Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Values and Issues, 2004
Callan Bentley

In conjunction with (a lot) of recent thought about America's political situation, I've been thinking about what my values are. In discussions with a Republican relative, I realized that I don't really care much for Bush or Kerry, as both seem to be too susceptible to corporate influence. Of course, Mr. Bush is by far the worse of the two evils. Mr. Kerry's election would be merely a step in the right direction, but not a solution.

Stewardship of the environment has been my main political issue for many years, but now I'm increasingly concerned about several other things: (1) corporate control of the nation's democratic institutions, (2) the Orwellian direction that the current administration has chosen for maintaining national security -- i.e. the infringements on individual citizen's right to privacy and the sequestering of jailed suspects away from lawyers and relatives -- and (3) the lack of diversity in our polical sector (only 2 parties? what kind of choice is that, especially when the Democrats seem intent on copying the Republicans?), and (4) the lack of diversity in our media, the means by which we citizens inform ourselves of happenings in the world (10 corporations control most of the world's media: an excellent overview is found here).

So I outlined the following list of what I believe in; it's a mix of values and policy agenda items. And I included a special checklist at the end for what I consider to be a President's three most important characteristics (Mr. Bush, incidentally, meets none of them).

Justice for all, irrespective of:
ï wealth
ï race
ï gender
ï orientation
ï politics
ï species

Accountability of:
ï elected officials
ï bureaucrats
ï teachers
ï media and journalists

Environmental issues:
ï those of a local nature (e.g. SuperFund sites, toxic dumps, oil spills, watershed pollution, pesticide use, endemic species endangerment)
ï those of a global nature (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, loss of biodiversity, loss of habitat, a forum for international discussion and cooperation)

Agricultural issues:
ï more support for organic farmers
ï greater emphasis on local foods
ï consumer rights: dietary information, ìgreenî labeling
ï less support for either animal monocultures (factory farms) or plant monocultures
ï abolition of obsolete subsidies, in agriculture and elsewhere
ï less packaging of foodstuffs

Less corporate influence over
ï our political process
ï our media
ï our telecommunications

Political reform:
ï greater nurturing of political parties other than Republicans and Democrats
ï abolition of corporate-funded political action committees (PACs)

Freedom from government invasion of citizen privacy, in the form of:
ï urban video surveillance
ï investigation of library records without a warrant
ï investigation of internet records without a warrant

Greater diversity in:
ï media
ï biological species (or at least the same, just not less)
ï corporate competition (steps away from monopolization, not towards)
ï energy sources available to consumers

Greater investment in:
ï consumer protection
ï public radio
ï public television
ï local police forces
ï primary school
ï secondary school
ï colleges and universities
ï educating parents how to raise healthy children
ï international dialogue

Energy and transportation issues:
ï too great a reliance on interstate trucking for the transport of goods
ï making railroads and trains cost less
ï too few public transportation options
ï fuel efficiency of vehicles both public and private
ï tax breaks for hybrid automobile owners
ï no new roads built, especially in our national forests and parks
ï maintenance of existing roads
ï maintenance of existing bike paths
ï construction of comprehensive bike path systems interconnecting the nationís urban areas
ï diversification of energy providersí sources
ï investment in alternate sources of energy

Overpopulation and unemployment:
ï tax breaks for those who adopt children
ï tax penalties for those who have more than three children
ï rigorous enforcement of welfare rules ñ no one gets to live on the dole forever
ï implementation of a national workforce program (like the CCC) to employ otherwise unemployed citizens on useful public projects

Health care:
ï everyone gets health insurance
ï prescription drug prices being as low as possible, with the option of buying drugs in Canada and importing them being perfectly legal
ï massive tobacco taxes; crop transition programs for tobacco farmers

Freedoms and rights:
ï the right to free speech
ï freedom of the press
ï freedom of assembly
ï the right to bear arms
ï the repeal of the embargo against US travel to Cuba

My ideal President is:
ï smarter than me
ï a gifted communicator
ï a workaholic

1 comment:

AJ said...

Callan,

Fantastic Post.... I agree with your checklist wholeheartedly. Also, I can't but notice that Ralph Nader meets most of your criteria.... despite the whining of Democrats, I think he's the best candidate of the bunch (though of course hasn't near enough money to qualify in every state, much less win).

If the Democrats had nominated Dean I would have been much more enthusiastic about this election... though pretty much a centrist he seemed to have some passion and some principles-- which cannot be said for either Bush or Kerry. Oh well.

Anyway... enjoyed the post!!