Sponsor: GRP Platform Committee, co-chairs, Brian Cady and Joanna Herlihy
Floor managers: Brian Cady and Joanna Herlihy
Committees sent to for review and feedback: Membership. CDLC, Communications
Background: At the Green-Rainbow State Convention in Worcester on November 17, 2012, delegates reviewed a draft text entitled ‘Fundamental Platform’ and approved a proposal requesting that the Platform Committee continue the development of this document, facilitating broad participation, and that the State Committee discuss and recommend approval of such a document at its January 19, 2013 meeting.
Summary: Given that this document attempts to state a vision for a political action program in Massachusetts for the indefinite future and purports only to serve as a source for political campaign platforms, we hope to avoid confusion by renaming it as an ‘agenda’, rather than a ‘platform’. We welcome any designation that the State Committee considers appropriate for this document. Such an ‘agenda’ can also serve the Green-Rainbow Party as basis for taking positions on contemporary issues.
Financial Impact: No direct impact.
Implementation: If approved, this document will be posted on the Green-Rainbow website, to be used in whatever manner members consider appropriate.
Proposal: Caught between its mandates to solicit and incorporate broad input and to produce a document expressing a coherent vision, the Platform Committee presents to the State Committee for approval the current version of the draft document:at http://grp.kingpine.info/mediawiki/index.php/Fundamental_Platform This document could surely benefit from editorial expertise. On the other hand, the possibility for revision of the party agenda should remain open. We request that that State Committee consider what would be appropriate procedures for improving and updating this document.
The Green-Rainbow Party (GRP) is the Massachusetts affiliate of the Green Party of the U.S. In 2002, the GRP united (1) the Massachusetts Green Party and the Rainbow Coalition Party on the basis of shared values. The Ten Key Values (2) of the Green-Rainbow Party rest on grassroots democracy, social justice, nonviolence, and ecological wisdom--an understanding of the interconnectedness of everything on Earth, respect for all life and its creativity
The social and environmental crises and dysfunctions of our time are driven by a profit-hungry economic system, governments serving the interests of the few, and false ideas spread by mass media. Unlimited economic growth is not possible on a planet with finite resources. We recognize that it is essential to create a vibrant and sustainable economic system that provides a decent life for all people while maintaining a healthy ecological balance.
The Green-Rainbow Party seeks ways to strengthen and revitalize our communities, the foundation of human society, economy, and democracy. With all empowered to participate, we seek to reclaim and rebuild our economic and political activities to sustain the well-being of people and our planet.
2) Proposed Text
I. Healthy Communities
Healthy communities are places where people thrive and find meaning in their lives. Communities where all find a place and a livelihood are more stable and better able to deal with physical and social crises and disasters. Growing income inequality and the continuing transfer of wealth from the less to the more affluent undermine our society and the shared understandings on which it is based. We propose measures to strengthen the vitality of Massachusetts communities, funded with savings from superseded programs and shifts in sources of local and state revenue.
To enable all to participate in their communities, we will prioritize measures to meet basic needs, adding community based programs to the standard safety net. We will act to facilitate local food production and make healthful, affordable food available in all communities, assure adequate and affordable housing for all, and provide universal health care. We will fund services which strengthen communities, including, but not limited to, early childhood education, day care, after-school and outreach programs, adult education, special needs and arts programs.
Residents need opportunities to connect with work that helps their community and its environment, as apprentices, volunteers, or employees at living wages. On the job training, public service projects, and other enterprises with social benefit should be encouraged by government agencies and the private sector, as well as by residents.
We propose to improve public schooling, making sure that all schools are funded to meet the needs of their children, are run democratically, and are staffed with teachers who are able to cultivate in children a sense of autonomy, a spirit of cooperation, critical thinking, empathy, and an appreciation for diversity. Such schooling, free from the influence of private corporate agendas and militarism, should encourage students to develop practical understandings and skills for living in the wider world.
College attendance should not be a requirement for many jobs. State-supported colleges should provide for specialized learning or serve as a platform for professional education. For those who seek it, higher education and research opportunities, as well as professional training, must be made available without incurring debt for tuition.
