The Citizens United v FEC case was not just about the corporate personhood of corporate entities like GE, Verizon, or Monsanto. It specifically was about a PAC called "Citizens United" which was a Koch-brother funded shell corporation, used as a front by a public relations firm to run political advertisements and hide where the money came from. It had no members-- just money.
PACs, SuperPACs, and other corporations that form for political speech, should be eliminated from our election system. For every PAC arm of a nonprofit that is funded by actual people, there are hundreds more that use the same filing papers yet have no members-- just loads of secret money. Fighting money against money is not a fight that the 99% can win against the 1%. However, we CAN remove this shadowy weapon of disinformation from their toolbox.
The wealthy elite have polluted our electoral system with unlimited spending on political advertising and campaign contributions through PACs and donations. This, in turn, has perverted the act of public service-- as politicians put the needs of the wealthy few before those of the people they are elected by.
The time has come where we need to require all candidates to run as clean elections candidates, so that they remain beholden to only one thing-- the public.
When the state of Maine collects its revenues in taxes, it has to put them in a bank just like anyone else. There is no reason why our Taxpayer Dollars should be sitting in the accounts of out-of-state banks, when they could be held in the in credit unions, or in a state-run public bank as they have in North Dakota.
Despite demanding TARP funding to increase liquidity, the large financial institutions have failed to lend to entrepreneurs who need start-up funds to pursue innovative new technologies, or capital to grow their businesses, thus expanding their workforce-- creating jobs.
For too long, Wall Street's banks have engaged in predatory lending to low-income families and working people. Farmers have long been victims of predatory lending, having to quite literally bet the farm against the bank's loan every year, becoming entangled in an escalating fight against ballooning interest rates and punitive measures designed to put working people under mountains of debt that are tens of times greater than the amount they initially borrowed-- amounts that are impossible to pay back, ensuring that we will forever be paying down debt, and subsidizing the multi-million dollar bonuses of Wall Street Banking Executives every year.
It was under these same conditions in 1919 that the Non-Partisan Progressive League, made of farmers and farm workers, came together to create the State Bank of North Dakota, a democratically run institution that lends credit to where it is needed in society, without predatory lending practices.
It's foolish to continue to think we can depend on Wall Street's financial institutions to lend the capital our economy requires when they are clearly more interested in giving their executive staff multi-million dollar bonuses. It's time to bring our taxpayer dollars home, put them in Maine financial institutions that are willing to lend to Mainers, and make that money available to grow our economy.
For too long, we've seen budget crises created by cutting taxes on those most able to pay, and then the whole of society being forced to bear the cost of these tax giveaways through cuts in spending for the things that make our society and economy function.
I'm sick of seeing corporations making money on their tax returns, because the folks in government are so scared that they might pick up and leave, that they actually pay these corporations to keep their headquarters here, creating huge gaps in our state revenue, often with the result of these same out of state corporations picking up and leaving anyways, despite all our efforts to bend over backwards legislatively for them.
I'm sick of seeing millionaires come in from out of state, buy up waterfront property for the view, build mansions that drive up the property taxes of native Mainers who live and work here-- not for the view, but because it's where they were born and raised. I'm sick of seeing increased property taxes force native Mainers off their land and away from their professions, while those who've done the damage don't pay any state income tax on their millions, because they don't claim Maine as their primary residency.
I fully support closing this tax loophole. Maine's natural beauty is why people come here, and we shouldn't sell ourselves short. If they want to buy up our home soil just for the view, they ought to pay state income tax.
In the 1970s, 70% of the cost of college was paid by the state, and 30% was paid out of tuition. When I went to USM in 2001, those figures had been flipped on their head. As tuition has steadily risen over the years, Maine's University System has slowly become essentially a private institution with public university letterhead.
Education is a right, and we shouldn't have to become debt slaves to get a degree. Education is a right. Education in an investment. We should be glad to invest in the knowledge of one another. I support universal college education, and preventing Democrats or Republicans from raiding the University Fund every time there is a budget shortfall, as they have done so often in the past. We must to reform our regressive taxation system, and have more democratic oversight over our Public University System, including the board of trustees.
The number one cause of homelessness in the United State of America is medical debt. Health care must be a human right for all. People shouldn't be forced to choose between medical treatment and eating, between lifesaving medical procedures and keeping their home. The United States is barbarically antiquated for being the only modern industrialized nation without a public health insurance program.
