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The Twelve Plank Platform [DRAFT]

[Readers, thanks for the great comments, despite my sloppy and ill-thought-through exegesis. I'll put out a revised draft shortly. Here is DRAFT 2. --lambert]

I've had this on my mind forever, waiting to write a well-reasoned and perfect post, but the crass efforts of the political class to nail The Overton Window firmly in place by annointing De Blasio, who set a new land speed record for Democratic betrayal by appointing the inventor of stop-and-frisk as head of the Police Department after running against it,* Warren, an Iran hawk who hates single payer, chained CPI master mind Yellen, and Hillary Clinton as -- forsooth -- "the left" make me want to throw up. (If Clinton had a left bone in her body she would have quietly resigned from State at some point in Obama's first term; whacking a US citizen with no due process would have been a good, leaked excuse.)

This "De Blasi/Warren/Yellen/Clinton" drumbeat has been going on for weeks, and it's time to call bullshit. These asshats want the left? Fuck them. Try the 12-plank platform:

  1. A living wage
  2. Medicare for all
  3. Tax the rich
  4. Post Office bank
  5. Jobs guarantee
  6. Debt jubilee
  7. Net neutrality
  8. End the wars
  9. Restore the Bill of Rights
  10. Many co-ops
  11. Few banksters
  12. Carbon negative economy

So there it is. This is, let it be noted, an explicitly left reformist platform; there is no suggestion, as "A living wage" shows, eliminating the capitalist mode of production, for example, or of abolishing the state (though by ending the wars and restoring the Bill of RIght, the bloated and tyrannical national security state will be greatly shrunken). Note also that each plank in the platform is a policy, as opposed to a value (there is no "end ___ism," for example; you might even call the planks "demands."

The planks fall into four buckets or levels or tranches as follows:

Stop the bleeding

  1. A living wage
  2. Medicare for all
  3. Tax the rich

Rebalance the economy

  1. Post Office bank
  2. Jobs guarantee
  3. Debt jubilee

Rebalance governance

  1. Net neutrality
  2. End the wars
  3. Restore the Bill of Rights

Rebalance capitalism

  1. Many co-ops
  2. Few banksters
  3. Carbon negative economy

I've tried to create a complete system, a political economy, as opposed to a laundry list of programs. And I do mean a complete system; see "Rebalance capitalism" at the end (and yes, I know that "rebalance" is a Beltway word). By "complete," I mean that if the entire platform were implemented, life would be tolerably humane for all (99.9%) of U.S. citizens in the near term; and in the long term, if all the "rebalance capitalism" planks were adopted.

However, the tranches make the complete system more palatable in the near term: While all each plank can go on a bumper sticker (and I keep avoiding turning each plank into a hash tag, stupidly) the first three, for example, would work fine as basic demands, from the left, in a political campaign; a local politico could get their head around them. The tranches are also phased; the first three really do "stop the bleeding," and that has to be done, both to avoid suffering and to build a track record, before capitalism is rebalanced.

Finally, I've got no concept of how the platform could be enacted. But I do think that if some number of groups adopted the platform, it could get traction. Because a lot of it has been common sense on the left for years.

Some individual comments on each plank, which in a perfect world I would have linky goodness and elegant argumentation to support.

A living wage. It's ridiculous to have retail wage so low people have to work and (which is another kind of work, a tax on time, though more degrading) get welfare too.
Medicare for all. Duh! Would be wildly popular, unlike this P.O.S. ObamaCare Rube Goldberg contraption.
Tax the rich. Not for revenue, because taxes don't fund spending. But to prevent the rich from buying up the political system with their loose cash, and also to prevent the formation of an aristocracy of inherited wealth. Basically, this is shorthand for a steeply progressive tax system. Say, like Eisenhower's, with the 91% top rate.

Post Office bank. It's ridiculous that there's even a category like the unbanked, or a "check cashing industry." It's also ridiculous for people to hand over their household money to the banksters so they can piss it away playing the ponies. So have a public bank where dull normals can put their money. As a side benefit, prevent the destruction of the Post Office by privatizing weasels.
Jobs guarantee. Everybody who want one should have a job, always. (I could be persuaded on a basic income guarantee, but haven't been.)
Debt jubilee. If it can't be paid back, it won't be. Goes for student loans, especially.

Net neutrality. We don't have a new media without this.
End the wars. All wars, including the Drug Wars, and its concomitant, the militarized police. We've got two ocean and nukes. Fuck the empire.
Restore the Bill of Rights. Like Madison would want. That includes defining email and data on personal devices of all kinds as "papers and effects" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. It also defines government installed surveillance software as "quartering of soldiers."

Many co-ops. See Gar Alperowitz. A more humane workplace, a less vicious Gini Co-efficient.
Few banksters. Few banksters, doing boring things. A return to the 3-6-3 rule: "[B]ankers would give 3% interest on depositors' accounts, lend the depositors money at 6% interest and then be playing golf at 3pm.
Carbon negative economy. Better have a plan B when the fracking wells run dry! Also, very good jobs. And "a shining city on a hill" for the rest of the world.

Well, this should be a much better post than it is, but that stupid WaPo article pissed me off so much I had to get this out. I'll redraft after feedback. I did read all the comments on the previous draft carefully, and incorporated some. In a perfect post, I'd give hat tips, but I have to go check the pipes now.

