Comprehensive Progressive Agenda & Wish list Report
This progressive wish list advocates the key progressive agenda birthed by the Occupy Movement that began in Sept.17, 2011, and can be traced to an open call from the Canadian Adbusters magazine, under the title “A Million Man March on Wall Street”, to show up with a tent, a small group of protesters responded by camping out in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park on that date that ignited a national and global movement calling out the ruling class of elites by connecting the dots between corporate and political power. The protests that lasted for more than a month launched a movement, with its battle cry of “We are the 99%”, focused in combating rising corporate state that fosters the present crisis of income inequality and undermines the role of democracy. Although the protest movement may not have succeeded in sending Wall Street executives to jail,following the 2008 financial crisis, which had hit all Americans hard, except for the ones who had caused it, it catapulted several issues into the national spotlight.
According to Michael Gould-Wartofsky who authored the book “The Occupiers: The Making of the 99 Percent Movement,”, the movement was about the nexus between state power and corporate power in this country; between public authority and private wealth and their encounter at a very critical juncture in American history. Thanks to the Occupy protest, politicians on both sides of the aisle have made income inequality into a serious talking point, for better or worse, and inequality and the wealth gap are now core tenets of the Democratic platform leading to the 2016 election. The effects of the movement on the Democrats also can be seen in the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, and the growing political clout of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Among many issues addressed in this report that builds on the Occupy’s demands, it exposes the corporate state’s aims that include various strategies that seek to undermine democracy by eroding the civil,voters and labor rights; seeking privatizing public services, including public schools and prisons, and disenfranchising the voting rights of workers and minorities through rolling back unionization and through peculiar voting suppression, a vestige of pre-1965 civil rights era of historic southern states’ denial of voting rights, often working in tandem with the rising conservatism of the Bible Belt Red states.
Occupy’s national protests also helped reshape the American environmental movement, as it galvanized nation-wide protests in 2012 onward targeting the Keystone XL pipeline and others. These anti-pipelines campus-based protests soon morphed into the fights against climate change that eventually led into massive divestment that rid more than $50 billion in fossil-fuel assets from universities and institutional investment funds worldwide. In 2016, those movements coalesced into the world’s largest climate march when 400,000 protesters descended on New York City to demand immediate cuts in carbon emissions and to expand investments in renewable energy, as outlined in much details in the climate change section.
In New York City’s Financial District, hundreds of activists joined on Lower Manhattan in September 2011, challenging as a feature of the rise of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, representing an important stage in the political reawakening of the new generation in the US and worldwide. The demonstrations, which later spread throughout the country, were to a great extent rallies against the impact of corporate cash in governmental issues, however members additionally were disturbed in regards to what they see as corporate greed, and, monetary and social disparity.
The Occupy Wall Street of 2011 in Zuccotti Park in New York and the rest of the country, but with its weak points: with its alleged ‘spontaneity’, and therefore naivety, in confronting corporate capitalism, however, failed to turn public mobilizations into mechanisms in delivering concrete political changes partly because the protesters became spectators of their own protests that led into failing to build a hybrid between a social movement and a political party that does not have leaders, but has spokespeople and an organizational structure that lasts more than few years.
In spite of the fact that the Occupy Wall Street developed in the fall of 2011, it had more profound roots in the amassing protests against the monstrous inequities of wealth and influence generated by neoliberal capitalism. Occurring along side of a worldwide crisis against dictatorships in the Arab Spring and and anti-austerity in the Spanish Summer, the Occupy characterized its motivation as standing up to the 1% that had benefited from 40 years of income and riches disparities helped by the ruling class. Understood in the Occupy’s critique of the role of corporate cash in elections was a more profound disquiet with the failure of representative democracy and a swing to efforts of making direct popular government, for example, the individuals’ assemblies.
The strategies of Bernie Sanders, who authored the 12-point economic agenda, and Elizabeth Warren, who issued her Populist Agenda are plainly informed by an interpretation of the more radical edge of Occupy politics into populist movement. Their populist message which includes calls for breaking up too-big-to-fail big banks, a free public college tuition in light of trillion dollar student debt, calls for overturning Citizens United, reducing economic inequality, challenging oligarchs on Wall Street and advocating for working class workers and their refusal to take corporate donations are echoes of the Occupy movement demands. These political developments give a veritable left alternative campaign against Wall Street corporate power, xenophobia, bigotry, misogyny, climate change denial, neo-liberalism, and militarism in the mainstream politics. Without Occupy, neither the US$15-an-hour minimum wage movement nor Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign as well as Black Lives Matter would have gained such traction.
Now together, the candidacies and policies of real progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (Maryland), the election of Mayor Bill de Blasio in New York, who offered a 13-point agenda:Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality the election of Kshama Sawant as a socialist in Seattle in 2014, the Jeremy Corbyn phenomenon in UK, and the 72 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus would give the best hope to build long-lasting political structures that establish the foundations of a progressive state.
My wishlist then includes: Such state would, inter alia, implement the following reforms:
1. Citizens United
2.Overturn Citizens United v. FEC that stripped out government rules constraining free political campaign financing by corporations and non-profit groups. The decision made in embrace of a radically conservative, business-friendly Supreme Court led by Chief Justice John Roberts is in view of a fantasyland – that enormous gifts won’t impact or degenerate the candidates and authorities who benefit from them. Under this light, it gave corporations and non-profits and unions, now called SuperPacs, the green light to spend limitless amounts on political promotions and other political instruments, promoting or thrashing of individual candidates.
Conservative tycoons, hedge funds and Wall Street titans, are spending incredible measures of dark cash to purchase races. The Koch Brothers (David and Charles) alone have plans to spend $889 million on 2016 election cycle. The virulently Islamophobic Pro-Israeli billionaires like Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat peace processes in the Middle East.Enormous cash in legislative issues is the most concerning issue we confront as a nation.
Corporations in the U.S. exercise an unreasonable measure of impact over the administration. The measure of corporate cash in decisions makes it for all intents and purposes unthinkable for individuals need to serve the general population’s interests to be suitable competitors. Bringing down the voter’s maximum gift to $100 guarantees that the rich won’t just purchase elections.
For starters, implement the Disclose Act proposal of 2010 (H.R. 5175 (S.3628-Senate), bill introduced in the U.S. House by Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) and in the U.S. Senate by Charles Schumer (D-New York)).This legislation would have required organizations spending money in elections—including tax-exempt 501(c)(4) groups—to promptly disclose donors who have given $10,000 or more during an election cycle. At a minimum, it would have enforced a mandatory disclosure of all sources of campaign spending. In addition, liberal and progressive candidates for Democratic nomination should pledge to their voters to appoint Supreme Court justices who oppose Citizens United. “If there was one decision I would overrule, it would be Citizens United.I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be”, said Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an associate Justice of the Supreme Court in September 28, 2014.
Empowering developments are mounting because of the defilement of our political system. For example, 70 previous individuals from Congress have met up to frame the bipartisan ReFormers Caucus to press for campaign finance reform. Also, another group, 99Rise, has pushed for a campaign to reveal and dispose of secret cash from Washington’s campaign system. Americans are equally hostile to the decision: A national poll released by Bloomberg Politics in September 2015 found that 83 percent of respondents want Citizens United overturned, while only 17 percent support the ruling. That included eighty-three percent of Democrats want to overturn it, as do 80 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of self-declared independents.
In June 2015, 26 senators and 104 representatives sent a letter to President Obama calling on him to at least require disclosure by federal contractors. With a stroke of his pen, President Obama can help address one especially troubling issue of dark cash spending. He can issue an Executive Order requiring companies that are awarded federal contracts to unveil their political gifts. Please sign Change.org petition urging President Obama to issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors disclose all of their political spending. Similarly, in August, 2015, 44 U.S. senators asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require public companies to disclose political spending to their shareholders.
7. Climate Change Challenges
Greenhouse gasses in Earth’s environment have surpassed 400 parts per million around a great part of the planet—crossing a typical threshold that researchers say will have foreboding ramifications for environmental change. As indicated by a World Meteorological Organization report in Nov 9, 2015, the concentrations of all of three closely watched heat-trapping gasses— carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide—showed strong growth this year, and are up 36 percent since 1990.“We are moving into uncharted territory at a frightening speed,” said WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud of the discoveries.
Independently, a World Bank report released in Nov 8, 2015, cautioned that if nations neglect to maintain measures to decrease the rise of an Earth-wide temperature rise, an extra 100 million individuals could be driven into poverty by 2030. The report contends that addressing to climate change will be key to ending worldwide destitution as needy individuals are hit the hardest by crop failures, extreme climate, spikes in food costs, and waterborne diseases.
“Poor people and poor countries are exposed and vulnerable to all types of climate-related shocks—natural disasters that destroy assets and livelihoods; waterborne diseases and pests that become more prevalent during heat waves, floods, or droughts; crop failure from reduced rainfall; and spikes in food prices that follow extreme weather events,” it reads. “Climate-related shocks also affect those who are not poor but remain vulnerable and can drag them into poverty—for example, when a flood destroys a micro-enterprise, a drought decimates a herd, or contaminated water makes a child sick.”
No Breathable Air Unless Carbon Is Cut
As representatives from 195 countries meet in Paris to pound out a worldwide agreement to cut greenhouse gas discharges, another study finds that the inability to cut carbon could leave the world without breathable air. Marine plants, for example, phytoplankton are estimated to deliver more than a large portion of the Earth’s atmospheric oxygen, as indicated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For the study, Sergei Petrovskii, an applied mathematics professor at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, calculated how unmitigated climate change influence phytoplankton and along these lines the oceans’s capacity to create breathable air. He ran PC models that took a look at what might happen to phytoplankton’s capacity to photosynthesize at different temperatures. In the event that the world’s seas warmed by 6 degrees Celsius — a practical probability if worldwide emissions proceed unabated—the little plants would stop oxygen creation, as indicated by the study, which was distributed in December 2015 in the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology.
They warn: “Our results indicate that the depletion of atmospheric oxygen on a global scale (which, if it happens, obviously can kill most of the life on Earth) is another possible catastrophic consequence of global warming, a global ecological disaster that has been overlooked.”
In the run-up to United Nations Climate Change Conference that opens in Paris on November 30, yearly worldwide release of Carbon dioxide (CO2) will be around 32 billion metric tons. At the rate we’re going, the world’s air is set to rise 4 degrees Celsius before the century’s over, twofold what researchers say is a “acceptable” level of warming. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gives preservationist benchmarks concerning what is required to balance out the normal worldwide temperature at its present level of around 60.3 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 3.6 degrees (2 degrees Celsius) over the pre-modern normal of 56.7 degrees. As indicated by the IPCC, worldwide CO2 outflows need to fall by around 40 percent underneath current levels inside of 20 years, to around 20 billion tons, and 80 percent by 2050, to seven billion tons.
Indicating what will be the most drastic measure to be taken in avoiding catastrophic environmental change, a recent study in the journal Nature found that 92 percent of US fossil fuels reserves must stay in the ground to keep worldwide temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, the threshold climate experts say would bring catastrophic floods, droughts, rising sea levels, heat waves, wildfires, ocean acidification and biodiversity loss and other extreme weather events. So, what to do now?
Implement low-carbon energy base that promotes conservation, conversion into renewal energy sources and fusion technology, providing a fair transition from fossil fuels and a “global treaty” to block the export of fossil fuels. How to do these?
(A) Implement the climate protection bill by Sen. Barbara Boxer and Sen. Bernie Sanders that includes a carbon tax on the nearly 3000 of the largest fossil fuel polluters, covering about 85 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, even a little $10-per-ton national carbon tax would cut greenhouse gas outflows by around 28 percent of 2005 levels, save a huge number of lives and kick off the renewable energy industry by finally putting it on an equivalent playing field with Big Oil, Big Gas and Big Coal, as per a study by Think Progress. Putting a cost on carbon would flip the script. Compelling the fossil fuel industry to pay for even a little rate of the harm it does to our planet would, thus, give it a motivating force to keep carbon in the ground. Outflows would go down and everybody would be in an ideal situation.
In his bill, Sanders cautioned that the main researchers who study environmental changes now let us know that their projections in the past weren’t right. That, actually, the emergency confronting our planet is significantly more genuine than they had already believed.They now let us know that on the off chance that we proceed with our cheerful way, where 12 out of the most recent 15 years were the hottest on record, and make no definitive move in changing our vitality framework and cutting green-house gasses, this planet could be 8 degrees Fahrenheit or more hotter than is right now the case.
It’s no coincidence that putting a cost on carbon—unquestionably the most extreme environmental change open—is now supported by 33 nations and a large portion of overall heavyweights, including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, two of the world’s preeminent political pioneers on ecological change (Angela Merkel of Germany and Jerry Brown of California, a state that positions as the eighth-greatest economy on the planet), four of its biggest banks (Citi, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase), and a considerable lot of major oil companies.
Organized by the 2015 World Economic Forum, CEOs of 78 major companies, with combined yearly turnover of $2.1 trillion, said in a public statement to world leaders that an ambitious arrangement in Paris would make both financial growth and jobs and urged governments to incorporate the pricing of carbon emissions as a major aspect of policies to limit global warming, as world leaders get ready for a summit on environmental change in Paris.
“We believe that effective climate policies have to include explicit or implicit prices on carbon achieved via market mechanisms or coherent legislative measures according to national preferences,” they wrote. Such pricing would “trigger low-carbon investment and transform current emission patterns at a significant scale,” they added, noting they were taking voluntary actions to reduce their environmental and carbon footprints.
(B) Implement the modest Obama’s Clean Power Plan that pushed for 32 percent diminishes in carbon dioxide surges from power plants by 2030, with the base year of 2005, preventing nearly 900 million tons of carbon pollution from being released into the atmosphere each year, having the same climate protection impact of taking 70 percent of our cars off the road, and requiring a 28 percent of a power production to be generated from renewable sources. Since 2011, already, the nine-state cap-and-trade system that covers Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states has cut carbon emissions by 15 percent and saved consumers $460 million off their electric bills.
But the landmark climate rule is confronting hardened opposition from most U.S. Republican policymakers, power companies and business associations. Critics of the plan say it will hurt energy industry and their clients by raising power costs and driving utilities to close down coal plants. U.S. energy experts have indicated America’s coal generation could dive to levels not seen subsequent to the 1970s if the proposed power rules come into force. However, there is broad support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan to limit pollution, and there is massive support for increasing our use of renewable energy sources on a national level.
