THE MODERN UTOPIAN



I WROTE THE "NEW AMERICAN PATRIOT PLATFORM" IN LATE 2006, AS AN ATTEMPT  TO FIND POSITIONS VOTERS COULD AGREE ON. ( SOMEWHAT MORE MODEST CHANGES THAN I PERSONALLY BELIEVE IN.)         MOST OF THESE IDEAS ARE STILL WAITING TO BE IMPLEMENTED. 

Today's Political Agenda

THE TERRIBLE TRUTH IS THAT THE FOLLOWING "REASONABLE" POLITICAL AGENDA WHICH COULD BE SUPPORTED BY 70% OF THE AMERICAN VOTING POPULATION WILL NEVER BE ADOPTED.     PERHAPS SOME COMPONENTS WILL AND SOME IS BETTER THAN NONE. 


THE NEW AMERICAN PATRIOT PLATFORM

(Required endorsement by all political candidates in order for us to give them financial and voter support) 
This agenda is not presented in any order that would reflect its importance.   Each is important in its own right. (Agenda # s 6 & 7, however, may in truth be the most basic to them all.)

AGENDA # 1                IMMIGRATION POLICY
Require all employers to advertise in the employment section of major local newspapers all positions now occupied by undocumented worker for a minimum of 30 days.  All applicants reviewed and interviewed, and if qualified, given the positions. If not enough applicants from documented workers, then undocumented workers can be given these positions and/or retain these positions.  The undocumented worker will be guaranteed work visa status; the employer will complete paperwork to the INS which will give work visas to these workers in a timely fashion for as long as they remain employed by this or another employer.  Change of employment must be reported to the INS.  (This provision will protect American citizens, employers and illegal immigrants equally and fairly.)  Penalties for non-compliance should be strict and efficient.

Spain already has a similar policy in place. Check out their exact specs and the pros & cons then, implement or modify this proposal as appropriate and fair to all.
My personal viewpoint: Give work permits to all undocumented workers as well as a path to citizenship.  Reform the ICE through minimzing the steps to process; only checking for criminal backgrounds once employment is ascertained.   


AGENDA # 2             VETERANS BENEFITS

In additional to medical benefits now afforded veterans, we must give every soldier who serves his/her country in a "battle zone" - defined as a situation where his life can be directly endangered - a lifetime benefit equivalent to no less than a percentage of his base pay.  (The actual retirement benefit can be tied to length of service and the amount of time spent in a hazardous zone.)  If that soldier loses his life, his spouse, if any, will receive these benefits.   If s/he sustains an injury, such as an amputation. which would handicap his gainful employment; his lifetime benefit will   be no less than his base pay.  (These benefit recommendation are an example only.)   If we can ask a soldier to serve his country by putting his life in danger, can we give any less than this? 

My personal viewpoint:  I would require any enlistee to witness the "casualties     of war" (through documentary films - a minimum of 10 hours of education - no glorification, only real life examples) so that s/he will understand what they are joining in advance.  Too many in our culture are sold the idea that being in    the military is glamorous and heroic.  The other side must also be  understood.
 

AGENDA # 3              WAR ON TERROR

Terrorists are best fought, not by troops in the field  in full view and available to the terrorists.  Terrorists are best fought by specially trained undercover forces (Special Forces).  The Special Forces can infiltrate and eliminate terrorists with the aid of our intelligence community (CIA, etc.).  We need to begin to withdraw our troops and heavy armaments (like tanks and Hummers!) from Iraq and Afghanistan and replace them with Special Forces.   (The exact ratio of troop withdrawn to Special Forces replacement can be determined by military and civilian experts in the field.   Perhaps 100 or even 1000 to 1 or more.)  Recruitment of Special Forces could come from existing troops, particularly Marines, and foreign nationals (who know the language and culture and can best infiltrate).  Existing training programs need only to be expanded. 

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE.  Immediate implementation is essential to defeat the terrorists and diminish the killing and maiming of our troops and innocent bystanders. (Not to mention eliminating huge amounts of unnecessary defense spending.) Fight terrorists as they fight us - secretly and not in the open.  We are already doing this.   Simply expand this approach and eliminate the old-fashion - Middle Ages - approach to warfare.  We are not fighting a country....we are fighting "cells" -  groups of fanatics.  We can fight them more effectively while eliminating the hostility of people who could be our supporters.
 

