Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Progressive Policy Ideas (UK)

HOUSING

  1. Satisfying the middle and upper classes with artificially high property prices is socially irresponsible. A huge amount of affordable housing should be built, flooding the market with new homes, and forcing the price of property down across the country. This would allow young people to afford housing at a reasonable age rather than being kept in perpetual economic slavery by lenders. The new houses should only be sold to people who intend to live in them. Existing mortgages should be adjusted to match falling prices.
  2. Property owners who leave a home unused and empty should be taxed appropriately based on the cost to society of withholding living space. 

ENERGY

  1. The energy companies should be nationalised. No industry should have guaranteed demand and be immune to failure. Private energy companies are a gravy train for wealthy shareholders who ensure their slice of the pie with artificially high prices. Furthermore, investment in renewable energies is needed. We cannot expect private companies to put social responsibility above profit.
  2. Renewable energy targets should be more than doubled. Energy self-sufficiency should be the aim of any government. Currently, we are too dependent on oil and gas.
  3. The most imminent threat to our safety is global warming from man-made CO2. We should build one last generation of nuclear power plants. During the lifetime of these plants, we should aim to increase renewable sources of energy to meet all our energy requirements. This should be the best way to reduce CO2 emissions.

DEMOCRACY

  1. Donations to political parties should be scrapped and replaced with a national campaign fund to be allocated proportionally based on the number of votes received in the previous election. People and institutions can donate to the campaign fund if they wish to contribute. Otherwise, the fund is raised via taxation.
  2. Politicians should be prevented from having second jobs or being on the boards of corporations. A number of laws should be introduced to ensure they’re as impartial as possible.
  3. Scrap the “first past the post” voting system (FPTP). Offer people a number of alternatives including proportional representation and STV. Let a referendum determine the outcome.
  4. More referendums should be asked (at least 1 per year), with the ultimate aim being a transition to direct democracy within 20 years. Internet voting systems should be developed to increase participation and reduce costs. 
  5. Questions for referendums should come from ballot initiatives as well as policy makers.*
  6. There should be a referendum on whether the monarchy is needed.
  7. Politicians who knowingly lie in parliament or in a public speech should lose their job or be prosecuted.
  8. Constituents should have the right to fire their MP via a majority vote if 10% of constituents sign a petition asking for the vote to take place.
  9. 16 year olds should have the right to vote.
  10. Hereditary Peers and Church Bishops should be removed from the House of Lords.
  11. Abolish the MP expenses system and give MPs a modest pay rise to compensate.*
  12. Reduce the deposit needed to run for parliament.*

DEFENCE AND FOREIGN POLICY

  1. The Ministry of Defence should be for "defence"; not for invading, bombing, or maintaining a military presence in other countries. Military spending should be cut significantly as a result.
  2. British-made weapons should only be sold to nations that intend to use them for defensive purposes. Treaties with such nations should be sought to ensure their compliance. The sale of weapons to regimes that may use them offensively, or to regimes with questionable human rights records, should be banned. This ban would include the USA, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
  3. Nuclear weapons systems such as Trident should be scrapped. Today's threats do not require extinction-capable weapons.
  4. Recognise the state of Palestine and advocate their right to full UN membership.*

HEALTH

  1. The NHS should be protected from any and all private sector intrusions.
  2. Junk food should be taxed and the money used to subsidise cheap fruit and vegetables. The poor should be able to afford to live healthily.
  3. Drug addiction should be treated as an illness, not a crime. All currently illegal drugs should be made available to addicts for free on the NHS. This would take control of the market away from criminals and allow the NHS to offer help and rehabilitation to addicts while monitoring their usage. The crime associated with the drug-dealing business would disappear without a market for dealers to exploit, as would the petty crime committed by users to fund their habits.
  4. There should be a referendum on completely legalising cannabis (to the same level as alcohol).*
  5. Increase pay to doctors, nurses, and teachers (see next section) by at least 10%. They are the lifeblood of our society. These professions must attract the best and brightest.

