The Human Rights Party

thehumanrightsparty.org

NOTES ON PRINCIPLES

Social scientists generally agree on a definition for the word "happiness." It comes from Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics." In his 2012 book "Coming Apart," Charles Murray defines happiness as follows: Happiness consists of lasting and justified satisfaction with life as a whole.

Major changes in our society can only be achieved by actions of the federal government and these can only be made from the inside by becoming part of that government. The only possible entry point for a viable third political party is via the U.S. House of Representatives. The budgetary flexibility of state and local governments is severely limited by their heavy dependence on federal funding. A viable third political party could do many useful things at the state and local levels but their options would also be constrained by this same dependence on federal funding.

Continued widespread use of the term "middle class" in political rhetoric has completely obscured the huge re-distribution of wealth that has occurred in the past 50 years. In the 1950s, everyone knew exactly what a "rich person" was. These were the people that had homes much larger than everyone else. However, there were relatively few of these large houses in most communities and the average size of a house in the U.S. was just under 1000 square feet in 1950. Today, the average size of a house in the U. S. is 2700 square feet. This is more than 1000 square feet larger than any other country in the world and a major component of our current energy problem. What we called a rich person 50 years ago is now called middle class.

A more accurate term for today would be affluent people. These are the people with large homes and secure futures for themselves and their children. They have substantial retirement accounts and college savings accounts for the children. They also have a great deal of discretionary funds to spend on the myriad of things associated with an affluent life style.

The taxation policies of both the Democrats and Republicans have strongly favored affluent people for most of the past half century. Democrats have tended to emphasize tax breaks for individuals while Republicans have tended to emphasize tax breaks for businesses. However, the net effect has been the same. Millions of affluent people have been created by a re-distribution of wealth from all other Americans.

This has created what social scientists call a “caste society,” with affluent people socially and often geographically isolated from all other Americans. A new and severe limitation on upward mobility now exists for all Americans not born to the affluent class.

No American should ever again be forced to put their mind and body at risk in offensive warfare instigated by the U.S. government. There have been a few legitimate pre-emptive actions in the past by other countries but we cannot depend upon human beings, including U.S. Presidents, to make these determinations. In a little over a century, the U.S. has already compiled an impressive list of offensive wars. These were, in chronological order, the Spanish-American War, the First World War (including action in Russia after November 1918), the second part of the Korean War (invasion of North Korea), Vietnam, and the second war with Iraq.

The worst forms of discrimination that exist today are not even recognized as being discrimination. Worst of all is the millions of children that are being allowed to grow up in homes without a computer with internet access. This is the greatest educational tool ever devised by mankind and lack of access will put these children at a serious disadvantage for their entire lifetimes. We already have an entire generation of people (ages 40 to 65) that did not grow up with computers and they are at a severe disadvantage in competing with younger workers for jobs.

Today's "jobs problem" is unique with the tremendous miss-match between skills required for available positions and skills of people seeking employment. The government is going to have to provide jobs for people, just as they did during the Great Depression of the 1930s. One obvious need is the provision of independent advocates to help people that are forced to deal with the government. The recent proliferation of television advertisements for paid advisory services tells us two things. The first is that many people are having trouble dealing successfully with the government. The second is that these types of services are very profitable. However, Americans should not have to pay out large sums of money just so they can deal effectively with their own government. Jobs as independent advocates would be a perfect fit for many people in the 40 to 65 age group.

In the 1950s, California had the best public education program in the U.S., if not the entire world. Everyone realized that people were going to need college training to compete for jobs of the future. Everything possible was done to make it easy for people to attend college. The two year colleges had no tuition fees and the four year colleges had only a token fee ($150 per semester). The necessities of today, student loans and college savings accounts, did not even exist because there was no need. Society was willing to fully fund this entire program of public education. However, creation of a greater number of affluent people soon became a higher priority than full funding for public education. This mistake needs to be reversed by making post-secondary training part of the definition of basic education and eliminating tuition fees in state college systems.

Current health care costs in the U.S. are 18% of GDP while no other country in the world is higher than 12% (costs in our neighbor, Canada, are 11% of GDP). The only cost effective way to provide quality health care for all individuals is to nationalize health care insurance (not health care itself). Countries currently using this approach are able to hold their administrative costs under 10%. Private insurance companies have administrative costs in excess of 30%, due mainly to the billions of dollars spent on advertising. This would produce the same type of system currently being used in Canada. Their frequently cited problems are due mainly to being next to the U.S., where the average annual salary for doctors is over half a million dollars. This is more than double the average income of any other profession in the U.S. It is also more than double the average income of doctors in other countries of the world. Health care insurance needs to be nationalized, including removal of the obligation from both employers and employees (private and public sectors, including education).

This would produce a tremendous new and sustainable economic stimulus. The resultant increase in tax revenues would fund a significant part of the new program. In addition, billions of dollars in current tax deductions would be converted to taxable income as deductions would be eliminated for medical expenses, including insurance.

Unfortunately, contemporary environmentalism has evolved to be primarily a cause for affluent people with secure futures. Most Americans can no longer afford to be environmentalists. Today, virtually all development projects are being routinely opposed, regardless of their individual merits or problems. In many cases, the real reasons for opposition have little or nothing to do with the environment. This blanket opposition to development is having very negative effects on both job creation and tax revenues. It is also significantly increasing costs of essential goods and services that low income people need just to stay alive.

Retired people, as well as people with physical and mental disabilities, currently live under a very wide variety of conditions. Millions live without any form of outside assistance in houses and apartments. However, many must make hard choices between the essentials needed just to stay alive – food, medicine, and energy. The practice of turning thermostats down to 60 degrees in the winter has become commonplace in our society.

Millions more require some form of outside assistance just to make it from day-to-day. The regular professional adult care facilities are only available to people with substantial personal funds and/or long term health care insurance. Everyone else is now relegated to private residences that have been converted to adult holding facilities. Elderly people are mixed together with people that have physical and mental disabilities in the same or adjacent units. The people that were once housed in professional mental health care facilities may now become your next-door neighbors.

Additional tax revenues need to come from the sixty million affluent people in the U.S. The only possible adverse impact on this group would be a modest reduction in the discretionary funds available to pursue their affluent lifestyles. Tax deductions that primarily benefit affluent people could be eliminated. For example, only in America do you get tax deductions for a second home that can be a yacht, luxury condo or 3 mpg motor home. Capital gains and dividends, a major source of income for many affluent people, are currently taxed at much lower percentage rates than earned income. They are also immune from payroll taxes. Various investments for retirement and college saving accounts offer huge tax advantages but are only available to people that can afford them. The current tax exclusion for inherited income reached a record high of $5,250,000 in 2013.

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