess. Money already in charitable trusts and foundations that are fully, genuinely and actively promoting the public good shall be exempt from this wealth tax. People paying wealth tax shall be able to put an extra amount, up to the amount of the wealth tax paid, into a charitable trust that will not be taxed.
Speculation in commodities and currency shall be prohibited and be a misdemeanor discouraged by a fine of five times the money made from the speculation. Money and commodities shall be used solely as a means of exchange for valuable work.
All people who are unemployed but willing to work, and have no other source of income sufficient to support themselves and their families, shall be entitled to unemployment relief at or above the poverty line, paid for by the federal government.
11) In order to pay for the services it provides to the people, both the federal and state governments shall be authorized to collect income taxes. Governments shall not spend money in excess of revenues received. This authorization shall replace the 16th Amendment, which was never ratified by enough states to make it legal, and which shall be repealed. Tax payers shall have the option to specify, on their tax returns, what proportion of their taxes shall be spent in the different areas of government (e.g.: 60% Education, 20% Public Funding of Elections, 20% General).
Taxation shall be steeply progressive to discourage the buildup of excessive wealth, and exemptions shall be used to encourage desirable practices and enterprises such as donating to charities, resource conservation, converting to renewable energy sources, and environmentally friendly industries. Unhealthy, socially undesirable, and ecologically unsustainable practices shall likewise be discouraged by taxing them at a higher rate. Additional revenues thus collected shall be used to help repair the damage to health, society and the environment caused by these practices. Tax policy shall, in this way and others, be used to promote the long-term welfare and sustainability of society over the short-term gain of unscrupulous individuals and corporations, in the interests of our children and our children’s children.
12) Every citizen or permanent resident shall be entitled, as a birth right, after reaching the age of twenty-one, to a parcel of land to build a house on, or run a small farm on. This land shall become available to people when they are in a position to build, buy or inherit a house on the land, and in the case of rural properties, have learned the skills needed to farm the land. Other than this, land shall not be able to be bought, sold, given away, or inherited. Corporations, religious organizations or people occupying more than their basic allocation of land shall have to pay an appropriate rent to their state for the use of it, and may have to forfeit the land if they can’t show their occupancy is in the public interest. Large productive farms and ranches shall be allowed to keep their land at a low rent until such time as the state sees fit to allocate their excess land to appropriately qualified settlers wishing to productively farm the land, individually, or in cooperatives. Improvements such as houses shall, however, remain as property, and shall be paid for at market rates that shall not exceed the cost of building a similar house and providing similar improvements. Houses and other improvements shall be able to be inherited.
These proposed amendments to the US Constitution are from Mark Mason's novel
The Hot Springs of America which you can read two free chapters from at:
The Hot Springs of America by Mark Mason
Feedback is welcome!
Copyright © 2011-2013, Mark J. Mason
Click here for the home page of my book, In Search of the Loving God, which includes three complete chapters from the book:
IN SEARCH OF THE LOVING GOD by Mark Mason