In comparison, California’s ambitious Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) right now requires utilities to supply 33 percent of their power generation from renewable sources, for example, sun, wind, and geothermal force, by 2020. The new bill, The Clean Energy and Reduction Act, that goes more further than that would expand that objective to 50 percent by 2030. It would likewise require a 50 percent expansion in energy efficiency in buildings and structures by that year. The state means to lessen the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 — a major stride to the larger 2050 objective of decreasing carbon dioxide by 80 percent under 1990 levels.
A study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that the U.S. can produce 80 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2050, utilizing accessible technology. However, that exists as fantasy as long as renewable energy keeps on being financially disadvantaged in favor of fossil fuel: In 2013, as per the International Institute for Sustainable Development, taxpayer subsidies to fossil fuels totaled $548 billion, contrasted with just $121 billion for renewables.
(C) End tax breaks and subsidies for big oil, gas and coal companies.
Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced the End Polluter Welfare Act to stop taxpayer-funded $135 billion giveaways to oil, gas and coal companies.
Every year, the United States government gives out $20.5 billion to bolster the mining of oil, coal, and gas, with $17.2 billion of that coming at the federal level and $3.3 billion coming at the state level. Internationally, the world’s 20 top economies spend more than $400 billion dollars every year – through a blend of direct spending, tax reductions, speculations by majority-owned companies, and public finance from government-possessed banks and monetary establishments – propping up fossil fuel generation, a practice that seriously undermines the world’s mitigation of environmental change, as indicated a new report by the environmental advocacy group Oil Change International. Every year, governments funnel billions of dollars in support to the fossil fuel industry. Meanwhile, the fossil fuel industry is using those public dollars to dig up fossil fuels that we must not burn if we want a safe-climate future.
D) Eliminate and inevitably boycott Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) gasses.
These are intense greenhouse gasses used as a part of fridges and ventilation systems and are discharged essentially amid repairing of or toward the end of the life-span of these items. The outcomes are the collection of substances in these applications which shapes a formerly unrecognized extra hazard for environmental change. These substances are used as a part of the spot of the ozone-layer-exhausting substances (CFCs en HCFCs) that were once in the past utilized and banned as a part of 1987. HFCs that supplanted CFCs, conversely, don’t influence the ozone layer, however add to the greenhouse impact.
In October 16, 2015, Obama administration has announced new efforts to diminish the use of hydrofluorocarbons as a piece of worldwide treaty to confine their uses. Also, announced in July 2015, EPA limits atmosphere warming chemicals, including hydrofluorocarbon . The Obama administration moved to restrict the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the most powerful greenhouse gasses produced by human action. The Environmental Protection Agency pronounced that sure uses for HFCs are restricted and certain alternatives can be used. The move is a piece of President Obama’s second-term push to limit climate change, to a limited extent through regulations restricting greenhouse gasses. The EPA said the private sector is as of now moving far from HFCs. Without the right regulations, the EPA evaluated that HFC use would double by 2020 and triple by 2030.
(E) Keep it in the Ground Act
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), alongside Sen. Bernie Sanders, have introduced in Nov 2015 the bill Keep It In The Ground Act, that would bar new leases on coal, gas, oil, and tar sands extraction on federal lands in the U.S. The bill, would likewise, preclude offshore drilling in the Arctic and the Atlantic Ocean and forbid the renewal of leases that haven’t yet produced fossil fills.
“This bill is about recognizing that the fossil fuel reserves that are on our public lands should be managed in the public interest, and the public interest is for us to help drive a transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy future,” Merkley said. “We don’t have a lot of time to do this, so there’s an urgency to it, and a place that’s readily available for us to act is on the fossil fuels that are on our public lands.”
Fossil fuels from public lands as of now make up a significant portion of the United States’ carbon emissions: according to a Center for American Progress and Wilderness Society report, oil, coal, and gas taken from public lands and waters are responsible for more than 20 percent of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions. As indicated by one Bureau of Land Management report, 279 million acres of land of government lands in the U.S. contain an expected total of 31 billion barrels of oil and 231 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Numerous authoritative voices, for example, the leaders of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, and the Bank of England, Mark Carney, have cautioned that numerous fossil fuel reserves could be left useless by the actions toward averting climate change. On the off chance that the retreat from fossil fills does not happen in a slow and arranged way, financial investors could lose trillions of dollars as the “carbon bubble” bursts. A recent study by Citigroup predicts the cost of leaving more than three quarters of oil, gas, and coal reserves underground or beneath the sea, called stranded assets, would cost the energy companies and nations over $100 Trillion if Paris Agreement terms succeed.
President Barack Obama verbalized that idea in his justification for cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline in November: “Ultimately, if we’re gonna prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re gonna have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.”
[F] Expand research and development into climate change mitigation techniques.
These include cutting-edge efforts to cut or prevent the emissions of greenhouse gases-limiting the magnitude of future warming. It might likewise include attempts, for example, (a) carbon capture and storage (CCS). One form of CCS involves chemically capturing the carbon dioxide from a power plant smokestack, and then piping it underground so that the invisible gas is contained in rock formations without leaking, (b) another approach, so-called “Negative-emissions technologies” are processes that could pull carbon dioxide either via sequestration or out of the atmosphere by means of emerging geoengineering strategies. Another potential carbon sink includes ocean iron fertilization to promote the growth of CO2-consuming algae to counter-act the increasing acidification of the oceans that yield the most oxygen needed by living things (see above).
An interesting example of Negative-emissions technologies was recently reported from Columbia University’s Klaus Lackner who described carbon scrubber, a device sufficiently little to fit inside a shipping trailer, and costing less than $200,000, that has the capacity to remove a ton of CO2 a day from the air – at a small amount of the expense compared to similar technologies. Also, an Australian atmosphere researcher Tim Flannery describes a bewildering cluster of carbon-negative tools in his new book Atmosphere of Hope, including cement and plastics that “consume” carbon. “We must begin setting up the ground now [to convey such tools], even as we undertake the gargantuan effort of cutting emissions,” Flannery writes.
Mitigation likewise reaches out to the protection of carbon “sinks” like the forests or oceans. New carbon sinks can be created through, for example, forest regeneration or creating new sinks through silviculture or green agriculture are also elements of mitigation, while the existing forests and phytoplanktonc should be protected. The need to slow down destruction of the world’s remaining forests, such as the boreal forests, rain-forests, and the phytoplankton in the oceans, in order to prevent the planet dangerously overheating has long been acknowledged, but has proved impossible to be achieved.
[G] Expand research and development into hydrogen fuel cells
Fuel cells, which are designed to utilize a catalyst, such as platinum, in converting a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen into water?, are a promising innovation for use as a source of heat and power for structures, and as an electrical power source energy for electric engines pushing vehicles. An important byproduct of this chemical reaction is the electricity generated when hydrogen molecules interact (through oxidation) with the anode to produce protons and electrons. Power devices work best on hydrogen, the most plentiful element in the atmosphere, although rare existing by itself. However, ocean water and hydrocarbons like natural gas, methanol, or even gasoline can be converted to deliver the hydrogen required for fuel cells. These cells are being composed in light of the fact that they will eliminate of releases of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate discharges.
There should be expanded research and development to address the full scope of mechanical, economical, and institutional obstructions to the broad commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cell units with a definitive objectives of diminishing our reliance on oil, lessening carbon emission, and empowering perfect, solid force era.
[H] Revitalizing Coal and Oil producing regions.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has disclosed in Nov 2015, the Plan For Revitalizing Coal Communities to invest in current coal and oil country, to recover as the “clean energy economy” develops, saying “We can’t ignore the impact this transition is already having on mining communities, or the threat it poses to the healthcare and retirement security of coalfield workers and their families.”
Clinton’s proposal calls for $30 billion towards infrastructure upgrades, aid for dislocated workers and vulnerable communities, mine property remediation, “green collar” job skills and education programs, broadband changes, repurposing old mine sites, health and retirement plans, and incentives for business formation in Appalachia, the Illinois Basin, and the Western coal regions.
[I] Expanding Fossil fuel divestment.
This is the elimination of investment resources including stocks, securities, and speculation reserves from companies invested in extracting carbon and fossil fuels, trying to diminish climate change by accelerating the adoption of renewable energy through the stigmatizing of fossil fuel businesses. A number of environmentalist and student groups advocating a massive fossil fuel divestment, which in 2015 was apparently the quickest developing divestment development in history. By November 2015, 500 separate institutions, including California state government, the University of California, insurance giant Allianz, the German city of Munster, and the London School of Economics, had resolved to divest their portfolios, representing $3.4 trillion in total, from oil, coal and gas companies, according to gofossilfree.org. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, became the second governor, joining California, which in October 2015, passed a bill into law forcing the state’s public pension funds to divest from companies profiting from the production or transport of thermal coal, to endorse divestment of the state’s pension funds from ExxonMobil as well as the coal industry in January 2016.
“Our small state must partner with California, which manages hundreds of billions of dollars of state funds, and divest Vermont of coal,” Shumlin said in his address. “Let’s remember Vermont is downwind of the coal fired plants to our West; we’re the tailpipe to their dirty energy choices. Their pollution sickens our children, creates acid rain, dumps mercury on our forests and in our lakes and increases greenhouse gas emissions. I ask that you send me a divestiture bill just like California’s. While you’re doing that, Governor Brown and I will invite other Governors to join us in what should be a national effort.”
A study by the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at University of Oxford found that the vilification of fossil fuel corporations brought on by divestment can “materially increase the uncertainty surrounding the future cash flows of fossil-fuel companies.” That, thus, “can lead to a permanent compression in the trading multiples – e.g., the share price to earnings (P/E) ratio of a target company.” As an evidence of that, according to climate change website, 350.org, fossil fuel stocks have lost 30 cents on the dollar in the last 2 years, as measured by a specialized index the financial tracking firm MSCI, and the coal industry’s financial free-fall as reported by the leading coal exchange-traded fund (ETF), of having lost nearly 55 percent of its value by early December 2015.
[J] Combating Climate Denialism
Republicans, being the business party, famously, are to a great extent deniers of environmental changes, hating emerging green energies of any kind. What explains their resistance to climate science? As indicated by new research distributed in Nature Climate Change, there’s no less than one factually demonstrated motivation behind why more than 56 percent of Congressional Republicans deny environmental change: echo chamber, which refers to circumstances where individuals surround themselves with data they want to listen to, and shut out the rest. We’ve known for some time that these present themselves in climate issues; A 2014 report postulated that the reason Americans haven’t completely accepted the scientific consensus on environmental changes is a result of echo chamber like Fox News outlets and right-wing think-thanks, where conservative viewers and readers are “exposed only to content consistent with their opinions, while shielded from dissenting views.”
Republicans’ open hostility to coping with climate change has been strident since President Obama took office. In 2009, White House’s first-ever carbon pollution control, the Cap-and-trade bill was voted down by 168 House Republicans, where just eight sponsored it. (Adversaries killed it in the Senate, where it never got a vote.) This has made an odd circumstance that was as of late summed up by New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait: “The entire world is, in essence, tiptoeing gingerly around the unhinged second-largest political party in the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter, in hopes of saving the world behind its back.”
The Republican Party could be the single most noteworthy obstruction to worldwide campaign to moderate environmental change. But small cracks are appearing across this conservative wall of denial. For instance, ahead of time of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, a resolution distributed among House Republicans that recognized the evidence of a changing atmosphere and the risk it poses to human existence. The resolution required no solid solutions, just saying that Congress ought to focus on studying and tending to the issue at some vague point later on. Yet only 11 of 247 House Republicans were willing to sign it— a scanty 4.5 percent of the GOP caucus.
More ominously another ABC News/Washington Post survey distributed on the eve of COP21 summit finds that the quantity of Americans who say environmental change is a “serious issue” has even fallen six points subsequent to the same survey was led in June 2014. In the meantime, the quantity of individuals who say climate change is not under any condition a serious problem (36 percent) has grown 7 points since the previous survey. A study from July 2015 conducted by the Pew Research Center put those numbers much lower: only 27 percent of Republicans believe climate change is real and man-made, compared to 71 percent of Democrats, and 87 percent of scientists who are members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
This has led to David Brooks — a conservative commentator, to explain it in Dec 1, 2015, on the climate change issue, that: “[T]he G.O.P. has come to resemble a Soviet dictatorship — a vast majority of Republican politicians can’t publicly say what they know about the truth of climate change because they’re afraid the thought police will knock on their door and drag them off to an AM radio interrogation.”.
A study published on November 30, 2015 in the journal Nature Climate Change looks at the institutional and corporate structure of the environmental change counter-development. Report author Justin Farrell revealed a web of 4,556 people with overlapping ties to 164 organizations, who are led by ExxonMobil and the Charles and David Koch family foundations, that advance climate denialism. These include prominently The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), that co-organized a failed climate-denial conference along with the coal-funded Heartland Institute. Both CFACT and Heartland participate in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and that have provided state legislators with climate denial briefings at ALEC conferences. As indicated by Farrell, those organizations “were most successful in pushing their view” as groups with ties to those donors were “more likely to see their viewpoints make it into media than those without such ties.”
Yet, a New York Times/CBS News survey in November 30, 2015, demonstrates that 66% of Americans say the United States ought to join a binding universal treaty to limit the effects of a worldwide climate change, including those persons who identify as conservative. Furthermore, 63 percent of Americans—including a thin majority of Republicans—said they would bolster local policy intended at constraining carbon emissions from power plants. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed said a global warming was at that point having genuine impacts or that it would in the future. Nine in 10 Democrats concurred, in contrast to 58 percent of Republicans. 33% of Republicans said they trusted the climate change’s impact on the earth would be irrelevant.
This result was similar to a June 2014 ABC/Washington Post survey reports that 70 percent of Americans believed that the central government ought to require states to limit the measure of carbon dioxide gasses created inside of their borders. A 2015 Stanford University poll also found an overwhelming majority of the American public, including half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming.
