Please support the Valley News during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the local economy — and many of the advertisers who support our work — to a near standstill. During this unprecedented challenge, we continue to make our coronavirus coverage free to everyone at www.vnews.com/coronavirus because we feel our most critical mission is to deliver vital information to our communities.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, we are asking for your support. Please consider subscribing or making a donation today. Learn more at the links below.

Thank you for your support of the Valley News.

Dan McClory, publisher


Column: Real solutions to some of our real problems

For the Valley News
Published: 6/20/2020 10:10:12 PM
Modified: 6/20/2020 10:10:10 PM

In The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkein wrote: “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

In Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell wrote: “Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”

One may see droplets as meaningless in the ocean, or one may see the ocean as nothing but a multitude of drops.

In the summer of 1967, the bloodiest incident was a riot between mostly black residents and Detroit police. The History Channel described the root cause to be housing and employment discrimination, poor access to medical services, underfunded public education and racism by law enforcement. Similar conditions, in addition to unemployment and stir-crazy, pent-up frustration from forced lockdowns, have caused similar riots to break out across the U.S. some 53 years later, understandably focused on the plights of black Americans.

Even while advocating for peace, one must try to empathize with how this has occurred, see the complex factors at play, and remain clear-eyed about how to treat the root causes, rather than trying to treat only the symptoms.

I fear that the message, the meaning, the blame and the solutions have already been corrupted by those who benefit from Band-Aid approaches, rather than treating the root causes.

Here are some changes that we should be fighting for on behalf of every American. Many correct for issues that have disproportionately harmed the black communities in this country.

■ Establish universal health care.

■ Establish a universal basic income at one-half the poverty level, scaling with the consumer price index. (No, this will not cause inflation.)

■ Establish a federal paid parental and sick leave policy, which would strengthen the family unit and benefit all children.

■ Greatly strengthen basic environmental protections so all Americans have access to clean water and air, the lack of which disproportionately harms poor and minority communities.

■ End qualified immunity for police.

■ Hold police civilly liable for gross rights violations, and don’t make taxpayers fund court settlements.

■ Increase training and pay for police to match the very high standard that our society rightfully should hold them to.

■ Require universal, always-on body cameras.

■ End civil asset forfeiture.

■ End mandatory minimum sentences.

■ Reestablish restrictions on the “1033 program” to ban the sale of military equipment to police departments.

■ Create a federal database for police misconduct.

■ Create a subset of police departments meant specifically for public-health related emergencies whose members, perhaps, are not required to carry firearms. (This is similar to Andrew Yang’s suggested “912” emergency number.)

■ Overhaul the bail system and scale criminal fines to a person’s income, to a point.

■ Decriminalize or legalize drugs, release imprisoned nonviolent, possession-only offenders.

■ Repeal the seemingly indefinite extension of the Patriot Act.

■ Decriminalize prostitution (though I concede this is morally complex).

■ Cease regime-change wars and recall U.S. military personnel and resources deployed to fight them.

■ Expand school choice, especially in more populous areas.

■ Greatly expand and incentivize vocational training, similar to Germany’s education system.

■ Repeal zoning laws that make it functionally impossible to build affordable housing where it is most needed.

■ Overhaul welfare and disability system policies that can discourage people to improve and make it harder for those who really need help to get it.

■ Make it significantly easier to transfer state-specific job licensing to other states.

■ Eliminate the question on job applications about a person’s criminal history, known as “ban the box.”

■ Stop using the gross domestic product as the sole measure for the wellness of our nation and replace it with more meaningful metrics.

The question is always how would we pay for all this? Some combination of a value-added tax, a financial transaction tax and a financial speculation tax, along with people being healthier and contributing to the economy longer and more efficiently, plus fewer people requiring public assistance, fewer taxpayer funded court settlements, and fewer people needed to staff, maintain and administrate the criminal justice system should cover most of the cost.

From there, audit the Federal Reserve and cut the federal government’s budget by 25%, at least, after allowing quality and process-improvement professionals to redesign from the ground up the myriad of horrifyingly inefficient government processes. This would give us the better services for less cost.

As far as treating the root causes of today’s problems, we need to answer these questions: Who owns the media? Who owns the justice system? Who funds those unions, judicial seats and campaigns for attorney general? Who writes the hundreds of “filler” pages into omnibus legislation? How was there so little accountability after the financial crisis of 2008? Who profits and accumulates power through the criminalization of poverty or the private administration of health care? Who gets the short end of the stick? Who profits from war, and who dies?

The police aren’t behind real estate “redlining” and discrimination in lending or housing. The police aren’t behind employment discrimination. The police aren’t behind poor access to medical care, or a failing system of public education, or the destructive industrial parasites that pollute poor communities, creating even more disproportionate health effects. The police did not pass the “CARES Act” which, along with the lockdowns, made way for one of the greatest wealth transfers in history, taking more from those who have nothing and giving more to those who have everything, and that’s without even considering the intergenerational theft that continues en masse.

Let’s take the mask off of the real villains: mainstream mass media, career politicians on both sides, multinational mega-corporations, and the military-industrial complex. They all lie in bed together and leech from every drop they can get.

In the time that is given to us, we seem like just drops. But the ocean is defined by the drops, and if the drops change, so too will the ocean.

Daniel T. Worts III lives in Windsor.




Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784
603-298-8711

 

© 2019 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy