A poster of three protestors holding signs. One says "No ban, No wall, All are welcome here"  another says "Black Lives Matter"  the one in the middle says "When is it enough?"
Author Jack Bragen says that this article was written as a product of “the rage I feel toward those at the Social Security Administration for using intimidating tactics.” 
Bragen is a longtime contributor to Street Spirit—he has been contributing articles since 2001. He has often written about the struggle to survive while relying on government benefits. Click his byline to read more of his stories. (San Francisco Poster Syndicate)

A government must not harass, punish, or intimidate its people. A government does not own the right to kill people, whether the people are from another country with which we are “at war”, or people from its own country as punishment. A government does not own land. A government does not have the right to produce nuclear weapons. A government does not have the right to dictate what we are and are not permitted to do. A government must represent the needs of the people, especially those who are not economically blessed–rather than the opposite. 

A government must take care of those in need. A government must make life better for people, not worse. A government must not make its citizens live in fear of it. A government must not allow people to die of homelessness. A government must be here to help. 

A government must consult those affected by its proposed actions; “will that be okay?” A government must not recognize a corporation as a “person.” A government must be a steward of the Earth. A government must look after peoples’ well-being. It must provide free medical care. It must provide free food and free shelter from the elements. A government must render money a luxury and not a necessity to live. A government must be accountable. 

A government must use humane, non-condemning, non-lethal means to apprehend and detain those who do physical violence. 

The U.S. Government is considered by some to be a great democracy and a grand experiment. Many believe it better than being ruled by a King or Queen. Many believe it is better than communism. It is a better situation than governments that rule only through fear. 

However, the U.S. Government fails at most of the tests I have listed above. It is not a utopian government. It is adapted to human nature as it currently exists, wherein people need to be forced to coexist for the most part peacefully. To have a utopian government, people must be better. People need to wake up. If we can not raise people’s insight and awareness, our ability to survive in the coming centuries will be limited. 

The next step, as I see it, is to begin a policy of guiding citizens through incentives rather than punishments. This would entail a restructuring of the economy. The system currently incentivizes ripping off people. Instead, we should be incentivizing acts of kindness, consciousness, and innovation. Incentives could take the form of money, or they could take the form of awards. Excellence among disabled people is currently punished. Disabled people should be incentivized to accomplish rather than to be sick and needy. This is not to say we must deprive the sick of medicine and other help; it is only to say that, currently people are punished for trying to rise out of poverty, and this is not the way it ought to be. 

We are hundreds of years shy of a utopian government and a utopian society, if ever. Yet, any small steps we can take toward that, will be noteworthy, and will make immortal those who take those steps. 

Jack Bragen is author of Instructions for Dealing with Schizophrenia: A Self-Help Manual. Additionally, he has three collections of short fiction/science fiction for sale, and lives in Martinez.