While the rest of the world was meeting in Paris for COP21, the Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives in Dec 1, 2015, with some assistance from a few Democratic defectors, voted to block regulations to limit pollution from power plants, the foundation of the administration’s push to tackle climate change, sinking efforts to pass climate legislation. “The next president could simply tear it up,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (whose home state of Kentucky produces dirty coal), proclaimed on the Senate floor, referring to the president’s power plant regulations. “Governments currently engaged in this round of climate talks will want to know that there is more than just an Executive Branch in our system of government,” he added, noting that the climate agenda “may not even survive much longer anyway.”
Similarly, Republican lawmakers are threatening to withhold financing to a new “Green Climate Fund,” that the president, along with other wealthy nations, promised the summit to set aside to offer assistance to low-income developing countries with curbing emissions and preparing for the effects of global climate changes. “We pledge that Congress will not allow U.S. taxpayer dollars to go to the Green Climate Fund until the forthcoming international climate agreement is submitted to the Senate for its constitutional advice and consent,” 37 Republican senators wrote in a letter to Obama on December 1.
It’s true that the Paris agreement probably will fall short, on its own, of the international community’s stated goal of halting warming at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), which is regarded as the benchmark for dangerous, unmanageable climate change. Although many people consider it unrealistic to meeting the 2 degrees goal, these talks, which aptly, if ominously, have been called “our last hope” for climate action, must be met with bold optimism.
Regardless of the possibility that the more than 195 nations have submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions — a significant improvement compared to the Kyoto Protocol’s coverage of 14 percent of global emissions, are now incorporated into agreement on this 31-page document, called the historic Paris Agreement, signed in Dec 12, 2015, global warming will persist after the 2020 point when the agreement comes into force. Based on the domestic pledges made by 187 countries, covering some 95 percent of global emissions, worldwide temperatures would now ascend to 2.7 to 3.5 C over the pre-modern level resulting still in catastrophic warming.
As John Atcheson, explained in his commentary on why 1.5 C is nothing more than aspirational, that “We can only emit about 200 billion more tonnes of carbon dioxide to have even a 66% chance of staying below 1.5 C. Since we are emitting about 40 billion tonnes per year (about 44 billion US tons), we will blow through the budget by 2020, the year in which the Paris agreements are to start being implemented. In other words, that ship will have sailed before the Agreement is in effect”.
During the last day of COP21, Mark Hertsgaard of Nation remarked, that, notwithstanding the well-intentions of the summit attendees, as in the Copenhagen 2009, this too will likely fail to reach a workable consensus. “A case in point is unfolding at the landmark United Nations climate summit in Paris, where president Obama and other world leaders seem eager to define a scientific failure as a political success. This triumph of political spin over scientific reality is unfolding for understandable, even well-intentioned reasons, but its effects would be ruinous for human lives and institutions now and for generations to come.”
As Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman explained in a piece published recently in the New York Times: “Future historians — if there are any future historians — will almost surely say that the most important thing happening in the world during December 2015 was the climate talks in Paris. True, nothing agreed to in Paris will be enough, by itself, to solve the problem of global warming. But the talks could mark a turning point, the beginning of the kind of international action needed to avert catastrophe… Then again, they might not; we may be doomed. And if we are, you know who will be responsible: the Republican Party.”
While there’s solid divergence between the major political parties on climate change policies, there’s a developing bipartisan consensus inside of the national security community that environmental change itself represents a critical danger to national security, something long declared so by the White House. The Council on Foreign Relations task force, co-led by former New York Gov. George Pataki, issued a recent report examining at how the United States should lead by dealing with the issue from a foreign policy strategic point of view. Here’s only one of the findings from the influential group’s report:
“The Task Force also finds that the developed countries, including the United States, have a direct national security interest in helping developing countries and vulnerable populations adapt to unavoidable climate change. Unless developing countries are assisted with adaptation, climate change is likely to affect them in ways that will ultimately have direct impacts on the United States, including on its national security. For examples, as climate change affects resource availability, migratory pressures will steadily grow, potentially intensifying existing sources of conflict.”
Interestingly, as per a survey of 750 specialists directed by the World Economic Forum in Davos, a catastrophe brought about by climate change disaster is seen as the greatest potential danger to the worldwide economy in 2016. A failure of environmental change mitigation and adaptation was seen as likely to have a greater impact than the spread of weapons of mass devastation, water emergencies, mass involuntary relocation and an extreme energy cost – the first run through in the 11 years of the Global Risks report that the environment has been in first place.
Cecilia Reyes, Zurich’s chief risk officer, while commenting on Europe’s recent refugee crisis and terrorist attacks having raised global political instability to its highest level since the cold war, added that: “Meanwhile, geopolitical instability is exposing businesses to cancelled projects, revoked licences, interrupted production, damaged assets and restricted movement of funds across borders. These political conflicts are in turn making the challenge of climate change all the more insurmountable – reducing the potential for political cooperation, as well as diverting resource, innovation and time away from climate change resilience and prevention.”
Naomi Klein, the author of 2014 book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, on mostly inevitable consequences of global climate change, declared in a recent interview, that “Climate change isn’t an ‘issue’ to add to the list of things to worry about, next to healthcare and taxes,” Klein writes. “It’s a civilizational wake-up call. A powerful message—spoken in the language of fires, floods, droughts, and extinction—telling us that we need an entirely new economic model and a new way of sharing this planet. Telling us that we need to evolve.”
3. Implement publicly and locally financed political campaigns.Public funding of election — that is, depending on taxes more than private donations to fund campaigns. Public financing is regularly thought to free candidates from the immense burden of raising money and decrease the impact of wealthy contributors and special interests. In this way, the principle aims are this funding diminishes the money related point of interest of power holders and lessens the officeholders’ edge of triumph, which renders elections much more competitive.Public finance reduces corruption by limiting conflict of interests and opens elected public service to the qualified from all walks of life.
Apart from the presidential program, public campaign-finance systems operate in some form in 13 states. New York City, however, may offer the best approach of all.
On Nov. 4, 2015, Seattle voters passed Honest Elections Seattle initiative, generally called Ballot movement I-122, which executes a first of its kind voucher project, which gives each voter $25 vouchers that they can accommodate their favored contender for mayor, city committee and city legal counselor. The initiative would satisfactorily allow voters to spend up to $100 in a given race with “democracy vouchers,” paid for by an additional $8 property tax on homes worth $400,000 or more. The system would in like manner blacklist contractors who finish more than a quarter-million dollars a year in city contracts from adding to political campaign, alongside going of a prohibition on campaign gifts from firms that spend more than $5,000 a year lobbying the city government. The programs’s supporters say the measure would convey more diversity to the city’s pool of political competitors, allowing those without access to big money donors to compete.
For starters, adopt the Fair Elections Now Act, (S.2023 – 113th Congress (2013-2014) introduced in Congress in April 2011. Among different innovations, the candidates seeking to take an interest in Fair Elections Now Act gather a set number of qualifying contribution of $5-$100 each from their constituents in addition to a standard of $50,000 or more in total contributions. Commitments give seed cash to kick off the hopeful’s campaign and are restricted to inhabitants of the candidate’s home state.
Meanwhile, in Sept 9, 2015, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton unveiled a plan if elected for comprehensive campaign finance reform, including seeking a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizen United, that led to the rise of superPACs, appoint Supreme Court justices who value the right to vote over the right of billionaires to buy elections, advocate for the SEC to issue a rule requiring all publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending, including currently secret outside spending, to their shareholders, issue an executive order requiring all government contractors to reveal their campaign contributions, ending secret, unaccountable dark money, and establish a small donor matching system for presidential and congressional candidates.
In Congress, in Jan 21, 2015, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) presented the Protect Democracy from Criminal Corporations Act (H.R.450-114th Congress (2015-2016)) to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to prohibit criminal corporations from making distributions of funds regarding a campaign for election for Federal, State, or local office. This bill would counteract corporations that have committed crimes or settled for more than $1 million over felony offences from offering cash to any political candidates or SuperPACs.
One little stride toward improving the FEC and encouraging it to embrace more enforcement actions would be for Congress to pass HR 2931, the bipartisan (trust it or not) Restoring Integrity in America’s Elections Act. The bill would decrease the number of commissioners to five (accommodating more tie-breaking votes) and require that the fifth nominee have no ties with either Republicans or Democrats. Under present law, three magistrates may—and as of now—hail from the same party, a condition that has brought about close changeless stalemate.
The No Child Left Behind act, the current U.S. public education law was passed during the administration of President George W Bush (and whose arrangements were to a great extent expanded by President Obama) significantly expanded the government part in K-12 training as a prerequisite for accepting federal dollars. States were required to make new, expansive based school responsibility arrangements centered around testing of all students in evaluations three through eight grades.
4. Over-haul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) policy to require either full high school or technical school graduation. In school year 2012–13, although in the range of 3.1 million high school pupils, or 81 percent, graduated on time with a standard certificate, it still leaves behind 19% drop out rate, comprising of 1.2 million students who drop out of secondary schools.
The policy thinking behind NCLB has been that of “a law that not only ensures students are prepared for college, careers and life, but also delivers on the promise of equity and real opportunity for every child.” The currently amended version should “include a increased targeting of high-quality preschool, boosting resources for K-12 schools and a reduction of duplicative tests at the state and local levels”. John Gomperts, president and CEO of America’s Promise Alliance, which leads a campaign to reach a national 90 percent graduation rate by 2020, indicated increases in the last decade have led to nearly 2 million additional students earning high school diplomas.
5. Universal Pre-Kindergarten
The term universal Pre-K implies that these programs are accessible for any youngster in any state, paying little respect to the child’s capacities and family income, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
Implement Universal Pre-Kindergarten. Universal Pre-K is a development inside of the American instruction system to make access to preschool training accessible to all families, like the way kindergarten is accessible to each of the 5-and 6-year-olds. Like kindergarten, the Pre-K thought is to give deliberate education projects that incorporate self-teaching and alternative instruction. Additionally, there is a growing consensus that early-education opportunities hold the key to help closing the achievement gaps between students of different backgrounds.
Earned income tax credit
6. Expand Earned income tax credit for the working poor WITH qualifying children. The amount of EITC benefit depends on a recipient’s income and number of children. The Congress intended to lessen the burden of paying Social Security taxes and provide incentives to both work and to raise children in married family arrangements.
The earned income tax credit (EITC) sponsors low-pay working families. The credit rises to a settled rate of credit from the first dollar of income until the credit achieves its greatest; both the rate and the most extreme credit rely on upon the number of kids in the household. The credit then stays flat at that greatest as earning keep on rising, yet in the long run income achieve an phaseout range. Starting from that level the credit falls for each extra dollar of salary until it vanishes altogether.
42. Student loans
Allow Student Loan Refinancing For All Students to avail themselves of lower and fixed interest rates. Warren Bill. (Please sign petition). Public support for this is quite high as shown in a November 2014, NBC/Wall Street Journal survey reported that 82 percent of Americans support giving access to lower expense student loans and giving more opportunity to the individuals who are paying off their student advance debt.
With student loan debt in this nation standing at $1.16 trillion in 2013, and are now approaching $2 trillion, affecting 40 million students, and all the more alarmingly, the normal student debt for school graduates in the class of 2014 is $33,000; and that as the aggregate obligation owed in student credits keeps on rising, their loan renegotiating the terms is turning into an undeniably viable alternative for graduates.With interest rates still close to historic lows, refinancing student debt into lower and fixed rates is highly beneficial in the repayment of the loans and to reduce the rising incidence of defaults that are mostly concentrated amongst those who attended for-profit and community colleges.
In the Congress, also, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Sen. Shelley Moore (R-WV) introduced the business-friendly Student Loan Relief Act of 2015 in September 30, which would allow borrowers to refinance their federal student loans into the private market and take advantage of lower rates.
“Our legislation would give borrowers flexibility, allowing them to save money by refinancing their student loans the way they would refinance a mortgage. And to better support our younger generation of workers, this bill would allow employers to help qualified employees pay off their student loan debt with pre-tax dollars,” Ayotte said in her announcement about the introduction of the legislation.
Tuition-free community college
8. Institute tuition-free community college. Public education should be considered a basic human right and not be just a function of the students’s capacity to afford, but also should be considered as the country’s investment in its own future.
To make college cost-effective and to reduce the wasteful drop out rate, or the “leaky pipeline”, there should be four conditions for attending tuition-free college. For students to qualify for free college, (1) they should pass a college test to ensure college preparedness and (2) students be required to work 10 hours a week of public service on campus or around, (3) require students to complete at least a trade certificate or an associate of arts diploma. For students who choose to drop out, however, (4) they should pay back the state for the costs of the courses already paid for. For those who are unable to afford repayment, they could qualify for a public service waiver. These terms would ensure that almost all students will graduate on time. According to National Student Clearinghouse, the six-year graduation rate for students was only 60.5 percent at public four-year colleges, and 62.5 percent at private nonprofit colleges in 2014.
In May 19, 2015, Senator Bernie Sanders authoritatively presented “College for All Act,” bill that would wipe out undergrad educational cost. The bill would slice the $70 billion dollar tuition costs at all 4-year open schools and colleges. Under the arrangement, the Federal government would cover 67% — $47 billion dollars every year — of the costs. States would be required to deliver the remaining 33% of the costs, or 23 billion dollars.
Really, until recently as of late 1940s, the United States had a free or basically free arrangement of public college. In 1862, to give educational opportunity to the “sons of toil,” the U.S. Congress passed the Morrill Act, setting up land-grant schools and colleges on an educational cost free basis. For around a century from there on, numerous American public schools and colleges either charged no educational cost or an ostensible fee for enrollment. The State University of New York (SUNY) system—the biggest in the country—remained educational cost free until 1963. The University of California framework set up in 1868, had free tuition until the 1980s.
9. Implement Workfare, which refers to the training for and gaining of work as a condition for social assistance, in others words, a safety net that undeniably binds public assistance to gaining formal employment. This recommends how a need-based entitlement to be supplanted with a work-molded security net. Thus, it is about time to implement an unpaid public service work requirement on able-bodied in order to receive welfare, disability assistance, public housing assistance and food stamps. This was a key reform left out of the 1996 welfare overhaul that was intended to move people from receiving long-term public assistance to self-sufficiency.
10. Prison reform
Implement overral Prison reform. This reform should emphasize “individual responsibility and while continuing to call for incarceration, but that amends the frequency and length of prison stays and vastly corrects the internal circumstances and conditions within prison walls”. Any rehabilitation regimen, including mental illnesses, alcohol and substance treatment, personality-building, literacy classes, and so forth- provides the best chance of success if it is mandatory.
