Table of Contents

Business & Labor

1. 4-Day Work Week

Work weeks for much of the labor population should consist of optional four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days, still keeping the workweek length at 40 hours. A scheduling system could be devised at the employer level so that, on average, only 20% (one/fifth) of the labor population participating in this 4-day workweek is off on any given weekday. While it may be harder for some businesses to continuously staff their workplace, perhaps enough built-in or engineered flexibility could be found to make this proposition feasible, allowing the business to be sufficiently staffed for the full five day workweek.

4dayworkweekThe 4-day workweek should apply to most workers except those such as seasonal workers or educational workers which normally receive extended vacation periods, like 10-week summer vacations, etc.

Such a system would give people one free weekday during which they could do things that they may not be able to do conveniently during weekday evenings, weekends, holidays, or whenever they are not working, such as going to the dentist/doctor, visiting their children’s school, staying home to wait for a scheduled repairman, signing for a special delivery, or to do any other business/stuff that can usually only be conveniently done during normal business hours within the workweek. A workweek consisting of four 10-hour days would also have numerous other benefits, the most obvious of which are reduced traffic congestion for everybody, reduced wear and tear on cars and whatever other modes of transportation are used to get to and from work, and a significant increase of up to two hours or more per week of free time per individual because of the elimination for the need to get ready for and travel to and from work for a fifth time during the week. This proposal may also help reduce the general level of stress of society and possibly give people more time to slow down, think about the meaning of life, organize, help other people, and do other things.

If there is a one-day holiday that occurs during any particular week, then that should be counted as the day of the week that is taken off and the other four days should be worked. Ideally, during normal weeks, the weekdays that employees are off should probably be rotated among workers through any combination of employee requests and employer demands. These days off could be scheduled for terms lasting a month, quarter, year, or whatever length of time both the company and workers decide upon. Though this change will make life a little more complicated, especially at first, once a system is worked out, the benefits should prove themselves worthy to all involved.

Part time workers could be used to fill in for periods of expected high labor demands. For example, 4-, 6-, and even 8-hour workdays could be instituted in combination with either 4- or 5-day workweeks.

7-Day Work Week?

Using this kind of employee time-shifting scheduling system, it may be possible to have stores, government offices, etc., open for 6 or even 7 days a week. This would make life far more convenient for so many people, because they could conduct their normal business during the ‘weekend’ when such places would otherwise be closed. This would mean that traffic during the week would be lightened because some of that demand would be shifted to the weekends. Of course, that also means that traffic during the weekends would be significantly heavier. However, more people would benefit from the reduced traffic during the week than would be disadvantaged by the increased traffic during the weekends simply because of the fact that more people are on the roads during the weekdays as opposed to the weekends.

In summary, spreading out the use of all infrastructures (roads, buildings, etc.) across more time (either a longer day and/or a longer week) would mean that such infrastructures are empty for less time. Yes, utility consumption would increased, so assessments must be made to see if the benefits of lower traffic/congestion, more worker ‘free time’, etc., justify these additional costs.

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2. Non-Wage Compensation

No Work, No Pay

No business or company should be required to provide its workers with anything other than direct wage or salary (financial) compensation for work performed. Any type of insurance (health, unemployment, etc.) for the worker (with or without including his family) or any other benefits should not be required by law. In addition, employees should pay 100% of the payroll tax without employers paying half or any other portion of it. Pension benefits should also not be required to be offered to employees. People should save up for retirement during their working years. The savings gained by not offering benefits such as these should, instead, be reflected with higher wages, enough to compensate for their loss.

The same should apply for military employees.  They should get wages (that when averaged out over their service years) are roughly equivalent to what past and current military service members are estimated to have earned (both direct wages and benefits throughout their life). This way, when service members retire from the service, they are able to invest their earning themselves to provide for their future needs, including health insurance needs.

See this link from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for an idea of how much compensation is tied up in benefits (roughly 1/3).

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3. Absent Day Wages

Employers Not Required to Provide Paid Days Off

Paid sick days, paid vacation days, paid personal time off days, etc., should not be required by law. Companies should not be required to pay workers for any work day during which they do not show up for work. No work, no pay. However, job security should be guaranteed for workers who call in sick or take a vacation up to a maximum number of days per year or according to some minimum standard the government has set up and/or according to the company’s own policy, whichever is less stringent.

Pay Structure for Absent Days Should Incentivize Coming to Work 

Nevertheless, if companies do decide to pay workers for sick or vacation days, etc., they should do so at a rate that is significantly below the worker’s normal wages, such as 50%. For example, if a worker would normally earn $100 per day at work, calling in sick would allow him to earn only $50, thus costing him $50 in lost wages. However, if this same worker, instead of using his sick days, saves them until the end of the year (or even indefinitely, ideally), he could be allowed to sell his sick days back to the company for $125, a pay rate significantly higher than what a normal work day would earn him. To discourage the accumulation of hundreds of days of sick or vacation time, the compensation a worker receives for not using this time and selling them back to the company should be based on the hourly wage rate the worker was receiving at the time that the sick or vacation day accrued to his banked days. Furthermore, it should not be adjusted for inflation. The longest accrued days in a banked days account would always be used first. Such policies would discourage workers from calling in sick without really being sick. Of course, it would also encourage workers who are truly sick to come to work anyway, which would be another problem. But at least the incentive to call in sick would be lessened a bit.

Days Off Should Be Lumped Into One ‘Absent Days’ Basket

There shouldn’t be separately defined sick days, vacation days, personal time off, etc. All absent days should be lumped together and just referred to as ‘absent days’. This would prevent the tendency for people to lie about the reason for requesting a day off and tend to lessen the awkward conversation/relationship between employee and employer when they illegitimately ask for a day off due to illness. However, if an employee exceeds the allowable number of days off allowed by the company, the employer should have lots of leeway (as is often the case now) in determining the validity of the claim, but also should have the ability to reassign, demote, or (if abuse of the policy is ascertained) fire the individual in question, once his/her banked days have been used up and have gone into the negative by a certain, previously specified, significant amount.

Making Up For Absent Days, Late Arrivals & Early Departures

Also, workers should be allowed to make up for absent days, late arrivals or early departures, by working extra hours (at a rate of two hours for every hour of absence, for example) on other days of their choice (with permission from management) throughout the year. They could also work to purchase hours or days to place in their ‘absent days bank’ at the same rate (two hours of work for every hour of absence allowance earned). Workers who did not give sufficient advanced notice (as defined by the employer) of any absence to the employer should be penalized for this extra burden placed on the employer by being required to pay for or purchase their absence time with significantly more hours of work, perhaps at a ratio of 2.5 or 3 hours of work for every hour of absence.

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4. Poverty Level Definition

The poverty level is the minimum level of income which is deemed adequate in a particular area. Such calculations should occur for every county, since there is often a significant variation in the cost of living between counties. The poverty level for a single person (household size of one) should be defined as an income at or less than the negative 1.75 standard deviation of the income of the county average. The same calculation should occur for each size of household. This would mean that right around 4% of the population of any county would be defined as having income at or below the poverty level.

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5. Minimum Wage, Overtime & Other Labor Pay Policies

Minimum Wagenormaldistributioncurve

The minimum wage should be set at a level at which a single individual, working full time (2,080 hours per year), is able to fund a lifestyle right at an expense point at the negative 1 standard deviation of the estimated reasonable cost of living for a single person averaged throughout the county of residence. This cost of living would include all the essentials such as food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical, taxes and miscellaneous.

Overtime Completely Voluntary & Based on 40-Hour Workweek

No company should be able to force an employee to work overtime. Employers could offer incentives for them to work overtime, but should never fire them or penalize them for refusing to work overtime. Overtime pay should be based on the total weekly hours worked, not on the total daily hours worked.

Employee Overtime Availability Agreements With Employers

Employees could enter into certain agreements with their employers in advance to work overtime for a specified number of hours per month, per quarter, etc., so that the employer could be guaranteed a certain extra amount of dependable labor to get through rare, unexpected labor bottlenecks. For example, an employee could schedule days of the week that overtime labor could be requested by the employer, such as Monday through Wednesday, except for the second Tuesday of the month. Employees would be required to remember which days they have permitted for possible overtime labor to be requested, because if the employee is called but cannot perform that overtime on that day, maybe some penalty system could be devised, such as perhaps the requirement of  2 hours of free labor at some time in the future for every one hour of overtime labor requested.  The employee should retain the right to change the days which they choose to be available for overtime work at any time prior to being called upon to perform that overtime work.

Employee Bidding for Overtime Work

The employer should retain the right to choose whomever they want to fulfill overtime labor requirements. But to prevent potential employee grumblings about who got picked and who didn’t, perhaps some sort of bidding system could be set up, either at the time of the labor shortage or preferably in advance, so that the prices paid for overtime would tend to reflect and better match the desire to work with the need. Bids by employees for the price of overtime work in the future could be set for a weekly or monthly basis, and maybe statistical data for past years could be studied to help determine the price by studying the employees’ desire to work with the need. Because the federal minimum payment regulations for overtime work stands at 1.5 times that wage rate, that may be the starting point for the bidding. Workers could bid progressively lower until no worker outbids another. Conversely, if no worker chooses to work overtime at the starting bid of 1.5 times wages, then the employer may increase overtime pay until someone accepts.

Overtime Pay or Equivalent Time Off

Since the federal minimum overtime compensation is 1.5 times the regular pay rate, employees should be given the option of either overtime pay for overtime work or, instead of payment, could be compensated instead with equivalent time off in the future at that same ratio. In other words, for every hour of overtime worked, the employee should be able to choose to take one and a half hours of regular work off in the future. This should only be an option granted by choice of the employer and employees should never be forced to take this option.

Maternity/Paternity Leave

Governments should never require employers to provide paid maternity/paternity leave, but should require employers to guarantee their employee’s previous position upon their return from leave. Employers which employ more than 56 (measured as the total of all employees across all work sites run by that employer) should be required to provide unpaid maternity and paternity leave for a full 56 weeks so parents have a higher likelihood of celebrating the first anniversary before having to go back to work. Employers with 55 employees would be required to provide a full 55 weeks of unpaid leave. Employers with 54 employees would be required to provide 54 weeks, employers with 53 should provide 53 weeks, etc., all the way down to employers with 12 who should be required to provide 12 weeks. Employers with 11 or fewer employees would not be required to provide any leave time and the employer would be free to dismiss and replace such employees, if so desired.

This leave time should be allowed to be taken either all at once or spread out over time. Employees would naturally need to consult and negotiate with their employers so that an agreeable schedule is worked out for both parties. However, employers should be required to make ‘great efforts’ to accommodate an employee who prefers to take such leave time spread out over more time. For example, fathers may want to take 3 days a week off, or the first month after the birth off and then work only 2 days a week after that for the next 2 months and then work for 4 days a week for the next 4 months. Or, perhaps mothers and fathers may want to work out an alternating schedule of some sort so that the baby will always have one parent at home, for example one week on and one week off for each of them.

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6. Late-to-Work Penalty

Employers should be allowed to punish employees showing up late for work or coming back late from lunch breaks by requiring them to either work for free during their regular shift or to work for free before or after their regular shift. (If the employer requires this time to be made up after an employee’s regular shift, the employer should be sensitive to previously scheduled employee obligations.) The number of minutes late would be multiplied by a certain factor to determine the number of minutes that the employee should be required to work for free. For example, if an employee arrives 10 minutes late to work, that employee’s number of late minutes could be multiplied by 3 so that that employee would be required to work 30 minutes for free, either before, after, or during his regularly scheduled shift, according to what the employer, and to a lesser extent the employee, decides.

