A law against dropping out of high school—I run into so many teenagers who have all but set themselves up for failure in life because they were allowed to drop out of high school and “work”. Let’s be clear, you can barely get a decent job with a college degree. With no High School diploma, you are more likely to be working the inside of garbage cans, than inside an organization or company. In my opinion, the four years in high school are the most important years of your education, because it is usually when you form your dreams for your life. High School dropouts are more likely to lack the essential technological and fundamental math and reading skills necessary to compete in this ever changing society. If there is not an outright ban, the student should at least be required to present an alternate plan to ensure they aren’t just dropping out high school and into complete failure.
An Appealing Plug-In Electric Car—When I lived in Atlanta, I’d drive my car to the back of the house to park…right next to the garage. I often thought, “Man, if this were an electric car, I could plug it up right here.” Right now, I’m mad at Japan, Germany, and Detroit…they should have this car on the road already. In addition, I don’t want to drive something that looks like a stapler like the Prius. Why can’t I drive an electric Camry? an electric Taurus? or for that matter an electric Corvette? I know, the technology isn’t there yet, or maybe it isn’t cost-efficient enough to bring to production, still, I want it to happen.
A continuation if not a strengthening of PEPFAR—This is the one initiative I hope President Obama doesn’t reverse. I honestly think that of all the bone-headed, misguided, cruel acts Bush committed, this initiative is one of his finest moments. It may be the finest moment of any president as it pertains to combating HIV/AIDS worldwide. This is the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and it is a commitment of 15 billion dollars over 5 years for HIV/AIDS Relief in Africa. What I’d REALLY like to see is a greater commitment. HIV/AIDS is still a devastating, crippling, and incurable disease. It is not a gay disease, or an African-American disease, this is a worldwide pandemic that is spreading. What bothers me is that there are those who have this idea that you can “live with HIV/AIDS”. There is no “living” with HIV/AIDS. This initiative not only aids African countries or so-called focus countries, but also countries like India and Indonesia. It’s a program worth saving, because of the lives it saves.
A dead sprint between the President and the White House Chief of Staff—the President can ball! I saw a no-look pass on the break from him the other day and was like…okay…Presidents don’t throw no-look passes. Then I read Emmanuel trains for triathlons. Because I’m extremely jealous that I cannot run a triathlon nor throw a no-look pass, (at least not one that finds its target). I’d like to see a dead sprint between the President and Emmanuel. The loser has to watch a session of Congress at work (on C-Span to ensure maximum boredom).
An end to the Broker Monopoly on Rental Vacancies/Rent Reform in New York City—THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH! Rental rates are astronomical and are in serious need of regulation. Landlords are charging rates here in New York City so high, that when you repeat them to folks in other states the universal response, “WHAT!, that’s crazy!” Don’t believe me…try it. This is especially troubling for me because I am currently trying to find a new apartment. I inquired about a two-bedroom brownstone in Harlem, sure it was gorgeous…but it wasn’t $2500 a month gorgeous. To me, the rent wasn’t just high, it felt greedy. My problem with Broker’s fees is that without paying one of them, your chances of living in a nice, progressive neighborhood seems to be slim, particularly here in New York City. Typically, a broker will charge you 15 percent which for me is still a problem, but most want an entire month’s rent up front. Whatever happened to a month’s security, a month’s rent and you get keys??? P.S. the Broker’s fee for the aforementioned two-bedroom brownstone was 2 months upfront meaning I would have had to cough up $10,000 dollars just to get keys. We need reform.
Community Service for College Tuition—The President has called on the nation to embrace a new commitment to service. No problem. Just cut a little off that college tuition and I’ll feed the homeless, volunteer at the fire house, the senior citizen’s home, the HIV/AIDS organization. I’ll even mentor children and illiterate adults. But if I’m $100,000 in debt by the time I leave college…guess what? I’m working for yours truly and volunteering for yours truly. Which is sad, because life would be so much more rewarding, if I could help myself by helping others. I’m not even asking for half…20 percent off would save me a bundle!
Health Care Reform!—Right now, the drug companies have entirely too much control. Prices for medical procedures are too high and entirely too many people are uncovered. I would like the sense of service the president called for to extend to this industry. I mean that, this is the one industry where human survival is paramount to everything else. The medical industry is not the auto industry, it is not the oil industry, it is not the financial industry. It is the life and death industry and it needs to embrace that idea in a more meaningful way. Drug companies should be willing providers of their drugs to countries that cannot afford them, particularly third-world countries. It is sickening watching folks die because a drug they need is unavailable due to cost. Sickening. In addition, I’m not sure why I am always watching a story about how some Canadian goes to the hospital, gets taken care of and walks out drama-free, but I am sick of that not being an American story. Damn, health coverage seems like such a basic right. I mean, what can you do, if you can’t see a doctor when you’re ill? Don’t we all deserve to be as healthy as we can be? Isn’t it doing a disservice to the country at-large if we just keep things as is? Health Care shouldn’t be a choice in this country…we make too much money, if even they tell you we’re broke, we’ve been through worse. You should be able to visit a doctor and buy medicines without worrying how you are going to pay rent afterwards. We need reform!
A Greater Focus on Elderly Poverty—You know why no one talks about this? Because you don’t see them. They are usually huddled in their homes quietly waiting out the terms of their existence and venture out when you’re at work or school so you don’t knock them over in your rush to get past them. They hear it when you suck your teeth at how slow their moving, you know? We better thank god we do have Social Security because if we didn’t, 44 percent of the elderly would be impoverished right now. Speaking of impoverished there are 2.3 million women and over 1.1 million men over the age of 65 living below the poverty line. WE SHOULD BE ASHAMED. These “old folks” paved the way for our lives in the present yet they struggle the most with utility bills, grocery bills, and transportation. WE SHOULD BE ASHAMED. We are quick to write them off and put them out to pasture when they become too much of a burden. As sons and daughters, we run from the responsibility because it is too much. WE SHOULD BE ASHAMED. The elderly need advocates. Not just those who work for non-profits but from friends, neighbors and families. They gave us life, at least we can make them comfortable at the end of theirs.
A full and complete BAN on pawn shops, title loans, cash advance loans, and all other forms of predatory lending—YOU ARE BEING FLEECED! During my time in Memphis, it was more common to see a predatory lender than a library. These folks set up in strip mall after strip mall offering to lend you money and take your valuables provided you paid back at ridiculous interest rates. These loans prey on those who are most desperate in our society. The unemployed, the uneducated, those recently released from prison, the poor, the disenfranchised, the ELDERLY. It is just heinous to see the level of financial destruction being levied upon these groups. Sure, they sign up for these loans willingly, but in truth, they should never be offered these loans at all. Most of these loans are never repaid and end up destroying the credit of the ones who receive them. Meanwhile, the lender works his magic and makes his money whether you pay back or not. It is ethically wrong, it is morally wrong, and these types of loans should be illegal to offer.
An end to divisiveness- Even as the country took a united stand and elected the first black President in United States history, I watched shows like Hannity and Co. replaying a videotape of a black teacher yelling at a lone white student for being a McCain supporter. I read a story about a University of Texas football player being kicked off the team for posting “Everybody get guns, we got a nigger in the White House!” on his face book page. I am so sick of watching and listening to us fracture this great union with this base level of nonsense. I made a decision awhile ago that I was not going to defend ignorance, no matter what corner of Earth it came from and I meant it. We all know what our fears are, what our prejudices are, where we are most secure and where we are most insecure. This country simply cannot hold itself together when its citizens are constantly trying to knock each other down.