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Chapter 8 | Democratic Party (United States) | United States Government

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CHAPTER 8. THE 80% PROPOSAL As I said among the book's opening paragraphs, There exists a political program that 80% of the US population would vote for. It is an issue of a tone and approach more than specifics. Though specifics count.. People want realistic hope, pragmatism and some serious working to reverse negative trends. What we have been offered - by both parties - is militarism and fear and support for old industries, and a state-corporate partnership that is hostile to the interests o
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  CHAPTER 8. THE 80% PROPOSAL As I said among the book's opening paragraphs, There exists a political program that 80% of the US population would votefor. It is an issue of a tone and approach more than specifics. Though specificscount.. People want realistic hope, pragmatism and some serious working to reversenegative trends. What we have been offered - by both parties - is militarism and fear and support for old industries, and a state-corporate partnership that is hostile to theinterests of everyone, including, as people also looking for quality of life, the ownersof big capital. The leaderships of the parties shouts at us with false issues that divideus. The Republicans offer moral outrage at the perceived lesser sins of others, andthe Democrats offer support to visible fragments of the socially but not economicallymarginalized.Despite the apparent differences in political perspectives, conservative and progressivevalues are fairly close; quality of life means individual and family health, community coherence,a vital economy, meaningful time away from work, self responsibility, and care for others, andrespect for honesty and character.I have been discussing the reasons why there is no coherent political platform that speaksto common values, but rather polarizes us along the lines of fairly minor issues.. Here I amdiscussing the ideas that unite us and the possibilities of a politics around these goals. Let mecycle through the argument several times, with shifting emphasis and detail. Simply stated we propose a return to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, withouttyranny. It means bringing together the best of conservative and progressive ideas – not using thedark shadow side of those ideas to keep us from meaningful action, from doing anything thatwould upset the current narrow leadership in the country that might shift the course of the currentmomentum.We need to realize that the way the Bush presidency used the words democracy and  freedom are not an adequate representation of those values. In fact they are a major distortion.What Bush really means is a society dominated by corporations where politics is choreographed by the media and crucial questions are pushed aside. The values agenda, of which GardenWorldis an evocative image, requires a commitment to a vital economy, which means a business worldinnovating with high tech to meet social and individual needs with stiff environmental regulationthat drive innovation, spreads employment outward to more participation in good jobs, that arewell paying, more local and regional, and requiring more education and teamwork. It meanssupporting such an economy by reducing subsidies through direct or regulatory means to old  style businesses that hurt innovation. It means a dedication to health care and education thatworks across the life cycle and providing the skills and perspectives necessary for a new breadthof participation. It means a foreign policy based on realism about the past injustices of empireand colonization, and a dedication to a better life for all. We need a foreign policy that looks for alignment in friendship with others in the pursuit of local versions of seeking a better life for their people. Not just as individuals, but as families, communities, the multiple communities towhich the modern person is member. We need to realize that governing complexity is very hard.This is to be achieved through international cooperation and respect for cultural and political differences, not blind to deep injustice, but respectful of different approaches togovernance, putting international hope in place of a disastrous arms race of large countriesselling weapons to local warlords.The eighty percent proposal begins with a few basics1.Reverse the legislation that, cumulatively, is leading to concentration of wealth and extremelyunequal incomes. Because wealth is the sum of changes over time, whereas income is only for agiven year, wealth distortion is much greater than income distortion. Either is gross enough tosay without equivocation, something is rotten in the republic.The solution may be as simple as reinstating the inheritance tax for estates above say 2million, and raising the upper income tax brackets by 5 or ten percent. I leave it to others to dothe complex math modeling, but I believe these two changes would bring us into an era wherethe current increasing concentration will turn into slowly decreasing disparities. The very fact of this shift in direction would mean that most peaceful would have rising expectations. The resultwould be increased hope and a desire to participate.The argument against this is it is the state taking property from individuals. But none believe that the individuals gained that wealth without the support of social regulation and social productivity, from the language, the land, the science, and the law. These, used by the wealthy,have not been paid for by them, and are a kind of legally sanctioned robbery. Nearly everyoneagrees that taxes are essential and a public responsibility. There is probably a tax structure thatcould maintain sustainable differences in wealth which, along with social mobility - the ability of one’s children to influence their own wealth position – would be judged as sustainably fair.If the next tax policy was strong enough to reverse the current trends for of concentrationand establish a fairer distribution of wealth, a future sustainable tax structure that would maintainsustainable wealth differences would be achievable. The goal should be a monitor trends so thattax structure can prevent a new cycle with the drift towards concentration. Next of course we need education, transportations, heath, culture. Even with extremereforms in each of these – which I think we need – the costs are not trivial.2.We need a productive economy – starting at the levels of food, water, clean air, and livable place on the land, and beyond these the infrastructure of a civilization. These are not at allsimple.  