October 6, 2003
"The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. In order for somebody to win an important, major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing -- for the sheer fun and joy of it -- to go right ahead and fight, knowing you're going to lose. You mustn't feel like a martyr. You've got to enjoy it."
[Note: It suddenly dawned upon me, in the midst of the California recall election, that while I have been a California legal resident for about 14 years I do not have the right to vote. What does it say about the type of "democracy" we have in the Golden State? What does it say when hundreds of thousands of residents are totally disenfranchised? Indeed, what kind of democracy (beside a Floridian democracy) can allow less than half of Californians, who happens to be non-Hispanic, non-Black or Asian or Native American, in other words white Californians, to make up 70 percent of the voters? Furthermore, how can it be that we may end up in a situation where an elected governor is recalled by say 55 percent of the voters -- i.e., 45 percent of the voters will have voted to let Gray Davis finish the term of his governorship to which he was duly elected less than one year ago -- and that his replacement may be elected with only 25 to 35 percent of the voters? Is this a democratic process, really?
Anyhow, I may not have the right to vote, but I certainly have the right to express my views and my convictions. The only candidate that made sense in November 2002 and still makes realistic, pragmatic sense in October 2003 is Green Party candidate Peter Camejo. So, here is a summary of his platform, which I copied from his Web site -- www.votecamejo.org. I only included parts of his platform, in his own words. To Peter Camejo, if he ever reads this, I would simply say: "Thank you Peter for the clarity of your vision and for representing the convictions of millions of Californians, whether they can vote or not."]
PETER CAMEJO'S PLATFORM: SUMMARY
Stop paying for bad decisions and corruption in the utility industry. . . .
Instead of paying for past mistakes, we should be initiating a massive program to develop renewable energy: solar, wind, and (for the long-term) fuel cells. It would put us ahead of the curve for the future, and make California once again the state of vision. In so doing, we would also establish our economy as an enduring powerhouse.
We Greens believe in the brotherhood/sisterhood of all people. We believe that we need to work together as a species to make a quality life available to every human being on this planet. We believe in diversity - not just tolerance of diversity, but celebrating it as our strength.
End racial profiling by police and the criminal justice system. Enact a moratorium on the death penalty. End the mistreatment of undocumented residents. Legalize undocumented workers. Provide a legal driver's license for all immigrants. Support programs to overcome past discrimination and its lingering effects. Equality for people of all sexual orientations, including equal civic rights for same-sex couples. Protect religious freedom for all by guaranteeing separation of church and state. Advocate for women's rights and reproductive freedom.
Living Wage & Labor Rights
Our minimum wage has lost half its purchasing power since 1968. . . . It is unacceptable that many people who work full-time are earning so little that they are still in poverty. Enact "living wage" laws statewide. Fight for the rights of workers, unions, and prevailing wage rules.
California now ranks near the bottom in the USA in our support for education
· Increase state funds for school capital improvements (e.g. buildings and infrastructure).
· Increase state funds for hiring additional teachers.
· Provide state funding to increase teacher salaries.
· Increase state funding for Head Start programs.
· Provide state funding for tax incentives and financial aid to help make college more affordable.
· Support age-appropriate sexual education programs that teach about abstinence, contraceptives, and HIV/STD prevention methods.
· Fund smaller class size through 5th Grade.
· Promote increased use of alternative fuel technology.
· Use state funds to clean up former industrial and commercial sites that are contaminated, unused, or abandoned.
· Support a bond for clean air, parks, and water conservation programs.
· State funding for open space preservation
· State environmental regulations should be stricter than federal law
California only has 4% of our original ancient trees remaining. Camejo supports all efforts to protect the last remaining old-growth trees, so that they will still be alive for our descendents. We Greens look to the future. We see a day when our children and grandchildren scorn us for our shortsightedness as we destroy the last of an ancient heritage, which cannot be recreated when it is gone. We are all part of a system, the earth's system for managing itself, and no one knows what will happen to us if we push the system too far out of whack. Every major ecosystem on earth is in decline. We have global warming. There is an impending water shortage/crisis. Let's change course now, before it is too late.
"Universal health care, single-payer, what was proposed in 1994 [Proposition 186] that both of them opposed but which the Latino community voted 64 percent in support of it and African Americans voted 54 percent in support of it. This is one of those issues where you really have to take a stand against corporate domination. That is why we're being held back and have millions of people without insurance and why we're paying so much more for medical services than Canadians or Europeans are paying, but receiving less service."
Make sure that people are free to vote for the candidate of their choice, and have their vote count. This includes using run-offs in statewide elections, to uphold the principle of majority rule (using instant-run-off voting, so voters can rank their first and second choices). See The Center for Voting and Democracy
The Solution for California: A Fair Tax and Fiscal Responsibility
While waste and inefficiency need to be eliminated, the main issue in this electoral campaign and in the budget discussion is the question of taxes.
The FAIR TAX concept is the centerpiece of our campaign.
BASIC TAX FACTS
The income of the richest 5% in California has risen 113% since 1993 while their tax rate has declined. The average person in California has only made a small income gain adjusted for inflation. Latinos have actually had their income decline slightly (3%), while their tax rates increased. If the richest 5% paid the same tax rate that the poorest 20% pay in California there would be a substantial surplus in our budget allowing for innovative programs to help stimulate the economy.
Corporations 20 years ago paid 14% of our state tax income but today they pay only 7%.
California is 20th in the nation in state taxes per person. Republican-run states such as Utah, Wyoming and Arizona have higher tax rates!
California is 36th in property taxes. Proposition 13th has created a drop in taxes for corporations and has led to all kinds of unexpected consequences. It creates higher taxes for first-time homebuyers. It prevents many long-term residents from moving, lest they suffer a sharp property tax increase. It results in billionaires like Warren Buffet paying a one tenth of one percent tax rate on multi million dollar homes while many working people pay more than 10 times this rate.
adopting single payer [health care system] can save the state up to $4 Billion next year.
The Green Watchdog report for California - which is a report of Friends of the Earth, the California Tax Reform Association, Green Capitol, and CALPIRG, with the support of 16 other major environmental organizations - lists fourteen program cuts and changes in policy that responsibly address environmental crisis while increasing social equity. These programs include, among a dozen other suggestions:
· Eliminating special tax breaks for oil companies
· Eliminating the loophole in Proposition 13 that allows corporate-owned property to be taxed at significantly lower rates than people's homes.
· Eliminating pork barrel spending on large, environmentally destructive construction projects. These proposals would save California approximately $4.6 billion this year and $23 billion over five years.
[The full details of Camejo's solution with graphs and figures are worth reading in full, at http://www.votecamejo.org/issues/budget.php]
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The Greens on Swans
Gilles d'Aymery is Swans' publisher and co-editor.
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