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03 February 2011 @ 05:27 pm
A Political Manifesto  

The world is askew.

There is revolution in Egypt while that bastion of the free world, America, leads its national news with the announcement that Farah Fawcett’s red swimsuit will be going into the Smithsonian Hall of Fame. My adopted home country is in the throes of election campaigning where the campaigns are led by a newly appointed milksop, a milksop who has been his party’s leader for some time, a sell-out, and a former terrorist, the last two of whom, and the last of whom in particular, I think are this country’s only genuine chance at reform. And I’m furious and frustrated at the state of the world, of the economies, of the political machines grinding away to keep the rich happy and the poor downtrodden. So I’ve got something to say today. Stand back. You have been warned.

I believe in from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

I believe that the young, the old, the infirm, should be cared for by society. I believe our nurses, our teachers, our doctors, our police, should be paid generously for reasonable hours. These are the people who care for us and who shape our health and future. I believe that access to the extraordinary health care we have available in today’s world should be free, easy and quick. Studies indicate that the countries with the most equity of wealth have the healthiest populations. Norway–according to the World Health Organization’s list of countries most desireable countries to live in–shows that not only are the less-well-off healthier in a country with more comparatively equal distribution of wealth, but so are the rich. An equal society is in fact a healthy sociecty.

I believe that it is not only immoral but should be illegal for 10% of the people to own 90% of the wealth. Americans, in a recent poll, felt the wealth tax should kick in only at $250,000–because they believe that is a yearly income they might be able to achieve. Three percent of Americans actually make $250K or more. In any gathering, that’s three of one hundred people. Look around. It’s not you, and it’s probably not the guy next to you, either. Even in America, up until Reagan took office, the wealthiest paid 90% of their income in taxes. Now they pay an average of 27%–higher than the American average of 18%, but still sixty-three percent less income for the federal government, all so that the wealthy can continue to grow wealthier.

I believe that education is the answer to most evils, and that money is the answer to education’s woes. I believe that every country in the world should look to Finland as its template for the wonders that can be done with small classes, dedicated, well-paid teachers, an emphasis on the arts, and science that is taught in laboratory scenarios instead of as rote lecture. I believe that countries like Mexico and Brazil, who have introduced social reform programs for families with school-aged children by the simple expediency of handing the equivilant of a year’s salary in cash over to the mothers, no strings attached, are doing the right thing–and it is proven that they are by the marked change in nutrition, scholarly ambitions, and lifetime goals of the children who benefit.

I believe corporations should be taxed to the highest possible percentage, and that the world should look to Norway for an example there: the oil companies, which so many countries–like Ireland–are desperately afraid of offending so badly that the oil companies will take their business elsewhere (an unlikely scenario, given that this is the only planet the oil companies have available to tap)–are taxed at 90% in Norway. Somehow they remain in business there. They would remain in business elsewhere, too, and still reap obscene profits–but the countries from which they take the oil could benefit enormously. I say this as a woman from Alaska, where a percentage of the annual oil income is put into an untouchable fund–the Permanent Fund–which pays out a yearly dividend to every long-term Alaskan resident. This is thanks to bold and foresightful politicians–whom, it should be noted, Norway consulted as they were setting up their own oil revenue scenarios. It can be done. It only requires the will.

I believe that the protective rackets that give bankers who have ruined economies free passes while the minimum wage is cut and ordinary people lose their houses must be reformed. These reforms aren’t even difficult to implement. All that’s necessary is to go back to the laws and regulations that have been systematically dismantled over the past thirty years–laws and regulations which were implemented in the first place because of the 1929 stock exchange crash and the following Great Depression. The talking heads and political pundits refer to what we’re experiencing as a recession, and use phrases like “negative inflation” because they’re afraid to call a spade a spade, admit it’s a depression, and that we face deflation of our currency. They fear bank runs and a loss of the peoples’ faith in the system, and try to stave off dispair by twisting words. But if you talk to the people–not the wealthy, not those who can afford to turn their backs on the financial mismanagement that’s destroyed economies the world over–but to the people who are in fact losing their homes, their livelihoods, their chance at a better future–then you know that despair has already set in. Hope is such a thin commodity that–much like cash and equity–only a scant handful hold it.

I believe that if 1940s America can go from a peacetime setting to a full-out war effort and back again in five years’ time, there is no reason aside from corporate greed that the same could not be done today with green technology. I believe that Ireland, a country small in both population and size, has an unprecedented opportunity to seize the future. Unemployment is rife and there is a desperate need for re-education amongst the working sector–particularly for construction workers, who will very likely never see work again unless something dramatic is done. With passion and vision, Ireland could so easily become a world leader in green technology by relying on the wind and sea–and even on solar power, given that a single home can generate 30% of its annual power usage from solar power despite the notorious cloud cover and rain on the Emerald Isle. It is a country where it’s almost never cold; there’s no reason Ireland shouldn’t be embracing country-wide bike roads and footpaths. These are ideas the vast unemployed construction sector already has the basic tools to implement. All that’s needed is the political will and the funding.

I believe in sin taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs. I believe the money brought in from those taxes should be focused on creating cities that are more friendly to foot-and-bicycle travellers, because I believe our mental and physical health are tied together and that we citified folk largely live inside our heads when we need to spend time occupying our bodies. On that note, I believe that every city in the world should look at Toronto (I believe it’s Toronto; I’ve lost the link now, I’m afraid), where cyclists, frustrated by the city’s promises to build bike lanes with no action to back up those promises, have taken to going out and painting their own bike lanes onto the roads. While I don’t condone the vandalism there, I think it should be noted that it works: drivers respect those bike lanes without a massive restructuring of traffic.