AGENDA # 4             LEADERSHIP OF THE FREE WORLD                                         Closely related to the "War on Terror" is the exercise of leadership to enlist the support of nations to fight against terrorism.   As you know, terrorist cells exist in many (if not most) countries.    It is in each sovereign nation's self-interest to participate in the war on terrorism.  This is a Global Fight (as we are in a Global World).  Al Qaeda is a global terrorist network, not a country.  We should no longer (and should never need to) invade a country where they operate.  These countries can be our allies and we can use their resources, their military and intelligence assets.  We need not go it alone, only to destroy our own assets and credibility. 

(If a country is not interested in cooperating with us and can not be proven to be directly assisting the terrorists, leave them to their own devices.   If they are cooperating with terrorists, they are not outside our perimeter of negotiations - and our Special Forces!) Most nations will once again listen to us and cooperate with us in this fight if we will act in a cooperative (not unilateral) way with them.  We must lead, and others will follow,  if we give them the respect and understanding they deserve. 

Whatever happened to using the United Nations troops to monitor and keep the peace in problematic areas?   Where they have been inadequate, there is a way to make this body and the troops more adequate and less politically biased.  (For example, there is a long standing UN Resolution to eliminate arms from the Hezbollah in Lebanon.  We are now beginning to enlist UN Forces to deal with the problem. Those forces with UN and Lebanese support can disarm Hezbollah without Israel dropping bombs on villages and cities.)  And, don?t forget those Special Forces.  The military loves weapons but the best weapons are trained men (and women).  The recent situation resulted in the killing of innocent men, women and children who are simple bystanders


AGENDA # 5             HOMELAND SECURITY        

First of all, we now know that  the addition of a Homeland Security office has only increased bureaucracy and added a lack of efficiency to our fight against terrorists.   We need to decentralize much of this office and provide funds and support for local and state governments to implement security.   The Federal government can provide a "detailed plan for communication, command and control in the event of a terrorist attack" - something they failed to do for New Orleans (in the event of a hurricane attack). 

Minimizing bureaucratic entanglements in a fight against a mobile enemy is an essential first step.  Domestic Special Forces who are strictly cautioned not to infringe on any person's civil liberties may be necessary.  Our National Guard, for example, are guards for our nation, not for service in a foreign country like Iraq.  (Our government has no right to send these men abroad  to serve outside our nation.   This must be immediately prohibited.) 

Anyone who travels by air these days already knows the folly of extreme bureaucratic measures while other areas, such as our ports and our utility facilities need much more security.  (So much of government actions are "show" for votes, not real concerns for our security and human needs.)    We already have a detailed plan for Homeland Security.   The 9/11 Commission report. We simply need to immediately implement that plan.
 

AGENDA # 6      PUBLIC FINANCING ELECTIONS

Full public financing of elections at the local, state and federal level for all branches of government.   Following the lead of seven states including Maine and Colorado.    This has "the potential to fundamentally change how our political system works and to restore public confidence in the integrity of our democracy."   Candidates must agree to spending limits and not accept private contributions.

Common Cause, Public Citizen and other groups have prepared a "Voters First" pledge to present to political candidates for their endorsement.   See www.commoncause.org  for a copy of the pledge. (Includes accountability standards and Lobbyist contribution disclosure.)


AGENDA # 7       RESTRICT LOBBYING ACTIVITIES

Although lobbyists have the right to provide information to our representatives, they need to be restricted from proving any monies for any purpose whatsoever.  No free meals, no free trips, no special favors or gifts, no political or financial contributions of any sort whatsoever.   

An independent judiciary commission must be established to monitor the activities of lobbyists.  Any lobbying organization found to be giving financial help will be barred from their practice and the politician who accepts financial contributions will be liable for impeachment proceedings.      


AGENDA # 8    POLITICIANS SALARIES & THE MINIMUM WAGE

Increase our representative?s salaries but require at least 10 years of service before they can receive any retirement benefits.   

