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Explainer: What you should know about the Green Party platform

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Note: This is the third in a series examining the positions of several minor party and independent presidential candidates on issues covered by the Acton Institute. A previous series covered the Democratic Party platform (see here and here) and the Republican Party Platform (see here and here).

logoAlthough minor parties — often called “third parties” to distinguish them from the dominant two — have always been a part of American politics, the dissatisfaction with the Republican and Democratic parties in the current election season has led some Christians to give them more consideration. The intention of this series is to provide some basic information on where some of these parties stand on issues covered by the Acton Institute.

A couple of caveats are thus in order.

1. Because there are roughly 50 minor political parties in America this series will not be able to cover them all. The choice of what will be included is undeniably arbitrary and subjective. My intention is to highlight the four or five parties (or individual presidential candidacies) that would be of most interest to our readers. Currently, the plan is to include Evan McMullin (a conservative independent candidate), the Libertarian Party, the American Solidarity Party, the Green Party, and the Constitution Party. (Others will be added if there is sufficient interest/demand.)

2. In general, the PowerBlog covers issues related to economics and individual liberty, particularly religious freedom. For this reason some social issues of concern to Christians are not included. This is not because they are unimportant or because those of us at Acton do not care about the issues. It’s merely because they are outside the focus of this blog.

3. For the sake of simplicity, this series will highlight the position listed in a party’s platform or, if they are a non-aligned independent candidate, the positions listed on their website. Unlike with the two major parties, the nominees of the minor parties often have no direct control over their party’s platform. For this reason, the positions held by the particular presidential candidates may differ radically from the positions held by the party.

4. Minor parties tend to focus more on broad principles than specific policy prescriptions. Wherever possible, I’ll try to highlight the direct policy positions. Otherwise I’ll attempt to summarize their underlying philosophy on a public policy area.

Here are the positions of the Green Party as outlined in their 2016 Platform:

General Principles

• The Green Platform presents “an eco-social analysis and vision for our country.”

• All Green candidates pledge not to accept corporate money for their campaigns.

• The Green Party seeks to “build an alternative economic system based on ecology and decentralization of power, an alternative that rejects both the capitalist system that maintains private ownership over almost all production as well as the state-socialist system that assumes control over industries without democratic, local decision making.”

• “Instead we will build an economy based on large-scale green public works, municipalization, and workplace and community democracy. Some call this decentralized system “ecological socialism,” “communalism,” or the “cooperative commonwealth,” but whatever the terminology, we believe it will help end labor exploitation, environmental exploitation, and racial, gender, and wealth inequality and bring about economic and social justice due to the positive effects of democratic decision making.”

• The “Ten Key Values” of the Green party are: Grassroots democracy; Social justice and equal opportunity; Ecological wisdom; Non-violence; Decentralization; Community based economics; Feminism and gender equity; Respect for diversity; Personal and global responsibility; and Future focus and sustainability.

 

Business

• Supports an amendment to the Constitution of the United States that states:

  1. The rights established by this Constitution and the laws of the United States of America are exclusively the rights of living, breathing humans, citizens of this country or residing therein. No corporation or other type of association or organization can have the status of a “legal person” and thus cannot derive rights from such status.
  2. These organizations have no permanent, constitutionally protected rights, though they may have such powers or immunities as are explicitly granted to them by legislative actions at either the federal or the state level. These powers or immunities may be modified or removed by later action of the same legislative bodies. In no case can these powers or immunities override the constitutionally protected rights of human beings.

• Supports a constitutional amendment affirming that the rights outlined in our Bill of Rights are human rights and do not apply in any way to corporations.

• Supports requirements that corporations receiving public subsidies must provide jobs that pay a living wage, observe basic workers’ rights, and agree to affirmative action policies.

• Supports federal chartering of corporations that includes comprehensive, strict and enforceable social responsibility requirements.

 

Consumer Protection

• Supports expanding class action rights against manufacturers of unsafe products and practices, and strengthening the civil justice system and supply the resources necessary to bring to justice to those corporations that injure innocent consumers.

• Opposes “tort reform” that undermines consumers’ ability to seek redress, and “medical malpractice reform” that relieves negligent doctors of responsibility for injuring or killing their patients.

• Supports prohibiting lenders and credit card companies from charging more than 12 percent annual interest, indexed for inflation, along with broad protections against unwarranted fees and other abusive terms.

• Supports a prohibition on the “widespread practice of price gouging against women and the poor.”

• Supports repeal of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 in order to restore Chapter 7 bankruptcy as a viable final safety net for consumers “caught by health crises, unaffordable mortgages, credit card debts and student loans.”