(A) Impose mandatory 25 hours a week workfare public service and general education requirements, where classes to be offered to inmates/students who lacked a high school diploma or a high school equivalency certificate.
(B) End incarceration of juveniles. “The American rate of juvenile incarceration is seven times that of Great Britain, and 18 times that of France. It costs, on average, $88,000 a year to keep a youth locked up — far more than the U.S. spends on a child’s education,” wrote Nell Bernstein who authored Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison. Even as many states have attempted to alter their adolescent prisons, Bernstein says that incarcerating kids is the wrong strategy to manage most early life wrongdoers. Their detention in those prisons in the future will shape who they are.
(C) Reverse Bill Clinton’s cutting funding to 350 college programs in prisons around the country in 1994, as a part of his Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which also imposed draconian measures that included longer jail sentences, expanded financing for prison facilities, put more police in the cities, and honored police with award cash for drug-related arrests that numerous minority groups now see it as a cause for police brutality. (see # 11)
Pass the Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act, returning education to all. The Restoring Education and Learning Act would guarantee state and federal detainees are at the end of the day qualified for Pell college grants, making college open for more Americans.
The REAL Act was presented in May 2015 by Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Maryland) to guarantee state and government detainees will be by and by qualified for Pell grants. Forty-four congressional co-supporters had marked on starting July 31. It additionally is supported by various associations, for example, the American Civil Liberties Union, Correctional Education Association, Drug Policy Alliance and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
(D) Implement Obama’s Second Chance Pell program to reestablish the federal grant to prisoners looking to enroll in college. A 2013 study by the Rand Corp, financed by the U.S. Dept of Justice, showed that detainees who got some broad instruction were 43% more averse to re-carry out criminal acts and go back to jail inside of three years than the individuals who didn’t get any educating.
(E) Felony disenfranchisement. Restore voting rights to former felons. About 6 million American citizens, staggering 1.5 million are in Florida alone, are incapable of voting as a result of a past criminal conviction. Upwards of 4.4 million of these persons live, work, and bring families up in our cities. Every state has its own particular laws on disenfranchisement. While Vermont and Maine permit criminals to vote while in jail, 11 different states permanently limit certain felons from voting.
These laws, profoundly established in our grieved racial history, have an disproportionate effect on minorities. The nation over, 13 percent of African-American men have lost their right to vote, which is seven times the national normal. (It is believed that nearly 30% of black males in Florida are presently ineligible to vote.)
Defenders of re-enfranchisement say that criminals who have paid their obligation to society by finishing their sentences ought to have the majority of their rights and benefits restored. They contend that efforts to deny ex-criminals from voting are out of line, undemocratic, and politically or racially propelled.
It’s time to pass the Democracy Restoration Act (DRA), bill that has been presented in 2015 in the 114th Congress (H.R.1459) by Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD). It seeks to restore voting rights in federal election to the 4.4 million disenfranchised Americans who have been discharged from jail yet are still denied the right to vote.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, an author of a new book, titled “Between the World and Me,” recently spoke of police misconduct in a way that resonated with a real lived urban life, by saying, “It seems like there’s a kind of national conversation going on right now about those who are paid to protect us, who sometimes end up inflicting lethal harm upon us,” Coates said. “But for me, this conversation is old, and I’m sure for many of you the conversation is quite old. It’s the cameras that are new. It’s not the violence that’s new.”
Police departments’ excessive use of lethal force, behind the so-called virtually, impregnable wall of “blue privilege”, has become more of a national issue following the highly publicized deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, and others, a victimhood that was aided by easily accessible digital technology, including the transmitting in today’s viral world of social media, that has democratized eyewitnesshood. The Black Lives Matter movement that was the protest message advocated after the acquittal in 2013 of George Zimmerman in the shooting of the unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and the Mothers Against Police Brutality have effectively brought the protests into national issue , and is attempting to accomplish social and policy change.
“Like the possibility of arrest, the threat of violence is implicit in every police encounter,” writes Kristian Williams in Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America. “Violence, as well as the law, is what they represent.”
Although numerous urban areas have regular citizen oversight commissions that research cases including improper utilization of power and to consider police responsible and that even the Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommends all areas to create oversight procedures to improve police responsibility, such structures are just effective when they have a lawful power, for example, subpoena.
According to Human Rights Watch, most effective review agencies are those who have full authority “to audit police files and reports, and who are able to scrutinize the entire departmental structures, and convince police departments to back more oversight”. The most effective citizen boards also have “independence, civilian control, and some role in disciplinary hearings, and have enough public support and engagement to withstand legal challenges and backlash from law enforcement”. (“De-militarize Police and settle lawsuits involving police misconduct/ brutality/ murder with Police Union funds instead of taxpayer dollars”. (Thanks to NJ Progressive Indie for adding the last comment)
12. War on Terror
End the false, shadowy and global War on Terror, (“The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous”, George Orwell).
The policies assumed by the Obama regime directly throughout the last few years indicate probably they are quickening, not slowing down, the war on terror that has been tirelessly reinforced in the course of the most recent decade. For the sake of the War on Terror, the present president has weakened decades-old Miranda protection; systematized another plan of inconclusive confinement on US soil; plotted to move Guantanamo inmates to inland in Illinois; expanded secrecy, restraint and discharge limitations at the sources; invented another hypothesis of presidential powers for the first time to kill US natives, including an American child, Abdulrahman Awlaki; recharged the Bush/Cheney warrant-less listening in structure for an additional five years, and additionally the so-called Patriot Act, without a single change; and simply marked into law every new limitation on the detention of suspiciously and illegally-held prisoners.
According to Physicians for a National Health Program, the project would be supported by the funds received from supplanting today’s wasteful, profit-oriented, different insurance payers with a single streamlined, non-profit, single payer, and by unobtrusive new taxes taking into account capacity to pay. Premiums would vanish; 95 percent of all family units would save.
“Very early in our medical careers – on the wards and in the classroom – we learn that inequality, preventable illness, and death are an inherent part of our current private, for-profit-oriented health insurance system,”Vanessa Van Doren, co-founder of Students for a National Health Program (SNaHP), wrote. “We see patients receive preventable amputations due to untreated diabetes. We see people permanently disabled by stroke because they were unable to afford their medications. College funds emptied out to pay for $100,000-a-year cancer treatments. Families bankrupted and lives destroyed.”
It’s time to implement the bill United States National Health Care Act, (popularly known as H.R. 676 or “Medicare for All”) introduced by Rep. John Conyers Jr. [D-MI] (Introduced 02/13/2013). Proponents claim it will insure every uninsured person, while reducing administrative waste, lower pharmaceutical and device prices, and reducing the rate of medical inflation and eventually eliminating all co-payments and deductibles.
In November of one year from now, the Colorado voters will have the chance to lead the country by opting out of Obamacare and supplanting it with ColoradoCare, a universal health care system administered by the individuals who depend on it. Promoters introduced far more than the imperative 99,000 signatures required to put the initiative on the 2016 poll in Denver. ColoradoCare proposes a model that covers each Colorado resident. A tax on income and businesses would replace insurance premiums, yet the income wouldn’t be liable to the whims of lawmakers; rather, it would go specifically to a fund administered by trustees whom the beneficiaries pick. In this respect, it would be an agreeable-like system responsible to everybody in the state, autonomous from whatever is left of the government and cherished in the constitution.
14. Child’s rights
Ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) of 1989. The CRC “incorporates the full range of human rights — civil, cultural, economic, political, and social — into one text that promotes and protects the well-being of the world’s children and their families.” America signed it in 1995 but never ratified it. More countries have ratified the Convention than any other human rights treaty in history—192 countries had become State Parties to the Convention as of November 2005. The remaining two countries which have not ratified the Convention are famously and Somalia (Correction: Somalia has since ratified it in October 1, 2015, becoming the 196th nation to do so) and the United States.
In spite of the fact that Presidents Clinton and Obama have supported approval, resistance from Republicans in the Senate and their conservative groups have hindered the ratification of the treaty. Amnesty International has explained that conservative organizations like the Christian Coalition, Family Research Council, and Focus on the Family, “have made a significant effort to portray the Convention as a threat. The majority of the oppositions claims stem from unfounded concerns related to national sovereignty, states’ rights, and the parent-child relationship.”
15. Confederate Flag
Remove the Confederate Flag from all government sites. (“Symbols of hate and division have no place in our government. It’s time to stand up for what’s right and take down the Confederate Flag!”, sign MoveOn.org petition).
16. Equal Pay for equal work
Pass the Equal Pay Act of 1963: Equal Pay for Women, signed by President Kennedy with the intention of ending gender-based pay discrimination. Recent reports estimate women now make 78 percent of what male counterparts make.
But after 40 years, female workers are still robbed of 23 pennies for each dollar a man makes in the U.S. Indeed, even with the sections of five key laws to forestall discrimination in the working environment – e.g., the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act – the gender pay hole is still an intractable issue.
Recent study demonstrated the pay gap exists in light of the fact that women are concentrated in low-wage industries. From eateries, which many have an exception of paying the ipped tminimum wage is $2.13 an hour, to domestic work to retail, females are the majority of workers in sectors where businesses pay rock bottom wages. Somewhere in the range of 90 percent of home-care workers and more than 70 percent of restaurant workers are women—two of the lowest-paying occupations in the economy (and even inside of these commercial enterprises, women still make not as much as men). Women are a wage worker in 66% of families with children and are the sole or essential earner in around 40% of families with kids, as per a study released by the Pew Research Center in 2013.
Congressional Republicans sneered at pay equity enactment as a race year pandering. Be that as it may, but a September 2015 Gallup survey reported that pay value was the main issue confronting working females in today’s economy. A 2014 July survey by the Democracy Corps found that 90 percent of Americans favored measures to help women get equivalent pay for equivalent work, accordingly raising incomes for women and families.
Fair Taxation Issues.
Conservatives are proposing an adjusted budget plan throughout the following 10 years and large tax breaks for the well off and corporations. To balance financial backing without raising new incomes, they will need to slice $4.5 trillion in federal spending, influencing essentially every service the government provides. To adequately counter these recommendations, progressives need to request “tax fairness” instead and that the rich and huge enterprises ought to pay their fair share. Surveys demonstrate that the tax fairness is firmly upheld by people in general – not simply by Democrats, but also by a substantial segment of independents. Furthermore, contingent upon the inquiry, greater parts of Republicans, or majorities, bolster making the rich and companies pay their fair share.
Tax avoidance spares the wealthiest companies and persons an expected $3 trillion every year:That’s how much the wealthiest Americans avoid through the arrangement of subsidies and accounting schemes and sweet deals that deny middle-class wage-earners of their earned benefits. That is three times more than the deficit. The outcome? Slices to public services, extra taxes today or extra obligation to be paid by the next generations.
It is about time to implement the following reforms that would ensure that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share.
17. Buffett Rule
The Buffett Rule, suggested by extremely rich man Warren Buffett, would require tycoons to pay a base tax rate of 30%. Adopt Buffett Rule to ensure secretaries don’t pay more in taxes than the CEOs for whom they work. Buffett wrote in 2011 that he thought it was outlandish that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary does. The guideline’s motivation is to raise government tax rates on America’s wealthiest individuals and businesses.
At a minimum, pass the Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012 (H.R.766 – 113th) proposed by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). It would raise $72 billion more than 10 years.
18. Deducting “Performance pay” write-offs
Most American citizens would be stunned to discover that they subsidize CEO rewards. A tax loophole clause permits companies to deduct from their taxable pay any sum paid to CEOs and their officials, as long as the pay is called “performance-based.” This means, by simply checking on a box allows them that the more they pay their executives, the less they pay in government taxes. There is a growing chorus calling for closing the CEO Tax loophole that allows corporations to take advantage of “performance pay” write-offs.
In the Congress, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) presented the Stop Subsidizing Multimillion Dollar Corporate Bonuses Act (S. 1476) in the 113th Congress. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) presented a companion bill Stop Subsidizing Multimillion Dollar Corporate Bonuses Act (H.R. 3970) in the House. Supporters believe these bills would raise $50 billion.
19. Progressive Estate Tax
Different countries may call it the death tax, the estate tax or inheritance duty.But whatever the name, one thing is without a doubt: most nations have methods for taking a rate of a man’s belongings and capital once they have handed down it in the wake of passing away. The present US income tax system doesn’t levy taxes on wealth. Inheritors can get boundless inheritances without estate taxes.
Establish a Progressive Estate Tax. A portion of the ultra-rich have the capacity to take favorable position of loopholes so they pay nothing in inheritance taxes. Others exploit the way that the exclusion levels for the estate assessment are high – $5.3 million for each person ($10.6 million for every couple.) President Obama proposes to restore the exclusions to their 2009 levels – $3.5 million for an individual ($7 million for a few) burdened at a 45% top rate.This and other changes would raise $131 billion more than 10 years, according to Fair Taxation.org.
Pass Responsible Estate Tax Act by Sen. Bernie Sanders. If adopted, Sanders’ bill would levy higher tax rates based on the size of the estate. For instance, for the value of estates above $ 50 million value would pay a 55 percent while a smaller estate whose value is above $3.5 million but less than $10 million would pay 40 percent.
20. long-term Capital Gains and Dividends – “investment income”
Tax Capital Gains and Dividends the same as regular income. In 2015, the top marginal income tax for working pay is 39.6%, but the top tax rate on corporate dividends and capital gains is only 23.9%. To lessen this disparity, the tax rates on capital gains and dividends should be raised so they coordinate with the tax rates on pay rates and wages. These loopholes lead to avoiding paying $1.3 trillion more in taxes in 10 years, according to Fair Taxation.org. The preferential tax treatment of capital gains is perhaps the single largest driver of the creation of personal wealth.
21. Social Security tax cap
Eliminate the Cap on Taxable Income, which is $106,800, thereby imposing a flat tax of 12.4 percent on all earnings, that goes into the Social Security Trust Fund.
Social Security (SSA) taxes are imposed on earned income to a greatest level set every year. In 2015, this most extreme—or what is alluded to as the assessable income base—is $106,800. The assessable income base serves as both a top on employers’ commitments and a top on SSA obligations. As a commitment base, it builds up the greatest measure of every workers incomes that is liable to the payroll charge. As an advantage base, it sets up the greatest measure of incomes used to figure benefits.
