Proposal for 2016 DNC Platform

If Bernie Sanders is not elected to be the 2016 Democratic standard-bearer, he has decided to leverage his position as an advocate for the people, in the City of Brotherly Love, to demand a Democratic National Convention platform including free health care and college tuition, a tax on Wall Street to pay for these, and a muscular response to global warming.

@CenkUygur of The Young Turks interviews Presidential Candidate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (March 23, 20016)

1) Single payer for all — the co-pay system involves generational changes from the 19th and 20th centuries, from small country doctors who visited patients to mega-corporations betting on the death of an employee. A major reform here will involve changes in the educational system: who wants to become a doctor, what are their motivations, is it money or service or both? This involves specialization as opposed to the holistic medicine often practiced by a small country doctor, focusing on the entire patient, often, going back to the 19th century, with homeopathic, that is tiny, dosages, so as not to do any harm.

Do we want to, as (Lil) Marco Rubio has called upon, have less philosophers (or politicians) and more trades and craftsmen and women? Do we want to switch to the European, ie German so-called ‘gymnasium’ style (which is really lifted straight out of Plato’s ‘The Republic’ but in effect borrows something from the Nazi-era) which separates career tracks earlier? There is no reason why education reform can’t and shouldn’t happen as well, perhaps even including free Community College, certainly a reform to grants and loans.

These suggestions sound much more mundane, actually sound less radical than free tuition for all, but are in fact, while in many ways simpler, far more radical.

But we should really be talking about even more radical change, involving the way the school book industry works, the way in which college professors have to publish or perish, Aaron Swarz’s death and what he was planning for a MOOC with JSTOR, and an effort to create an alternative accreditation system with online courses, lectures that are already available, free epub text books. Very little technological change would have to happen to make college free, but what happens to the college professors, do we need as many? If you give away JSTOR for free, do they, the writers, or the journals they write for, still get reimbursed, do they still want to publish, what is their incentive to do research, unless they are at Stanford and working on apps and looking to cash-in?

These suggestions sound much more mundane, actually sound less radical than free tuition for all, but are in fact, while in many ways simpler, far more radical. But why aren’t people talking about them? Does the media suppress them? No. I’d argue the media are going for the bottom line, are operating as a free market and are supplying ideas people want to talk about. Nobody wants to talk about Aaron Swarz, his death and what he was working on, unless you are a conspiracy theorist. And if Alex Jones is talking about it, the media, mainstream and alternative won’t touch it.

I’m not arguing we shouldn’t have single payer, but that the comparison to Europe and Germany in particular is a false-analogy red herring and doesn’t really serve the conversation. But daddy! I want a pony! I want a bean party! They’ve got them! I want them, it’s not fair!

Everything old is new again. What was derided as ‘New Agey’ twenty years ago is now big-business. Old timey organic farming replaces Monsanto and mega-farming, because there is a market for the products, but it is really a change back to, not any advance in technology, with the exception of hydroponics and vertical farming. We got sick, as a nation, through letting the GOP incentivize mega-farming, which went hand in hand with genetically modified food and corporations like Monsanto also producing weapons, or rather weaponizing agricultural products. This went hand in hand with the CIA using soft-power debt forgiveness. And then all of it was covered up for fifty years during the Cold War until Al Gore and Bill Clinton decided to try and declassify it and share it, first on something called Gopher and later at the National Security Archives.

A cohesive, holistic response, including health care reform, education reform, declassifying huge chunks of the CIA and State department archives, updating Cold War technology with smart, effective current real time technology, regulating the derivative trade and managing the national debt is going to be needed to reverse these trends.

2) $15/hour — I prefer $20 — Federally mandating a $20/hour minimum wage would cost, or could cost, in two ways. The first is through the increase in federal workers’ payrolls. President Obama already started this process. Increasing it to first $10/hour, we could mandate $15 on a move to $20, because it is like hitting a moving target, by the time it is implemented things will have changed. So then this is actually more about yield curves and changes baked in over time.

