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The 12-point platform [beta]

[Readers, I added some material in brackets marked with... ADDED. I'm especially interested in feedback on the 12 Reforms, even if they are boring infrastructural stuff. Thanks! --lambert]

I've been blocked on writing this, because of the scale and scope of the project if when it takes off, but and so here's a new ("beta") version of the 12-Point Platform, based on your comments (and other stuff I've encountered in my travels). [Also, my s-key is sticking....]

Below, I'll present a version of the Platform, suitable for you -- yes, you! -- to copy and paste into comment sections, which I hope you will start doing, if only to collect feedback, which it would be wonderful if you posted in comments here. (Responses by Democratic apologists clutching their pearls and heading for the fainting couch are especially welcome, especially when they use the phrase "politically feasible.") Later in the post, I'll break down the Points and explain the reasoning behind each one below. Suffice to say, for now, when the 12-Point Platform is passed, in its entirety, although perhaps not all at once, every American, from babies to elders, will be treated humanely, and their children, and their children's children, and nobody will be thrown under the bus.)

Typical places where throwing the 12-Point Platform into the mix would provoke loads of good, clean fun include posts and threads where:

  • People fulminate against "the left," while imagining that Obama and the Democrats are on, or even friendly to, the left;
  • People claim that Democratic "populist" noisemakers, streamers, and trial balloons are anything more than kayfabe;
  • Career "progressive" or soi disant populists claim that this or that minor reform -- say, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 -- is the greatest thing since FDR invented the bread slicer.

So, herewith:

[ADDING: The 12-Point Platform is a left baseline program with a simple metric ("compliance") that holds politicians of any party accountable for that program. The 12 Reforms define the infrastructure -- media, electoral, economic, political -- needed to bring the 12-Point Platform to life. One value -- "public purpose" -- informs and motivates both the 12-Point Platform and the 12 Reforms. The goal is to drag the Overton Window left, and keep dragging it left. Atrios dragged the Overton WIndow left for Social Security benefits, so let's do it for everything!]

The 12-Point Platform
1. A Living Wage
2. Medicare for all
3. Tax the Rich

4. Job or Income Guarantee
5. Debt Jubilee
6. Retirement Security

7. Post Office Bank
8. Enforce the Bill of Rights
9. End the Wars

10. Slow Food (Too)
11. Clean Air and Water
12. Carbon Negative Economy

Supporting the 12 Points, and necessary to pass, implement, and sustain them, are 12 Reforms. Herewith, also copy and paste-ready:

The 12 Reforms
1. Net Neutrality
2. Fairness Doctrine
3. Local Ownership of Media

4. Public Campaign Financing
5. Paper Ballots Counted in Public
6. Compulsory Voting

7. MMT Macro-economic Policies
8. Preserve and Expand the Commons
9. More Co-operatives, Fewer Corporations

10. Strategic Non-Violence
11. Principles not Personalities
12. Points and Reforms Are Indivisible

Finally, to explain, revise, or extend the 12 Points and 12 Reforms, One value:

The One Value
1. Public Purpose.

* * *

Now I'm going to break down the 12 Point into "levels," as follows:

I. Stop the Bleeding

  1. A living wage
  2. Medicare for all
  3. Tax the rich

II. Rebalance the Economy

  1. Job or Income Guarantee
  2. Debt Jubilee
  3. Retirement Security

III. Rebalance Government

  1. Post Office Bank
  2. Enforce the Bill of Rights
  3. End the Wars

IV. Rebalance Capitalism

  1. Slow Food (too)
  2. Clean Air and Water
  3. Carbon Negative Economy

The levels have three purposes. First, they organize the Points in roughly chronological order; after all, we would be able to "Stop the Bleeding" with a Living Wage (I-1) before implementing the Carbon Negative Economy (IV-12), even if all the stars were all aligned for both to pass tomorrow, because the first takes legislation, and the last takes legislation and social and cultural change besides. Second, they organize the Points into conceptual buckets for discussion, so we can say "Here's how we would rebalance government," for example. Third -- and this is the fun part -- we can say that "_____ is Level III-compliant." I like the idea that politicans could be rated for compliances. Don't you? And look at Clinton, Warren, DeBlasio -- anybody that the political class is trying to annoint as a populist in time for 2016 -- and ask yourself: "Are Clinton, Warren, or DeBlasio even Level I-compliant?" Of course they're not! And the further up you go up the list, the less compliant they are.

