PART 5 OF 8Climate ChangeGlobal Climate Change Requires Us to Break Our Addiction to Fossil Fuels
The Nader campaign believes it is time to break our addiction to fossil fuels. The evidence of global warming is mounting. We threaten the global environment with our continued use of fossil fuels. Not only is this an ecological threat, it is a tremendous economic threat, facing all of humanity. Global warming will bankrupt the re-insurance industry, spread infectious tropical diseases, cause massive ecological disruption, and increased severe and unpredictable weather all of which will significantly impact commerce, agriculture, and communities across America and throughout the world.
We urge a new clean energy policy that no longer subsidizes entrenched oil, nuclear, electric and coal mining interests -- an energy policy that is efficient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. We need to invest in a diversified energy policy including renewable energy like wind and other forms of solar power, more efficient automobiles, homes and businesses that would break our addiction to oil, coal, and atomic power. A new clean energy paradigm will mean more jobs, more efficiency, greater security, environmental protection, and increased health.
The Nader campaign endorses the statement below, Greenpeace on Climate Change, and urges people to get involved with Greenpeace's efforts, as well as the efforts of others, to forge a new energy policy that is sustainable, efficient, and environmentally friendly.
• See greenpeace.org for more information.Greenpeace on Climate Change
For more than a century, people have relied on fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and gas for their energy needs. Now, worldwide, people and the environment are experiencing the consequences: global warming, caused by burning fossil fuels, is the worst environmental problem we face today.
People are changing the climate that made life on earth possible and the results are disastrous extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, disruption of water supplies, melting Polar regions, rising sea levels, loss of coral reefs, and much more. Scientists and governments worldwide agree on the latest and starkest evidence of human-induced climate change, its impacts, and the predictions of what is to come.
It is not too late to slow global warming and avoid the climate catastrophe that scientists predict. The solutions already exist. Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, offer abundant clean energy that is safe for the environment and good for the economy.
Other green technologies, such as the refrigeration technology Greenfreeze, offer viable alternatives to climate-changing chemicals.
Corporations, governments and individuals must begin now to phase in clean, sustainable energy solutions and phase out fossil fuels. Major investments must be made in renewable energy, particularly in developing economies, replacing current large scale fossil fuel developments.
At the same time, immediate international action must be taken to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (the gases that cause global warming), or the world may soon face irreversible global climate damage.
Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, the climate treaty finally agreed at Marrakech in November 2001, is a crucial first step in this process. However, the greenhouse gas reduction targets agreed at Marrakech are only a fraction of what is needed to stop dangerous climate change and the Kyoto Protocol is under fierce attack.
The US refuses to sign the climate treaty and take action to reduce emissions. With less than 5 percent of the world's population, the US is the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases and is responsible for 25 percent of global emissions. Also, governments continue to subsidize the fossil fuel industries, keeping dirty energy cheap while clean energy solutions remain under-funded.
Greenpeace is campaigning globally on a variety of fronts to stop climate change from the campaign to pressure the ExxonMobil and George W. Bush to work with the rest of the world to halt climate change to researching and promoting clean energy solutions.Protecting the Oceans
The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy (COP) issued a report on April 20, 2004 that recognizes that the coasts and oceans are in serious trouble. The problems on our coasts and oceans are caused by bad decisions by government that allow overfishing for the global seafood market, in addition to coastal development and sprawl, agricultural and industrial, pollution and fossil-fuel driven climate change.
The report echoes concerns raised by the independent Pew Oceans Commission report that came out in June 2003. While the two commissions made similar findings, they had different recommendations. Pew's commission was made up of scientists, fishermen, and environmentalists; US COP emphasized industry reps, academics and admirals. Not surprisingly, the former had stronger recommendations. Below is a comparison by the Blue Frontier Campaign -- a non-profit environmental group.
They both agree on the need for Ecosystem management (recognizing that nature doesn't recognize political boundaries). They both call for a National Ocean Council within the White House. But where Pew also calls for an independent ocean agency, COP suggests strengthening the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), while keeping it within the trade-driven Department of Commerce. Where Pew suggests establishing Watershed based Regional Councils to carry out ecosystems management, COP suggests establishing voluntary programs on a trial basis. While Pew suggests establishing no-take Marine Protected Areas (like National Parks in the sea), that could also help restore depleted fisheries, COP takes a far more timid position calling for more study and definition.
Both Commissions call for reorganizing fisheries management to separate the science ("dead fish tend not to reproduce") from the allocation ("who gets the last fish?") The U.S. Commission doesn't really challenge built-in conflict-of-interest however. The eight regional fisheries councils that set fishing policy in US waters are the only federal regulatory bodies exempted from conflict-of-interest law. The result is they're dominated by the fishing industry. The original idea is that the fishermen had the expertise, which is true. They're expert at killing fish. Now even many fishermen are suggesting it's time for a more radical change.
The Nader Campaign shares the views of the Blue Frontier Campaign's official comments on the US Commission on Ocean Policy Draft Report, which are on the web at bluefront.org and reprinted below.Public Comment on US Commission on Ocean Policy Draft Report: Submitted by David Helvarg, President Blue Frontier Campaign, Washington, DC
America is and always has been an Oceanic society. From the Bering Sea Land-bridge to the Jamestown Settlement to the processing lines of Ellis Island we have been a tempest tossed people, a saltwater people, a coastal people.