According to one analysis, raising or taking out the top on wages that are liable to assessments could lessen the long-go shortfall in the Social Security Trust Funds. Case in point, if the most extreme assessable income sum had been brought up in 2005 from $90,000 to $150,000—generally the amounts expected to cover 90% of all income—it would have dispensed with approximately 40% of the long-extended deficiency in Social Security. On the off chance that all incomes were liable to the taxes, yet the base was held for advantage counts, the Social Security Trust Funds would stay intact for the following 75 years. On the other hand, having diverse bases for commitments and advantages would debilitate the conventional connection between the assessments workers pay into the system and the benefits that they would derive from it.
22. Tax shelters
Major companies like Apple, Nike, Citigroup and another 362 companies were reported to have set up 1,357 auxiliaries and 7,827 offshore shell companies to stash almost $2.1 trillion in spots like Cayman Island and Bermuda with a specific goal to avoid paying U.S. taxes, and would collectively owe an estimated $620 billion in U.S. taxes if they repatriated the funds, or costing the U.S. Treasury an expected $90 billion in lost income for each year, as per a study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Fifty-seven of the companies disclosed that they would expect to pay a combined $184.4 billion in additional U.S. taxes if their profits were not held offshore. Their filings indicated they were paying about 6 percent in taxes overseas, compared to a 35 percent U.S. corporate tax rate, it said.
Likewise, most huge companies — like Boeing, General Electric and Verizon — have paid NO government taxes in some recent years. For example, Walmart has built a secret network of 78 subsidiaries and branches in 15 overseas tax havens, now holding at least $76 billion, which are used to minimize foreign taxes where it has retail operations and to avoid U.S. tax on those earnings. The wealthiest Americans are evading to pay their share, as well, with numerous paying a lower effective rate than many middle-class families.
Repeal the Tax Loophole that businesses and the wealthy utilize in sheltering their profits, even entire incomes, in foreign countries, to avoid paying taxes.
Numerous U.S. corporations utilize offshore tax havens and other bookkeeping tricks to avoid paying as much as $90 billion a year in income taxes. A substantial loophole clause at the heart of U.S. tax law permits companies to avoid paying taxes on outside profits until they are brought home. Known as “deferral,” it gives a big incentive to keep profits offshore as far as might be feasible. Numerous companies are known to never bring their profits home and never pay U.S. taxes on them.
Deferral gives companies, through clicking on a box in a tax form, huge incentives to utilize bookkeeping tricks so to make it create the fantasy that profits earned here were produced in a tax haven. Profits are piped through auxiliaries, frequently shell organizations with couple of workers and minimal genuine business movement. Viably, firms wash U.S. profits to avoid paying U.S. taxes. The capacity to put on the back burner these assessments for quite a long time or forever drives their motivation to utilize book-keeping devices to make it show up as if revenues were earned in nations where they won’t be taxed — like Cayman Island.
Stop giving tax loopholes to companies that move profits and jobs offshore, beginning with taking out the Active Financing Exception and the CFC look-through rules, thus eliminating the “deferral,” as proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Jan Schakowsky. Corporations would pay taxes on their incomes the year it is earned, as opposed to uncertainly avoiding paying applicable U.S. taxes. This would likewise eliminate incentives to move U.S. incomes to tax-free safe havens, and it would raise $600 billion more than 10 years.
Congress should additionally pass the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act (S. 1533), presented in 2013 by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). The bill would close large portions of the loopholes that make it alluring for companies to conceal profits abroad. If the bill is passed into law it would raise $220 billion more than 10 years.
Pfizer-Allergan Merger Tax Inversion
The current news covering the recent Pfizer and Allergan’s $160 billion merger arrangement were around an inauspicious picture of a U.S. company seeking so as to evade taxes shelter on Irish shores. For Pfizer, which made over $9 billion in profit 2014, the comparison to move to another country bodes well financially.
Commenting on drug giant Pfizer merging with the Dublin-based Allergan not “because some wizard potion has been discovered in the hills of Connemara” but “to dodge tax,” on about $148 billion that it has offshore, Simon Jenkins of the Guardian of Nov 2015, wrote that the same is true of “Starbucks, Amazon, Google and countless other global companies,” and that “Tax havens should be illegal in international law. They are patently unfair. They protect money laundering and crime. They bear few of the costs of the modern nation state, while sucking those states dry of the revenue needed to sustain them”. […] Companies should pay corporation tax on the basis not of their headquarters or research base or place of origin… They should pay on the proportionate spread of their sales. Likewise, individuals should pay tax to the country where they live or whose citizenship they enjoy – as is the case with most Americans. Tax havens that harbour companies or individuals who dodge tax should be subject to economic sanction, like many poorer states round the world that have upset western regimes. If you want to pay tax in the Caymans, live in the Caymans and don’t come to Britain”.
23. Financial transaction tax
The lack of a financial trading tax constitutes tax shirking. Not a penny of sales tax is paid on Wall Street financial and commodities transaction, which have been evaluated at around three quadrillion dollars yearly, or three thousand times the deficit. No business tax is paid notwithstanding the high-chance nature of “flash trading” that can lose whole pension reserves in almost no time.
Implement financial transaction tax. Also called Robin Hood tax, it’s a straightforward small levy on Wall Street financial transactions, that would harmonize a crazy money machine, create millions of jobs, could generate estimated $350 billions of revenue, and potentially counteract another monetary crisis in the future. A .5% speculation fee will be charged on investment houses, hedge funds, and other stock trades. Additionally, a .1% fee will be charged on bonds, and a .005% fee will be charged on derivatives. Many economists like Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman and extremely rich people like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett and Oracle’s Larry Ellison, Mark Cuban, George Soros support it. Surveys demonstrate the larger part of Americans support it as well.
A burgeoning, national movement has sprung up in support of Sen. Bernie Sander’s legislation, the Inclusive Prosperity Act of 2015. The text of the bill concludes, that “The global financial crisis cost Americans $19 trillion in lost wealth.” It says the proposed tax “could help create sufficient jobs in both the public and private sectors to replace the 8 million jobs lost in the Recession.” The bill has not made it out of the Senate Finance Committee. It’s about time to implement this FTT that could generate billions of dollars a year for, say, climate change mitigation or for tuition-free community college, while limiting Wall Street speculators.
24. Carried Interest Loophole
In a recent article, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York wrote that in 2014, due to carried interest tax loophole, the leading 25 hedge fund managers earned more than 150,000 of kindergarten teachers in America combined.
Private-equity firms (which purchase, put resources into, help oversee and inevitably sell companies) and hedge funds are controlled by managers on behalf of outside speculators. At the point when benefits from a company’s ventures are dispensed, they are ordinarily dispersed by investors’s stake. What’s more, as a rule they get 20 percent of the revenues as an performance-based reward, “carried” for a considerable length of time at once. In the event that the partnership earns a capital gain, the administrator reports his share (commonly referred to as a “carried interest”) as long-term capital gain income. Ordinary pay is taxed at marginal rates up to 35 percent (39.6 percent after 2012) while income from capital gain is taxed at rates up to 15 percent (20 percent after 2012). President Obama and other critics of the provision say the entire carried interest is basically a management income instead of investment profits from a proprietorship stake, and ought to be taxed like regular salaries.
Under the president’s budget proposal, an partner’s share of gain from a equity partnership would be saddled with self-employment taxes. If a partner sells his share, the gain would be taxed as customary pay, not as a capital gain. The proposal estimates that the rule would raise $14.8 billion through 2021.
In the Congress, to address this issue, U.S. Representative Sander M. Levin (D-MI) introduced H.R. 2834 110th Congress (2007-2008) bill on June 22, 2007, which would eliminate the ability the hedge fund managers of partnerships to receive capital-gains tax treatment on their income. On April 2, 2009, Congressman Levin introduced another and substantially revised version of the carried interest legislation as H.R. 1935.
The present federal income tax system is unmistakably broken — unreasonable, excessively complex, and practically unimaginable for most Americans to get it. The current system makes a mockery of the universal idea of progressive taxation where the tax rate increments occur as the taxable sums increase. Numerous individuals additionally feel that corporations, rich people and families, and specific vested parties have out of line unfair access to a thicket of deductions, assessment credits, allowance for depreciation and tax inversions, different loopholes and regulations that cut the final tab that companies wind up paying to their national treasuries.
Sen. Bernie Sanders’ fair tax assessment plan is the most extensive proposal to fix the corporate tax collection mess. He calls for closure of offshore shelters, ending subsidies to Big Business: The wealthiest companies shouldn’t be sponsored by American citizens and to mobilize entrepreneurship and support small businesses: Instead of helping multinational companies , Sanders proposes to bolster small and medium American companies by furnishing them with the low-interest credits.
The entire tax evasion surpasses $3 trillion. The figures may be on the top of the line, and there may be some overlap, and wealthy Americans may contend that quite a bit of it is lawful. In any case, the arrangement of loopholes and credits and exclusions is an announcement by the rich that they don’t need to pay for their unbalanced offer of advantages, and that middle-income Americans ought to surrender their own particular earned advantages to pay the nation’s bills.Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich put it aptly when he said that lost tax revenue “has to be made up by you and me and every other taxpayer who can’t afford high-flying attorneys and accountants to shift our income into places with low taxes.”
Voter Suppression: The Republican War on Voting Rights
Paul Weyrich, an ALEC co-founder and influential operative considered to be the “founding father of the conservative movement” famously laid out the GOP’s voter suppression strategy at a 1980 training session for 15,000 conservative preachers in a 1980 speech in Dallas:
“I don’t want everybody to vote”, he said. “Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
In the 27 years since Paul Weyrich’s incredibly sincere confirmation, the radical conservatives in America, now supported by the Supreme Court, has added to a variety of unpretentious and obvious strategies to smother voter registration and turnout. The techniques are focused to voting demographics most likely to oppose conservative causes and competitors: low-salary families, minorities, senior citizens and eligible residents for whom English is a second language.
Since 2013, after the Supreme Court’s decision that reversed the voting rights act, states all over the nation have been passing measures that make it increasingly hard for Americans – especially the poverty-stricken African-Americans — part of a minority that has long borne the brunt of voter suppression in this country and as such were protected by federal law from discrimination at the polls — the elderly, the young and individuals with handicaps – to practice their principal right to cast a vote. The flood of voting rights restrictions followed court’s undermining of the 1965 law that required that the lawmakers in states with a history of discriminating against minority voters to get federal permissions before changing voting rules.
This was a direct challenge to The Voting Rights Act, that was signed on Aug. 6, 1965, and was meant to correct “a clear and simple wrong,” as Lyndon Johnson said. “Millions of Americans are denied the right to vote because of their color. This law will ensure them the right to vote.” It banned literacy tests, abolished the poll tax and other Jim Crow strategies used to restrict the minority voters’ rights to vote, and sent federal officials to the South to monitor elections, to make sure that once new voters were registered, elections weren’t stolen, and — in a key provision called Section 5 — required southern states with histories of black disenfranchisement to submit any future change in statewide voting law, regardless of how minor, for pre-clearance by federal authorities in Washington.
In Shelby County v. Holder, in which Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, declared that the Voting Rights Act had done its job by arguing that Section 4 was unnecessary because “things have changed dramatically” in the South since 1965, eliminated Section 4 — which determines the states and localities covered by arguing that a new coverage formula is needed that determines which jurisdictions are subjected to pre-clearance based on their histories of discrimination in voting, effectively ending the federal government’s role as a monitor to state voting changes until a new formula is approved by Congress.
Republican state legislators, using the specter of the non-existing voter fraud as the impetus for their action, even when there’s no evidence that voter fraud exists in this country in any significant way, or that identification requirements would fix the problem if it were to exist, and to limit the surging minority vote, as evidenced by the high turnouts of 2008 and 2012 elections, proceeded with a new round of restrictive voting laws.
Just after the Shelby County decision, Alabama’s strict voter ID law, that Brennan Center for Justice called it “most restrictive since the Jim Crow era”, was passed by the GOP legislature in 2011, and was allowed to go into effect without federal approval. This is the very type of voting change–one that disproportionately burdens African-American voters–that would have been challenged under Section 5 of the VRA, which the Supreme Court rendered inoperative.
Subsequently, in 2015, Alabama added insult to injury by making it much tougher to obtain the government-issued ID required to vote by closing 31 DMV locations in the state, many in majority-black counties. Al.com newspaper columnist John Archibald reported that eight of the 10 Alabama counties with the highest percentage of black registered voters saw their driver’s license offices closed. “Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed,” Archibald wrote, “Every one.” First the state demands that you get a photo ID, and then it makes it harder to do so, particularly in areas heavily populated by African-Americans. (Alabama’s Republican governor says the closures are nothing more than a cost-cutting measure, but advocates say it’ll keep blacks from the polls.)
As a response to recent anti-voting provisions in their elections law, the U.S. Department of Justice vowed to sue Alabama for not complying with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, (also known as the “NVRA” and the “Motor Voter Act”), which requires the states to provide voter registration services at motor vehicle offices and other public agencies. The U.S. Department of Transportation also has dispatched a government investigation concerning the DMV closures and the NAACP filed a legal challenge to Alabama’s voter ID law in light of the closures.
“This was a racist attack on our sacred right to vote, a right that was won with blood and the lives and souls of martyrs throughout the south,” North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber boomed out from the pulpit. “50 years after Bloody Sunday, we find ourselves having to have our own Selma now, because of the worst voter suppression law we’ve seen since the 1960s. I say we’re at war. But the weapons of our warfare are not molotov cocktails, or guns or hatred. The weapons of our warfare are love and truth and righteousness and a concern for justice.”
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 21 states have passed 468 new voting restrictions to reshape the makeup of the electorate from 2011 to 2015. Recent efforts to restrict voting rights—there were 180 different bills introduced across 41 states in 2011 and 2012 alone—have a disproportionate impact on demographics like blacks, Latinos and the poor, who surveys had shown are more likely than the general population to vote for the then opposition, the Democratic party, or the Greens, voting-rights experts say, adding that new barriers to the ballot box could produce low turnout that benefits the GOP.