Average: 5 (1 vote)


Submitted by lambert on

Material like (just throwing it out there) that covers governance issues with the object of avoiding corruption.

1) Voting should take place with secret paper ballots counted in public

2) Robert Rules for meetings


nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

Instead of "Restore the Bill of Rights", make it "Enforce the Bill of Rights."

I'm more and more persuaded to work for a basic income guarantee rather than a Jobs Guarantee. New Deal programs were great, but they were temporary -- a man wouldn't want to spend his entire life in a CCC camp (in fact, only unmarried men were taken). And that's just one of the complications in setting up a permanent jobs guarantee. It would do wonders for the society now if anyone could walk into the local post office and immediately get a job paying $20/hour plus benefits (annual leave, medical costs, retirement guarantee). That would force up private sector wages and benefits. It's also why a decent jobs guarantee will be at least as difficult to bring about as a basic income guarantee.

However, you have the whole range of issues about skills match, physical condition, transportation, care of family members, long-term viability. . . . The skills match is a little frightening. Without pretty detailed regulations, you're likely to end up with things like the notion that relatively uneducated poor women are natural child care workers, and so should be hired to care for children. Or that a short-term hire doesn't need safety training around powerful equipment and potentially toxic substances.

And there's the social opportunity cost. I like having good bloggers, musicians, gardeners, civic volunteers, and lots of other value-adding work done in the community. Can you create a guaranteed job in these areas? Or will a lot of potential volunteers spend the day at a feed-the-body job that may be less valuable both to the person and to the community than what the person would otherwise contribute?

Addressing these questions requires a very complicated program. We already have in place the structure for a basic income -- IRS. You just use a negative income tax.

Frerico's picture
Submitted by Frerico on

Nihil makes many excellent points about a guaranteed wage. And given how big a lift either a jobs guarantee or an income guarantee would be, I'd prefer the one that protects labor and the working class better as opposed to going with something that could be potentially polluted into a tool for the rentier/owner class (not that this couldn't happen with any solution implemented, just that it would be much harder to do so with a guranteed income solution).

Given how you've organized your platform though, I can totally see why you've gone with a living wage as a first choice in stopping the bleeding. You wouldn't need to remove it even if you did change your jobs guarantee to an income guarantee. It could be used as a stepping stone on the way up.

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

like having good bloggers, musicians, gardeners, civic volunteers, and lots of other value-adding work done in the community. Can you create a guaranteed job in these areas?

It's not really what you're asking, but a local theatre I work with has been trying to work this out for some time. Paying people to do the uninteresting but necessary work like re-organizing costumes and props, cleaning up work areas, etc., would be a wonderful way to make sure it gets done. Yet we haven't been able to find any grant programs that would make that possible. Non-profits are used to looking for grants, so it seems unlikely there are many out there.

Having a grant program so non-profits and other community service organizations can pay or reimburse people who do those sorts of jobs would help. It's not a guarantee, but it would make it easier to do. The government does all sorts of financial aid for worthy causes via grants already, so it seems like a natural means for them, at least.

Submitted by lambert on

One of the attractions of the JG is that it replaces the horrible and inhumane policy of regulating the economy by throwing people out of work. I can also see that it will achieve the goals its proponents set for it.

However, I seem to recall that in one implementation of the JG, it was advocated that non-profits determine the jobs. Sounds like the WPA, so in one way good, but OTOH I know of non-profits that are utterly dysfunctional (though not in the same way corporations are, to be sure).

OTOH, there is a certain lucid simplicity to "write me a fucking check." No administrators to qualify people for example. That certainly works for banksters. It also works in that socialist paradise, Alaska.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on


The skills match is a little frightening. Without pretty detailed regulations, you're likely to end up with things like the notion that relatively uneducated poor women are natural child care workers, and so should be hired to care for children.

And this past July, lawmakers introduced a bill called "Pathways Back To Work"--which targets "poor, low-skilled individuals--adults, youth and the disabled."

Here's some of the language:

. . . The Pathways Back to Work Fund would support local partnerships of workforce boards, businesses, community colleges, and other stakeholders to implement promising workforce development strategies, including sector-based training programs, programs that increase acquisition of industry-recognized credentials, and strategies that combine adult basic education and occupational training to help low-skilled individuals prepare for in-demand jobs in their communities. . . .

On July 22, Representative George Miller (D-CA), Ranking Member on the House Education and Workforce Committee, introduced the Pathways Back to Work Act of 2013 (H.R. 2770), legislation to support immediate employment and training activities for unemployed and low-income individuals.

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the companion bill in the Senate.

Soon after the ACA was signed into law, MSNBC's Al Sharpton did an "upbeat" segment outlining all the wonderful job opportunities that it would afford.

He interviewed an individual who sounded like an industry lobbyist (affiliated with an Association) who expounded upon how many health care jobs would be created--with an emphasis on CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants).

CNAs that I have dealt with, are very low paid--entry level pay is minimum wage, according to several CNAs that I've spoken to, when a relative was institutionalized (SNF) for three months.

(In some areas of the country, they may be unionized, and paid higher wages. I think I've read that they are trying to organize now. They should. For the work that they do, they are much undervalued.)

Now, I have no problem with "allowing" anyone of any income and skill level to train to be a CNA, child care giver, etc., if that's what one wishes.

