Ownside.org Platform

1. End the Drug War

The so-called “Drug War” was never a winnable endeavor. After multiple decades we have more jails, more crime & more drugs of higher quality that also cost less. It has destroyed millions of families & essentially every community that has fought it; from Newark & New York City to East St. Louis & South Central Los Angeles. From the poppy fields of Afghanistan to the cocaine refineries of Columbia: from the guns & money that flow into Mexico killing tens of thousands of Mexicans to the drugs themselves that have provided the “Haves” with a scapegoat & a proxy enemy for their ongoing war against the “Have-nots”. It has enriched the evil & sadistic while preying on the vulnerable & the needy. It has killed & decimated everywhere that it has gone.

There can be no more equivocation and any politician who can’t admit this colossal failure doesn’t deserve a single vote.

There needs to be legalization, regulation and taxing of marijuana. Drug courts and long-term abuse treatment programs should be set up for hard drug addicts. The pardoning & expunging of all drug offenses should also be instituted to allow citizens tobecome whole again. In setting up the new legal market, license prioritization should be local – not corporate & external. Those who served drug offense jail time shall not be discriminated against and should in fact be given some local prioritization.

This new market could open up opportunities for many of those who have in the past been the victims of our racists & oppressive drug laws. We must consciously guard against marijuana legalization becoming a new chapter in our exploitation of the “have-nots”. If done correctly, this could act as a catalyst for a society changing new paradigm.

2. Election Reform

Almost all else follows from here; if the process for electing officials is corrupt, we will get corrupt politicians. To that end, public funding of elections will be provided to four general “parties”. Mandated open slots will go to what can generically be describes as a Right, Center-Right, Center-Left, & Left candidates {Conservative, Moderate, Liberal & Left}. All four candidates will be included in general election public debates and be provided with equal advertising time.

All campaign funding, be it candidate, party or issue orientated will be regulated. While a donor may request public anonymity, the records of donors will be kept by an official body with the ability & obligation to make records available for scrutiny, auditing & official integrity checks. So called “Dark Money” will be illegal and prosecuted with jail time. 

None Of The Above” and a write-in slot will be mandatory ballot options in the event that no officially registered candidate is suitable to the voter.

All-In” registration will be the law: at voting age, every eligible voter will be automatically registered. This should cut down on voter suppression efforts & reduce obstacles to participation.

Election days will be federal holidays & early voting will be a mandatory option.

Ending the electoral college should become a recognized nationwide endeavor and ranked choice voting should be used in larger campaigns.

We must recognize the corrosive role that our corrupt campaign process plays in maintaining an indifferent status quo. While the private lives of elected and confirmed officials should be respected; a brighter spotlight needs to be shined upon the methods used to acquire offices & titles, as well as the actions taken while in office or while privileged with a title. If the modes of control and hurdles to office are minimized, we will get a more diverse and more representative set of officials. As the access to opportunity expands, the quality of those elected will be encouraged & the more meritorious citizens will be more enabled to seek & attain elected office.

3. No More Terror War

For nearly two decades the United States has been ‘officially’ engaged in the “War on Terror” – & for that same time period – while we’ve seen peaks & valleys in the amount of terrorism – that ambient level of “terrorism” has remained higher than it was on September 10th, 2001. Much like the failed drug war hasn’t ended drug use, our efforts to end “terrorism” has seemed to create more of it. Its almost as though trying to bomb our way out of this struggle actually creates more “terrorists”. While terrorism is a vastly complex issue, some basics should be conceded & used to guide future policies.

America must look at who it supports and therefore, what we both directly & indirectly condone. We must insist that Israel follow international law & abide by United Nations resolutions on the issue of Palestine. A two-state solution that respects each state’s territorial integrity is an essential and necessary first step to a long-term solution to the decades old dispute. UN Resolution 242 – which recognizes the 1967 borders – should be the starting point of territorial recognition. This territorial integrity must be respected and the effective Bantustan conditions of the Palestinian people must be ended. Peace in the Middle East begins in Palestine.

We must also admit that our relationship with Saudi Arabia provides the fuel to much of the problem. From the conservatism of the Saudi monarchy & the repression of their own people to their funding of radical clerics & madrases; we fund, arm and enable the main facilitator of terrorism in the world. The ethical hypocrisy of “American Democracry” while simultaneously propping up the Saudi Monarchy is not a point lost on the region’s populace. Where we see an “ally”, fellow regional autocrats see a blueprint & those that suffer under their dictator’s boot see only the blackness of that foot stamping out their hope.

