GOOD POLITICAL IDEAS
These ideas are more visionary than immediately achievable. But remember that the AFL-CIO forced an increase in the minimum wage through Newt Gingrich's Republican Congress, so with enough political pressure, anything is possible. (As of 4/8/97, more of this agenda has been achieved than I expected.)
1. Campaign Finance Reform. (On 4/2/97 Md. Assembly Passes Election Finance Reform. As of June 1997 there is a new national organization dedicated to campaign finance reform that could afford to build a good website and take out ads in The Washington Post- Public Campaign. Also, Vermont Passes Clean Money Law in June 1997.)
2. Full prompt funding for International Family Planning. We won on 2/25/97. (Let me expand upon this by stating that providing universally available, affordable (subsidized and/or free), safe, and confidential voluntary birth control worldwide is an important global first step towards building an ecologically sustainable society.)
3. Swords Into Plowshares. Reduce military overspending. The Cold War is history and it's time for a real peace dividend. (On 3/22/97 Clinton, Yeltsin Agree on Broad Arms Cuts. On 5/19/97 Defense Secretary Cohen Presses Congress to Approve Military Base Closings, Troop Cuts. "Would you rather protect bases or put modern equipment in the hands of soldiers?")
4. Green Scissors '97 - how to save $36.4 billion by cutting environmentally destructive spending and subsidies.
5. Cut Corporate Welfare. For more info, see the book Take the Rich Off Welfare.
6. Bail out our heavily indebted nation's capital, Washington D.C. (while also reforming D.C.'s government while preserving Home Rule). (On 3/12/97 Clinton proposes a $300 million dollar economic aid package for DC.)
7. Repair America's Safety Net. The down-on-their-luck unemployed poor need jobs at a living wage or economic assistance. Unless you want local jurisdictions dumping their out-of-work poor elsewhere, aiding the poor should be restored to a federal responsibility. One option would be giving unemployed people jobs rebuilding America's infrastructure and/or doing community service. (One minor victory- on 3/9/97 Clinton Orders Welfare Hiring by U.S. Agencies.)
8. Empower workers by promoting unions, worker and union participation in company decisionmaking, profit-sharing, employee stock/business ownership, and economic democracy. (For more info on unions, see the A.F.L.-C.I.O. website. For more info on employee ownership of businesses, see the section on Worker Co-operatives at EmpowermentBooks.com.)
9. Fund a Strategic Environmental Initiative to build an ecologically sustainable society, as Al Gore proposed years ago. (On 4/5/97, In Md., a 'Smart Growth' Consensus on controlling suburban sprawl is achieved.)
To electronically monitor and lobby Congress, check out the If Not Now... website and other Activist Sites and Resources, including Working Assets.
To learn more about Green ideas for a better society, see the National Platform of the Greens/Green Party U.S.A., as well as different Green Party Platforms.
POLITICAL REFORM NOW
5/19/97 - Victorious Rebels Pour Into Kinshasa. Rebels in Zaire take control of the capital. From The Washington Post, 5/19/97, page A1.
5/19/97 - Kabila: Despot or Democrat? Accounts of Kabila's Odyssey Contradictory. This is the key question in Zaire. From The Washington Post, 5/19/97, page A1.
5/19/97 - Defense Secretary Cohen Presses Congress to Approve Military Base Closings, Troop Cuts. "Would you rather protect bases or put modern equipment in the hands of soldiers?" From The Washington Post, 5/19/97, page A7.
5/19/97 - Road War Brews For Growth Foes. Coalition That Battled Disney Targets Proposed Va. Highway. From The Washington Post, 5/19/97, page B1.
5/16/97 - Thinking Globally, Punishing Locally. American cities impose sanctions against Burma for human rights violations. From The Washington Post, 5/16/97, page G1.
5/16/97 - Jackson Asks FCC to Stop Sale of D.C. Radio Stations. From The Washington Post, 5/16/97, page G1.
5/11/97 - The Budget Agreement, a BIG STEP BACKWARDS. Shades of Awful, by Mary McGrory, from the The Washington Post, Sunday, 5/11/97; Page C1. The Republicans and Clinton agreed to a budget that cuts our safety net for the poor even more while providing tax cuts for the wealthy and funding the Pentagon at Cold War levels. Why is congress balancing the budget on the backs of the poor?
4/25/97 - Senate Approves Chemical Arms Pact After Clinton Pledge. From The Washington Post, 4/25/97, page A1.
4/11/97 - Clinton Seeks to Shift Focus By Using Executive Powers. - From The Washington Post, 4/11/97, page A1. "From family leave to overseas sweatshops to campaign finance, President Clinton plans to flex his executive powers to advance his priorities during a season of inactivity on Capitol Hill...".
4/5/97 - In Md., a 'Smart Growth' Consensus on controlling suburban sprawl.- From The Washington Post, 4/5/97, page A1.
4/2/97 - Md. Assembly Passes Election Finance Reform.- From The Washington Post, 4/2/97, page A1.
3/25/97 - State Dept. Seeks Gains for Women- Albright is Stressing Rights Concerns in Foreign Policy Agenda.- From The Washington Post, 3/25/97, page A1.