And, if along side of these "in-demand" jobs, there is alternative educational training (trade school and community college one-to-two year certificate/degree programs) offered--hey, that's cool.

But, if the idea is that "the poor" are bypassed for any real educational opportunities or restricted to being offered "in demand" jobs that no one else wants, this proposed bill is offensive.

Indeed, it appears that this bill may be intended to be a "backdoor way to fill undesirable jobs [in local communities] with low income adults, youth, including the disabled."

The language:

. . . to help low-skilled individuals prepare for in-demand jobs in their communities.

implies that this program is set up at the behest of local business, and not especially geared toward the betterment (educationally) of the low income program participants.

The income criteria ranges from 100 percent of FPL, up to two hundred percent of FPL.

As an aside, CNA training varies from state to state (not sure if by locality)--usually a couple or several days. It may be a bit more extensive in some states. But generally, the training can be completed in a week, or less.

And, as far as I can see, CNA positions afford little or no upward mobility. (The next logical progression would be a job as a LPN--which requires a two-year degree.)

And I see no mention in this proposed bill of providing for, or even facilitating, opportunities for higher education.

It appears to offer very short term on-the-job training--for mostly menial and minimum wage jobs.

So, I guess I'll cast my vote for a "Guaranteed Basic Income," too.

This, with a new system of heavily subsidized post secondary education, would really "level the playing field," as they say!


gizzardboy's picture
Submitted by gizzardboy on

I would suggest that the planks might also include "End the Empire" and "Shrink the Military". You might say that this is implied in "End the Wars", but when the U.S. military spending is quoted at more than the next 15 to 25 countries combined, it is definitely time to cut. With bases all over the world to further the empire, this is a major drain on the U.S. economy, and should be reined in. Also, "End the Empire" draws attention to the fact that there is an empire.

Submitted by lambert on

covers both -- however I worry about a mass audience for that?

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

As do I. Frankly, the phrase doesn't sit well with me, even though I recognize it has some validity.

gizzardboy's picture
Submitted by gizzardboy on

If the idea is to appeal to the mass audience, the less specific the better. "Throw the bums out," "We need real change this time," "Corporations are not people,we are the people," "Bring the troops home," "We favor the Constitution", "Mom and apple pie" -- stuff like that. The more specific you get, the more argument you get. Turn every conversation into an attack on the way things are -- the graft, corruption and insider deals . There is plenty of negative energy out there; it just needs to be directed into a purge. Too many specifics just saps the energy.

Submitted by lambert on

I mean somewhere in between "throw the bums out" and a long form post on the empire (though "Peace, land, bread" though of mass appeal is actually about policy; I suspect that's what happens when conditions get desperate enough).

So I want a policy statement, but I think "End the wars" just has less knee-jerk associated with it than "end the empire." For example, we really do need to be able to go into a Rotary club, say, or the district office of a politician, and converse. We really do. I see "End the empire" as a conversation stopper.

Submitted by lambert on

... is actually important, as I think danps would agree. The tranching levels concept comes to satisfy his requirements.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

Yes, I do agree. Connecting with groups face to face builds social capital and breaks down atomization. I think isolation tends to work in the favor of malefactors of wealth/power. Anything that gets us in touch with others - whether through local government, fraternal organization, churches, party building, whatever - is good.

I think the "there"-ness of Occupy is under appreciated. They were physical sites where people congregated. That's much more powerful than a virtual community. That's also why I'm a big fan of blogger meetups, even if they only draw a handful. It's good to be in touch like that.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

Yes, if we would just stop all this infernal trading of stuff wrapped in plastic that we could mostly make ourselves, we wouldn't need this huge navy to protect all the shipping from pirates who can't fish anymore because we dump nuclear waste into the water and kill their fish. Protectionism is a real conservative value which does resonate with Americans.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

that Social Security Reform to "expand" benefits is not included. (To protect and preserve are "weasel words," IMO.)

I'll be back to post specifics as to "why" I consider this to be an essential plank.

But for now--what we see unfolding (Bowles-Simpson Fiscal Commission Proposals and their incremental implementation) is all called for in the DLC Hyde Park Declaration.

Key to dismantling our entire "social safety net" is the DLC mantra and creed under the heading of "Where We Stand" (gotta love that, LOL!):

We believe in shifting the focus of America's anti-poverty and social insurance programs from transferring wealth to creating wealth.

I'll be Tweeting and posting from this manisfesto, and the C-Span Video Clips of one of the DLC Founders (when I get a chance to make the clips) in hopes of "connecting the dots."

Here's where they stand on "health care":

We believe that all Americans must have access to health insurance in a system that balances governmental and individual responsibility


Since DLCers hold the reigns of Power in the Democratic Party, and presumably will beat out any actual "left of center" rivals, I would hope that some mention of this specific program could be included in some form or fashion.

Because of this:

49% Of Americans Saving Zilch For Retirement

By Blake Ellis @CNNMoney May 10, 2012: 6:03 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)-- America has a serious problem saving for retirement.

About 49% of Americans say they aren't contributing to any retirement plan, according to a new survey conducted by LIMRA, a trade association for the financial services industry.

I fear that the proposed Bowles-Simpson Reforms which are being implemented "piecemeal" during every faux crisis will manage to decimate the social safety net--especially Social Security.

We've seen the recent assault on both military and federal civilian service personnel.

