By Henry McRandall
Perhaps what has been most appealing about the month-old “Occupy” movement has been its initial lack of formal leaders or formal demands; but as the movement expands and coalesces, the urgency of reaching some sort of agenda consensus will grow.
As a longtime predictor and promoter of just such a global uprising, I propose to humbly offer a few suggestions as to what some of its most crucial demands should be.
The model I offer here – and enumerated in no particular order – is proposed in its precision for American protesters; but it can readily be adapted to the particular circumstances of Canada or any other country.
First, there must be a massive downward redistribution of wealth, income and power from the top one percent to the bottom 99 percent, achieved largely through massive and immediate tax increases for corporations and the wealthy.
Second, an end to so-called corporate “personhood.” Corporations are not human beings and they have no right to the constitutional rights of human beings. They have no right to spend money anonymously to influence elections.
Third, election financing reform. There must be a complete end to all private financing – by corporations, by banks, by unions, by PACs, and by individuals – of any election campaign, party or candidate. All parties and all qualified candidates should be equally and totally financed out of the public treasury.
Fourth, a milti-party political system. There are those who assert – somewhat accurately – that there no longer is a left-right paradigm in the politics of the U.S. and many other countries. In the case of Amerikkka, in particular, it is very true. There has never been a viable leftist part in the U.S. The Republican Tea Party is extremely right-wing. The Democrats are “centrist,” not leftist. They have only governed from the left for two very brief periods – five years in the Thirties and five years in the Sixties — and then only because it was necessary to do so in order to prevent a mass overthrow of corporate capitalism. A new third party on the genuine left – perhaps rooted in the Green Party – must receive equal funding along with the centrist Demorats and the rightist Republican Tea Party.
Fifth, a liveable minimum wage. The U.S. minimum wage should be increased to at least $12 an hour and must be enforced in all states. There must be mandatory jail time for any employer who evades minimum-wage laws.
Sixth, revised welfare reform. Before Bill Clinton “reformed” welfare in the mid-Nineties, 68 percent of Amerikkka’s poor qualified for welfare benefits. Now only 27 percent do. All of the poor must qualify for both welfare benefits and food stamps.
Seventh, increased pensions. Social Security pensions for all retired and/or disabled persons must be increased by at least 15 percent.
Eighth, legal reform. All persons must have full and equal access to justice both at the criminal and the civil level. And there must be much harsher punishment of crime motivated by greed rather than need. And there must be equal treatment of both white-collar and blue-collar criminals.
Ninth, end the foreign wars. The U.S. and its NATO “allies” must end the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, halt all hostilities against Yemen, Libya and Pakistan, and forego all planned aggression against Syria, Iran, Venezuela, etc.
Tenth, end the war on drugs. All that has been accomplished through the trillions of dollars wasted on the War On Drugs have been widespread death and violence, the lavish enrichment of criminal gangs and the criminaliztion of millions of people simply because of their choice of recreational substances.
Eleventh, an end to “Too Big Too Fail.” Every bank and every corporation deemed “too big to fail” must be drastically reduced in size.
Twelfth, industrial democracy. A law must be passed requiring that at least 50 percent of the directors of every corporation be elected by its employees rather than its shareholders or directors. This will ensure a measure of democracy in the workplace.
Thirteenth, democratic reform. Provision must be made for more binding referendums, recall petitions, citizens’ initiatives and direct voting over the Internet.
Fourteenth, Fariness in Broadcasting. There must be a return to the days when the FCC required fairness in broadcasting. For every one hour of progressive talk-show radio in the U.S./, there are at least 10 hours of right-wing brainwashing. All broadcasters of political content must provide equal time for an equally opposite response.
Fifteenth, quality, free public education at all levels, including post-secondary.
Sixteenth, universal, quality health care through a publicly-financed, single-payer system.
Seventeenth, an end to all bank and corporate bailouts. If a necessary entity goes bankrupt, the state should take it over for pennies on the dollar and operate it as a continuing business.
Eighteenth, credit reform. The gap between what financial institutions pay for money and what they charge for it must be drastically reduced. Credit card interest rates, in particular, must be drastically reduced. And banks should be forced to actually lend money.
Nineteenth, expanded bank and corporate regulation and enforcement of those regulations.
Twentieth, improved environmental, food safety, product safety and worker safety inspection and enforcement.
Twenty-first, massive job creation. Governments do and should indeed create real jobs. And at times when the private sector is failing in its sacred duty of job creation, government must become a direct creator of quality jobs.
Twenty-second, public takeover of the Federal Reserve and other central banks so that they start serving the needs first of the 99 percent rather than the one percent.
Twenty-third, an end to so-called “right-to-work” and other anti-union, anti-worker laws.
Twenty-fourth, massive public investment in green technology and infrastructure.
And, twenty-fifth, the closing of all tax loopholes and an end to all government financial assistance to any bank or corporation except for commensurate long-term state equity.
These are just a few for-starters suggestions. No doubt many of you will have your own ideas for changing Amerikkka, Canada and the world for the better.
What the Occupy-ers should be demanding
By Henry McRandall