The Gaian Constitution (3/9) Bill of Responsibilities

I love political science, and so for fun I decided to draft a modified version of the US Constitution to better reflect the new issues of a modern era. That’s what this is. This project was not meant to be disrespectful to the current Constitution, it was meant to be a tribute following in the same patriotic spirit.

The name comes from Gaius Gracchus, one of Ancient Rome’s greatest progressive reformers along with his brother, Tiberius. The header images for these posts come from my love of rabbits. 🙂 I thought a white rabbit might be an interesting symbol for a grassroots movement seeing as how they eat grass, and are individually weak yet good at multiplying into something greater.

This is merely a first draft, and I’d love to get feedback for how to improve on it if anyone has any suggestions they’d like to share. After I’m done uploading everything I have, I’ll also share some ideas I played around with that didn’t make the cut. At some point in the future I would also like to do a point by point commentary for why I included every new policy and procedure in this document over alternatives I could have went with instead.

Cornelia Africana introducing her sons, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus

Article II: The Declaration of a Sustainable and Mutually Beneficial Society

Where the previous Article outlined the aspects of life and society where government is compelled not to intervene (negative rights), this Article contains the government’s promises to act on behalf of its Citizens (positive rights).

The government is a mutually agreed upon method of people to organize for their common defense and betterment. For this reason, if government is to exist at all, it should be to organize and fund policies which raise the quality of life for its own Citizens in areas where the private sector cannot or will not act. There are some public functions where there is no profit incentive for businesses to take up the task, or where the profit motive would detract from the public welfare. At the same time, it’s in the government’s own interests to foster empowered, capable Citizens as its Legislators, Executives and Judges or else its own longterm capability will be undermined.

Therefore, the United States government shall uphold the following overarching principles to insure a Sustainable and Mutually Beneficial Society:

PLEDGE TO PROVIDE HEALTHCARE: The government shall have the responsibility of providing universal healthcare coverage to all Citizens residing in the United States and its territories. No one should be denied treatment nor forced into debt as a result of circumstances they cannot control.

  1. Government shall provide or protect access to safe nutritional food, clean water, and shelter for all Citizens, as well as preventative care.

  2. In addition, Citizens shall have the right of informed consent access to euthanasia, especially in the case of an agonizing and hopeless debilitation.

PLEDGE TO PROVIDE EDUCATION: All citizens shall be guaranteed a primary and secondary school education provided by the individual States.

  1. The media shall return to the Fairness doctrine, limiting the biases, prejudices, omissions and misinformation of news media today. While all speech is protected, in order to brand a broadcast “news” “fact” “truth” “fair” “balanced” “objective” “neutral” or “unbiased” it must report verifiable facts without misleading the audience. In opinion pieces, more than one opinion or position must be equally represented rather than ignored or intentionally set up as a scapegoat. In political interviews, forums or discussions, at least the four most popular parties as determined by objective non-government opinion polls must have their positions honestly presented, or allowed representatives to speak on their own behalf.

  2. All publicly funded academic research must be made available to the public for free within a period of six months after its publication.

  3. There shall be guaranteed whistle-blower protection for those who reveal corruption at any and all levels of government. Edward Snowden shall be returned home with a full pardon and honored for revealing the truth of government mass surveillance.

PLEDGE TO PROVIDE ECONOMIC FREEDOM: In order to stave off the problem of automation replacing jobs for a significant faction of the labor force, Social Security and all social safety net or welfare programs shall be replaced with a guaranteed basic income for every Citizen, paid monthly and sufficient to cover the cost of food, water, housing and utilities.

  1. The minimum wage must be annually increased to keep up with the cost of inflation, starting at the current rate of $15 in 2019 values.

  2. Every worker is to be guaranteed an eight hour workday with a thirty minute lunch break. Any overtime or on-call service must be agreed to beforehand and compensated with overtime pay.

  3. Every worker will receive a paid two weeks vacation every year, as well as paid paternity/maternity leave at the birth of their children for up to 4 months.

