June 21, 2003
The Greens—Economic Bill of Rights

(See this post for background on this series.)

Universal Social Security: Taxable Basic Income Grants for all, structured into the progressive income tax, that guarantee an adequate income sufficient to maintain a modest standard of living. Start at $500/week ($26,000/year) for a family of four, with $62.50/week ($3,250/year) adjustments for more or fewer household members in 2000 and index to the cost of living.

Okay, but is that the minimum? $26,000/year is more than adequate for a family in low-cost areas such as Indiana, Missouri, and Mississippi, but the same standard of living is going to cost a LOT more in New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Seattle, not to mention San Jose and Honolulu.

Jobs for All: A guaranteed right to job. Full employment through community-based public works and community service jobs programs, federally financed and community controlled.

The right to a job already exists. Even in Washington state, with its 6.8 percent unemployment, there are plenty of job listings. The problem is that these are jobs that nobody wants to take, because they are low-paying, or require exotic skills, or are demeaning. It's a nice sound bite, but there's no substance behind it.

Living Wages: A family-supporting minimum wage. Start at $12.50 per hour in 2000 and index to the cost of living.

See the first paragraph for a discussion of cost of living. You can kiss goodbye any type of customer service extras because companies are not going to pay $12.50/hour to greeters or bagboys or parking attendants, and so forth. Also say goodbye to inexpensive dining out; McDonald's cannot afford to offer a 99 cent double cheeseburger if the cashier and the person assembling the food are making $12.50/hour. Waiters and waitresses will see a reduction in the number of jobs, too, as restaurants will have to reduce their waitstaffs. Remember again that these benefits are affected by the cost of living, so minimum wage will be much higher in big cities.

30-Hour Work Week: A 6-hour day with no cut in pay for the bottom 80% of the pay scale.

Hey, let's increase the pay of junior workers immensely, and then cut their working hours by 25%.

Only the executives can have their pay cut. Well, that will get more coverage in a later post.

Social Dividends: A "second paycheck" for workers enabling them to receive 40 hours pay for 30 hours work. Paid by the government out of progressive taxes so that social productivity gains are shared equitably.

I am assuming that this is how the previous point is covered. And what, pray tell, are "social productivity gains", and how are they measured?

Universal Health Care: A single-payer National Health Program to provide free medical and dental care for all, with freedom of choice for consumers among both conventional and alternative health care providers, federally financed and controlled by democratically elected local boards.

This goes far beyond the socialized medicine of Scandinavia and Western Europe, as they do not have a freedom of choice that this program envisions. And I know that the greens are big on grassroots, but why do we need to have elected local boards for health care? It seems like yet another layer of government to generate useless rulings and cumbersome instructions.

Free Child Care: Available voluntarily and free for all who need it, modeled after Head Start, federally financed, and community controlled.

You know, if it meant that everyone was working, I'd support this point. Train some of the people who are currently receiving welfare benefits in the procedures of childcare, and set up daycare centers in underutilized federal government space, or rent space in cheap rent areas if there is a lack of empty government office space.

Lifelong Public Education: Free, quality public education from pre-school through graduate school at public institutions.

Oh.dear.God. Do they have ANY idea how much it would cost the government to provide lifelong education to everyone? There *IS* such a thing as overeducation, and this would lead to a large number of people with degrees in fields with limited applications (Philosophy, Anthropology, Queer Studies, Elizabethan Poetry, ad infinitum, ad nauseum).

Affordable Housing: Expand rental and home ownership assistance, fair housing enforcement, public housing, and capital grants to non-profit developers of affordable housing until all people can obtain decent housing at no more than 25% of their income. Democratic community control of publicly funded housing programs.

Britain discovered that government ownership of housing was a very bad idea. Their privatization program under Thatcher resulted in a marked increase in the livability of the projects, as the new owners (and former tenants) had a pride of ownership instilled in them. By keeping up their neighborhood, they increased the value of their property, which allowed them to sell their home and move on if they desired. The same has proved true here in the US, where dilapidated public housing projects were revitalized by privatization and community organizing. Less government is the key, not more.

posted on June 21, 2003 07:26 PM


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