The points themselves have one overarching purpose: Concrete material benefits (hat tip, Anglachel). There isn't any sloganeering (like "End ____") and there isn't a shred of whiff of the identity politics so beloved of the Democratic nomenklatura.* The points are also a research and blogging program; my -- our? your? -- next task is to start digging into each point to provide linky goodness and elegant argumentation. Sheesh, one a week? Three months.... [So, grabbing and revising the material in the previous Draft]:

1. A Living Wage. It's ridiculous to have retail wage so low people have to work and (which is another kind of work, a tax on time, though more degrading) get welfare too.

2. Medicare for All. Duh! Would be wildly popular, unlike this P.O.S. ObamaCare Rube Goldberg contraption. Now, I know that Medicare as it exists is infested with neo-liberals, and increasingly Balkanized by rental extraction programs, but I think we just have to try to seize the branding and explain that "Medicare for All" is shorthand for "universal single payer." We're going to buy the house, then call the exterminator and get rid of the neoliberal termites.

3. Tax the Rich. Not for revenue, because taxes don't fund spending. But to prevent the rich from buying up the political system with their loose cash, and also to prevent the formation of an aristocracy of inherited wealth. Basically, this is shorthand for a steeply progressive tax system. Say, like Eisenhower's, with the 91% top rate. Although we had discussion about making "tax the rich" more precise, I think we can go with the shorthand, exactly as with Medicare for All.

4. Job or Income Guarantee. Everybody who want one should have a job, always. I've read letsgetitdone's material, especially the interchange with Mosler, and I'm still trying to get this into a form where I can understand it, let alone explain it to others. However, I think that the income guarantee does some good things. First, the Job Guarantee is "a job for everyone who wants one." But the devil is really in the details here; figuring out what those jobs are is a big deal, and the only proposal I've seen (from Stephanie Kelton IIRC) has non-profits figuring out what those jobs are to be. That scares me, because at least one non-profit I've worked for has been totally dysfunctional, even more than major corporations. Also, "at my age," we have lots of people doing "volunteer work" that really is work and also serves public purpose, like running libraries, or thrift shops, or working with patients in hospitals. Instead of demanding that this work be funneled through non-profits, why not just pay for it? Finally, an income guarantee solves the very basic social issue that housework (and heck, child care) isn't paid for; this analytical and moral conundrum has been a stumbling block for the left, for years.

5. Debt jubilee. If it can't be paid back, it won't be. Goes for student loans, especially.

6. Retirement security. I'd lower the retirement age to 60, and eliminate penalties for retirement. None of this hanging on as a Walmart greeter for five years so you get an extra 50 bucks a month or whatever. It's also absolutely critical to make benefits age neutral. Today's 20-something should get exactly the same pension (leaving actuaries to figure out what "exactly" means) that today's 60-somethings do. Today's two-tier system, where the old codgers get to say "I've got mine!" and the kids know they're screwed is Randroid and immoral. It's also horrible politics, because it prevents intergenerational alliances. [ADDING, because I forgot.... Also too, increase the benefits!]

7. Post Office Bank. It's ridiculous that there's even a category like the unbanked, or a "check cashing industry." It's also ridiculous for people to hand over their household money to the banksters so they can piss it away playing the ponies. So have a public bank, with free ATMs, where dull normals can put their money. As a side benefit, prevent the destruction of the Post Office by privatizing weasels. (In a perfect world, I'd put a big free WiFi antenna in every Post Office, too.) I can be argued out of this, but Warren thinks the Post Office Bank should lend money, too. I think that's nuts. For one thing, I think we should stop encouraging usury.

