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by Ralph Nader
It’s easier than you think. That’s the way I start discussions and interviews about my new book titled, “Seventeen Solutions.”
The “solutions” were selected for their long-overdue practicality, fairness, efficiency, safety, employment potential and respect for future generations. A majority of the people, sometimes a large majority, support such redirections. The effects of many of the “solutions” start being seen immediately.
Don’t most Americans believe and want strong law enforcement against corporate crime and fraud and abuses against consumers, taxpayers, the environment and workers? The first step is telling your member of Congress to toughen the weak laws and beef up the law enforcement budgets which will pay for themselves many, many times over in deterrence, damage prevention to innocent people, and fines.
It has been taken off the table by both Democrats and Republicans, but a majority of people (including physicians and nurses) want full Medicare for all with free choice of doctor and hospital. Better outcomes, simpler to use, far less expensive per capita, timely diagnoses and treatment, and tens of thousands of American lives saved a year, are the fruits.
Who in your communities doesn’t want public facilities (public works) repaired and expanded to meet needs? Ending the vast disrepair in our water and sewage systems, schools, clinics, libraries, public transit, highways and bridges creates well-paying jobs that cannot be exported to China.
Reducing the well-documented, bloated military budget, can release monies for repairing America. Demilitarizing our foreign policy will save the horrendous costs and after costs of these boomeranging wars of aggressive choice.
Get Congress to have “skin in the game,” such as no health and other benefits for them, unless all people have them. There would be no taking our country into war without all able-bodied and age-qualified children of the Senators and Representatives being drafted into the armed forces. This duty will encourage Congress to attend to its deliberative, constitutional obligations and not heave them over to a lawless, out-of-control presidency.
Build family and community resistance and engage in alternatives to the commercial exploitation of children by non-stop big corporate marketers. These tricksters undermine and bypass parental authority to sell children junk food, violent programming and other things corrosive of their minds and bodies. Want to poll parent’s reactions to those tricks among beleaguered parents who have lost much control of their children to corporatism?
Getting corporations off welfare, making them pay their fair share of taxes (GE is a profitable tax escapee that even gets checks from the Treasury Department due to the rigged tax code), taxing dividends and capital gains the same as ordinary income of working people, and imposing a tiny sales tax on massive Wall Street speculation are changes an overwhelming number of people support.
These advances, along with restoring our civil liberties, using regular government purchasing specifications for better goods and services to stimulate innovation and safety with our tax dollars, are easier than you think. The engine for these changes is organizing Congressional watchdog groups in every Congressional District around these and other solutions. Taking democratic control of the 535 members of Congress, with its ample constitutional authorities, is a lot easier than you think.
Moving our consumer dollars away from global corporations to local community banks, credit unions, farmer markets, renewable energy, and community health clinics, with emphasis on prevention, is a lot easier than you think. Stronger local economies are more self-reliant, they won’t be shut down and shipped away or abroad by absentee owners making life-altering unaccountable decisions in their skyscrapers.
Local democracy is, like most ventures in life, a learning process of civic skills and experience. Starting in elementary and high schools, youngsters can shed their apathy or despair by working on real problems in the communities as part of their school-to-community courses. Look at all those high school physics, biology, and chemistry labs that, for example, can be testing air, water, soil samples and electromagnetic levels, and reporting the results to their community.
Studying books such as the newly released Slow Democracy (Chelsea Press, 2012) will give you many examples and tools to demonstrate that it’s easier than you think.
Last September, prominent Cornell Economics Professor, Robert Frank wrote a column for The New York Times with the headline “Nation’s Choices Needn’t Be Painful.” He wrote of infrastructure capital improvement programs, new tax policies, reducing highway congestion, curbing carbon emissions and other remedial actions that pay off.
Professor Frank, who told me he’s going to write “a small book” on his assertions, says “the endless hand-wringing about painful economic choices is misguided. With a few simple policy changes, we could restore full employment, rebuild crumbling infrastructure and pay down the national debt without requiring real sacrifices from anyone.”
Making all this and more happen needs some three million Americans (the other one percent) organized and focused on Congress and state legislatures in ways that reflect the “public sentiment.” We have to stop being so discouraged and solution-averse, especially since we have so many solutions already on the shelf, but not on the ground, because we’ve let the few make so many centralized, top-down decisions for us – “we the people.”
No one can stop us from taking these initiatives, except, that is, ourselves. To send us your “solutions” and to order an autographed copy of Seventeen Solutions, visit: http://www.seventeensolutions.com/
Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).