Monday, April 12, 2010

Weekly Update: New blog, Twitter, A Green New Deal, End the Wars, Energy Independence, Power of Hemp


Dear Supporters (and any casual observers),

This week has been very busy but not very visible. We have a new Communications Director (Michael) and he is already plugging the campaign into the digital world. We had some of the rudimentary pieces in place but now have:

The website:

A blog:

A Twitter account:

Please subscribe, friend or do whatever you do with these. Email works for me but the world has moved on.

Soon all of these things will be integrated, too! The campaign committee is staffed with people who know campaigns and have serious experience, but Michael knows this digital world of communications and is wonderfully helpful. You have probably already seen a message from Michael concerning my latest press release (the spelling issues are mine, not his, by the way), another dimension to our communications with you all and the public.

I need to remind you all that political campaigns run on money. We are still running in the black but are planning the next print run and a catchy item that we hope will help with outreach (still a secret). So we are going to be spending a few thousand dollars in the next week and could use some help with that. Keep in mind the technical stuff from the FEC: we need your name and address, and if your total donations add up to $200 or more then we also need your occupation, employers name and state; the limit for Primary races is $2,400. You can make donations via the web site or mail (address is at the bottom of this email). Thank you!

Now for this week’s reflection on the world I thought I should reply to all of you who have written asking for specifics. The message I am getting seems to be you all are suitably impressed that I can do social commentary (no stretch there since I have done that for 15 years) but what you want to know is what I intend to do. I am starting with some general discussions and will get more and more specific over time. So here you go.

Well, I think the first thing called for is paying attention to what the American people say concerns them. The biggest issue on polls these days is the economy. Every major economy in the world works on the principles outlined by John Maynard Keynes. There is nothing about modern economics that does not come from Keynes. The New Deal was his idea, well the concept not that name. Capitalism simply is subject to cycles that include depressions. We are in a depression now and there is no point pretending that is not true. We need a new New Deal, but with the environmental troubles we have we need a Green New Deal in particular. I see this involving massive works program that can put American back to work rebuilding the national infrastructure to do what it needs to do but in an environmentally friendly way. This sort of thing needs to be well thought out – we need better ways of doing what we do now and that analysis and new planning is part of the program. I don’t have the specifics of this worked as I would like to have time to consult with a range of experts, but we need to fix our roads and bridges in a way that can accommodate alternatives to single occupant cars, for example. I would be open to any suggestion for works projects that has social utility (the various New Deal programs offer many examples of things to do and then we need to add new ideas as well).

This immediately raises the question of how to pay for such things. One of the most impressive economic minds in the world today, John K. Galbraith, tells us not to be afraid of deficit spending when we are rebuilding the economy. I understand his point but would prefer to do it through the redirection of resources (at this point we can’t balance the budget over night but could over time and still have money for what are called Keynesian Pumps, these works programs). The redirection I have in mind is away from the Pentagon and towards most everything else. We do not need to be the policeman of the world, we do not need to occupy other countries and we certainly do not need 600 bases in other peoples’ countries. The people in uniform doing this today need to be put to work constructing new ways to live, building newer and better transportation systems. Plus, and this needs more discussion, if we just shorten the work week we can put many more people back to work in the civilian economy (this is complicated as wage levels must be protected and inflationary pressures considered too, more later).

Military spending is justified on the notion that the world is dangerous. Perhaps in some ways, but those problems are better handled as police matters than military manners. The countries we occupy are dangerous, but that is to be expected, so we shouldn’t do it. For most of us “Manifest Destiny” refers to a misguided and racist rationalization not an actual duty, so why are we at war? We should immediately withdraw from both Iraq and Afghanistan and use those resources for our economy and society. An occupier has no moral authority and if we want to take seriously our obligation to help the people of these countries then we have to hand the job off to some entity that has moral authority with the people in those places. This is not difficult but that does not mean it will be popular among people who profit from war, especially.

The incumbent keeps voting to spend money on these insane wars. I will not do that. In fact if there is no progress before I take office, after I do I will act to stop the funding using all the powers available to a United States Senator. We have plenty of money to solve national problems, but we have to stop wasting it on illegal occupations if we want a sound economy.

And lastly for today: the environment. I realize some people still think they needn’t worry about global warming but that is just wishful thinking. Every serious scientist in the world who studies these issues and every relevant scientific body in the world all agree. There is no serious scientific debate about the reality of human caused climate change so we must act. People around the world have noticed and are doing what they can. It is inspiring in a way to see such cooperation on a global scale (with some notable exceptions of course). We must lead the way on this, not trail behind.

The way we get and use energy has to change. We simply must find ways to stop relying on fossil fuels. This can be done by putting money into research and development of new technologies. We need to put experts to work on new approaches to transportation, food production, and national self sufficiency. Most immediately we could have programs that loan money for alternative energy production (something the Germans do now with great success), jobs programs for installing solar and wind on the home scale and industrial scale, eliminating tax and other incentives for wasteful/polluting consumption and production and tax incentives for Green alternatives.

One of the fastest ways to make a huge change is to produce industrial hemp. Hemp, a variant of the marijuana plant (which in its industrial form does not have THC), has been around longer than human beings. It is the single most useful plant on Earth, and can be used for plastics, fuel, food, paper, cloth and medicine. Seriously, you can make plastics from it (and other plants too, what makes it workable is the scale at which it can be produced). The Declaration of Independence is written on hemp paper. We can put loggers to work as farmers, mills back to work processing hemp paper and fabric, plastics factories can use hemp based plastics, seeds can be used by as food and topically (hemp oil for skin, shampoo, etc.) and it is medicine for millions of people already and there are a host of potential medical uses yet to be researched.

This one plant can change the planet. We have it and can farm it easily. As Senator I will champion legislation to do this.

That is just a look at some of my main issues. I would like, in the future, to talk about what it means to extend democracy. At present what we are doing is challenging the two-party system to open up electoral space but this is just a part of what it means to have a truly democratic society. I will also discuss economic issues more (like why don’t we ever audit the Federal Reserve?) and other social issues.

Have a good week. Please drop a check in the mail if you can. Thank you!

All the best,


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