We have lived well on the abundance of our seas and coastlines from the earliest canoe tribes setting fish-traps along the Jersey shore, to today's giant gantry crane operators unloading container ships at the Port of Long Beach.
As the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy Draft Report emphasizes, America owes much of its wealth, bounty and heritage to the blue in our red, white and blue. It provides us the oxygen we need to breath, is a driver of climate and weather, brings rain to our farmers and food to our tables. It provides us recreation, transportation, food, medicine, energy, security, and a sense of awe and wonder from sea to shining sea.
Our oceans also extend our identity as a frontier nation. Unfortunately our frontier waters are facing a cascading series of disasters that could turn America and the world's oceans into dead seas within our lifetime. We are witnessing the collapse of marine wildlife with over 90% of the world's large fish decimated by unrestrained global fishing. We're seeing our nearshore waters poisoned by toxic and nutrient runoff from factory farms and city streets, leading to growing numbers of beach closures, harmful algal blooms and oxygen-depleted dead zones where nothing can live. Uncontrolled coastal sprawl is degrading and destroying the salt-marshes, mangroves, seagrass meadows, and barrier islands that act as the filters and nurseries of the seas, while fossil-fuel fired climate change, which the draft report unfortunately fails to address in a meaningful way is causing sea-level rise, beach erosion, coral bleaching and intensified hurricanes that put growing numbers of Americans at risk.
What the Draft report confirms is that there are common sense solutions that can save our blue frontier. Protecting and restoring our nation's public seas makes sense both morally and economically. Healthy seas also help assure vibrant coastal communities and economies.
Protecting our blue frontier has to be as integral a part of our public polices as protecting our terrestrial environment, our trade routes, our health, our sciences, and our national security, because in the end, they too depend on our oceans. Just as broad sectors of the nation mobilized in the last century for passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts that have helped revitalize our environment, and improved the quality of our lives, the time is right for an American Oceans Act for the 21st Century.
Having reviewed the Ocean Commission Draft Report and its more than 200 recommendations, we believe that the following key principles should to be incorporated in US Ocean Policies and also be used to inform any Ocean Act that focuses on on erring on the side of what is known about how marine ecosystems function.
• Commit the funding necessary to reduce overcapacity and harmful practices in our fishing fleet while assuring the long-term viability of fishing communities through collaborative efforts free of conflict-of-interest. Expand the commitment to ocean exploration and science needed to better understand our living seas, while fully protecting special areas of interest in our public seas such as unique coral reefs, deep-sea sponge gardens, submarine mountains, and kelp forests.
• Reduce polluted runoff into coastal waters. Establish and cap total daily maximum loads for pollutants flowing down America's rivers and waterways. Commit to upgrading our national sewage treatment infrastructure to improve both public health and the environment. Commit to nutrient reduction programs for agriculture, urban storm drains, tailpipe emissions and other sources, and expand public education on the problems of dumping waste on streets and down storm drains. Reduce the dumping of toxic wastes and plastics into our waters. Assure that shipping and port operations are done in a coordinated, economically and environmentally beneficial way that does not spread contaminated sediments or exotic species.
• Establish watershed based regional planning that recognizes the link between land and water protection for our families and our future. Develop incentives for more permeable roads, parking lots, and other urban surfaces to reduce polluted runoff and recharge our aquifers. Through zoning, tax-incentives and other democratic means encourage sustainable development that includes urban brown fields, conservation easements, and setbacks from high-risk areas of coastal flooding and erosion. Assure public access to public beaches. Reform or eliminate federal subsidies that place people in harm's way. Expand the Coastal Barrier Resources Act to protect those areas at highest risk of storm surge and flooding, while providing full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Work for full and vigorous enforcement of Clean Water Act provisions that protect coastal wetlands and salt marshes.
• Control and mitigate climate change impacts. It's unfortunate the commission draft report did not more fully address the critical role of human-enhanced climate change on our oceans. We need to commit full funding to the Estuaries Restoration Act, and support efforts to restore coastal Louisiana, the Everglades, and other projects that enhance mangroves, salt marshes, barrier islands, coral reefs, and other ecosystems that act as protective storm barriers for America's coastlines. Support efforts aimed at a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewable non-carbon based energy systems, including a full re-evaluation of energy-development in our offshore waters. By becoming a leader in new energy technologies the United States will not only help protect itself from the impacts of climate change, but can also regain its competitive edge in the global energy market while achieving true energy independence.
• Create a new model of public governance for our public seas. Recognizing all Americans have a common stake in our Blue Frontier we need to unify America's ocean management systems. This has to be based on the precautionary principle (what the report calls ecosystems management), a recognition of the unitary nature of water from the top of our watersheds to the depths of our seas, and an understanding that when we do harm to the parts, we damage the whole.
Ocean Management should be multi-jurisdictional, open to public participation, and transparent. Decision-making should be based on the best available science and the ethical standards of society.
At the regional level it should be organized around watersheds rather than arbitrary political boundaries and include participants from local, state, tribal and federal agencies.