But the money has to come from somewhere, I would personally advocate it comes from shutting down SDI, cutting Darpa’s drone budget, cutting the NSA’s TIA program (probably called something else but graduated from Darpa), cutting the CIA’s drone budget, and lastly and most importantly, shuttering the F-35jsf a, b, and c while they have not yet cost $50 trillion dollars (the projected cost, minus cost overruns, for the life of the project).

Eventually, using GOP trickle-down economics, the program would pay for itself, as more money in the hands of more people would be like a tax break and they’d spend more increasing GDP and tax revenue.

However, the real cost savings would come from slicing into the DoD budget. This could end up costing some jobs, many, many defense contractor lobbyist lunches, and most importantly ruin the lives of some pork barrel politicians. However, while these are outdated programs intended for a cold war, or programs that have been forward-looking using new technologies, but have either not panned out or run into problems with abuse, or both, that does not mean you can just cut them without a realistic alternative. Diplomacy and treaties with Russia, Iran, Pakistan and China would need to be enacted and followed through on. Certainly N. Korea as well. But a Kissinger realpolitik approach to letting China reign in N. Korea and a recognition that N. Korea is a far bigger problem and embarrassment for China than we realize, though one which they exploit because of our fear (even justifiable fear) would go a long way with little effort. But then that will probably involve something they want in exchange. But what does China want?

Cut the F-35, save $50 trillion dollars, save America’s future. Use it to pay for the increase in the minimum wage.

They want the Fed’s playbook for the financial crisis and we don’t even realize that is our ace up the sleeve. The things which they want from us we don’t even know, and the things we could get in exchange for these items, we’re clueless about, railing about tariffs and jobs and TPP, when we could be modernizing their market economy, halting their bubble at the same time as reining in N. Korea. And instead we’ll end up spending trillions building new warships, getting involved in centuries old disputes over islands with Japan, hacking into each other with cyber-warfare and watching as their insurance giant leverages itself to the max to go on a hotel spending spree.

Cut the F-35, save $50 trillion dollars, save America’s future. Use it to pay for the increase in the minimum wage. The problem is, it might very well hurt small business owners, we might be near a cyclical recession, job growth has been unprecedented, shrinking the size of the unemployed pool corporations have to pick from, a supply-demand problem that should have naturally started to increase the minimum wage but has left wage growth mostly stagnant, comparatively when considered with the unprecedented job growth over a sustained period, so something is amiss, either in basic economics theory or the numbers.

And we’ve spent $1.5 trillion already on the fucker. You know how it is, you have a truck you keep putting money into, you’re hesitant to junk it because you now feel attached to it. So it will be a painful process to cut the program. People will say, but what a waste, we have nothing to show for it. We’re already this far into it, we might as well double-down and at least end up with something. Maybe we can sell it to NATO or Pakistan or France? Surely we can get something out of it. Yeah. A lot more headaches.

3) global warming — cafe standards — if this is done correctly it shouldn’t cost anything, it is more about resolve and not letting automakers pull a VW on us by cheating. Fool you once.

The C.A.F.E. standards were pushed through by the Gore part of the Clinton/Gore team. They probably owe a debt of gratitude to Governor Brown of California as well as the Sierra Club. They entail increases in the overall average mpg both cars and trucks have to be rated by Detroit. Since California is the largest auto market in the domestic economy, in fact is such a large overall economy it rivals some nations, the standards they set for themselves play a significant, if not the most important role in Detroit determining their own, in-house standards, where by free-market rules, ignoring California’s stricter emission standards would play themselves out of the most lucrative market. The CAFE standards, which have nothing to do with coffee, set stricter goals and made them federal.

But, recently, Detroit decided to give itself a pat on the back. We are, in fact, ahead of schedule, or right on schedule, by different metrics. The new standards which people thought couldn’t be met and decried as social controls Maoist death camps end-of-the-world they’ll ruin the economy have actually added to Detroit’s bottom line. In wake of the VW scandal, they certainly not only look, relatively more attractive, but they gained an unsolicited PR coup to boot, almost by doing nothing more than not cheating themselves.

