With Christmas joy and that special time with friends and family behind us, I wonder what the New Year will bring. If you were granted some wishes for 2024 that would benefit us all, what would they be?
I consider the topics of most concern to include addressing crime, curbing government waste, protecting our personal health and wealth, and cleaning political misinformation.
Wish No. 1: upholding criminal convictions pronounced by the courts. Currently, the jails and most county sheriffs ignore the sentences handed out by the judge. I would hope that the policies of early release and shorter sentences should be made by a judge in the courtroom and not a warden who ignores a judge’s ruling.
This wish is that only the presiding judge of a criminal case can amend or shorten a sentence.
I wish for mandatory consecutive sentences. My investigations firm conducted an analysis that revealed that 90% of crime was committed by 5% of the criminal population. While we know rehabilitation for repeat offenders is a pipedream, the courts for the most part still ignore subsequent criminal acts and render their sentences based on the first or most serious crime.
For example, the Riverside County courts this year convicted the “Snake Burglar,” who slithered under motion detectors of retail sites, of one count of burglary although he pleaded guilty to committing 54 separate crimes. With credit for time served, he received probation, whereas the other 53 crimes were ignored.
My next wish is mandatory in-patient care for those living on the streets. It is crazy to think that asking the homeless drug addicts and the mentally ill to please come inside is a viable strategy. Someone living in filth and unsafe conditions or who is a danger to themselves and others should not be permitted to choose to continue living in squalor.
I say bring our homeless population into mandatory care and if there is a day it is determined when one can live in a productive and self-sufficient manner, this person can be allowed to join society.
Wish No. 4: Insert a chip and require fingerprint verification for those using state EBT (electronic benefits transfer) cards.
EBT is the state program that gives the needy debit cards with funds to help buy essential food items. California for 2024 has budgeted over $170 million for this program. During the COVID pandemic, it was estimated that about one-third of all EBT cards were fraudulent, many having been sent overseas or out of state, and many more were (and are) traded for drugs.
Experts claim putting a chip on the card, ceasing to mail cards to addresses in other states and countries, and requiring a fingerprint will virtually eliminate EBT fraud. Imagine preventing $50 million a year in losses.
I am tired of outright lies being spewed by political figures and their allies. I would set up a political Authentication Court. I envision an independent body fact-checking and reporting on a website falsehoods and misrepresentations. Freedom of speech should not entitle those in politics to blatantly lie to the public.
Stiff fines imposed by this independent commission would pay for this form of promoting truth in politics.
Wish No. 6: a sliding scale gas tax. When gas prices are low, we should kick in a bit more in gas taxes, but when gas prices are high, the tax rate should be reduced. This procedure would level out our transportation costs and take the sting out of high gas prices.
My No. 7 is taking action to curb hacking and cybercrime. It is estimated that by 2025, over $10.5 trillion will be stolen from American households and businesses. I would set up a federal anti-hacking agency that would load malware on the hacker’s computers and put them out of business.
I consider protecting our national wealth an issue of promoting national security.
For some state-sponsored hacking agencies, such as in Iran, Russia and North Korea, I would declare this an act of war and send a missile into the hacking site with but a few hours’ notice, allowing lives to be saved but destroying the location where cybercrime is conducted.
Many “nonprofits” are simply another form of taking money under false pretenses. Kars4Kidz, for example, is rated by Charity Navigator, an online rating site designed to protect the public, at or near the lowest rating possible. Most of the funds donated by well-meaning citizens for this and other charities simply enrich the owners.
This wish would get tighter federal regulations and enforcement and prove that donations are being put to good use.
Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations agency, is the CEO of a private security firm, is the CFO of an accredited acting conservatory, is a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.