These punishments do not need to be fulfilled or satisfied on the same day that the employee was late. In some cases it may be best to have all of these late minutes accumulate to the point where they could all be served in one free day of labor. However, perhaps the best way may be to just subtract each day’s accumulated late minutes (plus the punitive multiple) from each day’s total scheduled labor time. This decision would be up to the employer.

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7. Child Labor

2015_0612_Child_LaborChildren under the age of 15 should not be forced to perform regular paid labor if enrolled in school fulltime. Their primary focus should be schooling, though voluntary paid labor performed during non-school hours should be permitted. If enrolled full time in school, children 15 and over could be forced to perform up to 10 hours of paid labor per week in addition to any voluntary labor they desire to perform. If the child 15 or over is enrolled part-time in school, then 20 hours per week of forced paid labor could be permitted. Children 15 or over not enrolled at all in school would be subject to normal adult labor regulations, and could be forced to work up to 40 hours per week.

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8. Retirement Age

Retirement ages should be pegged to 10 years less than whatever the life expectancy of a person is at age 50. For example, if an average 50-year-old male is expected to live for another 26.4 years, his total life expectancy at age 50 would be 76.4 years. By subtracting 10 years from 76.4 years, we arrive at a retirement age of 66.4 years, which is about 66 years and 5 months. Upon reaching age 66, this new retiree could expect, not just 10 years, but about 15 more years of life because the average remaining life expectancy for a person at age 66 is naturally longer than it is at age 50. People should plan to fund 20 years of their retirement, which is a point significantly past their expected life expectancy. Therefore, this individual would need to have planned for 20 years of retirement, until he reaches the age of 86.4 years. People who live past their planned 20 years of retirement and who own below a certain low threshold of assets, would have their expenses funded fully by the government.

So that planning can be made a little more predictable, this retirement age figure should be calculated, perhaps every 5 or 10 years rather than every year.

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9. Commission Payments, Referral & Contingency Fees

No individual worker should ever be paid based on the number of units they sold or the type of service rendered. Rather, they should be paid through a formula independent of any significant link that may cause a direct conflict of interest between sales and integrity of service. A salary or hourly payment system should be used.

Ban Referral Fees & Contingency Fees

Likewise, referral fees and contingency fees should also be banned.

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10. Gratuity (Tips) – Only for Exceptional Service

The practice of giving tips to workers, like waitresses, taxi drivers, pizza delivery people, etc., should be discouraged. The social set point for tips should be shifted so that tips are only left for people delivering clearly exceptional services. Automatically billing customers for tipping charges should be illegal. Customers should, on their own initiative, arrange for the payment of a tip.

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11. Lunch Breaks

Employers who offer employees lunch breaks of 45 minutes or less should be required to pay for this lunch time at the regular hourly rate. Lunch and break times should all be in addition to their daily working shift. However, if lunch breaks are over 45 minutes long, employers should not be required to pay for this time. Paying for employee lunchtimes would not necessarily increase the cost to employers (perhaps it would even decrease their costs by decreasing their accounting expenses). Employers could simply reduce the hourly rate paid to their employees by a small amount so that the employee would earn the same amount of money under either arrangement. For example, an employee making $10/hour with an unpaid half-hour lunch would be equivalent to an employee making $9.41/hour with a paid half-hour lunch.

Employers should be allowed to require employees to put in a full 8 hours of solid work each day, exclusive of lunch and break times. In other words, employees with a 30 minute lunch and two 15-minute breaks could be required to stay at their job for 9 hours (9 am-6 pm, for example). The 8 hours would constitute the solid work time, while the additional 60 minutes would be the cumulative total of lunch and break times.

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12. ‘Downsizing’ Speed Limit

To help mitigate the negative, often severe effects that mass layoffs can have on an economy, there should be a maximum rate at which companies are allowed to layoff their employees, including employees who are fired and quit. Although employees who quit would be counted towards a maximum allowed quota, no enforced limit would exist on the number of individuals that can quit a company. Compensation for such employees would cease upon there submitting their resignation or at some later time agreed upon by the employee and employer.

Limiting the rate at which small companies can layoff their employees would intrude too much on the flexibility of those small companies. Furthermore, layoffs from an individual small company has a virtually insignificant impact on the larger economy of the region. Of course, cumulative small company layoffs would, and probably normally do, have a very significant impact, but reducing or regulating the rate of those layoffs will prove more difficult to justify and implement practically and would also require too much government micromanagement of the private sector. However, the rate at which large companies layoff their employees can be not only easier to regulate, but can also mitigate negative impacts that are often much more economically noticeable or geographically localized.

Nevertheless, each employer should be allowed to layoff (including firings and quittings) a maximum of 40 individuals per week. This rate is equivalent to laying off about 170 workers per month and 2080 individuals per year. It is also roughly equivalent to laying off one person per hour for eight hours during each official work day of the year, excluding weekends and holidays.

Such a layoff policy would not only limit the economic damage inflicted on an economy during periods of massive layoffs, but would also slightly discourage businesses from taking certain risks, namely risks associated with growing so large so as to create for themselves a potential economic liability if and when the time comes that they need to rapidly reduce their workforce.

Companies engaging in massive layoffs would be allowed to simultaneously tell an unlimited number of workers that they are laid off and could actually prevent them from showing up to work. However, the company would be required to pay each worker up to the day or week that the company is legally permitted to lay them off under this policy’s weekly cap.

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13. Worker Testing, Training, & Safety

Trade Worker Classes

Plumbers, electricians and all other people licensed to work in a particular trade should be required to periodically successfully pass hands-on tests to show their functional understanding of how to work with new materials or new techniques that may have begun to come into use in that trade recently. These tests should be required every five years. The tests should also include sections that cover virtually all other more conventional materials, techniques, etc. of the trade. The idea is to make sure that people working in their respective trades know how to do the work and also to make sure that they at least know about any new developments that may have taken place since they received their licenses or since they last took such a test as proposed here. (Core of this idea came from Julius Ballanco, P.E.)

Food Handler Classes

All people who handle or prepare food as part of their regular jobs should be required to take and pass classes that deal in general with proper food handling, storage, and preparation methods as well as classes that specifically deal with special precautions that should be taken regarding the kinds of foods that they are involved with. In addition, such workers should be required to take refresher and updated classes every five years, at most, which include education emphasizing new developments in the area of food handling, storage, and preparation. Significant food handling, storage, or preparation catastrophes, major errors, or mistakes that made headlines in the news should be discusses and analyzed so that the lessons are sure to be learned.

General Workplace Safety Education

All members of the labor force should be required to take a course on general workplace safety issues, including repetitive strain injuries, ergonomic design, stress management, etc. They should be required to pass a test on this subject once every 5-10 years. People performing jobs with specific or unusual safety concerns should also take these tests at least every 5-10 years or as often as required by their employers.

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14. Workplace and Home Office Safety Standards

The federal government should not dictate how businesses should treat its employees or provide for their safety except for the most fundamental safety and human rights roles like insuring that forced labor and torture is not being used, insuring that obvious or potentially catastrophic safety hazards are taken care of and insuring the payment of minimum wages. The majority of workplace safety regulations should be created by state and local governments. And for small things or potential problems with dubious or uncertain scientific grounding, either no laws should be made or, if they are made, they should allow plenty of time for compliance.

The goal of workplace safety regulations should not be to eliminate every identifiable hazard in the workplace, but rather it should be to eliminate all the obvious and higher risk hazards. Employers and workers should then both be educated about the smaller hazards and they should just be told that injuries may result in the long term and to be careful and maybe recommend that they take precautions.

Federal and state governments could compile and publish a list of recommendations (based on preliminary or tentative scientific or historical data) to which businesses could voluntarily adhere. Each suggestion on such a list could be rated on a 3-point scale to signify the relative importance or benefit of the suggestion.

Home offices in which the workers are either the residents and self-employed or are the residents and work for another entity should not be required to meet workplace safety standards or any other safety standards except the relevant existing ones governing the workers’ residences. However, though outside employers for resident home office workers need not be required to enforce any government safety codes, they may choose to require their home office employees to abide by any regulation that the employer views as beneficial for any reason, including to ensure a certain level of protection for its employees, equipment, products, or productivity.

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15. Occupational Radiation Exposure Limits

Radiation exposure levels in occupational workers should be set at 200 mrems of anthropogenic exposure per year. The limit for all other individuals should be 100 mrems of anthropogenic exposure per year.

Anthropogenic exposure is defined as any radiation or additional radiation originating from a source which would otherwise not have existed if it were not for human activities and manipulations of the natural environment. Building materials, for example, with radiation emissions in excess of one standard deviation above the average of all building materials within the same, broad category, should have this excess radiation classified as anthropogenic in origin.

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16. Limited Sleeping Permitted for Pilots and Crew on Duty

Perhaps, if safety systems and procedures are sufficient enough, pilots, including pilots of passenger planes should be allowed the option of sleeping during non-demanding, non-serious/non-significant portions of the flight. However, at least one member of the cockpit crew should be awake and in the cockpit, at the controls, at all times. All members should be awakened at least 15 minute before major planned events, like takeoffs, landing, etc., or reasonably foreseen/predictable events, like turbulence, flying in or near storms, heavy air traffic, etc. Pilots allowed/required to sleep during very long flights could be allowed to fly beyond their daily hourly limits.

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17. Market Determined Government Pay

As a general rule, government employees should be paid equivalent (no less than 75%) to what they would earn in the private sector, including equivalent military positions.

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18. Permit Non-Disruptive Religious and Political Activities in the Workplace

Religious and political activities should be allowed in schools, workplaces and all other places provided that the activities do not interfere with normal schedules and provided that nobody is forced to participate in, including directly see or hear, the activities against their will (as in a captive audience). These activities may only take place during the ‘free time’ (lunch and breaks) of the participants. Solicitation of religious activities, unless repeated often, should not be prohibited or restricted.

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19. Female Occupation Segregation

Women should not be prevented from working in any profession, including military occupations. In certain lines of work, such as in the military, where males and females working together may pose significant or potentially significant problems or difficulties, such as soldiers in the same platoon, then provisions should be made for some units/platoons composed only of females (if there are enough females willing to participate) that would work relatively independently from males.

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20. Union Membership & Strikes

Membership

No one should ever be forced to become a union member. Employment should not depend, in any way, on union membership. However, unions may be allowed to charge non-union members fees to support the union’s “representational activities” for collective bargaining and contract administration.

Strikes

The employer should not be obligated to make any payments to any employee who strikes during the time they are striking.

Unions should not be allowed to strike unless they have received approval from a majority of its members.

Unions should be prohibited from striking if the pay difference (total compensation package) between union represented employees from the public sector and union represented employees from the private sector is greater than 17%. Neither should unions be allowed to strike if the difference (total compensation package) between unionized employees and non-unionized employees is greater than 17%.

Unions were created largely to ensure safe working environments and decent compensation for workers.  But it seems that increasingly more often, unions are fighting just for ever increasing compensation without reasonable justifications, especially public sector unions. Sure, everyone would like higher pay and more benefits, but such a desire, without an evidenciary basis in fact, does not justify labor-management confrontations.

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21. Product Pricing Court

National governments should create an import pricing court which would be responsible for overseeing all of the nation’s imports and adjusting upwards, when necessary, the prices of any imported goods or services which it judges to be unfairly low. The goal is to ‘adjust’ the price of such imports up to the minimum point at which their ‘true’ costs of production (including transportation) are reflected in the prices importers are required to pay for them. Such an import pricing court would help insure against domestic producers (as well as other foreign producers) from being unfairly under-priced by foreign producers which may not adhere to similar fundamental principles concerning the internalization of all reasonable and practical costs of production.

Under no circumstances should this court ever even consider the relative prices between domestically produced goods and services and imported goods and services. The only consideration of this court should be whether the imported prices are fair as determined by the producer’s adherence to fundamental principles concerning the internalization of all reasonable and practical costs of production.