I plan to post a blurb on my recent conversation with OPM (Office Of Personnel Management) last week.

[OPM processes all federal civilian retirements, and concurred with me that the change to the retirement "benefit formula" is next on the Dems agenda for "savings." Their word is that this will probably exempt former and current employees. However, Bowles-Simpson did not call for that exemption in their proposal.]

It is not a pretty picture for any public employee today. And even if they forestall the recent military cuts, I've already read that the Pentagon has agreed to fairly large cuts to military "entitlements" to be included in a "February Debt-Ceiling Crisis." So it means nothing.

Sorry--got a bit OT--but the "Grand Bargain" is so pernicious that I can't help myself, at times!!!

Anyhoo, I can certainly support all twelve planks that you've come up with.

Thanks for the effort!

[Sorry for the extra spaces--couldn't get rid of them!]

Submitted by lambert on

Guaranteed annual income / basic income guarantee would cover that, I would think.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

Tom Paine came up with the ideas of a guaranteed birth right to be given to each citizen at age 18?. He also advocated for a decent old age pension. Our pension system sucks. It's only like 47% ?of what you made during your working years. European nations have as high as 67% as I recall. If you didn't worry about old age, then you could really pursue your dreams. As it stands right now, The American Dream, is just propaganda to keep us from revolting (paraphrasing Carlin). Denmark always wins the most happiest country because they engineer their society for maximum freedom to work enough to enjoy life.
The I.W.W. advocated for shorter work days and weeks rather than more pay. That is what I like to emphasize. In leisure is where invention and creativity happens. That's why TPTB don't like the 99% to have any free time. Because with free time comes not only invention but time to think and to realize how screwed up capitalism is.

Submitted by lambert on

But what would you add (or substitute)?

Submitted by lambert on

That would come under #12, carbon-negative economy.

* * *

Not sure what to do about protecting the germ plasm from being owned. Targeting Monsanto is too specific IMNSHO. However, you are right this is a crucial area. Water, too.*

Can this be generalized to something about rights to commons, do you think? And what would you replace? Because the rule is, only 12 planks.

NOTE * Thinking out load, the Internet and the broadcast spectrum could also be considered commons.

So maybe there is an IP/Commons plank to be had here? Readers, thoughts?

hyperpolarizer's picture
Submitted by hyperpolarizer on

Yes, and I corrected it twice, but the 'auto correct' (gotta love that name) obviously defeated me on the last go-round.

I know that fracking could be considered part of a carbon negative economy, but I give it a separate bullet because of its negative impact on water supplies-- both in terms of water consumed, and also in terms of water ruined, as in flaming faucets and worse. Nobody knows what happens to aquifers when all those unspecified chemicals are injected deep into the ground.

We can live without petrochemicals but not without water. Water will be the new gold.

Submitted by lambert on

The nice thing about the 12-X formula is that it forces you to make a tradeoff between a specific plank that covers one thing and a general plank that covers a lot of things.

In this case, I think that "carbon negative economy" outweighs a ban on fracking. No point banning fracking if the planet cooks.

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

Few banksters, doing boring things. A return to the 3-6-3 rule: "[B]ankers would give 3% interest on depositors' accounts, lend the depositors money at 6% interest and then be playing golf at 3pm.

Before I read that explanation, I'd assumed "Few banksters" meant "few banks". That implication seems a natural one. I can't think of a better phrase, but hopefully someone can. Maybe "Trustworthy banks", or something similar...

Submitted by lambert on

but especially the banksters and the hedgies and the commodities speculators and everybody who makes a living by taking a cut for turning one kind of money into another.

Would "speculators" do? "Financiers"? We need something vernacular, but maybe "bankster" never made it out of the snarky left ghetto.

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

"Fewer speculators" implies to me "don't risk so much money". That term doesn't include insurance (the 'I' in FIRE), though. I'd also want to avoid the idea that all speculation would be ended, because some of it does actually do good. Governments aren't always good at recognizing ideas with potential.

I'm sure not coming up with anything better, though. The FIRE sector does several different things. It's hard to say "nuke them all" without running into some legitimate concerns.

Submitted by lambert on

Fewer financiers?

Basically, I mean people who just turn one form of money into another. Insurance and RE do serve some social purpose (I suppose).

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

I'd considered those nouns. Problem I had with them was that there was a time not too long ago when I had not heard of the term "rentiers", I'd bet that lots of folks still don't know what it means (though it's the most apt of the terms we're discussing, IMO). [Side note: My FF spell checker doesn't recognize "rentiers", either.] "Financiers" is a term that at least used to have positive connotations with people. Maybe that's not true anymore.

OTOH, maybe people would be willing to ask what a rentier is. Maybe that would be a good discussion starter. Keep the list short enough, and people might be inclined to ask about that one word they don't recognize. There's a reason I'm not in marketing, come to think of it. Sometimes the writing is less important than the performance...

The problem I have with investors these days is that they spend so much of our money on nonsensical stuff like CDOs, instead of investing in the production of new goods and services. That was a problem leading up to the Great Depression, too.

Submitted by lambert on

... in that there was a lot of pushback that it wasn't the right word because people wouldn't understand it. Now I see it all over the place.

So maybe the thing to do is use the right word and keep pushing it. I notice rentier in a lot of places, too.

Another thing is that the planks are policies, but also starting points for conversations.

