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So, what do we stand for? Here's my attempt.

Good government. Paid for, by us, for us.

Government. We need the government, to take care of the common good, the protect the nation and its people, to set the rules that make life in society possible, and to enforce them.

Good government. Because the vital role of government require it to be honest, competent, accountable. The commons need to be managed well, for all. Bad government lets society rot and decline. Working for government must be a duty, not a priviledge; an honor, not a shame. It must be peformed to the highest standards of the community.

Paid for. Because the vital role of government, like any other service, has to be paid for, because it requires work, dedication, organisation and competent manpower. You get what you pay for, and if you don't pay for it, or if you pass on the bill to your children, or simply to yourself in the future, you won't get much in return. Excessive debt is not responsible - it is downright delinquent. And if you let corporations or other lobbies to pay for it, government will work for them and no longer for the rest of us.

by us. Government is run and managed and paid for by us. That means the appropriate taxes, and that means respecting those that do the work of government. That means also caring about it, and not thinking that it's too far, or too big, or too mysterious that you cannot have an influence. Don't give up government to special interests or to insiders.

for us. Government is not the enemy. It does what we make of it, or what we let it do. It works for the common good, but only if we care enough for it to do so. Ir protects us, gives us education, impartial information, a level paying field. It embodies solidarity between citizens, between generations, and between communities.

Originally posted to Jerome a Paris on Sun May 21, 2006 at 02:44 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  European Tribune (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kraant

      had its first big meet up this weekend. See the stories and pictures on the front page... It was a fun crowd to be in.

      In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
      Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

      by Jerome a Paris on Sun May 21, 2006 at 02:38:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  How about we try a real Democracy next time (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jerome a Paris

      Suppose that instead of our Representatives in Congress deciding where the money comes from and where it goes we the people decided that directly by voting on our income tax forms with check off boxes.

      On the instructions for our returns are two pie charts that show where the money comes from and where it goes.

      Going on the premise that We the People, not Bush and not the Congress are the real deciders, suppose we were to tell the government how much we wanted to spend on it and where the money should come from.

      Suppose we were to fill out what percent of our Spending we wanted to go to Law, Social Security, Defense, Interest, Commercial Development, and Social Programs.

      We could also fill out what Revenue we wanted to come from Social Security, Income Tax, Excise tax, Corporate Tax, Borrowing or other income.

      Based on Pay as you Go, if you didn't allocate money to pay for it you wouldn't be able to allocate money to spend on it.

      Over time we might find it necessary to break the categories down a little further so we could say something about defending us from the effects of global warming, hurricanes, tornados, and rising sea levels being more of a priority than protecting the bottom lines of oil companies, Halliburton and Military Industrial complexes while inder the category of Social Programs, protecting Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and Education might be more of a priority than subsidies to logging companies or selling off wilderness lands to oil and gas companies and developers.

      Live Free or Die (-8.88 -9.49) IMPEACH

      by rktect on Sun May 21, 2006 at 03:33:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Might have a hard time with the interest piece. (4+ / 0-)

        Interest on the national debt.(And I believe it's higher than you show, at 15%.) I thought it was around 20%.
         It always amazes me seeing how large it is.
        We get nothing for it. Nothing.  It's a tax on our taxes. When we send Washington one dollar, we only get 85 cents in services, even if there were no fraud or waste. It is basically a penalty assessed on the taxpayers for electing cowardly, lying legislators. It's also a gigantic transfer of wealth from taxpayers to bond-holders. Are you a bondholder? I'm not. But in any case, it's 15% of the national income transferred directly from workers to the investors. And we got nothing in return. Nothing...

        We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. Aesop (620 - 560 BC)

        by AWhitneyBrown on Sun May 21, 2006 at 04:10:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We need a law that prohibits ursury (0+ / 0-)

          as anything over 1%, and then nationalizes all of our debts.

          As you say its a tax and since Republicans don't like taxes they will understand our advocating the tax break for the nation.

          We can describe it as trickling down from the taxpayers to big business because if the people get to keep a bigger percentage of their money they will have more to spend on what businesses sell.

          Live Free or Die (-8.88 -9.49) IMPEACH

          by rktect on Sun May 21, 2006 at 04:20:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Well, not necessarily.... (0+ / 0-)

          I am not a person who gets all worked up over all debt.

          If the debt were used to build roads, schools, national park upgrades, and other physical national assets.  It would not be such a big deal.  If they last 10 years, paying for them over say 5 years is not a big deal, and can allow more necessary work to be done now without raising taxes.

