Republican conservatives learned long ago to keep on pushing for what they really wanted rather than what they thought they could get in the current environment. At the beginning these extreme ideas were rejected out of hand ofr being too extreme and often “whacky”, but they wouldn’t let up, and eventually their ideas became part of the everyday political conversation, and people got used to hearing about them and started to feel less threatened by them, and eventually some passed. In fact, more and more of them passed until they became mainstream, and the right figured they could even go more extreme, and those more extreme policies would eventually become familiar & expected, and so it went, and the political conversation went steadily rightward, and the measures passed by our government became more & more extreme, favoring big business and the rich at the expense of everybody else.
The left seems not to have noticed or learned from the success of the right in framing the issues of the day. Rather than proposing what they really think needs to happen, the left tends to think smaller, and propose merely what they think can pass, and usually such half-measures fail, anyway, because the right is so disciplined about rejecting anything that doesn’t conform to their ideology. The left needs to move the rest of the country to the left by proposing ideas they believe are needed in order to make things better in our nation & world, even if there’s no chance of them passing in the current environment, because such an idea must be considered, such a conversation must be started, in order to get people familiar with them, and agreeing that they make sense. One rare example of the left doing just that is in gay marriage. When that was first proposed, the whole country considered that an outlandish, preposterous idea, and virtually nobody thought that it was a good idea, it was needed, and certainly that it would ever come to fruition. Even most gays thought it bizarre & unnecessary in the beginning. But that idea kept coming back, and very good reasons came up for having marriage equality. Eventually some societies even tried it, with good results. So it spread little by little despite heavy resistance, and now, within a mere generation, it has become a majority view in the US as in the rest of Western society that gay marriage should be legalized. We must do that with other issues
So here are some ideas that I think are really necessary if we are to thrive from here forward as a nation, but we need to get these ideas in our political dialogue.
Separation of Corporation & State, to be same as Separation of Church & State. That means Citizens United is overturned, no corporate money in elections, strong limits on individual contributions to a candidate ($1000?), probably some form of public funding of candidates. With money no longer going to politicians, companies can invest on research as well as higher wages, a healthier workplace & safety precautions for workers & environs, and politicians have a better chance of making their case based on good ideas & accomplishments in office rather than how much money they can raise. Also the time they’ve been spending on raising money can then be devoted to the people’s business they were elected in office to do, and the chance to come up with ideas to solve the tough problems we face as a nation. This both expands democracy and allows better governance and solutions to many of the long-festering problems this nation has been facing.
Have truth in advertising, as we once did. If someone making an ad makes a false claim, that someone can be sued. This would apply equally to political advertising as to business advertising. It should also apply to media: personal opinions should no longer be passed off as facts. This would increase public trust in government, business & media.
Change our election system to where the voters get to vote for their Top 3 choices or so, in order. This way voters can choose whom they really want, not the lesser of evils they think can win, and candidates who may draw fervor from a certain portion of the population but are an anathema to most of the rest, won’t do as well as someone who has a much broader base of appeal but might not be able to get as many 1st place votes. You get consensus candidates rather than extremists, and at last 3rd party candidates as well as lower rung candidates of a major party that appeal to more voters outside their party have a fighting chance. This idea is gaining traction and has been tried in several places with success. It expands democracy.
Ban Coal (& possibly shale oil & tar sands oil). They are so deleterious for the environment & human health from extraction to consumption that, just as many other poisons, they should be outright banned. Scientists have estimated that if any more than 1/5 or 1/6 of the known reserves get consumed, this planet will become virtually uninhabitable for us (in about 15 years at the rate we’re going), so definitely the dirtiest of these and most expensive & energy intensive to extract should not be used at all. Assess a Carbon Tax (Fee/Dividend), Greenhouse Tax, Gas Tax, Meat Tax, Plastic Taz, other taxes on unhealthy products proportionate to the amount their extraction, producti0n, transportation & consumption emit. For a carbon tax, I like the Boxer/Sanders bill whereby some of the revenue is used to pay down the debt, invest in technology for improved energy efficiency & cleaner fuels, for mass transit, & to return as a dividend to those who use the least amount of dirty energy. Or, for a tax neutral plan: the one offered by the Citizen’s Climate Lobby is a well-designed plan. Making coal & shale oil a target for banning will highlight in the public’s eye the harm these products are doing to us, and help move our public towards supporting cleaner energy & lifestyle solutions. This would be good for our environment, public health, and reducing the influence that the fossil fuel industries have on our government, and possibly even alleviate our huge debt problem.
