The North Star Movement
The Light of the North Star
A Platform for a Reform Movement
Our endorsement is our power, our organization is how we deliver, and we are committed for the long haul!
Our Commitment to Happiness
We should be enjoying each other, not living defensively, working too hard, getting sicker, acquiring too much stuff and ending up alone. Ours is sometimes an angry and unhappy country, we must do better.We should pursue endeavors which will make us happier and less combative. Other countries have programs that encourage their citizens to work together, help each other, respect each other, and love each other. Wouldn't be great that instead of a terrorist alert index, we could create a regional happiness index and have the whole world compete for happiness honors and prizes. Botswana, Bhutan, Brazil and other countries have social programs that are funded by the government to foster happiness. We should be providing more help to those who need it not less. Let’s make sure that everyone has enough and is fed. And let’s make sure that the fat cats pay their fair share.
Elitism is a cancer on our culture. Sometimes it seems that everyone is looking down their noses at someone else most of the time. Everyone is a millionaire wanna be. Money and power are the yardsticks of success. The idea that because of the accident of birth, the fact that you made or inherited money, that your ancestors used to have power, that you attended the right schools, that you attended school at all, that you passed a certain test, the fact that you invested in housing at the right time and successfully flipped a house, just happened to be at the right place at the right time to collect on stock options, you won megabucks; these and a myriad number of reasons do not qualify someone to look down their nose and assume that they are more qualified than someone who does not posses these attributes. If anything, the last three years have shown us the bankruptcy of the meritocracy. Wall Street’s byzantine derivatives and congress’ pitiful responses to the financial crisis has shown us the stupidity of the so called “brilliant.” Smart people don’t have all the answers; if they did all of our leaders would be professors. Education is no guarantee of intelligence or success; look at Harry Truman, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, they were successful despite the lack of a college degree.
Unless we draw upon all of our citizens and all of their talents, our political culture will be stunted, exploited, and provincial.
Our so called “free market system” is bankrupt. We need to address the predatory capitalism that preys on the middle class and the poor. Financial reform is vital to combat the effects of consolidation, conglomeration, “too big to fail,” unfair labor practices and environmental predators. US banks, investment firms, hedge funds and others should not be allowed to play on the global arena until they take the pledge and conform to new US standards and ethics of market behavior. Income and profits above certain thresholds would be taxed heavily. Banks should act less like a casino; taking in the money from the rubes, and placing bets on bets. We got rid of “bucket shops” a hundred years ago. Bankers have been bad greedy actors and have profited of the fleecing of the US. They have taken federal money generated by US taxpayers and have invested in schemes that have stolen billions from those same taxpayers. Outlaw banks, industries, and countries from commodity hoarding. This drives up the price of everything. Big Oil, OPEC, and the banks have stolen $2000 dollars a year for the last 12 years from each one of us. There should be a windfall profit tax on commodity producers, hedge funds, and investment banks. Why haven’t we repealed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 and The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999?
Campaign Finance Reform
Democracy is our most important asset; we must adhere to one man one vote. We must insist on public financing for all elections. We must insist on mandatory clean elections.
Candidates constantly fundraise to get re-elected. It’s expensive to run for congress or a governor’s seat, so in order to run, a candidate must seek funds from the rich, corporations, or special interests. This means that they have to take money from those who seek to exploit us or support legislation that only benefits them. Check out the Federal Election Commission's web site and see who donated to your Congressman and Senator. The donors are the lobbyist, the rich, the corporate and the connected. It is naive to expect that there is no quid pro quo or favor expected by the donor. This is the very definition of corruption and it corrodes our democratic process. Legislators and candidates must understand that they are public servants. They need to do the peoples’ work, pass the legislation that the people want; not special interests. Power, money, influence all go to their heads; and they think that they have acquired stature and elite status. That culture needs to change and the system must change.
Everything must start with campaign reform. We must restrict corporate money. TV /media buys must be limited and regulated. There must be caps on donations. Corporations that give money to candidates and try to influence legislation should not be involved in the political realm. Corporations are not people and should not have the same constitutional protection. There must be public financing and “clean elections” for state legislatures, gubernatorial and congressional races, and the Presidency. If it takes a constitutional amendment to make this happen, then let’s do this.