We must also begin a serious legal process of holding accountable those whose lies got us into this ceaseless war. We should also look to publicize who has abused this issue for the furtherance of the government’s surveillance state. Those who violated laws & norms in short-cutting verification processes in our drone programs should also be held accountable. 

We have an ethical obligation to those elsewhere who have been harmed by our actions to pursue and punish our bad actors. We have a patriotic duty to our fellow Americans who have been harmed and had their trust abused by our unscrupulous actors, to hold the profiteers accountable and to ensure future citizens can have confidence in those giving them orders.

4. Universal Health Care

The American health care system is the Industrialized world’s both best & worst – depending on your bank account. We are fortunate to have some of the best doctors, researchers & practitioners in the world; yet we also lead the industrialized world in child mortality rates, preventable diseases & deaths, costs-per-capita, uncovered individuals and are the only modern state with declining life expectancy rates.

While many models exist, a German-style system that has both public & private providers, rewards positive-outcomes-based incentives, that provides individuals with free movement between providers & streamlines payments is the general framework advocated here.

We must cap profit margins, mandate that corporate actors spend more on research than advertising, provide faster methods for new treatments to become available while also providing better oversight to ensure patient safety & well-being. Co-payments should be pro-rated based upon income and we must expand our concept of coverage to include dental & mental health care.

Too many people have had their lives harmed by the greed of medical industry actors, the elected officials they pay to write beneficial legislation, the biased nature of research funding and our societal adherence to obsolete ideological buzz phrases intended to obscure the facts of outcomes-based health care. This issue must be addressed in a realistic manner or else it will be a large factor in our economic, political & ethical collapse.

5. Climate Change Reality

There are many ways that humans can destroy ourselves, one of the most preventable is the environmental destruction caused by our use of fossil fuels.

While the science can get very complicated, it can also be made very simple & basic. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) thickens the atmosphere & prevents heat from the sun from escaping back out the atmosphere: this heats up our planet. As we expel more CO2 from our fossil fuel usage, that amount of CO2 increases as does the average temperature of the planet. If you had lung cancer, you wouldn’t get your doctor’s treatment advice and then go to tobacco companies & listen to tobacco pundits; so why we do that with climate science is anyone’s guess.

The effects of our actions are already being felt. The scientific evidence grows every year and the environmental evidence is clear from dying reefs, raising temperatures & sea levels, specie extinction increases and measurable historical record comparisons. It is also anecdotally evident in the strength of storms, the extremes of temperature variations, the lengthening of & greater severity of fire seasons, the increasingly rapidly melting ice caps and thawing tundras.

The long term outcomes of coastal cities being swallowed by the oceans, the ravaging of agriculture regions, the loss of environmental bio-diversity, the pilfering of dwindling resources and the destabilization that known & unknown consequences pose – are possibly – the most likely cause of society’s end. Solving this challenge would also catapult our world into a new paradigm that would end much of the violence over resources that our world suffers from today.

6. Modernize the Workforce

One of the biggest challenges that America will face going forward is the continual transition to an ever more automated and technology driven workforce. There may not be many more movers of popular uprisings and societal revolutions than the day-to-day nature of worker struggles and labor upheaval.

Throughout history many factors have played the role of scapegoat as the “Haves” continually work to direct the anger of the “Have-nots” towards each other instead of recognizing their common enemy.

Today we’re told that wars of trade will defeat the evil countries that thieve our manufacturing and that poor immigrants represent dangerous invaders who drive down our wages; but these are neither the cause nor the main drivers of decreased wage-to-living-cost ratios.

The truth is that Technology is the largest factor in the devaluation of labor. The number of “widgets-made-to-labor-per-hour” ratio has grown exponentially since the computer revolution of the Post-WWII era and we have failed to address what that has done to the value of the worker and their production in the modern age. Along with the effects of technology, America has been – albeit slowly & unequally – also intermingling non-whites & women into the workforce. The US economy has not found an equilibrium between wages, the number of hours worked, the skill level of the job, the costs-of-living and the automation of manufacturing.

Traditional methods for coping with worker exploitation have failed to cope with these changes, in large part because there are less union laborers to organize collectively for their fair share. While its true that unions have suffered a myriad of political and propaganda losses, from a raw numbers stand-point, there are just less workers to be union members. This trend will continue and accelerate as more & more automation makes human labor ever more obsolete.

While many see technology’s effects, very few are looking at – and discussing honestly & openly – these long term realities and pondering what a society largely free of human labor will do to our world. It’s not to say that all human labor will become obsolete, but it is to say that the value of that labor will become ever more bifurcated by skill sets and geography. There is little chance that accuracy can be assured when attempting to prepare for such a future but some new theories need to be conceived & applied so that the disconnect between “Theory-and-Application” can be addressed before its too late.