3/24/97 - The Washington Post runs a series of columns on Growing Pains, on suburban sprawl in the DC area.
3/22/97- Clinton, Yeltsin Agree on Broad Arms Cuts.- From The Washington Post, 3/22/97, page A1.
3/14/97- Green Party is now governing Arcata, Northern California- From The Washington Post, 3/14/97, page A1.
3/14/97- Green Diplomacy, an editorial by The Washington Post, 3/14/97, page A26.
3/12/97- Clinton proposes a $300 million dollar economic aid package for DC.
3/11/97- FTC blocks merger of Office Depot and Staples, "setting the stage for a rare legal showdown over U.S. antitrust laws." From The Washington Post, 3/11/97, page A1.
3/9/97- Clinton Orders Welfare Hiring by U.S. Agencies. - From The Washington Post, 3/9/97, page A1.
As of 2/28/97, there are some good political reform proposals being made. These include:
1) The FDA publicizes the "morning-after" birth control pill, empowering women to control their own bodies and reproduction. - From The Washington Post, 2/25/97, page A1. (Also, on 3/3/97, the Vatican mellows out a bit on birth control and urges compassion on contraception.)
2) The Credit Union Campaign for Consumer Choice (202-944-5158) is promoting the Credit Union Membership Access Act. 70 million Americans belong to credit unions, which, unlike banks, are co-operatively owned by their members. - From The Washington Post, 2/25/97, page A14.
3) Indian Trust Accounts: A Plan to Take Control. Paul M. Homan, the former director of Riggs National Bank, is proposing a plan to straighten out the horribly mismanaged $2.9 billion in trust accounts that the government holds for Native Americans. - From the The Washington Post, 2/27/97, page A19.
[Note: On 2/23/99, Babbitt, Rubin Cited for Contempt- Judge Finds 'Flagrant Disregard' for Document Orders in Indian Trust Fund Case. In response, Interior officials yesterday released a statement saying Babbitt plans to spend $150 million on trust reform, adding, "This is the first administration in 100 years to have attempted a serious correction of that deplorable situation." - From The Washington Post, 2/23/99, page A17.]
4) Taking Another Approach to 'Antiquated' Mine Law- Babbitt Pushing Environmental Rules, Royalties. "The Clinton administration, abandoning hopes Congress will reform the 125-year-old law that governs hard-rock mining on federal lands, has decided to use administrative powers to impose stricter environmental regulations on the mining industry and is seeking a royalty on mining income." - From The Washington Post, 2/28/97, page A19.
For more info on political reform struggles, check out these Activist Sites and Resources.
If corporate advertising blasts values that you believe in and/or promotes the Republicans, why shop at the advertisers' stores or otherwise support them? Economic noncooperation (also known as boycotting) is a powerful tool.
In general, I believe this is a time for consciousness-raising and uniting people, and only politically targeting people or organizations that are outspokenly conservative. To the greatest extent possible consistent with consciousness-raising and political struggle, we need to make friends, not enemies.
5/5/97 - With Congress largely deadlocked, to me the most interesting things going on these days are in the media, which defines our society's reality for us on a daily basis. Let me offer some unsolicited advice to people in the media and to advertisers. I think what a lot of people want is friendly, positive, upbeat empowering information. For example, when WGAY in the Washington, DC area took out ads (in green) suggesting that people hit their relax button and listen to relaxing music on WGAY, their listening audience increased dramatically. Similarly, I predict that Wendy's friendly ads that seek to accommodate everyone- vegetarian and omnivore alike- by offering a variety of good food for everyone will be quite successful. I predict that Bell Atlantic's ads about building community will be much more successful than partisan right-wing advertising. Ads that show people as dynamic, happy, and empowered will do well, as do ads that promote community, peace, harmony, and/or ecology. And whenever people can honestly take pride in their work or product (as in "made in America", "union made", "top-rated", etc.), conveying this would help. I believe that my advice on TV ads is equally applicable to the rest of the media.
According to The Emerging Culture by Paul Ray, there are 44 million Americans with Green values (24% of the American adult population)- not enough to win elections on our own, but enough to be a substantial share of the population and the economic marketplace.
5/10/97 - It appears the values this website is promoting- empowering the people and reviving 60's energy and building a Green movement in America- have resonated with some people (as well as offended some other people). This website, like most social change work, has been run on a shoestring budget with a lot of volunteer labor. At this point, I need to focus on fundraising and I have a grant proposal and a book proposal for a resource manual on Empowerment: Personal Growth, Social Change, and Ecology. I'm also trying to further publicize the website. I welcome your assistance in any of these endeavors. For more info on how you can help, see How You Can Help EmpowermentResources.com. And don't let my slowing down interfere with your own empowerment and/or your own contribution to social change.
5/19/97 - Elections are 18 months away. Can we all chill out? Also, if you have any changes you would like to make to this website, feel free to e-mail me at empower@EmpowermentResources.com or fax me at 301-891-8767 [current phone number is 301-779-9769].