Changing demographics are driving the voter suppression attempts, largely pushed by pro-1 Percent, pro-GOP groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC based on their template “model” voter ID act,and funded in part by the billionaire Koch brothers who bankrolled the Tea Party – 38 states passed legislation in recent years designed to limit minority and millennial voters at every step of the electoral process. In 2008, about 48 million millennial generation voters—born between 1978 and 2000—became old enough to vote. By 2012 that increased to 64 million, or 29 percent of all eligible voters. Two-thirds of these young voters and Hispanic voters delivered their votes to then-Sen. Barack Obama. There is no question that minority support was largely responsible for President Obama’s wins in both 2008 and 2012. The combined minority vote gave him net advantages of 21.2 million and 23.5 million over his Republican rivals, John McCain and Mitt Romney, according to a study by Brookings Institution.By 2020, 90 million will be eligible to vote, or 40 percent of all eligible voters, according to Center for American Progress.
The Brennan Center for Justice likewise found that of the 11 states with the highest black turnout in 2008, seven passed laws making it harder to vote. Of the 12 states with the largest Latino population growth in the 2010 Census, nine have new restrictions in place. In 15 of those states, the new laws including voter registration rollbacks to early voting cuts to voter ID requirements will be in effect for the 2016 election making the first presidential election in 50 years that will come to pass without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act.
“We don’t know exactly how much these news laws will affect turnout or skew turnout in favor of Republicans,” said Richard Hasen, author of the recently released The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown. “But there’s no question that in a very close election, they could be enough to make a difference in the outcome.”
Even past the Deep South, GOP-controlled legislatures around the nation are using the fake non-issue of “voter fraud,” which is basically non-existent, as a reason to make it harder for voters, especially ethnic minorities, the elderly, students and poor people, from registering to vote or voting. “There are more UFO and Bigfoot sightings than documented cases of voter impersonation,” quipped one Texas Democrat. From 2002 to 2012, there were only two cases of voter impersonation out of 35 million votes cast in North Carolina alone, according to expert witness Lori Minnite of Rutgers University.
These new measures incorporate demanding an official personal ID to vote and proof of citizenship to register, eliminating early voting, purging voter rolls, banning election day registration, eliminating the Sunday early voting in states where black churches organized popular “Souls to the Polls” drives, new restrictions on voter registration drives by organizations like the League of Women Voters, which have traditionally helped to register new voters, eliminating pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, so they would be automatically registered to vote at 18, extra barriers to voting directed against individuals with criminal convictions and shutting down voting sites and more.
According to a study from NYU’s Brennan Center, 11 percent of voting-age citizens (that is over 21 million citizens) mainly the poor, racial minorities, senior citizens and students – who do not have a driver’s license, lack necessary photo ID while many people in rural areas have trouble affording photo IDs or accessing ID offices. For example, one study by a Harvard Law School researcher found, the price for applying a legally recognized voter identification card can range from $75 to $175, when you include the costs associated with documentation, travel and waiting time.
The net result of this state of utter disorder was a significant drop in registrations. For example, in 2008, around six million eligible voters did not vote because of difficulties associated with registration requirements (13 percent), long lines at the polls (11 percent), uncertainty about the location of their polling place (nine percent) or lack of proper ID (seven percent), according to the Census Bureau.
The number and complexity of new voting restrictions across the country are staggering. As Yale Law Professor Heather Gerken put it, “It’s a death-by-a-thousand-cuts strategy.”
It is about time to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 (H.R.2867 – 114th Congress (2015-2016)). (The Senate version, Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015(S. 1659) , was introduced in Jun 24, 2015 by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt)). In Oct 2015, The Voting Rights Advancement Act had 119 cosponsors in the House and 39 in the Senate, including Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska who became the first Republican to cosponsor the legislation in September.
The new bill requires states with well-documented history of recent voting discrimination to clear future voting changes with the federal government, requires federal pre—clearance for future voter ID laws, and outlaws new GOP-led efforts to suppress the growing poor and minority votes. That criterion would initially target 13 states with 15 voting rights violations over the past 25 years — or 10 violations if one was statewide — have to get clearance from the Justice Department before making any changes to how they conduct elections. Those states would the be able to free themselves of the preclearence provision by going 10 consecutive years without a voting rights violation, according to The Nation.
Automatic voter registration
California introduced in October 2015 “New Motor Voter Act” and was marked into law by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, the second state–following Oregon, whose law, passed in March 2015, and was expected to add about 300,000 new voters to the rolls, to implement automatic voter registration on those who request a driver’s permit or state ID from the DMV unless they opt out. Similarly, one of the effects of the California law is registering an additional 6 million unregistered voters to the rolls, which would be the biggest voter-enlistment drive in state history. California, like Oregon, is using the power of the legislature to bring a huge number of new voters into the political process– regarding the vote as a principal right, as opposed to a special privilege.
Citing a new automatic voter registration laws passed in Oregon and California in 2015 to register eligible citizens, who apply for or renew driver’s licenses and state IDs, as long as they don’t opt out, Rep. David Cicilline [D-RI-1] and 45 cosponsors introduced Automatic Voter Registration Act (H.R.2694 -114th Congress (2015-2016) for federal elections at all state DMVs.
“The Automatic Voter Registration Act will protect the right to vote and expand access for eligible voters across the United States. I thank my colleagues who have co-sponsored this important legislation that helps to expand one of our most essential rights as Americans”, Cicilline said in a statement in June 10, 2015.
Supporters of strategies like automatic voter registration, which is shifting voter registration responsibilities from the individual to the state, push it as a major aspect of a development to modernize voting registration system that’s largely seen as a “relic” and to build a bipartisan one that transcends the bitter Republican-Democratic divides. Small technological advances, like online registration, have been embraced in both blue and red states. In 2015, 27 states had set up electronic voter registration and 24 had online voter registration, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Even in key swing states like Florida and Virginia, online registration laws passed Republican-controlled legislatures and were marked by GOP governors.
All these advances in promoting the access to voting and the federal automatic voter registration bill, if passed, would help register many of the 51 million Americans—1 in 4 eligible voters— who are still not registered to vote. “Among eligible voters, some 30 percent of African Americans, 40 percent of Hispanics, 45 percent of Asian Americans, and 41 percent of young adults (age 18-24), were not registered to vote in the historic 2008 election,” according to Demos.
Finally, even if there’s no explicit right to vote in the U.S. Constitution, even if the Constitution mentions “the right to vote” five times, (for example, see Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000)), for the implicit voting right be made more iron-clad right, the candidates for president and congressional seats should be educated on this universal issue and be pushed to finally support a constitutional amendment to enshrine the right to vote (despite the relentless or intensifying threats to voting rights), of the similar sorts that were once used to broaden voting rights for various groups of voters such as that guaranteed for African-American men and other men with the 15th amendment in 1869, for women with the 19th amendment in 1920, for the residents of the District of Columbia (as respect to presidential elections) with the 23rd amendment, for those voters without means to pay a poll tax or other fees that some states used to chase ethnic and poor people away from the ballot box, with the 24th amendment, and finally for Americans who matured 18-to-21 with the 26th amendment.
A constitutional amendment (113th Congress 2013 H. J. RES. 44) for universal right to vote was proposed by Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), which would codify the principle that “every citizen of the United States, who is of legal voting age, shall have the fundamental right to vote in any public election held in the jurisdiction in which the citizen resides.” An alternative language of such an amendment could take several forms, such as one proposed by Heather Gerken of Yale Law School: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State.”
Enshrining the right to vote in the Constitution would help resolve most of these cases in favor of voters in all these conflicts that constitute what the election scholar Richard Hasen calls “The Voting Wars.”
26. War on Drugs
End the War on Drugs. It is the ideal time for sensible approaches to regulate drug use, legal or not, through the expanding knowledge in science and sympathy instead of tired political hysteria and fear-mongering. Drug prohibition has done essentially nothing to reduce drug supply or rates of addiction. Most drugs should be legalized it, regulated it, taxed it and the proceeds be used to fund substance abuse treatments.
It’s time to implement the agenda and the recommendations of Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), which advocates for the legalization of drugs and a law enforcement approach that defends human rights and views drug abusers as persons in need of treatment as opposed to punishment.
The war on drugs has been continuing since 1960s, cynically used by the Republicans as part of Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy that was intended for restoring the planter-class in its newer corporate form. The strategy was to change the solid (Democratic, White Supremacist) South into strong Republican region, and to go along with it politically with retrograde Republican areas in the Midwest and mountain states. As a part of achieving it, it was an electoral movement, albeit losing one, directed against poor Democrats and racial minorities who were supposedly “causing” crime, through efficiently making hidden (and regularly not really hidden) supremacist appeals to white voters, who were disaffected with liberal democratic racial and welfare policies and also frightened by crime and urban riots, that was then easily focused onto the “pathology” of black families. This was calculated to be used as a way of discrediting of the philosophy of racial equality that upset the Jim Crow social order, that supposedly had contributed to this pathology. The carceral state actually came as a backlash against the civil-rights advances where politicians of both parties turned to incarceration to assuage white anxieties and preserve racial control.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then an adviser to President Nixon, released in 1965 his report “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action”, which was riddled with broad mentions of “matriarchy”; “super-predators”, “bio-underclass”, and that “the Negro lower class would appear to be unusually self-damaging.” He believed that these characteristics went far toward explaining the African American group’s relative destitution and criminality. He claims especially that black criminality results from dominant black mothers and absent black fathers. He wrote,
“In essence, the Negro community has been forced into a matriarchal structure which, because it is so out of line with the rest of the American society, seriously retards the progress of the group as a whole, and imposes a crushing burden on the Negro male and, in consequence, on a great many Negro women as well.”
Lee Atwater’s infamous 1981 interview on the Southern Strategy explains how Republicans can win the vote of racists without sounding racist themselves:
“You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.” Listen to the full forty-two-minute conversation with Atwater: at the link
One of the most memorable of this strategy for playing upon racial fears was the infamous television ad from the 1988 presidential campaign. The ad, produced by George H.W. Bush’s campaign manager, Lee Atwater, who then said “By the time we’re finished, they’re going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakis’ running mate”, that blamed Michael Dukakis for granting Willie Horton a weekend furlough that is credited with shifting the momentum of the 1988 campaign. Horton, who had previously been convicted of murder, did not return to prison and was subsequently accused of raping a woman. (Horton was later interviewed in the periodical, The Nation (Newton 1995, p. 324): “The fact is, my name is not “Willie.” It’s part of the myth of the case. The name irks me. It was created to play on racial stereotypes: big, ugly, dumb, violent, black—“Willie.” I resent that. They created a fictional character—who seemed believable, but who did not exist. They stripped me of my identity, distorted the facts, and robbed me of my constitutional rights.”)
And as commentator Stanley Greenberg, then a political researcher and now a main Democratic strategist, found poignantly in his classic 1985 study of Macomb County, Michigan, the whole marvel of the strategy that led to great exodus from the Democratic party was based on racial hatred: “These white Democratic defectors express a profound distaste for blacks, a sentiment that pervades almost everything they think about government and politics”, he says, “Blacks constitute the explanation for their vulnerability and for almost everything that has gone wrong in their lives; not being black is what constitutes being middle class; not living with blacks is what makes a neighborhood a decent place to live.”
The results of the war on drugs have been astounding. Already by 1993, “African Americans accounted for 88.3 percent of all federal crack cocaine distribution convictions”, according to Naomi Murakawa, author of “The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America”. Today, almost 785,000 Americans, or half of all prisoners, are detained on drug charges. In 1980 the number was 50,000. A year ago $40 billion in tax dollars were spent in battling the war on drugs, totaling over $1.5 trillion since 1971. As an aftereffect of the incarceration fixation, the United States maintains the biggest jail population on the planet, with America having five percent of the world’s population, but housing 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, and the U.S. nonviolent detainee populace is bigger than the combined populations of Wyoming and Alaska.
As per the U.S. Dept of Justice, the number of guilty persons under age 18 detained for drug offenses expanded twelve-fold from 1985 to 1997, around half of federal prisoners and one-fifth of state prisoners are behind bars for selling or using drugs, with most apparently released destroyed as useful human beings. The population most affected by this carceral state instead of treatments, is African-Americans, who represent about 12 percent of the overall population, but represent 59 percent of those in state prison for drug offenses. From 1985 to 1997, the rate of African-American youngsters put in jail expanded from 53 to 62 percent, with some naming this failed war the New Jim Crow, a title of a popular book by Michelle Alexander, whose central premise is that “mass incarceration is, metaphorically, the New Jim Crow.” In the ensuing debate, it has motivated Naomi Murakawa, author of “The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America,” to spin it more broadly by reasoning that, “The strength of ‘The New Jim Crow’ by Michelle Alexander is that, by equating mass incarceration with Jim Crow, it makes it rhetorically impossible to defend it, but, on the other hand, there is no ‘new’ Jim Crow, there is just capitalist white supremacy in a state of constant self-preservation.”
America’s present incarceration epidemic was created, to a limited extent, by a web of financial motivations that spurred more arrests, indictments, and prison sentences. A prime case is the 1994 “Crime Bill,” signed by then President Bill Clinton, which approved $12.5 billion ($19 billion today) for states to expand imprisonment by passing harsh sentencing laws and hiring 100,000 more police. In addition, Clinton’s sweeping crime bill—which among other things, expanded the death penalty, encouraged states to lengthen prison sentences and eliminated federal funding for inmate education—garnered the votes of every Democratic Senator except one. What’s more, 28 states did only that, yielding an dramatic rise in incarceration. The quantity of penitentiaries rose 43 percent from 1990 to 2005. In the 1990s, a new prison opened every 15 days on average.
At a speech in September of that year, Clinton promised to “break the gangs, ban those cop-killer bullets, [impose] drug testing from parolees, improve the opportunities for community-based strategies to lower crime, and give our children something to say ‘yes’ to,” according to a CNN report at the time, while later adding that “The crime rate has come down for four years in a row for the first time in a long time, and I’m proud of that, but it’s still too high and we all know it.”
Nicholas Turner, a president of the Vera Institute, a nonprofit that researches crime policy, said in the 20th anniversary of the Bill that “Criminal justice policy was very much driven by public sentiment and a political instinct to appeal to the more negative punitive elements of public sentiment rather than to be driven by the facts”. Nick Turner of Vera put the human costs even more starkly, while indicating the continuing consequences for 2 whole generations. “If you’re a black baby born today, you have a 1 in 3 chance of spending some time in prison or jail,” Turner said. “If you’re Latino, it’s a 1 in 6 chance. And if you’re white, it’s 1 in 17. And so coming to terms with these disparities and reversing them, I would argue, is not only a matter of fairness and justice but it’s, I would argue, a matter of national security.”
