There was an error in this gadget

Monday, November 2, 2009

A PROGRESSIVE MANIFESTO (Part 1 in a series)



















As I surf the net and read articles and blogs of all shades of political and economic persuasion, I have become convinced of one thing: conservatives (and perhaps even some moderates and independents) simply do not understand in the least what the progressive viewpoint is all about. They evidently greatly fear that which they don't understand, for they constantly make wild, unfounded claims and accusations against us and distort our positions on issues and the bills our legislators propose. They cynically accuse us of deviousness and lying (perhaps because THEY are so inherently devious THEY find it necessary to lie so often?) and distrust everything we say. This is not civil discourse or behavior, and not what our democratic form of government is supposed to be all about.

Regardless of whether these errant conservative suppositions are borne of fear, frustration, anger, hatred, or mere misunderstanding is immaterial. They are wrong - false - mistaken - untrue - pure fiction. So, to help clarify what we progressives are all about and exactly where we are coming from, I thought I would now begin a series clarifying our positions on matters of the economy, the role of government, religion, foreign policy, national defense, social mores, civil liberties, cultural issues, taxation, and perhaps a few other topics which affect all of our lives as well. I will not pretend to speak on behalf of all progressives in this, my progressive manifesto. I will be speaking for myself, but I do believe what I will present in this series will find resonance with a good many other progressives. Likewise, I will not pretend to have all the answers to all of the problems we currently face. I will only offer analyses of, and broad blueprints for possible progressive solutions of, the issues we all face today. Hopefully, this will make the progressive viewpoint seem more understandable and logical, and even more palatable and less fearsome, to those who profess to be conservatives. At the very least, my hope is to see them become less shrill and over the top in their disagreements with and objections to our positions. Maybe they'll even come to realize that we, just like they, are people who deeply love and care about this country, and are not wild-eyed, disheveled thieves hell-bent on taking all their money or destroying America.






THE ECONOMY

We progressives believe in equal economic opportunity for everyone, and that no one individual or small group of elites should hold a gigantic amount of the country's wealth all unto himself or themselves. We believe our country has the ability to provide for a comfortable, quality existence for all of its citizens. We oppose the concentration of too much wealth in too few places, and we also oppose the effort of some to grab nearly all the wealth for themselves by unfairly denying portions of it to others through market manipulation, price-fixing, wage freezes and cuts, or regressive taxation favoring the wealthy. We view those actions as redistributing the wealth upward to the wealthy, who don't need it.

We do not oppose wealth, nor do we wish to take the vast majority of the wealthy group's riches to forcibly redistribute to everyone else. We simply believe that the gap between the ultra-wealthiest and everyone below them is unjustifiably high, and has been made artificially and undeservedly so. We believe human needs should come before, or at least right alongside of, profits. We therefore oppose acts like shipping good paying jobs to cheap foreign labor markets solely for the purpose of creating much greater profit for business. We oppose the paying of unjustifiably large salaries and bonuses to poorly performing business executives, and we oppose government bailouts to large banks and businesses without a strict accountability and an active repayment process by said banks and businesses.

We favor heavier taxation on the very wealthy and on giant corporations. Those with huge stores of concentrated capital should pay a higher percentage of their incomes in taxes than do very small businesses and those on the bottom rungs of the income scale, simply because those at the top would still enjoy a far greater amount of wealth for further investment or merely as disposable income. We do not view higher taxes on the rich as a form of punishment to them for having riches, but rather as a way of bearing responsibility for maintaining high living standards for our society as a whole. We do not favor stifling taxation rates of greater than 65% as are found in some foreign countries, nor do we favor the current 35% rate on the highest incomes, as we believe it is far too low. We favor a more progressive form of taxation than exists today, perhaps something akin to a 45% tax rate on the highest incomes. That, coupled with tax cuts of 15-20% for the poor and middle class, would spur more consumer spending, thereby creating more jobs for workers and more wealth for business owners, a situation where everybody would win instead of a mere few. Business owners would still be free to save, invest, or spend as they wish, but rather than stagnant capital concentrations occurring, capital would flow more freely and fairly, creating even greater economic opportunity for all.

We believe that people suffering and dying due to starvation, lack of proper sanitation and health care, and from unnecessary exploitation and deprivation while there exists huge pools of relatively unproductive concentrated capital, is an immoral situation that must be acted upon and changed. So long as things stay just as they are today, with the upper 5% of the population holding more than 50% of the wealth, needless stress, suffering, and early death will continue for the other 95%, particularly among the lowest 5%. This is indefensible and unsustainable.

We are a nation built on law. The law provides us with a sense of required order and stabilization which permits all to thrive. Our legal system is not structured so that only 5% of the population can enjoy great feedoms and liberties. It is structured so that ALL may enjoy said liberty. So, too, must it now be with our economic system!