          But, that is not what is happening.  Instead the borrowing is being used to pay for ongoing expenses which means nothing ever gets paid off. It would be interesting if llike many states and communities the federal government had to say what a bond issue was to be used for.

  •  'we' being...? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris, kraant

    Surrender monkeys or 'merkins?

    Nice diary, either way.


    We got computers, we're tapping phone lines
    I know that ain't allowed...

    by Page van der Linden on Sun May 21, 2006 at 02:40:54 PM PDT

  •  You mention two things (5+ / 0-)

    that have been a troubling trend since Reagan:

    the demonization of government workers (or should we say public servants.)

    the breakdown of the intergenerational compact- the notion that we are stewards and builders of our communities because others that came before us gave to future generations and we in turn are obligated to do the same.

    Greed and selfishness have undermined these two things. We need to resurrect the respect for them to fix much of what ails this world. There really is no such thing as a free lunch, just a deferral of necessary investment in our world.

    •  These Aren't Trends--There Aren't Many 'Trends' (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gegner, lauramp, dewey of the desert

      in popular feelings and opinions. What you cite are formal programs and goals of probably the greatest propaganda system in history.

      We could change any opinion we want if we own the public square and operate it purely for our purposes. At the moment, we don't, we don't own any meaningful fraction of it. The other side does, and in addition to the obvious exercise of ownership privileges, they've got significant civilian and military propaganda machines working in their public square as well.

      That doesn't change if we take office. We need policies to establish a little more democratic space in the public square, probably for elections at first, but long term we need a way to establish a public commons in the information world or all these problems are largely out of our hands.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun May 21, 2006 at 03:56:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Much has been done in a few short years (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gegner

        to undermine our ability to have a real dialogue about important issues. When you say public square-this forum is a good start because it is so far somewhat free of the things that the right has put in place elsewhere in media to distract and stifle and drown out free conversation. No American idol or skating idiots here. No RWNM, Hannity, Rove Propoganda Faux news. Unfiltered opinion that fears no sponsor or FCC.
        We are at a crossroads in how well we utilize its potential.
        Getting all these disparate folks talking who would never have met outside of cyberspace is a very exciting new wrinkle in the public square.

  •  The language (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris, 0hio

    There's nothing wrong with the meaning here, but it comes off as platitudinous and even pompous. For instance

    Working for government must be a duty, not a priviledge

    ... people who think they're doing their "duty" ... the connotations are some cop who's busting you for some petty violation saying, "I'm just doing my duty, m'am."  Not good. Better to say, "Working for government is a privilege that has to be earned; nobody has it by right; and even after election it needs to be earned every day." Still a pompous platitude, but someone saying "It's a privilege to serve you, sir" is far preferable to the asshole "doing my duty."

    These are points that may be missed by someone not living within the American sphere of language.

    •  You're right (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gegner

      The concept I'm trying to get to is that beign in government does not give you "rights" or privileges", only obligations and, yes, duties - as in "duty of care".

      My hope is that the wording can be polished into something snappish and understandable and even obvious.

      In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
      Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

      by Jerome a Paris on Sun May 21, 2006 at 03:24:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Paying (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewey of the desert

    Most Americans don't like to pay very much for anything.  Hence McDonalds, Wal Mart etc.

    The corporate elites don't mind "investing" so long as they see good returns.  Hence the exhorbitant costs of political campaigns.

    Republicans have done such a great job of turning the word taxes into the ultimate evil that any new tax is dead on arrival.  

    We got what we paid for.

  •  I agree. Fair taxes for fair and good purpose. (3+ / 0-)

    One other point to a great diary, Jerome. A military to be used for our national defense and never to be used for pre-emptive purposes.

  •  post expense accounts online ...? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gegner

    in the last few years, in Canada an agency of one of the Provincial governments or of the national government got in trouble about wasting taxpayer money on ... travel to Europe? hookers? crystal meth? whatever.

    One of their solutions was that they were supposedly going to start posting on the web the expenditures of various officials so that everyone could see where money was going and when.

    someday, somehow, I think an idea like this could really be useful for restoring trust in government - you'd need a very simple but easy to understand reporting system, and viola !

    some real accountability.

    BTW, I worked for a few years supporting the management reporting databases for a large big huge company & every new bunch of managers had to create a new schema of nitwittery to justify their exsistence on Excel (hint hint) -

    in 5.5 years, my job consisted of going to meetings, using the phone, using email, AND doing the work for the people I met through the email, meetings and phones.

