2008-02-08 / Columnists

The Progressive

Commentary By John Paul Culotta

We will be hearing from the presidential candidates of the major and minor parties and from political platforms of the desire and promise of change. People are wondering what the word "change" means and if change has the same meaning to us all. It is prudent for candidates and political parties to be vague as to what change means. Does it mean political, social, and economic reform? Does it mean a return to past moral and social values? Does it mean a more equitable society? All of us have our own opinions and desires.

For too long our nation's political and economic life has been in the control of an elite who worship at the altar of the maximization of profit. Trickle down was considered a virtue. Capital gains should not be taxed or at least not treated in similar ways as earned income. Other nations were considered friend or foe by a narrow criteria based on the acceptance of American interests. Usurpation of other nations' resources and population at the altar of Mammon was acceptable and was honored with the sacrifice of blood and treasure. Usury was acceptable by our financial institutions leading most Americans to achieve a decent, dignified, middle class life by becoming credit card slaves. Our borders have become porous. Allowing unsafe products to enter our marketplace has compromised our safety. Health care has become unaffordable and only driven by market forces. Public utilities have not delivered services at an adequate level and at exorbitant prices. Bridges, tunnels, highways, hospitals, and schools are in desperate need of repair. Food prices have risen around the globe. Our nation is losing economic and strategic influence.

There are many other issues that cry out for " change". Progressives and conservatives have different solutions to the social, economic, and ethical issues facing this nation and the community of nations. Here are a few of my humble suggestions:

All political parties and candidates should be barred from accepting contributions from corporations, individuals, and organizations. All political campaigns should be financed by government and be limited to a definite amount. Too often campaign financing has influenced our political agenda to such an extent that the needs of the American workers and consumers has suffered.

Proportional representation of congress and the Electoral College should be debated. Some of our founding fathers recommended proportional representations.

Any health care system devised should have as its final goal a single payer system. Medical care is debased when governed solely by the

profit motive.

Our nation should not treat foreigners in an inhumane fashion. Fences are a blot on our American belief that we welcome the poor and weak. Have we forgotten the poem we were taught in elementary school?

"Give us your tired" were the first words. Let America live up to the promise by having a foreign and domestic policy that allows the workers we need to enter in dignity and not to be exploited by corporations, politicians, and criminals.

End the war on drugs. Treat addiction as a medical problem and take the profit motive of supplying drugs to people enslaved by addiction. Education to prevent addiction and medical care should be the main characteristics of any social activity against drug addiction. Use of the military is expensive. Criminal behavior by police forces is a result of our war against drugs.

Keep theology out of politics. Maintain spiritual and humanitarian values in political discourse without denominational viewpoints. No government funds should go to clergy and their faith based operation as a political reward. Clergy should restrict themselves from partisan political activity-either Republican or Democrat. Personal political beliefs can be held and clergy can be active but to use their religious position to advance partisan politics weakens both religion and government. Religion and faith flourish in our nation because of the strict separation of church and state.

Live up to international standards regarding climate change, child labor, religious freedom, genocide, genital mutilation and torture. We must be a moral force for the rest of humanity and demonstrate cultural respect for people of different beliefs and cultures. This is part of the challenge against terrorism and culture wars. We must forbid customs that are not acceptable in the western world, for example female genital mutilation, and at the same time, respect the cultures where this is prevalent.

Act as a true catalyst and proponent of peace in the world. We should only consider military action when absolutely necessary. Maintain a mediator status in dealing with hostile par- ties to the conflict in the Near East. Maintaining a one-sided relationship with an ally- Israel- does not help Israel in its struggle to survive.

We must rethink our dependence on petroleum products for energy and industrial farming for food and nutrition. Renewable sources of energy must be encouraged. Respect for other forms of life including farm animals and our food products will ensure safety of our food chain and help reduce carbon emissions.

Institute a true " right to life" movement that recognizes the social and economic factors that force women to choose abortion as a solution to their problem. If they choose to give life, we have a responsibility to demonstrate solidarity by ensuring education, health care and a decent standard of living for the children.

We as a nation should be aware of the recent survey that demonstrates that more than fifty percent of women choose abortion because they cannot afford to support the child that should have been given an opportunity to contribute to the world. These women were not raped, are over 25 tears of age, and have no medical reason to abort. Abortion is always a tragedy and to protect life is always a goal of a civilized people. Other changes for this nation will be considered in future columns.

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