Nationally there should be an independent ocean agency, a kind of EPA for the seas, whose primary mission is the sustainable use, exploration, protection and restoration of America's seas as a common public trust. In addition, following the Commission recommendation, there should be an interagency national oceans council within the executive branch to coordinate the work of all agencies that impact America's seas.
We believe this is all necessary and achievable but only when we're able to mobilize a seaweed rebellion of citizen activism and convince large sectors of the public who get so much out of our living seas that it's now time to give something back. As has been said before, when the people lead the leaders will follow.
The Nader Campaign is committed to stewardship of the oceans, their protection, and restoration of America's seas and coastline. The Nader Campaign urges immediate action to restore one of the great public trusts of the United States.Corporate CrimeNader Proposes Crackdown on Corporate Crime, Fraud and Abuse
The US needs to crackdown on corporate crime, fraud and abuse that have in the last four years looted and drained trillions of dollars from workers, investors, pension holders and consumers. Among the reforms needed are resources to prosecute and convict the corporate executive crooks and to democratize corporate governance so shareholders have real power; pay back ill-gotten gains; rein in executive pay; and enact corporate sunshine laws, among others.
Below are twelve initial steps for an effective crackdown on corporate crime, fraud and abuse. The Nader campaign will return to this issue and expand the discussion on the solution to corporate crime and abuse.Twelve Steps to an Effective Crackdown on Corporate Crime
• Increase Corporate Crime Prosecution Budgets: The Department of Justice's corporate crime division and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been chronically under funded and therefore do not have sufficient resources to combat the corporate crime wave in the United States. This results in inadequate investigation, settlement of cases for weak fines, and ignoring many corporate crime violators completely. There needs to be a strong corporate law and order will in the White House.
• Ban Corporate Criminals from Government Contracts: The US should enact a tough, serious debarment statute that would deny federal business to serious and/or repeat corporate lawbreakers. The federal government spends $265 billion annually on goods and services. These contracts should not support corporate criminals. These standards should also apply to procurement contracts in Iraq.
• Crack Down on Corporate Tax Avoidance: The US should punish corporate tax escapees by closing the offshore reincorporation loophole and banning government contracts and subsidies for companies that relocate their headquarters to an offshore tax haven. The IRS should be given more power and more budgetary resources to go after corporate tax avoiders. Publicly-traded corporations should be required to make their tax returns public.
• Democratize Corporate Governance: Shareholders should be granted the right to democratically nominate and elect the corporate board of directors by opening up proxy access to minority shareholders and introducing cumulative voting and competitive elections. Shareholders should be given the power to approve all major business decisions, including top executive compensation. Shareholders should be treated as the owners of the corporation since, in fact, that is what they are.
• Expand Corporate Disclosure: Corporate sunshine laws should be enacted that require corporations to provide better information about their records on the environment, human rights, worker safety, and taxes, as well as their criminal and civil litigation records.
• Rein in Excessive Executive Pay: Shareholder authorization should be required for top executive compensation packages at each annual shareholder meeting. Stock options, which now account for about half of the executive compensation, should be counted on financial statements as an expense (which they are). Tax deductions for compensation 25 times above the compensation received by the lowest paid worker in a corporation should be eliminated, as recommended by business guru Peter Drucker.
• Fix the Pension System: Corporations must be held more responsible for the retirement security of their employees. At a minimum we need to give workers a voice on the pension board; not require workers to stuff their 401(k) plans with company stock; and give workers the right to control their 401(k) plans. In addition, an Office of Participant Advocacy should be created in the Department of Labor to monitor pension plans.
• Restore the Rights of Defrauded Investors: Repeal the self-styled securities reform laws that block defrauded investors from seeking private restitution, such as the private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which allowed the aiders and abettors of massive corporate crime (e.g., accountants, lawyers, and bankers) to escape civil liability.
• Regulate Derivatives Trading: All over-the-counter financial instruments, including derivatives, should be subjected to the same or equivalent audit and reporting requirements as other financial instruments traded on stock exchanges. Rules should be enacted regarding collateral-margin, reporting and dealer licensing in order to maintain regulatory parity and ensure that markets are transparent and problems can be detected before they become a crisis.
• End Conflicts of Interest on Wall Street: Enact structural reforms that separate commercial and investment banking services and prevent other costly, documented conflicts of interest among financial entities, such as those that have dominated big banks and security firms in recent years.
• Track the Extent and Cost of Corporate Crime: The Department of Justice should establish an online corporate crime database. Also, just as the FBI issues an annual street crime report, "Crime in the United States," it should also publish an annual report on corporate and white collar crime with recommendations.
• Foster a National Discussion on Corporate Power: Establish a Congressional Commission on Corporate Power to explore various legal and economic proposals that would rein in unaccountable giant corporations. The Commission should seek ways to improve upon the current state corporate chartering system in a world of global corporations and propose ways to correct the inequitable legal status of corporations as "persons." The Commission would be led by congressionally-appointed experts on corporate and constitutional law, and should hold citizen hearings in at least ten cities followed by a report and recommendations.EducationEducation for Everyone
Education is primarily the responsibility of state and local governments. The federal government has a critical supporting role to play in ensuring that all children -- irrespective of the income of their parents, or their race -- are provided with rich learning environments, equal educational opportunities, and upgraded and repaired school buildings.
