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I looked at the Green Party platform
November 29, 2000 11:49 AM   Subscribe

I looked at the Green Party platform for the first time today, as a followup to the Nader discussion below. I like the ideas, in general, but how would we fund them? I don't like current economic policies, etc, but the money sure seems to flow. A lot of us seem to be Greens. How's it work?
posted by Sean Meade (46 comments total)

 
Why I didn't vote for Nader:

"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."

Hey, isn't this exactly the same thing that Nader blasted the Clinton Administration for even trying to address, let alone accomplish? And didn't Nader blast the Clinton Administration for proposing a "bloated federal program" that was inherently doomed to failure?

This to me is the Zenith of hypocrisy. Why?

If Nader refused to adopt the official party platform, then to me he's no better than Gore, Bush, or Buchanan (especially Buchanan). For Nader to trash the Clinton Administration for the exact same thing that his own party is proposing is ludicrous, and paints Nader more as a sniper than a serious "reformer".

Nader's disappearing act after November 7th proved to me that he's really not serious about a) being President and b) serious reform. Martin Luther King didn't march ONCE for civil rights and declare that his work was done, so why is it OK for Nader to behave similarly?

I'll hang up and wait for my answer.


posted by ethmar at 12:09 PM on November 29, 2000


Has Nader really vanished, or has the press? Nader only got mainstream coverage for a very brief period of time, when the media was desparate for some different angle to drum up some attention for themselves. Now that the biggest freak show of all time is going on down in Florida, the media has once again written him off.
posted by harmful at 12:28 PM on November 29, 2000


OK, ethmar, I'm going to try to address all that, so be patient. Nader hasn't exactly disappeared -- remember his coin-toss suggestion? Indeed, there have been a steady trickle of updates to his site over the last few weeks. It seems that Nader is constantly doing cool consumer-advocate kind of stuff, but that isn't always the most entertaining story for the media to report.

Also, keep in mind that the media ignored him for most of his campaign. It wasn't until the bitter end when Gore started attacking him that the news media began to mention him, and then only as a spoiler. Now that he's no longer a factor in the horse race, it's not surprising that the media has gone back to ignoring him.

He attacked Clinton/Gore because they actually increased the number of uninsured since they took office. His assertion is that Clinton/Gore have said one thing, and done exactly the opposite.

As for funding all of his ideas, I'd say that his deep military cuts would probably account for most of it, and the money saved by cutting the corporate welfare rolls would cover the rest.

Ralph Nader didn't just 'march once' -- in fact, he walked the picket line with union protestors, and was at the WTO protests in Seattle, not to mention his lifetime of service as a consumer advocate for clean water, clean air, auto safety and numerous other causes.

As for his not joining the Greens, I think that's fine. George Washington wasn't a member of any political party -- he didn't believe in them. Since the issues he does advocate are pro-environment and pro-labor, and he is Ralph Nader, after all, I think the Greens made the right choice by endorsing him for president.
posted by snakey at 12:30 PM on November 29, 2000


I had to dig a bit myself to find the coin toss story.
posted by harmful at 12:33 PM on November 29, 2000


Nader on Universal Health Care.

He blasted Clinton for promising universal health care and then offering up a bloated plan that was doomed to failure. Nader didn't blast the concept of universal health care, he blasted the specific plan proposed by Clinton.

posted by alan at 12:36 PM on November 29, 2000


Just a small historical point: at the time that George Washington was President, there were no political parties. He ran for President unopposed twice.

When asked if he'd run a third time he said that 2 times was enough. The political parties were formed as part of the process of preparation for the third election, the first one which was actually contested.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 12:57 PM on November 29, 2000


sounds like you wasted your vote by not voting for Nader, ethmar..
posted by sudama at 12:58 PM on November 29, 2000


He blasted Clinton for promising universal health care

(screeech)

I'll pause the tape right there. Blast away, then. After all, the President can't actually deliver on promises to a) cut taxes or b) provide universal, well, anything, and what amount of the blame for the failure to provide universal health care will be shouldered by the Republican congress? Or ar they magically beyond reproach for any and all failings of the Clinton Administration?

I once read a book about "salesmanship for the non-sales professional". In it, the author admonishes you to listen to everything your potential customer has to say, and then repeat back to them what they said, then offer solutions. Otherwise, you're going to sound like this:

Customer: The company I use is fine, but their customer service isn't available 24/7.

You: We've got 24/7 coverage.

Customer: And one of my orders shipped a day late.