At their point of entry into the country, imported goods and services should be assessed rectifying charges and punitive penalties if it has been decided by the court that they are produced using forced or inhumane labor, significant environmental damage, direct or indirect subsidies, exceedingly unsafe working conditions, or if producers have used methods which violate widely accepted moral standards used by the rest of the world, etc. There would be no limit on the amount of punitive penalties which can be levied and governments can use this tool to encourage foreign producers to improve certain elements related to their means of production in order to help improve the social or environmental health or wellbeing within that foreign country. Further punitive penalties could also be imposed due to lack of cooperation from exporting countries during investigations into unfair pricing complaints. Punitive penalties could be enforced even on products already in the transportation pipeline if the exporter made significant changes to the relevant methods of production before the ruling was handed down. Rulings cannot be enforced against newer products produced in a way the court deems acceptable.

After the import pricing court investigates unfair pricing complaints brought to its attention, it would issue a ruling which would take effect immediately. If the exporter is found guilty of unfair pricing, the court may issue a ruling imposing some rectifying charges as well as some additional penalties. These costs would be required to be collected on all imported goods and services which have not yet been processed through its ports of entry at the time of the ruling. (The importer would be required to pay these additional costs if they wish to take delivery of the goods.) At the same time, the import pricing court would notify the exporter with reference to the details of each of the charges and penalties assessed to its products and what they would need to do in order to get each charge and penalty eliminated.

Naturally, the national government of the importing country would collect all of these fees and penalties. However, the exporting country could assess the equivalent amount of fees (in the form of an export tax) to its exports destined for the importing country and affected by the rulings of the importing country’s import pricing court. If the exporting country chooses to do this, the result would naturally be that the prices of the imported goods would be at the point where their ‘true’ costs of production are reflected in the price (although, of course, this approach would not be the ideal solution). Thus, the importing country would not have any right to collect any rectifying charges though they would still have the right to collect any additional punitive penalties. However, the exporting country could also include these punitive penalties as part of their export taxes. The importing country would then have no reason to collect these same fees since the penalties would have been self imposed.

Nevertheless, the importing country will always have the right to be compensated (plus 10%) for all investigative, legal and processing costs, etc., associated with any rulings found against it. This amount could be collected by charging it onto either the future imports of the same or similar goods on which the import pricing court ruled, onto the same category of items imported from that country, or it could be spread out among all imports imported from the same country. For example, if an investigation into a complaint cost a total of $1,000,000, then $1,100,000 should be divided either among all future imports of that product, similar products, or divided equally among all imports from that country. It should be divided such that somewhere between a quarter to a third of these investigative charges are recouped per year, but these repayment formulas could vary greatly based on the qualitative and quantitative aspects of each market.

The following is how an import pricing court could affect the cost of an unfairly priced imported item. Let’s say country A is selling a product for $1, but country B, through its product pricing court, says that the product’s ‘true’ cost should be $1.50. Country B then states that country A is selling its product for 67% (2/3rd) as much as it should cost in a fair market, and imposes a rectifying charge on imports for the remaining 33% in order to bring the product’s price in country B’s domestic market to a level that is considered fair (meaning that it is not unfairly harming other foreign and/or domestic competitors). In addition, let’s say that country A is found to have used bonded labor and that it has also stifled country B’s access to several relevant records in its efforts to determine whether other unfair practices were used in country A during the production of the products in question. Due to these findings, country B could impose an additional punitive penalty of 50% of the product’s ‘true’ cost (75 cents per item), bringing the imported product’s cost to $2.25. This punitive penalty would serve as further punishment and encouragement to the exporter to discontinue these unfair and unjust production practices.

Only very rarely should a product be banned from import. If the rectifying charges and punitive penalties are high enough, the product will be effectively banned from import anyway. If the exporting country imposes export tariffs on the penalized products, and the situation is still not on a sufficient course toward resolution, then either a ban or additional penalties could be imposed.

Such a system as described here would encourage fairer trade around the world. Of course, the threat of retaliation does exist, but these can be minimized by making such an import pricing court a supranational court instead of merely a national court.

In sum, the unfair selling price of the products (original price set by the exporter), plus the rectifying charge, plus the punitive penalty, plus the investigative and court fees would raise the price of the imported product past its fair competitive price, thereby economically encouraging its manufacturer to adopt safer and fairer production practices without completely or entirely closing off our domestic market to the imported products while at the same time protecting domestic manufacturers from losing sales due to unfair pricing practices.

This product pricing court system could also have national branches that could also settle unfair pricing complaints levied against domestic producers of goods and services. A supranational court should not hear cases where both the plaintiff and the defendants are located in the same country.

 

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22. Price Controls, Price Gouging, & Price Fixing

It is the government’s responsibility to create an economic environment where markets operate with a natural stability, automatically tending to balance fundamental supply and demand forces even when significant interferences or other destabilizing events occur. Given an economic climate structured in such an ideal way, disruptions which exceed the natural stabilizing abilities of the market are bound to occur from time to time, and when they do, temporary price controls can be a very useful tool. But price controls should be used only as a short-term patch to get the markets safely through the emergency. The use of price controls should trigger an immediate review of relevant market rules and regulations to determine if any need to be revised or debugged to prevent similar kinds of emergencies from happening again.

Price Controls

Therefore, as a rule, price controls (such as rent control, electricity price controls, etc.) should not exist. The only exceptions should be during times when markets shows sure signs of excessive instability causing rapid and extreme price fluctuations or which take prices to levels that cause immediate or impending damage to the economy or which may cause an extraordinary dislocation of significant numbers of people.

Price Gouging

Price controls should be used to enforce a cap on prices so that the price of any single product does not exceed 10 times its average pre-emergency price. For example, during an emergency such as a hurricane, earthquake, etc., a $1 gallon of water or a $10 sheet of plywood cannot exceed $10 and $100, respectively. Violations (i.e., price gouging) would be treated as theft of any amount in excess of this ’10-times’ limit.

Price Fixing

Price fixing should be allowed so long as the combined market share of all the companies, businesses, etc., involved in price fixing does not exceed a certain fraction (1/3rd, for example) in any given political jurisdiction in which price fixing is planned or occurring.

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23. Price Including Tax

As a rule, the stated prices for most products and services should include all relevant sales tax charges. Naturally such prices cannot be stated on advertisements that are distributed to different political jurisdiction with different tax rates, but it could easily be done with the goods and serviced sold by physical stores.

Furthermore, this principle should be applied as widely as possible. Shipping charges, if they are the same throughout the advertised area, should be included as part of the advertised price of the product. In essence, a customer should not have to add up a whole bunch of other numbers (such as taxes, shipping charges, mandatory fees, etc.) in order to arrive at the ‘true’ price of a product. Though it is naturally impossible to completely achieve this due to differing tax rates and other factors, prices should be as close to ‘true’ as possible. As much as possible, customers should be able to give the seller the amount stated on the price, and be able to walk away with the product.

The receipts would, of course, breakdown exactly what taxes and other charges are included in the final price.

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24. Prices: In Cost Per Unit

In addition to however else they may want to state them, restaurants, grocery stores and other wholesale and retail food sellers should be required to state the cost of their food items in cost per unit of weight or volume (for example, cents per ounce).  This would greatly simplify the comparison of prices across different products.

This same principle should be applied to virtually every other appropriate consumer good.

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25. Daily Trading Limits (Stocks and Commodities)

No governing authority should be allowed to prevent the implementation of maximum daily trading limits (based on range of price movements for a single day) when requested by either a securities or commodities exchange, or even perhaps when requested by the original sellers of a security, in which case any trading limit would apply to securities of that single company. As a general rule, these trading limits should range between 5-10% of the value of the security or contract. A smaller percentage would trigger limits on trading too often, thus interfering a little too much into the operations of a free market. A larger percentage would tend to defeat the purpose of such a system, allowing too much ‘damage’ into the market before forcing a market-wide pause in trading.

Such a system would operate as follows. Let’s assume that a stock’s closing price is at $100 per share. Assuming that a 10% limit was set for that stock, on the next trading day the price of that stock would be allowed to trade anywhere from between 90-110, without any penalty or restrictions. However, let’s assume that negative news pushes that stock lower so that it hits the 90 level. At that point, the exchanges would prevent trading at any price lower than 90. Trading at or above 90 (up to 110) would be allowed throughout the rest of the trading day without restrictions of any kind. If the stock holds at 90 until the close of trading that day, it would mean that trading for the next day would be allowed only in a range that is + or – 10% of 90, which is from between 81 and 99. For penny stocks trading at $5 or less, perhaps there should be much less restrictive trading limits or no limits at all. Governments should encourage the use of such daily price range limits so that markets will be afforded a certain degree of protection from wildly swinging prices resulting from information which in the end may be seen as untrue or exaggerated. The extra time provided by these limits could be used by traders to further analyze news/information, likely making pricing activity resulting from false news less severe than would otherwise be the case.

Though this would also work to limit moves resulting from beneficial news, the concept of a speed limit placed on price moves would act to moderate a wildly fluctuating market. In the end, prices will reflect the true value of the underlying, but trying to reestablish that equilibrium through the use of moving upper and lower pricing channels is an attempt to tame a market that would otherwise experience greater volatility, generating slippage losses that traders would otherwise be less able to predict.

The ultimate solution to this problem of highly volatile markets and market conditions is not trading restrictions, like the trading limits delineated above, but the dominance of long term traders and market players who know how to react to news, and the creation of a market trading environment that is less amenable to yielding profits on tiny moves of stock prices. For example, the imposition of a standard sales tax on each stock transaction would automatically and significantly reduce the profit potential of day traders and other short-term investors who are the types of traders most often responsible for precipitating drastic price moves which in turn trigger a succession of automated and institutional behavior in the same direction. To encourage trading behavior more in harmony with actual facts, short-term trades, whose traders base their trading decisions purely on price, need to be tempered.

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26. Business Cross-Subsidy Regulations

Businesses have the right to cross-subsidize any of their products (whose market shares stand and remain at less that 20% within political jurisdictions no smaller than counties) with revenues from other profitable products (or any other source) without any restrictions if there are at least 4 total suppliers of similar products serving the same county. If there are only 3 total suppliers, a maximum of 30% market share should be allowed before cross-subsidy restrictions are imposed. When 2 total suppliers exist, the critical percentage should be 40% before cross-subsidy restrictions are imposed. The reason for a slightly lower than proportional percentage of the market share is to help restrict subsidized products from achieving a proportional market share (or larger) given that they are clearly not competing within a true free market or on an equal footing with their competitors. No company should be allowed to sell a subsidized product without penalty if their market share is more than the allowable percentages stated under this proposal.

Constructing the Tax

Two statistics should be used to formulate this penalty.

  • The first statistic would be the dollar amount to which a company subsidizes the product in question. Thus, a determination regarding the subsidized dollar amount for each product must be made either through the company releasing such information or by having a court decide on an estimated amount of the subsidy. The dollar amount of the subsidy would then constitute the bulk of the penalty.
  • The second statistic would be the amount (in percentage points) by which a company exceeds its allowable market share under this proposal. This same percentage figure would be multiplied by the product’s selling price, and the resulting dollar amount would constitute the second portion of this penalty.

The resultant dollar amounts from both statistics obtained above would constitute the total amount of this cross-subsidy penalty.

Example

For example, let’s say that there are 4 companies offering widgets (each one costing $200 to produce) and each company has a proportional market share of 25%. (Remember, a maximum market share of 20% is allowed with 4 suppliers.) One company, however, subsidizes its widgets by 15% ($30, in this example) and has a market share that is 5% above that which is allowed by this proposal. Because of these two factors, this company would be subjected to a cross-subsidy penalty tax of $40. This amount is determined by taking the product’s subsidized amount ($30) and, adding it to 5% (the product’s excessive market share percentage) of the product’s selling price ($10).