Any salary increases for themselves must also require them to vote on increasing the minimum wage for working people.  Politicians must get realistic about the Minimum Wage for working people.  Even $10.00 an hour will not support a family of 4 much above the poverty level.   It?s a dumb joke (actually a scandal) to raise the minimum wage from 5 to 7 dollars an hour.  Who can live on that?   

Also, there needs to be a minimum Social Security benefit once a person becomes eligible for it.   (Social Security checks for $300, $400, $500 a month is another national disgrace.)


AGENDA # 9             UNIVERSAL HEALTH INSURANCE    (& PRESCRIPTION DRUG REGULATION)

To save billions of dollars each year and to reduce health care costs, everyone in America, employed or unemployed needs to be covered by health insurance.  The statistics will confirm this.*     We do not need a new system.   There is already one in place that works for the elderly and the destitute (Medicare and Medicaid). 7 million uninsured children are already eligible for Medicaid but they are not enrolled!  

We also have FEHBP (the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program) in place ? insuring 9 million federal employees and their families.   We need only extend this program to include small businesses and individuals providing tax credits to make it affordable for all.  (P. 279, Take It Back).   We can enroll everyone in America in an existing health benefit plan that will NOT add bureaucratic layers or added burdens on our health care providers.

*NOTE:   14.6% of our Gross Domestic Product is spent on health care  yet  45 million Americans have NO health insurance.   (Japan spends 7.9%,  Great Britain which covers everyone:  spends only 7.7% - in contrast.)      Most of us have no idea how much we pay in the form of taxes or higher insurance costs  because of the uninsured.   Hospitals and doctors can not refuse patients simply because they have no insurance.   PLUS, the uninsured rarely get preventative care.  When they end up in a hospital emergency room, the costs are astronomical and they do not have the ability to pay.  (Hospitals provide at least 35 billion a year in uncompensated care.)   Who pays for this?   The insured!!   Universal health insurance does not cost us more; it will save us billions of dollars and this can be documented.

CONCURRENT WITH THIS IS THE REGULATION OF PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES.   

"Every other substantial country in the world has some kind of government price controls on pharmaceutical manufacturers."   - - Public Citizen Health Letter, p. 10, June 2006 

In addition,  the drug companies need some other regulations:  1) Sen. Schumer (NY) came up will a bill to keep drug companies from ?gaming the patent system?: - that needs to be passed;    2) Drug companies and/or their affiliates should be prohibited from giving funds to the FDA;  and.  3)  Congressional oversight of the FDA needs to be boosted. 


AGENDA # 10           REFORM THE TAX SYSTEM (& KEEP ESTATE TAXES)

Everyone knows by now we need to make our federal tax system fairer and much simpler.    The Center for American Progress has a realistic tax reform proposal that needs to be addressed and implemented.   Sen. Ron Wyden (Oregon) has introduced legislation that deals with this proposal.  This proposal include:   Closing 30 billion dollars of tax loopholes,  ending corporate offshore tax shelters and deferred taxes, eliminating payroll taxes for working people, not taxing low income people, eliminating deductions for companies who ship jobs overseas and pay exorbitant salaries to their executives, reduce the number of  tax brackets from 6 to 3  (15%, 25%, 35% more or less).      Today, thousands of Americans who earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, pay no tax at all. This needs to stop. Those earning low wages (under $10.00 an hour, for example) should pay no taxes - not the other way around.

The ESTATE TAX only imposes a tax on estates over 3 million dollars (1% of the wealthiest Americans.)   The current estate tax should be retained (and perhaps revised to tax inheritants who receive over 1 million dollars each  or some other reasonable limit).   The ultra rich can afford to pay a tax on money they pass on to their rich heirs.  That tax will help pay for some of our national debt, ensuring a better life for ALL in future generations.


AGENDA # 11           ENERGY INDEPENDENCE / CLEAN AIR & WATER

?We should mobilize the scientific community, promote the production of fuel-efficient cars (like hybrids), invest in more efficient factories and appliances, and expand the development of alternative energy sources  like wind, solar, and biofuels.  (83% of voters surveyed agree with this statement. (p.179, Take It Back)  The following specific recommendations are taken from Carville & Begala's book, Take It Back:

1)        Give companies tangible, bottom-line incentives to reduce their emissions;

2)        Require automakers to sell vehicles with lower greenhouse gas emissions  (already enacted by the California legislature).