• Supports a ban on the use of mandatory arbitration clauses in consumer contracts.

• Supports the establishment of new independent government consumer advocacy agencies.

 

Civil Rights

• Supports the repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act.

• Supports strict enforcement of First Amendment rights of speech, assembly, association and petition.

• Support students’ constitutional rights to free speech.

• Supports strict Fourth Amendment protections against illegal search and seizure.

• Opposes bulk Internet data collection by our government.

• Supports passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

 

Economics

• “Economic growth, as gauged by increasing Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is a dangerous and anachronistic goal. The most viable and sustainable alternative is a steady-state economy. A steady-state economy has a stable or mildly fluctuating product of population and per capita consumption, and is generally indicated by stable or mildly fluctuating GDP.”

• Supports a universal basic income (known also as a guaranteed income or Citizen Dividend, as described in True Cost Pricing and Tax Fairness, IV. E.)

 

Education

• Supports free college tuition to all qualified students at public universities and vocational schools.
Opposes the administration of public schools by private, for-profit entities.

• Supports “non-violent conflict resolution and humane education” at all levels of education.

• Supports providing “healthy school meals that are rich in vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber, and offer plant-based vegetarian options.”

• Supports Farm-to-School programs that provide food from local family farms and educational opportunities.

• Supports a ban on the sale of “soda pop and junk food” in schools.

• Opposes military and corporate control over the “priorities and topics of university academic research.”

• Supports making student loans available to all college students, with forgiveness for graduates who choose public service occupations.

• Supports repealing the No Child Left Behind Act.

• Supports expanding arts education and physical education opportunities at school.

• Opposes efforts to “restrict the teaching of scientific information and the portrayal of religious belief as fact.”

• Supports providing adequate academic and vocational education and training to prisoners.

• Supports an end to the “militarization of our schools,” specifically by banning JROTC programs, ASVAB testing, and forbidding military access to student records.

 

Environment

• Supports making “pollution prevention” the preferred strategy for dealing with environmental justice issues.

• Supports requirements that make polluters bear the burden of proof in demonstrating the safety of their practices.

• Supports expansion of the public trust doctrine, which holds that government’s role is to protect the commons, to include the domains of public health and protection of the natural environment.

• Supports programs, policies, and legislation that “build the capacity to identify disproportionate or discriminatory siting of polluting or toxic facilities.”

• Supports procedural justice, ensuring the public’s right to know, and corrective justice, ensuring the rights of communities and local agencies to seek judicial redress.

• Supports strengthening the National Environmental Policy Act.

 

Equality

• Supports equal representation of women in Congress “instead of the current 17% in 2012.”

• Supports U.S. passage of CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.

• Supports the Paycheck Fairness Act and similar legislation to close the male-female “pay gap.”

 

Families and Children

• Supports and seeks to expand Head Start and Pre- and neo-natal programs.

• Supports universal, federally funded childcare program for pre-school and young schoolchildren

• Supports a prohibition on commercial advertising targeted to children less than 12 years old, as well as advertising in public places such as schools, parks, and government buildings.

• Supports an increase in funding for after-school and daycare programs.

• Supports increases in family assistance such as the earned income tax credit and increased to offset payroll taxes.

• Supports a “living family wage.”

• Opposes privatization of social security.

• Support the formation of a Civilian Conservation Corps to “spearhead efforts to work on the tasks of environmental education, restoration of damaged habitats, reforestation, and cleaning up polluted waterways.”

• Supports returning ownership and control of the electromagnetic spectrum to the public.

• Supports ending the privatization of broadcast frequencies and reserving them for the creation of new not-for-profit community broadcasters

• Supports “tough new” anti-trust laws for the media.

• Supports ending commercial broadcasters’ free licensed use of the public airwaves and requiring market-priced leasing of any commercial use of the electromagnetic spectrum.

• Supports taxing electronic advertising to fund “democratic media outlets.”

• Supports reinstating and strengthening the Fairness Doctrine.

• Supports Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) access television.

• Supports expanding the licensing of new non-commercial low power FM radio stations.

• Supports providing broadband Internet access for all residents of this country.

• Supports net neutrality.

• Supports repealing the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

• Opposes all censorship in the arts, media, press, and on the Internet.

• Supports reducing mailing costs for non-profit and independent magazines and journals, and eliminating them for those that receive less than 20 percent of their revenues from advertising.

• Supports promoting policies that encourage the people of the United States to watch less television.

• Supports the creation of a publicly-controlled “Audience Network” empowered to take airtime from commercial television and radio stations, to “broadcast a variety of non-commercial cultural, political, entertainment, scientific or other high-quality programs.”

