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November 12, 2005

Weekend Topic

By Ezra

Following up on the post below, what's your progressivism? And none of this vague, Stronger at Home, Respected in the World BS. Give me four or five policies that should define the Democratic Party's agenda and the theme that ties them together. The only constraint? They have to be focused on shifting power from the corporation to the individual, the employer to the employee. It's a new progressivism, but using progressivism's old, and far too neglected, definition. Alright then, thinking caps on.

November 12, 2005 | Permalink


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how about Liberty, Equality and Fraternity?

seems the French left it behind, maybe we could use some of it...

Posted by: almostinfamous | Nov 12, 2005 3:04:36 PM

1. Universal healthcare
2. Low unemployment, even at the cost of moderate inflation.
3. Education reform involving merit-based pay and super-local funding. (Really a state issue, buy hey, we have parties at the state level.)
4. Increased legal immigration. This is just plain the right thing to do.
5. National standards for federal elections. ID verification (of free and easily available ID's), minimum numbers of voting machines per voter,

1-4 are all designed to help people that need it. 5 is a restriction on people with power, which is equivilent.

Posted by: ptm | Nov 12, 2005 3:08:03 PM

preemptive post.

5. National standards for federal elections. ID verification (of free and easily available ID's), minimum numbers of voting machines per voter, standards for vote verification and tallying, standards for political independence of electoral officials.

Posted by: ptm | Nov 12, 2005 3:09:05 PM

Make our corporate citizens keep the promises they made; now that bankruptcy reform has made it more difficult for individuals to escape creditors, do the same for businesses... particularly with regards to funding their pension liabilities. I think that perhaps those liabilities should be included in the apportionment of assets upon bankruptcy (usually they're not).

Posted by: TJ | Nov 12, 2005 3:23:28 PM

I, of course, like ptm's proposals.

1) Distributed Energy; set a goal of making the average American an net energy producer in a generation.
2) Distributed Media; as above, but with content and media.

The above are much more complicated and expensive than might first appear. "Energy independence" if interpreted to simply mean eliminating imported oil, would likely cost 6% of GDP for a generation.

Distributed Media might involve the end of copyright.

3) Micro-credit? No, I am not sure what this is, but sounds good. :)
4) Massive confiscatory tax policies on high income or inherited wealth. I see no need for 4th generation billionaires.

I like ptm's proposals.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Nov 12, 2005 3:48:00 PM

1. DRASTIC overhaul of campaign financing and political campaigning in general, i.e. public funding of all national candidates after meeting certain standards (signature petition support, etc.), no group or corporation fianancial support in ANY way, shape or form. FORCE TV networks and radio stations (anyone who uses PUBLIC airwaves at nominal fees) to provide for free political ads.


3. A serious OVERHAUL of the tax system. Streamlined and simplified. None of this flat tax bullshit, either. Close all loopholes that exist only to provide corporations with more ways to avoid paying their fair share. Restore the inheiritance tax to the way it was before Bush and Co slashed it up. Yeah, it means the Paris Hiltons and Jenna and Barbara Bushes of the world will have to pay a big chunk of tax on money they did nothing to earn themselves. So f***ing what? Exemptions can and should be made for small to mid size businesses and farms that need the tax cut to keep their family enterprise going. If taxes from corporations and the wealthy are duly and fairly collected, the middle class could see MEANUNGFUL tax CUTS from the government.

4. NO INTERNATIONAL TRADE AGREEMENTS that do not give organized labor and Enviromental intersests a seat at the table. This was Clinton's big betrayal. You really think all this outsourcing, insourcing and race to the bottom is solely the purview of the Repugs? This was a centerpiece of Clinton's whole economic policy - GATT and NAFTA. Things were smooth for a while, but we;re paying the price for those excesses now and will be for some time.

Posted by: Rob | Nov 12, 2005 3:55:49 PM

1) Bring back usury laws.
2) Apply said laws to insurance companies
3) tie minimum wages to congressional salary
3b (alternate) ) tie minimum wage to executive compensation
4) Shorten the copyright term to around 25 years or so. Also, formalize a Creative Commons type “opt out” system...
5) fully fun the public libraries.

Posted by: Andrew Cory | Nov 12, 2005 4:40:14 PM

1) Universal Healthcare reforms, its about time that citizens in America can afford to have procedures done in America. No more of this flying halfway around the world to India b/c the expenses are cheaper bullshit.

2) Environmental Policy reform, including restoring the air pollution standards to big business...you know, that policy Bush rolled out to help the oil industries?

3) No more excuses, we look a lot better in the world's eyes when we can speak clearly and intelligently. It's time to spend less time going "duh, yessir" from the military and more time educating our kids of tomorrow to fight with words, not bombs.

4) Science and Technology reveal huge leaps and bounds to the average consumer. When it comes to information we cant handle (Peak Oil and the Greenhouse Effect), it gets downplayed in our media. Science is not a spectator sport, we should be large, in charge, and involved with Science in our everyday lives.

5) Deconstruction of the disinformation system our news and media have turned into. It's been argued that the more we make TV and the internet able to accomodate the choices of consumers, we lose real important information over providing what a consumer wants. No more of this Fearmongering, no more of the world crises being whitewashed into a happy nonreality that won't touch the American consumer lost in his own tangerine dream. It's time to make the American people informed, responsible, and prepared citizens who have an actual voice over informing the public.

Posted by: DBladedPantz | Nov 12, 2005 4:48:26 PM

I like a lot of what's been stated above, but here's a very radical suggestion--take away the ability for a corporation to be considered a legal person, and make the people in charge of them personally liable for corporate violations of the law.