8. Enforce the Bill of Rights. Like Madison would want. That includes defining email and data on personal devices of all kinds as "papers and effects" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. It also defines government installed surveillance software as "quartering of soldiers." Note: This is a "strange bedfellows" issue with the right.

9. End the Wars. All wars, including the Drug Wars, and its concomitant, the militarized police. We've got two ocean and nukes. Fuck the empire. Note: This is a "strange bedfellows" issue with the right.

10. Slow Food (Too). Slow Food's motto is food that is "Good, clean, and fair!" This not only nukes Big Ag, it's extremely good for the soil and those who work with soil, as well as the water and the air (see the next point). Here's the Slow Food site. "Slow Food envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet." We can help with that! Note: This is a "strange bedfellows" issue with the right, but also with the "creative class." "Too" is there to handle the "Don't take away my Cheetohs!" crowd, as well as the "poor people need to eat so check your privilege" crowd.

11. Clean Air and Water. Mentally, I had this classed with a Carbon Negative Economy. But that's wrong, as for example the spill in West Virginia clearly shows. No climate change, but water that smelled like licorice and people would have been nuts to drink.

12. Carbon Negative Economy. Better have a plan B when the fracking wells run dry! Also, very good jobs. And "a shining city on a hill" for the rest of the world.

* * *

And now -- rushing, to overcome my writer's block -- the 12 Reforms, also in levels:

The 12 Reforms
I. Media Reform
1. Net Neutrality
2. Fairness Doctrine
3. Local Ownership of Media

II. Election Reform
4. Public Campaign Financing
5. Paper Ballots Counted in Public
6. Compulsory Voting

III. Economic Reform
7. MMT Macro-economic Policies
8. Preserve and Expand the Commons
9. More Co-operatives, Fewer Corporations

IV. Political Reform
10. Strategic Non-Violence
11. Principles not Personalities
12. Points and Reforms Are Indivisible

Note that, unlike the 12 Points, the 12 Reforms are not about "concrete material benefits." They provide the means and the methods to pass, implement, and sustain the 12 Point, as the individual reforms will show.

[This will be hasty, since I've got to press the Submit button....]

And point by point:

1. Net Neutrality. Because otherwise we'll have no media presence.

2. Fairness Doctrine. No more FOX (or MSObama) but more importantly, strategic hate management becomes harder.

3. Local Ownership of Media. The return of local newspapers, radio, and TV. Fuck Clear Channel.

4. Public Campaign Financing. Won't end corruption, but should will mean our elected representatives don't have to spend hours every day selling themselves.

5. Paper Ballots Counted in Public. The gold standard. E-voting has to die, see Bradblog.

6. Compulsory Voting.. The Australians do it. Basically, election reform is a can of worms. I picked this one idea -- which we can replace -- because it solved the voter ID problem and also solved the turnout problem, along with the problem of parties only trying to turn out some subset of the voters. I know this doesn't solve all of the problems of representative democracy.

7. MMT Macro-economic Policies. Which, besides getting us out to the Austerian ZOMG!!!! Teh Debt!!!!! trap, and allowing us to fund the 12-point platform, has the great merit of being true.

8. Preserve and Expand the Commons. [Originally a value.] See Elinor Ostrum on common pool resources.

9. More Co-operatives, Fewer Corporations. See Gar Alperowitz. A more humane workplace, a less vicious Gini Co-efficient. (And especially fewer banksters, doing boring things. A return to the 3-6-3 rule: "[B]ankers would give 3% interest on depositors' accounts, lend the depositors money at 6% interest and then be playing golf at 3pm. )

10. Strategic non-violence. For obvious reasons, and the less obvious reason of not optimizing for the creation of a new boss, see the Bolsheviks among others.