 

Government spending

• Supports allowing any member of Congress to require a floor vote on any congressional earmark.

 

Health Care

• Supports a universal, comprehensive, national single-payer health plan.

 

Human Trafficking

• Supports the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking In Persons, Especially Women and Children.

 

International Aid

• Supports replacing the WTO, IMF, and World Bank with “new institutions that are democratic, transparent, and accountable to the citizens of all nations.”

• Supports re-structuring the rules of performance of the IMF/WB to end the debts of recipient nations, prohibit the use of IMF/WB loans to impose structural adjustment programs that emphasize debt service and export-led development “at the expense of social needs,” and to install strict standards in the IMF/WB that “control the use of grants or loans to prevent fraud, misuse, and subversion of funds by recipient governments.”

• Supports re-writing the rules for investment of corporate capital in projects operated under the IMF/WB to “guarantee the rights of the citizens of the nations receiving the investment and their right to public ownership and control of their own resources.”

• Supports “under the agency of the United Nations” a requirement that “our government renew and initiate government funding and support for family planning, contraception, and abortion in all countries that request it.”

 

Labor

• Supports the “irreducible right of working people, without hindrance, to form a union and to bargain collectively with their employer.”

• Opposes forced overtime.

• Supports flexible working schedules.

• Supports a federal minimum wage of at least $15 per hour, indexed to inflation.

• Supports a requirement that “all workers must have health care coverage, at least half paid by employer, until the passage of universal health care.”

• Supports a requirement that all workers (including farm workers) must have unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and access to a jobs search program when they are unemployed.

• Supports a requirement that all workers have minimum pensions, fully vested and portable, that do not reduce social security benefits.

• Supports labor’s first right to buy out a company that is for sale or is going bankrupt, or being outsourced to another state or another country.

• Supports labor’s right to stock ownership and oversight of the investment of its own funds in the company where it works.

• Supports day-care service offered at every workplace when feasible, or reasonably near-by when not feasible at the workplace.

• Supports a requirement that would hinders management’s ability to “close its workplace and move to a lower-pay locale” to the degree that “it protects the local workforce and their job security.”

• Supports the establishment of a reduced-hour work week and at least one month of vacation per year for all workers.

 

Regulation

• Supports strengthening product safety standards and enforcement for a variety of products, including “food, motor vehicles, pharmaceuticals and airplanes.”

• Supports restoring state health, safety, and consumer protection laws by “striking federal preemptions that weaken state law.”

• Supports preserving and expanding product labeling requirements to ensure that consumers are informed about “the origin, ingredients and ecological life cycle of all products, including animal testing and the product’s organic, recycled and genetically-engineered content. Include information about the nutritional value and the vegetarian or vegan status of food products.”

• Opposes allowing corporations to conceal information about public health, labor conditions or environmental safety via protective orders or confidential settlements.

 

Religious Issues

• Supports the U.S. constitutional guarantees for freedom of religion, separation of church and state.

• Opposes any religious test for public office.

• Supports ending discriminatory federal, state, and local laws against particular religious beliefs, and non-belief.

• Supports prosecution of hate crimes based on religious affiliation or practice.

• Supports the elimination of displays of religious symbols, monuments, or statements on government buildings, property, websites, money, or documents.

• Supports removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

• Supports ending faith-based initiatives and charitable choice programs, whereby “public funds are used to support religious organizations that do not adhere to specified guidelines and standards, including anti-discrimination laws.”

• Supports ending governmental use of the “doctrines of specific religions to define the nature of family, marriage, and the type and character of personal relationships between consenting adults.”

• Supports ending governmental use of the doctrines of specific religions to define the nature of family, marriage, and the type and character of personal relationships between consenting adults.

• Supports ending the use of religion as “a justification to deny children necessary medical care or subject them to physical and emotional abuse.”

• Supports ending the “use of religion by government to define the role and rights of women in our society.”

• Supports revocation of the Congressional charter of the Boy Scouts of America because of the organization’s beliefs.

 

School Choice

• Supports ending school vouchers “whereby public money pays for students in religious schools.”

Taxation

• Supports taking “aggressive steps to restore a fair distribution of income.”

• Supports exempting people earning less than $25,000 per year and families earning less than $50,000 per year (adjusted for inflation) from the federal and state income taxes.

• Supports exempting food, clothing, prescription medications, other necessities, and second-hand goods from sales taxes.