NEXT: THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT

15 comments:

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

It's a good post Jack!
I don't think conservatives (fundies, rightwingnuts, militant ignoramous' etc.) are confused or unable to understand what a 'progressive' is. I think they are just against what you stand for (so aptly explained in your post). I think they are committed to being against any sort of conceptual changes... they live in fear. Ah perhaps that should be FEAR. And I think most of them enjoy it. They like the "us or them" style of poly-intrigue and the are afraid of differing cultures (as they constantly attack them or try to 'convert' them). That is the evangelical nature. And most conservatives come from that position. Just saying...
:-)

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks, Gwendolyn---I think you're on to something there. Or, it may be likely that we don't (and probably never will) understand THEM (rational creatures that we are)...

TRUTH 101 said...

I agree with your thesis Jack. I would only add that it is only right that the wealthiest pay the most because it is the wealthy that benefit the most from our government and economic system.

Keep up the good work Brother.

Manifesto Joe said...

A crucial point in the indoctrination of Americans is the notion that property rights are ABSOLUTE. This is behind all aspects of defending accumulation of any kind. Property and all other assets, in this mind-set, belong absolutely to the person in possession at the time, with no basic accountability to anyone.

What's been lost here is an understanding of what, in essence, property is. WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, IT DOES NOT EXIST.

Government and law define what property is, how much of it one rightfully owns, etc. It is also government that comes to the defense of the property owner when his or her rights (as codified by government) are violated.

Without government, there is no property, only territory. And territory is what one has the power to claim and defend by one's self, without government intervention.

In a case of mere territory, if I have the power to defend it, fine. But if someone can get the drop on me, they can kill me, my family and animals, bury us, take the house, the car and everything else. There would be no police or courts to stop them.

A crucial difference between the progressive/modern liberal view and that of conservatives and libertarians is that the former consider property rights CONDITIONAL. The public interest comes first, and stewardship of assets carries with it the condition of being accountable to that public interest.

Manifesto Joe said...

A succinct afterthought: Property rights exist BECAUSE OF GOVERNMENT, not in spite of it.

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks, Truth 101. You raise a very good point---the system we have is indeed rigged in their favor.
---------------
Manifesto Joe,
You have raised a very profound and real conclusion which nails down important differences between the progressive and conservative points of view, and an aspect I had not even considered. I thank you for this.

I find it interesting how the Supreme Court, in a relatively recent decision on eminent domain, seemed to reinforce you point in a sort of twisted way, by seemingly giving large corporate interests and/or government more power than that of the individual property owner when it comes to property rights...

MadMike said...

This is a great post Jack. I agree with Gwen. I don't think the Righties are confused about issues embraced by the Left. I think they could care less about them. These forgiving "good Christians" are in fact unforgiving, venal, and spiteful. They are hypocrites one and all who are hell bent on destroying this president even if it means destroying the nation. The Palinites are rallying and I suspect that the next 3.9 years and beyond will be quite tumultuous, and I would not be surprised to see violent outbreaks and violent actions directed at the United States government.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

Mike... I think you are a closet adept! LOL As usual, Jack's words are promoting solid conversation...

Jack Jodell said...

MadMike,
I sure hope the horror you describe does not come to pass, but you're right: the reactionary natives are getting very restless, and are constantly being whipped up to a frenzy by irresponsible big mouth demagogues like Limbaugh, Beck, and Palin.They are like the Huns of old, bound determined to destroy the new Roman Empire by any means possible.
---------------
Gwendolyn,
Thanks, but you do a pretty good job of getting everyone to put on their thinking caps too. Keep up the good work!

Manifesto Joe said...

Hi, Jack: You bringing up eminent domain reminds me of an infuriating thing about conservatives. Much as they bellow about the scourge of socialism and trashing of property rights and such, just try to stand in the way of one of their corporate-fueled megaprojects. Like, in our area, the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington, which is making Jerry Jones one of the U.S.' richest people. When it's done for the benefit of the poor, it's socialism. If the rich benefit, it's "good business."

Jack Jodell said...

Manifesto Joe,
You, my friend, have just shone the ultra bright truth spotlight on the most giant hypocrisy of conservatism. Your last sentence says it all.

TRUTH 101 said...

If I may add one more thought I think is relevant because of the property rights issue.


I had been arguing Ayn Rand with some righties lately. My take is that her whole Atlas Shrugged premise is that the purpose of government is to protect the property of the wealthy. The right has morphed this into a cult and beatified this apologist for the wealthiest. The right is stirring up the deluded tea baggers as we speak. These groups are full of hateful nutjobs that would be easy to manipulate into committing violent acts.


I agree with Mike. Bad things may be on the horizon.

Jack Jodell said...

Truth 101,
I'm with you on the Ayb Rand thing. I'll agree with the conservatives on one thing: liberal elitists are disgusting. But NOTHING stinks worse than an isolated, out of touch, uncaring conservative elitist.

As for the teabaggers, they'll be even angrier and more frustrated once they wake up and realize that the far-right upper class they think they ascribe to joining is using them, enslaving them, and cutting their throats economically. IF they ever wake up - lots of them seem pretty dense...

TomCat said...

Excellent Jack. I'm sure fellow progressives might argue some of the details, but on the whole this is a first rate description of the progressive economic position. To add one point, the very wealthy should also pay a higher percentage in taxes, because I higher percentage of our society's resources are expended on their behalf.

Jack Jodell said...

Thank you, TomCat, and your point is totally true. Those people are getting away with economic murder!