3)        Raise the CAFÉ (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards by 5% per year;

4)        Close the loophole that holds SUVs to lower standards than cars.  (Also, give  tax credit or deductions on the purchase of hybrid or other super fuel efficient cars and eliminate such deductions on gas guzzlers like Hummers.)

5)        Pass the New Apollo Energy Act (Rep. Jay Inslee of WA) which will provide federal loan guarantees for power plants for using alternative fuels, plus funds  for research and tax credits for development for clean energy.

6)        Create a natural gas pipeline to bring natural gas reserves from the North Slope of Alaska to the lower 48 states.  No danger to wildlife there.        (Creating jobs and reducing imports from the Middle East.)

7)        Excess Profits Tax:  A 50% tax on the sale of oil over $40 a barrel.  Put that tax back into funding a more energy independent America (Sen. Dorgan & Dodd).

The creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans is a nice side benefit for creating a cleaner, more energy independent environment.  Hunters and fishermen and all outdoorsmen and women can be assured they will have a future for their recreational needs.      "the Pentagon found that investing (a total of) $180 billion over the next 10 years to eliminate oil dependence could save $70 billion (each and) every year."


AGENDA # 12           STRENGTHEN OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM

An independent bi-partisan commission (with no political or religious axe to grind) must be established to determine the best ways to improve our educational system with three major criteria in mind: 

            1)    Protecting the first amendment principle of  "separation of church and state."  

            2)    Equal opportunity for all regardless of race, creed, color, social class or background.  (The rich already have private - prep -hools for their children.)          

            3)    Standardization of subject matter.   (For example, "creationism" is not a replacement for scientific fact.  If it is included, then "anti-creationism" must be offered as counterbalance to this theory.)    Recognizing we live in a global community, children must also begin to learn a second language in grade school. This Commission must be directed to study other countries superior test results and try   to determine the reasons behind their outscoring USA students.   Factually, the USA is far behind other countries in the education of their children.          (We like to think we are better but the facts prove otherwise.):      "At the age of 10 students from 25 countries take the same test and the USA places 8th.   By the age of 15 when students from 40 countries are tested, the USA places 25th,  well below the international average, worse than kids from much poorer, less-developed countries, like Korea and Poland, which spend much less on education than the United States."   -  Johns Stossel,  Myths. Lies & Downright Stupidity, p.108.      Stossel devotes a chapter to his belief that a voucher system would be superior  based on the view that government monopolies are bad and competition is good.  Yet, a good education is more than test scores. 

We must understand that "academic achievement"  " high test scores " is not the only criterion for education. We must also teach  "critical thinking". and be sure to protect the fundamental freedoms and opportunities for all children, not just for some.


AGENDA # 13           STEM CELL RESEARCH & ABORTION

These 2 subjects are not really related except in the minds of the uneducated few. 

The embryos that would be used for stem cell research would be destroyed anyway.    So, they will instead be used to help cure diseases that are currently without a cure.  Many of our relatives and friends will survive a premature death as a result of this research and it must be given the full aid and support at all government levels.    (70% of the American people polled agree.  More would, if they knew the facts.)

Available alternatives to abortion once a woman becomes pregnant need to be immediately available to her. No one needs to advocate an abortion! Nevertheless, a woman has the basic human right (Civil Liberty) to decide  ?  together with her physician  ?  not to carry the fetus to term.   There are, of course, exceptions:

1)  A ban on so-called partial birth or on last trimester abortions where there is no risk to the woman's life; 

2) a married woman must inform her husband, and

3) am underaged daughter must inform her parents.  

It is a fundamental principle of a democracy to allow a woman control over her own body.   Abortion can be discouraged by providing free counseling and pregnancy prevention, continuing the adoption tax credit and requiring contraceptives to be covered by our universal health insurance.  We can oppose abortion without denying a woman her fundamental rights as a woman.  Give her choices!


AGENDA # 14    GUN CONTROL

Let's deal with Charlton Heston and the NRA once and for all.   First, let's agree with them:   Every American has a right to own a gun.  Period.   We can fight illegal gun ownership by enforcing the laws already on the books.  Hunting is a sport guaranteed us as a free and democratic nation.  It is part of our national heritage.   Like abortion rights, or any other rights, there are limits. 

