Ralph Nader's platform
Compare this with what John Kerry is offering.
The Bush Administration and the Democratic Party, in varying extremes, are putting the interests of their corporate paymasters before the interests of the people. In the Nader Campaign the PEOPLE RULE. Mr. Nader takes seriously a government "of, by and for the people" within a deliberative democratic society. Below are initial summaries of many of Mr. Nader's positions. As you can see, unlike President Bush and the Democratic Party, Ralph Nader:
Wants to make health care universally available
We need to get the insurance companies out of administering health care, increase patient choice, expand coverage and save money. The United States spends far more on health care per capita than any other country in the world, but more than 45 million Americans have no health insurance. A single-payer program, with full medical coverage, should provide health care that provides comprehensive benefits with quality care and cost controls to all Americans throughout their lives.
Wants electoral reform that creates a vibrant, active, participatory Democracy.
Our democracy is in a descending crisis. Voter turnout is among the lowest in the western world. Redistricting ensures very few incumbents are at risk in one-party districts. Barriers to full participation of candidates proliferate making it very obstructive, for most third party and Independent candidates to run. Obstacles, and deliberate manipulations to undermine the right to vote, for which penalties are rarely imposed, are preventing voters from voting. New paperless voting machines are raising questions about whether we can trust that our votes are being counted as they are cast. Finally, money dominates expensive campaigns, mainly waged on television in sound bite format. The cost of campaigns creates a stranglehold making politics a game for only the rich or richly funded. Major electoral reforms are needed to ensure that every vote counts, all voters are represented through electoral reforms like instant run-off voting, none-of-the-above options, and proportional representation, non-major party candidates have a chance to run for office and participate in debates, and that elections are publicly financed.
Wants a crackdown on corporate crime and abuse
The US needs to crack down on corporate crime, fraud and abuse that have just in the last four years looted and drained trillions of dollars from workers, investors, pension holders and consumers. Among the reforms needed are resources to prosecute and convict the corporate executive crooks and to democratize corporate governance so shareholders have real power; pay back ill-gotten gains; rein in executive pay; and enact corporate sunshine laws, among others.
Wants a fair tax where the wealthiest and corporations pay their fair share, tax wealth more than work, and tax activities we dislike more than necessities
The complexity and distortions of the federal tax code produces distributions of tax incidence and payroll tax burdens that are skewed in favor of the wealthy and the corporations further garnished by tax shelters, insufficient enforcement and other avoidances.
Corporate tax contributions as a percent of the overall federal revenue stream have been declining for fifty years and now stand at 7.4% despite massive record profits. A fundamental reappraisal of our tax laws should start with a principle that taxes should apply first to behavior and conditions we favor least and pinch basic necessities least such as the clearly addictive industries (alcohol and tobacco), pollution, speculation, gambling, extreme luxuries, taxing work or instead of the 5% to 7% sales tax food, furniture, clothing or books.
Tiny taxes (a fraction of the conventional retail sales percentage) on stock, bond, and derivative transactions can produce tens of billions of dollars a year and displace some of the taxes on work and consumer essentials. Sol Price, founder of the Price Clubs (now merged into Costco) is one of several wealthy people in the last century who have urged a tax on wealth. Again, it can be at a very low rate but raise significant revenues. Wealth above a quite comfortable minimum is described as tangible and intangible assets. The present adjustment of Henry George's celebrated land tax could also be considered.
Over a thousand wealthy Americans have declared, in a remarkable conflict against interest , that the estate tax, which now applies to less than 2 percent of the richest estates, should be retained. The signers of this declaration included William Gates, Sr., Warren Buffett and George Soros. Mr. Nader does not believe that "unearned income" (dividends, interest, capital gains) should be taxed lower than earned income, or work, inasmuch as one involves passive income, including inheritances and windfalls, while the latter involves active effort with a higher proportion of middle and lower income workers relying on and working each day, some under unsafe conditions, for these earning.
Opposes media bias and media concentration
The mass media in the United States is extremely concentrated, and the messages that they send are too broadly uniform. Six global corporations control more than half of all mass media in our country: newspapers, magazines, books, radio and television. Our democracy is being swamped by the confluence of money, politics and concentrated media. We must reclaim our democracy from the accelerating grip of big-money politics and concentrated corporate media. This requires real campaign finance reform, which means public financing of public elections; some free access to ballot qualified candidates on television and radio; vigorous antitrust regulation and enforcement; ending broadcasters' free licensed use of the public airwaves; and the reversion of some organized time on our publicly owned airwaves to establish audience-controlled radio and TV networks to ensure the diversity of voices and solutions necessary for a really free press and a true civic democracy.