Posted by: Incertus | Nov 12, 2005 5:27:40 PM

1.) 8 year term limits for Supreme Court judges.
2.) Universal health care.
3.) End corporate welfare, offshore accounts, etc.
4.) Enforcement of immigration laws, beginning with
5.) Tough environmental standards that actually
improve the environment; go after the bad guys.
6.) Meaningful campaign finance reform.
7.) More open and honest government, at all levels.
8.) Repeal of all laws that say one thing, and do
the opposite ( Clear Skies, No Child Left
Behind, etc. ).

Posted by: badgervan | Nov 12, 2005 5:42:37 PM

I like what I'm reading so far. I would add something about the bankrupcy law changes that went into effect last month. Also on the other end of that there needs to be some regualtion of credit card industry to ensure fairness and keep consumers out of bankrupcy court in the first place. No more allowing card issuers to open an office in Delaware or N. Dakota to avoid state regulations on interest rate caps and obscene fees structures.

Posted by: Sonny | Nov 12, 2005 6:27:46 PM

1. socilised medicine for all
2. confiscatory death taxes
3. making gas more expensive for average citizens
4. no more patents, only government commune commission controlled prizes for intellectual properties so noone
5. stop helping people afford their own homes, so more people live in crime ridden slums. also more congestion and socialized transportation.
6. slow down business by not letting honest businessmen use informations about customers

Posted by: Jason | Nov 12, 2005 6:36:18 PM

1. Universal/single payer health care
2. Full campaign finance reform; clean elections.
3. Universal, open source, fully verifyable voting reform
4. Quality Education
5. Federally funded basic science research, with joint patent holding
6. Renewable energy, sustainable economy a priority
7. Reversal of policies that treat corporations as persons and corporate welfare
8. Progressive taxation

Posted by: Lin | Nov 12, 2005 7:02:18 PM

All good ideas above---however I think the nation must also undertake a serious program to rebuild the citizenship by means of education-- and instill civic responsibility so that we nourish the needs of a Republic. Ignorance and apathy, and not being able to distinguish between fiction and reality, will be our downfall.

Posted by: Rick Ide | Nov 12, 2005 7:12:01 PM

1) Universal Healthcare(with simplicity, low admin costs)
2) Aggressive Domestic Energy Policy, including nuclear/fuel cell, Alaska Oil
3)Flat Tax(which should help end corporate favoritism by closing the endless array of current loopholes).

Posted by: Steve Mudge | Nov 12, 2005 9:19:29 PM

Incertus' idea about the legal status of the corporation is extremely clever.
Here are some oldies but goodies, taken from a guy who gets too little credit in this country:

1. Abolition of private property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy (heavier since we already have this) progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebel (so when the wealth flee these policies, we take their stuff).
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bring into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan (I don't get this one so much).
8. Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labor... (ok, this is a little dated too).

If you're serious about choice, you should be a socialist. Also, Ezra, why can't people who read your blog spell?

Posted by: Cliff Mason | Nov 12, 2005 9:26:52 PM

Good thinking, comrade Cliff.......:)

Posted by: Steve Mudge | Nov 12, 2005 10:27:51 PM

A UBI--universal basic income--is another idea. There's a great little book about it called "What's Wrong With a Free Lunch" edited by Phillipe Van Parijs.
This is the premise: you want to create freedom? The state should give every adult citizen a subsistence income. This would entirely change American life.
Too radical? Republican Alaska has invested some its oil wealth in a UBI. If you've lived there for a year you get about 1000 dollar a year dividend from the permanent fund.

Ideally a UBI would be more than that. We can haggle over the number. Does this disincentivize work? Of course, but I don't think the end result is americans working less. It should change the character of economic life in this country. You wouldn't work a shitty job unless you got something a little better out of it--maybe just some fucking respect. Workers could hold out for more, that's the point.

I revise my earlier assessment of progressivism. Your emphasis on choice, and determining our own life activity so it can better express our species-being is downright marxist.

Posted by: Cliff Mason | Nov 13, 2005 12:44:18 AM

A lot of this stuff so far is somewhat peripheral. Remember, the job here is to focus a pointed, popular message. (Outside the vocal but relatively tiny "netroots," people don't care that much about media and campaign finance reform -- at least they don't vote on it.)

1. Universal healthcare.
2. Energy independence.
3. Reward work, not wealth (thanks, J.E.! -- this one can include tax reform, strong unions, universal 401Ks, etc., but it needs to be packed in a values-based, punchy slogan)

There you go: three planks, six words, and distinguishes progressives from righties.

Posted by: Realish | Nov 13, 2005 1:43:20 AM

I was going to come and nitpick, but I'm willing to put something out there, much of it, I admit, synthesized from above:

1) Reform corporate taxation, close loopholes and raise the corporate tax rate. After evaluating budget implications, if feasible, reduce taxes for individuals.

2) Restore the inheritance tax on wealthy families

3) Re-reform bankruptcy law, focusing on more stringent rules for corporations, and greater protections for individuals with low incomes

4) Bring some private sector ingenuity to government procurement policies, focusing on "just in time" purchasing and greater personal accountability and cost-cutting incentive for administrative staff

5) Create a public/private partnership to develop a health care roadmap that respects current concerns and coverage, but seeks to provide good basic care to all at low cost.

And sell it with something like "Let's put the focus where it belongs - on the American people. Together we can keep this country moving forward."

Posted by: weboy | Nov 13, 2005 8:28:24 AM

Here is one more: Reform, or abolish, the Electoral College system in our country.

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