On the Issues
I believe that whatever our differences, as Americans we all share the same values:
Family, Community and Country
- Science & Technology
- Civil Rights
- Racial Justice
- Criminal Justice
- Government Regulation
- Economic Inequality
- Economy & Jobs
With the world very near Peak Coal (the point at which we shut down coal-fired power plants faster than we build them, now that renewable energy production costs are significantly less than coal) and fast approaching Peak Oil (the point at which we’ve extracted more than half the petroleum reserves from the Earth), and with the advent of clean and green energy technologies expanding and improving year by year, it’s time to stop providing tax support to the Petroleum and Coal industries.
We need the petroleum left for medicines (yes, they make medicines out of petroleum products!), plastics and a huge number of consumer goods. We need metallurgical coal for making steel not for creating energy. In both petrochemicals and steel, the idea is to put the carbon into the product, not the atmosphere. Both industries are working hard on doing just that.
Between pollution, strip mining, and mountaintop removal, thermal coal for making steam to generate electricity is too toxic to continue pulling it from the earth. It’s also too toxic to continue transporting it across the country by train, where coal dust is dispersed and gets into water and the soil everywhere those trains go. Train derailments and explosions are also risks which are no longer sustainable when other sources of energy are now available.
Here in the 3rd District of Washington State, I want to see us develop a Clean Energy Hub, with manufacturing of the machinery to build wind turbines and solar arrays and geothermal residential heating and cooling. With our extremely low-cost hydropower and other advantages we can entice the manufacturers of these products to come here and employ our people at decent paying jobs, while producing the products which will help our entire nation become less dependent upon dirty coal and petroleum. This is a plan to help us maintain a good standard of living while promoting the energy sources of the future. It’s a good idea for us and our children and the healthy environment of southwest Washington, which we all cherish.
I believe that it is our sacred duty to conserve and protect our natural resources, so that our grandchildren’s grandchildren will enjoy the natural wonders of our region, just as our families do today. This means protecting our water, air and land from pollution and depletion; by good and reasonable regulation of businesses and transportation of materials like petroleum and coal products – or better still replacing all burning of polluting and uneconomic fossil carbon with clean, economical, renewable energy.
I oppose new terminals for petroleum or coal exports. From transport companies who refuse to upgrade their rail cars to more safe models, to toxic spills and environmental catastrophes from train derailments and explosions, the risks simply far outweigh the benefits. We can create more and better jobs in SW Washington in clean energy and infrastructure improvement and do so without risking the Columbia River Gorge environment. We must make smart choices going forward. More terminals in Vancouver or Longview or any part of our State are just not a good choice for anyone, not even the corporations who want them. The Goldman Sachs investment bank was the first in the financial industry to point out that these export terminals are guaranteed money losers.
A strong nation is built from strong families and strong communities. We can support strong families with jobs and with targeted programs. Paid family leave for new mothers and fathers will strengthen the bonds of parents and children when it is most needed. Increased access to Earned Income Tax Credits for young and poor families will let them feed their children and provide a decent home for them. We know that children who grow up in dire poverty are much more likely to end up in dead-end jobs, unemployed, or worse, incarcerated in jail or prison.
Education, support for families in need and increased access to affordable healthcare insurance are all ways to promote a stronger and healthier society.
First proposed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and reiterated by President Richard Nixon, perhaps it is time to seriously consider a ‘guaranteed minimum income.’ Administered through the IRS, it could replace programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit and the overlapping maze of social services bureaucracies we have across the various states today. It would likely save money, support the poorest families in a more easily managed system and reduce the staggering numbers of children in America (the richest nation to have ever existed on Earth) living and growing up in poverty. Currently around 20% of our kids live in poverty. It’s immoral and we can and should change this.
Embodied in the preamble to the Constitution is the Right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Encoded in the Bill of Rights and the 14th, 15th, 19th and 24th Amendments, and in Laws authorized by them, is the notion that each of us, regardless of gender, race, income, creed or social standing are equally entitled to just and equitable treatment when it comes to the government, employment, housing and other basic needs.
I believe that the more just and equitable our nation becomes, the stronger it is, and the more able to promote our shared values across the globe.
Persons of color in America suffered through 400 years of slavery and after that another 100 years before the promises of the 14th Amendment were truly made available to them. Systemic discrimination in education, jobs, access to personal and business finance, and justice continues to this day. Today, we see unreasonable percentages of (especially) young, black men incarcerated mostly due to racial profiling, blatant discrimination in policing, prosecution, and sentencing; and especially the failed and inherently racist War on Drugs.
The unemployment rate at large in the US is about 5% now, but in the young black community that rate is nearly 50%. How can anyone fail to see the connection between incarceration rates and unemployment rates for these young people?