11. Principles not personalities. What matters is whether people support the platform. Period. Forget about all the horse race crapola, like electability. Support people who support the platform, regardless of party.

12. All 12 Points Must Pass. Meaning, don't allow the Democrats to water something down and claim victory. It's better simply to say "You don't support X, so you don't get my vote," than to say "You support 50% of X, so you get my vote." Because maybe there is a point they can wholeheartedly support, so go for that. The watering down is one thing that keeps the Overton Window from moving left. The watering down is also an entry point for rentier infestations. Another way of saying this is that voting now becomes simple: Candidates comply, or they don't.

* * *

And on "public purpose" as a value -- Must... Press... Submit... -- hat tip, letsgetitdone. I think he nailed it.

NOTE General notes on form and verbiage:

1. I decided on "point" not "plank" because I keep writing point, and then having to go back and write plank. Also, the other lists have points (and cannot have planks, since they are not platforms) so it's less confusing just to use points for everything.

2. As several have said, 12 is an arbitrary number, and 11 or 9 or 14 (Wilson's "14 Points") would be fine, too. Then again, one can't play tennis without a net, and some sort of formal constraint is very useful to focus the mind. So once I had 12, I ended up keeping 12.

3. "Levels" used to be called "tranches." Maybe I've been reading to much finance.

4. "Rebalance" is meant to convey the fundamentally reformist nature of the 12-Point Platform. I mean, we're not calling for the end of capitalism, or the abolition of the State. We're following the yellow streak right down the middle of the road!

NOTE * Although, to take one example, I'm sure that abused spouses will find not only the guarantee that they can get work, but the bank account they can get at the Post Office, very helpful should they wish to change their situation for the better. Basically, I think the idea that the way to help poor people is to give them money has a lot to be said for it:

No votes yet


letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Great platform, Lambert. I'd change Job or Income Guarantee to JIG -- Job (at a living wage with full fringe benefits) AND Basic Income Guarantee, which is the proposal I advocate in my exhange with Warren here.

On details of the JG. I think the best work is being done now by Pavlina and Randy. Here are details on Pavlina's version of the non-profit sector idea. Also here are Pav's recent posts at NEP including interviews and echange with Yglesias.

Submitted by lambert on

If it's Yglesias-ready, it's ready to go. It's interesting that lots of these ideas are seeping upward, but they are not consolidated; I never would have anticipated a Post Office bank is on the table, for example. But that's where the notion of "compliance" is helpful!

* * *

Adding, I think the "concrete material benefits" are a pretty good working definition of "provide for the general welfare."

However, I'd be very interested to think what you think of the reforms part. That needs to be just as rugged.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Also on this:

Also, "at my age," we have lots of people doing "volunteer work" that really is work and also serves public purpose, like running libraries, or thrift shops, or working with patients in hospitals. Instead of demanding that this work be funneled through non-profits, why not just pay for it?

How do administer it withot the non-profits? If the JG looks like a BIG to the right we'll see much more in the way of Fraud issues raised once we pass it.

Submitted by lambert on

... and I'll have to read the latest links above. I'm reacting against the idea of forcing everything through non-profits*; my other thought is, heck, why not just use the State a la CCC/WPA?

* We have a volunteer on the board of the library and also volunteering in the community garden. Why run that through a non-profit at all, or, rather, another layer of non-profits?

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Nothing wrong with that. Some jobs can come from that type of program. Some through the non-profits. Some through local Governments, as long as the jobs are replacing or limiting civil service jobs.

Submitted by lambert on

And therefore, work is not the same as "a job." Maybe we need to start worrying less about "jawbs!" and more about work. More of it, more fun with it.

Submitted by lambert on

"I can see you worked really hard on this" is something I hate to hear from a client, because it translates to "everything has to be reworked from the ground up."