The criminal justice system must serve community needs, giving priority to prevention and rehabilitation. The Commonwealth must decriminalize possession and use of drugs, treating substance abuse and addiction as public health problems. We must eliminate mandatory sentencing, and reduce use of incarceration as punishment. Correctional facilities must protect rights of prisoners and their families and must not be run for profit.
The proposed social advances are intended for the benefit of everyone living in the Commonwealth, without discrimination on the basis of sex, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, language, immigration status, criminal record, religion, belief system or political orientation.
The Massachusetts tax system must be revised to make it truly progressive, relieving the burden on people who are experiencing financial difficulties. This should be done at both state and local levels. Government revenue should eventually shift from taxes on incomes to taxes on profits, land and resource use, excessive consumption, and environmental pollution. This should enable development of universal minimum income (3) to allow democratic participation for all.
II. Sustainable Economies
Economies are systems developed by ordinary people working together to meet their needs. Ecologically sound economies conserve and recycle natural resources and fully involve human capabilities and imagination and are responsible to the future of humanity. The prevailing global "economic" system, controlled by the powerful, is wasteful, predatory, and destabilizing. Accepting this model, Massachusetts has failed many sectors of its population and permitted widespread degradation of its land, water, air, and ecosystems. We will strengthen local and regional economies, encouraging sustainable enterprises that are rooted in and responsible to their communities, while promoting regional and trans-regional collaboration.
The Commonwealth must establish and maintain programs and take measures to assist conversion to ecologically sound, locally and democratically controlled economies based on a mix of enterprises--cooperative, public, and private. The Commonwealth as a whole and individual towns should organize employment in projects beneficial to communities and their environments, providiing training, experience, and wages. Such programs should provide employment opportunities to all through democratically managed job banks.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts was formed to work for the common good. To protect the commons, including land, water, air, and ecosystems, in the face of catastrophic threats posed by accelerating climate change, the Commonwealth must aggressively promote the transition to local, sustainable economies. Such economies are based on energy conservation and efficiency, distributed clean energy production, local organic agriculture, and public transportation with safe walking and bike paths between transportation hubs. Towards this end, we must generously fund environmental research, programs, and education, as well as regional planning and public transportation. The highest standards for environmental and public health protection must be applied to new and old technologies. Reducing use of energy from fossil fuels and developing alternative energy sources need persistent attention and funding.
Wage labor in the Commonwealth must be compensated with living wages adequate for a worker and dependents to afford basic housing, food, and healthcare, laying the ground for reduced working hours and job sharing. Rights of workers to organize, for safety in the workplace, and for collective bargaining must be protected. Rights of whistleblowers to share information about things that endanger society, in both private and public enterprise, must be supported
The Commonwealth must assume more responsibility in the operation of enterprises serving the general public, such as communications, utilities, and transportation networks. Government ownership, state or municipal, should be enabled when indicated by the public benefit. Where the ownership of enterprises is held by individuals, varieties of cooperative, democratic, and non-profit ownership should be strongly encouraged by law and policy.
The legislature must create a transparently and democratically run state bank to provide financial support for local sustainable economies and enterprises. A state bank would also lessen the massive transfer of wealth to the elite that controls the privately owned banking corporations. Legislation must also enable municipal level public banks. Such institutions can fund needed investments in community and ecosystems, greatly reducing the price of public projects by eliminating near-crippling costs on interest for loans from private banks. A state-owned bank can also support local private banking. The people benefit when funds are retained locally. Local currencies, time banks, and barter systems will also reduce dependence on the dominant monetary economy.
The Commonwealth should regularly review corporate charters and exercise its powers to assure that they act in the interest of all, not causing harm to workers, communities, the environment. or democracy in Massachusetts or world-wide. Municipalities should exercise their powers to the same end. For all the reasons described by Thomas Jefferson centuries ago, corporations and other artificial entities should not be given constitutional rights. These are reserved for individual human beings. Toward that end, our congressional delegation should be instructed to support a Constitutional amendment to clarify that corporations are not people and that money is not speech.