ASSAULT WEAPONS have little or nothing to do with hunting or recreational gun use. They must be banned.  Extreme penalties on manufacturing and distributing and ownership of such weapons by individuals.  Hand guns must also be restricted to practice ranges.   (No one ever killed a deer with a hand gun, right? At least it must be extremely rare.)    Guns must be registered to their owners and there must be severe penalties for illegal gun possession.  No minor should have access to guns and, if caught with them, not only they but also their parents should be subject to fines and/or imprisonment.


AGENDA # 15           GAY RIGHTS & CIVIL RIGHTS

America is founded on the principles (many say, Christian principles) if equal rights for all people regardless of race, creed, color, gender - women, or gender preference - same sex relations.  This is the heart and soul of our constitution and, for Christians who truly follow the teachings of their Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.

As Vice President Cheney has said,  "The fact of the matter is we live in a free society and freedom means freedom for everybody.?"   (Interview regarding his Lesbian daughter.)   

Civil rights laws must not discriminate against a person because of religion, race or creed and also MUST include gays rights.  Just because we hate and /or do not understand gay people or a people from another religion or someone whose views are so alien to our own, does not give us the right to discriminate against them or to make them second class citizens. They are equal under our sacred Constitution, the law of the land of which we are so proud.


ADDENDUM:

MORAL VALUES   -   OUR UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES

The USA was founded on the IDEAL of  "All men (humans) are created equal" and deserve the equal opportunity to have 

"Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

             Little by little, since our forefathers wrote the Constitution and the Bill Of Rights we have been trying to fulfill that ideal  from the abolition of slavery to women's right to vote, to civil rights, to women's rights and the rights of minorities.   We still have a way to go.   We must not lose sight of these ideals because of greed, terrorist threats, or other distractions.  We need to implement a New American Agenda so that we can once again be proud to be American, "home of the brave, home of the free"    - standing for all that is just and kind  for humanity and for           "peace on earth and good will toward ALL". 

          Most Americans do not realize that the major players in the founding of our country were "Deists,"  not Christian in any traditional sense.  They were free-thinkers, not followers of any religious dogma.   Because of religious persecution, they knew full well that the church and the state should be separate. This country was very definitely established on the concept of  "freedom of religion" which by definition also includes "freedom FROM religion".   

            No matter how fervently we believe in our own religion, we can not, under our constitution and the very principles for which this country stands, impose our religion or our point of view on others.   We may abhor another?s view but unless their views directly threaten the life and safety of others we must tolerate them, however distasteful we may believe them to be.  (Inciting to violence is one example, however, where freedom of belief ends and the restriction of that freedom begins.) 

            Be that as it may, perhaps the majority of Americans today consider themselves "Christian".    I venture to guess that a majority do not follow the teachings of Christ very well.    Jesus, after all, was ? even in a conservative definition of the word - a "pacifist."    "The New Testament teaches 3 basic philosophies:  Love God, Love Each Other, and Take Care of the Least Among You -  the sick and the poor."  Take It Back,  (p. 259)         Greed and materialism are not Christian Values(Moral Values).  Jesus preached helping the poor and the downtrodden, not the rich.  He preached that we must not be judgmental.  ("Judge not, lest ye be judged.")   Many self-proclaimed Christians have forgotten to follow the teachings of their Savior - the basic tenets of their religion.

PLEASE CONSIDER THIS AGENDA AS ONE YOU HOPE AT LEAST 70% OF VOTERS WOULD FAVOR.   OBVIOUSLY, YOU  MAY NOT AGREE WITH EVERY DETAIL BUT, THE DIRECTION AND THE POPULARITY OF EACH AGENDA ITEM MUST BE AGREEABLE.

PLEASE CIRCULATE, THIS AGENDA TO YOUR FRIENDS, RELATIVES, THE MEDIA AND CANDIDATES FOR AND INCUMBENTS IN POLITICAL OFFICE.    THANK YOU.    Rifbeach@earthlink.net

CREDITS:     The inspiration for this agenda came from James Carville & Paul Begala's book; TAKE IT BACK, Simon & Schuster, 2006.  Otherwise, it was written without a political party or politician in mind.  Only looking for at least 70% of USA voter approval.