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

I'm a slow thinker. I'll need more time to decide whether to argue about anything, since I'm cranky and can really get into arguing. Meanwhile, I just wanted to say that I liked this.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Or "usury" as you put it. In fact, there are some things which rightly need not be purchased with cash because you spread their use out over years or decades. Sometimes their use is spread across generations, like the equipment to run a family farm.

I've read some completely bullshit, irresponsible comments (such as in the minimum/living wage thread), where some call for things like 100% inheritance taxes and 100% taxes over $4M dollars and aren't called out on that. I'm all for taxing the uber-wealthy, but this is the kind of ignorant ranting that normal people have a problem with. Unlike some commenters here who have a philosophical political agenda, most people understand that some things in this world actually cost money, and many small businesses would not survive and not be able to employ people if things like that were actually enacted, which they wouldn't be, so why discredit this blog by proposing bullshit? I know you aren't doing that here, Lambert, I'm just really frustrated by some of the complete crap I've read going back through the threads.

An eye on what is possible* is not wrong.

* and not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, like we even know what "perfect is here, in our own perfection.

Submitted by lambert on

I guess I have a visceral disgust at a financial system that sucks people in. My father, a child of the Depression, paid cash when he bought a car. There's something to be said for that. So I don't want the Post Office bank involved in something that disgusts me. To me, it's enough of a win that my money's less likely to be stolen, there's no upselling, and so forth. Besides, you know as soon as the Post Office Bank starts lending, the argument about how the rate of return is too low is going to start, and then they're going to set up a task force, and then they're going to hand a piece of the action to the rentiers, and we're back to square one. I'd rather keep the USPS clean. (I'm thinking of this solely as a personal thing, not as access to capital for small businesses given that the toads at Jippy Mo et al. aren't lending to them. If there's a better solution for that, I'm all ears.)

* * *

As far as total confiscation of inherited wealth, na ga happen. This is a reformist platform. The Waltons of this world need to have their overly distended wealth sac drained, for the reasons stated, but a mere millionaire is a fly speck compared to them, so who really cares?

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Better the Post Office than "Rent to Own".

This is actually something that would be achievable with very little imagination. There is ZERO constituency for predatory loans for basic household stuff like sofas, and beds, that people wind up paying 5 times for through these bullshit schemes. In fact, there is a HUGE constituency for this idea (including discount retailers who don't want the cost of collections). The interest rate? It should be ZERO. Eligibility restricted to X amount and people already on some assistance program. How easy would that be? Then they wouldn't have to decide if the kids sleep on the floor or have food this week.

Submitted by lambert on

... of a right to housing, I think. "basic household stuff like sofas, and beds." I'm leery of the whole rights frame, but I see the concrete material benefit behind the frame.

And the zero interest takes the usury out of it. I think that's really interesting. I'm not sure I want to make it a point, but I think it might be the operational definition of a point. "Here's what the Post Office Bank would do."

Destroying the real bottom feeders, like payday lenders and rent to own people... That's a real public service.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

Nice job, Lambert!

Sorta pushed, but hope to add a bit to the discussion of Retirement Security.

Whereas I am with you on wanting to lower the retirement age (which will NEVER happen), I have a bit of a different view on how to implement FICA taxes and/or program cuts.

What is galls me about the present circumstance (as opposed to the early 1980's) is that a shortfall was looming back then, and we've got years to "fix" the projected shortfall which is years away.

According to the DLC's President (2010) Edward Gresser:


If we reduce the number of physically and mentally fit people who choose to retire in their late 60s and early 70s, we reduce the government’s entitlement spending obligations.

The simplest approach is to raise the retirement age, at minimum for workers in less physically demanding jobs.

THIS is what the cuts to Social Security and Medicare are REALLY all about--stopping most working class individuals from ever enjoying "full," if any, retirement.

[Clearly, cuts to Social Security or Medicare won't stop the neurosurgeon from taking his or her planned retirement, but could stop others dead in their tracks.]