  4. Workers have the right to unionize, bargain collectively, strike and receive severance upon lay offs.

  5. Employers are forbidden to search or ask for a prospective employee’s social media accounts, profiles, internet history or digital footprint.

  6. Workers are entitled to compensation for accidents on the job.

  7. Both workers and consumers shall have the right to sue their employers or companies in a court of law. “Tort reform” and forced arbitration shall be repealed immediately.

  8. Workers are entitled to democratic representation and a degree of control over the corporations which employ them.

  9. Unpaid internships shall be outlawed; everyone is entitled to financial compensation for their time.

PLEDGE TO PROTECT NATURE: A healthy, sustainable environment, including access to fresh water, clean air and a rich biodiversity, shall be the common heritage of all citizens. It is the duty of the government then to protect and nurture the natural ecology.

  1. Government will spearhead the transition to 100% renewable energy within a ten year time-frame.

PLEDGE TO PROVIDE FAIR UTILITIES: Despite recognizing the right to economic enterprise as a freedom of the people, there are a few select services or industries where the profit motive actually subverts the greater public good. Besides hospitals and healthcare services, these include prisons and jails as well as public utilities. If profit is the driving force of healthcare, it means the public may be gouged when they’re at their most vulnerable and forced to pay astronomical sums to stay alive. If profit is the driving force of incarceration, it creates the incentive to imprison as many people as possible to exploit for cheap, forced labor, and keep basic rights such as family visitation to an inhumane minimum. Due to the extraordinarily vulnerable position of those with debilitating medical ailments and the inability of prisoners to select their own prison, it is unreasonable to assume that the people would be able to shop around for alternative sellers at better prices for these services. For all these reasons, public services should be handled by the public sector.

  1. The internet shall be classified as a utility as well, and net neutrality permanently restored.

PLEDGE TO PROVIDE EXPERIENCED AND ACCOUNTABLE GOVERNANCE: To prevent flagrantly inexperienced candidates from entering an office they are not prepared for, candidates must fulfill a certain level of experience in lower offices first. This will be a modern Cursus Honorum (Course of Offices) in the vein of the Roman Republic, and will insure that those who enter government never forget the needs of the average citizen. It will also insure that those who enter high office do so out of a sense of civil service rather than as a vanity project or power grab.

  1. In order to run for the Curiate (see Article III), a person must serve at least one term in local or state government. In order to run for the Senate, a candidate must serve at least three terms in State or local government, or two terms in state or local government and one term in the Curiate. In order to run for President, a candidate must serve 3 terms in the Curiate, or 2 term in the Senate, or 1 in the Tribunate (see Article III) or have served as Governor of an individual State. In order to be appointed for Consul (see Article IV), a candidate must serve 3 terms in the Curiate, or 2 terms in the Senate, or 1 in the Tribunate or have served as Governor of an individual State.

  2. All tax revenue collected must go to the betterment of US Citizens at home, as opposed to being given as aid, donations or armament to foreign countries, actors or factions. The lone exception is in the case of a public referendum where the people agree to allocate a predetermined, concrete amount to a clearly defined person or group. If it is later proven in the Administrative Federal Court (see Article V) that more money was given than the Citizens agreed to, or it was given to the wrong person or people, the Congress and Executive shall be held personally liable for restoring the same amount of money to the treasury.

  3. The old “use it or lose it” system of allocating money for government departments and agencies shall be replaced by an independent analysis on each association’s actual needs, and the Procurators (see Article VI) will serve as a further check on inefficient budgets.

  4. Congressmen must abstain from any votes in which they have a conflict of interest, the President and Consul must put assets and/or stocks in a blind trust. All Federal magistrates must release their tax returns when announcing their candidacy for election. During every public appearance, a candidate or magistrate must announce their donors and lobbyists before speaking. During Televised or streamed online appearances, this information must be announced by the magistrate themselves or the program’s host before they speak. Failure to comply results in a fine paid for by the candidate and TV station or streaming service, respectively.