    I had beaucoup job titles and all kinds of jobs desriptions and an almost infinite list of task labels to use which were fancy synonyms for using the phone and email, going to meetings, and doing work.

    management reporting doesn't have to be reporting fiasco just because it typically is.

    rmm.

    http://www.liemail.com/BambooGrassroots.html

    by seabos84 on Sun May 21, 2006 at 04:17:56 PM PDT

  •  Good government, investment, putting people first (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dewey of the desert

    We're building something here, Jerome.

    After reading
    thereisnospoon's diary 5-20-06
    on unifying themes to express what Dems stand for, made a comment and I’ll try to briefly summarize the sequence of my thinking here.

    GOP central unifying theme of "small govt" (in truth no/low regulation and no/low taxes to enhance corporate profit margins) is used by GOP to hit Dems on "big govt." Needed new way to frame the face-off. Went back into history for example of humane/effective government and from FDR era, depression & WW II came up with the tried-and-true "good government."  Frame shifted from "small vs. big" to "small vs. good." "Good govt" goes toward rather than away from government,  allowing Dems to "lean forward" whereas previously we were defensive on our heels in public debates about govt.

    Taxation needs positive reframing, too, and using Clinton's approach -- calling it investment is best bet, I think, adopting an investment attitude to government which tends to give value to the things government does for the people.

    After reading Markos’ comment on thereisnospoon's diary, wanted to find language to improve “common good” and again went back into history, this time to 1992 and the title of Clinton’s economic plan “Putting people first.” When it was on my campaign table in run-up to that election, the main comment from people was “About time!” Several said things like, “I don’t know if I’ll read all this economic mumbo-jumbo but I think this guy Clinton does put people first and that’s what I want.”

    Interesting that the three major language frames (that work best for me) are from FDR and Bill Clinton who, after all, won serial elections with these concepts to express what they stood for. There are other frame themes and all can be fleshed out much further. I’m just sketching the main outlines here with help of thereisnospoon, Markos and Jerome; have only scratched the surface and agree with you, Jerome, that good government is key.

    In short, perennial frame themes to describe what Democrats stand for: Putting people first;
    investing in people; investing in things people need to thrive such as education, infrastructure, healthcare, civil security; ballot security; striving for protected environment, sound sustainable energy policy, protected personal privacy, respect abroad (partial list); with “good government” the frame wrapped around the whole package.

    Thanks Harry, Steve & Ray for speaking truth to liars.

    by wardlow on Sun May 21, 2006 at 07:37:08 PM PDT

    •  this diary seems to have faded (0+ / 0-)

      due to heavy traffic. So please share your ideas again in another appropriate post. You had some good insights that bear repeating.

    •  PS: Taxation and investment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dewey of the desert

      In my post above I left out some bridging work on the use of "investment" to speak of taxation. Clinton's use of investment was related to spending. My proposal is that we speak of spending -- and therefore investment -- being possible only with fair and equitable contributions toward investment in good government by all citizens, and this is known as taxation.

      This whole line of thinking needs development and research, but there's a track here that we can pursue on taxation, spending and investment that might be developed into strong framing language for one of the most lethal barbs typically thrown at Dems by Republicans.

      Let's keep workin' it.

      Thanks Harry, Steve & Ray for speaking truth to liars.

      by wardlow on Sun May 21, 2006 at 08:47:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Last point: PPF vs. PCF (0+ / 0-)

        “Putting people first” carries embedded within it the implication of the GOP alternative of “putting corporations first,” and this can be usefully drawn out in debates in various subtle ways.

        Too many moderate Dems and DLC types put corporations too near first and this is a major challenge for our party in finding its identity and standing up for it by genuinely and in every political action putting people first. In this respect, “putting people first” might be seen as the super-frame while “good government” is a major sub-frame.

        Thanks Harry, Steve & Ray for speaking truth to liars.

        by wardlow on Sun May 21, 2006 at 09:20:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Public interest vs private interest (0+ / 0-)

          “Putting people first” carries embedded within it the implication of the GOP alternative of “putting corporations first,” and this can be usefully drawn out in debates in various subtle ways.

          Chiefly as "public interest vs. private interest," arguing for a balance that makes public interest a priority.

          Thanks Harry, Steve & Ray for speaking truth to liars.

          by wardlow on Sun May 21, 2006 at 09:38:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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