Under a universal single-payer health care system, we would pay less in premiums and receive more in services per dollar spent.
There is a lie that we're told over and over: that privatization makes things more efficient. Yet 37% of each dollar spent on private health insurance goes to administrative costs. By comparison, Medicare's administrative costs is just three pennies per dollar spent. Under a medicare-for-all program, the money wasted on administration costs would be spent where it's supposed to be-- patient care.
The General Accounting Office of Congress has concluded that:
"If the US were to shift to a system of universal coverage and a single payer plan ... the savings in administrative costs would be more than enough to offset the cost."According to Harvard researchers, the United States would save more than $200 billion dollars a year if we converted to a national universal single payer health care system. A single-payer system would allow the reorganization of existing health care expenditures toward substantial savings and broader coverage.
Businesses currently providing employment-based benefits would see their costs greatly reduced as well, allowing them to spend more of their income elsewhere. State and local governments because public programs would cease to be the dumping ground for high-risk patients and those rejected by HMO's when they become disabled and unemployed.
Most importantly, the people of America will gain the peace of mind of knowing that needed health care will always be available to them. No longer will people have to worry about facing financial disaster if they get seriously ill, get laid off their job, or are injured in an accident.
No longer will anyone have to put off addressing serious health problems for lack of coverage. We will all receive the same benefits that people in all the other developed countries have enjoyed for a long time: better quality health care, more preventive services, less cost, predictable coverage, longer lifespans, and a better overall quality of life.
Implementation of a national single payer health care system would create 2.6 million jobs in the national economy. Establishing a single payer health care system could pull the economy out of its quagmire by creating new jobs doing meaningful work, solving two crises at once.
We can lead the way to a national single-payer healthcare system by starting here in Maine. Vermont has led the way, and California is close on their heels in passing a statewide universal single-payer healthcare bill. Creating a single-payer, publicly run insurance plan, would be one of my top priorities upon election.
I will push ceaselessly for the passage of a single-payer plan in the State of Maine.
“Between the people and the representatives there has been built up a political machine which is master of both.” – Robert M. La Follette
Welfare spending could almost completely be eliminated if workers were simply paid a wage they could support themselves on.
I've worked too many jobs where, even if I never slept, I couldn't work enough hours in a week to make ends meet. Too many people work two and three jobs, not to get ahead, but to just to barely scrape by.
My firsthand experience in the workforce has shown me that employers take for granted that they can undervalue and underpay their employees, abuse "part time" worker status provisions to deny benefits to people working full time hours, and shift the cost of their employees onto state services. Too many businesses have programs designed to connect their employees with welfare services.
My position is clear: If you are working, you should be paid enough to support yourself. Our minimum wage needs to be indexed against the cost of living, not raised arbitrarily and insufficiently as a band-aid measure.
To claim to be able to end poverty is an audacious claim. But nowhere near as audacious as to claim that we are a civilized nation when thousands of men, women, and children die, cold and starving on the streets every year, in the richest nation on the face of earth.
"Every man, woman, and child who freezes to death on the streets... should be seen as a casualty of war." -- Occupy Atlanta
If we are going to be audacious enough to call ourselves civilized, all people should have a right to food, housing, medical care, jobs that pay a living wage, and education. All people deserve the support of their neighbors in times of hardship. It is quite clearly consumer demand that creates jobs, not the fossilized capital of the ultra rich.
As technology and efficiency makes labor less and less necessary, the balance of the entire economic structure is thrown off. While those who own the means of production are still able to reap the rewards of our paying them for the permission to stay alive, our availability to earn income disappears. Thus our ability to spend disappears. And then the economy goes into recession.
To worship at the altar of the "free market" and say that poverty is a necessary byproduct of capitalism is callous, inhuman, and ignorant. We have the ability to structure our economies how we want. We get to choose how our world works by putting structures and systems in place.
To say that we must leave things up to the free market is the moral and intellectual equivalent of throwing your hands in the air and saying "I don't know how anything works!" Meanwhile, real hardship is endured, and people's families are destroyed, all for the preservation of a simple oversight in how our economic model currently works.
For this reason, I also support a graduated supplemental income, or negative income tax, that would maintain all individual adult incomes above the poverty level, regardless of employment or marital status.