We need new laws that place caps on CEO-to-Labor compensation/pay ratios, make it illegal to stash profits in offshore tax-havens, penalize corporations with fiscal penalties that actually discourage corruption and hold corporate executives criminally accountable when their explicit – and implicit – acquiescence does public harm. The 40-hour “full-time” work week should be reduced to 30 hours, benefits such as health care, guaranteed vacations & family time, and more direct say in corporate profit-sharing need to become law.

While there is no single panacea to correcting our broken Employer-Employee relationship, we must begin acknowledging that many of the traditional ideologies on this topic are outdated. We must also recognize that many of the historical methods for addressing the inherit competition and inequities in this relationship either already are, or soon will be, totally obsolete. If we do not address these participatory inequalities, the disproportionate distribution of profits & wealth, the distorted value of labor, the power of redress for workers and the increased widget-output of technology & automation; our society will find itself in some fiction-like dystopia of distraction, disorder & dependence. 7. Education Reform

To be explicitly clear; all of us are failing our students – and by extension – our children. Our children are unprepared for the real world that they will inherit.

The employed individuals inside our schools are amazing, but no matter how hard they try and no matter what innovations they develop; schools can not feed, clothe, discipline, comfort, shelter, provide mental health care, act as gun policy testing grounds, be a proxy theater for culture war battles, be used as a legal guinea pig — and oh yeah; teach students all at once.  

If we do not address this growing boulder; it will break Atlas’ shoulders and large swaths of our education system will completely collapse.

We must increase funding, build more schools than prisons and make schools community centers; not just edifices to store future criminals while an outlier few make it out. If we believe the rhetoric of “The children are our future”; we must begin treating them that way. That said, its not just “the children”. In making schools community centers; their roles in those communities should be expanded. With additional staff to reduce student-to-adult ratios during class hours; additional staff should be added so as to accommodate expanded post-class hours and programs.

During the school hours; parents & guardians should be mandated to spend at least one day per semester as assistants in schools. These days should be treated similar to jury duty: a stipend is provided and for at-need guardians, that stipend should be enough so as to not cause financial hardship. Parents need to be more active participants in the education process and few ways could be better than actually having them in the schools.

We also need to adjust how academic goals are measured and by what methods we attain them. Starting in the early elementary years, the “grading” (for lack of a better term) should be focused on positive social interactions & the learning of the “ABCs & 123s” should be the vehicle by which this lesson is delivered. While this social interaction education should not go away, it is in the later elementary years that the emphasis should become the “ABCs & 123s” themselves. Middle school should be where critical thinking is introduced while ensuring that grade-level progress is met, furthered and not lost. High school needs to be less about tests and more about critical analysis and bringing real world concepts into the classrooms. Making what students learn in the classroom relevant to the real world will increase pupil engagement and become ever more important as more advanced skill sets will be necessary to navigate the increasingly complex society.

We must also end the stranglehold of college debt & costs. Too many possible scientists, doctors, teachers, engineers, coders and others are lost to the prohibitive swelling costs of education. Those who could advance what education they do have are likewise prevented from this due to the even more prohibitive cost of advanced degrees. We tout the importance of education but then charge more than most can afford. The traditional student is no longer straight out of high school living in a dorm or greek house with their parents credit card. The traditional student now is a worker looking to advance their earning power & skill-set. For this newly traditional student, when combining tuition & materials fees with the costs-of-living that must also be accounted for, it can literally be years & years spent just trying to get there instead of being able to expend that time & energy on the studies themselves.

Education should not become stagnant but our approach to so much about it has become static. We’ve not changed the hours of operation since most students had to harvest family farms. We treat college like its something that can still be paid for by a summer job. We’ve let non-educators set the standards because our capitalist interests need statistics to efficiently systematize their automatron fabrication. We’ve privatized quality so that the “have-nots” don’t consume too much of our collective resources. We’ve turned schools into castes systems from which opportunity is defined by either privilege or luck.

8. Mandatory Civic/Civil Service

It has been said in various ways by many of history’s largest actors:

An ignorant populace will lead to ignorant governance.

This may be more apparent today than at any time in contemporary history and we are suffering from this deficiency greatly. Civic ignorance is what allows con-men to ascend to power and buffers the disingenuous in rhetoric. The lack of pro-active informed participation feeds both the apathy and cynicism that further entrenches power in the hands of those with no sense of obligation to the betterment of society.