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27. Prohibit Prepayment Penalties

Prepayment penalties on loans or other financial liabilities should be prohibited. People should be able to pay back any loan as fast as they want without any restrictions.

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28. Fat or Disabled Pay for Needed Services

Very fat people and people with other unusual physical needs should be charged according to the same rate for products and services as the general population. For example, a fat person requiring the space of two seats on an airplane should be required to purchase two seats to accommodate that person’s needs.

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29. Individually Metered Utilities

Every unit of rental properties should have individually metered utilities so that all tenants pay only for what they use. The prices for utilities should not be set through some sort of formula or calculation of an average involving more than one unit.

The utility provider should be the entity that is responsible for installing and maintaining all utility meters. Utility providers may charge for initially running the infrastructure to deliver the utility to the property, but once the infrastructure is set, the customer should only be required to pay for the utility actually consumed and damages to equipment other than ‘normal wear and tear’.

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30. Real Time Pricing of Utilities

The pricing of electricity, water, natural gas, and even telephone rates should more accurately reflect the specific current market conditions of supply and demand, as well as distribution factors, all of which can often change rapidly and affect the true costs of a utility. All these utilities should be priced in as much of a real time manner as possible or practical. Electricity, especially, should be priced not just daily, but hourly, which would be much better. The true costs of water and natural gas do not change anywhere near as fast as it does for electricity, so perhaps daily, weekly, or monthly pricing is sufficiently accurate to reflect market conditions.

To know what the cost of these products are at the moment of consumption, each user should be able to buy a real-time utility consumption pricing gauge showing the real-time price per unit of the product (gallon of water, kilowatt-hour of electricity, thousand BTU of natural gas, etc.) and the cumulative total cost of a customer’s consumption for the indicated time period.

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31. Rebate, Refund, Credit Payment Regulations

All refunds, rebates, credits, etc., not paid within the stated period (30, 60, 90 days, etc.) should be subjected to an immediate doubling. If they are not paid within twice the stated period, they should be tripled, and if they are not paid within three times the stated period, they should be quadrupled, etc. The payees of such refunds, rebates, credits, etc., should be required to notify the payers if the payees have not received payment after the expiration of the first period. Payers of such funds should be required to use certified delivery methods if they issue payment after the first deadline so that receipt of payment can be confirmed.

Refunds, credits, etc., should not be required to be paid to the customer in the same form in which the customer originally paid. The customer should have a choice on how he would like his refund or credit to be paid (whether cash, credit, check, etc.).

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32. Model Royalties

Model makers (including military model makers) should be required to pay royalties to the makers of the real items on which the models, toys, images, photographs, etc., are based. Royalties should be negotiated on a case by case basis.

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33. Usury

Usury should be legal to rates of up to 1000% annually or 100 percentage points above the rate of inflation, whichever rate is higher. Market forces should be solely responsible for determining interest rates except during extreme circumstances. The public should be better educated and an important part of primary education should be personal finances.

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34. Burial Plots Should Be Rented

Most or all burial plots should be rented. This way large amount of land will not be locked away for incredibly long periods of time. If people want certain deceased individuals to remain buried, they could rent the plot for longer periods of time and could continue to rent indefinitely.

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35. Publication Reselling

Original buyers of any type of publication(magazine, newspaper, etc.) should be able to resell their publications at any time they wish and at any price they would like, either below or above the publication’s original sale price, to any person that is willing to purchase it. The natural drawbacks are that such publications would be more out-of-date and their physical conditions may be worse than if they were purchased directly from the publisher. Nevertheless, authorizing such a secondary market for publications would potentially make for a greater use of each published unit (creating an environmental benefit), as well as create new job opportunities.

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36. Industry Congress Funds & Administers Their Own Infrastructures

All business entities within an industry should be required to pay, proportionately, for the construction and maintenance of all infrastructures needed for the proper functioning of that industry. For example, airlines should be required to pay for the construction and maintenance of airports, air traffic control centers and inspection and security systems, including the FAA. Roadway vehicle users (trucks, buses, cars, etc.) should be required to pay for the construction and maintenance of roads, signals, etc. The railroad industry and water transportation industry should pay for infrastructures needed or used for their respective needs and wants. Natural gas companies, water companies, telephone, fiber optic and cable companies should fund entirely all construction, maintenance and other costs associated with their respective infrastructures. As much as practical, each industry should require no external input of funding for its proper maintenance and support. All of the common infrastructures shared and used by companies within the same industry should be considered public goods (prohibited from private ownership), but managed almost entirely by the industry, with government oversight and large-scale planning approval.

Industry Congress

To properly govern the decision-making process relating to the construction, maintenance and management of infrastructures which benefit multiple companies within an industry (such as airports, power line networks, etc.), a congress of representatives proportionately representing all businesses within the industry should convene on a regular basis (weekly or monthly, perhaps) to plan, design, and fund new projects, resolve disputes, discuss standardization issues, etc. Perhaps this congress could publish a periodical informing businesses within the industry of relevant news concerning the industry. Of course, civil government agencies would have the final authority, as they do now, to approve major industry construction projects, provide proper zoning for activities, etc.

Infrastructure Records Agency

Every company, business and industry should be required to keep track of where exactly all of their infrastructure and equipment is located, whether still in use or not and whether it is underground, undersea, in space or anywhere else. A government agency should be created specifically for the purpose of being a central repository for this type of information so that if anyone in the country is digging, drilling, tunneling, or otherwise working in an particular area that person could contact this agency and find out quickly if there are any power lines, water or gas lines, or any other kind of both active and retired infrastructures in the area where they are working. The database should not be available to the general public for security reasons, but only to people who can show they have a legitimate need for such information. Every company would be required to notify and file a report to this agency of any changes in the placement or status of their infrastructure.

Funding This Proposal

Each company would also be required to pay fees that would go to fund both the industry congress and this infrastructure records agency. This fee would be proportionately based, at least in part, on the amount of infrastructures, both in use and retired, that belong to that company and which would necessarily be on file with the infrastructure records agency. This proportional fee would generally mean that a company with twice as much infrastructure as another company would pay a fee that is twice as large. In cases where several companies may share the same infrastructures, such as electrical power companies, each company’s fee should be based on its share of usage of that infrastructure.

The fees charged to all the companies within an industry should be enough so that the total revenues generated result in financial self-sufficiency for all operations undertaken by the industry, including funding for the industry congress. The activities of the infrastructure records agency should also be fully funded by all the industries for which it compiles records. The rate charged for retired infrastructures should be at least the same as but perhaps significantly higher than the rate for active, in-use infrastructures. This would encourage companies to remove infrastructures that are no longer in use resulting in cleaner, uncluttered maps, greater peace of mind, and potentially less pollution of the environment.

Transitioning/Selling Privately Built Infrastructures To Industry Management

Companies who invested in and built infrastructures using their own money before such infrastructures were opened for industry-wide uses, should have the right to charge a fee from the subsequent companies to recover the original company’s inflation-adjusted costs of building the infrastructure(s) as well as to receive a reasonable return on its investment, maybe somewhere between 200% to 500% of the original investment. After proper compensation has been realized, the original company would become a participant just like all other companies in the industry.

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37. Receipts for Every Transaction

Receipts should be printed and distributed to buyers, sellers, and any other parties involved in economic transactions unless all parties agree otherwise. Receipts should be detailed enough so that anybody looking at it will be able to know exactly what was purchased, when, and for how much. A detailed price breakdown should be included that clearly indicates the product cost, tax, discounts, etc.

Healthcare Receipts

Such receipts should also be included for services, such as doctor visits. Doctors should give each patient a receipt of their checkup visit (as well as every other type of visit). This receipt should show all the measurements taken by the doctor or nurses such as weight, blood pressure, heart rate, etc. It should also include any comments or recommendations made by the doctor. It should state how much the visit cost, as well as how much both the patient and the insurer paid or how much the government paid (or was forced to absorb) if an uninsured patient could not pay himself. The appointment time, visit start time, and perhaps the times that the various procedures were taken and the release time could also be noted on the receipt.

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38. Permanent Garage/Yard Sale Lots

More than two annual garage/yard sales should be prohibited from taking place at people’s homes. Instead, people should be required to bring their items for sale to dedicated locations specifically set up as a flea market/swap meet and held, preferably, on a daily basis, or at least on weekends. These locations could include several booths of various sizes to accommodate the demand and a small booth rental fee could be charged, enough to cover the costs of operating the flea market.

Alternatively, people with things to sell but who are not interested in investing the effort to sell them themselves could sign an agreement with the managers of such a facility to sell such things for them. In return, the facility would get a percentage of the proceeds from these sales. Perhaps the items sold in this way could have their prices reduced every day or few days until they are either sold or worth so little that they could be recycled or otherwise disposed. Perhaps items that didn’t sell could be placed into a ‘free’ pile of stuff that people could scavenge through and take for free.

Taken a few steps further, items brought to these locations could also be photographed, described, assigned a few key words, and placed on the Internet where a much larger market is available. The prices could be set by the original owner of the item or by the managers of this facility if that was agreed to. The price would then be lowered a little bit every day or few days until somebody buys it or until the price gets so low, that it is not worth continuing the listing. In such cases, the item would remain listed for a few more days as free. If nobody wants it, it would be recycled or otherwise disposed of. The operators of this system would naturally get a percentage of the sales to finance this system.

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39. Security Research Analysts and Investment Advisers Must Remain Separate

There must be an enforced separation between the research and investment banking departments of an organization because of the inherent conflict of interests between them. Human nature is just not capable of maintaining an honest separation over the long term when the financial stakes are so directly related. Public confidence can best be maintained only by this enforced separation.

Many of the elements imposed by the Sarbanes-Oxley act of 2002 are valuable regulations to maintain and expand throughout the industry to minimize the potential of another market shaking runaway financial evolution. For example, banning research personnel from advertising any products to potential clients and prohibiting the investment banking division from having any input regarding questions as to whether or not research should be initiated or terminated for any security are both good regulations.

In addition, full disclosure of any relationships security research analysts and investment advisers/bankers may have with each other must be made publicly available. Transparency is usually the best fail-safe measure of all to defuse potentially catastrophic future threats.

Ultimately, these artificial markets entail the creation and trading of investment securities which are simply financial instruments which create little, if anything, of intrinsic value. Yes, they do allow greater liquidity in various markets, which is beneficial, but such high levels of liquidity is of questionable necessity, except, of course to enable short-term investors, day traders, and high-frequency trading to occur with little slippage.

Greater stability can be brought to these markets by reducing the efficiency of trading. The imposition of a sales tax on every transaction would increase the cost of each trade, removing, to some degree, the incentive for people to participate in these markets for the mere extraction of money, without any significant connection or ‘investment’ with the underlying product. Such a tax would reduce the most volatile segment of the trading community to a level that is far less likely to dramatically alter market dynamics which could potentially lead to unusual market fluctuations or even partial or total collapse. The size of this proposed sales tax could be adjusted so as to provide the desired effect.

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40. Ban Hostile Takeovers

Hostile takeovers should be illegal. No company should ever be allowed to buy out or otherwise acquire a target company without the permission of its board of directors and the approval of a majority of its shareholders, if its shareholders comprise more than a 50% stake in the company. If the shareholders comprise less than a 50% share in the company, shareholder opinion would be legally irrelevant.

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41. Incorporation: Purpose & Protection

Purpose for a Corporation

Corporations should not have their primary purpose be to maximize profits for its shareholders.  Originally, states chartered corporations to achieve a specific public purpose (such as building roads or other public infrastructures).  However, that purpose has devolved into the singular purpose of maximizing profits for a corporation’s shareholders.