You: We never ship anything late, ever.

What does this have to do with Nader? Well, lack of media attention or not, his campaign came off (to me) as follows:

Major 2-Party candidate: A Chicken in every pot!

Nader: The system is broken. Nothing's ever going to get better until a bona fide third party is allowed to participate in the election on equal terms.

Major 2-Party candidate: Keep the prosperity of the last 8 years going!

Nader: The system is broken. Nothing's ever going to get better until a bona fide third party is allowed to participate in the election on equal terms.

Major 2-Party candidate: OK, smart guy, what would YOU do as President?

Nader: The system is broken. Nothing's ever going to get better until a bona fide third party is allowed to participate in the election on equal terms.

The system may stink, it might even be broken beyond repair, but if you're going to reduce your stump speeches down to 2 sentences, at least provide some meat and potatoes! How would any of us look if we sat in a meeting at our place of business and just complained that the management was corrupt and beholden to moneyed interests? That's all well and good, but it's not going to bring about any real reform, just a space where your name used to be on the org chart.


posted by ethmar at 1:03 PM on November 29, 2000


sounds like you wasted your vote by not voting for Nader, ethmar..

Bull. I'm not seeing massive pie-in-the-sky reform in the wake of Nader's 3% landslide, are you?

And if the election was dependent on the popular vote, then no, I didn't waste my vote.

I voted my conscience. I'm living here in the land of Bush's "vision", and though I was disappointed in Gore's campaign overall, I felt that he was the stronger choice (albeit marginally) than Bush. But I don't believe Nader is the answer. And the Green Party platform (that Nader didn't adopt, ahem) cements my belief in that respect.
posted by ethmar at 1:07 PM on November 29, 2000


Also, while you're readying the tar and feathers, one more point:

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

THIS is what I mean by "pie-in-the-sky reform". We already have a 40-hour work week. Anybody know anyone who works MORE than 40 hours a week?

AND...

How many of those people own their own businesses?

Stuff like this probably was great belly-bumping and high-five material at the platform development meeting(s), but in my estimation it's little more than a feel-good provision that accomplishes little if anything.
posted by ethmar at 1:13 PM on November 29, 2000


Nader's 3% was enough to shake the entire election process to its foundations. Even if that's all he accomplished, my hat goes off to him for exposing a corrupt election system that has already sparked a national debate over the way we elect presidents.

But I don't think this will be the end for Nader's agenda. Over the last 2 years, we've all seen a lot more action from the progressive left. I expect to see even more -- especially if Bush manages to steal the election.
posted by snakey at 1:30 PM on November 29, 2000


There was no Republican Congress between 1992 and 1994.

Nader was criticizing the Clinton plan that was proposed and never passed in 1993. He was criticizing Clinton's ideal plan, not what eventually got though.

Nader aims for the sky. So what? I'd prefer a president that works towards a long range ideal rather than one who aims for the middle, and ends up with less.

Who did you vote for Ethmar?
posted by alan at 1:34 PM on November 29, 2000


Who did you vote for Ethmar?

Last I heard, it's a secret ballot. :-)

But if I didn't 'splain myself clearly enough (which is entirely possible with my caffiene deficiency), I voted for Gore. The ultimate wasted vote, being that I live here in Texas.
posted by ethmar at 1:38 PM on November 29, 2000


Who did you vote for Ethmar

Never mind, your posting flurry was going on while I was typing that, so I missed your Gore vote (-:
posted by alan at 1:39 PM on November 29, 2000


The system may stink, it might even be broken beyond repair, but if you're going to reduce your stump speeches down to 2 sentences, at least provide some meat and potatoes!

Actually, if you admit that the system may be broken beyond repair, and both of the main party candidates essentially say the system is grrrreat, it's enough for me that Nader at least says we've got a problem. Nader wasn't trying to solve all our problems but AT LEAST HE'S TALKING ABOUT THEM!!!!!
posted by cell divide at 1:43 PM on November 29, 2000


I have nothing to say, other than Ethmar still owes me $20
posted by thirteen at 1:43 PM on November 29, 2000


I'll pay you in Flooz. :-)

I generally lose sight of threads that drop "below the fold", so I didn't go back. Oh well.
posted by ethmar at 1:51 PM on November 29, 2000


Nader's 3% was enough to shake the entire election process to its foundations. Even if that's all he accomplished, my hat goes off to him for exposing a corrupt election system that has already sparked a national debate over the way we elect presidents.

snakey, in what way is Nader responsible for the current national debate with regard to the Electoral College, et. al.? At best, his candidacy scrounged the 1,000 or so votes from Florida that would have meant avoiding the Florida Controversy, but Nader specifically said he wasn't in the race to do that. So, in what way does Nader's candidacy expose a corrupt election system?
posted by m.polo at 1:53 PM on November 29, 2000


m.polo: Nader is responsible, in part, for showing the two-party system to be nothing more than power mongering and bickering among goups of airhead loyalists. Nobody has won because neither party wants to concede. Neither has an interest in the process they just want power. Both are silly and corrupt. Your democracy at work. Enjoy.

