The stresses felt by many in the middle and lower economic classes are not felt or understood by most politicians. Government ought to mediate to lessen the burden, and to help us move toward a more just and sustainable economy. The current tie between government and big business prohibits solutions that help a majority of people, what with legislators being more concerned with continuing the status quo and favoring the largest campaign contributors. Your participation in the Green Party will help change this.
Adjusted for inflation, current salaries do not buy the same goods and services that they did 30 years ago. The problem is not with poor productivity. People on the planet are working harder than ever. Production is “up.” The problem is that people in power and the policies they push have shifted all the gains to benefit only a small segment of the population.
We need a better social safety net: more affordable housing and medical and dental care. Free market forces are inadequate to meet the basic needs of those who are suffering. There are two ways to help people lead more secure lives: one is for government to pick up the slack to help those who can’t seem to help themselves. The other way is for government to get out of the way of people who are capable of looking out for themselves and their neighbors, but who are thwarted by government policies and by cultural “conventions.”
These are matters of culture and of personal values. Conservatives would rather see people fend for themselves, with little or no government oversight. “Welfare mothers” are disparaged, but there is no mention of cutting corporate welfare. The problem isn’t that people may need assistance, but that subsidies for large businesses, and a “too big to fail” attitude on the part of elected officials, keep free market forces from being given a chance. I would have allowed the banks to fail. In their place, local solutions would have sprung up: more credit unions, more public banks (like state banks), public money, and micro-lending “Grameen-style” banking. These solutions would support us in having more sustainable, locally-secure economies.
At the extreme, the tie between government and big businesses is a form of fascism.
It is time for a basic guaranteed income, for at least a $15 federal minimum wage (adjustable upwards at the state and local level). The cost to businesses could be offset through changes in tax policy. It is also way past time for multinational corporations to pay their fair share in taxes to support “safety net” programs. Those who have “fallen on hard times” should be supported in meeting their basic needs of water, food, energy and shelter.
Basic needs are subject to inflation. Simply (continuing to) raise the minimum wage to maintain purchasing power is an ineffective solution. So, in conjunction with ensuring that people can afford the basics such as shelter and food, we need to restructure how we do things so that basic needs are readily available at the local level and are built into our infrastructure. This would not only be a hedge against inflation, but it would improve our basic physical security and our emergency preparedness. This is an ethical, cost-effective approach and would come out of a “Green New Deal”: more public housing, with high energy efficiency, and more community gardens. Following an initial job-creating investment and public works programs, people would be left being better able to care for themselves and not have to rely on the federal government for the basics. When conducted in a manner promoting sustainable design and living, with local perspectives and control being paramount, water, food, energy and shelter can be available with very little long-term cost to the federal government.
These ideas run counter to current government policy, which has sought to turn people into consumers with very little independence and insufficient local control.
Currently, programs to help people in need come from dwindling, attacked tax revenues, through a labyrinthine centralized bureaucratic process. A more direct approach, promoting local solutions, recognizes the emergency-preparedness value of meeting the “basics” in a more direct manner.
This is a form of “social security” that is built-in and directly accessible: design by watershed, more local storage and handling of water; local gardens for food and medicine, for intergenerational mixing; highly energy-efficient and even energy-producing structures so that one is not dependent upon far-away decision makers for meeting the basics of life. This is not just a moral approach, but one that makes sense in terms of basic physical security, especially during times of crisis and calamity.
To aid in the transition, existing military funding will be shifted over into programs that more directly safeguard society within our borders. Also, as we seek and enact practical solutions to the ravages of Climate Change, we will be more accepting as a culture to transform and our military to focus on rescue and on creating camps and settlements to assist Climate refugees. We now live in a time where entire island-nations require resettlement, and we have no governmental or structural methods to justly, wisely deal with such conditions and predicaments.
In 2004, after the Green Party Presidential Nominating Convention, I was approached by someone expressing that I consider a Federal Jobs Program based upon “greening” Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” In 2008, I included a “Green New Deal” in campaign literature, calling for national leadership to create new, ecologically-minded jobs that would help us meet current needs and transform toward a more “green,” just and sustainable society. Our nominated candidate, in 2012, focused on a “Green New Deal” in her campaign. This culminated in the Green National Committee adopting the Green New Deal as one of its supported policies. In short, such a program would create millions of jobs helping us rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, but doing so in a more ecologically and efficiency-minded manner. It would also be a major catalyst for ongoing change in that people would be trained with skills that are now highly needed if we are to minimize suffering while surviving climate change. Other reforms would be enacted, as well. Here is a link, with greater detail:
Of course, funding for such programs is envisioned through military budget cuts. Few members of Congress would be willing to take such necessary measures. I envision that our military will have to be gradually transformed, with funds shifted over to a new branch that can (nonviolently) deal with such global issues as helping Climate Refugees. To ease the transition, existing military personnel could shift over to the new branch to more directly deal with pressing issues and be a force for healing and stability.