Innovation and Job Creation
Innovation must be fostered to provide new products and technologies. There must have increased federal / non profit and local investor funding of innovation. Encouraging entrepreneurial diversity will ensure innovation. No more exclusive reliance on venture funding and banks. They loan and fund only their phenotype. Preference should be given to local innovation and development and we should assist those companies to increase market opportunities and networks. Incubators funded by state and federal money must be established to provide places for small businesses and technical innovators to develop new products and companies. Co-ops and worker owned companies will be more successful and happier places to work than the hierarchal companies that exercise downsizing and outsourcing to make a profit.
Energy must be varied with less reliance on oil and more on alternatives. Solar, wind, tidal, hydro, and newer innovations must be developed. Global warming is real, rising sea levels are real, and we must combat ignorance about these issues.
Deregulation of energy has resulted in higher energy bills. Energy must not be traded or used speculatively. Locally generated alternate energy must be controlled locally. Get the fat cats out of our shorelines and off of our mountain tops. Let municipalities and electric co-ops own, operate, and distribute power. Let the electric consumer be a co-op member and receive cheaper power and get a rebate check at the end of the year!
We need a new covenant with the American worker. We need more worker/consumer owned businesses and an infrastructure that encourages them. We need more co-ops that deliver products and services at a discounted rate and offer profit sharing. Co-ops make profits by selling something. The only investors that they have to satisfy are themselves. Can you imagine just how different things would be if Wal-Mart was a co op and the workers shared the profit? Each of the 1.8 million employees would have received a profit sharing check of 60 thousand dollars! The top five executives at Wal-Mart made almost 18 million in just salaries last year. Seem fair to you? We need to address the discrepancies between the pay of executives and the workers who actually create and produce products and services.
We need to establish more programs that will train and employ the unemployed and underemployed with special attention to teenagers.
We need an overhaul of our employment laws. Too many artificial barriers have been created to legally discriminate against workers. Illegal employment practices must be ended: not hiring workers who are unemployed, not hiring due to obesity, not hiring due to “risk factors” (where you live, number of children, smoking, age, health, diet etc), pre-existing health conditions and other arbitrary factors. Race, sexual orientation, country of origin, poverty, access to capital and your credit rating are factors that can be used to discriminate and waste human capital. If you have the skills, have the experience and are able to learn; that should be the only bona-fide qualifications for employment. We need to pass the paycheck fairness act.
Real Estate Reform
Your house is your shelter. Housing and land must be regulated so that speculators/ realtors/ bankers/and developers don’t control the housing market. Working farms, working water fronts, and companies that manufacture things should be preserved and nurtured. Worm tongued realtors and bankers encouraging real estate speculation should be muzzled.
We must stop the “testing” and “accountability” farce in our public schools. We spend our time cramming students with testing strategies and other efforts to improve a child’s ability to do well on a standardized test. This has resulted in “teaching to the test.” This short sighted curriculum only insures that the child will do well for the test at that level. Students get further behind on the other subjects that are not tested that year. At the end of the year the test results are posted by state. Everyone wants to see their town with a high score; that means that your town has a”good school system.” Your housing values go up if you’re in a “good system.” It means that others will want to move to your area because of your “good school system.” Your realtors and bankers will all have a vested interest that your school system remains a” good system.” The value of your housing should not be tied to your children’s test scores. Schools should not be dependent on property taxes, because in the situation described above the ”good schools” generate high home values which in turn generate higher property taxes, which fuel the acquisition of better “test tutors” which results in higher property values which… well you get the picture. At the same time those schools that have fallen behind in testing have to deal with dropping property values and lower performing schools. And if things couldn't get much worse, the mandate says that teaching staffs must be replaced, administrators too. Thus the underperforming school is saddled with teachers who have no history with the students and parents and there is no continuity or institutional memory. ”Accountability” means that the students and their parents get an even worse break and fall further behind.