In addition to destroying many industrial union pension benefits, slashing Social Security and Medicare can handily cause many industrial workers, some of whom may be stuck in low paying service jobs today, from ever being able to retire. Obviously the same applies to life-long service sector workers.

Gresser went on to say in his 2010 testimony before the Bowles-Simpson Fiscal Commission:

The CBO charts and data reveal a period of fiscal challenge unlike any in our nation’s history.

To meet it we need more than adjustments in course, belt-tightening, or tough choices among competing goals.

We need to change the way government provides services and collects revenue, the way we think about retirement, the way we think about work among older Americans, and the way we look at workforce growth and the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurialism.

Gresser added:

Change Demographic Facts:

Rethink retirement, encourage high-skill immigration, and take other options that raise the number of workers, entrepreneurs and inventors while reducing the growth of the retired population.

Other options could include offering ways to mix part-time and on-line work with partial Social Security benefits after age 67 and into the eighth decade of life, with somewhat higher benefits for in exchange for later retirement.

So the real "fight" has nothing to do with fiscal sanity--it has to do with "priorities."

And clearly, corporatist (DLC/Third Way/New Dem/No Labels) Democrats agree with Republicans that "the Little Guy" should be manipulated to produce the best possible financial outcome for the One Percent.


BTW, I had a video of this bookmarked on my other laptop. May try to dig it out sometime (if it can be clipped to a couple of minutes).

Gresser's testimony wasn't the only troubling one--just able to get the transcript for his, so it's a good one to quote.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

On your side--don't want to 'throw in the towel,' but I think that the Dem Party Base needs to know what they are truly up against.

IOW, many, if not most, Establishment/corporatist Democrats are totally on board with the neoliberal agenda of dismantling the Social Safety net (as we know it).

Many of them are running around now frantically vowing to "protect and preserve" Social Security and Medicare after years of backing Obama's push to begin the dismantling of these programs.

As a matter of fact, just heard Chris Matthews say (on Meet The Press) that Dems are afraid of losing 5, maybe 6, Senate seat--the rosy scenario.

So, expect Dems to say or do ANYTHING leading up to the midterms.

My hope is that knowing the truth (per Gresser's testimony to the Washington Establishment), the Democratic Party Base will not be steamrolled, again.

The Party Grassroots should DEMAND from each candidate a pledge to not cut one more cent from Medicare or Social Security UNTIL they levy taxes on the wealthy to cover any so-called "shortfall" over the next 75 years" (the period of time that many Dems seem to think that we must have completely financed in order to be "fiscally responsible.")

I could also support a modest increase in the FICA Tax, in addition to a tax on wealthier Americans.

Of course, both of these options are "off-the-table" from all that I've seen and read, since offsetting the so-called projected shortfall with taxes would bolster the fund, meaning that the PtB would lose their leverage "to force Americans to work into their 'eighth decade' of life."

Because so many seniors have fled the Dem Party [Seniors fled Democrats in midterms, Politico, 11/7/10, --Voters over 65 favored Republicans last week by a 21-point margin . . .], I admit that I am very discouraged that the Party will continue in this direction. Bear in mind, many Dem Party strategy memos no longer even mention "seniors" as a part of their Base.

It is important that people (especially the Dem Party Base) know what is at stake. And it can't be overstated that "our work is cut out for us."


danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

Not sure about the absolutism of "Candidates comply, or they don't." This is unknowable, and probably very different from issue to issue, but the idea of half a loaf being a victory is worth worrying (definition 4) a bit.

Take minimum wage. Is the effort to increase to $10.10 a weaksauce co-option of a full living wage argument or a positive step forward? Does it take the issue off the table or shift the Overton Window by injecting it into the discourse. (Time spent arguing for an increase of the minimum wage is time not spent fretting over the deficit.)