There is a clear and undeniable problem in America of aggressive and likely unconstitutional action on the part of law enforcement departments across the country, when it comes to police officers shooting and killing (often unarmed) mostly, young black men. It’s an abrogation and flagrant denial of our Justice System when it comes to the 4th and 14th Amendment Rights of these people, who are losing their lives without an iota of Due Process. It’s time to require changes to the way our Law Enforcement Officers interact with citizens. We need to rethink the use of SWAT (special weapons and tactics) units, when it comes to the serving of warrants. Shouldn’t regular uniformed officers be sufficient to deliver warrants? Why are so many people finding militarized SWAT units invading their homes in the dark of night – and showing up at the wrong addresses in far too many of these cases; injuring or even killing completely innocent citizens in their own homes?
Finally, there is rampant use of Civil Forfeiture in America, where money and property are confiscated from suspected criminals but before any charges have been proven in a Court of Law. It’s absolutely in opposition to the 4th and 5th Amendments and their promises against government seizing property without reasonable suspicion, a detailed warrant itemizing property and/or Due Process
America has around 5% of the world’s population, and 25% of its prisoners. Roughly one in every 107 American adults is behind bars, a rate nearly five times that of Britain, seven times that of France and 24 times that of India. Those numbers alone should frighten each of us. This trend began after 1980, with the ramp-up of the War on Drugs. I believe (and polling shows) that most Americans agree that the War on Drugs and other ‘tough on crime’ measures (like the now found unconstitutional 3 Strikes Laws) have been abject failures.
It is clear that we could save tax dollars and improve our society by spending less on prisons and prosecution of drug charges, and more on investments in early and continuing education, infrastructure and decent paying jobs. I also oppose private prisons; the incarceration of criminals should never be a for-profit business.
Today in the United States, only six media conglomerates own and control almost all forms of media. This is compromising our access to accurate and unbiased information – the very things which create an Informed Electorate. This is why a free and unfettered internet is so valuable to citizens in this era of Social Media vs Mainstream Media.
Our economic health is constantly under risk from deregulation of the banking and finance sectors. We should reinstate Glass-Steagall to separate risky speculation from government-insured banking for the public, and break up the Too Big to Fail Banks, to rein in the excesses of the wealthy and prevent them from using tax dollars and government regulation to ensure profits are private but losses are covered by taxpayers. We should tax rampant Wall Street speculation with a small Financial Transaction Tax, both to encourage a more stable Market and to fund tuition-free public college education.
We live in the richest nation to have ever existed in the history of mankind, but most of that wealth is owned by the top 1/10th of 1% of the population. 20% of our nation’s children live in poverty. This is an abominable state of affairs. It is a matter of moral concern to many Americans. I am one of them. We can, and should, do better. Higher minimum wages, less tax burdens on the poorest workers, more funding for assistance for the basic necessities of life for those working full time at low wage jobs are all ways we could improve the quality of life for a significant portion of our population.
Instead of the wealthy and the corporations taking the vast bulk of all newly created wealth in an era of increasing productivity, workers should receive their fair share of such gains and the corporations should shoulder their fair share of taxes, too. Our country cannot long support the “Two Americas” version of life we are now enduring; the unequal distribution of the wealth of the nation is wreaking havoc on our society and our economy. Long term, stable economics is a better way forward and reasonable regulation and taxes on the financial sector and Wall Street is a good place to start.
I believe that the ONLY true jobs creators are the American Consumers. No business ever created a job for any reason other than to fill the demand created by their customers. Thus, I believe that we need to reassess and change the way we use our Federal Tax Code, which today works mostly to the benefit of corporations. We give billions of dollars in refundable tax credits to fully mature industries which have billions of dollars in profits each year. We allow corporations to stash profits in overseas tax havens and it costs us dearly to do so. The Frontier Group report on The Hidden Cost of Offshore Tax Havens.
Instead, we should be doing more to support small businesses in our towns and cities – after all, about 70% of the jobs in the US are still in small businesses. One way we could do a better job is to create a Small Business Bank of the United States whose sole purpose would be to make low interest loans to small businesses via the Small Business Administration. We would be investing in our neighbors and families and helping them work hard to achieve their own American Dream.
In an increasingly technological world, the only path to a solid and promising future for our children is a good education. It is in the nation’s best interest to have an educated work force. For these reasons, we need to support and improve our educational system from grade school to graduate school.
Some of our presidential candidates are talking about free tuition to public colleges for basic two year degree programs; I think this is a great idea. My grandparent’s generation thought it was a great idea, too, when they created the G. I. Bill for Veterans and the Free College system in states like California. If our grandparents could make education affordable and available to anyone who desired it, we should be able to do so, too.