Charter schools seem to have no magic formula for increasing student test scores and because they tend to be in “lower performing communities”; their lack of overcoming the rigged game is hopeless from the beginning. Charter schools compete for recourses with public schools resulting in a smaller pie for everyone. Private schools on the other hand insure that the elites don’t have to worry about their children’s performance; they don’t take standardized tests in elementary and middle private schools. Their classes are small, they hire the best teachers, and students receive more individual attention. We must insist that our public schools are better than private schools and that our public school students get the best child centered education available.
We need to overhaul the tax code. The rich must pay more. Corporations must pay more. Industries that experience windfalls must expect to pay windfall profit taxes. We should do away with property taxes. If you own property, you tend to have acquired it when your income was higher. When you get older your property has increased in value and your property taxes are higher. When you retire you are on a fixed income, but your property taxes are even higher and you can’t afford to live in the home you purchased because of the increase in your property taxes. We should be reducing the taxes on those who have worked and are retired and increase the taxes on corporations and the wealthy to make up the difference. When you have corporations making record profits, sometimes with taxpayer money and sometimes at the expense of taxpayers, we should be taxing them heavily. We should also have a more graduated tax on luxury items, a VAT (value added tax).
We should be reducing the burden on taxpayers by reducing defense budgets and eliminate subsidies to special corporate and agricultural interests. We should eliminate loopholes that enable corporations and the rich to evade taxes. We should not bail out those entities that are too big to fail; we need to break them up.
We must learn how to get along with less policing and intrusive technology. This is now over the top with surveillance cameras and many layers of police in most communities. The War on Drugs and the War on Terrorism have resulted in increased assaults on our civil rights. Ignoring the presumption of innocence, indefinite incarceration without trials, torture, kidnapping and remote control killings by drones have propelled this country down a slippery slope of compromised values. We need to regain our self respect and change these policies.
Let’s work more on removing the rewards for crime, take more responsibilities to know and be involved in our communities and address the issues that create “crime.” Let’s decriminalize victimless crimes. Let’s decriminalize drugs; the war on drugs has failed. Remove the predatory regulations, intrusions and inspections that only penalize the poor and impoverish the middle class. Bring back community policing and community review boards. Get our state and local government less reliant on the law enforcement industry for income and off of our backs. And most importantly, the protection of the rights of minorities, the GLBT community, and the rest of us should be paramount in law enforcement’s activities. They are also public servants, not a law unto themselves or a mechanism to increase revenue for their departments or the courts.
Judges should not be elected; Attorney Generals, states attorneys and district attorneys should be elected.
It is easy to suggest that our country has progressed to the point that civil rights’ issues are no longer paramount. Nothing could be further from the truth. There should be full civil rights for Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered including the right to marry. The march towards true equality, justice and freedom must never slacken.
With the advent of minorities becoming the majority in the United States, it would seem logical that racism and racial superiority would wane. But paradoxically racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia are rampant and seem that they represent a majority of political thinking at this time. Religious intolerance is counter to the most fundamental of American beliefs. Any and all efforts must be made to combat these cancers. Zero tolerance, non violent confrontation, and education continue to be effective tools against ignorance and intolerance.
Because so much of this hate and intolerance is broadcast on our airwaves, we need to bring back the fairness doctrine. Since most station owners seem unwilling to police their productions we must have the opportunity to provide a contrasting view. The airwaves belong to all of us not the corporate owners.
Health Care Reform
There should be single payer health care. Period
Foreign policy should reflect the country’s desire to live in harmony and co operation with its neighbors on this planet; respecting the right of all to freedom and self actualization. Foreign policy should reflect co operative relations, high diplomatic activity, mutual collaboration, fair trade, and economic development that raise the standard of living and happiness for all of us on the planet. As long as a country does not violate its citizen’s rights, they should be allowed to call themselves whatever they want, decide how they are to governed in a democratic way, and be free to establish any entity that the people in that region wish to establish. International agreements should be settled in the world court or the UN and should be binding on all countries. We need to get corporations to stop declaring that their interests are the country’s interests. Corporate interests should never drive US foreign policy.
We believe that the people of the United States deserve a more responsive and humane government. We desire a more equitable economic structure coupled with economic development, increased employment opportunities , job security, good wages and a happier culture. We believe that the North Star can point the way to a new prosperity for all Americans.
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