I usually stick to financial subjects on my blog, but I have had a couple of big ideas rattling around in my head for years, that I wanted to share. While our politicians and the media concentrate on all of our country’s problems, I like to concentrate on useful solutions. Below are three simple, straight-forward and easy to implement solutions for three of our nation’s biggest problems.
Independent Investigation of Police Shootings
What: Provide unbiased, independent and thorough investigations of every officer involved shooting or death in custody.
Why: The last thing we need is to vilify police or to make their jobs more difficult or dangerous. However, it’s increasingly obvious whenever the police investigate themselves, they are rarely found at fault. The families and the community are angry with the outcome and people are scared of police who are supposed to protect them.
How: Every time a bank is robbed, the local police secure the scene and the FBI soon arrives to conduct an investigation. The same should happen for every officer involved shooting or death in custody. Allowing the police to investigate their own officers is an unconscionable conflict of interest, especially when a death has occurred. An independent Federal agency should have jurisdiction over these incidents and investigate every case, instead of the local police.
Background: I live in a beach town in a relatively wealthy area of southern California. There has been one police officer killed by a civilian and two civilians killed by officers. The officer who was killed is rightfully treated as a hero in our town and we named a park after him. As for the civilians killed by officers, that’s a completely different story. The police reports in both officer involved deaths are beyond bizarre. I love this town and our police, but what happened and what was reported to the public weren’t even remotely close. The findings from both internal investigations predictably exonerated the officers, even though these two deaths appeared unjustified. No one was held accountable and the cycle continues.
Bachelor’s Degrees from Community Colleges
What: To provide quality, accredited public college education that is affordable to most Americans.
Why: Tuition has been rising much faster than the rate of inflation for almost four decades. Currently, only wealthy families can afford public university and middle-class families must take out loans to attend. The total outstanding student loan debt is well over a trillion dollars and growing. This is causing massive problems for our economy, since indebted graduates have a difficult time moving out, getting married and buying homes. Many parents aren’t saving enough for retirement, because they are trying to help fund their children’s education.
Many studies have shown that access to a college education is a big factor in economic disparity. Those who can afford college will get the high paying professional jobs and those who can’t will get the labor and retail jobs. This makes it difficult for the poor to move into the middle class.
How: A simple change to the accreditation standards could resolve one of the biggest social and economic problems facing our nation. Community colleges should be allowed to offer Bachelor’s degrees, in addition to Associate’s degrees.
Community colleges are affordable to almost everyone, without huge loans and obscene tuition. The quality of education is very good and the professors are more than qualified to teach undergraduate courses. Students who get an Associate’s degree or meet the transfer requirements should be allowed to finish their bachelor’s degree at their local community college. This would save students tens of thousands of dollars and eliminate the monopolistic impediment of the university system. Universities would have to compete with community colleges for undergrad students, which should bring down tuition costs.
Background: My mom was divorced and raised five kids. She worked her way through community college and then university at night and graduated with honors. All five of us kids, following her example, worked our way through college with no help, aid, loans or funding. Four of us have Associate’s degrees and one also has a bachelor’s. The other has a professional certificate. I have an Associate’s in computer information management and it has made a huge difference in my career. I wanted to get a bachelor’s degree, but university was way too expensive to justify, while I was supporting a family of four on my single income.
Public Funding of Alternative Medical Treatments
What: To identify and certify for medical use, cures and treatments that are safe and effective, but not economically viable for development.
Why: Virtually all of the funding for new medical technology is targeted towards synthetic drugs and medical devices that treat the symptoms of common medical problems. Little money is targeted towards curing or preventing the underlying affliction. Virtually no money is targeted to studying the health benefits of natural substances, because they can’t be patented. The result is that patients must take expensive prescription medications indefinitely for most common medical issues. This benefits the medical industry at the expense of their patients.
How: The Federal government should create a fund of a couple of billion dollars to fund the study and development of alternative forms of medicine and the prevention of common diseases. Natural substances that are known or suspected of having health benefits should be studied for their effectiveness and certified as a treatment, if found to be safe and effective. Prevention and cures should be given priority over long-term treatment. Trial results should be published publicly.
Curing or preventing a single disease, such as cancer or diabetes could save tens of billions of dollars annually, lower health insurance costs and improve the solvency of Medicare. Even a reduction in the number of strokes, heart attacks or birth defects would make a huge difference in the cost and quality of medical care.
Some priority areas of study would be:
- Opioid-Free Pain Treatment
- Reversible Male Birth Control
- Prevention and Cure of Diabetes
- Prevention and Cure of Cancer
- Prevention and Cure of Heart Disease
- Vaccinations and Cures for AIDS, HSV and other STDs
- Prevention and Cures for Autism and Downs Syndrome
- Prevention and Treatments for Mental Health Issues
Background: I work for a medical device company that has participated in two clinical trials. Passing a clinical trial is a lengthy, arduous, risky and expensive task. A trial costs millions or even billions of dollars and they often fail. Medical companies can’t afford clinical trials for cures that have no revenue potential. That’s why these types of trials must be conducted with public funding.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that the world is full of problems and always will be. One reason most problems continue to exist is because they benefit those who profit from the status quo. It will take innovative new ideas and a courageous new direction from our leaders to resolve the most challenging problems of our times.
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
– Albert Einstein
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