By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Family Policy (ideas suggested by Arlie Hochschild, author of The Second Shift and The Time Bind):
Both parties claim to be pro-family. But the proof can come only in a commitment to policies that truly benefit families. We stand behind laws mandating flextime, job sharing and better benefits for part-time workers. We support truly valuing caregivers, paying a living wage to those who care for our children and elderly, and providing support and subsidies for unpaid family caregivers. We have been eager to sweep poor women into the labor force and off the welfare rolls. We pledge now to establish and provide access to high-quality, subsidized child-care for these families as well as educational opportunities for poor women. Finally, American workers put in more hours each week than those in any other industrialized nation. In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, mandating for the first time a 40-hour work week. It is now time to pass laws reducing the work week to 35 hours.
Farm Policy (ideas suggested by Adrian Wadsworth, a Maine dairy farmer):
If we care about having small farmers, if we care about maintaining this nation’s tradition of family farms, then we have to do something to support them. The Freedom to Farm Act, which uncoupled the federal government from farm production, was intended to make American farming more competitive in the world market. But it has been a disaster for small farmers. In the dairy industry alone, there has been a 5 percent to 8 percent decline per year in the number of family farms. If America values its rural tradition, if we want to live in a country whose food supply is not √§ completely industrialized, then we must move to balance the free market with the needs of small farmers. We support policies that enable the small farmer to compete in the new agricultural economy, policies that encourage soil conservation and responsible land use, policies that stabilize food prices, policies that set as a goal an increase in the number of family farms.
We favor strong efforts to end discrimination against gays and lesbians in employment, housing and education; to implement vigorous violence-prevention programs and hate-crimes prevention and reporting programs; and to institute full equality for gays and lesbians in family issues. At the most basic level, the federal government must enact the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which should be expanded to cover housing as well as jobs, and which has languished in Congress for a quarter-century. In schools, the firing of gay teachers must be stopped; disallowing on-campus gay clubs and support groups should be illegal; and the power of the law should back up gay and lesbian children who are “out.” Gay couples must be accorded the same rights and benefits as other couples in immigration, eligibility for Social Security, inheritance laws, medical decision-making, and all parental issues — child-custody and step-parent adoption rights, for instance. The full legalization of gay and lesbian marriages is really the only just solution; in the immediate political context, we support the legalization of civil unions, both in themselves and as a means to that end.
Growth Policy (ideas suggested by Phil Angelides, treasurer of the state of California):
Consistent with our historic commitment to protecting the environment and closing the widening gap between rich and poor, we support policies that promote investment of public and private resources within urban, rural and the older inner-ring suburban communities that have been left behind over the last 50 years. Increasingly far-flung suburbs are often overrun with growth: There’s a dearth of adequate transportation to get residents to their jobs, and a dearth of affordable housing to service the new jobs created in edge cities. At the same time, we have underutilized urban land close to employment centers and transportation. We believe the federal government should target its billions of dollars in public-works investments to the communities that need it most, that public-capital priorities should emphasize both environmental sustainability and the communities in greatest economic need. The Community Redevelopment Act has compelled banks to make some investments in these areas; now we believe that our public pension funds should focus on investment in these areas as well, both by themselves and in partnership with private capital.
The United States leads the industrialized world in firearms violence. Most of this involves the use of the handgun — our nation’s number-one murder and suicide tool. All too often, it is citizens who buy handguns for self-defense who end up using them against themselves or their families in moments of anger or despair. Meaningful gun control means starting with an absolute ban on handguns for private citizens. The second plank of effective gun control requires comprehensive health and safety regulation of the firearms industry. As things currently stand, the gun industry can make virtually anything it wants with impunity. There are no consumer protections and little regulation beyond mere record keeping. The Treasury Department should be given expanded authority to regulate the industry for health and safety.