We live in a country that is so top heavy financially it borders on obscene. If we think that Charles Dickens’ novel Scrooge was powerful, imagine if he wrote today about our Scrooges. Bottom line: America needs fixing or the one percent of our population who control things will take the 99% of us down with their greed and avarice. Yes kiddies, the time has come for some sort of Socialism to save our economy and our citizenry. Let’s get one thing out of the way before we begin. There are many different types of socialism. Webster’s defines it as ‘A system of social organizations in which the producers possess both political power and production and distribution means ‘. Whew! Rather than go into semantics etc. allow me to just express how things could get a lot better for the 99% of us, in a more just and fair economic system.
* Community Owned Mortgage Banks – Imagine if you will that local towns or counties opened up non profit mortgage banks. What would happen is that instead of the current rate for a home or commercial mortgage being an average of let us say 5 or 6 %, we would see rates of 2% (enough to cover overhead). Think of how many people who now have to rent an apartment or home could afford to own one… without getting overly deep in debt. For commercial properties, small businesses could afford to own the space they inhabit rather than lease it. Plus, the mortgage paper on any such property would remain in the hands of the local community bank.
* County or City Owned Power Companies – Why should there be profit in the necessity of electricity or natural gas coming into one’s home or business? Think of how much lower the rates would be if the community owned the utility. Why should we call these things public utilities and then see the CEOs and top executives earning mega millions per year? Again, with rates being discounted by 25 to 30 % in a non profit system, think of how many folks could use those savings for other things: home or business improvements, education, new car, investments…. Anything is better than putting it in the pockets of a few ‘fat cat ‘rich folks. The added benefit of all this non profit truly public utilities would be … Economic Stimulus!
* The ‘Millionaires Tax‘ – Why not leave the tax rates as they are and simply issue a 50% flat surtax on all personal income over one million dollars a year? This new surtax would include any source of income, whether it is through savings, inheritance, investments, and bonuses or of course, salaries. In 2007 America had over 16 million households of millionaires, so there is lots of revenue for Uncle Sam to accumulate with such a tax. Why not a national referendum each year to allow we citizens to choose how the added revenue should be used?
* The 25% Solution – The 2009 Fiscal Year saw the highest military budget ever at over 550 billion dollars! This was almost twice what it was ten years previous, and over two times what it was during the cold war with the Soviet Union. The solution to this, actually a first step, is to cut 25% off of the military budget immediately! Our American empire now has 800 military installations in over 100 countries, and with hundreds of thousands of our young troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus an equal number of high priced private contractors AKA mercenaries (remember the Hessians of the Revolutionary War?) At a cost of around 100 billion dollars per year is totally foolish. Our cities and states are going bankrupt, and what is the Congress doing? You see, Congress subsidizes our military budget through what they call discretionary spending. Thus, no laws need to be changed or created to simply… Cut! Since our states are in budget shortfalls totaling 170 billion dollars, 25% of the 550 billion dollars budget would wipe most of that out completely. Translated: States could have the money needed to provide services and to help their cities stay afloat. When Colorado Springs has to cut street lights for a large portion of the night, and cities start charging for basic services…. Well, you should see my point. Plus, if we started closing military bases worldwide, maybe the people of those nations would lessen their anger towards America. If we used some of those savings to maintain a strong ‘ First Provider ‘ system at home, when natural disasters strike (and more will) we will be able to save lives, homes, businesses.
* Public Funding Of All Elections – If we did not allow private money in electoral politics, we could have level playing fields. This would mean that if a prospective candidate got enough legitimate signatures from registered voters in his or her district, the ballot would contain more than just the two major parties and one or two independents. Public funds would be equally distributed to all candidates to spend on campaigns. Plus, the whole system of Lobbying would be changed. What could a lobbyist offer a politician or candidate if donations were not allowed? A special interest like a corporation or industry or individual would have to bribe someone under the table…. This is a convictable offense. Imagine an election whereupon all those on the ballot received the same money to spend and the same free airtime (since we the people own the airwaves). We would have a democratic Republic that had average 9 to 5 working folks holding office, and not the myriad of millionaires we now have. Tell me, who better to understand the problems and needed solutions for 99% of us than someone from our ranks?
* Medicare & Dental Care for All – Let the private health insurance companies operate as they do. Simply pass a law that allows any American who wishes to pay into a non profit universal health and dental plan. With the savings we as a nation would see from community owned utilities and mortgage banking Americans would gladly pay into such a Medicare type system. The use of ‘ one form fits all ‘ claims administration and the need for only one oversight mechanism would insure that the costs would be lower than in the current privatized system…. With much better coverage! Plus, we could all have dental insurance as well, since the savings and the individual ‘Pay In ‘would enable it to work. As far as fraud, if under this socialized system any practitioner was found to commit fraud or abuse…. Take away his or her license to practice medicine! They have a ‘Three Strikes and You’re Out ‘for others… does it for doctors and dentists too.
* Nationalized Weapons Industries – As progressive scholar and talk show host Jay Diamond states: ‘Why should there be profit in war? Why private interests should be manufacturing and selling weapons, planes, tanks or any means of war? ‘He is correct. Do we have private, for profit police departments locally or nationally? No, the citizens, through the community or government, own and operate them. Why should we have corporations making profit on our being at war? It is scandalous to say the least. Go and read General Smedley Butler’s essay (written in the mid 1930s) entitled War Is a Racket. He shows how much is made financially by private interests when our nation goes to war. It is time to take the profit out of war and then perhaps we won’t so easily have them.
* Payroll Tax Forgiveness Plan – If we took the savings from many of the aforementioned changes, we could afford to really aid both the small business owner and all American workers. If American workers had their FICA contribution (around 7.25 %, for Social Security and Medicare etc) forgiven on the first $20k of income (around $1400 a year) think of how that would stimulate the economy? Now, if we could allow the same forgiveness on the matching contribution by the employer, think of how that could save many small businesses from going under, especially during these hard times. We could set a cap on the employer’s contribution for only the first 100 workers at any business. Now, here is the important caveat: The contributions to FICA would still be made in each employee’s name by the government, so as to not penalize workers for this forgiveness plan. This is very crucial.
There are a myriad of innovative uses of socialism that I have not covered here. All I ask is for you to just digest what has been proposed. Each one of the aforementioned ideas must first see a groundswell of citizen support. That means that we who make up 99% of America should stop allowing the media talking heads and our politicians from disparaging the ideas proposed here. After all, logic and rational thinking should trump distorted propaganda… or we will continue to flounder and fade away as a civilization.
Philip A. Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn NYC longshoremen. He is an activist leader and free lance columnist. Since the 2000 elections, he has written over 200 columns, many posted on various sites worldwide. Recently, he is finding a home at Dandelion Salad, New Jersey activist Ed Dunphy’s progressivepatriots.net or at his own blog at www.opensalon.com. Philip can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.