Here is a short list of what you won’t hear much of from the
front-runners in this presidential primary season. Call them the
* You won’t hear a call for a national crackdown on the corporate crime,
fraud, and abuse that have robbed trillions of dollars from workers,
investors, pension holders, taxpayers and consumers. Among the reforms
that won’t be suggested are providing resources to prosecute executive
crooks and laws to democratize corporate governance so shareholders have
real power. Candidates will not shout for a payback of ill-gotten gains,
to rein in executive pay, or to demand corporate sunshine laws.
* You won’t hear a demand that workers receive a living wage instead of
a minimum wage. There will be no backing for a repeal of the anti-union
Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which has blocked more than 40 million workers
from forming or joining trade unions to improve wages and benefits above
Wal-Mart or McDonald’s levels.
* You won’t hear for a call for a withdrawal from the WTO and NAFTA.
Renegotiated trade agreements should stick to trade while labor,
environmental, and consumer rights are advanced by separate treaties
without being subordinated to the dictates of international commerce.
* You won’t hear a call for our income tax system to be substantially
revamped so that workers can keep more of their wages while we tax the
things we like least, such as pollution, stock speculation, addictive
industries, and energy guzzling technologies. Nor will you hear that
corporations should be required to pay their fair share; corporate tax
contributions as a percent of the overall federal revenue stream have
been declining for 50 years.
* You won’t hear a call for a single payer health system. Almost sixty
years after President Truman first proposed it, we still need health
insurance for everyone, a program with quality and cost controls and an
emphasis on prevention. Full Medicare for everyone will save thousands
of lives a year while maintaining patient choice of doctors and
hospitals within a competitive private health care delivery system.
* There is no reason to believe that the candidates will stand up to the
commercial interests profiting from our current energy situation. We
need a major environmental health agenda that challenges these
entrenched interests with major new initiatives in solar energy,
doubling motor vehicle fuel efficiency, and other quantified sustainable
and clean energy technologies. Nor will there be adequate recognition
that current fossil fuels are producing not just global warming, but
also cancer, respiratory diseases, and geopolitical entanglements.
Finally, there will be no calls for ending environmental racism that
leads to more contaminated water, air, and toxic dumps in poorer
* The candidates will not demand a reduction in the military budget that
devours half the federal government’s operating expenditures at a time
when there is no Soviet Union or other major state enemy in the world.
Studies by the General Accounting Office and internal Pentagon
assessments support the judgment of many retired admirals and generals
that a wasteful defense weakens our country and distorts priorities at home.
* You won’t hear a consistent clarion call for electoral reform. Both
parties have shamelessly engaged in gerrymandering, a process that
guarantees reelection of their candidates at the expense of frustrated
voters. Nor will there be serious proposals that millions of law-abiding
ex-felons be allowed to vote.
Other electoral reforms should include reducing barriers to candidates,
same day registration, a voter verified paper record for electronic
voting, run-off voting to insure winners receive a majority vote,
binding none-of-the-above choices and most important, full public
financing to guarantee clean elections.
* You won’t hear much about a failed war on drugs that costs nearly $50
billion annually. And the major candidates will not argue that addicts
should be treated rather than imprisoned. Nor should observers hope for
any call to repeal the “three strikes and you’re out” laws that have
needlessly filled our jails or to end mandatory sentencing that
hamstrings our judges.
* The candidates will ignore the diverse Israeli peace movement whose
members have developed accords for a two state solution with their
Palestinian and American counterparts. It is time to replace the
Washington puppet show with a real Washington peace show for the
security of the American, Palestinian, and Israeli people.
* You won’t hear the candidates stand up to business interests that have
backed changes to our civil justice system that restrict or close the
courtroom to wrongfully injured and cheated individuals, but not to
corporations. Where is the vocal campaign against fraud and injury upon
innocent patients, consumers, and workers? We should make it easier for
consumers to band together and defend themselves against harmful
practices in the marketplace.
Voters should visit the webpages of the major party candidates. See what
they say, and see what they do not say. Then email or send a letter to
any or all the candidates and ask them why they are avoiding these
issues. Breaking the taboos won’t start with the candidates. Maybe it
can start with the voters.