The government has an important role to play in keeping undermining influences out of the public schools -- among them, commercialism and private school voucher programs. The federal government must not impose an overemphasis on high-stakes standardized tests. Such testing has a negative impact on student learning, curriculum, and teaching by resulting in excessive time devoted to narrow test participation, de-enrichment of the curriculum, false accountability, equity and cultural bias, and excessive use of financial resources for testing, among other problems. Federal law should be transformed to one that supports teachers and students -- from one that relies primarily on standardized tests and punishment. The government should encourage schools to infuse their curriculum with civic experiences that teaches students both how to connect classroom learning to the outside world and how to practice democracy.Education: Over-emphasis on standardized testing
The Nader campaign opposes the over-reliance on high stakes standardized tests included in federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly known as "No Child Left Behind." High stakes standardized tests have a negative impact on student learning, curriculum, and teaching. Using high frequency test scores to determine funding for a school, retention and graduation of students results in numerous unintended consequences. Citizens for Quality Assessment of the Education Department of Southwestern University in Texas highlights many of these negative consequences including:
• Use of single (limited) rather than multiple (comprehensive) measures of assessment
• Excessive time devoted to narrow test preparation
• Negative, unnecessary and often lasting labeling of children
• De-enrichment of the curriculum
• False accountability
• Movement away from widely accepted standards of teaching principles of best practice as articulated by the national Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Council of Teachers of English, National Science Teachers Association, National Association for the Education of Young Children, and American Education Research Association.
• Issues of equity and cultural bias
• Assessment practices contrary to recommendations of most professional organizations (these associations widely condemn the use of high-stakes testing) and even of the companies producing the tests
• Excessive use of financial resources for testing
The Nader campaign agrees with Citizens for Quality Assessment that federal policy needs to be transformed from one that uses punishments to control schools to one that supports teachers and students; from one that relies primarily on standardized tests to one that encourages high-quality assessments. Broader measures of student learning are needed that include reliance of classroom-based assessments along with testing. Also, broader curricula are needed to enrich students, including development of the civic skill of engagement in understanding the world around them.Equal Access to Education
Education is primarily the responsibility of state and local governments. The federal government has a critical supporting role to play in ensuring that all children, irrespective of the income of their parents or their race, are provided with rich learning environments and equal educational opportunities.
A recent study by Harvard's Civil Rights Project reports that schools in the United States are becoming increasingly segregated 50 years after Brown vs. Board of Education. Inner city public schools are in need of major repair and often replacement. These same schools are often short of the financial resources needed to attract and retain good teachers and to provide a quality learning environment for children. The Leave No Child Behind Act -- with its focus on high frequency, high-stakes, standardized testing -- is a counter-educational, a narrow gauge of assessment, and for tens of thousands of children, highly deleterious to their emotional and intellectual development.
The government has an important role to play in keeping negative or depleting influences out of the public schools -- among them, commercialism and private school tax-funded voucher programs. The federal government must not impose useless, costly and counterproductive mandates on schools. It should discourage, not demand, the use of misleading and narrow multiple choice standardized tests. And the government should encourage schools to infuse their curricula with a citizenship emphasis that teaches students both how to connect civic skills classroom learning to the outside world and how to practice democracy.
The United States stands now as the overall richest nation in the history of the world. There is no excuse for not smartly investing sufficient resources in education.
Working with the states where appropriate, the federal government must:
• Immediately provide full funding for Head Start;
• Guarantee pre-school education for all children;
• Adequately fund nutrition programs in the schools;
• Ensure that the nation's crumbling schools are repaired within three years.
There is, as well, a critical positive role for the federal government to play, by promoting the vision, curricula, programs and projects for a K-12 civics education for democracy. In an era when children are overwhelmed with marketing images that reduce their attention spans and vocabulary, and orient them to an overweening focus on immediate gratification, low-grade sensuality and conspicuous consumption, an emphasis on civics for democracy promises instead to take students from instruction to learning to knowledge to application ,until the highest educational goal is reached -- the sustained onset of educational self-renewal of, by and for the confident, motivated studentElectoral ReformElectoral Reform that Creates a Vibrant, Active, Participatory Democracy
Our democracy is in a descending crisis. Voter turnout is among the lowest in the western world. Redistricting ensures very few incumbents are at risk in one-party districts. Barriers to full participation of candidates proliferate making it very obstructive, for most third party and Independent candidates to run. Obstacles, and deliberate manipulations to undermine the right to vote, for which penalties are rarely imposed, are preventing voters from voting. New paperless voting machines are raising questions about whether we can trust that our votes are being counted as they are cast. Finally, money dominates expensive campaigns, mainly waged on television in sound bite format. The cost of campaigns creates a stranglehold making politics a game for only the rich or richly funded. Major electoral reforms are needed to ensure that every vote counts, all voters are represented through electoral reforms like instant run-off voting, none-of-the-above options, and proportional representation, non-major party candidates have a chance to run for office and participate in debates, and that elections are publicly financed.Instant Run-off Voting
Instant Run-off Voting (IRV) is an approach that needs to be tested at the local level and, if successful, applied to state and national elections as well. The US electoral system is in crisis; less than half the potential voters vote - the lowest in the western, industrialized world. The winner-take-all election system often pushes voters to vote their fears and not their beliefs. We have not had a President win an election with majority support of voters since the first President Bush. It undermines the perceived voter mandate of the government to have a president with less than majority support of actual votes. IRV may help fix both of these problems and allow more voters to vote for the candidates they support. Nobody knows how IRV will actually work in the United States - no matter what its fervent supporters may hope for. It has to be tested and also clarified within the context of local, state and national campaign funding laws.