Sean: We can pay for all these things by cutting military spending to sane levels (say $1,000 per capita as opposed $3,000), ending corporate welfare, (taxing corporations as opposed to letting them operate free which shifts the burden on to you; end or highly regulate corporate subisidies and tax shelters) and by getting a progressive taxation system in place.

These aren’t public policy hypotheses that have little valid evidence backing them up. These ideas work, but the rich have little interest in giving up their property rights for the public good. So, they rig the system. Enjoy.

Nader on tax policy:
“I'd really put meat in the process of progressive taxation. The richer people are, the more the percentage you pay. After all, it's their influence that rigged the system to get them that rich to begin with. And, second, we should tax things we don't like. We should tax stock market speculation. We should tax pollution. We should tax activities that we don't like, like sprawl, in order to get a better planning system and better zoning system. And we should lighten the taxes on things we do like, like honest labor, like food. It's really interesting. In some places in this country, you go and you pay taxes on food and on books, but you don't pay taxes on what you buy on the Internet. Even though the small businesses in this country are the ones that support the charity and fiber of the community.”


posted by capt.crackpipe at 2:05 PM on November 29, 2000


Nader is responsible, in part, for showing the two-party system to be nothing more than power mongering and bickering among goups of airhead loyalists.

What, you don't get C-SPAN in your viewing area? How is this some new thing only now brought to light by Nader-Man, Champion of Democracy™?

I thought the budget stalemate some years back already did that.

And Ross Perot.

And John Anderson.

And Whitewater.
posted by ethmar at 2:11 PM on November 29, 2000


I'm dying for someone to indicate how President Nader would get that kind of military budget cut passed through Congress.

(That same someone can point out how Bush's tax plan or any of Gore's plans would get passed)

In fact, as my memory serves me, the last president who had a substantial portion of his campaign promises enacted was Reagan, who promised to cut taxes, raise spending, and balance the budget. Oh well, two out of three ain't bad.


posted by norm at 2:13 PM on November 29, 2000


I’m not saying it wouldn’t be a difficult to get these sort of bills through Congress, only that they’d work once they did get through.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 2:54 PM on November 29, 2000


Ethmar, it seems hypocritical to me that you’d vote for someone whom you believe is corrupt, then point it out afterwards. It is weak fatalism is to expect politics and politicians shouldn’t work for the people.

(Watch me get sanctimonious! blahblahblah!)
posted by capt.crackpipe at 3:00 PM on November 29, 2000


m. polo -- The race was close nationwide, and Nader gave progressive voters another option besides the Democratic party. Democrats already blame Nader for pulling support from Gore in the close states -- not just Florida. With the election in dispute, some of Nader's ideas on vote reform (like instant runoff voting) are hitting the mainstream. So that's how Nader's candidacy has exposed the flaws in our democracy -- and provided a potential solution.
posted by snakey at 3:08 PM on November 29, 2000


"The richer people are, the more the percentage you pay. After all, it's their influence that rigged the system to get them that rich to begin with." Aside from the pronoun trouble running rampant in these sentences, I find it unbelievable that to Nader, nobody has earned their wealth, it's all due to their manipulation of the system.

"We should tax things that we don't like." Yeah, that'll work, because obviously, all Americans like and dislike the same things. Bah. If that were true, we wouldn't need a government. Nice sound bite, totally devoid of meaningful content. The logical conclusion of this statement is that we'll tax everything, because everything is not liked by someone. (One of the things he wants to tax is "stock market speculation," as if capital gains aren't already taxed -- and as if playing the market were somehow bad.)

"In some places in this country, you go and you pay taxes on food and on books, but you don't pay taxes on what you buy on the Internet. Even though the small businesses in this country are the ones that support the charity and fiber of the community." Is it just me or is the second sentence a non sequitur? Does he think that all Internet businesses are by definition large, or uninvolved in their respective communities, or what?