  5. Bills must be posted publicly for at least 30 days before being voted on to become law. Bills may not be voted on, nor important magistrates dismissed, on Fridays.

  6. An Acta Senatus, a recording of all proceedings in Congress, shall be available to all Citizens at all times, along with guaranteed Freedom Of Information Requests. All communications of magistrates while in office are recorded and those involving policy discussion are open to the public record. All their visitors are logged and times monitored, with this information also available to the public.

  7. All Federal officials in every branch must swear their loyalty to, and affirm their duty to protect, this Constitution of the United States. They must also affirm their duty not to encroach on the States’ Constitutions.

  8. Presidents, Congressmen, the Consul and Directorate (see Article V) are all directly responsible to the free press and the people on a daily basis, not just at election time. They are compelled to answer the questions as well as address all criticisms and concerns of those they govern while in office.

  9. Each Senator’s pay is determined by their respective State legislature. Curiate and Tribunates’ pay is determined by a median of the collective American Citizenry’s post-tax income. This figure can be altered by the people via referendums and Popular Assembly however (see Article VI). Congress determines the income of Executive and Judicial magistrates.

  10. Due to the risk of deteriorating stamina and mental facilities, as well as the problem of losing touch with the people and technology, magistrates may not exceed the age of 75.

  11. When new government programs or agencies are created, they must have a clearly defined problem or issue they intend to solve outlined in their charter legislation. The people may then decide in 5 years time if it lives up to these promises. If the people determine that it has not, the program or agency must be reformed to suitably address their concerns. If in a further 5 years, the public still determines that the program or agency has not fulfilled its clearly defined purpose, it is abolished.
Bust of Tiberius Gracchus
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3 Comments

  1. Rather than have government provide healthcare and education. My thinking is there should be a separation of healthcare and education just as there should be a separation between church and state. If any link between healthcare or education and government we’re to exist it should only be on a very limited local basis and certainly not have anything to do with s large Central or national government. It could be tried by small communal systems with members free to participate or leave. But as happened with the attempts at socialist communes in the past they would probably soon fail, since the most productive people would be free to follow there own self interest and not be slaves of the less productive as in a large scale socialest system. Any type socialism fails because it so lowered productivity that it pulls all society down to a lower level of living standards.

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    1. Hello Ron. I just want to preface by saying I appreciate your contrary opinion. It helps to get a different perspective.

      That said, I have to stand by my original take in this case. I think there are certain services where the profit motive and unhampered privatization lead to contradictory incentives to what those services were supposed to provide in the first place. Privatized healthcare, education and prisons mean that the primary motive is no longer society’s best interests so much as maximizing the bottom line for whoever owns these industries. That means over-charging for vital medications, cutting corners on raising our kids and an incentive to imprison as many people as possible.

      Where customers would be free to look for alternatives in other industries, you can’t exactly shop around multiple hospitals if you’re bleeding out or your appendix is about to burst. Similarly, we can’t choose where we are born (which determines the options for schools) or where we are sent to jail. So in these particular industries, the market doesn’t work as it does in other aspects of the economy, so we’re at the mercy of the owners.

      I could be persuaded that these services would be better provided in State or local governments as opposed to the federal level though. My point is just that not everything benefits from being privatized. I think the rest of the developed world practicing some form of universal healthcare is a strong indicator of its success, combined with many horror stories from our private system I could share. Same with the private prison industry; I could share plenty of horror stories to back up why I’m against it if you’d be interested.

      Just one final quibble: this isn’t socialism. I will address this more when I get around to posting my series on the Political Spectrum, but the definition of socialism is an economy where the workers own the means of production as opposed to wealthy investors. That’s NOT what I’m advocating for in this instance. This is an example of positive rights, which are pledges by the government to provide an action (as opposed to negative rights, which are pledges of government inaction.) Again, we can get further into this when I’ve laid out the posts on the Spectrum–otherwise I’d just be repeating myself.

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