The political proposal presented below is not intended as a deep solution to the crisis of American culture – which is merely the worst symptom of the sickness of the modern world – because solving that requires a qualitatively different way of life or lifestyle that is not presently on the horizon/agenda, except for a small minority of people scattered over the Earth. What is offered, instead, is a realistically attainable transition politics and middle-class living standard for all that could, by reducing fear in America, prepare the ground for an evolutionary leap of consciousness, a new kind of human being that transforms the world accordingly. In other words, what is proposed below is not too much, too grandiose or too visionary, as many will say, but merely a first step, a minimum strategy and goal, a bold beginning, toward a new and vastly superior world that exists only now in the human Imagination and in great works of art and philosophy.
National Safety Net’s (NSN) Seven Point Agenda in Keeping With the Spirit of FDR’s “Second Bill of Rights.”
America needs a National Safety Net (NSN). Presently, America has a weak safety net and in a capitalist society in which there are inevitably losers and winners, many people fall through our weak and tattered safety net to a hard landing. America needs a strong. publicly financed safety net, not only under the poor, but also under the middle class.
The NSN could be woven together by seven essential elements: universal health care, a living wage, fair unemployment benefits, free education, affordable housing, fundamental ecology and a Department of Peace. This list is not meant to be exhaustive or complete, and, clearly, organic food for everyone, life long pensions, mass transit etc. would add to the strength and comfort of America’s social fabric.
In most European countries, if you lose your job, then you don’t lose your housing and health care. In Germany, for example, if you lose your job, then you don’t get six months unemployment benefits, with perhaps a few extensions, as in America. Rather, you receive two-thirds of your salary for one year and then everyone gets an equal income plus the cost of their housing and health care for as long as needed, provided they are looking for a job. This doesn’t provide an affluent lifestyle, but it does keep people from sleeping in their cars or in the streets.
It’s past time in America to tie together these basic rights (not privileges) into a strong safety net that will catch and soften the blows of everyone that fails/falls in times of socio-economic crisis.
Seven Point Agenda:
- Universal health care that publicly/legally guarantees the same, state of the art, medical treatment and care to all, regardless of income or wealth.
- A living wage for everyone 18 or older, regardless of the nature of the work performed. In Norway, for example, the minimum wage is equivalent to about 18 US dollars per hour.
- Fair unemployment benefits with a guaranteed basic income for as long as necessary until an individual is fortunate enough to get a decent job.
- Free education because the modern economy is making higher education a necessary requirement for everyday survival, especially for young people.
- Affordable housing that ends homelessness in America, and ends evictions and foreclosures for nonpayment of rents, mortgages or utility bills.
- Ecology before economy. This means that the economy must conform to ecology rather the other way around.
- Department of Peace because war and the proliferation of nuclear weapons makes all of us very unsafe.
The Unique Integral Approach of the NSN
The NSN is not a piecemeal or single-issue political plan. Rather, it offers a systematic solution because it is not enough to have health care if you don’t have an income, or if your job doesn’t pay a living wage, or if you don’t have the necessary work skills to get a job, or if you can’t afford a decent dwelling, or if you live in a polluted community or on a war-torn/endangered planet.
The NSN ties together key values into one easily comprehensible and explainable concept (of a National Safety Net) like no other progressive organization or movement in America. It’s an integral approach for solving major socio-economic problems in America and not another bundle of key values or issues that are pursued in a fragmented/disconnected way. It does not deal with key objectives in isolation from one another, or one at a time, but rather it offers a rich and deep simple message: three little words – National Safety Net – that integrates important values into a unitary vision, a big solution, that opens up endless possibilities for elaboration, education and electoral success.
An “inside/outside strategy,” with regard to the Democratic Party, is needed for achieving the NSN. We are not a political “Party,” but rather, a free association of individuals (defined by our seven point agenda) who work primarily, not entirely, through the Democratic Party to advance the goal of the NSN. We recognize that the Democratic Party is the best available vehicle (at this time) for defeating/overruling the Republican Party, thereby moving society in the right direction, however slowly, or at least slowing down the pace of destruction, so we usually support Democratic candidates for office, especially Progressives, but we are not inextricably bound to a profit-driven economy, as are both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.
The money-driven, private-sector economy is unsustainable in the long run, so we refrain from the convoluted and ultimately futile dialogue and attempts (by both parties) to fix it, save it or prop it up, and we focus, instead, on the political solution of the
NSN. There is a growing sense of entitlement among Americans that we deserve a safe and dignified lifestyle and insofar as the old economy will not/cannot provide it, or afford it or pay for it, then people deserve a new economic order that satisfies basic needs for everyone, unconditionally, independently of one’s success or failure in the marketplace.
A Provider Economy
Science and technology have long since achieved the stage of development where a good and respectable life is within the reaches of everyone. Many people know this, which explains the rising expectations or growing sense of entitlements among the population. When these popular demands are organized under an easily comprehensible and explainable concept (of the NSN) and articulated by a visionary political leadership, then a new economy will begin and this new economy will be a provider economy.
Instead of making everything dependent on strengthening America’s financial system (by bailing out banks, insurance companies, and other corporations), it is better to enact the NSN, not only for moral reasons, but also for economic reasons. The political solution of the NSN – that sets proper priorities and uses the available intellectual and material resources to achieve them – is a sort of bigger and better WPA, a huge job’s bill, an excellent stimulus/foundation for a new economy. The NSN is good for the economy because it creates good jobs in health care, social services education/training, housing, green energy, environmental preservation/restoration and national and international politics and law.
We need courageous leaders, educators, candidates, workers, retirees, youth, anyone who will champion the cause of the NSN, leading everyone to a higher quality of life. If we build political consensus (to a progressive majority) for the NSN, then this publicly planned economy for the satisfaction of basic needs for everyone will evolve in accordance with the will of the people.
Paying for the NSN
America, like other modern nations, can afford (pay for) the satisfaction of these public needs by ending the gross inequality of wealth through a strict progressive tax, caps on excessive income and wealth and a reorganization of national priorities, including major defense cuts. The present economic crisis requires a powerful exertion of political will over the economy so that we put a strong government owned and operated safety net under an entire population at risk, given the failures of the private safety nets such as housing, 401k (s), credit cards and the uncertainty of the future.
America is full of fear: fear of getting sick, fear of not earning enough money, fear of losing one’s job, fear of falling behind, fear of homelessness, fear of natural blowback, fear of world annihilation etc. Once the American people are basically secure in their everyday existence as a result of the establishment of the NSN, then the FEAR everywhere that paralyzes real change in this country will relax its chokehold on workers, students, elders, the entire dependent population and the dream (of philosophy and art) beyond mere survival will grow, along with the willingness and courage to realize it.