8 things I would do if I were a dictator
How to change the world with absolute power
Don't worry too much, there's no big likelihood of me ever becoming a dictator. Even if by some freak chance I did get hold of absolute power, I would lose it instantly because of my extremely unpopular decrees. But you can't blame a girl for dreaming, right? If EU can forbid children under 8 to blow a balloon, I can imagine myself passing my own laws and they may not even prove that ridiculous in comparison. You be the judge.
1. Ban the TV
I'm sorry, it's not too funny in itself and it's probably one of those decisions that would instantly lose me dictatorship, but I simply have to get it off my chest. I believe TV is the most hurtful invention of our times, being the time stealer, brain musher and propaganda tool that it is. I can't help associating the idea of television with medieval biblia pauperum - and if you happen not to know what biblia pauperum was, let me explain.
Once upon a time, not so long ago (and no, not in the galaxy far away, but here on Earth) most people were illiterate. It may be hard to believe now, but general ability to read and write is quite a new invention. In medieval times pretty much only clerics and scholars knew those arcane arts. But what about an ordinary man? How was he or she to learn about Christianity (which was THE thing in medieval Europe)? There weren't enough priests to approach everyone so... biblia pauperum (i.e. bible for the poor) was born. It sounds fancy, but it simply means putting pictures, images of religious scenes on walls of churches and public buildings. People may not be able to read, they reasoned, but you don't need education to understand pictures.
Wondering why I notice similarities between biblia pauperum and the TV? If you still can't see it, let me give you a hint - it's because they basically embody the same concept. When people are to poor/uneducated/lazy to read books, let's give them pictures! Everyone understands pictures, they don't require so much brain power to process.
I don't want to be like that. I've kicked my TV set out of the window years ago and if you lived in a world ruled by me, you would too.
Would you throw your TV out of the window?
I was going to post a YouTube video here...
Because Red Hot Chili Peppers have a wonderful song titled (you've guessed it) 'Throw away your television'. I humbly report I got scared by all the copyright lines surrounding each version available. Property of blah blah, commercial purposes blah blah... What if I, God forbid, managed to make a whole dollar off this article? I'm not messing with lawyers of rich people, even to save the world. Sorry :)
But do listen to the song. It's really good.
2. Advertisers would have to pay you to view their ads
I got this idea from various online surveys I've participated in over time. I strongly believe that their creators don't give a damn about my opinion, they just want to get me to watch their ads with some attention.
Guess what - that's how it should be!
I'm sick and tired of the ever-present advertisements. They tend to be boring, kitschy, untrue... but first and foremost I rebel against being forced to view them. Ads on the radio (because we don't have the TV anymore, remember?), on billboards, on bus stops, in newspaper, in mailboxes, on the Internet, EVERYWHERE!
I mean - why on Earth am I to waste my time reading/watching/listening to lies you have concocted up about your product? For free? No way! If you want my time and attention, pay me for it!
And - gosh, another one of those unpopular decrees - it also applies to product reviews, product recommendations, shopping suggestions and the likes. It may come as a bit of a shock, but an ad is an ad, regardless of what name you call it.
Would you like to be paid for viewing ads?
3. The Internet would be divided into 'shopping' and 'leisure' sections
A very simple idea, really. It is perfectly possible to filter the search results to remove adult content, right? Then it should be perfectly possible to remove selling content. If you feel like shopping, if you actually NEED to buy something, simply click 'turn off the filter' and presto! - you're free to browse through all the 'product reviews' in the world.
If you're not out shopping, keep the filter active and you won't see a single item for sale. I have tears coming to my eyes just by thinking what a beautiful dream it is...
It would surely make the 'Internet experience' much more enjoyable, and probably prolong my life by a few years by staving off the anger-induced heart attack. There are few things that I hate more than people promising me good reading or the right answer to my question and delivering a bunch of 'buy me' lines instead. When a website is on top of search results for 'How to draw cartoons?' phrase, it should have some more content than 'Go get classes, and in the meantime buy this, this and this'. I can't really imagine anyone falling for that trick, but I might be overrating the humanity here.
Would you like to have an 'ad-free filter' built into your browser?
4. Each and every country would have a referendum for its citizens before going to war
The question would be simple: 'Should [enter your country name here] go to war with [enter another country]?
Don't fret, it can be done. If a referendum can be organised to choose a president, it can just as well be organised to choose between war and peace. Isn't that democracy in action?
