Citizen Briefs: Challenges facing 21-century United States 

The US constitution, the DNA for the federal government,  has been remarkable in providing a fairly stable framework to weather the past 225 years and achieve remarkable success in creating a government that has seen peaceful national elections and succession of political power. During this time the United States has become a global superpower and the standard of living of our citizens has been unprecedented. However, the current political environment highlights the shortcomings of the political system that has emerged in the twenty-first century. The political process, defined by the constitution, has been corrupted to the point that it is an existential threat to the US. Culture wars, congressional paralysis if not obstructionism, a polarized electorate, global challenges, the surveillance state, concern regard growing national debt, growing inequality, money’s impact on the political election have all contributed to growing distrust of the federal government. 

 

More and more Americans have been questioning if our political system (Tax) is rigged. The rising inequality and polarization have been a source of great concern for the future of our nation. Americans are viewing their government as removed and not addressing their needs. The role of citizen, claimed by Judge Brandies to be “the most important public office in the country” has been relegated to consumers of increasing election cycle messaging aimed to potentiate “mutual animosities”. It can be different. The James Madison Projects is inspired by the belief that We the People Can do better. By focusing on the vision that animated our founders and has energized Americans to achieve greatness.

 

 

Distrust: Distrust and alienation from the federal government and the toxic political process

 

Fiscal Health: The fiscal health of the nation: The budget, debt and deficit

 

Taxation: Unfairness of the tax system: tax code of 64, 000 pages

Inequality: Inequality of opportunity, income, wealth and employment

 

The Pain Opioid Epidemic: Impact of the opioids on more and more Americans

 

Healthcare: An unjust, uniequal, dysfunctional and expensive healthcare system

 

Gun Violence: Coming soon

 

Immigration: Coming soon

 

Justice: An out of control legal system, police and prison system

 

Environment: Failure to respond to climate change

 

Surveillance: The surveillance state: Privacy and dignity under assault by government and corporations

 

Infrastructure: A decaying infrastructure of roads, and bridges

 

Education: A declining public educational system out of reach for many Americans

 

Declaration of War: Lack of national consensus of how the United States should undertake a decision to go to war.

 

The Pain Opioid Epidemic

The Pain Opioid Epidemic is a symptom of what has been called Death of Despair. 

The Pain Opioid Epidemic Project is a citizen oriented, multi-stakeholder approach to treat pain and address the challenges associated with opioid use, abuse and overdose 

 

Distrust and alienation from the federal government and the toxic political process

A survey from the Pew Research Center finds the nation increasingly distrustful of the federal government. The findings show that about one-quarter of Americans trust government to do the right thing always or most of the time. A whopping 73 percent don't. And those surveyed blame members of Congress. Asked if the political system can work, 56 percent responded that lawmakers are the problem, and 32 percent disagreed. 

Inequality of opportunity, income, wealth and employment

Over the past 40 years, economic inequality in the United States has returned to levels last seen in the 1920s. Today, the United States is in the top quarter of the world’s most unequal countries. Economic mobility—a child’s likelihood of occupying a different position on the income ladder than his or her parents did—has fallen well behind Canada, Great Britain, and other advanced economies. And inequality has worsened over the course of the current economic recovery.

An out of control legal system, police and prison system

The U.S. federal prison population has increased almost 790 percent since 1980 from about 25,000 inmates to 219,000 in 2012, according to a new Congressional Research report. Federal prisons make up the largest component of a U.S.prison system that dwarfs all others in the world. The agency tasked with providing policy analysis to Congress attributes the spike to a host of tough-on-crime reforms that include draconian mandatory minimum sentences, the elimination of parole for any federal crime committed after 1987, and increasing enforcement by federal officials.

Taxation

Unfairness of the tax system: tax code of 64, 000 pages

As late as 1969, the U.S.tax code required "only" 16,500 pages. By 2007, the code grew to 67,506 pages. The current form 1040 instruction booklet is 155 pages long. Obviously none of this is necessary for the collection of taxes. The code has been shaped by the corruption of our government, which in turn was shaped by the corruption of our society. Putting the impact of these tax breaks on the national budget, budget experts Donald Marron and Eric Toder added up all the spending-like tax preferences and found that, in 2007, they amounted to $600 billion. If you had included those preferences as government spending, then the federal government would have actually been one-fifth larger than it appeared.

Fiscal Health

The fiscal health of the nation: The budget, debt and deficit

If the current laws that govern federal taxes and spending do not change, the budget deficit will shrink this year to $845 billion, or 5.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), its smallest size since 2008. In CBO’s baseline projections, deficits continue to shrink over the next few years, falling to 2.4 percent of GDP by 2015. Deficits are projected to increase later in the coming decade, however, because of the pressures of an aging population, rising healthcare costs, an expansion of federal subsidies for health insurance, and growing interest payments on federal debt. 

Healthcare System

An unjust, dysfunctional and expensive healthcare system

Here are a few of the symptoms of our sick health care system. 

Millions of Americans are without healthcare insurance.

90 thousand Americans die and many more suffer injuries because of preventable medical errors in encounters with the medical system.

$2.7 Trillion spent provides the best medical care for some, yet, overall our outcomes are less than nations who spend half as much, and many cannot afford life saving care they need.

$750 Billion of the money spent in our healthcare system provide no objective improved health outcomes.

Surveillance & Privacy

The surveillance state: Privacy and dignity under assault by government and corporations.

Mass surveillance is the intricate surveillance of an entire or a substantial fraction of a population in order to monitor that group of citizens. 

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Environment

Environment: Failure to respond to climate change

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Education

A declining public educational system out of reach for many Americans

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Declaration of War

Declaration of War and Related Foreign Policy Lack of consensus of how the United States should undertake a decision to go to war.

 

The need for reform stems from the gravity and uncertainty posed by war powers questions. Few would dispute that the most important decisions our leaders make involve war. Yet after more than 200 years of constitutional history, what powers the respective branches of government possess in making such decisions is still heavily debated.

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