Submitted by lambert on

They call it à payeur unique!

But what I really meant is that in 2009 - 2010 we went through a great deal of agita about "single payer" vs. the seemingly more marketable "Medicare for All" and it turns out, from letters to the editor and news feeds, that the technically correct "single payer" did just fine.

So I am thinking rentier is also technically correct, and perhaps will propagate the same way.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

So what is the simple definition of "rentiers" that I can use. People who make money from money or land and not from doing something useful like growing food or making shoes? This gets into the idea of "private property" doesn't it? Some societies have personal property but not the right to own a lot of land i.e. private property.

blues's picture
Submitted by blues on

This 12-plank platform is dandy and all, but I'm convinced we probably would obtain something very close to it by instituting one tiny change. Of course that would be the one thing no one cares to contemplate: score voting. (People are constantly distracted by Rothschilds and Federal Reserves and whatnot.) I described it here (please check it out!):
Re: Q and A: Priceman — We Could End The “Two-Party” System

To quote myself:

"Simple score voting can be completely described in one short simple sentence: Give no vote at all, or from one to ten votes to any number of candidates you wish (up to some reasonable limit, say 20 candidates), and then simply add all the votes up.

"One could say that simple score eliminates 90% of the spoiler effect. To illustrate: if a voter gives 10 votes to Nader and 9 votes to Gore, it is simply obvious that, if Nader does not win, the voter has only sacrificed exactly 10% of their voting power. Not 100% as they would have had they been forced to use the usual single-selection voting method.

"No fancy math is necessary to compare and contrast it to every other option for effectiveness and simplicity, including single-selection (aka "plurality," our present "system") Condorcet, Borda, IRV, Range (with its tricky "averages")

"The simple score method I advocate is the very simplest, since it only allows from 1 to 10 votes to be given, not from 0 to 9, or 0 to 10. It also has no vote-averaging that seriously complicates the range score method. I also am the only one to point out that voters should always vote artfully )or strategically), not artlessly or heroically (aka "honestly" or "sincerely"). "

That people just go on ignoring this nearly makes me cry.

And, yes lambert, we do need hand counted paper ballots.

As far as "economics" may be concerned, here is what I often reiterate at Portland Indymedia (I have motor dyspraxia, so I tend to recycle some comments since, for example, this one page actually took me over four hours to type.):

Lately, in the course of my continuing project of developing my «Theory of Everything That Other People Prefer to Not Think About», I have come to entertain the darker possibilities...

It's not like tyrants actually laugh about starving and murdering children. However. The Theory of Everything That Other People Prefer to Not Think About has come to incorporate the notion that «the concept of rich people (and even of modestly affluent people) would be bleached into meaninglessness if the poor ones ceased to exist». That is, the rich need the poor and oppressed for the sake of their own self-definition. So therefor they "launch more drones and cut school lunch programs yet again." (Really only a neocon subset of the rich and powerful actively promote these pogroms; others just jet-set and so on.)

No one should be allowed to own more that 20 times what they need to make a living and live comfortably. People should be required to register their substantial holdings, and if they exceed the 20 times limit, a random jury should force them to sell off the excess, and reduce their holdings to 15 times what they need. The proceeds should go to the commonwealth. Anything they fail to register should be confiscated, and those who willfully avoid registering assets should be punished. That is the only way to control economic royalism and protect freedom and human rights.

Most of our industry has been sold by the rich for profit and shipped down the river to other nations, and there is perhaps only one way to rebuild it. All large industry should be owned and completely controlled by democratic communities and towns. Each community would own an industry, which could only be sold to another community. Some communities would have to be larger than others. For example, an ironmaking operation would require a large community, or consortium of communities. There could be government sponsored research and development communities too. Employees would have to live in the communities, and thus there would be a powerful incentive to minimize pollution. Small businesses would be operated by ordinary companies.

There will be no more rich political parties. No more rich to be protected by vicious policing. No more rich capitalists selling our industrial facilities down the river to China. There must be some regulation, unless we want to be utterly ruled by ultra-rich tyrants. Wealth control would bring freedom and prosperity at last!

I have known about half a dozen billionaire's kids, due to my unusual background. About 2/3rds of them seem like nice people; they seemed friendly and decent. About 1/3rd seemed like exploitative creeps. Most of their family names appear on products that may be found in an average person's home. They were already rich. To me, rich today is having about $250,000,000.00 of relatively expendable money.

I think maybe 30% just live on trust funds and party. Maybe 60% have jobs of some sort, such as sitting in boardrooms from perhaps 10 to 50 hours a week. And maybe about 10% participate in fascistic political "foundations" which do vast harm to our nation and its people. So all in all, the rich screw us over, and thus bestow toxic negative benefits.

Average people do not envy these rich ones. "Envy" is universally defined as "resentful desire of something possessed by another or others." Ordinary folks, and activists also, do not possess energy to waste contemplating resentful desires — they are too preoccupied with dealing the latest toxic negative benefits being foisted on them by the fascistic elements among the rich.

We would all be happier and safer if the rich went away. For example, if no one was allowed to own more than 20 times what they need to live comfortably and to have a good income.

This is where I make my stand. With a special emphasis on the need for score voting. So, I tend to not think in terms of parties or platforms.

Submitted by lambert on

for "12 Steps." The planks are about policy, not infrastructure.

