warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

15 Radical Legislative Changes To Make America Better

Kevin Cheberenchick |
May 31, 2014 | 7:05 p.m. PDT


The majority of us hate laws, but there are some laws that our society would fail without, and some laws that we need in order to make a more equal and free society. Many of our problems in society are routed in inadequate laws and the exploitation of those laws. For instance, a Princeton scientific study concluded that the United States is no longer a democracy, but an oligarchy.

To change the United States back to a democracy and create a fairer, freer society, here are the fundamental solutions to the fundamental fallacies of the United States of America. The items listed below are not the current state of affairs, but the way it must be.



1. Make Election Day A National Holiday

As a federal republic, it is vital that as many citizens as possible vote. By making Election Day a national holiday, it would encourage civic involvement and increase voter turnout.

2. Abolish Voter Registration 

While voter registration in the United States is voluntary and often leads to low turnout and confusion, a number of other major democracies have federal voter rolls that automatically register individuals as soon as they turn 18 or become citizens. In Canada, for example, 93 percent of eligible citizens are registered to vote, compared to 68 percent in the U.S. France and Chile also have automatic voter registration laws resulting in election turnouts of over 90 percent. However, not having to register to vote at all is even easier than having automatic voter registration. US citizens should be able to vote by showing a valid U.S. government-issued form of identification such as a driver’s license or passport.

3. Entrust Redistricting To An Unbiased, Non-political, Third Party

Redistricting is the process of drawing electoral district boundaries in response to population changes determined by the results of the decennial census. During the redistricting process, it is common in the United States for gerrymandering to occur, which provides an unfair political advantage to a particular party. To avoid this, setting up a non-partisan, non-political, third party commission to determine redistricting will make our elections fairer. Currently, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Jersey and Washington, use bipartisan redistricting commissions, but those do not go far enough because bipartisan still allows for political corruption and does not provide opportunities for a third political party, like the Green party, or for independent candidates. A non-political commission would make elections fair between Democrats, Republicans and independents.



4. Ban Unpaid Internships

Currently, unpaid internships have laws that outline their legality, but they should be banned completely. While many find the minimum wage to be degradingly low, unpaid internships will always pay lower. Unpaid internships are akin to slavery and banning them will revolutionize the labor force for the better. Theoretically, banning unpaid internships will also decrease the unemployment rate because companies will no longer be able to push off work that it would have hired another employee to do onto its free labor interns.

5. Pass ENDA And Equal Pay For Women

Years after gender-based discrimination was supposedly abolished, women still are not equally paid for their work. Additionally, there is no federal law that consistently protects LGBT individuals from employment discrimination and no law to require more equitable pay among the sexes. As a result, qualified, hardworking Americans are fired, denied job opportunities or otherwise discriminated against just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. It is unjust to fire someone who is an exceptional employee, but gay; or to pay someone less who is an equally exceptional employee, but female.

6. Replace Income Tax With A Higher Sales Tax

Replacing the income tax with a sales tax will simplify the tax system. It would fairly cause wealth redistribution because all citizens would be taxed at the same rate. Those that spent more would pay more; i.e., Maserati buyers would pay more than Toyota buyers. Additionally, it would collect taxes from everyone living in this country, including the unemployed and undocumented, and therefore would add billions of dollars to the nation’s treasury without forcing working citizens to pay more. Lastly, offshore tax havens would no longer be a way to dodge taxes.

7. Pass A Balanced Budget Amendment For Local And State Governments

Several countries, including Germany and Switzerland, require the government to spend no more money than it takes in. Similarly, local and state governments should not be allowed to place additional financial burden on their constituents. In 1754, statesman and political theorist Edmund Burke declared a flaw in democracy that would only be solved by a balanced budget amendment. He said:

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.

A balanced budget amendment for local and state governments immediately address chronic deficit and spending problems, which threaten regional economic viability, and eliminates that democratic flaw by limiting the amount of money that can be taken from a public treasury.

8. Eliminate The Penny And Nickel

It makes no economic and logical sense to mint a monetary denomination that costs more to make than its face value. Currently, the penny costs 2.41 cents but is only worth one cent, and the nickel, worth five cents, costs 11.18 cents to make. Making pennies and nickels wastes taxpayer money. Many foreign nations have completely eliminated their most minor denominations with no impact on commerce or consumer confidence in the monetary system. In 1989, New Zealand got rid of its penny and two-penny coin. In 2006, they eliminated the nickel and significantly shrunk down the rest of their coins. All of this numismatic change took place without any major problems.

9. Audit The Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve is a private central bank that controls monetary policy in the United States. For having such a great deal of influence and involvement in our economy, its workings are a mystery to almost all who do not personally work at the bank. Auditing the Federal Reserve will provide needed transparency and valuable data that can produce exceptional fiscal and monetary policy in the future. 

10. Issue Taxpayer Receipts

The Department of the Treasury should send itemized receipts detailing how their money is spent and how much the federal government borrows every year. This will educate the populace on the national economy and government expenditures, and allow them to vote accordingly.



11. Pass The DISCLOSE Act

DISCLOSE (Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act) would bar government contractors, Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) recipients and foreign firms from political spending and require corporations to disclose political contributions. This act will give voting power back to the citizens, reduce corruption from government contractors and justly make elections a national issue, not an international issue.

12. Put The Text Of All Laws Online, Easily Searchable And Accessible

Citizens deserve to be able to easily search and access the laws that they are bound by. Akin to a Miranda Warning, this would affirm that citizens are knowledgeable of the rules of the land. It is necessary because it is unjust to punish people for something they did not know was illegal. 

13. Add Privacy To The Bill Of Rights

Currently, the Bill of Rights does not clearly state a right to privacy, but the current state of affairs shows that this right is needed. A right to privacy will affirm that when a person votes, he/she will not need to worry about coercion caused by people finding out how they would vote. It would also affirm that people could speak freely without coercion. The right to privacy must cover intrusion upon seclusion or solitude or into private affairs; public disclosure of embarrassing private facts; publicity which places a person in a false light in the public eye; appropriation of name or likeness; use of a person’s name for marketing, advertising or trade purposes without the person’s consent; and not to have one’s phone records, email, mail or computers searched without a warrant.

14. Abolish The Death Penalty

The death penalty has proven not to work as a deterrent against crime. Additionally, it is costly and immoral. It is hypocritical to kill someone for killing someone. If we value life and outlaw killing, then killing someone as a punishment must also be outlawed. Canada, Mexico, Russia, Australia, and the nations of the European Union among many other countries have all come to the favorable resolution to abolish capital punishment for all crimes. The United States should too.

15. Address Police Brutality

All police should be required to have a Twitter handle or code largely displayed and easily seen on their uniforms at all times so that in the event of police brutality they can be easily identified. Then, witnesses will be able to anonymously post photos and comments online about the inappropriate behavior of a cop. This was effective in addressing police brutality in Granada, CA.

There are many things that make America a great place to live, but there are also a number of issues that we face and will continue to face, which are sending us down a road towards mediocrity and even failure. For example, it is despicable that currently the United States Senate responds only to the problems of the wealthy. If the United States adopted the laws suggested above, it would become a more equal, free and economically viable society.

Reach Contributor Kevin Cheberenchick here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.