I believe the solutions for our woes are everywhere, all around us, being implemented on the small and sometimes the large scale. I believe it is the duty of a government to seize and encourage those solutions. I believe it is the duty of a people to stand up and demand these things of their government. I believe that we should take a lesson from Egypt, from Tunisia, from the whole of the Middle East, right here and right now. The regimes they have been living under are crueller and darker than those we ‘Westerners’ have come to accept, but time and time again our wealth and our rights are whittled away by our governments and the corporations that own them, and we do nothing. “It’s not that bad,” we say; “First they came for the Jews,” I say.

Ireland has a chance right now to be bold. To make a future that is better for all of us, and to show the rest of the world that it can be done, just as Tunisia and Egypt are doing. No one should have to let things get that bad before revolution is the answer. Revolt now, with passion and conviction and the power of your ballot. And if that doesn’t work, take to the streets, and remember that “First they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you, then you win.” We deserve better. All of us deserve better.

Lemme hear you say yeah.

(x-posted from the essential kit)
A large duck: bear headlock!burger_eater on February 3rd, 2011 07:05 pm (UTC)
Absolutely yes.
Joopivpiter on February 3rd, 2011 07:08 pm (UTC)
Very much yeah!
Merlin Of Chaosmerlinofchaos on February 3rd, 2011 07:22 pm (UTC)
Everyone: Please stop replying to my comment after I've been forbidden from responding. You're all pissing me off.
Al Pettersoneyelessgame on February 3rd, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC)
Apologies. I didn't read her forbiddance till I'd written mine. Deleted.
Al Pettersoneyelessgame on February 3rd, 2011 07:22 pm (UTC)
I'd like to correct your numbers just a bit. It doesn't detract from your point; in fact it makes it stronger.

The top income tax bracket is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_tax_in_the_United_States#History_of_top_rates.5B25.5D - it was cut by Kennedy to 77%, Johnson to 70%, and Carter to 50%. But when Reagan dropped it to 28%, it blew past the threshold where it was no longer correcting for the natural tendency of wealth to concentrate (where wealth by itself leverages wealth).

Keeping it short (and deleting the long comment) because you didn't want a lot in your blog - but didn't want people discounting your righteousness just because you got a detail wrong. :)
Al Pettersoneyelessgame on February 5th, 2011 12:27 am (UTC)
Oh, and btw
here's why I say it blew past the threshold when it did. The blue line is how much money the average family makes. The red line is the average amount of money owned per family.
angharaanghara on February 3rd, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
not just yeah, but HELL yeah. You form a political party, and I'll STUMP for you.
Childlightchildlight on February 3rd, 2011 08:41 pm (UTC)
I could only quickly scan it since I am dealing with a clingy needy toddler recovering from the Flu and being very recently laid off means I have less time on the internet rather than more....
But I think you made a lot of good points and I do believe that greed is the reason for a lot of our current woes.
wyvernfriendwyvernfriend on February 3rd, 2011 10:02 pm (UTC)
Hell Yeah!!
pgwfolcpgwfolc on February 3rd, 2011 11:00 pm (UTC)
Hell yeah. If I could legally vote for you, I totally would.

It's not a comprehensive list of what can and should be fixed in this world (I'm still stuck on campaign finance and lobbying laws in the US), but it's a damn good start.

It's possible. If the people work together to make it happen, over the opposition of the powerful entities which are not people but have somehow taken a life and a power of their own.
Randomnessr_ness on February 4th, 2011 12:54 am (UTC)
I somehow managed to get bedfull_o_books hooked on listening to RTÉ. It's her heritage, fair enough. It also means we've been getting full coverage of the upcoming election.

I do hope the Irish voters manage to do what the Icelandic electorate did. It seems to be working out okay for Iceland, so far.
The Renaissance Manunixronin on February 4th, 2011 01:45 am (UTC)
Devil's advocate:
Now they pay an average of 27%–higher than the American average of 18%, but still sixty-three percent less income for the federal government, all so that the wealthy can continue to grow wealthier.
Whilke this is true, it also should be pointed out that the top 10% of income earners in America shoulder 50% of the Federal tax burden, while roughly the bottom one third don't pay a dollar (net).

That said, that's about the only thing you said that I can find an issue with. :) I would not have an objection to law declaring that the highest paid executive in any company may not earn more, including bonuses and remuneration in kind, than - oh, pick a number - say, twenty-five times as much as the company's lowest-paid employee. You want to make a million bucks a year? Fine, pay your most menial employee $40K a year. If you somehow just can't make ends meet on a million bucks a year, you're just not even trying.
threeoutsidethreeoutside on February 4th, 2011 02:32 am (UTC)
Excuse me, might we adopt this in the USA too?

And: YES!!! Well-said indeed.
Aidangingereejit on February 4th, 2011 09:14 am (UTC)
Hell yeah! :-)
Miss May: me burlesque schoolgirlvalancymay on February 4th, 2011 03:49 pm (UTC)
Mikemiketo on February 5th, 2011 09:31 pm (UTC)
Hell to the YES!
Janne: flaggjanne on February 6th, 2011 04:57 pm (UTC)
I'm not going to be revolting in the streets since I already live in relatively paradisical Norway, but shall be quietly cheering along the rest of the world. Yeah!