President Obama has been in office a good five days now, and he’s taken several important steps to signal his willingness to reverse some of the worst mistakes of prior administrations. Of course, followup is the most important part, but he has:
- Pledged to close the illegal prison at Guantanamo Bay. Wretched legal reasoning from Alberto Gonzalez and John Yoo aside, the United States shouldn’t be torturing people and ignoring the right of habeas corpus.
- Pledged to make government more transparent and accountable. From launching a White House blog to blocking the two-way street between lobbying and regulating, Obama seems determined to finally finish and cross the bridge to the 21st century Bill Clinton liked to talk about.
Sure, there are more, but you get the idea. Here are some of the next things I think he should do — with varying degrees of difficulty, but that probably will be received largely favorably — that will help this country get back on track as a place of freedom, innovation, equality, and opportunity:
- End the prohibition on shampoo, toothpaste, and beverages for travelers. Letting people take liquids and gels of any size through security at airports is long overdue. That particular security procedure isn’t making us any safer, it’s just irritating us and making us spend money in the airport. And here’s a perfect way to counteract that loss of revenue by airports —
- Restore the right of non-passengers to accompany their friends and family into concourses at airports after passing through the same security procedures passengers do. Remember those days, long ago, when you could have a drink or dinner with whoever took you to the airport while you waited for your plane? I barely do. Again, this won’t make us any less safe, but it will more than make up for airport vendors’ lost revenue from item 1 above.
- End the war in Iraq and pledge to spend money on the states. The states? You know, the ones that are united together, here in America? Restore funding to the state and local governments that the Bush administration cut. The money comes from us; it should go to us.
- Re-regulate the economy. The de-regulation in vogue during the Clinton and Bush administrations simply didn’t work. There’s a reason anti-trust laws exist. Make corporations accountable to society — the commons — not just their shareholders. I mean, if a corporation is a person, it should be liable for the harm it does to all of us, right?
- Invest in green jobs. The WPA and the CCC worked, right? How about investing money in building a new, environmentally friendly energy infrastructure? Create good jobs for Americans that won’t go overseas and will put us back in the lead when it comes to the pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit our country was founded upon.
That’s just a few, off the top of my head. Can you think of any more?
Finally a sign that the insanity is abating, at least somewhere: Ask the Pilot: EU to phase out restrictions on liquids in carry-ons, Salon, 4/29/10.