First we need to recognize that the world economy is shifting in ways that are difficult for the United States. Americans have to compete with the rising power of economies and the rest of the world. The United States is now and will continue to be an increasingly small part of theworld economy. We are coming to a time when the world does not need us. The reality is nowthat we are needed as consumer, not as producer. There probably is a way to lower our relativestandard of living –that is relative to the rising expectations of others – gracefully –and we needto see this as an opportunity for the good life – I think in the context of GardenWorld - rather than as a threat to the old one which has not been so attractive and not so sustainable.The Bush administration has not been entrepreneurial. He and the small cadre have not been interested in new technology or interesting projects using old technology. Theadministration’s lack of interest in the education necessary for an entrepreneurial society is profound. Basically it has been destructive and visionless. The administration has supported oldline industries that provide the money for campaigns in exchange for policies that keep thingsfrom changing.In this climate real profit has been made either through regulated quasi monopoly or thecomplex manipulations of what is called “finance capitalism”. The result as that Americancapital and corporations can move money overseas for both production and local consumptionleaving ordinary Americans out of the loop. The rich continue to have an economy they own that just happens to be overseas, but most Americans, who already are without an economy of  production, will increasingly not be able to consume either. As I said, “The economy is doingwell, but the people are doing badly.”What is necessary is an economy that works for everyone. Responding to the energycrisis requires a tremendous investment in the us. If our education were producing the peoplewho could lead such an economy we probably would do well. We are in danger that thetechnologies that can respond too much higher energy efficiency needs will come from other countries such as Germany, Japan, and China. Germany and Japan have been on the forefront of tough regulations that drives innovation. The result is that their products- technical solutions – are desired in the worldwide economy in ways that ours are not. Responding to a more stringentenergy demands creates local markets in the United States. If we are smart we can develop someof the technology and get the investment.Environmental needs create opportunities that support and extend the energy scenario.Tough environmental regulation will create the necessity that is the mother of invention.Retrofitting existing buildings for water and energy conservation creates local jobs and potentially a small contracting companies that can do the work. These jobs definitely cannot beoutsourced. The net impact of immigration and as a form of outsourcing is getting carefulconsideration by the political process. The need amplified by strong environmental regulationwould reinvigorate the rebuilding of our infrastructure and the craft work of construction andenvironmental maintenance.I of course think that GardenWorld is the perfect container for an attractive and attractingset of guidelines for this kind of revitalized economy. And such an economy is necessary to meet  the basics for our complex population and to generate the tax revenue to pay for the two enablersof such an economy, education and health.1.Education2.Health3.Foreign policy4.Political campaign .money 5. Media We need a return to justice with fairness, with renewed dedication to constitutionality,and the avoidance of entrapment and plea bargaining.Another way to vision this is to see that it involves turning downwards the destructiverapidly rising curves tending towards real trouble (wealth concentration, environmentaldegradation, wars, bad health and education hat does not educate, from pre-school to graduateschool and the professions). Rising hope then would replace rising doom. The numbers don’thave to actually get there but they must be plausibly turned downward and moving, and tocontinue moving, in a positive direction. Nothing is as dispiriting as declining expectations, andrising expectations broadly shared raise the spirits of a whole society.Yet me must make a vital economy in order to create the real wealth we need to spread participation and benefits. But it needs to be less dependent on growth in sheer numbers, andmore based on quality. Aristotle gave us a great analytic tool when he said, “You can havegrowth without development, and development without growth.”  Rising hope then would replace rising doom. The numbers don’t have toactually get there but they must be plausibly turned downward and moving, andto continue moving, in a positive direction.  To reach an agreement on a platform we need some agreement on underlying symptomsand causes. First, a grouping of Issues that must be dealt with, as symptoms and their underlyingcauses. Then we can more logically work out what are sufficient interventions or changes to getto where we need to go. It all goes something like  Symptoms ã Remuneration for work declining for most of population ã Environment deteriorating even in gated, rural, and coastal communities ã Infrastructure deterioration slows everyone and is dispiriting and dangerous ã Health costs and poor service means sicker people, from prenatal to ageing ã Declining Education means less employable, less employing, and less citizenship ã Too much War with arms sales and the trauma of dying and disabilities ã Worsening security as anger spreads
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