8/24/97 - FYI, I'm considering going public soon. I'm adding at least 20 more books to the EmpowermentBooks.com now and I welcome your specific suggestions for improving this website, especially the online bookstore. Also, in the midst of our current media conflict, I invite anyone in the media- especially the comic strip writers and/or writers for The Washington Post- interested in directly publicizing the website (with a positive spin) to contact me, off-the-record for now.
You can call me at 301-408-2041 [current phone number is 301-779-9769], fax me at 301-891-8767, and/or e-mail me at empower@EmpowermentResources.com. Feel free to leave as long and detailed a message as you want, but please include your name and phone number and/or e-mail address and what organization and/or philosophy you represent. At the moment, the ball is in your court.
Also, any donations at this point would be extremely useful and increase my effectiveness, endurance, and flexibility. Any direct media workers or celebrity endorsements of this website would be useful too.
10/15/97 - This website has probably influenced the media. I accept personal responsibility for whatever information is posted on this website. However, I do not accept personal responsibility for what is posted on any other website nor anything appearing in the media so far. Fundraising is still a priority for me. Other than that, my prior 8/24/97 comments still stand.
12/19/97 - Kennedy Offers `Quality of Life' Wish List for Congress. - From The Washington Post, 12/12/97, Page A20. Some good political ideas from someone in a good position to get them implemented.
2/21/98 - I hope we don't start a war with Iraq by launching a major military bombing campaign against them. I believe it will just kill a lot of innocent people and further cripple a devasted country and accomplish nothing but alienating and angering a lot of people. It makes sense to pressure Hussein to agree to inspections, but little sense to militarily attack his country. The fact that our president is under strong judicial assault by Ken Starr and recently under a strong media PR assault and can use this crisis or war to divert attention from his most recent scandal (as Hollywood predicted in the movie "Wag the dog") does nothing to inspire my confidence in Clinton's decision.
The International Action Center provides the most up-to-date info on the emerging anti-war protests, and here are some peace chants you can use at protests.
5/14/98 - I read in The Washington Afro-American on 5/2/98 that "The Southern Christian Leadership Conference joins with the King family in demanding the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to conduct a new, thorough and complete investigation into the assassination of its slain leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.". (The King family met privately with Clinton on 6/16/98 to address this issue, according to a 6/20/98 followup article.)
5/15/98 - I learned from a political e-mail from Working Assets that the FDA withdrew their proposed changes to the organic food industry. "The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced it would not allow the organic label to be used on foods that are genetically engineered, irradiated or grown in soil fertilized with sewage sludge." Agribusiness wanted in on the growing profitable organic food industry and proposed to define "organic" so broadly that the label would become somewhat meaningless. This provoked an unprecedented consumer revolt against the proposed FDA regulations on what "organic" meant, including more than 200,000 public comments (including 44,387 from Working Assets customers) overwhelmingly opposed to the proposed changes and also including plans to establish an alternative organic food certification system. In response, the FDA opted to withdraw their proposal instead of losing popular support on this issue.
Working Assets reports a second victory: "Amazingly, Nike announced on May 12th that it will raise the minimum wage for workers and impose U.S. health and safety standards in its plants overseas. They also promised to allow members of labor and human rights groups to join the independent auditors who inspect their factories in Asia to assess working conditions." In December 1997, Working Assets customers generated 33,455 letters and calls to NIKE CEO Phil Knight on this issue.
6/18/98 - I'd like to acknowledge some earlier victories I neglected to mention. Longtime dissident Kim Dae Jung became the president of Korea in February, and political activism generated by Indonesia's economic crisis forced Suharto to resign in Indonesia.
Also, Working Assets reported by e-mail on 5/29/98 that McDonalds is "starting to test market a veggie burger in the United States after offering such a product for a number of years in Europe."
12/12/98 - In my opinion, the Republican effort to impeach Bill Clinton over his initially denying he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky is ridiculous. Back in '94-'97 the Republicans had some new ideas and implemented some of them. Now they're sufficiently negative and partisan that even Newt Gingrich quit in frustration. I read in The Washington Post an estimate that half of our presidents have had [private] affairs while in office, yet Bill Clinton is (as far I as know) the only president to be repeatedly legally assaulted on this issue. His affair is not Watergate, or Cointelpro, or the secret bombing of Cambodia, or the overthrow of a democratically government (such as Pinochet's coup in Chile in 1973), or the Iran-Contra scandal, or the incredibly expensive S&L scandal, or training and funding Central American death squads. It was his private affair. Furthermore, the last time I checked, there was no shortage of issues for our political leaders to tackle and real problems to address and solve instead of being stuck in partisan gridlock.
I'll admit that the transgressions that offend me are not the same transgressions that offend the Republicans in Congress. However, impeachment is a very strong action that should only be attempted with strong public backing. At this point, 2/3 of the American public is opposed to impeachment. I think the Republicans are making a serious mistake. They should censure Clinton, move on, and go home and celebrate Christmas. The American public deserves solutions, not partisan warfare and partisan gridlock, from Congress. I vote for "Peace now. Move on. Merry Christmas."
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