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Thursday, January 10, 2019

American Solidarity Party - Trying to build a better USA

Recently I explained why I joined a third party political movement here in the United States.  I was attracted by the attempt to be a bridge between what has become (to me) a rancid and ugly two party system in the United States.  I was repelled by the duopoly that has done its best to push people like me out of the public square.  Neither the left nor the right has my interests at heart, so I had to find a political home where a Faithful Catholic and a Proud American could vote her conscience with, well, a clear conscience.

One of the aspects of the ASP Party Platform that caught my eye can be found at: https://solidarity-party.org/platform/#economic-participation.

The main economic platform of the party is:
  • Economic policies that expand opportunities for the poor, and rebuilding and supporting a vibrant middle class, the erosion of which is a fundamental threat to our democracy.
  • The right of workers to be compensated for the wealth they create and to participate in economic decision-making.
  • A fair and progressive tax system that ends subsidies and exemptions which disproportionately benefit the wealthy and favor speculation over work.
  • Labor and consumer protection laws to offset disproportionate market power.
  • The widest range of opportunities to own productive property, including family-owned businesses and worker-owned cooperatives.
  • The free market approach over the command market approach, recognizing the benefits of free and fair markets for the voluntary exchange of goods and services.
  • A review of existing regulations and taxes, to assess their impact on small businesses.
  • Strong antitrust enforcement to preserve a free market and the elimination of regulations designed to unfairly inhibit competition by smaller firms.
  • The repeal of subsidies that encourage urban sprawl and discourage local farming and production.
    Laws that discourage corporate farm ownership and help sustain family farms and rural communities.
  • Exploring state and local land value taxes as an alternative to traditional property taxes.
  • Reform of intellectual property laws that allow corporations to control seed life, and thus control a disproportionate amount of our food sources.
  • Investigating possible alternatives to stigmatized welfare programs and regressive entitlements such as the use of Universal Basic Income to supplement wages and share the benefits of nature and technology.

I grew up in the United States, and so I have been influenced by what would have once been considered basic American principles:  Everyone has the opportunity to be better off, financially, than the previous generation.  It requires hard word, sacrifice and a willingness to (as my Italian born grandmother put it) 'put your fortune in your head so no one can steal it".  Certainly, there are no shortages of stories of self-made billionaires over the past 270 something-years.  From Sarah Breedlove to J.D. Rockefeller, we have many examples of people who started with next to nothing and became extremely wealthy.  

In recent times we can point to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates as people who not only changed the world but made an amazing amount of money doing it.

The American Dream - anyone willing to push hard and sacrifice can be King or Queen of the World.

There are smaller dreams, of course, that were particular to America, which were handed on to me by my family.  Being able to own a plot of land or a home, get a good education, practice one's religion without interference from the government--all this was infused into me as I grew up.

So, what happened?

I have come to see how the manipulation of the market, badly written laws, greed run wild and a design to eradicate the dignity of the human person has corrupted the American Dream.  This is not something that happened overnight; rather, it has been done bit by bit over the years. 

Let me explain:

The idea of someone working two or three jobs is nothing new.  At the turn of the last century that was common for the newcomer to our country.   They lived in tenements.  They died of diseases that flourished in the conditions of those tenements.  They struggled in poverty and violence.  Often it was the various aide societies of the Faith Communities that helped people 'keep body and soul together'.  Life was hard and anyone who wants to romanticize that era does so at the risk of sounding really ignorant.

However, as pointed out by author Reihan Salam,  the actual gap between those who were in poverty and the working middle class was not nearly as wide then as it is now.  While conditions were horrific in some areas of the United States for the struggling newcomer, the possibility of getting OUT of that situation was a REAL possibility.  The streets were not paved with gold, but it was possible to work really hard and realize a dream.

We also have to remember that the same time in history gave rise to changes in government because of the horrible conditions in places like New York and San Francisco.  Labor movements began because the workers were horrifically exploited.  My mother, at 97, can remember the violence of the dock strikes and how horrified they all were about the communist influence upon the labor movement - and yet she also will tell you that as the wages for workers began to rise as a result of union organizing. The wages SHE received working in areas that are NOT represented by unions rose as well.  She recognizes the debt she owed to the unions demanding that workers get paid enough to pay the rent and feed their kids.

As with all economic policies, those put forward by the American Solidarity Party are written in general terms.  The real proof in the pudding comes from how we, as Americans, will pressure our elected officials to make it possible for all people to have a reasonable life.  No, not all of us will own homes or live in gated communities.  Not all of us will have the latest gadgets or own Coach purses.  That is not the goal.  The goal is to be able to say to each generation that working hard and sacrificing can mean something - it can result in something that allows them to live without holding their breath in fear all the time.

I think it is possible to do this and so do the members of the American Solidarity Party.

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