Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Create a national safety net

The National Safety Net (NSN)-- Five Point Agenda

The proposal is twofold: The first part of the proposal is to bring together people who want to create a National Safety Net (NSN) in America. Presently, America has a weak safety-net, and in a Capitalist society in which there are losers and winners, many people fall through our weak and tattered safety-net to a hard landing. America needs a strong public safety-net, not only under the poor, but also under the middle class.

The NSN could be woven together by 5 essential elements: Universal Health Care, a Living Wage, Fair Unemployment Benefits, Affordable Housing, and a Healthy Natural Environment. This list is not meant to be exhaustive or complete, and clearly Organic Food For Everyone, Nuclear Disarmament, Free Higher Education, Life Long Pensions, would add to the strength and comfort of America’s social fabric.

In most European countries, if you lose your job, then you don’t lose your housing and health care. In Germany, for example, if you lose your job, then you don’t get 6 months unemployment benefits, with perhaps an extension or two, as in America. Rather, you receive two thirds of your salary for one year, and then everyone gets an equal income plus the cost of their housing and health care for as long as needed, provided they are looking for a job. This doesn’t provide an affluent lifestyle, but it does keep people from sleeping in their cars or in the streets.

It’s past time in America to weave together these basic rights (not privileges) into a strong public safety-net that will catch, and soften the blows, of everyone that fails/falls in time of personal and/or socio-economic crisis.

Five Point Agenda:

Universal Health Care that legally guarantees the same, state of the art, medical treatment and care to all, regardless of income or wealth.

A Living Wage , for everyone over the age of 18, regardless of the nature of the work performed.

Fair unemployment benefits with a guaranteed basic income for as long as necessary because everyone has a right to a good job and the government has a duty to see to it that these jobs exist. Until those job opportunities exist, and an individual is fortunate enough to fill one, then s/he has a right to a decent survival.

Affordable Housing that ends homelessness in America, and there are no evictions or foreclosures for nonpayment of rents, mortgages, or utility bills.

A Diverse and Healthy natural environment in which no one lives in a dirty, poisoned, overheated, or dying place/world.


The second part of the proposal is to bring together people who also agree on an “inside/outside strategy“, with regard to the Democratic Party, for achieving a National Safety Net (NSN). We are not a political “Party”, but rather, a free association of individuals (defined by our Five Point Agenda) who work primarily, not entirely, through the Democratic Party to advance our goal. We recognize that the Democratic Party is the best available vehicle for defeating/overruling the Republican Party, thereby moving society in the right direction, however slowly, so we usually support Democratic candidates for office, especially progressives, but we are not inextricably bound to Capitalism, as are both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.

The Capitalist economy is unsustainable in the long run, so we refrain from the convoluted, and ultimately futile, dialogue and attempts (by both Parties) to fix it or save it, and we focus, instead, on the political solution of a National Safety Net. Call this creeping Socialism if you like, but there is a growing sense of entitlement among Americans that all of us deserve a safe and respectable lifestyle, and insofar as Capitalism will not/cannot provide it, or afford it, or pay for it, then the people deserve a new economic order that satisfies basic needs for everyone, unconditionally, independently of one‘s success or failure in the marketplace.

America, like other modern nations, can afford (pay for) the satisfaction of public needs, an unconditional minimum threshold of quality living for all, by ending the gross inequality of wealth through a strict progressive tax and a reorganization of national priorities, including major defense cuts. The present economic crisis requires that we put a strong public safety-net under an entire population at-risk, given the failures of the private safety-nets such as the house, the 401k, credit cards, and the uncertainty of the future.

America is full of fear,: fear of getting sick, fear of not earning enough money, fear of losing one’s job, fear of homelessness, fear of natural blowback, etc. For more than two hundred years the old economy has failed to deliver on its promises of freedom from want and freedom from fear for all. We need courageous leaders, educators, and candidates who will champion the cause of the NSN, leading everyone to a better world. If we build political consensus (to a progressive majority) for the NSN, then the economy will transform itself in accordance with the Will Of The People.

Glenn Parton

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