Oy vey. I'm not sure which is more dismaying -- Nader's "tax policy" itself, or the fact that 2.7 million people agreed with it strongly enough (or at least failed to disagree particularly strongly) and cast their vote for the man. I mean, 2.7 million is a small percentage of the total electorate, but nevertheless, I wouldn't want to feed 'em. Thank whatever God you want that this catastrophe never had a chance of being elected President.
posted by kindall at 3:10 PM on November 29, 2000


Well, Cap'n , short of not voting at all, I viewed my options as thus:

1. Vote Bush. Riiiiiight. I'm living the dream here in Texas, remember? I've had all of the Dubyah I'll ever need. Then again, if Bush does get to sit in the driver's seat, then the rest of you can see what a "genius" he really is.

2. Vote Gore (which I did). I don't view Gore as "corrupt" part and parcel, however I was very disappointed with his campaign. Bush has soooo much to answer for in Texas and Gore let him skate until the 3rd debate, and still fell far short of the mark. My other concern was that Gore seemed to have a program for everything (see above) and therefore came off as someone willing to say (not necessarily do) anything to get elected.

3. Vote Nader. Well, an interesting proposition. I am of the belief that there SHOULD be a viable 3rd party, though the self-destruction of the Reform Party sure didn't help the cause any. However I don't believe that Nader is truly the candidate that's going to make that happen, any more than Pat Buchanan would as a Reform Party candidate. I felt that Nader was in a position to basically say anything, no matter how idealistic or improbable, knowing full well that a) he wasn't going to be taken seriously by the media anyway and b) he wasn't going to get elected President anyway.

4. Vote Buchanan. No. Farking. Way.

5. Vote Browne. Initially tempting, but his political ideology broke down under scrutiny. Abolish the EPA and the USDA because they're not mentioned in the Constitution? Sure thing, toots.

6. Don't vote at all. Yeah, there's a powerful statement. Get "none of the above" on the ballot and I'm right there with ya.

So in conclusion, Cap'n, I weighed my options and went with Gore, indeed as a "statement" that there's at least one person in Texas who isn't buying the Bush myth.

Should politicians be honest? Sure. Work for the people? Absolutely. But this change will not come overnight.

Look again at the Green platform. Can you possibly see any opposition to any of the ideals expressed in that document? Do you truly believe that this platform is the roadmap to Nirvana? If so, well, vote early and often for the Green Team, as is your right.
posted by ethmar at 3:18 PM on November 29, 2000


Ethmar, there are many aspects of a Nader presidency that are not 'pie-in-the-sky' promises. I'd like to point out that there are many parts of the agenda that a president Nader could do without the support of Congress. Here's a few for starters:

1. Executive Clemency for Leonard Peltier and all non-violent drug offenders

2. Staffing the government more effectively by removing corporate lobbyists from regulatory agencies

3. Aggressively pursuing antitrust actions against large corporations

And, just for the sake of argument, if Nader were elected president, it would force congress to consider and vote on his proposals. Simply having the discussion at that level would be a major victory for labor, the environment, and consumer safety.
posted by snakey at 3:47 PM on November 29, 2000


I find it unbelievable that to Nader, nobody has earned their wealth, it's all due to their manipulation of the system.

That's a completely reasonable way to look at things. If you work hard all your life, live thriftily, and save your pennies, when it comes time to retire you may well have close to a million bucks in your mutual fund. Hey, that's great. Enjoy it, you earned it - but that's about as far as you can go.

To get any higher up the wealth ladder, you need to either make it into upper management of a sizeable corporation or scare up some seed capital and start playing the stocks & bonds game. Either approach, by definition, invoves manipulating The System.

-Mars, approximating wildly
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:52 PM on November 29, 2000


Election day: November 7, 2000
Day looking over Green Party platform: November 29, 2000.
Date the invitation arrives, for the debate that Nadar was banned from: Yet to be determined since people are still not sure how many were sent to him. BTW: Any follow up on the other Nadar demands for being left out?

Anything else wrong with the picture? Tune in and post a little bit sooner. Now, we can all make predictions so lets start when the Nadar hype will end? Perot disappeared sooner or later. So my question is will Ralph look to do something else, never to be heard from (NOT LIKELY) again or run in 2004 and MAYBE get 5% of the turn out, in order to actually debate?

posted by brent at 5:36 PM on November 29, 2000


And, just for the sake of argument, if Nader were elected president, it would force congress to consider and vote on his proposals.