On June 14, 2004, the Ferndale, MI City Council unanimously voted for a proposal to place IRV on the November 2004 ballot. The proposal would amend the city's charter to use IRV in future mayoral elections. A citizen's group, Ferndale for Instant Run-off Voting, asserts that with IRV the winner always has a majority vote and minor-party and independent candidates are no longer viewed as "spoilers," unfair as that sneeringly selective noun is in our rigged two party system.
Instant Run-off Voting allows voters to rank their vote -- voters indicate a one for a first choice, two for a second choice, and three for a third choice. This simple but ground-breaking advance in elections ensures that in an election with more than two candidates, your vote can count for your second choice if your first choice can't win. Here's how it works: if a candidate receives a majority of first choices, that candidate wins. If not, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and a second round of counting occurs wherein the eliminated candidate's votes go to each voter's next choice. Rounds of counting continue until there is a majority winner.
Advances for IRV are being made around the world and around the United States. In 2002 San Franciscans voted 55%-45% to adopt instant runoff voting. A Vermont League of Women Voters proposal to use instant runoff voting for statewide elections was debated in over 50 town meetings in 2002; of the 51 towns reporting results, 49 supported adoption of instant runoff voting, most by overwhelming margins. And Oakland, California voted 75.9 to 24.0 in favor if IRV on March 5, 2002 but it has not yet been implemented. IRV is used in major elections in Australia, Ireland and Great Britain. A few examples:
• This spring, the Utah Republican Party made effective use of IRV at its state convention in battles for the gubernatorial and congressional nomination.
• San Francisco is in the process of educating voters on the use of IRV for use in this November's seven Board of Supervisors district elections. The use of IRV, backers say, will have a big impact on voter turnout which has been declining.
As former Independent candidate John Anderson said in an article about the Ralph Nader 2004 Independent campaign: "Having an election between two candidates is obviously better than a one-party dictatorship, but having an election among more than two candidates is better than a two-party duopoly." He went on to highlight how Ross Perot's candidacy increased voter interest in the presidential election and how that was healthy for our democracy. Anderson concluded: "With Instant Run-off Voting, we would determine a true majority winner in one election and banish the spoiler concept. Voters would not have to calculate possible perverse consequences of voting for their favorite candidate. They could vote their hopes, not their fears."
Let us see. Let some demonstrations begin so we can find out what we don't know.
For more information visit:
• The Center on Voting and Democracy
• Ferndale for Instant Runoff Voting
• Instant Runoff Voting (A project of the Midwest Democracy Center)
• Reclaim Democracy
• Massachusetts Citizens for Instant Runoff Voting
• Citizens for Instant Runoff Voting in New York StatePaperless Electronic Voting
A bedrock of democracy is making sure that every vote counts. The counting of votes needs to be transparent so people can trust that their vote is counted as they cast it. Paperless electronic voting on touch screen machines does not provide confidence to ensure votes are counted the way voters intend. The software on which votes are counted is protected as a corporate trade secret and the software is so complex that if malicious code was embedded no analysis could discover it. Further, because there is no voter verified paper record, it is not possible to audit the electronic vote for accuracy, nor is it possible to conduct an independent recount. This Primary Day six million voters will be voting on paperless electronic voting machines. This is a grotesquely designed, over-complicated expensive system fraught with the potential for mistakes and undetected fraud.
On July 23, 2003 the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute reviewed the electronic voting system in Maryland and found that it had security far below even the most minimal security standards . . . . Johns Hopkins computer security experts concluded: If we do not change the process of designing our voting systems, we will have no confidence that our election results will reflect the will of the electorate.
Computers are inherently subject to programming error, equipment malfunction, and malicious tampering. If we are to ensure fair and honest elections, and retain voter confidence in our democratic process, we need to ensure that there are no such questions. Therefore, it is crucial that any computerized voting system provide a voter-verifiable paper audit trail and that random audits of electronic votes be conducted on Election Day. Paperless electronic voting machines make it impossible to safeguard the integrity of our vote thereby threatening the very foundation of our democracy.
The seller of the machines, the Diebold Corporation, is a supplier of money to one of the major party candidates, George W. Bush. The CEO and top officers of Diebold are major contributors to the Bush campaign. This does not pass the smell test. Voters should report immediately any suspected malfunctions and deficiencies at voting precincts around the country to their Board of Elections. And voters should urge their legislators to require a voter verified paper ballot trail for random audits and independent recounts.Ralph Nader's Statement on Blanket Primary Initiatives
Initiatives in California (Proposition 62) and Washington State (Initiative 872) play into the dislike of the two parties but manipulate voters into blocking non-major party choices and entrenching major party candidates.
The two initiatives would create a blanket non-partisan primary whereby all candidates would be included. The top two contenders would be the only two included on the November ballot. While a primary for all candidates is tempting to voters because it seems to subordinate political parties, the result will be to prevent non-major party candidates from being on the ballot in November.