International treaties negotiated by the federal government can affect the economy of Massachusetts adversely. The Commonwealth's International Trade Commission must advise the state about the harmful effects of such trade treaties, which may override labor and environmental protection. The Commonwealth should challenge the legality of harmful treaties and advise our Congressional delegation accordingly, opposing all corporate activity which is not accountable to the people or the planet. The Commonwealth must not enter into contracts with suppliers who engage in human rights violations or participate in war.
III. Democratic Governance
Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one individual, family, or class: Therefore the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity and happiness require it. (4) (Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Article VII) The Green-Rainbow Party proposes to remedy the failure to follow through on the stated premise of commonwealth government over the past two hundred years through a variety of measures, as follows:
The Commonwealth must protect the civil liberties of all residents, whatever their legal status. People require ready access to accurate information and the opportunity to assemble in public spaces and to exchange opinions. Voting rights must be guaranteed to all citizens. The integrity of voter choice must be respected; it is best assured by a paper trail for ballots and careful auditing of election results by nonpartisan officers.
Representative government requires that candidates for elected office have reasonable access to the ballot and to public information media for both state and local elections. We work towards voter rights for residents, state financing of candidacy for public office, election by majority (not plurality), and preferential/ranked choice for all candidates in primary and general elections. In a bicameral legislature, it should be possible to represent both the interests of local communities and also the broad range of opinions on conduct of state-wide affairs. Political diversity in the Commonwealth as a whole should be represented in its legislative bodies. Compact districts of roughly equal population should be drawn on the basis of shared concerns of these populations.
Democratic deliberation and decision making must be carried out as close to the people concerned as possible, and conducted in a manner which assures that all perspectives are considered. Citizen assemblies, chosen openly and freely by those most directly involved in outcomes, should be given appropriate powers in coordination with state and municipal governments. Planning, participatory budgeting, and economic development councils should be open to all affected sectors of society, and the findings of these groups must be legally and fiscally binding. Commonwealth law on 'home rule' (5) must be revisited to ensure adherence to the principle of subsidiarity.
It may at times be necessary for the Commonwealth to contest federal laws and policies that are or may be damaging to the common good. It is a duty of all government officials to call attention to such cases. Our Congressional delegation should be instructed to support downsizing of the bloated military budget and redirecting funds to support real security through meeting critical needs here at home.
Transparency in government operations relies on open hearings, legislative procedures that can be followed by the public, open reporting of legislative actions, and easy access to records. Financial records must be publicly available in spreadsheet format to allow for analysis by citizens. Contracts must be structured to assure competition to take advantage of innovation and efficiency. Continuous auditing of government expenditures will enable critical scrutiny, reducing waste and providing data for improvements. Instituting full cost accounting will assist decision-making by indicating long term effects on the environment and the people. Liability accounting should include future liabilities caused by land use policy and law. The ability to adapt to rapidly changing reality will determine the success of governments and the survival of the people who institute them.
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4)Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Article 7
The Green-Rainbow Party (GRP) is the Massachusetts affiliate of the Green Party of the U.S. In 2002, the GRP united the Massachusetts Green Party and the Rainbow Coalition Party on the basis of their shared values and aspirations.
Our Ten Key Values rest on understanding the interconnectedness of people, planet, and peace. We emphasize the ability of human beings to work together because they recognize their sustaining role within the diversity and complexity of healthy living systems and robust human societies, without which peace is impossible.
Massachusetts, like much of politics today, takes interdependent social and ecological systems and splinters them into scattered and contentious issues. In contrast, the GRP sees the various crises of our times -- in human rights, the environment, the economy, and electoral politics -- as the result of the unending excesses of corporate capitalism and greed which threaten democracy by dominating our political systems and mass media.
As we map out a plan of action, we do not expect our government to do for us what we can and want to do ourselves. But neither will we allow our government to desert us as we struggle against unequal conditions that we cannot control on our own. In the world’s richest -- yet least taxed -- industrial country, we should not be made to fight each other for crumbs, while global corporations and the most wealthy among us fill their pockets.
To counter the exploitation of people and the planet, the GRP seeks to strengthen and revitalize our communities so every person can be a creative contributor, have a decent life, and be free from fear, discrimination, and hopelessness. To that end, we seek to reclaim and rework the economic and political activities of our Commonwealth.