On the Issues
Our economy no longer works for the majority of Americans. “Trickle Down” economics has failed to create a rising tide which lifts all boats as promised. Instead of lifting everyone up, these policies have largely made it more difficult for most Americans to get ahead. With so many Americans unemployed or underemployed, and technology driving a massive paradigm shift, this is not the time to think small.
America needs another New Deal, and it’s time to bring back many of the policies that pulled this country out of the Great Depression and created a middle class that was the envy of the entire world. Investing in our infrastructure, not just the standard list of roads and bridges, but also in the infrastructure that we’ll need to truly succeed in the 21st century is critical. Much like the electrification of the nation, and bringing telephone service to everyone, we must now turn our attention to broadband internet access.
It is an unconscionable paradox that “the land of the free” has more people in prison than any other country on Earth. We must restore the trust and bond between law enforcement and the communities they serve. If law enforcement officials break the law, they must be held accountable rather than shielded. At the same time, law enforcement should have the peace of mind that they can defend themselves against erroneous or false accusations. Police Departments should have roots within the communities they serve, showing not only that they have a vested interest in serving that community specifically, but also to reflect the diversity within those communities. Each side needs to know they have recourse should something happen, and that they can work together for the common good of all.
Additionally, sentences for non-violent offenders need to be reevaluated and individuals considered for release. To reduce recidivism rates we need to eliminate the profit incentive to keep people in prison by ending for-profit prisons, as well as provide rehabilitative and educational opportunities. We must also stop the dubious practice of using prisons and jails as de facto mental health facilities.
While we cannot weaken our military, there are numerous opportunities to reduce the unsustainable level of spending. For example, if military commanders tell us they have enough tanks, it doesn’t make sense to waste billions of dollars on tanks that just go straight to the desert to be mothballed. Wasteful budgeting practices that force military units to spend their budget regardless of whether or not they need to must be abolished.
Use of military force should be our last resort, not our first. Too often we seem to have the money to send our military off to war, but not the money to take care of our men and women in uniform when they come home. This shameful practice must end. We cannot afford to engage in perpetual warfare and disastrous regime change which only results in further destabilization. The way peace and stability are achieved is through diplomacy and wise application of force.
Equality is at the very heart of our lofty ideals. As our country moves ever forward into the future, each generation realizes this idea more fully. Injustice anywhere, to anyone, hurts all of us. When the freedom of one is curtailed, we are all made less free. If one can be oppressed, all can be oppressed. The practice of targeting marginalized groups for discrimination must end.
As we move forward into the 21st century we must do a better job of educating our people. There was a time when we led the world in scientific achievement and advancement. To reclaim that position, as well as stand a chance of competing globally in the coming decades, we must lay the foundational groundwork now. That starts by ensuring that anyone who wishes to pursue a college education is able to do so without being saddled with oppressive amounts of debt.
The high school diploma was the educational standard of the 20th century. A college education is the standard of the 21st century, and it’s time for us to ensure everyone has an opportunity to obtain one.
Our health care system only works well for those with the means to pay for it. We spend more per capita on healthcare than the rest of the developed world, and in many cases our outcomes are worse. It is time for us to move to a single payer healthcare system. We’re already paying for it, it’s time we realized the benefits. Having guaranteed access to healthcare without the risk of ruin, allows potential entrepreneurs the freedom to take risks who may otherwise not, and ensures people can seek treatment for illnesses before they become emergencies, etc. The benefits are innumerable, and the cost is not prohibitive considering what we already spend on it.
No one likes paying taxes, however they are a necessity. The way our current tax system is structured, the more money you make, the more advantaged you are. From owning a home and taking a mortgage interest deduction, to being able to afford to invest and receive lower capital gains rates, taxes are structured to increasingly favor those with means.
We must address this disparity by reducing the tax burden on low and middle income families. Additionally, the tax burden on small businesses needs to be reduced as unlike large multinational corporations they often cannot afford the attorneys and accounting wizards who somehow turn record profits into zero tax liability.
Finally, we must ask those who benefit the most from our society, whether wealthy individuals or powerful multinational corporations, to pay their fair share of taxes. They should give back to the society that has given them so much. We bailed out Wall Street and other powerful companies, it’s time they returned the favor.
We are already feeling the impact of climate change. While the vast majority of climate scientists agree that human activity is a primary driving force behind it, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. Filling our air and water with toxins is bad for us, and the impact on the food chain and diversity of our flora and fauna will eventually be devastating for us. For too long we have recklessly consumed the resources of this planet with little regard for the environmental impact.
We must act boldly to radically transform our energy systems, while being cognizant of the needs of people and businesses that currently provide millions of jobs. We must help them transition from dirty energy to clean and renewable sources.
A crucial piece of this includes a sensible nuclear energy plan. Traditional nuclear reactors while largely safe, are extremely poisonous and accidents can have horrendously terrible consequences. Nuclear energy based on the Thorium fuel cycle eliminates the possibility of reactor meltdowns, explosions, etc. We can even use our existing nuclear waste in Thorium reactors providing us with a way to recycle extremely dangerous material, reducing its toxicity.
As members of the global economy we have to trade with nations all over the world, but we must also ensure we protect the economic interests of our people. So-called “Free Trade” agreements have largely sold out middle and working class families by incentivizing corporations to shift jobs to exploitatively cheap labor markets against which American families cannot compete.
Our foreign policy should be tempered by wisdom. We have intervened throughout the world with no regard for the consequences. Our allies need to know we have their backs, and those who would challenge us need to know we will respond.
The best way to ensure peace and stability is to keep lines of communication open, and pursue diplomatic avenues. Only when all diplomatic solutions have been exhausted, and we or any of our allies have been attacked, should we bring the force of our military to bear. While I recognize the intrinsic value of life, if we are forced to use the power of our military, there should be no half measures. We should strike fast, and with the full might of our military to avoid a protracted conflict which will only result in excessive and needless destruction and death.
Election & Campaign Finance Reforms
Over the years the people's control has slipped away. Our politicians do not serve us but instead owe favors to large moneyed interests that fund their campaign coffers. This unfortunate reality became significantly worse following the Citizen's United decision. We must reform our election and campaign finance systems to restore the voice of the American people.
Over time voting rights in this country have been slowly eroded. We should be making it easier for people to vote, not more difficult. We already have a terribly abysmal voter participation rate, and it is only made worse by increasing voter restrictions. Closing of polling places, bizarre voter ID laws (which are specifically crafted to skew elections by accepting certain types of ID but not others), reductions of early voting and poll hours, etc. have all created a climate that suppresses the ability to vote and disproportionately impacts lower income individuals.
We must restore and strengthen voting rights across the country, and conduct new studies to collect data on how these practices specifically impact certain populations, as the reason the SCOTUS struck down parts of the Voting Rights Act was because it used data that was 50 years old.