The initiatives were bankrolled by the insurance, finance, development and banking industries as well as John Walton of Wal-Mart. These initiatives will increase the costs of campaigns since candidates would have to run in what amounts to two general elections. Through direct mail, radio and television advertising candidates will need to communicate with all voters in two general elections. This will dramatically increase costs. The likely beneficiaries will be wealthy candidates denying persons of modest means the opportunity to offset the money advantages of a wealthy candidate.
In jurisdictions where one party dominates it is likely that the two final candidates will be from the same party. Thus, entrenched interests and virtual one-party jurisdictions will be created. At the same time, third party and independent candidates will be at a disadvantage because name recognition, major funding and party machinery would be essential in the "primary." Insulating the top two political parties from competition eliminates an important check and balance on their political power.
Jesse Ventura, who has come out against the approach, points out, It is no surprise to me that big money is behind Proposition 62, and its efforts eliminate real choice for the voters in upcoming California Elections. If passed, Proposition 62 will prevent minor parties from appearing on the November ballot. This is because only the top two vote getters in the Primary Election will emerge to the General Election in November.
Ventura added, In Minnesota, September 1998, I only received 3% of the primary vote in the race for Governor. Despite these numbers I went on to win the general election in November. Under Proposition 62 "I would have been excluded from the general election in November and never would have been able to serve as Governor of Minnesota."
The solution to the problems in the anemic U.S. democracy is more choices and voices not less. Restricting the ballot to only two candidates will limit voter choice to the point of repressing other voices outright. Nader opposes these initiatives.Statehood for DC!
More than 500,000 people live in the District of Columbia. As the capital of this nation, the District is the symbol of freedoms for which that nation stands. The light of democracy shines from the District, but does not illuminate this city. The core is hollow. The values of equality and political participation that the city promises are denied right here, in our nation's capital.
Most Americans do not know, and many would find it hard to believe, that under our current system D.C. residents are second-class citizens. The District is denied local control Congress must approve the District's budget, and can override any action of the city government. At the same time, District residents do not even have one voting representative in the Congress that controls them. D.C. is effectively a colony, with all local decisions directly subject to change by a Congress largely out of touch with local realities.
Most people who live outside of the District do not know that D.C. citizens pay about $2 billion a year in federal income taxes more than several states yet cannot elect people to decide how their money is spent. D.C. residents have served and died in our armed forces over the last half century in disproportionately high numbers, but have no representation in the Congress that decides whether or not to go to war. The U.S. is the only democracy in the world that deprives the residents of its capital city the basic rights granted to other citizens.
Even more damaging than the lack of the congressional representation is the colonial-style control that Congress exerts over the District. Adding one, or three, D.C. representatives to the 535 members of Congress would, by itself, do little to solve this problem.
Unaccountable power is by its nature abusive. The places where unaccountable power is exercised are, and must be, dysfunctional. Unaccountable power is uninformed. Members of Congress don't know this city. They don't know what's right for its people. They approve the budget and all the legislation, but they do not themselves have to live with their decisions. They foist pet projects on citizens who are perfectly capable of deciding these issues locally. They prevent the District from taxing income where it is earned. They regularly overturn the judgment of local elected officials on public health, tax, budget, school issues all with impunity.
Unaccountable power is destructive. It chokes the ability and destroys the responsibility of people to govern themselves. There is no place in the world where second-class citizens who live side by side with first-class citizens and fare as well. It just doesn't happen. What happens to a community where the people cannot exercise authority, where there is no democracy? People stop participating. They don't run for local offices. The civic culture of the community withers away.
The results of Congressional interference and the inefficiency of colonial-style management are distressing as they are predictable. Poverty has increased during a time of economic expansion, with the percentage of residents in poverty going from 16.6 % in 1988 to 22.1 % in 1998. Even more astonishing was the growth in income inequality. The richest 20 % of D.C. residents earned 16.4 times as much as the poorest 20 % in the late 80s and 27.1 times as much in the late 90s.
The voters of the District of Columbia should be allowed to hold a referendum to choose their future status.
Local control is what will make it possible for the District to start fixing its problems. With legislative and appropriations delays, regular governing confusion, and congressional interference eliminated, the District would be more able to deal with its pressing problems. The solution for the problems of democracy is more democracy!Ralph Nader Favors Youth Voting: Lowering the Voting Age to 16
Ralph Nader favors lowering the voting age to 16 years old. He recognizes that 16 year olds work, pay taxes and more and more often are subjected to criminal laws passed that treat them like adults. In addition, democracy in the United States needs to be re-invigorated. Allowing youth the right to vote will increase voter participation, not only of 16 to 18 year olds, but also in the longer term as youth are taught at an early age the importance of voting. With this change in law Ralph also favors increased instruction in school about civics, government and the importance of voting. Some say youth are not smart enough to vote, so rather than explaining all the very good reasons for allowing the youth vote, Ralph believes it is best to let youth speak for themselves.
