The General Welfare: A Legislative Agenda for a Better American Future

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."


The far right has its "Contract On America," crony capitalism, tax cuts for the rich, social repression, and hatred of all those who don't fit its definition of "real" Americans.   The center has the moderate meanness of Austerity Now, the Blue Dogs dithering over whether the richest democracy in the world can afford basic decency, and its own slightly more respectable forms of crony capitalism.

The time has come to restate the Left Agenda.

What would it mean to actually fulfill the ideals of the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution -- to form a Republic of the people, by the people, and for the people, dedicated to promoting the General Welfare, securing the rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of all its citizens?

What can we need to do to bring us closer to being one nation in all our diversity and individuality, with liberty and justice for all, in fact and not only in aspiration?

What is required to assure the rights and privileges of citizenship in the United States to all persons born or naturalized here, to guarantee to each one of us due process and the equal protection of the laws, or to assure that we never have an aristocracy?

How do we combine the moral imperatives of a democratic republic with the economic incentives of a market economy to create a society that works for all its members and not just a select few? In the last generation, the top 1% of income earners have moved from taking roughly 9% of the national income to almost a third -- with the result that the middle class has seen its income stagnate for 3 decades even while productivity has soared and the economy has grown.  How can we reverse this process and move towards the fairer sharing of the post-War period?

This page will post proposals -- mainly legislative, mainly Federal -- designed to help make the American dream a reality.  We seek a country in which

  • all those who are able to work can find decent jobs at decent pay, and those who are unable are not abandoned,
  • remembering what it is to be a stranger in a stranger land, we accept that we are our brothers' keepers,
  • the promise of universal citizenship, like the religious tradition of common descent from a common ancestor, motivates our politics and policies,
  • the awesome power of the state is utilized to protect the helpless and end private oppression,
  • equal protection of the laws applies to all, and
  • basic decency assures that we respect each of our fellow citizens and never treat one person as a mere disposable tool to another person's private aims.

To comment on proposals, join the debate, or add your own suggestions, go to http://thegeneralwelfare.blogspot.com.  These website is created and maintained by Daniel Greenwood and the texts of the proposals are mine (as are any mistakes).  However, virtually all these proposals have been made repeatedly by others and I claim no originality.

Table of Contents

  1. End This Recession Now
  2. Full Employment and Economic Growth
    • Countercyclical hiring and job creation; corporate fiduciary duties; fiscal and monetary policy to promote economic growth; solving the state fiscal crises and avoiding the "50 Little Hoovers" problem; infrastructure development; supporting education; using minimum wage policy to promote growth and justice; restricting hiring of undocumented immigrants; copyright and patent monopoly reform; environmental tort reform; correcting statistics
  3. Corporate Money in Politics:  Ending corruption and corporate capture of government
    • Countering Citizens United; ending corporate takeover of government; reducing impact of corporate money on politics; protecting competitive markets and consumers from overreaching economic power
  4. Basic Security
    • Family & child support; simple health care reform, including Medicare/VA-for-all to guarantee coverage and reduce costs; national support for local school districts and public schools; strengthening and expanding Social Security; bankruptcy fairness and responsibility;
  5. Fiscal Responsibility and Patriotic Decency
    • Revenue sharing with states; a new GI bill; reducing the cost of medical care by limiting monopoly drug profits; restraints on "wars of choice"; ending giveaways of National lands; pricing carbon to make polluters pay for the damage they cause.
  6. Tax Justice
    • Making the rich pay their fair share; correcting the AMT anti-city provisions; fixing the estate tax; creating  incentives for productive enterprise instead of looting; restoring the corporate income tax.
  7. Restoring Democracy


  8. Health, Safety and the Environment

  9. Making Wall Street Work for America

  10. Restoring the Common Law to Protect Americans

  11. Education

  12. Fundamental Rights and Liberties