Two years of civil service should be mandatory. The methods of service should be expanded beyond just military service and programs like AmeriCorps & PeaceCorps. The focus of the programs should emphasize the later more generally but should have various structural variants so that participants have more options than what is currently available. Programs should include (as examples); voting poll workers, in-school assistance staff, local community improvement projects, civic service outreach staff, evening tutor & mentorship programs, legislative body “paiges”, government oversight departments and community organizing projects – to name just a few possibilities. Its also important that participants have schedule flexibility so that “time” can be accumulated without having to put all else on hold in order to serve. While military service or Peace/AmeriCorps projects that require a location change will not be viable options for this accumulated time variant; not all civic programs require relocation.

In order for the complexity of a modern society to be properly managed by its citizenry; those citizens need to have some basic understandings of how government works. The more informed and pro-active they are in the government’s functioning, the more effectively government will function. Government is but a reflection of what the citizenry allows and we have allowed the lesser evil to have power for far too long. Its time for the government to fear its citizens again.

9. Prison Reform

Society’s best method of prison reform is to preempt & prevent incarceration. By instituting many of the aforementioned changes, prisons will be less “necessary”. Even Utopia though would have bad actors that will necessitate punishment. For essentially misdemeanor level crimes, a method besides jail needs to be implemented. Whether its some form of social ostracization for a defined time period or community service programs; in a society that prioritizes “freedom”, we have locked up too many for too small of an infraction and thrown away the key for too long of a time.

With the excess space from preventing incarceration, high priorities should be placed on separating violent & non-violent inmates. Violent inmates should be provided with more mental-health & trauma-centered programs.  Violent and Non-violent offenders alike, who lack vocational skill-sets or education certifications, should also be provided with more readily available training & education. Better support networks for transitioning out of incarceration should also be instituted. Too many people find themselves standing outside the jail front doors without enough positive options to help ensure they don’t end up back behind those cell doors sometime in the future.

As was previously mentioned: drug offenders will no longer be part of the prison system. There should be a prohibition on private prisons that have clear conflicts-of-interest with a society that works to end imprisonment. Voter disenfranchisement should also be eliminated except in the most extreme of cases. Prisoners should also be provided with more legal redress methods to help protect them from the dehumanizing effects of the loss of freedom. We must treat inmates as though they will one day be back in our communities – because they will be. We must also prioritize providing them with skill sets that will allow them to pursue different paths upon their rejoining of the broader society.

10. Creating a New Paradigm

The human experience varies greatly across the planet and America is a microcosm of that. We have every religion, color, sexual preference and gender identification: We have rich, poor, benevolent & malevolent, altruistic & greedy. We are neither monolithic by demographic category nor hopelessly divided by ideology & grievance. We are at our best, an amalgam of the human experience capable of being the beachhead against global totalitarianism and the adult in the room that others look to. At our worst though, we are the racist fascists who enslaved Africans for centuries, perpetuated genocide upon the Native Americans and currently export more weapons of mass destruction across the planet than any known entity to ever exist upon Earth. America is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

It will take a collective and holistic approach to craft a new paradigm that calculates the modern variables we now have at our disposal, but the opportunity to shun our present consumerism in favor of a new philosophy that doesn’t commoditize our interactions into economic transactions is within our grasp. We sit on the precipice of automating much of our drudgery and freeing an equitable amount of our precious time in this existence to enriching ourselves through inter-personal relationships & introspective personal pursuits. We have the capability to no longer treat our planet like its a real world game of Risk; nor our day-to-day lives as though a bad roll of the dice will bankrupt us like Monopoly.
The fine art of procrastination is knowing how long to procrastinate for – and we can not procrastinate anymore. If done over a longer period of time, many of these platform points would not seem like the ‘radical’ change seen as a collective here. That said, here we are and this is essentially our prioritized “To-Do List”.
We have for too long been the United States of Amnesia; divided by two parties who benefit from our fights over their labels. A population told to strive higher but who idolize fake reality celebrities and stereotypes that glamorize ignorance & materialism. We are sold outdated & obsolete molds that we’re pressured to force ourselves into; Then told that we’re less than if we don’t check off enough of that facsimile’s boxes. We are still a huddled mass yearning to breathe free; yet constantly set against each other to fight over the “Haves” table-scraps. If we recognize our commonalities and break the borders that delineate our cultural and institutional bigotries, we could truly create a future world that we all would want our children and grandchildren to inherit. 

There is nothing that must be done that can be done not all as one.

Think for yourself. Don’t pick sides: Have your Ownside.