"At the founding of our nation, only rich, white, land-owning men over the age of twenty-one could vote. Later, it was any white man over twenty-one. Following the Civil War, the Fifteenth Amendment gave the vote to African American men. Next, in 1920, women's suffrage finally paid off with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. Finally, in 1970 the voting age was lowered to 18 due to the counter-cultural movements of the 1960's. Over hundreds of years, the vote has spread from the clutches of an elite few to an ever-greater percentage of the population. Youth are simply the next item on the timeline of Democracy's growth." "Youth Suffrage," Brad Vogel, Between the Lines, http://www.btlmag.org
"What kind of twisted message do we send when we tell youth they are judged mature, responsible adults when they commit murder, but silly, brainless kids when they want to vote? This is a double standard, no different than during the Vietnam War. War isn't a dead issue now either, leaders who youth can't vote for today may send them to war tomorrow. Lowering the voting age is the just, fair way to set things straight."
"For several reasons lowering the voting age will increase voter turnout. It is common knowledge that the earlier in life a habit is formed the more likely that habit or interest will continue throughout life. If attempts are made to prevent young people from picking up bad habits, why are no attempts made to get youth started with good habits, like voting? If citizens begin voting earlier, and get into the habit of doing so earlier, they are more likely to stick with it through life.
"Not only will turnout increase for the remainder of young voter's lives, the turnout of their parents will increase as well: 'A 1996 survey by Bruce Merrill, an Arizona State University journalism professor, found a strong increase in turnout. Merrill compared turnout of registered voters in five cities with Kids Voting with turnout in five cities without the program. Merrill found that between five and ten percent of respondents reported Kids Voting was a factor in their decision to vote. This indicated that 600,000 adults nationwide were encouraged to vote by the program.'"
"When the USA was founded, suffrage was restricted to white male landowners. Over time, it was extended to non-landowners, women, lower-class people (through the elimination of the poll tax), and minority races. There are no longer any groups whose voting rights are automatically denied except for people under 18. It's a matter of social progress. When other groups demanded the right to vote, many treated their cause with hesitation or ridicule, but eventually social progress prevailed. But the evolution of suffrage is not complete until it is extended to everyone who deserves it, and we're working to move closer to that goal."
• Proposal to Lower Voting AgeEnergy PolicyA New Energy Policy
We urge a new clean energy policy that no longer subsidizes entrenched oil, nuclear, electric and coal mining interests -- an energy policy that is efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly. We need to invest in a diversified energy policy including renewable energy like wind and other forms of solar power, more efficient automobiles, homes and businesses one that breaks our addiction to oil, coal and atomic power. A new clean energy paradigm means more jobs, more efficiency, greater security, environmental protection and increased health.
Ralph Nader praises the Apollo Alliance's "Ten-Point Plan for Good Jobs and Energy Independence," an overdue agenda for the country's energy future, as a welcome contrast to the shortsighted policies of the Bush Administration. By increasing the diversity of the United States' energy portfolio, aggressively investing in the industries of tomorrow, facilitating the construction and retrofitting of high performance buildings, and working in cooperation with public servants at the state and local level to rehabilitate our urban infrastructures, the Apollo Project promises to revitalize the engine of the American economy. As the Alliance illustrates in its report, New Energy for America, the Apollo Project's design articulates a new paradigm for setting America's energy woes aright and serves up an authoritative refutation to the irresponsible policies of the entrenched fossil fuel and nuclear energy lobbies.
In the spirit of its namesake, which galvanized the will of the American people into a national effort to put an American on the moon, the new Apollo Project advocates a full engagement of the federal government with the initiative of the American people in the service of revitalizing our country's approach to its energy plight. Over the course of a single decade, beginning in 2005, the Apollo Project proposes the establishment of a viable infrastructure for the achievement of American energy independence. Calling for a $313.72 billion dollar federal investment in that ten-year period, Apollo progressively shifts the burden of American energy consumption away from fossil fuels and onto domestic renewable energy markets such as the wind, biomass, and solar energy industries. The United States has fallen dreadfully behind in these areas and will be well served to reestablish itself as a leader in technological innovation.
"While the Apollo Project places more emphasis on tax incentives instead of tax penalties, and more emphasis on subsidies than on technology-forcing regulation supported by in-house government research and development than I would have preferred," says Nader, "at least it shines over the darkness of the fossilized Bush position."
Full implementation of the ten-year Apollo Model Policy Agenda will reduce transportation-related petroleum consumption by 1.25 to 2.55 million bpd (or between 54 and 110% of our current level of imports from the Persian Gulf); reduce national energy consumption by 16% ; and put the United States on pace to meet 20% of its total electricity demand from renewables by 2020-more than three times 2003 levels. The Apollo Project further promises to revitalize the American job market with an injection of 3.3 million jobs-largely within areas of industry demanding greater skills and providing higher wages, better job benefits, and improved social equity.
Over the course of Apollo's ten-year implementation period the overall economy will benefit from an increase of $1.4 trillion dollars in new Gross Domestic Product. Within that same decade-long timeframe, the Apollo Project will pay for itself through savings in energy costs and tax revenues, with further and greater fiscal benefits to ensue thereafter. This is to say nothing of the benign environmental benefits to be reaped from the consequent decreases in air and water pollution and greenhouse gases.