Apparently, it has been suggested before (before USA joined the World War II, to be precise). A general referendum asking the above question was proposed, but the idea was grounded by politicians. I don't have the actual quote with me now, but if I remember it correctly, they said that 'if representation worked so well for so many years, there's no need to change it'. I didn't make it up, I've read it in a decent book called Human Smoke (and I've even written a review of it on my book blog, so if you want to find out more, follow this link), along with other interesting information from the war period.
Personally I'm fuming at the idea that I could be jailed for refusing to risk my life for something I don't care about (mild version) or something I actively oppose (hard core), with nobody even bothering to ask my opinion.
Would you like to have a chance to vote before your contry goes to war?
5. While we're at war...
Each person agitating for war should be given what they ask for. Writers. Politicians. Socialites. I don't care if they are old, female or of fragile health - if a person is fit enough to speak publicly in favour of war, to send other people, often against their will, to die, he or she is fit enough to go to the frontlines.
The idea is again inspired by Human Smoke. I find it unacceptable that rich and powerful 'untouchables' sit behind their desks thousands of miles away from the danger zone and make decisions in the name of people under fire. I kept reading about Churchill, being driven around England in a private train, eating sirloin steaks, drinking brandy and deciding that millions of people will keep on dying of starvation due to political reasons (it all concerned the sea blockade - read the book for details).
You think this sort of thing doesn't happen anymore? I've recently read that Sarkozy's hotel suite at recent G-20 summit in Cannes cost 40,000 euro (not sure if it's a nightly rate or the whole bill, but still...). What does he know about recession???
Should war agitators be made to experience the war themselves?
6. Every year, in each country...
...10 richest individuals would have all their assets confiscated, would be given a pittance to live off and sent to a developing country (the language of which they do not know - just my malice surfacing here) for three years, without permission to leave its borders.
It used to be a far more brutal idea. I believe people buying diamond collars for their dogs while there's still starvation in the world deserve... Well, they deserve very harsh treatment.
Plus, if becoming the richest of them all stopped being the goal and turned into something to fear, we might (just might, mind you) cease being the greedy bastards that we currently are.
Are diamond doggie collars ok?
7. Charity organisations would have to present their detailed accounts to anyone, for the asking
Being a CEO of a charity organisation is a very profitable position, as I've recently discovered. I might be a bit naive, but it came as a mighty shock to find that $250,000 dollars seems to be an average salary for the job. The record holder cashed in more than a million bucks within a year... all from the money you've paid for the kiddies.
I mean, WTF? Barack Obama is reputed to earn $400,000 - surely leading a charity foundation does not require more skills than leading US?
I've spent many entartaining (and enlightening) hours on charitynavigator.com, trawling through various charities, looking for salaries of the top people. If you are interested in what I've found, follow the big link below.
I'm not going to give a penny to an organisation which tempts me with stories on how I can help relieve poverty and proceeds to give its CEO a paycheck for more than I will probably earn during my whole lifetime. My sense of proportion is being insulted here.
How much should charity CEOs earn?
8. Each marketer, businessman or politician (anyone, really) would be jailed for lying in public
Misinformation, selective truths and unverifiable cliches would be punishable, too.
This is another one of my... no, not pet peeves. Wild, dangerous, beastly, teeth-grinding peeves is more like it. I refuse to accept being lied to, full stop.
Let me illustrate.
'Our company is here for you' (authentic, although I've changed the words slightly) - Oh? And I thought that 'making profit' is written into your company status as a raison d'etre... Isn't it?
'My aim is happiness of my people' - dear presidential candidate, why don't you become a social worker then? I'm sure you can afford voluntary work, with those private helicopters parked at your residence and all... Or is it power you're really after? Why didn't you say???
'This dress will turn you into a princess' - no, darling. There's a limited supply of unmarried princes in the world and even if I was to take it metaphorically... I'm really sorry to say so, but a dress rarely can achieve it. Months of workout, diets, style schooling and possibly a plastic surgery or two might, only might achieve it, but even this in not guaranteed. Sorry. (Who, after the age of seven, wants to be a damn princess anyway?)
Is it ok to lie in public?
Being a dictator is hard work...
I'll be sure to add to this list as I think of any more brilliant solutions to humanity's problems, so do come back from time to time.
Hope you've enjoyed the show.