A family farm-consumer agriculture policy
American agriculture is being dominated by two contrary trends in the 21st Century. First, conventional family farm agricultural production is being destroyed by low prices and lack of market access due to mergers, acquisitions by big agribusinesses and their monopsony power over farmers. Second, there is a boom in more sustainable agricultural production and consumption due to increased consumer awareness and demand for healthy, fresh, and nutritious food. Federal policy must focus on the farm and food system as a continuum that provides many benefits. We must advance the production, marketing, use and disposal of food and fiber in accordance with consumer, environmental, worker and family farm standards of justice and sustainability. Additionally, we must challenge misallocation of resources caused by the growing concentration and wealth by agribusiness, chemical, biotechnology and financial corporations over the food and fiber economy. This entails shifting government policy to provide research and information relevant to independent food producers, organic farmers, insuring open and competitive markets, promoting new food infrastructures, and preventing pollution and degradation of natural resources.
Wants to end poverty in the United States
As the wealthiest country in the world, with high productivity per capita, a country that produces an abundance of capital, credit, technology and food, we can end poverty. Yet, according to the Bureau of the Census poverty and hunger for children and adults is increasing rather than decreasing - 34.6 million Americans lived in deep poverty, 12.1% of the U.S. population. Many millions of Americans live in what is called "near poverty" by the Labor Department. We must make ending poverty a priority and weave that goal into a network of policies - truly progressive taxation, end huge corporate subsidies and military budget waste, jobs, equal pay for women, child-care, living wages for all workers and restoring the critical social safety net.
Wants to create jobs by investing in America's future, invest in Americans
Since January 2001, 2.7 million jobs have been lost and more than 75% of those jobs have been high wage, high productivity manufacturing jobs. Overall 5.6% of Americans are unemployed while 10.5% of African Americans are unemployed. Unemployment among Latinos is nearly 30 per cent higher than January 20, 2001. By requiring equitable trade, investing in urgently needed local labor-intensive public works (infrastructure improvements), creating a new renewable energy efficiency policy; by fully funding education and redirecting large bureaucratic and fraudulent health expenditures toward preventive health care we can reverse this trend and create millions of new jobs.
Wants to expand worker's rights by developing an employee bill of rights
The rights of workers' have been on the decline. It is time to reverse that trend and begin to give worker's - the backbone of the US economy - the rights they deserve. Workers need a living wage - not a minimum wage; access to health care and no unilateral reductions in medical benefits and pensions for current employees and retirees. Employers should not be able to avoid these benefits by hiring "temporary workers" or "independent contractors." The privacy of employees needs to be vigorously protected. The notorious Taft-Hartley Act that makes it extremely difficult for employees to organize unions needs to be repealed. It has resulted in less than 10% of the private workforce being unionized, the lowest in 60 years and the lowest percentage in the western world. Non-union workers need upgraded rights against the likes of Walmart.
Wants fair trade that protects the environment, labor rights and consumer needs
NAFTA and the WTO makes commercial trade supreme over environmental, labor, and consumer standards and need to be replaced with open agreements that pull-up rather than pull down these standards. These forms of secret autocratic governance and their detailed rules are corporate-managed trade that puts short-term corporate profits as the priority. While global trade is a fact of life, trade policies must be open, democratic and not strip-mine environmental, social and labor standards. These latter standards should have their own international pull up treaties.
A federal budget that puts human needs before corporate greed and corporate militarism
The United States needs a redirected federal budget that adequately funds the crucial priorities like infrastructure, transit and other public works, schools, clinics, libraries, forests, parks, sustainable energy and pollution controls. The budget should move away from the deeply documented and criticized (by the US General Accounting Office, retired Admirals and Generals and others) wasteful, redundant "military industrial complex" as President Eisenhower called it, as well as corporate welfare and tax cuts for the wealthy that expand the divide between the luxuries of the rich and the necessities of the poor and middle class.
Corporations should not be given equal rights with humans
A national debate is needed regarding the necessity to reverse the dicta in the 1886 Supreme Court Case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad that first awarded the corporation constitutional status as a person and in subsequent decision. Corporations are not human beings, they do not vote; they are artificial entities which should be subordinated to the rights of human beings There can be no equal justice under the law if General Motors or Exxon has all the rights of humans plus all the privileges and immunities to concentrate enormous power and escape responsibility in ways unavailable to the wealthiest of real people.
