The media and multiple taking heads are excited about a 55% turnout in Wisconsin. Really? How is just more than half of all registered voters showing up at the polls a cause for celebration? Nationwide, voter turnout was under 50%. That means that over half of all people view government (local, state, and federal) as this far away entity over which they have no influence, and which is not worth their time. How did we get here? There needs to be a compelling voice, a message of hope, a reminder of the good things that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people can do.
What can we do?
Take a risk. Run for office. Or at the very least, actively support those who support what you believe. Shold I run? I don’t know, but maybe, just maybe…
So, what do I value?
What do I believe about education?
Education for all. Public education needs help. It needs to be freed from the constraints imposed on it by politicians and private businesses who have zero experience and political and economic agendas driving their decisions.
What can be done about education?
Completely remove standardized testing from all schools. There is such limited validity in standardized test scores that using them as an evaluation tool for students and teachers is absurd.
Emphasize problem-solving and critical thinking skills. These require an understanding of basic concepts in whatever subject is taught, so the three “R”s will not only survive, but thrive, as they are given real-life application.
Allow teachers to do what they do best. Teach. Reduce class sizes by hiring more teachers. Improve teacher training. These are professionals, treat them as such.
Change the culture. View teaching as the noble pursuit it is. Pay teachers more appropriately for the time and effort they pour into educating our children. Listen to their expertise. Real and effective improvement comes from those who are doing the work every day.
Reject “one size fits all” education.
Push for classrooms with two or three teachers, or one teacher and one or two highly qualified assistants, to provide as much opportunity as possible to engage students (and fellow teachers) in learning.
Most importantly, increase the size of the middle class by implementing new economic policies that will truly stimulate the economy. (see below) Too many of our children are living in deep poverty that hinders their hope and constricts their ability to learn.
What do I believe about the economy?
Trickle down economics is a fraudulent failure. The most wealth is held by the fewest people in history. The wealth of the upper class has not made its way down to those who need it most, and never will if we continue with the status quo. Small businesses and family farms continue to suffer, while corporations dominate and serve only their wealthiest stockholders. We need policies that strengthen the middle class and make things like savings, retirement, and family time a reality for everyone.
What can be done about the economy?
Strictly regulate the financial sector. Those who create nothing have profited long enough. The financial sector needs to be held accountable for the damage it has caused. Implement strict usury laws barring outrageous interest rates. Require financial institutions to carry the risk again, so they will avoid dangerous financial instruments that have run roughshod over the economy.
Increase the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour, and tie future increases to the cost of living and GDP. There is a fallacy that this will cause rampant inflation. It will not. There is a belief that small businesses will suffer. The increased purchasing power across the board will mitigate the increase in labor costs. Incentives and low-interest loans will be offered to all small businesses. Publicly traded corporations and financial institutions will NOT receive these incentives, as they have declared that their only responsibility is to their stockholders. We need to invest in small, local and regional businesses to revitalize the economy.
Promote small, local and regional credit unions and banks which serve their local constituencies.
Close all loopholes that allow corporations and other businesses to avoid paying their fair share in taxes.
Renegotiate or cancel all economic treaties that encourage outsourcing.
Avoid all economic treaties that benefit the already wealthy at the expense of the poor.
Reinvigorate and reward manufacturing and innovation.
Fully fund a wide-ranging national infrastructure program that will reduce unemployment. This includes roads, bridges, energy, and fiber optics/technology improvements.
Repay the money “borrowed” from Social Security over the past 45 years, to insure its health for future generations. Fully find all social programs.
Reduce both the influence and the financial anchor of the military-industrial complex, both of which have dragged us down long enough. Meanwhile, fully fund health care and education opportunities for veterans.
What do I believe about health care?
Health care is a fundamental right. While our current system is renowned for its innovation, it is also rightly castigated for its unaffordability.
What can be done about health care?
Adopt a preventative, rather than reactive health care model.
Single payer health care. Health insurance companies could still offer private insurance, much like the German model. However, they will no longer determine cost and thereby become de facto death panels. Everyone will be covered. Everyone. No one will ever have to have to have a benefit to pay for life saving procedures.
This will be paid for using a significant increase in the capital gains tax, strict taxes covering profits made from purely financial transactions, and a significant income tax increase for those making more than twice the median income. The increased income tax will apply only to the amount of income exceeding twice the median income. Latest numbers put median income at $51,939.00, meaning the increased income tax would take effect on any income exceeding $103,878.00. As median income increases, the floor for this increased tax will increase. According to latest figures, this tax will affect only the top 20% of wage earners, who currently make almost 50% of the income in the US. It is time to pay their fair share for the freedom and opportunity they have enjoyed.
We NEED a healthy nation, a healthy workforce, and we need to return to the values that made us great once. We need to stop thinking only of ourselves, and think about the success of our fellow citizens. That will benefit EVERYONE.
This is just a start. I believe in these things, and believe they will benefit everyone. Do you agree or disagree? Do have different ideas? Do we have a chance of making a difference?