• Supports ending “corporate welfare,” such as “the bailouts for Wall Street, the big banks and the automobile industry; subsidies for agribusiness, Export-Import Bank loan guarantees; tax abatements for big box stores; the tax loophole for ‘carried interest’ from private equity and hedge fund managers; tax deductibility for advertising and business entertainment; offshore tax avoidance schemes; giveaways for new sports stadiums and casinos.”

• Supports imposing a financial transaction tax on trades of stocks, bonds, currency, derivatives, and other financial instruments.

• Supports blocking financial transactions with tax havens, to stop tax evasion.

• Supports decreasing the $1 million home value cap on the mortgage interest tax deduction for federal income taxes.

• Supports restoring the estate tax.

• Supports applying the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (Social Security and Medicare) taxes to investment income and to all levels of income, not merely the first $106,800 earned.

• Supports a wealth tax of 0.5% per year on an individual’s assets over $5 million.

• Supports a system of carbon taxes on all fossil fuels.

• Supports a Green Tax Shift that “shifts from taxing people and work (via income and payroll taxes) to taxing natural resource extraction, use, waste and pollution.”

• Supports a system of Community Ground Rent/Land Value Taxation that distinguishes between the “socially and privately created wealth of land.”

• Supports a system of True Cost Pricing (TCP) for goods and services: “TCP is an accounting and pricing system that includes all costs in the price of a product. TCP charges extractive and productive industries for the immediate or prolonged damage (pollution of air and water) and diminishment of natural resources caused by their acts.”

• Supports a carbon fee on goods imported from nations with lower carbon taxes than in the U.S.

• Supports simplifying the tax code.

• Supports eliminating tax incentives to send jobs overseas.

• Supports raising taxes on tobacco, alcohol, soda pop and other junk food

• Supports reduce our national debt by “increasing taxes on large corporations, the super-rich and pollution; and decreasing expenditures in some areas, especially for war, armaments and corporate welfare.”

 

Trade

• Supports re-formulating all international trade relations and commerce as currently upheld by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) to “protect the labor, human rights, economy, environment and domestic industry of partner and recipient nations so that the growth of local industry and agriculture has the advantage over foreign corporate domination.”

• Supports mandates that “protect labor’s right” to organize, create unions, and negotiate with management in all countries receiving U.S. investment.

• Supports requiring U.S. corporations that operate in other countries to adhere to the core labor standards established by the International Labor Organization (ILO) Declaration of the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

• Supports legislating and enabling oversight by an independent agency or a labor union to “verify that foreign workers’ rights are protected.”

• Supports allowing states to create stricter standards for health, safety, and for the environment than those of our national government, and to “protect themselves against substandard, imported goods.”

• Supports the right of states and municipalities to refuse to invest in foreign businesses that do not abide by their standards for imported goods, fair trade, and environmental protection.

• Supports a prohibition that would prevent U.S. corporations from “avoiding or evading” payment of their taxes by banking abroad or locating their charters offshore.

• Supports restriction on the “unfettered flow of capital and currency trade,” and supports levying the Tobin tax of .05 percent on cross border currency transactions.

• Supports the funding and expansion of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in their missions to educate and train people of less developed nations in initiating local business and economic development, and in providing health care and family planning.

• Opposes the U.S. government’s economic blockade of Cuba.

 

Welfare

• Supports restoration of a federally funded entitlement program to support children, families, the unemployed, elderly and disabled, with no time limit on benefits. “This program should be funded through the existing welfare budget, reductions in military spending and corporate subsidies, and a fair, progressive income tax.”

• Supports a graduated supplemental income, or negative income tax.

• Supports public funding for the development of living-wage jobs in community and environmental service.

• Opposes workfare.

 

Youth Rights

• The Green Party states that young people should have the following rights:

  1. Youth are not the property of their parents or guardians, but are under their care and guidance.
  2. Youth have the right to survive by being provided adequate food, shelter and comprehensive health care, including prenatal care for mothers.
  3. Youth have the right to be protected from abuse, harmful drugs, violence, environmental hazards, neglect, and exploitation.
  4. Youth have the right to develop in a safe and nurturing early environment provided by affordable childcare and pre-school preparation.
  5. Youth have the right to an education that is stimulating, relevant, engaging, and that fosters their natural desire to learn.
  6. Young people’s creative potential should be encouraged to the greatest extent possible.
  7. Young people should have input into the direction and pace of their own education, including input into the operation of their educational institutions.
  8. Young people should be provided with education regarding their own and others’ sexuality at the earliest appropriate time.
  9. Young people should be provided the opportunity to express themselves in their own media, including television, radio, films and the Internet. Young people should also be given skills in analyzing commercial media.
  10. Young people should be kept free from coercive advertising at their educational institutions.

 

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Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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