In short, mass incarceration is one of the country’s key strategies to address crime while failing to address poverty, inequality, unemployment, racial conflict, citizenship, sexuality and gender. Mandatory-sentencing laws, the War on Drugs, juvenile-justice sentences that seem to do more to create than deter criminals, racial arrest and sentencing disparities: All are ready for a tough national cross-examination. “If the US is serious about reducing high levels of concentrated violence,” political scientist Marie Gottschalk writes, while calling for a “third Reconstruction” “then addressing the country’s high levels of inequality and concentrated poverty should become a top priority, not a public-policy afterthought.”
To reverse the failed mandatory-minimum policies, a big justice-reform bill offered in the House and Senate signaled that the “tough on crime” era of bad policy (which may have polled well for Election Day, but filled jails) may finally be over. The Senate took a noteworthy step aimed for recalibrating jail sentences for certain drug offenders, focusing on violent convicts, and giving judges more discretion at sentencing for lower-level drug law violations by introducing the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act in September 2015 by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and others. Called a watershed enactment, it calls for decreases in some mandatory sentences, especially for individuals detained on nonviolent drug offenses who don’t have former records and ditching harsh sentencing laws that lead to prison overcrowding and to limit solitary confinement for juveniles. The proposed law additionally broadens the government “safety valve”, portrayed by the Drug Policy Alliance as an instrument that “permits judges to utilize their tact to sentence individuals underneath statutory obligatory essentials.” Furthermore, the legislation would likewise develop some reentry and early discharge programming.
Referring to the scandalous disparities in the sentencing of crack versus cocaine, in 2010, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act, which attempted to lessen this disparity, yet thousands remained in prison. (“A man just required five grams of crack to be charged as a felony,” the Nightly Show host Larry Wilmore clarified.”Where as you needed 500 grams of cocaine for a felony charge. This is why I’ve always told the kids, hey, do cocaine.”
Similarly, another proposition, called the Reverse Mass Incarceration Act, would utilize government dollars to reward states for lessening crime and imprisonment. Throughout the following decade, this could bring about a 20 percent lessening in imprisonment across the country. The policy has four sections. To start with, it would create another government gift project of $20 billion in motivating funds over more than 10 years to states. Second, states can just get dollars if they decrease their jail populace by 7 percent over a three-year period without an increment in crime – a bar that is somewhat higher than the national normal. Third, states would get sums in view of their share of the general national populace – so a greater state would get more. What’s more, fourth, the assets given to states would be reserved to bolster confirmation based projects demonstrated to decrease crime and imprisonment.
Bill Clinton, to the extent that it even matters, has since apologized for his pivotal role in driving up the country’s incarceration numbers. He said the 1990s laws he signed, particularly the sentencing guidelines, ‘Made the Problem Worse’. “I signed a bill that made the problem worse. And I want to admit it,” Clinton said at the 106th NAACP National Convention, which concluded July 18, 2015 in Philadelphia. “In that bill, there were longer sentences, and most of these people are in prison under state law, but the federal law set a trend. And that was overdone; we were wrong about that.”
“If this were a war fought for four decades by any other generals with this outcome, we’d have run up the white flag years ago,” David Simon, creator of The Wire, told Salon.
27. The American Dream Act
Pass the Restore the American Dream Act for the 99 Percent Act introduced in 2011. The bill would create more than 4 million employment opportunities and lessen the budgetary deficiency by more than $2 trillion throughout the following 10 years, attempting up to this point to marshal the assets expected to address the financial emergency.
28. Labor rights
Implement S. 2814 (113th) bill by Sen. Lamar Alexander [R-TN] (Introduced 09/16/2014) in modernizing the National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act 1935), to expand guaranteeing workers’ rights to organize and bargain, collectively through representatives of their own choosing, regardless of who the workers or the employers are, an essential step toward full economic democracy. Evidence keeps heaping up: The benefits of joining a union are clear: higher wages, better benefits and a more secure retirement.
Interesting study from the International Monetary Fund concludes that unions diminish disparity and foster a more equal economy for everybody, for the most part by keeping the wealthiest classes from keeping the fruits of a cooperatively created flourishing for themselves.The IMF study demonstrates that a reinvigorated unions development is fundamental to both a fair economy and a well-working democracy. It merits broad consideration – and ought to rouse coordinated action.
“Collective bargaining is our best tool for raising wages in America,” the AFL-CIO 2015 report (pdf) reads. “It should be front and center as Congress considers policy and as presidential candidates announce agendas. Moreover, the results will illuminate the larger issue underpinning chronic wage stagnation: that vibrant worker organizations are key to restoring the balance of economic power in our country.”
But employers that feel threatened by the thought of their workers being organized into a union often turn to different strategies with a specific end goal to keep them from organizing. Whenever workers attempt to organize, an effective approach their managers use in closing down the effort is straightforward: fire a few union organizers. It’s illicit, certainly, however it takes a long time for the National Labor Relations Board to hear the case and force penalties, and it frightens other workers away from openly supporting the union. And penalties for wrongfully terminating a worker for their union backing are small to the point that “slap on the wrist” just about appears like a misrepresentation.
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) have presented a bill that would change that: The Workplace Action for a Growing Economy (WAGE) Act includes weighty fiscal penalties for infringement of workers’ rights to collectively organize, whether to join a union or essentially to enhance conditions in the work environment. It additionally accommodates injunctions to compel employers to rapidly re-hire workers in the event that they were let go unjustly, undocumented or not.
29. Wall street reform
Implement Volcker Rule, (12 U.S.C. § 1851) of the Dodd–Frank Act that bans banks from conducting certain investment activities using their customers’ savings and mortgage accounts, and reduces dramatically their ownership of and relationship with hedge funds and private equity funds well-known for high risks.
The Volcker Rule proposed by top economist Thomas Lariviere is supposed to deny banks from exclusive exchanging and limits interest in mutual funds and private value by business banks and their associates. Further, the rule guides the Federal Reserve to enforce improved prudential prerequisites on systemically distinguished non-bank organizations occupied with such exercises. Congress did exclude certain allowed exercises of banks, their subsidiaries, and non-bank organizations distinguished as systemically critical, for example, in business sector making, supporting, securitization, and guaranteeing. The rule additionally topped bank possession in multifaceted investments and private value rates at three percent.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton proposed a 3-step proposal in October 2015 to reinforce the Volcker Rule, which should keep FDIC-sponsored financial establishments from taking part in restrictive exchanging and that would confine substantial, guaranteed banks from making hazardous ventures and conceivably undermining the more extensive budgetary framework, to be specific, dispose of the principle permitting banks to contribute up to 3 percent of their capital in multifaceted investments and other theoretical speculation vehicles; reestablish Section 716 of Dodd-Frank, which was revoked a year ago as a major aspect of the CRomnibus government financing measure and maybe in particular, fix the regulatory meaning of what sorts of investment vehicles are considered as topped by the 3 percent rule.
30. Foreign Aid, the Permanent War and the Millennium Development Goals
It is time to end using foreign aid as a long arm of dizzying hodgepodge of diplomatic and military strategies, known as The ‘three pillars’ theory -defense, diplomacy and development- in order to ‘advancing American interests and solving global problems as diplomacy or defense’. In the development sector, in 2013, the U.S. government dedicated $40.11 billion to economic and military assistance, more than double what it was in 2000, famously and vigorously defended to be just 1% of total budget, as found in contrary by a 2013 poll that found majority of the public thought mistakenly it was 28%.
Still its total impact is seriously being undercut by the fact that most of it gets spent on supporting military operations in various countries. The greatest single recipient of foreign aid – both military and financial- in 2012 was Afghanistan, representing over a quarter of all foreign aid. Together, the main five nation beneficiaries in 2012 represented 57 percent of all foreign aid. Real development assistance, however, accounted for 8%.
But in plain terms the entire agenda means serving the interests of the military-industrial complex and the multi-national corporations, and in the massive support given to the waging of endless, destructive, and “preemptive wars” against the rest of the world in forms of wars against communism, terrorism, Islamism and drugs that the much of the world opposes and resents. The global war of terror alone touched 60 countries. By all measures, every one of these wars are continuation of colonial wars through which the Western powers have sought over hundreds of years to force their will upon weaker societies they thought worth disrupting, oppressing and exploiting. Critics charge that the “war on terrorism” is an ideology of fear and repression that creates enemies and promotes violence rather than mitigating acts of terror and strengthening security. The worldwide campaign has too often become an excuse for other governments as diverse as South Africa and Ethiopia to use it as pretext to repress local opposition groups and disregard international law and local laws.
The result is that entire regions of the earth live in utter terror. For example, in Oct, 10, 2015, in an uncommon joint call, heads of both UN and International Red Cross say human conflict is reaching unknown proportions. They warned that nations and global leaders must dramatically step up efforts to scale back wars and military actions that are causing massive human suffering while ripping apart families, communities, entire nations, and regions now been displaced from their homes because of conflict and violence, including 60 million people are uprooted from war and poverty. There are now nine civil wars raging in Islamic countries between Pakistan and Nigeria, and seemingly everywhere nations are collapsing, trembling or are under attack and producing waves of migrants totaling so far more than four million refugees in other countries. In 2015 alone, 442,000 of those migrants had reached Europe. As a result, numerous European nations are reacting to the crisis with supremacist hysteria, policing and police state measures.
“Rarely before have we witnessed so many people on the move, so much instability, so much suffering,” said Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). “In armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere, combatants are defying humanity’s most fundamental norms. Every day, we hear of civilians being killed and wounded in violation of the basic rules of international humanitarian law, and with total impunity. Instability is spreading. Suffering is growing. No country can remain untouched.”
The exposed greed and violence that characterize the permanent war driving these conflicts is concealed inside the empire behind the cant of patriotism and security, which sanctify imperialism and racism. Its effects are everywhere and victims are always the same. Eduardo Galeano once wrote that “each time a new war is disclosed in the name of the fight of the good against evil, those who are killed are all poor. It’s always the same story repeating once and again and again”, who are then being pushed permanently into the global underclass and or converted into millions of refugees fleeing wars, the new wretched of the earth.
W.E.B. Du Bois, writing of similar past empires, warned more broadly about the far-reaching effects of the permanent occupation, especially in terms of ushering of rapid globalization with its attendant crisis, by writing, “Here, are no labor unions or votes or questioning onlookers or inconvenient consciences,” Du Bois writes. “These men may be used down to the very bone, and shot and maimed in ‘punitive’ expeditions when they revolt. In these dark lands ‘industrial development’ may repeat in exaggerated form every horror of the industrial horror of Europe, from slavery and rape to disease and maiming, with one test of success—dividends.”
Instead, it is time for a different paradigm shift in giving foreign aid that is entirely distinct from the conduct of the permanent war, a one that lends support only to the least of the least developed countries but only through the UN’s millennium development goals, the best-known and most effective foreign intervention project ever.
The United Nations Millennium Declaration, marked in September 2000, comprising of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which aim for “eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS and Malaria, ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing a global partnership for development”, all by the deadline of 2015 – frames an outline consented to by all the world’s nations and all the world’s driving humanitarian foundations. They have stirred uncommon endeavors to address the issues of the world’s poorest. The UN is likewise living up to expectations with governments, civil society and different accomplices to expand on the energy produced by the MDGs and go ahead with an aspiring post-2015 development agenda.
The UN’s 193 countries at the 2015 General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters are expected to sign off on the Sustainable Development Goals, comprising 17 goals, with 169 targets, which are hoped to provide a framework to combat poverty, climate change, inequality and hunger. Seven months of negotiations have produced a document: Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“You cannot claim to support sustainable development when you are reluctant to reduce the consumption of the rich or transfer technology,” speaking on behalf of civil society, Salil Shetty, the head of Amnesty International was blunt towards the West in his address to the UN general assembly on 25 September 2015, by saying, “You cannot preach about human rights while practising mass surveillance. You cannot lecture about peace while being the world’s largest manufacturers of arms. You cannot allow your corporations to use financial and tax loopholes while railing against corruption. You cannot adopt the sustainable development goals and at the same time attack and arrest peaceful protesters and dissenters. You cannot launch these sustainable development goals and in parallel deny a safe and legal route to refugees, a life with dignity.”
31. Embargo against Cuba
Lift Embargo against Cuba, ending the 50-year exclusion of Cuba from the Organization of American States, by scraping the Trading With the Enemy Act (TWEA) of 1917,
The embargo was set up at first to rebuff the Cuban government for nationalizing US property without pay, yet over the long haul for ensuring votes in the electorally critical condition of Florida, where an enormous number of Cubans live. In actuality, it was unequivocally that political consideration which, through the enactment of 1996, the Helms-Burton Act that stipulated that the embargo could only be lifted with a two-thirds of both houses of Congress.
Cuban Foreign Ministry’s recent report showed the U.S. blockade violates both Cuban freedom and international law. Taking inflation into account, its authors estimated that, over a half a century, the blockade has denied the Cuban economy of $834 billion.
The enduring folly of this failed policy reminds us of the sensible road not taken: “For the thing we should never do in dealing with revolutionary countries, in which the world abounds, is to push them behind an iron curtain raised by ourselves. On the contrary, even when they have been seduced and subverted and are drawn across the line, the right thing to do is to keep the way open for their return.” Walter Lippmann, July 1959.
32. Guantanamo Bay
Set up in January 2002 inside of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, “Gitmo” broadly houses many detainees whom U.S. authorities are unwilling to transfer them to the U.S. to stand trial due to stiff resistance from Republicans in Congress and whom have likewise been regarded unsuited for extradition or discharge.
As many as 779 detainees have been held at Guantánamo since the jail opened on January 11, 2002. A report by Seton Hall University demonstrates that the United States just caught 5 percent of its Guantánamo detainees. They were not “enemy warriors”: Pakistan and the Northern Alliance sold 86 percent of the men to the United States for a bounty, sometimes of up to $5,000.
It’s time to close down Guantanamo Bay prison, a re-invention of nineteenth century imperial outpost that ought to disgrace liberal Americans’ conscience: the foreign terror suspects subjected to beatings, waterboarding and rectal feeding, among other brutal acts of violence, the refusal of internationally observed lawful techniques, the repetitive suicides and hunger strikes conceived of despondency.