Governments should impose on corporations the requirement that their primary purposes, as stated in their Article of Incorporation, be something other than the maximizing of profits for its shareholders. These ‘benefit corporations’ should strive to operate in order to first fulfill the purposes for their incorporation, then try to make as much profit as possible in order to help ensure that the corporation is financially self-sufficient so that its continued existence in the future is assured.

Redefining the Protections Offered by Incorporating

An incorporated business should not shield its members (especially owners, top-tier managers, etc.) entirely from personal financial losses in the event of a bankruptcy, lawsuit or other financial obligations. Rather, the financial liabilities of a corporation should be paid first, naturally, from the assets of the corporation, then from the personal assets of its members, beginning with the owner and top level management. People lower down on the chain of command would be protected from all losses unless they were involved in illegal or unethical activities, or criminal mistakes that resulted in liabilities for the corporation. However, the last $5,000,000 in a corporate member’s assets should be protected from all financial liabilities relating to the corporation, unless the violations of the corporation were willfully egregious. In such cases, the courts may decide to lower the asset protection threshold to $1,000,000 or even less.

An individual member of a corporation having assets which exceed the threshold for protection offered by incorporation should be allowed to pick and choose what assets to keep, in any combination of real estate, cash, bank accounts, vehicles, art collections, or any other possible kinds of possessions. For example, if the amount of assets an individual is allowed to keep is determined by the courts to be $2,000,000, then any amount in excess of this $2,000,000 level would be required to be liquidated in order to fulfill the corporation’s debt obligations. That individual can choose, for example, to keep his $1,000,000 house, $400,000 in the bank, a $400,000 art collection, $100,000 in miscellaneous household items, and four $25,000 cars. The court cannot, in any way, impose on how the value of these remaining assets should be distributed. That would be left entirely up to the individual.

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42. Insurance Company Clearinghouse

There should be one central database or clearinghouse that all insurance companies could access to check the records of any insurance applicant or existing member for claims (and all related information, like outcome) they have made against other insurers. This way, potential insurance scammers, who often scam from many different companies, could be spotted more quickly.

Perhaps this information should be included in the Civilian Records database to make for a more streamlined system to quickly identify discrepancies or incongruities in a person’s activities.

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43. Government-Owned Businesses

Any government entity should be allowed to compete directly with the private sector in any area of the economy by forming its own business to service that market, just like a private business would do. As long as this government-owned business is run without any form of government subsidy or assistance which its competitors do not enjoy and as long as it doesn’t receive the lion’s share of the market or cause adverse market reactions, such activities should be allowed. In short, such an entity must play by all the rules governing private entities. The only difference is that some of the profits from such business enterprises would be used to supplement government tax revenues. Eventually, if enough businesses generate enough revenues, actual public tax rates could possibly be reduced.

Examples in which government business enterprises can become involved are virtually endless. There could be government-run transportation companies (possibly serving public transit), movie production companies (perhaps specializing in historical and documentary films), garment industry businesses (using prison labor which would also be available to private businesses), etc. The possibilities are endless and they will have the decision-making flexibility that private businesses possess.

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44. Government Non-Interference in Business Operating Schedules and Pricing

No level of government should prohibit any kind of business from operating during any time of the day, week, month, or year. The government has the right to restrict the amount of noise traveling across the business property’s lines, especially during nighttime hours, but no business, for example, should be required to regularly close down every Sunday or sell certain products (like Christmas trees) only during certain times of the year, etc.

In addition, governments should not be involved in directly setting prices for or mandating the free use of products or services produced by the private sector. For example, governments should be prohibited from preventing or regulating Automated Teller Machine (ATM) fees charged by either the banks or other ATM owners.

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45. Renter/Landlord Relationship & Responsibilities

Real estate property renters should be financially responsible for wear and tear maintenance and cleaning expenses (up to $200 per job) of their rented property. Tenants should be responsible for all cleaning jobs no matter the cost if they are solely responsible for the mess. However, tenants must get landlord approval for any maintenance, repair or major cleaning work planned for the rented property. Tenants should leave the rental units in the same condition and level of cleanliness as when they moved in.

Property renters, not owners, should be solely responsible for any illegal activity taking place on the property. Landlords should be held responsible only if they knew of the tenant’s intentions or activities and refused to take either preventive or corrective action against them or begin eviction proceedings against the tenant.

Apartment owners and other property owners/landlords should not be allowed to discriminate against renting to people based on race, religion, sex, ethnic background, disability, marital status, presence of children, or age. However, they should have the right to ask questions concerning these topics.

Landlords should have the right to protect the peace and quiet among the rental units by setting fairly strict standards on noise generation and being allowed to evict tenants (including children and pets) who consistently (at least an average of once a week) make more than the contract-stated maximum amount of noise (such as playing loud music, kids playing loudly, dogs barking, etc.).

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46. Gardeners’ Responsibility

Professional gardeners, or anybody else who is responsible for the maintenance of landscapes and vegetation, should be required to maintain that vegetation so that it is in compliance with all relevant codes, especially those pertaining to sidewalk and street clearance. Failure to do so would result in fines being imposed upon the entities responsible for the violation (such as the professional gardeners) and/or the owners/managers of the property.

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46. Product Standardizations

Companies within the same industry should get together periodically and decide upon issues of product standardization as well as issues like how best to comply with government regulations, and any other issues common to their industry. For example calculator companies should get together and decide on standardizing the sequence of inputting some mathematical operations and computer software companies should work on standardizing the software so that a special driver is not required for every piece of equipment. Standardizing things so that as many things as possible are able to work in harmony with as many other things as possible will go a long way towards making this world a less frustrating place. Battery-powered devices could also be standardized to a greater degree so that far fewer that the current myriad of batteries need to be produced to satisfy all market needs. Piping thread standards should be more uniform. For example, water pipe threads and hose threads should be of the same dimensions. Continual communications between all of the businesses within the same industry will increase the chances that very beneficial standards will be set near the beginning of the product development process and that such standards will be robust and effective enough to adequately support a wide variety of products for a long time. Of course, these standards could always be changed at any time in the future, but striving to achieve standards will inevitably result in more stability without necessarily reducing, even perhaps increasing, the variety of products produced. Greater standardization would also lead to lower product costs, in many cases. For example, the nuclear power industry could have benefited greatly from an increase in the use of standardized modular reactor components rather than to have sought approval for many different unique designs.

Standardized Clothes Measurements

There should be a national (or even a global) standardization of clothes measurements so that every maker of clothing, regardless of brand or style, is required to label their clothing according to the same sizing standard. Consumers would then be able to determine whether or not an article of clothing will fit them by using only information provided on the label. There should not be separate standards (size scales) for males, females, or even children. Clothes for every human being should be measured according to the same standardized scale. All articles of clothing given the same size measurement should be required to be exactly the same size physically regardless of who or where it was made. Pants labeled with a waist size of 32 inches should be 32″ regardless of who or where it was made. The penalty for not complying with this standardization system would be a fine of 5% of the wholesale price for each article of clothing not labeled according to this standard system.

Clothing manufactures should also be required to standardize their sizes called “small”, “medium”, “large”, “extra large”, etc. Such measurements should all be required to be developed around a reasonable definition for “medium”, a measurement which should be based upon the “medium” or average size of an individual in that region of the world in which the target market is located.

Clothes labels should also indicate the gender for which it is designed to eliminate confusion or embarrassment among potential buyers, unless the intended gender is obvious.

More odd-numbered clothing should be produced, at least the odd number sizes in the most popular size ranges (especially pants waist sizes 31, 33, 35, etc.)

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47. Only Legal & Safe Products & Services Sold, Unless Noted

All brand new products should, at the point of sale, meet all the necessary requirements for legal and safe use. If for any reason a product fails to meet any of these requirements, the seller should be required to inform the buyer, in writing, exactly what needs to be done in order to bring the product into compliance with all relevant legal and safety regulations. The buyer must then sign a form acknowledging that he has been informed of these requirements.

Governments should not restrict the sales of any product or service, apart from imposing the common taxes associated with such products or sales. For example, no level of government should restrict the physical location of auto dealerships or the geographic areas in which they could sell, nor should they prohibit direct automaker-to-consumer sales. Any auto-maker or any auto reseller (dealerships) should be allowed to sell to whoever and wherever they want.

Services, such as medical advice, should be allowed to be distributed from anyone to anyone, conditioned upon full disclosure of either the qualifications of the person giving the advice (i.e., whether they are accredited by some reputable organization) or whether the advice itself has been approved.

The default government position should be to allow all products or services to be sold, unless there is a compelling reason to restrict it. Full disclosure requirements could be required, but banning certain products or services should be reserved to things which pose an unambiguous threat to the safety or well-being of people.

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48. If Illegal For Domestic Use, Then Illegal for Export

Products or services that are illegal to sell or use in this country should also be illegal to export from this country.

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49. Operating Systems Must Come With Free Antivirus & Malware Protection

All computer operating systems should come with free antivirus and malware protection. This would encourage these software makers to further reduce the vulnerability of their software.

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50. Utility Companies Responsible for ‘Clean’ Delivery

Electric utilities should be required to provide electricity that is free of transient defects (to within certain bands) to its customers. Similar requirements should hold true for water utilities in that they should provide clean water and at the proper regulated pressure. Consumers should not be required to install (or at least pay for) whole house surge protectors or water regulators or filters. These costs should be part of the provider’s responsibility.

Governments should require that any customer who installs a piece of equipment which, under normal operating conditions (including start up and shut down) induces noise or other unwanted properties into any portion of the grid that affects other parties sharing that grid, that customer should be required to install whatever equipment is necessary to ensure that their draw of power (or water) from the grid maintains a ‘clean’ supply of the utility to all other users.

Utility companies (power, water, gas, etc.) even other service providers like cable, telephone, internet, etc., should be encouraged or perhaps even required to provide their customers with 1,000% refund of the prorated monthly billing time that the service was interrupted.

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51. Logical Billing & Pay Cycles

Payment cycles (such as of paychecks and other forms of payment) and billing cycles (such as of credit cards, telephone bills, etc.,) should begin and end on clear and logical points in time, such as from the first day of the month to the last day of the month. Telephone or credit card bills covering the period from March 13 to April 12 or bank statements covering the period from May 6 to June 7 are not blocks of time with logical starting and ending points. They are not even the beginning or ending of weeks. Life would be much easier if bills, statements and other ongoing account records were made to cover obvious and clear-cut time periods such as from March 1 to March 31, or June 1 to June 30. Semimonthly (twice monthly) payments would then always run from the 1st of the month to the 15th and from the 16th to the end of the month.

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52. Permissible Exposure/Product Radioactivity Levels

The point at which governments should require producers and manufacturers to reduce the amount of nuclear radiation emitted by their products should be based upon a multiple of the national average amount of radiation emitted by similar types of products.

For example, if a certain product or material normally emits 5 millirems (mrems) of radiation per year, the sale of similar products radiating at least five times this amount (25 mrems) would be prohibited. Thus producers would be required to keep such values below the threshold. For materials that would normally emit 25 mrems, the threshold would be set at three times this amount (75 mrems), while the threshold for materials that normally emit 50 mrems would be set at 100 mrems.

The multiples of normal average product radioactivity use to determine where the thresholds should be placed for each product would be determined by using a smooth curved line plotted on a graph so that all three points used in the examples above lie on the line. In other words, the same multiple would not be applied to a range of different products, but rather each product would have a unique multiple applied to it because the threshold is based on that kind of product’s average emission levels.

This system would apply to all materials except specifically nuclear materials or nuclear waste because these are categories of materials with high enough radioactivity to warrant strict, continuous suppression of their emissions.