Adding, to put this another way, the Planks would (one hopes) be the outcome of score voting (or whatever other infrastructure was adopted).

blues's picture
Submitted by blues on

I'm not at all sure that your dichotomy of “policy” and “infrastructure” is useful. But perhaps in a general sense, “policy” is founded on the nature of “infrastructure.” “Policy” can be easy to change, and change again. If we had tariffs (and not NAFTA) and had retained industrial productionality (such as Detroit), we could afford pleasant policies. The 99% always wish for such things, but the ruling class obviously does not; it prefers inequality to harmony.

You could even say the 99% think in terms of nice policy while the 1% think in terms of infrastructural transformation. Wealth control and community industry are relatively extreme concepts. But simple score voting and tariffs are not.

The astounding horrors we have been witnessing are not the result of some dreadfully unfortunate twists of fate. They were conjured up by super-rich people of monstrously bad inspiration; people I have actually known. The real “kernel” of my thesis here is that it will not be sufficient to demand sound policy. We have to push back at the ruling Garchs, and they will only ever respond to things that disturb them. For example, single-payer healthcare is not adequate if the care is poor, and the rich can buy real healthcare. So, the commonwealth should pay for all medical care. Everyone should be required to receive the same level of care, and rich people who try to purchase special superior care should go to jail. This would surely improve the care of the downtrodden. Yet another “extreme” concept, I know. But rich people's lives are not worth more than our own. One could surmise that the Garchs would find “infrastructural reforms” far more disturbing than “nice policies.”

I beg of you to do a serious study of score voting!

blues's picture
Submitted by blues on

I see that getting these Twelve Planks formulated is a very important project here, and how you don't see my suggested reforms (particularly the non-extreme ones) as being "Planks." I don't know why the magic number is 12; couldn't it be maybe 10, 12, 16, or 20? I would certainly include a "high tariffs" Plank to protect what is left of our productional industry! Also the elimination of voting machines, which are complicated, can always be hacked, can "break down," not be enough of (or not come with enough forms to feed into), etc.

This is not a thread where I can get into the incredibly complicated issues of election methods. My main point was that if we had real elections the vast majority of the Planks proposed here would already be law. I have observed that even the ostensibly conservative citizens are usually practical enough to go along with most of the Planks proposed here. It appears that most Americans do not bother to vote, or at least do not bother to concern themselves much with political issues. I cannot blame them at all, because our fake "democracy" is just a shell game with single-selection voting that imposes a spoiler effect that imposes a two-party system. Since voting is utterly futile, they have no power, so why should they care? (Simple score would completely correct this, and then citizens would start to look into things like Planks and machine-free elections, but until then they will not.)

I began blogging in 2004 at, where voters came to "repent" for having voted for Nader in 2000, thus (supposedly) throwing the election from Al Gore to G. W. Bush. I used up half their band width denouncing "IRV" (and found proof that the "IRV" advocates were being generously supported by the Rockefeller Brother's Fund, the Carnegie-Mellon Institute, and the Ford Foundation), and exploring alternative methods. I've been an amateur mathematician my whole life, and I was able to see that dangerously complex systems can be generated by incredibly simple structures, and have been examining election methods for about a decade (for about maybe an hour a day.)

Thank you lambert for putting up with my rather long explanation about what I believe will always bar the way to any adoption of your Planks Program. My typing is slow and painful, but I hope to eventually send you a message to provide a more comprehensive explanation of what stands in the way of progress, and what can be done about it. Good luck with your project.

Chromex's picture
Submitted by Chromex on

I know these may be subsets of the platform but any platform IMO Has to explicitly state
1. End the DRONES
2. REPEAL the espionage act!

Submitted by lambert on

People with too much time on their hands.

The other way of thinking about this is that the litmus test is of the political system, not the platform.

Submitted by EGrise on

Interesting perspective. I saw it as being knee-jerk conditioning/anti-communist hysteria, mostly from people who wouldn't recognize a communist manifesto if one jumped up and bit them. But you're viewing it more as a reaction from people living in a system that encourages black-and-white thinking, yes?

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

"Restore the Bill of Rights" - too vague. Pick one component of it and hammer away. Even something like "restore the 4th" is too vague. Maybe focus on a domestic component: militarized police, the "check the Constitution at the door" atmosphere at companies (workplace drug testing, etc). Something to articulate that. I don't think either of those examples is good enough, but I hope point in the general direction.

"Many co-ops" - not clear. The other items are easy to immediately grasp.

"Few banksters" - maybe roll in with the Post Office bank. Or give a policy angle: "Charter boring banks" - create much tighter rules for federal guarantees and let existing institutions either become boring or sink/swim without them. Maybe add a new category: "systemic risk bond" - TBTF has to put something up if they go it alone. I seem to recall an Yves post about relatedness too. A player doesn't have to be TBTF if it's a single point of failure.

Submitted by lambert on

We want a lot more Mondragons, with concomitant effects on the Gini co-efficient.

A "Many more co-operatives" / "Many fewer corporations" dichotomy would subsume the bankster plank?

"Enforce the Bill of Rights" -- I think it has to be all of them. We can't predict whether hammering away on one is going to be good for ten years. In addition, we don't know what the law is going to regard as important; for example, the argument that infecting one's machine with government spyware is equivalent to quartering soldiers is ingenious and interesting. Finally, picking one implies that the others are not important -- that's like Gore only challenging votes in counties he thought he could win.

