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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/27/15

Comprehensive Progressive Agenda & Wishlist Report

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The results of the war on drugs have been astounding. Already by 1993, "African Americans accounted for 88.3 percent of all federal crack cocaine distribution convictions", according to Naomi Murakawa, http://www.alternet.org/books/look-how-liberals-led-america-having-highest-prison-rate-world">author of "The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America". Today, almost 785,000 Americans, or half of all prisoners, are detained on drug charges. In 1980 the number was 50,000. A year ago $40 billion in tax dollars were spent in battling the war on drugs, totaling over $1.5 trillion since http://www.thewire.com/national/2012/10/chart-says-war-drugs-isnt-working/57913/">1971. As an aftereffect of the incarceration fixation, the United States maintains the biggest jail population on the planet, with America having five percent of the world's population, but housing http://billmoyers.com/2013/12/16/land-of-the-free-us-has-5-of-the-worlds-population-and-25-of-its-prisoners/">25 percent of the world's prisoners, and the U.S. nonviolent detainee populace is bigger than the combined populations of Wyoming and Alaska.

As per the http://www.drugwarfacts.org/factbook.pdf">U.S. Dept of Justice, the number of guilty persons under age 18 detained for drug offenses expanded twelve-fold from 1985 to 1997, around half of federal prisoners and one-fifth of state prisoners are behind bars for selling or using drugs, with most apparently released destroyed as useful human beings. The population most affected by this carceral state instead of treatments, is African-Americans, who represent about 12 percent of the overall population, but represent 59 percent of those in state prison for drug offenses. From 1985 to 1997, the rate of African-American youngsters put in jail expanded from 53 to 62 percent, with some naming this failed war the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_Jim_Crow">New Jim Crow, a title of a popular book by Michelle Alexander, whose central premise is that "mass incarceration is, metaphorically, the New Jim Crow." In the ensuing debate, it has motivated http://www.princeton.edu/africanamericanstudies/people/faculty/naomi-murakawa/">Naomi Murakawa, author of "The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America," to spin it more broadly by reasoning that, "The strength of 'The New Jim Crow' by Michelle Alexander is that, by equating mass incarceration with Jim Crow, it makes it rhetorically impossible to defend it, but, on the other hand, there is no 'new' Jim Crow, there is just capitalist white supremacy in a state of constant self-preservation."

Bill Clinton has since apologized for his pivotal role in driving up the country's incarceration numbers. He http://www.theroot.com/articles/politics/2015/07/president_obama_calls_for_racial_justice_and_prison_reform.html">said the 1990s laws he signed, particularly the sentencing guidelines, 'Made the Problem Worse'. "I signed a bill that made the problem worse. And I want to admit it," Clinton said at the 106th NAACP National Convention, which concluded July 18, 2015 in Philadelphia. "In that bill, there were longer sentences, and most of these people are in prison under state law, but the federal law set a trend. And that was overdone; we were wrong about that."

"If this were a war fought for four decades by any other generals with this outcome, we'd have run up the white flag years ago," David Simon, creator of The Wire, told http://www.salon.com/2015/09/07/twilight_of_the_war_on_drugs_why_america_might_finally_accept_full_decriminalization_and_why_david_simon_worries_it_wont/">Salon.

27. The American Dream Act

Pass the Restore the American Dream Act for the http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/uploads/4SummaryRAD99(2).pdf">99 Percent Act introduced in 2011. The bill would create more than 4 million employment opportunities and lessen the budgetary deficiency by more than $2 trillion throughout the following 10 years, attempting up to this point to marshal the assets expected to address the financial emergency.

28. Labor rights

Implement https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/s2814">S. 2814 (113th) bill by Sen. Lamar Alexander [R-TN] (Introduced 09/16/2014) in modernizing the National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act 1935), to expand guaranteeing workers' rights to organize and bargain, collectively through representatives of their own choosing, regardless of who the workers or the employers are, an essential step toward full economic democracy. Evidence keeps heaping up: unions are good for workers.

