What If?

The United States is a representative plutocracy–government of the people by the politicians, for the wealthy–on its way to a corporatist state. What if it were a democracy, or trending toward democracy? What would it be like? Is it possible?

If the United States were a democracy, steeply progressive taxes (foreign and domestic incomes, capital gains, property, luxury, etc.) would be imposed on the wealthy to prevent them from hoarding the nation’s wealth. The proceeds would pay for social and infrastructure programs that benefit the entire nation.

Campaign funding would be restricted to individual constituents of a candidate–that is, individuals who can actually vote for the candidate–and monetary contributions would be limited to what anyone can pay.

There would be universal health insurance, on the model of Medicare, or there would be universal health care, on the French model or on the model of our military.

Tuition at public schools would be free, from preschool through PhD, with admittance to colleges and universities based upon merit.

No public money would go to private schools.

Businesses would be expected to provide job-specific training for current or future employees.

Unionization would be promoted, and unions would be strong.

Free childcare for the children of working parents would be universally available, staffed by trained professionals.

The minimum wage would be a living wage.

The “social safety net”–the network of social programs–would provide support at the level of the minimum wage, with incentives and opportunities to earn a better wage through employment.

There would be rent controls, housing standards, and regular inspections, and there would be stiff penalties for landlord abuses, as well as for abuses by tenants.

Public money (tax revenues) would be spent only on public services and programs. If this includes payments to private organizations, their books would be open for inspection at any time.

All necessary monopolies (electricity, water, sewage, prisons, etc.) would either be publicly owned and operated, or would be closely-regulated non-profits.

Concentrated media would be broken up, and the resulting localized media would be allowed (or even required) to become more responsive to local needs and issues.

There would be penalties for media outlets that persistently promulgate factual errors.

The government would provide adequate economic stimulus to preserve jobs in rough economic times.

The government would sooner provide penalties (such as tariffs or trade restrictions) for companies that move employment abroad, than incentives to move them.

Penalties for victimless crimes would be eliminated or drastically reduced, while penalties for white-collar crimes would be increased.

The separation of church and state would be rigorously enforced.

In other words, if the United States were to become a democracy, it would have to become egalitarian; there can be no democracy without egalitarianism. The United States certainly produces enough wealth to support all of the criteria that I have listed; that wealth just needs to be distributed properly.

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