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53. Business & Personal Domain Naming Rights

Internet addresses or domain names should be treated the same as names on any other medium like television, radio, magazines, etc. Furthermore, names on the Internet should be the same as names in the real world. Whoever registers or copyrights a name first, whether it is on TV, radio, magazines, a real life bricks-and-mortar store, etc., that same entity should have the right to the same name on the Internet and any other medium.

This principle should also apply to the names of every individual person on earth. If somebody wanted to create their own Internet address or home page, they should have the right to use their own names as written on their birth certificates or SS card. If an internet searcher types in a name (or a simplified version of a name, like John Smith instead of John Quincy Smith), the search results would bring up a list of every person on the planet who has the name John Smith. The internet searcher would then look over this list to see exactly which John Smith they were looking for. To provide some security and a little more privacy, the owner of each personal webpage could be allowed to give a key code only to those people that the owner permits to visit. In addition, the owner of this webpage should be entitled to receive a detailed list of everybody who has visited that page, how long they stayed, what they looked at, etc. And/or the owner of their webpage could allow access to virtually everybody, but then without notice prohibit access to specific people for whatever reason. Among the many different things a personal webpage may have, one could be a gift wish list. This way anybody who knows an individual’s name could check to see what they want for their birthday, Christmas, etc.

Buying & Locking Up Domain Names

It should be illegal to purchase web domains without any intention to develop the site, lock it so other competitors cannot use the name, or expressly for the purpose of selling it at a cost of more then 10 times what a not-in-demand domain name would cost.

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54. Guns

Guns should be treated like any other consumer product and should be subject to all relevant health and safety requirements.

Registration Requirement

The owners of all guns and other projectile-throwing devices, including all barreled weapons, bows and arrows, blowguns, etc., which impart more than 20 joules (~15 ft. lbs.) of energy to the projectile should be required to register their ownership of these weapons with the government. Also, all firearm owners and purchasers must be licensed. These regulations would apply to include even most BB guns and paintball guns. Each time a gun changes ownership, it should be re-registered under its new owner. Registration fees should be set such that they would cover all costs associated with creating and maintaining this database of guns and their owners.

Furthermore, every purchaser of a gun, must be at least 20 year old, and must pass a background check for criminal history and psychological and/or other tests used to ascertain emotional and mental stability.

Any gun that is lost or stolen, it must be immediately reported to the police and all relevant agencies.

All gun sales must be made by a licensed dealer and be recorded in an official government record immediately. Otherwise, private sales must be conducted in the presence of a licensed dealer and immediately recorded in an official government record.

Projectile Signatures

All barreled weapons that impart more than 100 joules of energy to a projectile, should be built so that each projectile fired from that gun carries with it a signature that is unique to that gun. (Guns throwing projectiles near the low end of this energy range may not be able to impress a significant signature on the projectile, thus may not be able to comply with this requirement.) Since the barrels of guns can change significantly over time through usage, cleaning, tampering, deterioration, and other factors, guns should be required to be re-registered at least every 5 years, a process which would include recording anew the signature of the barrel and updating owner registration information. Nevertheless, owners would be required to report any significant changes made to the weapon as well as any updated owner information immediately.

Embedded Identification

Guns should have identification numbers and other unique identifying information in both a visible and hidden or inaccessible place on the gun itself, such as in a hollow or in some portion of the gun that can only be reached by cutting through to that portion of the gun. Or perhaps guns could be manufactured from metal stocks that have randomly embedded markers (such as radioactive grains or pellets) which would, in effect, give each gun a unique ‘fingerprint’ which could not be easily tampered with. Before the gun is sold or ownership is transferred, its ‘fingerprint’ would be recorded along with its barrel’s signature and identification number.

Higher-Powered Weapon Restrictions

The possession of firearms and other projectile throwing devices which impart more than 10,000 joules of energy to the projectile should be prohibited, unless such firearms are held in government approved secure facilities such as locked deposit boxes at shooting ranges. Exceptions may be granted for bows (bows and arrows) and other unusually large projectile throwing devices that cannot be easily concealed. There should be no limit as to how many or what kinds of guns any individual can own, but such high energy weapons must be held in government approved locations. Owners may use their firearms at the shooting gallery anytime during its hours of operation.

Automatic and Semi-Automatic Weapons

All automatic and semi-automatic guns should be prohibited from being owned anywhere outside approved facilities, like shooting ranges or gun shops. Anyone who meets the qualifications for owning a gun may own these types of guns, but their use outside these places must be by permit only.

Permits For Removal From Secured Facilities

Such high energy firearms, automatic or semi-automatic guns may not be removed from government approved locations without obtaining special permits. Permits may be obtained to use them for professional sports, hobbyist activities, sport hunting or other activities that require that the firearm be taken off the premises unless certain requirements are met. People applying for permission to remove guns from government approved facilities must have a valid reason and agree to several conditions. They must take (or have had taken) an educational course or pass a test explaining the responsibilities they will assume, which include the responsibility to insure that no unauthorized access and usage of the gun is allowed. They must also clearly know of the severe penalties for not complying with any relevant regulations.

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55. Laser Use Regulations

Only class 3 or higher lasers should be regulated and required to be used by trained personnel in approved locations or on approved applications. Class 1 and 2 lasers need not to be regulated at all. Laser pointers used as presentation aids and for other common purposes should be encouraged (perhaps mandated) to be made to fall into the class 2 category thus allowing them to be widely and legally used without the burden of complying with government regulations. All laser products should contain a label indicating into which level the laser falls as well as any precautions to observe.

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56. Cargo Insurance

Federal law should not require international carriers to have cargo insurance to cover potential losses due to theft, damage, or other forms of loss. However, any carrier without insurance should state this fact on all important documents, such as advertisements, bills, receipts, etc. Regardless, all carriers should still be held financially responsible for any losses.

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57. Credit Checks Shouldn’t Affect Credit Score

By law, credit background checks (regardless of how many times they occur to an individual or other party) should have absolutely no effect (especially no negative effect) on that individual’s credit score or rating.

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58. Weaning Small Appliances Off of Batteries and Onto Solar Cells

All appliance remote controls should contain both permanent batteries (only if really necessary) and built-in photovoltaic cells to recharge the batteries and/or directly power the device. Remote controls should also be shockproof, waterproof and easy to clean. These qualities would prevent virtually all problems anybody could ever have with remote controls.

As many appliances and devices as possible and practical should be designed to be powered by photovoltaic cells so that the environmental scourge of batteries could be minimized.

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59. Gift Cards

Gift cards should be allowed to have expiration dates, but these dates should be permanently and legibly printed on the cards so that they can’t be erased or worn off. It should also be required by law that the balances of every gift card should be able to be checked through either the telephone and/or Internet using only information printed on the cards.

Stores should be required to pay customers one half of the remaining value of any gift cards upon customer request. Such payments should be either in cash or credited to their credit cards, depending upon the request of each cardholder.

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60. Charging for Grocery Bags

Stores should be allowed to charge customers directly for all the bags (whether paper, plastic or any other kind) needed/wanted in which to put groceries or other items.

Plastic bags or any other types of bag should never be banned.

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61. Knives

Knives, especially kitchen knives, should be sharpened on both sides, not just one. Knives sharpened on one side don’t cut straight and that is very annoying.

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62. Natural Gas Valve Check

A regular duty and service of the gas company’s meter-reader personnel should be to periodically (at least once a year) check to make sure that gas shut-off valves are not stuck or are not too hard to turn. Of course, they should also always be easily accessible. The meter-reader person should notify the owners or tenants of any problem.

Also, gas valves should be redesigned to be able to be shut off by hand without the need for any tools to turn the valve. However, if any tools are required, they should be required to always be within arms reach of the gas shut-off valve for quick and easy shut-off.

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63. Utility Meter Placement & Reading

Utility meters (natural gas, electric, water, etc.) should be located in an area accessible to the meter reader person without needing to actually enter or seek permission to enter through any gates or other barrier on the property.

A better alternative would be to enable all these meters to be read remotely. This way the meter reader person could just check the information from the sidewalk or car. Better yet, the information could be sent directly to the utility company through some sort of yet to be implemented technology.

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64. Volume/Treble Designs on Radios, TVs, Etc.

Reduce Maximum Volume Levels

Audio items like radios and televisions should generally have their maximum volume limits reduced significantly (maybe by 20%). At maximum volume settings, the sound produced should be required to be clear, not crackling through the speakers as is the case with most devices. Rarely are these louder, unintelligible ranges used anyway.

Increase Volume Dial Spread

More importantly, the normal, comfortable zone on the dial is far too narrow, making it unnecessarily difficult to control quickly and easily. This normal, most-used range of volume needs to be widened considerably.

Increase Capacity For Treble

Radios and televisions should also be built with the capacity for more treble. With more treble, people could listen to TVs and radios with the volume lower and reduce the disturbance to others sleeping in the same house while still understanding everything that is being said on the TV or radio. Even with the bass turned all the way down, sometimes there is still too much bass being emitted.

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65. Shopping Carts

Shopping carts should always have the two rear wheels aligned and fixed in a straight position. This way, cart operators would have the most control over the cart and make shopping more pleasant. Shopping carts should also be maintained and thoroughly cleaned regularly to ensure that they are in good working order and are sanitary.

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66. Video/Audio Counters Should Mean Something

VCR counters and all other video or audio devices that have counters should make these units of measurement mean something to the average person, like seconds of run time or something. Also, the rate at which these units are counted should be constant, as it would be if seconds are being counted, and should not speed up or slowdown depending on whether the video or audiotape is near the beginning or end.

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67. Using Third Party Components

Printer companies should be allowed to sell their own brand of printers with the condition that they use only their own brand of ink and toner cartridges, otherwise certain printer warranties could be invalidated with the use of other brands of ink or toner cartridges. Printers could be designed to check for, and keep records of, which types of ink and toner cartridges have been used, but printers should never prevent or restrict the performance of other brands of ink or printer cartridges.

Ink and toner cartridge manufactures could design and sell such products, even for a discount, if desired, to consumers with the condition that they be returned to the manufacture after use for recycling, refilling, or any other purpose. However, such products must be clearly labeled and the manufacture must provide, alongside such products, the exact same product without this limitation.

Generally, manufactures of products should not prevent third party components from being used, though warranties could be affected.

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68. Labeling Requirement Threshold

If studies indicate that at least 1% of consumers of a certain product or service (especially medications and food products) experience negative side effects associated with the use of that product or service, or if more than 1% of consumers use the product in an unsafe manner, then its manufacturer or provider should be required to indicate this caution on the product’s label or on other official pre-purchase customer documentation.

Furthermore, if a critical number of consumers request it, product manufacturers, growers, or sellers should be required to indicate on the product’s label whether that product has a certain ingredient, has gone through a certain process, or whether that product has some other quality that consumers in that market consider necessary to know. The required percentage of consumers necessary to force labeling could probably vary from one market to another, but 10% may be a good number.

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69. Mass Produced Products – Ingredient Labeling Requirements

If there is a yearly sale of at least 1,000 units of a human or animal product that is intended to be put in or on the human or animal body, then each product should carry a list of its ingredients from the most abundant to the least abundant by weight. Furthermore, each ingredient consisting of at least 1% of the product’s total by weight, should be required to state its percentage on the label. Major processes that the food product has undergone (such as pasteurization, irradiation, etc.) should also be stated. If 10,000 units or more of a particular food product are sold per year, there should be the further requirement to list the nutritional information (amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc.) in an absolute way, as well as in a relative way (such as percentages of recommended daily intake) on all such products intended for internal consumption. However, specifying the total recommended daily values for an average person on the label should not be required for any product.

Bottled Water Labeling

Bottled water should have the level of impurities contained within it labeled. This would giver consumers solid data they could use to measure against other brands or even tap water.