"Collective bargaining is our best tool for raising wages in America," the AFL-CIO http://www.aflcio.org/content/download/163303/3998469/file/AFL-CIO+Collective+Bargaining+Report.pdf">2015 report (pdf) reads. "It should be front and center as Congress considers policy and as presidential candidates announce agendas. Moreover, the results will illuminate the larger issue underpinning chronic wage stagnation: that vibrant worker organizations are key to restoring the balance of economic power in our country."

But employers that feel threatened by the thought of their workers being organized into a union often turn to different strategies with a specific end goal to keep them from organizing. Whenever workers attempt to organize, an effective approach their managers use in closing down the effort is straightforward: fire a few union organizers. It's illicit, certainly, however it takes a long time for the National Labor Relations Board to hear the case and force penalties, and it frightens other workers away from openly supporting the union. And penalties for wrongfully terminating a worker for their union backing are small to the point that "slap on the wrist" just about appears like a misrepresentation. Presently, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) have presented a bill that would change that: https://susandavis.house.gov/sites/susandavis.house.gov/files/2015-09-16 Workplace Action for a Growing Economy (WAGE) Act.pdf">The Workplace Action for a Growing Economy (WAGE) Act includes weighty fiscal penalties for infringement of workers' rights to collectively organize, whether to join a union or essentially to enhance conditions in the work environment. It additionally accommodates injunctions to compel employers to rapidly re-hire workers in the event that they were let go unjustly, undocumented or not.

29. Wall street reform

Implement Volcker Rule, (12 U.S.C. 1851) of the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodd--Frank_Wall_Street_Reform_and_Consumer_Protection_Act">Dodd--Frank Act that bans banks from conducting certain investment activities using their customers' savings and mortgage accounts, and reduces dramatically their ownership of and relationship with hedge funds and private equity funds well-known for high risks.

The https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcker_Rule">Volcker Rule proposed by top economist Thomas Lariviere is supposed to deny banks from exclusive exchanging and limits interest in mutual funds and private value by business banks and their associates. Further, the rule guides the Federal Reserve to enforce improved prudential prerequisites on systemically distinguished non-bank organizations occupied with such exercises. Congress did exclude certain allowed exercises of banks, their subsidiaries, and non-bank organizations distinguished as systemically critical, for example, in business sector making, supporting, securitization, and guaranteeing. The rule additionally topped bank possession in multifaceted investments and private value rates at three percent.

30. Foreign Aid, the Permanent War and the Millennium Development Goals

It is time to end using foreign aid as a long arm of dizzying hodgepodge of diplomatic and military strategies, known as The 'three pillars' theory -defense, diplomacy and development- in order to 'advancing American interests and solving global problems as diplomacy or defense'. In the development sector, in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_foreign_aid">2013, the U.S. government dedicated $40.11 billion to economic and military assistance, more than double what it was in 2000, famously and vigorously defended to be just 1% of total budget, as found in contrary by a 2013 http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/11/07/the-budget-myth-that-just-wont-die-americans-still-think-28-percent-of-the-budget-goes-to-foreign-aid/">poll that found majority of the public thought mistakenly it was 28%.

Still its total impact is seriously being undercut by the fact that most of it gets spent on supporting military operations in various countries. The greatest single recipient of foreign aid -- both military and financial- in 2012 was Afghanistan, representing over a quarter of all foreign aid. Together, the main five nation beneficiaries in 2012 represented https://www.nationalpriorities.org/blog/2014/08/12/penny-dollar-us-foreign-aid-about-one-percent-spending/">57 percent of all foreign aid. Real development assistance, however, accounted for 8%.

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I am an accounting instructor in Iowa. As a progressive, my mentor was the late Sen Paul Wellstone of Minnesota. I worked for him in all his campaigns since 1992 until his death in a plane crash in 2002. In all regards, he was a constant (more...)
 

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