The progressive dilemma

Published on Online Journal, by Nick Egnatz, Sept. 20, 2010.

A self-described representative democracy in which the only two political parties are both funded and controlled by elite corporate interests is a contradiction in terms. Control of the population through government propaganda and a monopoly corporate media have made the domination of the American working class and poor by the wealthy corporate elite consensual. The enormity of the crime against true democratic values is so complete that substantive reform of the present system is an impossibility.

A dilemma is a situation in which one is forced to choose between equally distasteful options. That has always been our consignment as Americans when we venture to the polls (either vote for a wishy-washy Democrat or let the even worse Republican win).

Every two year, we are told that the fate of our democracy rests on our decision. Well it doesn’t because we don’t have a democracy, representative or otherwise. We have a plutocracy (rule by the wealthy). Our two political parties answer out of necessity to the corporate world. No one represents the people and the monopoly corporate media will not allow for a discussion of democratic alternatives … //

… This socialist utopian will instead give specific plans for a new birth of democracy in America:

  • 100 percent federal funding for all national elections. Under the proposal below this figure will become miniscule.
  • No election commercials allowed. This just allows money to pollute politics. Instead require all media outlets to publish and broadcast periodic side by side statements of all the candidates positions on the various issues. Mandate debates in which all the candidates get a chance to state their positions on the issues.
  • Require run-off elections if no candidate polls more than 50 percent of vote. This will facilitate the growth of alternative parties.
  • Either eliminate the anti democratic U.S. Senate or require it to do away with the filibuster rule which allows 41 Senators from the smallest states, representing only 11 percent of the U.S. population to halt all legislation with the exception of certain budget votes.
  • Return U.S. income tax rate on the most wealthy Americans to 90 percent for their excess income over $1 million. For 45 years (1935-1980) the top tax rate was between 70-94 percent. It is now 35 percent and the ever widening gap between rich and poor has made the U.S. the equivalent of a banana republic.
  • Institute a financial transaction tax on all financial transactions such as stock sales.
  • Cancel all free trade agreements and renegotiate into fair trade agreements in which tariffs are reinstituted to even the playing field when dealing with nations with substandard wages and environmental regulations. This is in line with the policy instituted by the first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, done at the behest of George Washington and carried forward for almost two centuries. That is until the neo liberal globalization crowd made their first appearance after WWII and in the last three decades especially have managed to lower tariffs to an average of 2 percent. The rationale behind tariffs is to level the playing field for our workers. If country A has the same wage rate and basic environmental safeguards as we do a free trade agreement with them is in order. But if country B has a wage rate much lower than ours and pays little attention to environmental safeguards, then we should have tariffs reflecting these differences. Free trade is fine with equal trading partners, but not with countries paying slave wages and polluting the environment like China.
  • Give workers a seat at the table on all corporate boards with veto privileges as a protection for the American people from corporate dominance.
  • Do away with the minimum wage and institute a living wage guaranteeing all workers a wage allowing for basic necessities. This will vary with the cost of living in different areas and individual family commitments, but for a single worker with no other dependents in an average area it would presently be about $15/hour.
  • Institute a massive program similar to the WPA to put all the unemployed to work at a living wage. There is much work to do, let us do it. Our cities need rebuilding, seniors need care, single parents need parenting help, homes need to be made energy efficient, infrastructure needs repair.
  • For small businesses that show through their tax returns an inability to pay their workers the living wage, have the federal government make up the difference until such time as the small business can support its workers on its own.
  • Abolish the Federal Reserve Bank and institute a national bank with the power to create money presently given to the Federal Reserve. As the population and economy grows there is a need to create money. If this is not done, it causes deflation and things get progressively cheaper. While that might sound nice at first glance, not creating money would be every bit the disaster that high inflation can be. Imagine buying a home with a mortgage and watching the price drop every year. That’s deflation. We now have that with home prices, but for other reasons. Anyway, the new national bank will have the power to create money and the profit from creating this money will benefit all the people instead of the present banking class.
  • The mortgage crisis must be addressed. The megabanks and Wall Street brought it on and should be required to adjust all mortgage balances down by the local percentage that home prices have dropped. The federal government might then consider not prosecuting those responsible for the crisis.
  • Capitalism requires continual growth. This is at odds with the earth’s environment. We need to create a sustainable economy which does not wreak havoc with the earth’s delicate ecosystems. Economic growth is good only when it is environmentally sustainable.
  • Just as the poor and working class are required to pay social security tax on all their income, require the wealthy to do the same.
  • Recognize that healthcare is a human right and immediately institute either 100 percent government single payer healthcare for all or have government take over the healthcare apparatus and be both the employer and the payer of all healthcare bills. I was fortunate enough to have such socialized government healthcare for my four years spent in the U.S. military. I found it top notch and my care included an emergency appendectomy and later a prolonged hospitalization upon returning from Vietnam.
  • End the wars for U.S. Empire overseas. Close our 700 overseas military bases. Cut the total military budget (now in excess of $1 trillion) in half and then half again.
  • Disband the Central Intelligence Agency and apologize to the people of all the countries in which our CIA engineered coups to overthrow democratically elected governments. A partial list would include Chile, Brazil, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela, Greece, Congo and Iran.
  • End military aid to Israel and break off diplomatic relations with them until such time as they agree to abandon all the illegal settlements in the West Bank, tear down the apartheid wall, end the criminal blockade of Gaza and finally allow the Palestinian people a free and independent state based on the 1967 borders that are recognized by the international community of nations.
  • The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Democratic Minority Report in 2005 declared that there was a prima facie case that the Bush Administration broke at least seven federal and international laws in taking us into war in Iraq. If we are to be a country of laws, Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell etc. must be investigated and prosecuted.
  • Those responsible at the highest level for our policy of torture must be prosecuted.
  • Equal diligence should be given to investigating and prosecuting the financial machinations behind the mortgage derivative bundling and trading scams. If they agree to reduce all mortgages by the local percentage drop in value, rework terms for those facing foreclosure, put already foreclosed families back in their homes and donate the rest of their ill gotten gain to charity, we might want to consider not prosecuting.
  • The 9/11 Commission Investigation and Report was a complete whitewash. How can there be independence in the investigation when the President is allowed to appoint all the members of the commission? The American people are owed the truth and an independent investigation is absolutely necessary if we are to call ourselves a nation of laws.
  • A democracy cannot exist without an informed citizenry. Media purveyors must be required to present the full spectrum of news and opinion.

Politicians from both political parties will avoid these issues like the plague. The question is, should you? Or are you content to support politicians who use soaring rhetoric in describing the plight of our people and then line up in support of corporate friendly legislation that continues the race to the bottom for the poor and working class of America? Will your vote for Congress and the U.S. Senate go to a Democratic candidate who supports not a single one of the above proposals? If the answer is yes and you consider yourself a progressive or liberal, what exactly does that mean?

We can’t fix this system by voting, petitioning, marching or lobbying. We have to change the system. The first step is to call the system what it is; monstrous, criminal and undemocratic. The next step is to refuse to participate in elections and to not be bashful in telling others why. This won’t save the world now, but it’s the only hope for the future. (full text).

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