Progressive Income Tax Rate: leaving the 1st $40K of annual income tax exempt, and 90% for Income after the 1st $1 Million. There is a 10% tax from $40-70K, 20% from $70-100K, 30% from $100-150K, 40% from $150-200K, 50% from $200-300, 60% for $300-400K, 70% for $400-600K & 80% for $600K to $1 million. Very easy for taxpayers to calculate with this straightforward system. The majority of Americans will pay less income tax, yet the US Treasury will gain considerably more revenue. Some people are reluctant to raise taxes on higher incomes because they think they might be rich someday and they won’t want to pay such taxes. It is therefore healthier to look at your income by how much of your income is left after taxes. Up to $40K, all of it will be left. At $50K, 1K would go in taxes, and $49K would be left for you. That’s less than I currently pay on $30K income. At $75K it would be $4K going to taxes, & $71K remaining. At $120K, it’s $15K in taxes, & $105K remaining. At $250K income, it’s $69K in taxes, and $181K left. At $500K income, it’s $224 in taxes and $276 remaining. At $1 million in income, you retain $386K, and at $2 million, it would be$486K Your leftover income wouldn’t reach $1 million until your total income is beyond $7 million. These figures are plenty for people to live comfortably, even somewhat extravagantly, but low enough to keep them out of trouble; but more importantly those in the lower incomes would keep more to themselves and not have to struggle so much to make ends meet. Along with eliminating all tax loopholes & tax havens, putting a surtax on wealth gained from hedge funds, derivatives & other wealth gained from just playing the market or other money games and not from labor or investment, this would significantly lower our debt and reduce wealth disparity while improving our economy by leaving more spending money for the majority of wage earners
End all subsidies to Big Oil & Big Ag, and either convert them to investment for small organic farms & clean renewable energies or reduce the debt or a combination thereof. This would help our environment & our public health while possibly reducing our national debt.
Fund and man our government agencies so they can do their job: the FDA, IRS, EPA, Immigration, etc. have been purposefully underfunded & understaffed so that they can't do their job adequately, and the wrongdoings of corporations don't get caught. This would greatly improve government effectiveness, public health & safety, environmental stewardship, better government return per money spent.
Rate of consumption should no longer be considered a positive measure of success, but a negative; and GDP should no longer be the measure of how well-off nations are, but we need an index that measures longevity, personal health, environmental health, abundance of unspoiled natural resources, income equality, lack of poverty, literacy, education level, education proficiency, employment levels, job satisfaction, low inflation, satisfaction with life, air quality, water quality, species diversity, low rates of disease, low rates of obesity, low rates of cigarette smoking, low rates of drug use, low rates of carbon emissions, low generation of garbage, etc. In order to maintain enough resources for the future, we must reduce consumption & materialism and concentrate on improving other aspects of our lives.
End industrial capitalism. Not totally abandon certain capitalistic ideas, such as someone being able to start a small business and compete with others on the same playing field, but the current nearly unregulated corporate capitalism of mergers, takeovers, monopolies, corporations running the government, ruining the environment, screwing their employees and consumers has to stop. There should be much more stringent rules against takeovers. & mergers. Hostile takeovers would be illegal. There would be a hefty fee for a takeover of 1 company by another. Besides reducing wealth disparity, increasing employment & improving both our economy & the environment, this is essential for the salvation of both our democracy and the Earth as a decent place to live
Have single payer universal health care: the simplest, fairest, most effective, most efficient way of providing health care, as many nations have shown us. This system is half as expensive, covers a much higher portion of the people, and draws much greater public satisfaction than ours. Model after the country or countries that are having the best results. Effects of this are improving our health care & security and saving taxpayers money, and evening out the differences in health access between rich & poor.
Expand social security. There’s an income limit, above which there is no further tax paid, that should be eliminated. There’s a proposal out there that I don’t know much about, but it is supported by both Bernie Sanders & Elizabeth Warren, so I would refer to them for better information and reasoning for adopting it. More evening the playing field between rich & poor as well as expanding health security..
Make education free for the public all the way through college. A free public education has done wonders for many other developed & developing nations. The education of our people must be a national priority so that we can regain our economic competitiveness. Good for equality, education & national competitiveness.
Repeal the 2nd Amendment and ban guns (other than in an occupation that requires it). Many nations ban guns and their rate of murder & incarceration is a small fraction of ours, and their streets are safer. The right always protests against gun laws, and warn that government wants to take people’s guns away. So we fall for it, and are afraid to ask for the most minimal measures for gun control. Let’s try the other extreme that they keep warning about. It certainly hasn’t stopped the right from advocating outrageous gun policies on their side. Do you prefer a society where nobody carries a gun or one in which every aggressive, hostile guy, including children, has a gun on his person? There has been no proposal for an outright ban of guns, but there have been proposals for students to carry guns in their schools. Which would make more sense to you? if that’s what is being proposed, what kind of laws will actually end up being passed? Just look at what’s happened in the last couple of years, in which there has been a rash of mass murders with guns. Laws allowing the proliferation of guns in society have easily outnumbered those restricting gun use. So isn’t it time we go for the real thing? Banning guns across the US would in time reduce crime, reduce murders, reduce incarceration & make our cities & schools safer.
