INK BLAST | MY “CITIZEN’S BRIEFING BOOK” IDEAS
That deceptively simple invitation lured me into the multi-layered change.gov website a few weeks ago—during a sleepless night, mind you. In case you don’t know, change.gov was set up by the Obama-Biden transition team as the preferred communication tool between the powers that be and the rest of us. There are many useful and many not-so-useful things on the site. (I’ll let you invest/waste your own time figuring out which is which.)
As I was saying, one recent winter night insomnia was tap dancing on my eyelids, so I logged on to see what people were saying. The set up was that you could vote for or against each post in order to move it up or down in the ranking, resulting in the best ideas getting the most votes and floating to the top, while the really bad ones sank to the bottom.
Allow me to summarize the more popular entries from the night I logged on:
–Withdrawing our troops from Iraq
–Free universal healthcare for everyone
–Ending our dependence on foreign oil
–Increasing our sources of sustainable energy
And so on. You get the picture; these are all BIG ideas that definitely need to be tackled, but that will take a loooooong time. So, in the interest of practicality, I decided to add some of my own ideas to the mix, just to see which would float and which would sink.
–Requiring that all public college/university graduates speak one foreign language fluently (starting with Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Russian) in order to graduate
–Granting permanent resident status to any undocumented immigrant (w/o a criminal record) who has been in the country for 5+ years (and their kids and spouses)
–Forgiving 50% of all subsidized student loans for people who graduated in the last 10 years, so they can pump that money back into the economy
–Adding a community service requirement in order to graduate public high schools
–Establishing a guaranteed 2% interest rate for all first-time homebuyers with good credit who can put 10-20% down
–Cutting the payroll tax in half, so employers and employees get a cash infusion immediately
–Removing all vending machines from public schools
Needless to say, soon after I thrust my ideas into the public arena (much like a gladiator facing a packed Roman coliseum) I started to fret as people began to weigh in and rank them. Soon, I started to get very, very sleepy……
Juleyka Lantigua is a writer whose work has appeared in books, magazines and newspapers around the country.