I think the concrete material benefits standard is helpful. An increase to $15 is appropriate, but if an increase to $10.10 is on the table for now, push hard for it, and if it passes push for $15. The increase would help people right now, and I think we'd get a much more sympathetic hearing by being seen as for it instead of holding out for the whole loaf right now. I certainly know how I'd feel on the matter if I were making minimum wage (or close to it) at the moment.

"All or nothing, with us or agin' us" is a mighty tough sell.

Submitted by lambert on

In the same way that Republicans live (or at least lived for years) in fear of the right, the Democrats need to live in fear of the left. The Overton Window slid a smidge to the left in the past few months. It needs to slide a few feet, and absolutism and compliance testing is the only way to do that. It's not my job to figure out how to compromise and get a half a loaf and pre-negotiate. That's what political parties are for. Think of the 12-Point platform as a version of Grover Norquist's very effective pledge.

* * *

So it doens't matter whether $10.10 is weak sauce or not. The only thing that matters is the simple compliance test. I think it should be $15, which was the grassroots demand before the career "progressives" got hold of it. Now, I think $10.10 is great, but that was then, this is now. "What have you done for me lately?" That would be my attitude. We want Democrats saying "Those assholes. It's never enough with them!"

(Note that I haven't written -- and it would sure be nice if I weren't the only one to do this [groan] -- the supporting material for this, which would give an operational definition of compliance.)

* * *

The Republicans have a layered architecture, where the bottom feeders are constantly chewing on the next level up, and up, and up because they aren't conservative enough. It worked great for them for a generation. We should adopt it.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

Maybe the solution is to take yet another page from Norquist, the NRA et. al. Form some kind of nonpartisan :p policy center and issue report cards for candidates. A lifetime "A" rating being consistent advocacy for the platform. Maybe supporting a $10.10 minimum wage grades out as a C+.

psychohistorian's picture
Submitted by psychohistorian on

I would suggest combining 1 and 4 to read Living Wage or Public Service Job/Income Guarantee
I think both are necessary to stop the bleeding and bring us more under one roof, so to speak. And yes, Private Non-Profit (PNP) needs to be reworked to not include the NFL.

I would add one that is Gender Equality and Reproductive Rights....maybe under Rebalance Government. Maybe reproductive rights could be under Gender Equality.

Submitted by lambert on

The levels are roughly phased. It will be a good deal easier to pass a living wage than to put the JIG in place. So, we stop the bleeding, then put the better system in place.

* * *

I have very deliberately left out all of the various identities that Democrats divide the electorate up into in order to (a) fund their nomenklatura and (b) divide and conquer. There are no planks for blacks, Hispanics, or gays, either.

I assert that in every case (1) income that doesn't depend on a job, (2) health care that doesn't depend on a job, and (3) an independent bank account, especially one that doesn't depend on a spousal relationship, will empower any citizen more than sorting them by identity politics will do. "Show me the money!!!!"

Peter L.'s picture
Submitted by Peter L. on

Point three: tax the rich. I am curious to know what other people think about specific tax structures. The person I've heard most recently discuss this topic is Michael Hudson. He suggests that classical economists believed it would make sense to tax economic rents, income earned that doesn't correspond to cost of production, but instead of earned from control of some property right or control of access.

Here is a link to a less than five minute video on YouTube, with Hudson explaining the basic issue (interviewed on a YouTube channel called "Renegade Economist").

As the explanation to point 3 above states we need to tax: "Not for revenue, because taxes don't fund spending. But to prevent the rich from buying up the political system with their loose cash, and also to prevent the formation of an aristocracy of inherited wealth."

I get the sense that taxes need not necessarily be on income or on wealth, per se, but instead on economic rent, because we should seek ways to prevent our economic system from becoming dominated by rentiers.

I apologize that I don't have anything to add here. I only have questions. "Tax the rich" is fairly non-specific about how it would be done (although in the explanation it is a progressive income tax), but I am interested in hearing what other people have to say about taxing economic rent.