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70. Food Product Labeling

Food packages should accurately state the amount of food enclosed and not include the volume or weight of either the package itself or of the ‘filler’ (material that is not intended for consumption) that often accompanies (by necessity) the actual edible product.

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71. Life Cycle Costs

Products (or services) which have a significant difference in life cycle cost when comparing high-end versus low-end purchases option, should have such differences clearly labeled out for consumers to be informed.

For example, a low-end washing machines which washes 200 loads per year but lasts only 5 years would likely cost nearly double per load than the purchase of a high-end washing machine which may last 20 years. These industry (or producer) averages should always be updated (annually) to reflect the most current statistics.

The same could be applied to cars and a host of other purchases, including software products, which could have very significant down-stream costs due to design inefficiencies.

This may be a good incentive to encourage producers to make better quality, longer-lasting products.

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72. ‘Made in the USA’ Definition

In order for products to claim to be “Made in the USA”, an average of at least 90% of a product’s assembly and prepackaged weight must have been made in the USA. If between 65% and 90% of a product is made and assembled in the USA, then the label “Mostly Made in the USA” can be used. A product can claim to be “Half Made in the USA” if it is between 40% and 65% made and assembled in the USA. For labor intensive products, the hours of labor spent domestically should be divided by the total hours of labor invested in the product and the resulting percentage should be used just like the manufacturing and assembly criteria mentioned above. Manufacturing, assembly and labor could be listed separately if so desired by the maker or seller.

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73. Prescription Medication Labeling

Prescription medication labels should state either the condition for which the prescription was prescribed and/or the prescription’s general function or purpose for the person for whom it is prescribed.

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74. Toothbrushes

Ideally only soft-bristled toothbrushes should be used for brushing teeth because they do not wear out the enamel or push up the gums as much as the medium and harder-bristled brushes do. To encourage the general population to use soft-bristled toothbrushes the government should ban the advertising of medium and hard bristled toothbrushes as toothbrushes for human use. They can still be made and advertised as something else, but not as toothbrushes for human use.

To further reduce the incidence of dental problems among the population, all toothbrush packages labeled for individual sale should be required to have proper use instructions that warn against pushing too hard against the teeth when brushing because doing so would likely result in long term damage to the teeth and gums.

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75. Microwavable Dish Labeling

Ceramic, glass, plastic, etc., dishes, cups, cookware, etc., that are oven and/or microwave safe should have this fact written somewhere on the actual items themselves. Plastic dishes that are designed for only a single microwave use should clearly indicate this fact on the dish itself. Plastic dishes should be labeled to inform consumers whether or not they are microwave safe. Dishes or trays intended for single use in a microwave should be labeled as such.

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76. Electronic Equipment Temperature Range Labeling

Electronic equipment should be required to indicate the safe and acceptable ambient temperature range in which the product could be expected to function without significantly increased malfunction rates if such temperature ranges are narrower or in any way more restrictive than what should be the 0˚C (32˚F) – 70˚C (158˚F) standard for commercial and consumer electronic products. If any component requires active cooling to keep its temperatures within these (or otherwise safe) operating temperatures, this fact should also be indicated.

Many, if not all, electronic equipment, especially the more expensive kinds, should have the built-in ability to warn of excessively high (maybe also low) temperatures, and maybe also the ability to shut themselves off to prevent damage to the equipment.

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77. TV/Monitor Screen Size Labeling

The screen sizes of televisions and computer monitors should only be defined and described as the actual viewable area. In other words, a computer monitor advertised as a 19″ model (even if it is a CRT) should have a viewable area of 19 inches.

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78. Restaurant Menus Should State Food/Price Ratios & Calorie Estimates

Restaurant menus should state the average weight (or volume of liquids) for each menu item. In addition, menus could also state the price per unit (weight or volume) of food. This would allow people to compare economic value between dishes. Such labeling would help people who just want to get the most food for the least amount of money and who may not care too much about what they eat.

In addition, restaurant food menus should be required to state roughly the amount of calories (within a range of about 100 calories) a dish or entree has. For example, a menu could state that the Rooty Tooty breakfast has between 1,200 and 1,300 calories, on average.

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79. Date of Printing On Maps and Other Documents

Maps and other documents should have the year in which they were published printed on them in an easy to find place.

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80. Part Number Policies

Product manufacturers should change at least the part numbers and possibly any other identifying name or label if the product has changed noticeably or significantly from a previous version. Extending part numbers to various places behind the decimal and changing those numbers with each noticeable or significant change would be sufficient.

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81. Toilet Paper Perforation Performance Rating & Directional Arrows

Perforation Regulations

The packaging of toilet paper should contain information relating to the relative ease, regularity and predictability of the sheets of toilet paper tearing along the perforations.

Directional Arrows

It should also be recommended for manufactures to print arrows on the rolls of toilet paper so that the user would be able to determine, with far less effort, the direction in which the paper is rolled so that its proper orientation and placement on the spindle could be more quickly determined.

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80. Contracts Assume Misrepresentation & Fraud Nullification Clause

No contract or other legal agreement should be required to contain a specific exemption, disclaimer or other such language designed to protect any party against lying, fraud, and misrepresentation or any other wrong or illegal activity or action by another party. Lying or being dishonest should be assumed to be wrong and illegal. It should be understood that any such activity that has occurred within a contract would automatically nullify all relevant portions of that contract.

Understood Confidentiality Agreement Exceptions

In addition, any person, including lawyers, reporters, etc., entering into contracts, confidentiality agreements or any other types of legal or similar agreements, should be allowed and have the right, even mandated, to break those agreements and be required to disclose to the proper authorities any information protected within such agreements that would likely be significantly helpful in determining the degree to which crime, fraud, or any other types of illegal activity is, has, or likely will occur in any place or at any time in the future. Contractually bound people who reveal such information should be immune from any punishments specified in the contract.

Incontestability Clauses

Things such as incontestability clauses should be illegal.

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81. Prohibit Automatic Acceptance, Renewal, and Extension of Contracts

It should be illegal for businesses to require customers to do anything in order to remain or become a nonparty to a transaction once their original involvement in the previous transaction agreement ends. An automatic renewal of a subscription to a magazine, or an automatic shipment of another month’s supply of a product, or any continuation or extension of an economic relationship beyond the terms of the original transaction agreement should all be illegal unless the customer expressly authorized such an arrangement. The terms of an original transaction cannot automatically require customers to contact the company to notify them of the customer’s unwillingness to exceed the terms of the original transaction.

In addition, it should be illegal for street number painters to leave a notice at a residence instructing the residents that their address number will be repainted unless the residents take it upon themselves to tape the notice over the numbers to indicate that they do not want their numbers repainted. The correct way is to require residents who want their numbers painted to go out and indicate as such.

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82. Honesty Contract

‘Honesty contracts’ or ‘honesty clauses’ within contracts should be developed (or just assumed to be integral elements within all contracts) and used to add assurances to each signator that all signators have arrived at and have agreed to the terms of the contract with integrity and candor. Such an ‘honesty clause’ would also guarantee that no signatory has engaged in lying, cheating, or is otherwise misrepresenting any contractually relevant item to any other signatory party. If it is found that a party has lied or misrepresented any element within a contract, those relevant portions of that contract should be null and void. Furthermore, criminal charges should be levied against any party found responsible for such contractual misbehaviors which resulted in actual damages or losses to another party.

An example of how such an ‘honesty contract’ or ‘honesty clause’ would work would be as follows. If a person wants to sell a piece of antique furniture, but does not know anything about the price of that piece of furniture, he could go find a store interested in buying that piece of furniture. The seller would ask the potential buyer (store) what the estimated market price is for such a piece of furniture (to within about 25%). They could then come to an agreement to engage in the transaction at such a price. If, at any time after the sale, the seller found out that the true market price at the time of sale was significantly higher than what the buyer told him, the buyer would be treated as if he stole the difference from the sell and would be fined up to several times this difference. If the true cost was significantly lower, and the seller knew it, the seller would be fined up to several times the difference. Such ‘honesty clauses’ could be applied to virtually every type of business transaction, including becoming a common feature of receipts.

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83. Guarantee to Cover Guarantees

Companies, business, etc. that promise either limited time or lifetime guarantees or warranties for their services or products should be required, themselves, to purchase some type of insurance to insure that their promised guarantees or warrantees are kept and valid. This way, if the entity promising the guarantee or warranty goes out of business or is otherwise unable to keep its promises, the customers would not be defrauded.

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84. Mandatory Will Creation

A high school graduation requirement should be for every student to prepare and maintain a legal document (such as a trust, will, etc.) that would specify what to do in the event that that individual suffers a medical emergency (how much life support to provide, etc.), and what to do with (how to disperse) that individual’s possessions (body, property, assets, money, etc.) after their death.  Any authorized person can review and change such documents whenever and as often as they would like.  Some government agency or healthcare provider should ensure that such documents are created, reviewed and resigned every 5 to 10 years.  Every person currently 50 and older should also be required to complete these documents.

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85. Patent Protection Limitations and Compensation Schedule

Patents should not offer exclusive protection and production rights for any predetermined length of time because such a system would virtually ban competition throughout that period of time, resulting in an unfair, monopolized market. Instead, a patent should bestow to the patent-holder the right of a universally sanctioned recognition of being the first to develop an original idea as well as entitling the patent-holder, for a certain number of years, to financial compensation. Patents should yield worldwide protection and recognition to an inventor including the right to benefit from the financial revenues generated by the sale of the patent protected products, according to the terms of the patent. Until an international organization can provide this level of protection, individual countries could either unilaterally or through the formation of a coalition have the right to enforce such protections, to whatever extent possible, in non-complying countries.

Anyone Could Make Patent-Protected Product

Once a patent has been awarded to the patent-holder, the patent, being a public document, would be available for all the world to see. Any entity would be allowed to use any information contained in the patent to produce and sell the patent-protected products or other products directly or indirectly related to the patent-protected invention. Even obvious ‘knock-off’ products would be allowed to be made and sold by any entity. There should be no restrictions against any entity regulating either the quantity of units produced or the pricing of each unit.

Compensating Patent Holders

Patents would entitle their patent-holders to financial compensation for about 20 years (potentially depending on the actual nature of the patent and possibly other factors such as market conditions, negotiated agreements between inventor and government, etc.). The amount of compensation would be directly based upon both the wholesale and retail prices of the patent-protected product or service. The following example illustrates how the average patent protection and patent compensation system would operate. Let’s say a pharmaceutical company invents a new drug for which it was awarded a patent. The company would naturally be recognized as the inventor and should obviously be given the right to produce and sell that product without any restrictions, especially concerning production quantity and pricing. Any other entity should also be allowed to produce either the exact same product or one that, though largely based on this patent-protected invention, does not exactly fit under its protections. However, entities other than the one holding the patent must pay the patent holder a certain percentage of the total revenue generated by their sale of each patent protected or ‘knock-off’ product. Both wholesalers and retailers would be required to pay the original patent holder the same percentage according to the terms of the patent compensation schedule. Subcontractors who make components that would fall under the patent protections, would also be required to pay the patent holder the required share of their revenue. The actual percentage all parties must pay would depend entirely on the number of years that have elapsed since the awarding of the patent and the degree of similarity to the patented product. The original patent holder would have absolutely no right to dictate the pricing or production quantities of the patented product produced by these other parties. However, if other parties unjustly subsidize the costs of production, then product pricing courts should intervene to correct the market. During and before the first full calendar year, non-patent-holders would be required to pay patent-holders 100% of all their revenues generated from both wholesale and retail sales of the patent-protected products. Such a rate would virtually guarantee that nobody, other than the patent-holder, would want to market this product. For every subsequent year, this percentage would decrease by a fixed amount, say 5%. For example, assuming a 20-year patent lifetime, during the second full calendar year after which the patent was issued, 95% of the total revenues generated by wholesale and retail sales of the patent-protected products must be paid to the patent-holding entity. During the third year, the patent-holder could expect 90% of all revenues generated by all entities which are selling the patent-protected product. Each year this percentage would continue to decrease until it reaches 5% during the 20th calendar year. As soon as the 21st calendar year begins, the rate would drop to 0% because the patent would have expired and absolutely no fees should be paid to the original patent-holder and neither would any kinds of restriction apply to any entity wanting to produce such products. As the mandatory compensation percentage owed to the original patent-holder decreases every year, the chances that a competitor arises to market the same or similar products increases. This would gradually open up the market to other potential suppliers, while still giving the patent-holder the economic advantage (thus rewarding the patent-holder for being the original entity to develop the idea).