The Private Sector and the Free Market have continually failed to create a thriving economy, continually failed to provide jobs that benefit society as a whole, and failed to create jobs that don't require the wasteful abuse of our planet's resources. In light of these failures, I fully support the use of government funding to do what the private sector and the free market are incapable of doing: Creating Jobs. The economy knows that when people are employed, they have money to spend on goods and services, and it doesn't care if those jobs are in the private or public sector. The public sector can play a role in economic stimulus through public funding for living-wage jobs in community and environmental service. Environmental clean-up, recycling, sustainable agriculture, food production, sustainable forest management, repair and maintenance of public facilities, aides in our schools / libraries / childcare centers, and the construction and renovation of housing that is energy-efficient, are all examples of work through which the whole of society benefits.
"We all do better when we all do better." - Sen. Paul Wellstone
The accumulation of individual wealth in the U.S. has reached grossly unbalanced proportions. Those who are richest did not get to be so by their own labor alone, but by exploiting the labor of those who work for them. Their excessive wealth is a direct result of the undervaluing of the labor of their employees, shifting the wealth generated by their labor from the worker to the CEO's bank account. It is clear that we cannot rely on the rich to look past their individual greed to act for the macroeconomic good of society.
Charity would be almost entirely unnecessary if workers were paid what their labor is worth. In addition to paying their employees a Living Wage, CEO's pay must be limited to an income no greater than 10 times what their lowest paid employee gets. This ensures that when a CEO decides to give themselves a bonus, all other workers, whose labor contributed directly to the success of the company, receive the compensation for their labor they are owed.
If the individual retains the inalienable right to enjoy life, liberty, happiness and safety, it must necessarily follow that those rights demand the right to self-government. And that right to self-government belongs to all people, not to a privileged minority using the legal fiction of Corporate Personhood to seek private self-interest. State and local laws that favor private businesses over local self-governance rights are attacks on the inalienable rights enumerated the Maine State Constitution.
Communities have a right to pass ordinances that are an expression of the rights held by the people of a given community, and which are protective of the physical, natural, social, governmental, cultural and community values of the people. These rights are superior to the rights of the fictional Corporate Person. Neither the states, nor the courts, have authority to delegate away the rights of the people.Corporate and statist interests in Maine are fighting against communities throughout the state that seek to prevent the destruction and depletion of our public commons, our natural resources, which are the property of the people. I stand in solidarity with the struggles of communities against corporate usurpation of groundwater (ie Nestle/Poland Spring), forced acceptance of industrial-scale wind farms (ie First Wind, Transcanada), out-of-state waste disposal (ie Casella), meaningless conservation for massive development (ie Plum Creek), and other similar attacks on the power and rights of Mainers to protect their communities.
Water is essential for life, both for people and for ecological systems, which give life to all species. We all have a duty to safeguard the water both on and beneath the Earth's surface, and in the process protect the rights of the people in the communities of Maine, and the rights of the ecosystems of which we are a part.
Access to clean water is a human right. All water is held in the public trust as a common resource to be used for the benefit of the people of Maine and for the benefit of the natural ecosystems.
I am opposed to the privatization of the commons; the public's water supply is no exception.
Privatization of water and large-scale extraction of public resources for corporate profit should be prohibited, especially when it causes damage to natural communities and ecosystems.
Corporations should not be allowed to usurp our rights by asserting that they have the same civil and political rights that people have. Corporations should not be allowed to block our local authority and democratic processes in order to create private profit from the public's water resources.
Water rights activists in Maine have organized very effective opposition to these attempts at corporate exploitation of water resources by passing ordinances that protect local home rule. Local communities and indigenous peoples must at all times have local democratic control over decision-making regarding water issues.
We must recognize the stake that future generations have in those critical decisions.
I support gay marriage, completely and unquestionably. Anything short of full marriage equality creates society with a tier of second class citizens. There is no sound reason to deny the right of marriage to consenting adults.
Over half of our prison population is in jail for nonviolent, drug related offenses. The prison system currently costs our state $130 million annually. We can dramatically reduce the cost of incarceration by simply decriminalizing drug use.
We need to treat substance abuse for what it is- a medical problem- not a criminal problem. The reason that it is a criminal problem is because of the prohibition against drug use.