But now they’re ahead, they’re starting to say, well, really, isn’t that good enough? Do we really need to meet the 2025 goals? Can’t we stay within the 2 degrees and still be OK? Oh sure we’ll get more flood insurance but.

They are right though. It is time to take a pause, congratulate ourselves as a nation, and reevaluate the situation. The first thing one notices is that closing the loophole for the $100,000 tax rebate for so-called ‘limousine’ trucks and SUV’s did not crush the industry. It was intended to help small farmers, but was exploited. The second is that technology has come a long way in a short time. We were talking about hydrogen-fuel cells, Detroit was drawing up concept vehicles where the bottom of the car was a ‘skateboard’ and the entire drive-train would have to be changed, the basic way we built cars would have to change, entire new factories built, a revolution they never intended. They were using another tax loophole to create electric golf-carts and have that qualify as their electric vehicle quota. Now there are more Tesla recharging stations in NY City than gas stations. So things have markedly changed. We’re now talking about Apple and Google building self-driving cars, ride-sharing with Uber, and every Detroit and Japanese auto maker is either partnering with a technology company or looking to buy one. Things have changed quite a bit. How can we harness this change to stay on course for 2025 and get under the 2 degree threshold?

The cost of these will entail significant changes in both Fed and Treasury policy as well as DoD spending budget. The ‘Obama’ model has been to manage debt and work with yield curves, taking time, buying time for the economy to change. It worked to a certain extent. The Obama administration were in the particular bind of being put (or rather the country was put) behind the so-called 8-ball by eight years of failed Republican policy which left us $10 trillion in debt, with a $5 trillion dollar bailout they were all but forced into. (Though, obviously he eventually ‘owned’ it in the sense of taking pride in the resurgence of Detroit, resurgence of Detroit being his term not mine.) On the other hand, there were those, tea partiers but also tea partiers ‘twisting the arms’ of the GOP Boehner establishment, who themselves were really creating the bind, then trying to say ‘our hands are tied’ when in reality, they did eventually really get hijacked, then cry wolf, who wanted to cut all federal spending except for to the military. So then Obama was in the double-bind of either continuing to grow the yearly federal budget deficit and the national debt, or to cut social spending.

So his middle-of-the-road approach was to slow the rate of growth of the yearly federal budget deficit, whilst not returning to recession, nor cutting social benefits. He did manage to do this, Fed policy got so skewed that we started considering breaking the so-called zero-bound and we are in a particular case, now, where President Obama and the CBO have been, not so much engaging in felicitous duplicity as simply omitting the truth, or rather not broadcasting the underlying problem as a headline. It gets buried in the weeds, instead of being the lead. That truth is that raising the Fed’s bank lending rate will affect the yield curve and throw havoc into their simple plan to manage the national debt by managing the rate of growth of the yearly federal budget deficit.

But that’s like saying he performed some impossible Ralph Kramden/Jackie Gleason Fats Domino triple rail bump shot, knocked in half the balls and barely broke a sweat, but inside was crumbling and still was only half-way to victory, and meanwhile his ‘partner’ (in crime) Dubya, who left him behind the 8-ball in the first place, is bellying up to the bar and getting ready to do a victory lap.

Lastly, a tax on Wall Street risk-taking is a good idea in general. Derivatives markets need to be regulated more effectively, so some of them can remain and perform a necessary hedge function for their related industries. But we as a nation have to make a decision if we are entering into a new era in which debt, having been commoditized, is a new form of money. Does this, in effect, make us more like European Socialist nations? Does it make us more like mixed-market central government Communist nations? Is it the natural evolution that capitalism is heading towards? Or does it in effect legitimize the widening gap between elites and the proletariat, creating a serf economy where people manage debt and have a credit rating to rent, while others own debt (often in the form of bonds, but which bonds could represent tranches of mortgages or other assets) with very little in between?