From the Left: Democrat, GOP “reforms” don’t go far enough
Published: Friday, October 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 25, 2013 01:10
We should not pass short-term band-aid “reforms” that throw taxpayer money at a problem in the hopes that it will go away— i.e., Obamacare, the stimulus and bail-outs, Dodd-Frank and others. There needs to be a radical deconstruction of the system’s entire structural framework. There needs to be a revolutionary reconstitution of all social and economic relationships. Democracy needs to exist in the economic sphere, not just the political one.
As Jefferson himself put it in his letter to William Smith in 1787, “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” There is nothing more conducive to freedom than the revolutionary overthrow of a totalitarian system, and I will stand for nothing less.
If we want to improve the direct material conditions of the working class, then there are several things that can be done in the short-term. The end goal is, and should always be, a fundamentally different economic system, one based on decentralization and democracy – but that does not change the fact that there are things that should immediately be done to help the working class.
If we wanted, the FDA could be the means through which the government enacts mass-distribution of food and medicine. It could be the tool used by a progressive administration to enact a real “war on poverty” by ensuring that every American citizen has access to fresh, chemical-free organic produce. The FDA could be used to eradicate mass hunger and starvation in every corner of the country, and could make sure that everyone – young and old, rich and poor, black and white – never has to miss a healthy meal by enacting regulation, subsidy and funding changes that would induce a market response to universally reduce food prices. An eco-friendly, healthy “food-for-all” social program in our schools and neighborhoods would cost only a fraction of a percent of our imperial war-spending, and it would be a significant first step towards the eradication of hunger and malnutrition in the country.
The right to high-quality healthcare is one of the most fundamental things to which public taxpayer funds should be directed. It’s an industry that you can’t choose to be part of (or not be part of), because your very existence, by contingency, means that you will require medical care at some point in your life. Whether it’s your birth, death, sickness, etc. Does not matter; you are intimately part of the system. You cannot interact with it out of your own volition - the fact that you exist means that you have an intimate relationship with public healthcare, and this makes it radically different than sensational, consumerist industries. A universal Medicare-for-all national insurance that covers every American citizen from birth till death would cost less than the current bureaucratic private market.
If everyone paid a 3.3 percent tax rate on their income – less than the 6.5 percent or more that some insurance corporations charge in premiums – every citizen could charge all of their medical, dental, and optic bills to the Medicare program and it would remain indefinitely solvent and fully funded. Every child could get the vaccines, braces, glasses, contraception and prescriptions they need. H.R. 676, the bill in Congress that would enact single-payer healthcare, has been re-introduced several times in the past year and Congressional budget analysts say that it would save the country $300 billion each year by consolidating savings from getting rid of wasteful corporate bureaucracy.
A public works program – in the spirit of FDR-era New Deal projects – would hire millions of citizens and have them repair our nation’s infrastructure. If we brought back FDR’s Workers Progress Administration, the government could hire citizens to re-pave our roads, re-build our bridges, modernize the energy grid, repair our crumbling schools and neighborhoods, and revitalize our cities. A public works program has the power to cut the unemployment rate to a near-zero level overnight; it has the potential to drag our infrastructure into economic modernity and make it stable for another dozen generations.
A Workers Progress Administration must go hand-in-hand with a national project to completely re-design the country’s energy industry. It should immediately nationalize all energy production to expropriate natural resources. The earth is not something that one can “own” - it is something that we all share, and as such should all be held by the public and run in the direct interests of the public. The project can build massive fields of solar panels in the Midwest fields, hydroelectric facilities along the coasts, and wind turbines along the jet stream. Not only would this allow universal access to non-profit, clean energy for everyone in the country, but it would make oil wars in the Middle East obsolete. If we truly wanted to, we could re-structure the energy industry through subsidizing massive green energy development instead of dirty oil and gas manufacturing. We could incentivize alternative production with specific market mechanisms if we wanted to, but the political will for this does not exist in Washington.
If we can find money to wage war, we can find money to help our own citizens. If there’s money for drones and corporate welfare, then there’s money for hospitals and textbooks.
I would rather have my taxes go towards cutting-edge universal healthcare, high-quality education, and massive infrastructural repairs for me and my fellow Americans than fund the imperial colonization of the Middle East. Why can’t we do some nation-building here at home? It’s not a matter of impossibility or lack of funding, but rather a lack of political will. If we wanted, we could orient our government - and all of its immense legal, economic, and political authority - to fundamentally re-structure the economy in our interests.