One of the great anxieties of the Democratic party has been that we are a party bereft of ideas. The blogosphere is a place we can develop and test ideas, it is samizdat, a place where we the people set the agenda. We live in an age where commons of earlier technological advances have been enclosed, and peasants like ourselves have been set adrift in search of a new home.
This should be a be a place where we set the agenda, and do not allow ourselves to be driven by the news media. The thing we need to do first is set the record straight, the Republicans are not a party of construction, they are the party of destruction. The last 4 years has been about raping the gains of the 20th century, at the heart of their economic and social agenda is a punch from the hard right at the very notion of social solidarity. Progressive taxation, government regulation of corporations, protecting the environmental commons, all are under attack.
In response to the failure of unregulated capitalism in the Mid 20th century, America led the way to better days. Through the New Deal, America made its way through those dark days without giving sway to the lure of dictatorship. We stayed true to ourselves. We were the shining city on a hill. We had out problems, but at the heart of the movement to the left was a commitment. A commitment to the notion of social solidarity. We choose as a nation to embrace each other as brothers, rather than to fear one another.
The modern Republican party is not a party of construction, it is not a party of ideas. The modern Republican party is a party of destruction. The architect of the Bush Administration’s war on the Homeland is Grover Norquist.
His end goal:
“My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years,” he says, “to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
The devastation left by Hurricane Katrina, and the utter failure to treat the victims of this man-made tragedy. Mitch Daniels, now governor of Indiana, the White House OMB director, oversaw the slashing of the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild the levees in spite of
evidence from the Corps that the levees were subject to failure because of a lack of maintenance. This is the legacy of the fixation of the Republican party on destroying the New Deal state, and the broader assault on social solidarity.
Why weren’t the millions of people displaced by Katrina offered work rebuilding the city?
Why have out of state contractors allowed to bring in migrant laborers, and get away treating them like latter day slaves?
Why does the Republican party insist on privatizing every aspect of government?
Does anyone else sense the Praetorians are coming when they see the latest atrocity committed by mercenaries employed by our government?
Will the privatization of the use of lethal force be reimported?
Do you see Pinkertons on the horizon? I do.
We live in dark times. We must decide.
Will we fall divided, or will we stand in solidarity?
Solidarity is the answer.
Universal access to healthcare and education must be a plank of our platform.
Addressing the cancer of urban sprawl, and the consequent destruction of urban communities must be addressed.
We need national zoning laws to channel growth into growing communities, and take on the growth of the real estate market as a conduit for speculative investment. Construction on virgin lands should be prohibited when vacancy rates (ie abandoned homes that become lures for all sorts of bad things) are above a certain level. No more disposable communities. All new construction should contain strong set asides (20%) for affordable housing, the majority should be required to mirror the income structure of the surrounding area, so that there is a concrete relationship between income and housing costs, (ie reality based housing).
Social infrastructure (sidewalks, street lights, access to public transportation, public green space) should be mandated. Retail outlets exceeding a set square footage should be contained within defined retail districts, this should hold true of other land uses (large offices, industrial parks) that require large numbers of people to travel to them as well. Surface parking should be strictly limited, large parking facilities should required to be placed underground where possible and in parking garages where not possible. Their footprint should be strictly limited to prevent damage to watersheds, and promote walkable communities.
If we as a nation are going to provide millions of dollars for infrastructure investments, we should have common guidelines that make sure that more is channeled to create communities not destroy them by subsidizing White Flight. We have lost the “Street”, the public space in which we can gather, in this country, we need to take that back. We create poverty by making the possession of an automobile as prerequisite for getting a good job, and we’ve succeeded in making ourselves obscenely obese because the urban infrastructure to allowing walking to work or to the store doesn’t exist in most of our communities. Public planning has tilted from public solutions to the private sector in the latter half of the 20th century, this has mirrored the rise of corporations and their escape from state control.
Central to the rise of the corporation is the notion of corporate personality. Corporate personality is a cop out, an unfair get out of jail free card, that grants wealth the rights and privileges of citizenship, but none of the responsibility. Bhopal, Unocal, Coke running death squads. Corporations are literally getting away with murder, so much for a culture of life.
The answer is abolish corporate personality.
During the Spanish Inquisition where burned at the stake. Why?
Because priests were forbidden to shed blood, and the flames where meant to mimic the hellfire from whence the heretics were presumed to have come.
The obsessions of the “government drowners” of the Right presents the opportunity for similar irony. We give them what they want, and it will be the end of the power.
In 2002, Norquist and the ATR were promoting a bill that would eliminate the “double taxation” of dividends. It was apparently lost upon Norquist and the bunch that the notion of corporate personality blows a very large hole in the notion that the taxation of corporate profits is double taxation. By his logic when I pay income taxes, I’m being taxed twice as well, after all my employer already paid taxes on this once, and the consumer on the products they bought from my company. Ignoring that corporations rarely if ever pay the legal tax rate, the capital gains tax rates have ensured the work is taxed more heavily than wealth. Tax capital gains as regular income to make up the difference. Still, let’s give Grover what he wants.
Grover’s attack on “double taxation” assumes the corporation has no legal personality, let’s make that happen. Let’s abolish the corporation and as a consequence abolish the corporate income tax, the limitation of liability to capital stock, and the immunity corporate personality grants to corporate management and the board of directors. Oh my god, we’ve killed the corporation. How are we going to make this stick.
To replace limited liability of the corporation all corporations over a certain size should be required to post bond to cover any cost above and beyond the value of their capital assets, this can be accomplished through a quasi governmental body like the FDIC. Small business should be permitted to post bonds at a discounted rate. And should the actions of the corporation be determined to be criminal, we’ve now got live bodies to throw in jail, or under it as it may be. (No killing people is wrong, corporations aren’t people though.)
I propose that we adopt a limited social partnership model, and require that labor have a representative on all corporate boards. I also believe that members of the board and of management should be forced to sign documents assuming for illegal actions that fall under their aegis. You defraud the public while you’re on the board, you go to prison. No if ands or buts, though you might have to worry about your butt. Criminal liability should extend to all actions by the corporation including actions overseas. Run death squads, that’s murder, you’re going to rot in jail.
And about death squads in Latin America, and the human rights situation in China. We need to have solidarity with out brothers overseas. Current “trade” deals do not represent a framework for fair trade. There’s a deep irony when “free” trade allows in products made by the laogai, the Chinese gulag. We need to relink human right to trade, and this must be a litmus test for our party. We need to redraft NAFTA so that adherence to democratic norms is a condition of entry. We need a common legal code protecting workers right and the environment passed by referendum in this country and all other member states.
We also need to respect the rule of law closure to home. The insistence of the Bush Administration that it can act in contradiction to the Constitution is a dangerous precedent. Solidarity demands that we protect the right of all to live free from fear that they are being watched for heresy. If we step back without a fight we give way to the Stasi state. There needs to be a full revelation of the extent of illegal spying in this country. There needs to be a commission to separate materials that although being the fruit of a poisoned tree are relevant to fighting terrorism, and materials collected that bear no relation to fighting terrorism. Those materials that were gathered illegally, and bear no relation to fighting terrorism should be released to the people being spied on. Our legal system is sufficient to produce remedies at that point.
If we don’t stand in solidarity, we will all fall down.
They will call us socialists for it, but the truth is their policies are antisocial.
Solidarity brought down an evil regime once before.
Solidarity defeats Evil Empires.
Bring it home.