Alternative Compensation Schedule

Because certain patented goods or services (due to their basic utility, convenience or for whatever other reason) may have already been widely adopted by an industry or society by the time that the original patent holder was officially recognized for the invention and received government enforcement of the patent (a common occurrence in the biotech and dot-com sectors), it would be unreasonable to suddenly impose onto the existing market a patent-holder’s exclusive right (as is done now) or a compensation schedule beginning at 100% and decreasing as time goes on.  A more reasonable solution would be to negotiate a more fixed schedule of compensation, such as 15% of revenues per year for the life of the patent.  Imposing this fixed compensation schedule would prevent the generation of a sudden chilling shock throughout the market, which would possibly result (depending on the patent-holder’s attitude) in either a large scale abandoning of the use of the patented good or service, or (more likely) a widespread outrage or rebellion. It would rightly be seen as changing the rules in the middle of the game. A smaller compensation over a longer period of time would be far more palatable.  The details of the compensation schedule (length of patent protection, how and when royalties are billed, etc.) would naturally be negotiated between the patent-holder, the users of the patented good or service and the government. This compensation schedule could really be applied to any patent, regardless of the degree of product development.  Basically, the only thing needed is for a patent-holder and government to agree on some schedule.  Perhaps a greater benefit to both society and the patent-holder would result under this fixed percentage compensation schedule because it would immediately become profitable for anyone to produce the patented good or service and, as a result, the patent-holder may have a more immediate income and may even eventually have a larger base from which to collect royalty payments because of the initial surge of market producers. The current system of exclusive rights (i.e., government sanctioned monopoly) is the worst form of compensation schedule, leading to the most limited market availability of the the patented product.  Although patent-holders could currently sell licenses for others to make equivalent products, the tendency is for them not to do so or to charge high licensing fees in order to preserve their profit potential.   Such monopolies hurt potential consumers the most, but they may also reduce the profit potential of the original patent holder by severely limiting the producer base which would otherwise be paying them royalty/licensing fees.

Patenting Naturally Occurring Materials

Patents should not be issued for naturally occurring materials, living or nonliving, including genes, bacteria, or other natural biological organisms unless any such entities were engineered and patented before their discovery in nature. Once discovered in nature, however, there should be no patent-based legal restrictions from using these natural sources. Artificial genes and organisms should be eligible for patenting.

Recognizing Natural Molecules and Halting Biopiracy of Native Ideas

However, the countries in which naturally occurring materials (genes, bacteria, etc.) are found should be compensated by all users of that material, just as if it were patented by that country, using the patent compensation schedule described above. All such revenues should be turned over to that country’s government to be used as they wish (only legal uses that are verifiable if the country is thought to be a corrupt one). It would be preferable for such funds to be used for environmental protection purposes above all other uses, and specifically, habitat protection.

Correct ideas (regarding healing herbs, etc.) held by native populations should also be recognized and treated as patent-protected ideas. The practice of biopiracy (taking ideas from native people and using them for profit without the permission, compensation or recognition of the native people should be changed so that these native people are compensated according to the payment schedule above.

Patenting Genetic Information & Biological Molecules

Generally, basic genetic information and biological molecules (DNA, genes, proteins, etc.) derived from any natural sources, should not be patented. Merely translating such genetic information from their original form in DNA molecules into a language which computers and humans could use does not constitute an invention worthy of a patent over the genetic code. It would fall under the category of a discovery, instead. Patents could be granted on the techniques used to translate, but not on the actual code itself. Yes, a lot of time and money has been invested in this process and the best way to recoup that investment has been to licence the information (the genetic data) that was obtained from it. However, advances in technology have resulted in the greater automation of such basic genetic research that, if the patent criteria are not revised soon, such large swaths of basic genetic information would be restricted behind patents that the rates of public health improvements and advances in research and development may slow considerably. Immediate health risks arising in the future, such as the emergence of a new disease, would potentially take longer to address and solve.

Many of the following ideas have been adapted from a paper entitled “The Ethics of Patenting DNA” published by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.

During the early years of genetic lab work which involved a much greater use of direct human input and innovation to gain information about where genes are located and what a gene did, patents were often issued because of the degree of novelty and inventiveness required to isolate those DNA sequences.  However, as techniques have advanced and as the use of computers have significantly automated the process of finding genes, it is now unjustified to grant patents on DNA sequences based on the level of novelty and inventiveness that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has traditionally required for patents.  A potential patent’s function or ‘utility’ has also been a test that the USPTO has applied. The threshold for claiming a utility was set at stating the mere theoretical possibility of realizing that utility or even a description of a biological function (which is nothing more than a description of a fact of nature). This threshold should be raised so that at least some positive evidence is provided that the DNA sequence in question can fulfill that higher utility claim. The mere association of a gene to a disease would also amount to little more than a discovery, thus not qualifying for patent protection.

Likewise, allowing a patent holder the right to profit from all diagnostic uses for the protected sequence (i.e., all tests conducted to see if the suspect gene is responsible for any disease) would be too great a monopoly considering the relatively little that the patent-holder has ‘invented’. Limiting a patent’s protection to ‘use’ of a specific DNA sequence for a specific test (for a specific disease) would be a narrow enough protection to encourage companies to develop the test as well as encourage the market to develop a number of different tests (for a bunch of different things) for the same gene.

Similarly, limiting protein patent protections to cover only therapeutic uses for a specific disease would be acceptable.  This way, anyone who used such a protein to treat the same disease would need to pay royalties or licensing fees, but the protein would be free for anyone else to use for research or other uses.

Making freely available basic genetic information would enable far more researchers to use any given segment of code for much wider diagnostic and research uses. For all basic genetic code that has already been patented, a ‘research exemption’ (which most patent systems contain to encourage research on patented inventions but does not allow commercialization to non-patent holders) should be firmly written into law.

Gene replacement therapy, in which a mutated gene is replaced by a normal one, does not constitute the degree of innovation required for patent protection. Once a gene responsible for a disease is identified (which is basically a discovery of a biological fact of nature), using the correct DNA sequence to correct the problem is obvious. The real challenge is to overcome the technical difficulties of trying to more effectively deliver the normal genes into the body so that the reversal of a disease is enabled. Patents should be granted for methods of delivery rather than the actual gene itself.

If the patent process were modified to reflect the proposed regulations stated above, the number of patents granted over DNA sequences and other basic biological molecules would become very rare.

Patenting a Process

Unique processes used to gather information could also be patented.

Enforcing a Patent

Enforcing a patent should be viewed the same as enforcing any other law.  The government should have the obligation to punish violators.  Patent holders should not be required to invest a significant amount of time or money in enforcing their patent claims. Patent infringement is a crime, therefore the government should need to pay for enforcement.  To weed out frivolous claims by patent-holders, perhaps a significant fee (refundable if they win the case) should be charged to patent-holders who file an infringement claim with the appropriate law enforcement agency.


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86. ‘Knock-Off’ Royalty Payments

Makers of ‘knock-off’ products (products that look or function too much like patent-protected products) could be taken to a government product pricing court. Such a court would determine that the ‘knock-off’ product is a certain percentage like the patent-protected product. Generally, cases in which a ‘knock-off’ product’s similarity is less than 40% would be considered too unrelated and should not require payment to a patent holder. However, in cases where the courts determine that a ‘knock-off’ product is sufficiently similar to a patent protected product, a special formula should be used to determine the actual amount of compensation to the patent holder. The ‘knock-off’ product’s ‘similarity percentage’ would be multiplied with the current year’s percentage rate that the original product’s patent entitles to the patent holder. (Please see previous point, “Patent Protection Limitations and Compensation Schedules” for details.)

For example, let’s assume a ‘knock-off’ product is considered by the courts to be 75% similar to an original product protected by a 20-year patent which specifies simple yearly decreases of 5 percentage points. Let’s assume that the ‘knock-off’ product appeared on the market within the same year that the patent was issued for the original product. In such a scenario, 100% of total revenues generated by a patent protected product would naturally go to the patent holder during the first year, but only 75% of the revenues generated by this ‘knock-off’ product would go to the patent holder during the first year. If the patent were in its 5th year, the patent holder would normally be entitled to 80% of all the revenues generated by the patent protected product, but because this ‘knock-off’ product is only 75% similar to the patent protected product, only 60% (75% of the 80% compensation rate) of revenues is due to the patent holder as royalties. Sufficiently similar ‘knock-off’ products that enter into the market in any year during the life of the relevant patent, would be required to follow these same rules and the schedule stated in the original product’s patent.

If a ‘knock-off’ product dramatically increases the marketability of the product compared to the original patent protected product, the courts could perhaps reward the ‘knock-off’ maker by requiring lower payments (to the tune of several percentage points) to the original product’s patent holder.

 

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87. Copyrights

Music Copyright Use Limitations

Copyright laws regarding music should be structured such so that the fair use principle would allow the duplication of the purchased work for personal uses and the playing of the work, without restrictions, in infrequent (less than 12 per year) private or public gatherings, such as parties, weddings, etc., of less than 500 people. Permission from music artists should be obtained when their works are played to groups larger than 500 individuals, or by organizers of frequent events (defined as 12 or more per year) that are attended by a significant number of people (an average of 100 or more).

Permission should not be required, and no restrictions should be placed on the playing of music from the radio, either in public or in private and regardless of the size of the listening audience as long as the radio broadcasts are not edited in any way, including for the removal of commercial advertisements or radio station identification. Radio broadcasts are public activities. However, it should be illegal to record and replay radio/TV broadcasts to large gatherings (in accordance with the size limit rules stated above) without the permission of the station.

Length of Time Under Copyright Protection

Copyright protection should automatically last for 50 years from date of publication, with options for the author (or any other person holding the rights at the time) to purchase additional years of protection for an additional cost, while still under the original 50 year protection period.

Government Material Copyrights

The government should copyright all of its publications but also simultaneously permit all domestic entities (citizens or domestically-based businesses) to use such works without requiring permission. Foreign entities (either non-citizens or businesses based in foreign countries) should be required to pay a fee to purchase the legal right to use this copyrighted information.

All government publications should be priced at least high enough to cover all costs associated with their production.

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88. Trademarks

A food or product in which a geographical reference is included in its name to indicate a place of origin (such as Idaho Potatoes, Parma Ham, etc.), and which has been the first to market a product with that name, and in which a significant claim is made as to its necessary status as a trademark, should have that name protected as a trademark, thus prohibiting uses of that name by producers elsewhere without permission.  Translations of that name would not qualify under this trademark protection. An association with a place is not sufficient, in and of itself, to warrant these kinds of trademark protections, known as geographical indications.

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89. Standard Change of Information Form

There should be a single government ‘Change of Personal Information’ form that an individual could fill out that would allow that individual to change a piece of important information regarding his/her personal records (address, name, Social Security number, etc.) without requiring him to notify every government agency of the same change (IRS, SS, Selective Service, DMV, etc.). Of course, before actually being allowed to submit and file the form, that individual must provide the government with sufficient official identification documents.

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