We should insist on truth in advertising, subject to fines & lawsuits, which was in effect many years ago, and engendered trust in our institutions. Now everything you hear is subject to question & doubt, and many things we hear in advertising are outright lies. Not only business advertising, which has gotten less and less reliable, but especially political advertising, which is repeatedly deceiving, misrepresenting and lying about their opponents. This should extend to news & opinion, which need to be held accountable for the “facts” they falsely spew out. People like Rush Limbaugh are extremely divisive and goad people into discrimination against those who've already had more than their share of persecution.. They should be banned from our airwaves and put in jail for hateful speech & inciting bigotry, violence & sedition.
Actively prosecute those corporations violating the law & ethics, and not just the small stuff. There are a number of environmental organizations that have been effective at bringing law suits against corporations or government agencies, for one act or another. But there are some overarching injustices that corporations have perpetrated that go beyond just one instance, but a series of violations with huge environmental consequences along with many people falling victim in one way or another. For any single mishap, corporations should be charged at least triple the costs associated with their spills, blasts, effluents & pollutants: not only cleanup costs, but damage done to every property, water tainted, livestock & wildlife killed, vegetation killed, fish & other aquatic life killed, and disease caused, and it should be open-ended, so that damage, disease & death later discovered to be related to the incident could be added to the total fines. This could have several beneficial effects: discourage businesses from going into sensitive places, make them take more safety precautions so that these devastating & expensive disasters happen much less frequently, and discourage practices in general that are harmful to the environment & human health. But beyond that, there are many crimes & violations that these megacorporations could legitimately be charged with, including fraud, intimidation, reckless endangerment of the public/environment, negligent homicide, even genocide, mass murder or treason.
Make a thorough investigation, without any influence from the federal government, of 9/11. We’ve never had one and we surely deserve one. The one done by the government was a sham: incomplete and overlooking or dismissing lots of evidence that conflicted with their conclusions, which was intended to shield the executive branch from being implicated in the crime in any way. Compelling evidence, analysis & deduction have shown that the official line for virtually every aspect of the event could not possibly be true, and more plausible & intriguing alternative theories have been put forth. But one can only speculate unless a fair and thorough discussion is allowed in the media, and an impartial and comprehensive investigation is conducted by our legal system. Anybody who still has no doubts about the official version has not examined the evidence with any scrutiny or impartiality, has not paid any attention to the steady subversion of our democracy by the military-industrial complex over the past few decades, and has no knowledge of Operation Northwoods -- if something like that could’ve been proposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (and rejected by the president) back in the Kennedy administration, surely something similar could’ve been conceived of (and accepted) in the Cheney administration. This is essential in order for us to regain our democracy and to have government function more effectively and be accountable to the people, which would have positive effects on a whole range of issues.
End homelessness by developing a campus specifically designed for homeless people, modeled after university campuses, in every county or region. It should be designed to house at least twice the number of homeless people existing in that region, more for fast-growing areas. The domiciles should be arranged like dormitories with rooms similar to dorm rooms – larger for families, with a cafeteria or dining hall. There should be a health center that includes drug rehabilitation and comprehensive mental health along with all other fundamental health care. It should contain a gym with weights, exercise machines, swimming pool, basketball court and pingpong tables, as well as tennis courts, a running track, volleyball courts (preferably sand) and a field (for soccer, baseball...). It should be provided with a library full of science books and "how to" books for learning skills. It should contain a park at least 1 block wide, full of native plants, if possible. It should also contain gardens, including vegetable gardens, which the residents can tend themselves. There should be paths to get from here to there by foot or by bike. Teachers should be hired to teach classes to the residents, including a basic ethics course about how to get along and treat each other with dignity & thoughtfulness, care for the environment and the Earth, and to learn fundamental skills; as well as science, language, trades and various arts. The residents will learn how to exist in an ecologically sound, sustainable way. Some of the residents may from the beginning be able to contribute to teaching, cooking, building, repairing, keeping up the residence, and others will learn to and help out later. Other jobs could be done by volunteers from the community, including high school & college students. And some of the jobs could be entry level jobs for high school & college graduates. The campus will be easily accessible by public transportation, including monorail or subway if they exist. No non-emergency motorized vehicles will be allowed within the campus. Parking lot only at the edge of the campus. We need to invest in our citizens to make them healthier, independent, employable & self-sufficient. So this would take care of a long-standing, intractable, forgotten problem, and in doing so address the disparity of opportunity between rich & poor, improve our employment situation & our economy, improve the livability of cities, and could have positive effects on a wide range of issues.
We need to be bold in our ideas, such as these mentioned above, and galvanize people around them, and do our best to make government work for the people. We may not get all these things, and we may not want them all, but unless and until we propose them, there’s no chance they’ll even be considered. These are the kinds of ideas that could gain some strong, fervent popular support, and even if they’re not adopted, reasonable compromises are likely to advance our causes and improve our nation substantially.