I may be confused, but don't you have to be a Congresman to introduce any bills into congress? So unless he could find a friendly Senator or Representative, he could talk all the legislation he wanted.

Either approach, by definition, invoves manipulating The System.

What is this "System" you speak of? Are we making Matrix references again? Because Nader's statement makes no sense, as is. If they rigged the system to get themselves rich, then they weren't rich before, right? But you don't have any influence in "The System" unless you're rich, right? Hell, Nader's entire career involved manipulating "The System." And he hates kids and old ladies, too.
posted by Jart at 6:32 PM on November 29, 2000


Of course, I hope everyone realizes that there is a difference between the Green Party and its platform, and the Association of State Green Parties and its platform. Not that the differences are huge (and the single-payer, universal health care is in both), but Nader was running with the ASGP, not the Green Party. The Green Party endorsed Nader, but he went with the ASGP platform. Enjoy.
posted by daveadams at 6:50 PM on November 29, 2000


Dave, yes. It’s very confusing. Here is the Nader/LaDuke Platform. Here, on the other hand is the Greens/Green Party USA platform. Last but not least (maybe it is least, who knows), the Green Party platform.

Hows that for decentralization?

Anyhow, Kindall, perhaps I should’ve noted that Nader was speaking those words, impromptu, on Newshour with Jim Leher, not writing them. That would account for the loose grammar. Nader is a perfectionist, he’d never let something like that out on paper.

You seem to be defending urban sprawl and stock speculation by not arguing Nader’s point about reducing political and economic phenomena which negatively impact our lives. So let’s hear it, what’s great about urban and suburban sprawl? San Jose is in the middle of just this sort of fight against Cisco. If the community got money back after losing 688-acres of public land, the deal might be a bit more palatable. With a tax clause on sprawl, voters wouldn’t have to rely on last ditch voting efforts like Measure K in California.

Lastly, Ethmar, I respect your ideology in choosing Gore, but not your logic. Al didn’t have a chance in Texas and Nader (or another 3rd party) could’ve used your vote much more.

Regarding Nader pointing out corruption and hypocrisy in our public servants: GOOD! We need more people doing the same! Following your logic, you’d rather Voltaire had just kept his pen dry. Jeez, Voltaire, we all know politicians are smarmy bastards. Don’t you get C-SPAN?

I don’t believe that any government can ever create, much less concieve, a “roadmap to nirvana.” Individuals, however, can create pieces of it as long as they live in a society that gives them the freedom and oppurtunity to try. Nader’s position and what he stands for in general, will eventually bring us much closer to that ideal than any other governing philosophy.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 12:22 AM on November 30, 2000


To get any higher up the wealth ladder, you need to either make it into upper management of a sizeable corporation or scare up some seed capital and start playing the stocks & bonds game. Either approach, by definition, invoves manipulating The System.

Or you could own real estate and provide housing for a bunch of people.

Or you could start your own successful business. Millions of people have done it -- some have seen their visions grow beyond their wildest dreams (Sam Walton comes to mind, as faceless as the Wal-Mart corporation has become.) and some are happy on a much smaller level, but they're certainly "higher on the wealth ladder" than people who put in forty years of forty hour weeks and retire with a million bucks that'll last 'em until their first health crisis.

The subtext of "manipulating the system" is that the only way to rise above the pack is to do something illegal, unethical or subversive. That's just ridiculous hyperbole, though I do offer credit. It does make a lovely beacon call to conspiracy theorists, the perpetually put-upon and the jealous class-envyists of all stripes and persuasions.
posted by Dreama at 1:47 AM on November 30, 2000


I coincidentally happened to read Joel Garreau's Edge City over the holiday, and after reading it, I see that there are both good and bad sides to any kind of urban development. Thought-provoking read; I recommend it.

It's all well and good that San Jose is "fighting" against Cisco's proposed development. Presumably the city council there is accurately representing the desires of their citizens, which is after all their job. But the fact that they don't want "sprawl" in their community does not make it inherently evil, and generalizing from Silicon Valley (which is basically full and thus subject to bizarre and extreme market conditions) to other areas strikes me as foolhardy. In any case, I don't see how the community "lost" 688 acres of public land. Are you saying Cisco didn't pay for the land where they intend to build their new facility? That they somehow stole it out from under the nose of the local populace?

