Whatever the new Citizens Alliance does and stands for will be determined by what Ernie Cortes has called "democratic conversations." What follows, at the request of the editors, is only one citizen's contribution to those conversations, and is no more important than anyone else's.
Once we are formed, in my opinion, we should at once connect with other democratic workers' and citizen movements and people-based nongovernmental organizations (N.G.O.s) around the world, because the only hope for turning giant corporate fictions into fundamentally subordinate bodies is direct and cooperative international citizen action.
Here are some of my thoughts about policy issues, with which you may or may not agreeŠplease come forward with your own, so that, in due course, a document on issues can be democratically composed by the participants in the new Alliance:
Publicly mandated free television and radio time for bona fide candidates for office at each level; a limit on all campaign contributions to $100 from a flesh-and-blood person who is a permanent resident of the candidate's district; prohibition of contributions or any other political activity by corporations.
Single-payer national health insurance such as the Canadian plan, with automatic universal coverage.
A doubling of the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation.
A full-employment (3 percent unemployment) antipoverty policy rooted in a thirty-five-hour workweek with four- to six-week vacations; equal pay for equal work.
A huge public-investment program, including the creation of a community-owned, community-controlled public nursing-home system and a new profession of caring for handicapped and neglected people, funded by the radical simplification of the income tax and the restoration of its steep progressivity, a permanent surtax on corporate profits and a steeply graduated annual wealth tax on personal assets of $5 million or more.
A generic low-interest-rate national policy, which will require the abolition of the Federal Reserve System.
Statutory reversal of court-made law that corporations are "persons"; the redefinition by law of corporate boards to require that they include representatives of workers and other stakeholders, including the public; re-establishment of strict personal civil and criminal liability of corporate officers and agents; corporations' rechartering and, in cases of repeated wrongdoing, the revocation of corporate charters and their dismantling and distribution.
A national public oil company to produce our own oil, and other state or federally owned yardstick corporations in airlines, communications, air travel and transportation, and public utilities.
Legislation to enhance freedom of speech and the press by limiting the ownership of newspapers, magazines, radio and television and radio stations to one of any kind per person or independent owning entity.
The criminalization of any large employer's opposition to the formation of a union among any of its employes (the employer, not the government, required to stand neutral); the repeal of the requirement of a majority vote to form a bargaining unit, permitting minority unions; preference in federal contracts for unions that conduct periodic open accountability sessions among their membership and officers and that dedicate some specific portion of their assets to organizing the unorganized.
Voting only on non-working days; proportional representation and preference voting; initiative, referendum and recall; a requirement that judges inform juries of their common-law right and power to judge the law itself.
Use of public moneys to front-end the costs of homes rather than letting banks double or triple them through compound interest charges.
Classification of cigarettes and alcohol as dangerous drugs; removal or reduction of the profit from narcotics, tobacco and alcohol by forbidding their sale other than by nonprofit local or state entities, decriminalizing narcotics use and a new national addiction-treatment system.
Making U.S. participation in world trade with other nations conditional upon those other nations' workers' pay, conditions and rights to organize, citizens' rights and practices concerning the environment; no trade with dictatorships like China that use slave labor and shoot down, jail and torture their dissenters.
The halving of military spending; the closing of most U.S. bases abroad and the withdrawal of most U.S. troops; the criminalization of the export of all lethal weapons by U.S. manufacturers coupled with a U.S. campaign in the United Nations to achieve the same freeze internationally; the mandated impeachment of any President who wages any war without a formal declaration of war by Congress.
Participation by U.S. citizens in an U.N. volunteer international armed force to stop mass murders anywhere while they are happening; U.S. support for permitting any person anywhere to join the U.N. for a small fee and receive a card as a world citizen, with the fees dedicated to paying the costs of the volunteer armed force.
The abolition of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and dedicated international work toward that goal; punishment of their first use by any state by harshly turning that state into a world pariah.
What else might we do to broaden and advance our views, to back up each other's and help in mutually beneficial activities and enterprises. Internet actions? Buying groups? Low-interest loans among ourselves? Periodic accountability sessions with public officials or corporate executives? Teaching citizen action in high schools. Becoming distributors of Nader's "democratic toolkit"? Actions in civil disobedience? Mass demonstrations?
-- Ronnie Dugger
THE PROGRESSIVE POPULIST