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

We really need to reclaim the commons.

The excesses of corporations are made possible by their extraordinary legal privileges. They are potentially immortal. They have no responsibility other than the pursuit of private profit. They don't go to jail. The management who loot extraordinary amounts from the national economy are unaccountable. The government has granted financial institutions virtual control over important money flows and this control is exercised for the benefit of the few. These issues are suggested in the banking planks ("Post Office Bank" and "Few banksters").

Another aspect of the enclosure of the commons is the so-called intellectual property law. Dean Baker writes a lot about the waste and destructiveness of the copyright/patent system for everything from artistic endeavors to innovation to integrity. The plank "Net neutrality" addresses the ongoing corporate push to enclose that common. The whole GMO mess comes from the monopoly granted on living organisms, something that should be absolute anathema. I don't think it's adequately addressed in a plank of "carbon neutral economy."

This is basically about the relative balance between specific legislative goals and general policy outcomes. "Post office bank" is a good specific understandable legislative goal. Revising the financial system to eliminate the choke-hold of large banks underlies "Few banksters", but takes a lot of explanation.

That said, I would take out "Few banksters" in favor of "Common sense intellectual property laws". It's very vague, yes, but most people know enough about $50,000 fine for downloading a song to know that there's something screwy there. It might open the conversation. Nonetheless, I'm not happy with the formulation.

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

I'd been thinking about this, too. It's long past time we got over the "socialism" label and just admitted to ourselves that there are things that are better for society to have ownership of in a more general way.

Plus, we really need to remember what "commons" means.

There are also quite a few people who are aware that their drugs cost more because of sometimes specious patent rights, and that artists often see little benefit from their works thanks to the way IP rights can be transferred and hoarded.

Submitted by lambert on an intellectual property plank, because it also takes down Monsanto's business model of owning the germ plasm.

But "common sense" is way too vague (and very easy to co-opt; the right is always talking about "common sense" stuff.

Can we get a better plank on IP and the commons?

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

It's a tough one to glom into a single sentence, at least for me. The basic idea is that individual property vs. common property is a conflict that's worked to the benefit of the elites, and not so much to the rest of us. How that ought to be changed strikes me as a question of which particular thing we're talking about, but that's the underlying theme, I think.

So far, no luck figuring out a bumper sticker for it, though.

Submitted by lambert on

I keep thinking that so many of the IP issues are also commons issues, and we're looking at a new enclosures movement.

I don't think that's the plank, but maybe if IP and commons are there in the same sentence, somebody will have a better idea.

Also to the idea of rebalancing, "More X" seems useful.

I don't like "the rest of us" in a plank as opposed to a polemic. It's not really a policy. Even though its grandiose, almost, "carbon-negative economy" really is a plank.

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

Seems to be the direction we're talking. As always, the details are kinda tricky...

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

I can get some traction here for the idea of "the commons" since Montana Power cooperative was privatized around 1997. Before that Montanans had the cheapest power bills in the country and now they are sky high. Some things like energy to run your business and light your home, water, good soil, clean air, and health care should be part of the commons.

Submitted by lambert on

Because if you can get traction in Montana...

Serioously, because privatization proceeds opportunistically, like an infection, not all states will have your exact experience. But every state will have a similar experience that we can put under the single heading.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

Accept the inevitability of bailouts, but a law requiring:

All executives of a company receiving them fired.
Government takeover of company.
Accounting equivalent of a digital rectal exam by SEC and IRS.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

Fantastic Wish List!

I only hope that it is possible to STOP the upcoming "tax reform/overhaul" that will soon be headed by Paul Ryan (Dave Camp's Repub Chairmanship Expires Shortly) and Ron Wyden.

Recall that these two collaborated on a "Medicare Voucher Plan."


So if anyone really wants to see these programs implemented, I hope that they will join me in pushing back on the "Grand Bargain."

I've posted the link to the Fiscal Commission's Chairman's Mark umptine million times, so won't bother to do so again.

But it is "for real," people.

And I, for one, cannot imagine that one iota of this wonderful agenda will be passed, if the "top marginal tax rate is lowered to possibly as low as 24%."

So I hope progressive bloggers will get very "vocal" in their opposition to the upcoming tax overhaul.

As Rep Jan Schakowsky puts it--it is simply a transference of wealth "upward."


gizzardboy's picture
Submitted by gizzardboy on

It is a wish list unless you come up with a strategy to awaken and include the (possibly) unwashed masses. You responded to my suggestion above with "Not that MASS!", but you need all the mass you can get.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

My choice of words was not meant to be derisive, in any way.

I used the word "agenda" earlier in this thread, but since I was making a comparison with "my own modest two-topic crusade"--against entitlement cuts and cutting taxes for "the wealthy" and corporations--and your much more expansive and ambitious goals, I thought this phrase was apropos.

Just wanted to clarify . . .

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

I'd like to suggest "no more war" as a substitute for "end the wars". The latter can be construed as referring only to wars we are actively engaged in, and allowing new conflicts. "No more war" makes "war" less about individual conflicts, and more about the essence of military/paramilitary conflict.

Submitted by lambert on

... I'm not against a defensive war. This is a reformist platform after all.

I just don't see any reason to have troops all over the world when we are protected by two oceans.

I really want to end "war making" with the Drug Wars part of that.