I am not going to defend stock market speculation as necessarily a good thing any more that I'm going to defend sprawl as necessarily a good thing. What I object to is either being defined as necessarily a bad thing, as if it's a foregone conclusion. If individual communities want to define certain things as bad for their community and tax them accordingly, I think that's great. Guess what -- they already have the power to do so! But for Nader to assert that making such decisions at a Federal level (he was running for President, after all) is a good idea strikes me as shortsighted. Different communities have different needs and trying to address all those needs with one uniform national program is impossible. We need more local control of policy, not less.

As an aside, Nader's comments reflect a typically infuriating progressive rhetorical tactic: assume as your premise something that might itself be subject to debate or at least an opposing viewpoint. Since it's a premise, it must be true, therefore you have "proven" the premise to be true by the very act of using it as a premise! From there, of course, you must accept the conclusion. Or so seems the "logic." Not that progressives are the only people who commit this fallacy; religious fundamentalists use it all the time too. Which is probably why, when I hear someone say "Sprawl is bad, therefore we should tax it," it sounds a lot like "God hates fags, therefore we should kill them all." It's the language of zealots and nutcases. Sorry, I'm gonna need to see stronger evidence of the premise before I buy into the conclusion when it's couched in those terms.
posted by kindall at 2:55 AM on November 30, 2000


I’ve never read it, but I found a critique. Which I didn’t read either.

Sprawl isn’t “inherently evil?” Is this subject to debate? Let’s ask any of a number of organizations what they have to say on the subject.

The land is lost by the public because it goes to private hands. According to the Sierra Club the acreage Cisco wants to build on was supposed to be the very border in which the industrial zone ended. If Cisco gets its way then that opens up all sorts zoning and redistricting problems. Sprawl ultimately affects the people who live in it, and not the over-valued new economy behomeths that create it.

Also, since Cisco pays no taxes (according to Mother Jones), and would require San Jose to subsidize any development — freeways, sewage, power lines — if their complex is built, then yes, San Jose is getting robbed fucking blind.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 3:50 AM on November 30, 2000


We can pay for all these things by cutting military spending to sane levels (say $1,000 per capita as opposed $3,000)

OK - so you want to cut the military budget to 30%. Could somebody explain to me where those cuts are going to come from?

Paying people accounts for 25% of the current military budget. Are we going to reduce the force to 0 (and what does putting all those out of work people into the labor pool do to the economy)?

Procurement - that is the all the overpriced equipment that we all know pads the budget only accounts for 20% Even if we completely eliminate this and use the equipment we already have, we still have 50% of the budget to cut to get to our target.

Now - operations and management accounts for just under 38%. I'm sure there's plenty of fat we can cut there, but it does cost money to move people around the world. I doubt we'll get that number to 0.

We spend 13% on R&D. After cutting people, that's probably the most likely place to cut, but good companies benefit from some R&D. I have to think there is some value in there and some of that money should be maintained.

There's a bunch of other smaller expenses like housing, but those are the biggies accounting for 97% of the budget. Where are we going to cut to get down to 30%?
posted by willnot at 5:19 AM on November 30, 2000


Cap'n,

1. I disagree with your assessment that Nader "needed" my vote. After all, he got 3% of the vote, right? No, I'd say that John Hagelin showed a more pressing need, and I didn't vote for him either.

2. FYI, voting as a "Democrat" (which can include all flavors of Independents) in Texas means never having to wait in line. :-)

3. I'm NOT saying that nobody should be critical of the government, etc. What I am saying is that Nader's criticism of the government wasn't particularly earth-shattering. Have we not seen/heard/read about such criticism pre-Nader?

Also, I'll pose this question back to you: Did the government of the day declare "Voltaire made fun of us, so let's scrap everything and start over"?
posted by ethmar at 6:25 AM on November 30, 2000


The Mother Jones piece says that Cisco pays no Federal income tax. It does not say Cisco is exempt from paying local property taxes, and I seriously doubt this is true. In fact it points to Proposition 13, which capped property taxes and thereby encouraged cities to re-zone some areas "light industrial" in order to increase their tax base, as a significant contributor to the "sprawl" problem in Silicon Valley. Big surprise there, that the unintended consequences of well-intended legislation have actually contributed to a new and thorny problem. (Not, of course, that I'm going to buy anything Mother Jones prints without a lot of external fact-checking.)