Perhaps the contrast we could talk about is whether we want to tax income of all kinds, or only certain types of income, or even land and wealth.


okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

I really appreciate the fresh thinking inherent here that short-circuits old political/philosophical arguments about winners, losers, achievers, layabouts, etc.. The issue we are really dealing with is "capture", whether it is governmental, legislative, regulatory, media, financial, cultural, physical, etc..

I saw a recent interview of Exene Cervenca of X, where she marveled at the free-wheeling, crazy, spontaneous, fun crowds at their shows in Mexico City and South America in contrast to how regimented and controlled the atmosphere is in there US tours. One of her hosts said the reason is that in the United States, we have "rights", but no freedom, while there, they have freedom, but no rights.

Submitted by lambert on

I like the idea of taxing economic rent very much. Especially since the rich are, by definition, at least in this economy, economic rentiers.

I get the sense that taxes need not necessarily be on income or on wealth, per se, but instead on economic rent, because we should seek ways to prevent our economic system from becoming dominated by rentiers.

Yes. Specificity of the points is either a problem, or artful; I tend to think artful. The art is making them specific enough for people to see the concrete material benefit -- here, I think it's simple justice and the sense that the rich have "captured," as Okanagen says, too great a portion of society's resources -- but general enough so we can slide operational definitions and implementation details underneath the points.

Also, the guy who had the 5 points in Rolling Stone advocated, IIRC, a (Georgist?) "land tax," which I imagine recaptures one species of rent? (Obviously, I like that word "capture.")

Peter L.'s picture
Submitted by Peter L. on

I think the idea of taxing economic rent is a kind of conservative idea, in that the goal is to preserve a functioning economy and protect it from the degrading and destructive properties of the FIRE sector. The point is to free productive labor from control by a neo-feudal class that "lives" off its rights to property. I have to say I don't quite "get it" yet. However, I found Hudson's presentation of the idea interesting especially because he claims that this was an idea assumed by the classical economists, like John Stuart Mill.

Owning land, or learning from Ostrom better to say, "having certain types of control over land", I assume, is the traditional way people have extracted labor and rent from others. Thus it makes sense to see taxing land as an especially important policy. However, I would guess that given our current system, traditional arguments about taxing land should extend to taxing all "tolls" as Hudson puts it.

I think Keynes said something to the effect that permanently low interest rates should lead to the euthanasia of the rentier. Perhaps a properly constructed tax system could also contribute to the effort.

Submitted by lambert on

... is that in fact there are a lot of well thought through solutions out there already. It's more a matter of curating them properly, as opposed to inventing an entirely new philosophical system, say.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

includes Estate Tax.

Left up to corporatist Dems, it probably won't:

By 80 yeas to 19 nays (Vote No. 66), Murray (for Warner) Amendment No. 693, to repeal or reduce the estate tax, but only if done in a fiscally responsible way.

Pages S2284, S2285-86, Congressional Record

(I have no problem with a reasonable exemption, but with Dems leading the charge to slash federal income tax marginal tax rates--per the President's Fiscal Commission proposal--sometime this year or next year, can't imagine that we would also exempt the wealthy from Estate Taxes. I realize that your comment was addressed to Lambert--just putting in my two cents!)


V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

I think your 12 point program is stellar and would be more than worthy of a national referendum.
But, who would champion such as this? There was a time...
But, I feel it's long past the point of serious consideration.
I'm an old guy who went to the streets against the Vietnam war (yeah, I know, we didn't cause its end) and have been a firebrand all of my quite long life and to this day.
But, I also recognize the futility of our present predicament; we've been quasi-neutered by a technology we're just beginning to understand.
There is a way, but I do not know what it is. But somebody will figure it out, eventually (I hope).
To reiterate; your 12 point program is so right on the mark and I'll vote for it.
I'm new here; so maybe I'm late to a party I do not know/understand; if so be patient, please. I'll get it...