iii. Reduction of the military budget from its current $733 billion, which is more than the rest of the world combined, to 1/3 of the rest of the world's expenditure in the prior year, combined with a call for world-wide arms reduction.
iv. Campaign finance and process reform
v. Means tested single payer health care
3. A census of Occupy Movement members asking for signatures on a pledge to vote only for candidates who accept the movement's platform would allow the movement to say we have X members who will not vote for a Democrat or Republican unless he or she agrees to implement our demands. (Attendees at Freedom Plaza all signed in. If all locals did the same, we would just need to count all members in a central database.) Imagine the effect this could have on a political party if we had 150,000,000 members. That is not an unattainable number if we truly are the 99%. We just need to frame our positions clearly and launch a national petition drive.
1. Proposed mission statement - The mission of the
Occupy Movement is to stop wasteful governmental spending, and end
discrimination in economic policy and the administration of justice. -
TheThe other night I listened as a member of my local Occupy group read a lengthy mission statement. I agreed with all the sentiments he expressed, but don't believe that a statement of that length will have the desired impact. This is the day of the Tweet, and few people seem to have the attention span to comprehend and apply a lengthy statement. This proposed statement is an attempt to state the mission in as few words as possible while striving to use language that will allow people of all political stripes to nod in agreement. The devil is always in the details, but getting people to nod at the beginning of your "sales spiel" is sound strategy. A mission statement is not a strategic plan, but is the intellectual and emotional basis for such a plan. The objectives detailed below are the framework for a strategic plan. The plan is to get enough signatures endorsing these objectives to influence the platforms of candidates for national office.
There is never any doubt that those most motivated by greed and personal interest will find a way around any system put in place to thwart them, but it is essential to start somewhere. What I am about to propose are starting points for national debate. The need for that debate is part of my belief that we cannot afford to ignore timelines in our planning. These suggestions are kept simple in the hope that alternate objectives to be arrived at by consensus will be the same. I do not purport to be "the man with the answers", but only to be offering a starting point. Here are the suggested initial positions and the arguments for them that generated the five objectives stated above:
1. Equal taxation for all personal incomes and
capital gains above the poverty level and mandatory taxation for retained corporate
This is a response to the grossly unjust present tax system. That system was devised as a way to give special incentives to certain kinds of spending, but its injustices are widely recognized. This goal lumps personal incomes and capital gains in the same category because the latter are used by the wealthier among us as tax dodges, and that tactic can be counteracted by eliminating the difference in taxability between the two. Corporations use the same dodge, and they should be taxed for Retained Corporate Earnings, which are revenues set aside for future use. Taxing those earnings could spur some investment of earnings in jobs as a way for the corporation to shelter itself from taxation while not offering a large enough shelter to starve government coffers. Dividends to stockholders should also be taxed as personal income. The essential point would be to set the taxation levels so that we would experience some improvement over our present national tax income.
Initial review of this proposal by progressive editors has raised the argument that taxation should be higher on high earners than on lower level earners. I can support that to a point, but that point is very low on the income scale in my mind. I have no vendetta against the very wealthy and believe that each of us should contribute an equal percentage if our incomes to the nation's coffers as long as that percentage does not interfere with our ability to meet family needs. In other words, great care should be taken to avoid placing undue burden on the lower earners among us, but when a person's income reaches a level at which he/she can be expected to meet all the financial needs of the family through prudent management (certainly a level higher than now identified as the poverty level), no special consideration is any longer needed.
That said, I would not vociferously argue against a proposal that placed a higher burden on higher incomes, either. However, I think consideration should be given to the fact the change in capital gains taxation proposed above does constitute in increased tax on the wealthy.
2. Equal percentage contribution to social security for 100% of income -- The present system that exempts higher incomes from contribution has been unjust from the day it was implemented. Requiring full contribution refutes the notion of trickle-down economics and fully funds social security so that those who were unable to achieve high income still have a safety net after retirement. The idea of "privatizing" social security is, of course, just a means of making taxed money intended as a pool for support of those in need after they are no longer able to work available to Wall Street investors and so is completely unacceptable. Instead, the movement should act to ensure that those funds are retained in government hands and not available as funds for any other purpose.
3. Reduction of the military budget from its current $733 billion, which is more than the rest of the world combined (Source: Inter-Faith Peacemakers of Edina, 5320 Windsor Avenue, Edina, MN 55436 (952) 922-3401 http://www.mapm.org), to 1/3 of the rest of the world's expenditure in the prior year. (Not to 1/3 of present spending, but to 1/3 of the rest of the world's spending as a starting point.) These expenditure reductions should be combined with a call for world-wide arms reduction including a moratorium on international arms sales, nuclear weapons, and robotic weapons.
The Obama administration recently approached the UN with the statement that that body would need to find a way to increase its defense capabilities because US budget cuts will necessitate reduced military capabilities. Part and parcel to our military budget reduction, we should call for new world-wide arms control measures as a means of ensuring our own national security as well as that of the world. That is why my recommendation includes moratoria on arms sales, nuclear weaponry and robotic weaponry. This would, of course, be hard fought in the US because so much of our economy is based on arms production and sales. This, combined, perhaps with some tax exemptions or other incentives, should give us leverage to argue for re-investment in alternative energy production, infra-structure improvement, etc.
A special note on robotic weaponry: This author believes that the development of automated warfare holds horrendous potential because it further removes public and even military awareness from the horror of war, and reduces it to something like a video game. Since the Vietnam war protests, our government has learned that it can keep wars going longer if the public is not subject to the draft and does not see daily body counts or photographic accounts of daily battles. Posting soldiers in Nevada to operate drone bombers in Afghanistan isolates even the military from the front lines. That isolation from the realities of war will make it much easier for governments to wage wars.