"The land was lost to the public." Well, OK, I'll give you that as long as you admit that the land your house is on is also "lost to the public." After all it, too, was at one time public land. It's not, in other words, inherently a criticism to note that a piece of land has passed from public to private ownership. The question is, is what the public gets in return worth the "loss" of this land? And that's something that's up to San Jose to decide. Sounds like there's a good number of people there who don't believe it is, and they're fighting it, so the system is working as intended, no? If they lose the fight, well, welcome to democracy -- sometimes there are actually more people who disagree with you than there are people who agree, no matter how right you think you are.

"Sprawl" is merely one of the solutions to the problems of rapid growth. (I say "solution" in the mathematical sense: it's one way the variables work out.) To some people, it's ugly, and it's probably not the most strictly efficient use of the land. Evil? Ummmm, well, compared to what? Other solutions can be equally bad in other ways. End development entirely and you push real estate prices through the roof, driving out residents valuable to the community (e.g. artists) who just can't afford to live there anymore, as has happened in San Francisco recently. Focus new development in one or two areas (e.g. downtown) and your freeways get clogged because now everyone in the area is trying to go to the same piece of dirt at the same time every day. People end up living on top of each other in order to keep the commute short (and paying through the nose for the privilege), or they sit in their car for an hour a day commuting back and forth to a place where real estate is less expensive and they can afford to have more of it. I don't see how either of these solutions is inherently any better for people or for the environment.

I found Edge City a valuable read not because I completely agreed with it -- I didn't -- but because it points out that traditional "downtown" areas and city plans have problems of their own which are rarely discussed.
posted by kindall at 8:04 AM on November 30, 2000


Willnot: I’ve heard mention of closing all the bases in Western Europe, reducing the number procurements and releasing a large number of troops. I say funneling our money into an arms race that has no major enemy — and could be used to, say, lower the price of a college education or hand out more small business loans — is a larger detreminate to our economy than having a bunch of skilled workers looking for jobs.

Ethmar: 1) I did qualify my statement with “or another 3rd party.”

2) ? Do Repulicans line up on one side and Dems on another? I don’t get it.

3) You’re sort of getting at the root of social critique. Is the writer trying to engage the subject, or the people listening to it?

Kindall: How dare you. I fact checked for Mojones, and their standards are as high as The New Yorker’s. I guess it’s possible they suck now, but I think someone might’ve told me.

Two rebuttals: Cisco pays no federal tax and will more than likely get a tax shelter to operate for the first ten years, then lobby city government to extend once the contract is up. This is not a strange, conspiracy bending hypothesis on my part. It is common practice for companies to come in claiming libertarian/free market values then beg for subsidies to support them. The kick here is, that the taxes they would pay certainly wouldn’t break the businesses, and would make them more attractive to the cities they’re in. Companies use public services, sometimes mandate them, they should damn well pay for it.

There is a sane middle ground between urban sprawl and placing a moratorium on development. A lot of those sites I linked to yesterday advocate for it. In this case, the public land was supposed to be the end of San Jose’s sprawl. Not surprisingly, a corporation is lobbying for a tax shelter, nearly cost-free development and owning land which was supposed to never have so much as a barn on it.

I’m glad to see everyone is so interested in progressive politics. The US embarassing state government needs to be shaken up, and I think we’ve found the way.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 11:12 AM on November 30, 2000


I'm sure the facts in Mother Jones are correct. I'm also sure they are, uhm, selectively chosen to support the point of view of the publication's writers. After all, Mother Jones wears its politics on its sleeve. I dare to mention that only because it's obvious to anyone who has read the magazine...

Cisco is going to magically force San Jose to give them these "subsidies" (scarequotes because a lack of taxation is arguably not exactly a subsidy) how, exactly? They got some sort of a gun against the mayor's head or something? Obviously, San Jose is only considering the deal because they think they'll come out ahead, even with the rebates. Since I don't live in San Jose myself, I'm inclined to let people who do make that call, rather than second-guessing them.
posted by kindall at 12:13 PM on November 30, 2000


Dreama:
The subtext of "manipulating the system" is that the only way to rise above the pack is to do something illegal, unethical or subversive. That's just ridiculous hyperbole, though I do offer credit.

No, that's not the point at all, though I can see why it looks hyperbolic. An individual human being can only do so much work in a lifetime, and there's only so much wealth you can create with that work. To get any farther, you have to take advantage of work done by other people, which is exactly what your examples imply.