As of September 2015, there were 149 detainees being held at Guantánamo, at a cost to the government of roughly $1 million per detainee, 53 who have been cleared for release. Twenty-nine are listed as forever prisoners.
Against that backdrop, Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor and former Justice Department lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, said Mr. Obama was heading toward a dilemma at the end of his term. “Not closing Gitmo eight years after he pledged to do so would be a failure for his legacy, plus whatever continuing costs it has to national security in his eyes,” Mr. Goldsmith said. “But the only way to close it is to use an extraordinarily aggressive interpretation of executive power to act against the will of Congress and not obviously in a way that the American people support, just as he is walking out the door.”
33. Fair elections
Legitimize minor parties (Green, Socialist, and so on) to keep running unhindered in every one of the 50 states. In many states, for a party’s contender to win in a contest, he/she must pick up a backing proportional to certain rate of voters all together for the party to continue to be poll qualified in the entire state. Case in point, in all states, major parties are yielded access to the ballot, awarded on a victor take-all basis, meaning a candidate who comes in second or third in a particular state does not win a single electoral vote regardless of his percentage of the popular vote. Most others, however, don’t even permit minor parties to keep running in primaries that all that much determine the result. Thus, minor group hopefuls in these states can run just in general elections, if any.
The major parties have been hostile to the minor parties since mid 1800s, who have built a labyrinth of cumbersome regulations and systems that make it troublesome for minor parties and independent contenders to pick up a spot on the general race poll. “What happens is third parties act as a gadfly,” said Sean Wilentz, director of the American Studies program at Princeton University. “There’ll be an issue that’s being neglected or that is being purposely excluded from national debate because neither party wants to face the political criticism that it would bring. A classic example was slavery.”
No one else knows this electoral system better than Ralph Nader, the perennial third party candidate and the ultimate gadfly, who was tossed into the political wilderness to which he has been exiled, whose comments remain moving in describing the realities of the corporate state:“The gates are controlled by two parties indentured to the same commercial interests,” Nader said. “If you don’t go through those gates, if you do what [Ross] Perot did, … you [might] get 19 million votes [but] not one electoral vote. If you do not get electoral votes you don’t come close. And even if you do get electoral votes you are up against a winner-take-all. This means if you lose you don’t build for the future as you would with proportional representation. The system is a locked-out system. It is brilliantly devised. It is pruned to perfect a two-party duopoly.”
Most voters though continue to believe that third parties are needed. In a Gallup survey in September 24, 2014, a lion’s share of U.S. adults, 58%, say a third political party is needed in light of the fact that the Republican and Democratic gatherings “do such a poor job” representing the American voters. These views are minimally changed from a year ago’s high. Since 2007, a majority has ordinarily called for an outsider party. (“It’s silly that a country that prides itself on choice allows only two.”, by Bill Maher)
Ranked Choice Voting
Ranked Choice Voting is not some new voting concept. It is fully constitutionally ensured and has a long history in America. It has been even more an overlooked thought. However, this is evolving. The change is reemerging as a different option for the two round voting utilized as a part of non-divided metropolitan decisions.
The Ranked Choice Voting Act, a proposition anticipated that would be presented in the House one year from now, would require states to choose candidates through ranked choice voting (RCV) and to utilize multi-winner districts in states with more than one seat. States and urban communities could seek after comparative changes.
34. Sanctions against Venezuela
Lift sanctions against Venezuela. This is the time to end the discredited, interventionist strategies and fashion relations taking into account regard for human rights and the universal privilege to self-determination with all Latin American states.
The whole region has collectively rejected Obama’s Executive Order issued 9 March 2015, pronouncing Venezuela strangely “an unusual and extraordinary threat to US national security and foreign policy”, and has approached the US president to revoke his declaration. Additionally, Venezuela has been a strategic economic partner as America imports 733 thousand barrels of unrefined petroleum from Venezuela a day, or 10.4 percent of all oil imports.
35. Minimum wages
Raise the federal minimum wage, so that it reaches $15/hour, while afterwards indexing it to inflation rate, a direct and immediate benefit to the poor working class.
Indexing minimum wages to inflation rate offsets the gradual erosion that inflation eats into its purchasing power. For instance, had the 1968 minimum wages of $1.60 per hour been indexed to inflation, it would be $10.90 per hour today, more than 50 percent higher than the present minimum pay permitted by law of $7.25.
According to a White House statement, raising the government’s lowest pay permitted by law would not just benefit more than 28 million workers the nation over, but also 19 million wage-earners from a wide range of family units.
Congressional Republicans deny even to permit the minimum pay raise vote in the House. Be that as it may, but Americans are clear on this issue. A Pew Research Center survey in January 2014 reported that almost three-fourths of adults (73 percent) bolster raising the lowest pay permitted by law, including a greater part of Republicans.
New York state made history in the minimum wage politics by becoming in September 11, 2015 the first state to pass legislation to gradually raise the minimum wages for New York-based fast-food workers to $15 an hour, then eventually raising it for other low-wage workers in all industries state-wide, representing 37 percent of the workforce. As elsewhere, this was the result of organized fast-food workers who had pushed for the increase, in their Fight for 15, noting that their industry employs more low-wage workers than any other sector of the workforce. They say that unlike landscaping companies or child care services, the fast-food business is dominated by multinational companies with billion-dollar profits. According to the National Employment Law Project, the 50 largest employers of low-wage workers are highly profitable, large corporations with executive compensation averaging $9.4 million. Meanwhile, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and the California cities of Oakland and Berkeley have also approved phased-in increases that eventually will take their minimum wage to $15 an hour, or about $31,200 a year.
36. Patriot Act
Repeal USA Freedom Act before its expiry in 2019. This act explicitly reintroduces the illegal bulk collection programs involving the personal data as were authorized by Section 215 of the Patriot Act. (“Patriot Act” for “Are You Scared Enough to Let Me Look at All of Your Phone Records Act,” – Jon Stewart).
Forty-five days after 9/11, Congress passed the USA Patriot Act without understanding it. This new law should shield you from terrorism, yet it has truly abandoned you unprotected against lawless government agents. The Patriot Act contains various infringements of the Fourth Amendment. It gives government representatives tremendous new powers that have been abused to examine guiltless Americans.
This abuse of power violates the Constitution, through the Fourth Amendment, which protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. It reads, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” — Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
37. A Progressive budget
Take more seriously the ‘People’s Budget’ for Fiscal Year 2016 presented by Congressional Progressive Caucus.
The essential goal of the People’s Budget is steady with the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ FY2015 spending plan option: Use expansionary monetary approach to straightforwardly address the country’s most squeezing financial difficulties and focus on a fast and strong come-back to full recovery. The financial backing was produced from the proof based conclusion that the present monetary test of joblessness results from a substantial interest shortage—the aftereffect of the Great Recession and its outcome—and that the discouraged condition of financial action is to a great extent in charge of expanded spending plan shortfalls and the late ascent out in the public debt.
38. National Security State
“Deficits don’t matter,” Republican Vice President Richard Cheney once famously declared. Four years ago a highly placed government official corrected Cheney in a different and crucial context. He said, “I believe the single, biggest threat to our national security is our debt…” It was not some ultra-liberal financial specialist talking: it was Admiral Mike Mullen, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla) said on “Morning Joe” in 2013 that “$100 billion could be cut.” Ron Paul (R-TX) says that less than half the defense budget is for actual defense, the other half is for militarism overseas.
And Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense in both the Bush and Obama administrations, asked, speaking on May 10, 2010, that, “Does the number of warships we have or are building really put America at risk when the U.S. battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined, 11 of which belong to allies or partners? Is it a dire threat that by 2020 the United States will have only 20 times more advanced stealth fighters than China?”
Dwight D. Eisenhower, as a five-star general and the WW II supreme commander, pioneered in this discourse on April 16, 1953, by delivering his famous speech weeks into his administration. As his time in office advanced, so did the blooming of the military/industrial complex:
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone..It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children… The military-industrial complex has a total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—[that] is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government…The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities”.
Military spending now accounts for 54% of discretionary spending in the entire federal budget ($599 billion of $1.1 trillion). If the massive defense budget, more than $1 trillion on national security this year, consisting of baseline budget plus “overseas contingency” of $601 billion in 2015, down from $610 billion spent in 2014, and $20 billion in the Department of Energy budget for nuclear weapons, nearly $200 billion for military pensions and Department of Veterans Affairs costs, and other expenses, an obscene waste of resources, which has to be spent, a strong national security can be better achieved by investing military and homeland security spending publicly in America only.
Instead, the current spending priorities are geared towards subsidizing much of the defense budgets of many countries, called allies, actually making up 2/3s of the NATO’s entire defense budget, in spite of the vicinity of an extra 27 nations in the association, and then maintaining more than 4,000 bases inside the U.S. and 1,000 overseas, lodging 255,000 men and ladies in uniform: 65,000 positioned in Europe, 80,000 in East Asia and Japan, 5,000 in North Africa, the rest scattered in 140 nations. The recurring yearly fixed expense of every base ranges from $50 million to $200 million, as per a RAND Corporation study; at bottom $36.85 billion for each year. What’s more, positioning military personnel abroad is significantly more expensive than it is at home: RAND says from $10,000 to $40,000 more every year, per individual.
As indicated by David Vine’s recent book, Base Nation: How U.S. Army installations Abroad Harm America and the World, that is to say, bases abroad cost as much as four times the sum spent on Social Security, Unemployment and Labor ($29 billion); almost twice as much as Housing and Community ($63 billion); four times as much as Science ($30 billion); and 1.7 times as much as Education ($70 billion).
All these bases are serving several purposes, mainly employment and training for command and obedience, which could all be done at home at a lower cost, but, for the interests of the military-industrial complex, who are bristling with their 655 lobbyists employed by the contractors, such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, many of which pay no taxes, the main purpose is obviously that of leveraging and showcasing of all these bases as convenient showrooms for U.S. military products. But just like in other Western powers, and just like any other local manufacturing industry, the non-nuclear arms industry should set up their own show-rooms everywhere without such massive government subsidies.
The political elites, Democrat or Republican, serve the interests of military-industrial complex corporations and empire. The military machine holds well the political and economic arenas hostage, and can mount daily effective public opinion campaign, scripted like a Walt Disney movie. The Pentagon spends $4.7 billion a year and has somewhere in the range of 27,000 employees who deal with enrollment, promoting, psychological operations and advertising, as indicated by a 2009 report by The Associated Press. Even the putative socialist Bernie Sanders has refused to challenge the status quo, in which the United States has 1000 foreign military bases while the rest of the world combined has 30.
This spending is the main driver in perennial budget deficits. It also carries a tremendous opportunity cost. Direly needed investments in infrastructure, education and social programs are neglected at the expense of runaway military costs outside the country. For better long-lasting results, some of that wealth could be funneled into science research, technology industries, climate change mitigation, the medical world, or education.
Foreign policy based on pursuing of virtual military domination and the cultivating of corporate consumer markets worldwide is guaranteed to breed more conflicts and wars that foster more conflict over time. (“The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations”, by David Friedman).
In his remarks, Eisenhower finally cautioned against seeking a world power for the sake of military-industrial complex: “Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of ploughshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions.”
39. Preventing Financial crisis
Restore and revamp Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 that kept business banks from exchanging securities utilizing their customers’ accounts whose annulment in 1999 is accepted to have played major role in the 2008 economic crisis that left millions of Americans unemployed and vastly devalued their largest assets. The method of reasoning for looking for the separation was the irreconcilable situation that happens when banks were making profits in both business and venture investments, and the propensity of such banks to participate in unnecessarily risky activities. Accordingly, business banks wound up being loaded with billions of dollars in losses because of the over the top introduction of their venture keeping money arms to subsidiaries and securities that were attached to U.S. home industry. At the point when the housing industry crashed, it drove into enormous losses for the banking division amid the 2008-2010 recession that required the $800 billion bailouts.
Having learned from this experience, Sen Elizabeth Warren introduced 21st Century Glass Steagall in 2013 that restores the separation wall between the financial markets and investment markets, specifically, “To reduce risks to the financial system by limiting banks’ ability to engage in certain risky activities and limiting conflicts of interest, to reinstate certain Glass-Steagall Act protections that were repealed by the Gramm-LeachBliley Act, and for other purposes.”
40. Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act- ‘Anti-Golden Parachutes’ act
Adopt the legislation, H.R.3065 – 114th Congress (2015-2016), introduced by U.S. Congressperson Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) that would ban incoming government appointees from taking rewards like bonuses, called golden parachutes, from their previous private sector employers and lobbying groups. In limiting conflicts of interest, it would likewise require senior government controllers to recuse themselves from any work that would especially privilege any employer or client they had in the two years prior to joining the administration.
41. Close the Revolving Door Act
Pass the bill, Close the Revolving Door Act (S.2417 113th, 2014) introduced by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Al Franken (D-MN) to boycott the unbelievable routine of previous individuals from Congress trading in for spendable dough as large cash lobbyists. It builds punishments for breaking the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995; broadens the restriction on congressional staff getting to be lobbyists, from one and only year to six and gives public in general better online access to data about who lobbies Congress.
This manifesto is for starting a debate that is overdue on how to revert back from elite-led republicanism into a democratic state that the founders had in mind and generations of US soldiers were thinking about when they went to war. Then all kinds of things will become possible. As voters and taxpayers, we deserve better than this impasse and defeat, and it is time to get back in touch with our progressive roots.
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“On issue after issue, the polls and these are not snapshot polls; these are polls over a consistent period of time show that most Americans share what one could call core liberal or progressive values: investment in health care and education over tax cuts; fair trade over free trade; corporate accountability over deregulation; environmental protection over laissez-faire policies; defending Social Security and Medicare over privatizing them; raising the minimum wage over eliminating it. The country prefers progressive alternatives to the failed policies of the conservative right”. – Katrina vanden Heuvel.
“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Frederick Douglass’s famous statement in 1857.
“Empires are restless organisms. They must constantly renew themselves; should an empire start leaking energy, it will die.” – Gore Vidal.
“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” – Henry David Thoreau.
“Civil disobedience, which will entail hardship and suffering, which will be long and difficult, which at its core means self-sacrifice, is the only mechanism left.” Chris Hedges.
“Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
“When beauty fades you’re left with the soul; and if you don’t have one, you disappear entirely”. – unknown
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