Unfortunately, our education system is under attack by those who would privatize it, destroy Teacher’s unions, co-mingle education and reglion in our Public Schools with Creationism and abstinence-only ‘education’, and reduce it all to meaningless test scores by squeezing out the arts, music, literature, history, and most importantly, civics.
We can take charge of our children's education by requiring that textbook companies stop allowing a single state (Texas) to dominate what is included in textbooks for the entire nation. American schools are transitioning away from paper books and towards digital editions provided on school supplied computers issued to students. We should encourage today’s textbook producers to provide some input from all states and from certified subject-matter experts on the content of today’s printed books in anticipation of that transition.
I support Single Payer insurance, because it’s the most cost-efficient way to provide healthcare insurance to every person. We spend about twice as much, per person, in the US to provide access to healthcare as other nations do. That means that we could provide insurance to twice as many people as we do, if we just changed the way we pay doctors and hospitals. Single payer is the best option for all of us.
We already have many Single Payer health insurance systems in America, including the Veterans Administration and Tri-Care, Medicare and Medicaid (which together cover nearly 1 in 3 Americans). Those programs have the lowest administrative costs of any health insurance in the nation, and some of the highest levels of satisfaction from the patients with the insurance coverage.
If the goal is to reduce costs for all, and to provide the best access to care for all, then the answer is and always has been Single Payer healthcare insurance. Medicare for All is a good way to implement this idea because we won’t have to re-invent the wheel, but simply change the line in the Medicare Law on eligibility for the program to “from birth or date of naturalization as a citizen, or upon admission to the United States as a legal permanent resident”.
There is simply no way to deport upwards of 11 million people who currently live in America without the legal documentation to do so. A better answer, for reasons of national security and economic fairness, is to bring those people out of the Jobs Black Market, and into the light of day with a program like the one Ronald Reagan saw enacted in 1986.
Our country would be safer if we knew who those 11 million people were, and where (and how) they earned a living. Today, undocumented immigrants live in fear of deportation and so they try and hide their status. They use faked or stolen Social Security numbers to acquire jobs, and because of this they pay into the FICA system but have no access to benefits from it. Their children who are born here and are American citizens are at risk of losing their parents to deportation.
Unlike in 1986, when the Immigration Reform and Control Act passed, immigration into America, especially from Mexico and other Latin American nations is FALLING. We have more people immigrating TO Mexico today then from there to the United States. New legislation to address the status of those living in the US today would be a way to identify those who live here now, and provide them with a path to more fully integrate into American society and to ensure that they are contributing their fair share of taxes and not working in the black market. A national ID card, required to be provided by workers to all employers to get a job could go a long way towards preventing future undocumented immigration, after reform of current immigrant status is completed. A side benefit of such a national ID card would also do much to reverse the effect of voter suppression via laws which require ID but do not provide a means of getting it at low or no cost.
We spent $615 Billion, 18% of the Federal budget, on military and security related international activities in 2014, or nearly 1 out of 5 tax dollars. As of 2015, that’s more than the next seven nations spent, combined. National security threats have evolved over the past 50 years, changing the nature of U.S. commitments around the world. We need a defense budget that matches these new security challenges, not the threats of the last century.
There is no rational reason to continue to station 50,000 US Armed Forces in nations like Germany and Japan SEVENTY YEARS after the end of WWII. Those military men and women should come home to the BRAC closed bases here in the US and those nations should supply the troops from their own people and bear the burden of the cost of those bases going forward. Our newly returned servicemen and women could be trained to begin the work of repairing, replacing and upgrading our national infrastructure, or in installing and maintaining our growing renewable energy systems. This would also give them the experience once they leave the military to engage in careers in the engineering and clean energy industries.
Saudi Arabia has the world’s 3rd largest military and ISIS is on their front doorstep. Why isn’t the United States demanding that they take the lead on fighting a rogue military force in their own region and bearing the cost for doing so, instead of American taxpayers?
Reduced costs for these and other Defense related issues could be a way to pay for increased funding for Veterans services and other programs.
There is a moral issue at stake when it comes to our military Veterans. These men and women risk their lives to wear the Uniform of the United States Armed Forces. We make them promises when they volunteer for this Service; it is high time we kept those promises. It’s time to build more VA hospitals and clinics in every state in the Union. We need specialty clinics for treatment of PTSD and mental health issues, with suicide in our Veterans and Active Duty forces at crisis levels. The only reason there are such long wait times for services at the VA is unwillingness on the part of the US Congress to fund the VA at a needed level. It’s time to change that.
We can AND SHOULD do better by Veterans and their families.