Real estate, after all, is only a money-making venture because of property laws and the enforcement of those laws. You, as a landlord, can demand rent and threaten eviction if you don't get it because the county recorder's office has your name marked on the map, and the police will come to back you up if the tenant doesn't play along. The economic system we live in allows you to demand that your tenants do work for you every month in exchange for the privilege of occupying the space; if you have enough property and enough tenants, you might not actually have to do any work of your own. All this work is expressed in dollars, of course, but that doesn't change the fundamental meaning of the transaction.

It's legal, of course, and hardly subversive.

You can't make more money than your own work is worth unless you take advantage of the economic system, law & law enforcement, and public resources around you to profit from other people's work.

From this point of view, graduated taxation (which is what the Nader quote was talking about, many posts ago) is completely sensible. The more successfully someone exploits the society around them, the more responsible they should be for footing the bill for that society's maintenance.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:09 PM on November 30, 2000


Consider lobbyists magic and relocation threats the gun.

If you pay taxes, and the government gives me a deal in which I don’t have to, would you consider that subsidiziation of my income? Since I don’t to give money to the government, but you do, who do you think is going to do better economically in the long run? That’s a subsidy; the government is granting money back to me I should have given them in the first place.

Regarding coming out ahead, by giving Cisco a massive tax break (remember, the deal Cisco is trying to foist would only cost them $3m if a certain tax measure passes. Otherwise, they get out of paying any) San Jo would lose out in the long run. Ralph Nader on Property Tax Reform:

Myth: That tax shelters must be offered to industry in order to attract them.

Facts: There is simply no evidence that the existence of a property tax shelter is a decisive or significant factor in the process involved in deciding where to relocate a plant. ... The existence of these shelters cause more difficulties than they can possibly be worth. This is especially true where suburban communities provide tax sheltered greenbelts for the purpose of attracting industry out of large urban centers. At the same time these communities restrict through zoning laws the living space within the communities so that the workers still live within the city. The result is an enhancement of the power of an already powerful industry. They now have the leverage, which they use to threaten urban centers with relocation if their taxes are not lowered. Suburban industrial park tax shelters tend to bring the level of taxation of industry within the entire area down to that level. It is an endless cycle enuring only to the benfit of the undustry at the expense of the community and the schools.



posted by capt.crackpipe at 2:21 PM on November 30, 2000


Capt. Crackpipe: thanks for answering my question. any thoughts on whether or not such a change would cause substantial damage to the economy? capitalists would argue that redistributing that capital would severely mess things up. any studies on that? i'm honestly curious. this is not a setup.

kindall: certainly some of that wealth comes from the system. and why should your right to be rich trump my right to a reasonable standard of living?

brent: this is an ongoing process in my mind. we're having a political discussion. the statute of limitations on such discussions wasn't election day. that's a cheap, half-logical, mostly useless shot.
posted by Sean Meade at 2:23 PM on November 30, 2000


The point remains: San Jose must think there is some reason to keep Cisco in town, some upside to giving them a tax deferrment. After calculating the cost to the city of having Cisco move elsewhere, and the cost of keeping them in the city, they must have determined the former is greater than the latter. Although I generally have a low opinion of people's intelligence, especially when people are gathered into governing bodies, I can't quite bring myself to believe that any city government would be dumb enough to take the worse of the two deals.
posted by kindall at 2:52 PM on November 30, 2000


Yes, dave, we would have the economic equivalent of Shangri-La. Milk & Honey.

Seriously, the structure would change, but whether or not it’s damaged would be a point of contention (Not my contention, I think it would be better for the majority of people). Of course the wealthy would cry long and loud about losing their dollars. But by creating adequate schooling, universal health care, ending sprawl (nudge, nudge) I think it’s worth a few millionaires writing a bigger check once a year. In the current issue of Left Business Observer, Doug Henwood notes that the richest 1% of Americans’ wealth dropped a bit, but the top 9% increased. The bottom 90% has their smallest portion of wealth on record. Disturbing, if you ask me.

I think wholesale change in economic policy is too broad a subject to put into one paper. Sounds like a novel to me. There is a collection of papers that talk about issues related to it. The EPI (a liberal think tank) has Social Investment and the Budget Debate. There’s also some good things going on at the Economic Conversion Project. The stated goal over there is “dedicated to educating the public on the need and the means for an orderly transfer of military resources to civilian use.” I’m afraid I don’t know whether you can find anything more specific.

Kindall, do the people of San Jose want the thing, or do their representatives, whom are being wooed by coporate lobbyists, want it?
posted by capt.crackpipe at 5:18 PM on November 30, 2000


good references, c.c. thanks.
posted by Sean Meade at 8:53 AM on December 1, 2000


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