The Ten-Point Plan for Good Jobs and Energy Independence excerpted from the Apollo Alliance's "New Energy For America" Jobs Report, jointly produced by The Institute for America's Future & The Center on Wisconsin Strategy, with economic analysis provided by The Perryman Group, Waco Texas:
• Invest In More Efficient Factories: Make innovative use of the tax code and economic development systems to promote more efficient and profitable manufacturing while saving energy through environmental retrofits, improved boiler operations, and industrial cogeneration of electricity, retaining jobs by investing in plants and workers.
• Encourage High Performance Building: Increase investment in construction of "green buildings" and energy efficient homes and offices through innovative financing and incentives, improved building operations, and updated codes and standards, helping working families, businesses, and government realize substantial cost savings.
• Increase Use of Energy Efficient Appliances: Drive a new generation of highly efficient manufactured goods into widespread use, without driving jobs overseas, by linking higher energy standards to consumer and manufacturing incentives that increase demand for new durable goods and increase investment in US factories.
• Modernize Electrical Infrastructure: Deploy the best available technology like scrubbers to existing plants, protecting jobs and the environment; research new technology to capture and sequester carbon and improve transmission for distributed renewable generation.
• Expand Renewable Energy Development: Diversify energy sources by promoting existing technologies in solar, biomass and wind while setting ambitious but achievable goals for increasing renewable generation, and promoting state and local policy innovations that link clean energy and jobs.
• Improve Transportation Options: Increase mobility, job access, and transportation choice by investing in effective multimodal networks including bicycle, local bus and rail transit, regional high-speed rail and magnetic levitation rail projects.
• Reinvest In Smart Urban Growth: Revitalize urban centers to promote strong cities and good jobs, by rebuilding and upgrading local infrastructure including road maintenance, bridge repair, and water and waste water systems, and by expanding redevelopment of idled urban "brownfield" lands, and by improving metropolitan planning and governance.
• Plan For A Hydrogen Future: Invest in long term research & development of hydrogen fuel cell technology, and deploy the infrastructure to support hydrogen powered cars and distributed electricity generation using stationary fuel cells, to create jobs in the industries of the future.
• Preserve Regulatory Protections: Encourage balanced growth and investment through regulation that ensures energy diversity and system reliability, that protects workers and the environment, that rewards consumers, and that establishes a fair framework for emerging technologies.
• Promote Advanced Technology & Hybrid Cars: Begin today to provide incentives for converting domestic assembly lines to manufacture highly efficient cars, transitioning the fleet to American made advanced technology vehicles, increasing consumer choice and strengthening the US auto industry.Environmental PolicyA Real World Environmental Policy
The epidemic of silent environmental violence continues. Whether it is the 65,000 Americans who die every year from air pollution, or the 80,000 estimated annual fatalities from hospital malpractice, or the 100,000 Americans whose demise comes from occupational toxic exposures, or the cruel environmental racism where the poor and their often asthmatic children live in pollution sinks located near toxic hot spots (that are never situated in shrubbered suburbs), preventable, harmful, situations abound.
Now, as the evidence of global warming mounts, it is evident that we threaten the global environment with tremendous economic threats facing humanity, including bankrupting the reinsurance industry, the spread of infectious tropical diseases, massive ecological disruption and increased severe and unpredictable weather, all of which will significantly impact commerce, agriculture, and communities across America. Toxic standards need to be strengthened. Currently toxic standards are designed for adults, not for more vulnerable children. This should be reversed. We need to make environmental protection a priority for our energy, trade, industrial, agricultural, transportation, development, and land use policies. Indeed, protecting the environment must be weaved throughout our governance.Fair TaxFair Tax Where the Wealthiest and Corporations Pay their Share; Tax Wealth More than Work; Tax Activities We Dislike More than Necessities
The complexity and distortions of the federal tax code produces distributions of tax incidence and payroll tax burdens that are skewed in favor of the wealthy and the corporations further garnished by tax shelters, insufficient enforcement, and other avoidances.
Corporate tax contributions as a percent of the overall federal revenue stream have been declining for fifty years and now stand at 7.4% despite massive record profits. A fundamental reappraisal of our tax laws should start with a principle that taxes should apply first to behavior and conditions we favor least and pinch basic necessities least, such as the clearly addictive industries (alcohol and tobacco), pollution, speculation, gambling, extreme luxuries, instead of taxing work or instead of the 5% to 7% sales tax food, furniture, clothing or books.
Tiny taxes (a fraction of the conventional retail sales percentage) on stock, bond, and derivative transactions can produce tens of billions of dollars a year and displace some of the taxes on work and consumer essentials. Sol Price, founder of the Price Clubs (now merged into Costco) is one of several wealthy people in the last century who have urged a tax on wealth. Again, it can be at a very low rate but raise significant revenues. Wealth above a quite comfortable minimum is described as tangible and intangible assets. The present adjustment of Henry George's celebrated land tax could also be considered.
Over a thousand wealthy Americans have declared, in a remarkable conflict against interest, that the estate tax, which now applies to less than 2 percent of the richest estates, should be retained. The signers of this declaration included William Gates, Sr., Warren Buffett and George Soros. Ralph Nader does not believe that "unearned income" (dividends, interest, capital gains) should be taxed lower than earned income, or work, inasmuch as one involves passive income, including inheritances and windfalls, while the latter involves active effort with a higher proportion of middle and lower income workers relying on and working each day, some under unsafe conditions, for these earnings.