Education for everyone
Education is primarily the responsibility of state and local governments. The federal government has a critical supporting role to play in ensuring that all children -- irrespective of the income of their parents, or their race -- are provided with rich learning environments and equal educational opportunities and upgraded repaired school buildings. The government has an important role to play in keeping undermining influences out of the public schools -- among them, commercialism and private school voucher programs. The federal government must not impose an overemphasis on high-stakes standardized tests. Such testing has a negative impact on student learning, curriculum and teaching by resulting in excessive time devoted to narrow test participation, de-enrichment of the curriculum, false accountability, equity and cultural bias, excessive use of financial resources for testing among other problems. Federal law should be transformed to one that supports teachers and students; from one that relies primarily on standardized tests and punishment. And the government should encourage schools to infuse their curriculum with civic experiences that teaches students both how to connect classroom learning to the outside world and how practice democracy.
Opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq
The quagmire of the Iraq war and occupation could have been averted and needs to be ended expeditiously, replacing US forces with a UN peacekeeping force, prompt supervised elections and humanitarian assistance before we sink deeper into this occupation, with more U.S. casualties, huge financial costs, and diminished US security around and from the Islamic world. The faulty and fabricated rationale for war has the US in a quagmire. Already more than $155 billion has been spent, adding to huge Bush deficits, when critical needs are not being met at home. We should not be mired in the occupation of Iraq risking further upheavals when our infrastructure, schools and health care are deteriorating. Four years of free public college and university tuition for all students could be paid for by $155 billion.
Wants to restore and expand civil liberties and constitutional rights
Civil liberties and due process of law are eroding due to the "war on terrorism" and new technology that allows easy invasion of privacy. Americans of Arab descent and Muslim-Americans are feeling the brunt of these dragnet, arbitrary practices. Mr. Nader supports the restoration of civil liberties, repeal of the Patriot Act, and an end to secret detentions, arrests without charges, no access to attorneys and the use of secret "evidence," military tribunals for civilians, non-combatant status and the shredding of "probable cause" determinations. They represent a perilous diminishment of judicial authority in favor of concentrated power in the executive branch. Sloppy law enforcement, dragnet practices are wasteful and reduce the likelihood of apprehending violent criminals. Mr. Nader seeks to expand civil liberties to include basic human rights in employment and truly equal rights regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or religion.
Supports Equal Rights for Gays and Lesbians
Ralph supports equal rights for gays and lesbians, including equal rights for same-sex couples. He opposes President Bush's proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages as adults should be treated equally under the law on this matter. Ralph believes that by attempting to mandate inequality Mr. Bush is leading the country in the wrong direction.
Ralph agrees with Marie C. Wilson, the president of the Ms. Foundation, who recently said: "The most important thing is really having equal rights. It's not about the marriage. It's having the same rights that you would get if you were married." Ralph also believes that love and commitment is not exactly in surplus in this country and should be encouraged. The main tragedy of marriage, what undermines marriage, is divorce, as Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago recently said.
Ralph supports full equal rights for gays and lesbians. While civil unions are a step in the right direction under current federal and state law they do not afford equal rights. There are 1,049 federal rights that go only with marriage. In addition, at the state level, a civil union is only recognized in the state where it occurs, while marriage, and all the rights that go with it, is recognized in all the states. Thus, the only way to ensure full equal rights is to recognize same-sex marriage.
In more than 200 years of American history, the U.S. Constitution has been amended only 17 times since the Bill of Rights - and in each instance (except for Alcohol Prohibition, which was repealed), it was to extend rights and liberties to the American people, not restrict them. For example, our Constitution was amended to end our nation's tragic history of slavery. It was also amended to guarantee people of color, young people and women the right to vote. The amendment urged by President Bush (called the Federal Marriage Amendment) would be the only one that would single out one class of Americans for discrimination by ensuring that same-sex couples would not be granted the equal protections that marriage brings to American families.
Wants to reform the criminal injustice system
We need to get smart on preventing crime, invest in education, rehabilitation and restore safe neighborhoods and communities. The United States prison binge has resulted in over 2 million people being incarcerated - the US now holds one out of four of the world's prisoners, half of them non-violent. To reverse this we need to invest in humane treatment, personal involvement of youngsters, and job creation. We need to restore sentencing discretion to judges by repealing mandatory sentences and arbitrary "three-strikes" laws. We also need to restore due process, judicial discretion and constitutional restraints on law enforcement that violate equal protection and due process of law. Mr. Nader opposes the death penalty because its use is racially and class unfair, does not deter crime and results in innocent people being executed, and corrupts the exemplary status of the state.
Wants to end the war on drugs
The drug war has failed - we spend nearly $50 billion annually on the drug war and problems related to drug abuse continue to worsen. We need to acknowledge that drug abuse is a health problem with social and economic consequences. Therefore, the solutions are - public health, social services and economic development and tender supportive time with addicts in our depersonalized society. Law enforcement should be at the edges of drug control not at the center. It is time to bring some illegal drugs within the law by regulating, taxing and controlling them. Ending the drug war will dramatically reduce street crime, violence and homicides related to underground drug dealing.
