This is the third part in a three-part series taking an in-depth look at the Prosperity For All recommendations.
To refresh, Prosperity for All is a list of recommended policy changes that would help bring our nation out of financial ruin, lifting up the middle class and restoring the American Dream to everyone. The Prosperity for All campaign is broken into three main parts: Growth, Security, and Democracy. In this section we will look at the Democracy recommendations.
Democratic voice, inclusively and accountability – “in Washington and the workplace Democracy means we have a strong system of checks and balances both in our government and in the private sector that empowers citizens, guarantees more inclusive decision making and creates strong mechanisms of accountability“.
Most Americans would agree that we live in the greatest Democracy. The problem is that currently forces are trying to break down our democracy. This is happening in many ways and on many levels. In our voting rights, in our workplace, and even in our banks.
Prosperity for All recommends
1. “Protect the right to vote to ensure every voice is heard in the political process. Repeal disenfranchisement and voter ID laws and adopt same‐day voter registration, provisional voting and other measures to maximize voter participation and access“.
VOTER ID has been one of the most contested issues in our State Houses in the last five years. The radical right has been telling everyone that there is ‘fraud’ being committed in the voting booth and Voter ID will fix that. The problem is that by instituting a policy like Voter ID you are making it harder or almost impossible for some people to vote. Voting is a fundamental right and which should be working to make it easier to vote not harder. “Studies show that as many as 11 percent of eligible voters do not have government-issued photo ID“. This means one out of every ten voters would be turned away from voting because they do not have a valid ID.
While other states are still battling the Voter ID in court (PA – Voter ID Law Goes To Trial) New Hampshire has already started to enact policies around our new law. The big thing is that this year you will not be turned away from voting as in other states. NH will allow you to vote, but those restrictions get tighter next year and for future elections. Just like in the workplace everyone needs to have a voice in what policy is effecting them. Their ability to vote it that voice.
2. “Guarantee every worker has a voice in the workplace, including a quick, fair process for workers to choose union representation and have the power to bargain collectively. Enforce stronger penalties on companies that violate labor laws.”
Just as in part one of this series, the collective bargaining process vital to a healthy workforce, the ability to choose your representation is just as important. Over the last year there have been many cases of employers violating labor laws and deterring the union election process. One good example of this the fight to unionize the service agents at American Airlines (see also Judge blocks CWA election). The Communication Workers of America have been working to help unionize the service agents for many years and now they are being blocked changes to legislation. We need to have a more streamline process to elect for union representation. To me this also means severely harsh punishments to companies who try to interfere with the election process.
3. & 4. “Free government from corporate interests by reinstating the firewalls between investment and banking” and “Improve consumer protections against unfair credit card fees and practices, predatory lending and bankruptcy rules biased in favor of creditors“.
The collapse of the stock market in 2007 had disastrous effects that we are still trying to overcome. Some of this was caused by repealing the Glass Steagall Act. Even the former president of CitiGroup blamed the financial crisis on the repeal. He said: “To some extent what we saw in the 2007, 2008 crash was the result of the throwing off of Glass-Steagall“. The financial crisis has also led more people to rely on credit cards to pay their bills. These cards then began raising the interest rates on people who were trying to stay a float in the tumultuous economy. These fees would end up adding more costs, like throwing an anchor to a drowning man. We need to work to help these people get out from these high interest credit cards and shady mortgages that they could never have really afforded.
5. “Rein in the power of corporations and the rich by empowering shareholders through greater corporate disclosure and transparency and input in setting executive pay. Corporate power is not reigned in simply by empowering shareholders. Democracy also requires a counterweight to corporate power: Strong unions and community organizations are needed to ensure that workers, and the public more broadly, have an organized voice in our political process“.
This is really a well worded way of saying we must overturn the Citizens United ruling or place new legislation to counter balance the effects of the Citizens United decision. Our democracy is being bought and paid for by corporations pushing millions of dollars into election campaigns. The Koch Brothers and corporate funded organizations like ALEC are using their money as power to make sweeping changes in legislation that in turn boosts their profits. There is also legislation that would make it mandatory for corporations to get shareholder approval before they donate to political campaigns. This seemingly simple change could have dramatic effects on our election process. Without a fair election process what would be left of our Democracy.
So as you can see we are not that far away from taking our country back from the corporations. We need to work together to make policy changes that will lead to Prosperity For All.