Hello, friends! It has been some time since my last blog as I have been preparing for and attending OccupyMN, the solidarity movement in Minneapolis with the Occupy Wall Street protest. I am home on a recharge/shower/lunch break and wanted to take a few moments to express my personal list of proposed demands for our movement. It will not be representative of the others’ thoughts in any way… this is my work and mine alone and I would be happy to see the movement adopt all or parts of it, but this blog does not represent the movement in any way.
Generation of Funds
In order to fulfill what I believe are the obligations of government (summed up nicely by FDR’s proposed second Bill of Rights), the government will need proper funding. Part of this will be in the form of cuts and more will be in the form of progressive and simplified taxation. We’ll start with taxation.
Simplified and Progressive Taxation
First and foremost, anyone making below $40,000 plus an additional $10,000 per dependent should not pay any sort of taxes. With all the talk about “broadening the tax base,” we cannot forget how much it costs just to provide shelter, food, education and health care. Hard-working Americans cannot “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” unless they have something to work with. This is a fair and honest dollar amount that would be adjusted based on the cost of living each year.
Secondly, there would be no tax-exempt status for religious organizations or any non-profit which pays their CEO more than 50 times times the national minimum wage. Religious organizations should not be exempt from taxes as this demonstrates government sponsorship and endorsement of religion, which provides an appearance of impropriety related to the government’s First Amendment mandate to remain separated from religious matters. Any organization paying their CEO more than fifty times minimum wage is not living the spirit of non-profit.
Third, taxation on the individual would be handled as a sales tax. All items and services would have a 25% sales tax of which 5% would be distributed by the federal government to states, cities, townships and school districts on a democratically-approved scale and basis. The only items exempt from sales taxes would be:
- Primary shelter rent or mortgage within reasonable limits as designated per local markets
- Primary vehicle within reasonable limits and mass transit
- Consumables (food, groceries)
- Health care products, services, prescriptions
- Educational tuition, fees, books, shelter
Finally, corporate taxes would be set at 35% of profits generated. Offshoring, investing in shell companies, and other such loopholes would be closed permanently. Profits generated would be straight revenue minus straight costs. A company that used no foreign labor, manufacturing, or sourcing during a tax year would be eligible to pay only 25%.
Summary: Individual 25% sales tax with “necessities” item exemptions and poverty exemption. Corporate 35% flat tax on real profits with 10% deduction for being “all-American.” Exclusion of religious and high-paid CEO organizations from non-profit status. All other taxes and related tax compliance divisions eliminated.
Cuts to Spending
The “war on drugs,” including all cannabis-related laws and restrictions, and the incarceration of all inmates on cannabis-related charges, would be completely eliminated. All inmates serving time for cannabis-related crimes would be released, cases would be dropped, programs to find and destroy fields would end, and programs to misinform Americans about cannabis would cease operation.
The “war on terror,” including our invasion and occupation of several middle eastern countries, would end directly and immediately. All military bases outside of the country would close and all equipment and personnel would return to the United States to act as defense or work on infrastructure projects. Black sites and international prisons would be shuttered and anyone not receiving a fair and speedy trial would be released.
The IRS would be converted to a standard compliance office with a greatly reduced headcount per the taxation section above.
Housing: Reclamation of abandoned homes and bank-abandoned foreclosures (foreclosed homes with no bank action for 60 days post-eviction) and relocation of homeless families and individuals into these residences. The contract between the renter and the government would mandate improvements to bring the home up to code and visually appealing using tools provided by Housing and Urban Development. Rent would be paid via this labor, and if the requirements are met within six months and maintained for an additional year, the renter will own the property.
Welfare: Funding will be contingent on work performed under a public works program. Instead of the current method of providing funding while the recipient seeks employment, any public welfare recipient will need to work on public projects as determined by their physical and mental capabilities and their family situation. Additionally, they will need to complete training geared toward moving them back into a job in the private sector and will be assisted by social workers in the training and transitioning process.
: The Kucinich/Conyers universal single-payer healthcare bill contains the exact structure needed for meeting this demand. Please read the summary of that bill here
Education: Anyone wishing to obtain a college education will be free to do so. The government will impose rational limits on the cost of higher education in order to make it affordable for all. Instead of subsidized loans provided by private lenders, the government will provide a mixture of 50% grant/50% loan (nationalized, not privatized) for tuition, books, lab fees, and (if required) housing to students who qualify for some form of aid, with the grant being awarded first. This would encourage students to seek out other scholarship opportunities as opposed to taking out loans, but would not preclude anyone from obtaining a higher education.
Restoring Power to the People
Restore the Glass Steagall Act and eliminate the Patriot Act and the 1996 Telecom Act. I will leave it up to each of you to educate yourselves on these acts.
This is my list and is subject to revision. I would love to see your thoughts in the comments. It may not sound like the “nationalize all energy and banks” socialism you’ve come to expect if you know me, but again… I realize that these are not the mainstream goals of this movement. My proposals are geared toward a regulated, socially just environment that keeps alive the choices brought about through properly regulated competition.