A Progressive Program
Over at Naked Capitalism, Eureka Springs asked what a progressive program would look like, something that Americans could rally around, and I posted the following:
1. Right to a good job paying a living wage
2. Right to good housing
3. Right to good education
4. Right to good healthcare
5. Right to good retirement
6. Right to privacy
7. End the wars
8. Public campaign funding
9. Real regulation of Wall Street
10. Tax the rich
I chose to limit myself to 10. Too many items, and of course more could be added, and we get lost. The program fails to convey a vision and becomes a laundry list. Too few, and the make and break issues that people care about are left out.
This program has two parts. The first 5 items are what we are for. They are what most Americans would agree are the basic building blocks for a meaningful and decent life. They are expressed as rights. They don't tell you what you should do with your life. They just give you the tools for a life, a real life. These are the things that we wish for others because we wish them also for ourselves and those we love.
The second 5 take on a part of the current system. The right to privacy is a rejection of the surveillance state. It is also the restoration of our rights and protections in the Bill of Rights.
Ending the wars is directed against the military industrial complex, the oversized military it engenders and the unnecessary wars it spawns. It does not make us safer even as it steals needed resources from the rest of us.
Public campaign funding is an important first step in removing the pervasive political corruption and cronyism we have now. There are other things that need to be done like reducing lobbying by the rich and corporations and ending the innumerable revolving, and highly corrupt, doors between government and industry.
Real regulation of Wall Street is directed against the banksters who crash the economy and then demand, and receive, bailouts. It isn't just about reining in the Street, but transforming it, and more importantly reducing its size, complexity, and importance.
Finally, there is taxing the rich. I firmly believe that hard work should be rewarded. That is why the rich should be taxed at very high rates. They do not work. They have people who work for them. They do not produce. Certainly, they do not add value to society at anything like the level they extract from it.
Bill Gates may have amassed a fortune of $60 billion, but he never contributed anything like that much to society. He had a few good ideas, but it was his workers and the predatory practices of his company that made him a gazillionaire. So let Gates be rewarded, but it is hard to see how he ever should have been worth more than 0.1% of his current fortune, or about $60 million. I mean how much more money, that is how much more of our resources, does he need, is he worth. If we wish to reward those who build our society, fine, but if they can not live well on $20, $40, 60 million, then they are fools or predators. Today we see the costs of their hyperbolic wealth in all that we and our country lack in the first 5 rights of this progressive program.
This then is my stab at what a progressive program should look like. Consider it a first draft. We need a program with both a positive and negative aspects. We must take care of the wrongs and injustices of the current system, but we must not be consumed by this agenda. Justice yes, revenge no. We need to keep our eyes on the Prize, the society we are building for ourselves and each other.