The epidemic of silent environmental violence continues. Whether it is the 65,000 Americans who die every year from air pollution, or the 80,000 estimated annual fatalities from hospital malpractice, or the 100,000 Americans whose demise comes from occupational toxic exposures or the cruel environmental racism where the poor and their often asthmatic children live in pollution sinks located near toxic hot spots that are never situated in shrubbered suburbs, to cite a few preventable conditions. Now, as the evidence of global warming mounts it is evident that we threaten the global environment with tremendous economic threats facing humanity including bankrupting the reinsurance industry, the spread of infectious tropical diseases, massive ecological disruption and increased severe and unpredictable weather, all of which will significantly impact commerce, agriculture and communities across America. Toxic standards need to be strengthened. Currently toxic standards are designed for adults not for more vulnerable children, this should be reversed. We need to make environmental protection a priority for our energy, trade, industrial, agricultural, transportation, development and land use policies, indeed protecting the environment must be weaved throughout our governance.
Wants to create a new energy policy
We urge a new clean energy policy that no longer subsidizes entrenched oil, nuclear, electric and coal mining interests -- an energy policy that is efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly. We need to invest in a diversified energy policy including renewable energy like wind and other forms of solar power, more efficient automobiles, homes and businesses - one that breaks our addiction to oil, coal and atomic power. A new clean energy paradigm means more jobs, more efficiency, greater security, environmental protection and increased health.
Toward consumer justice
The enforcement of consumer protection laws, especially against the terrible abuses in low-income communities, needs to be given the leadership and resources required. Neither Party in control of our city or national government has concerned itself with such predatory practices. The poor pay more and are expendable to them. Hundreds of billions of dollars annually are taken from consumers due to computerized billing fraud, unconscionable credit and financial services charges, price gouging, shoddy merchandise, phony repairs, bogus medical treatments, medical malpractice, real estate scams, identity thefts, and other fraudulent regularly reported and neglected crimes. There needs to be more, not less, civil action rights to pursue in court both these economic grievances and wrongful injuries under a preserved and expanded tort system that internalizes the costs of misconduct and enlarges deterrence. Safety standards from motor vehicles to pharmaceuticals and household products need serious enhancement to save lives, injuries and prevent diseases.
Toward saving lives by increasing motor vehicle safety
About 800 Americans die on the roads every week on the average or over 40,000 a year, plus hundreds of thousands of injuries and tens of billion in economic losses. Since 1966 the irregular implementation of the federal motor vehicle and safety laws have driven down sharply the rate and the absolute number of highway casualties. Regulation worked when tried. In the past 24 years, however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) - the federal government's regulator of the auto industry - has been transformed into a consulting agency. This must stop if we are to save more lives and prevent more injuries. First, existing standards must be updated. Some have not been changed for 30 to 35 years, including the key crashworthiness tests themselves. Priority must be given to long over due stability, side impact and rollover standards, especially for SUV's vans and light trucks. Heavier trucks need improved braking systems. The research safety vehicle program of the Department of Transportation needs to be resurrected after having been mothballed years ago despite the uses of the model vehicles to push the auto companies for many years beyond their excuses and engineering stagnations. These include fuel inefficiencies that waste family budgets, pollute the air and increase global warming. The small budget of NHTSA has been astonishingly held back, given its widening missions and recall authority. One early B-2 bomber costs four years of NHTSA budgets. The exodus of fine engineering and scientific talent over the past twenty-four years needs to be reversed for advancing this great life-saving mission of the United States Government. For further details, see Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety and the Center for Auto Safety.
Toward a world of peace, justice, and fulfillment of human possibilities within a sustainable environment
Our foreign policy must redefine the elements of global security, peace, arms control, an end to nuclear weapons and expand the many assets of our country to launch, with other nations, major initiatives against global infections diseases (such as AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and virulent flu epidemics) which have and are coming to our country in increasingly drug resistant strains. Other low cost-high yield (compared to massive costs of redundant weapons) that extend the best of our country abroad include public health measures for drinking water safety abroad, tobacco control, stemming soil erosion, deforestation and misuse of chemicals, international labor standards, stimulating democratic institutions, agrarian cooperatives and demonstrating appropriate technologies dealing with agriculture, transportation, housing and efficient, renewable energy. The UN Development Program and many NGO's working abroad provide essential experience and directions in this regard including ending the specter of hunger, malnutrition and resultant diseases with known and proven remedies and practices. With this foreign policy orientation overhauls we will discover and facilitate the indigenous genius of the Third World, recalling Brazilian Paulo Freire (literacy), Egyptian Hasan Fathi (agrarian housing) and Bangladeshi Mohammed Yunis (microcredit).
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