Submitted by flora on

There hasn't been an effective US govt industrial policy for over 20 years - except tax breaks to corporations for off-shoring jobs and reinvesting overseas. Oh, there's been economic policy - conservative economic doctrine combined with neoliberal programs and policies - but no industrial policy.
and - big surprise - unemployment keeps going up. For 20 years the D.C. bobble-head response has been "jobs training". Doesn't work if domestic industries have been off-shored.
So, an industrial policy plank that eliminates tax breaks for moving industries out of the US.
Maybe add tax breaks for industries that build or expand and hire here in the US.

tarheel-leftist85's picture
Submitted by tarheel-leftist85 on

Result from the other eleven planks? I do like parsimony (adding things soon makes this like a Dembot party identity "politics" laundry list), but living wage may be better effected through a jobs guarantee, dismantling the banksters, more coops (esp. utilities), a postal bank, etc. than some arbitrary increase in the minimum wage. The arbitrary and nominal lower limit imposed by a minimum wage without full employment:

(1) Signals to the rentier class new frontiers for rental extractions (e.g., costlier junk insurance, bankster fees, etc.);

(2) Reinforces axes strategic hate management (e.g., ZOMG! Fast food workers making $x/hr!); and

(3) It seems that the mechanics of an arbitrary increase in the minimum wage without full employment would bump up some people while (a) shifting more people to part-time, (b) effecting a downward pressure on wages currently above the new minimum.

Hope this makes sense! Not that i'm against increasing the minimum wage. But it will be more efficacious and truly approximate a living wage only when many/most of the other planks are implemented.

Submitted by lambert on

But we do have to stop the bleeding

The phases/levels/tranches are roughly ordered in terms of "feasibility." It is true that some desired outcomes happen as side effects and so need not be explicitly listed. However, we need to start somewhere and win a victory, and get out of the "everything must be fixed before anything can be fixed" mindset. Further, even the horrible, sucky Democrats will probably make some kayfabe attempt to raise the minimum wage for 2014 to burnish their populist cred. [BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!! Sorry. It slipped out.] When that happens, we need to be able to fit that right into this platform, and say "Great, thanks. That's plank 1. What else have you got?" And keep dragging the Overton Window left

tarheel-leftist85's picture
Submitted by tarheel-leftist85 on

The tranche(d)/phase(d) approached i can certainly appreciate. It's not that small wins aren't wins. Just, in light of the Dembot kabuki on minimum wage, i'm somewhat skeptical (After all, didn't the last minimum wage "increase" fall right behind the greatest bankster swindle? one step "forward" and ten steps back?). And, as far as negotiation is concerned, a jobs guarantee - particularly its functionality in effecting living wages - is, it seems to me, a more aggressive stance (i.e., better position of negotiation) than raising the minimum wage by x vs. y amount to (what is now considered before the rentiers swoop in) a living wage. I suppose, i'm just trying to analogize the minimum wage increase to the public option sparkle pony. What we need is single payer or a national health system for true health care, just like we need full employment to effect a decent standard of living for everyone. Anything less would, i suspect, play out like the public-option-turned-private-mandate. Small wins are wins, but might they be achieve through a less-than-full-scale jobs guarantee (// single payer at the state level)? Some "big" things need to be argued from the start (single payer, jobs guarantee) on their merits instead of relying on a step-wise approach, methinks.

This isn't meant to be argumentative, just clarifying!

TheMomCat's picture
Submitted by TheMomCat on

I admit I haven't read through all the comments but there is a major element missing that without, none of this will ever happen. That is campaign finance reform and fixing the mess that was created by SCOTUS with Citizens United (talk about misnomers, should have been "Multinational Billionaires United")

Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

A Henry George follower invent the board game "Monopoly."

How an anti-rentier agenda might bring liberals, conservatives together

Throughout the late 19th century, the political economist Henry George argued that a main reason there was so much poverty amidst prosperity was the large presence of people collecting unearned income, or what he called “rents”. His particular focus was on land, and his solution was taxes. It’s difficult to overstate his influence on turn-of-century reform movements, providing both the theoretical basis for those looking at other problems in the new industrial era and a concrete set of solutions for organizers building new mass political movements.
In a recent series of three posts at Salon, Michael Lind of the New America Foundation argues that this threat of rentiers is back and causing mass stagnation in an age of huge wealth. Lind believes that an anti-rentier agenda could unite a broad coalition, including “owners of productive businesses as well as workers, populist conservatives and liberal reformers.”

Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

"Invented" monopoly:

During his lifetime, he became the third most famous man in the United States, behind Thomas Edison and Mark Twain. His supporters included Leo Tolstoy, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill and John Dewey, to name a few. Here's our Henry George quote of the day, and here is more on George's life and work.
Real origin of the Monopoly gameDid you knowthat the game of Monopoly was originally invented as a teaching tool to help get across Henry George's economic principles?

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

There has to be one plank exclusively for guaranteed affordable and dignified housing for all. I don't care if it is rented or owned. No safe or predictable or affordable or pleasant housing = none of the other "rights" mean a hill of beans.

This of course would have to go hand in hand with a Ban on Real Estate Speculation and a limitation of 2 properties per person at most. Whatch that "natural law of inflation in housing" suddently go pfft.

Anyway, FDR had a decent housing guarantee in his program which never got anywhere.