EDUCATION

  1. Better regulation of private schools. Education should be protected from private sector influences. It’s paramount that children aren’t indoctrinated or ushered along particular career paths by people with vested interests.
  2. Repeal the charitable tax status of private schools.*
  3. No faith schools. They represent and foster division. In their place, all children should have the opportunity to take religious education classes in state schools that cater for their particular religious needs.
  4. The curriculum should be altered in a number of subtle ways. Key skills should be taught, such as learning how to fill in forms, pay taxes, write cheques, budget and save money, use computers and search engines, drive vehicles, read food labels, eat healthily, exercise regularly, use contraception, and avoid gambling and other addictions. Mental health and psychology classes should be compulsory and taught earlier to help children understand their minds, the minds of others, and how to cope with anxiety, depression, and other mental problems. There would be an emphasis on the causes of anger, aggression, and conflict, and how to avoid or deal with them. The ultimate goal would be to produce a more cohesive, peaceful society with less crime and war.
  5. End institutional `classism’ in some prestigious schools and universities.
  6. Implement or work towards affording free tuition fees for university students.

MEDIA

  1. Fully implement the Leveson report into press regulation. 
  2. Set up a regulatory body to fact-check claims made by the mainstream media. Each media outlet should receive scores for accuracy and bias, and the public should be presented with a league table based on these scores. The public would be less inclined to read/view low scorers, which would force the industry to have higher standards of journalism.
  3. Phase out the TV license fee and replace it with a voluntary subscription fee for public service broadcasters. Release anyone imprisoned for non-payment of the TV license.*
  4. BBC Director Generals should be elected.*
  5. Reduce ties between government and the media and ensure Communications Directors have no press allegiances.

ECONOMY

  1. The proposed TTIP legislation should be thrown out. We don’t want corporations taking elected governments to court and having laws made to protect them from direct action and nationalisation.
  2. All corporations should have to pay the correct amount of tax. There should be no “deals” between the HMRC and corporations that allow them to pay less than the proper amount of tax. Corporations that don’t comply should be prevented from operating in the UK.
  3. Banks, such as HSBC, should run the risk of being nationalised or losing their license to operate in the UK if they run a dirty operation.
  4. There should be a more progressive tax system. Currently, richer people earn and own more relative to the tax they pay than poorer people. A proportional system should be implemented as the minimum standard.
  5. Placing earnings in tax havens should be banned. Punishment should be deportation and/or a ban on doing business in the UK. Other loopholes should be closed as quickly as possible.
  6. We should work with the EU and other nations to encourage universal tax rates, such that tax competition, in which countries compete to have the lowest rate of tax, is avoided.
  7. Most zero-hours contracts should be phased out. They are primarily used to exploit workers.
  8. Councils should be forced to allocate their funds more responsibly; with a focus on essential services such as waste collection, street cleaning, and grass-cutting. Wasteful pilot schemes by councillors who’re only seeking to advance their political careers should be discouraged.
  9. Invest heavily in driverless cars and automated labour. Set a target that all menial work should be performed by machines in 20 years, and that the fruits of their labour should be used to subsidise proportional increases in welfare and education.
  10. Power and wealth should be decentralised away from London. In particular, the north of England should see heavy investment.
  11. Abolish the bedroom tax and give councils necessary powers to refuse to apply the bedroom tax if successive governments reintroduce it.*
  12. Conduct a parliamentary inquiry into Work Capability Assessments.*
  13. Establish a job seeker's bill of rights to prevent exploitation of unemployed people.*
  14. Disallow any further bank bailouts and put controls in place to make sure consumers are protected if their bank fails.*

TRANSPORT

  1. Consider the economic and philosophical case for nationalisation of rail and bus services. Focus the debate on the social responsibilities of the industry, competition levels, and the public right to a healthy transport network.

IMMIGRATION & EU

  1. Immigration and our position in the EU are low priority concerns that have been unnecessarily exaggerated to provide a scapegoat for irresponsible bankers and politicians after the last financial crash. However, there should be a referendum on EU membership as the terms of this membership have changed substantially since joining.
* denotes additions suggested by Zachary Adam Barker. All other policies by Tom Swan.   

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Hypocrisy - The Conservatives Cut Legal Aid


During the Conservatives first term in government (2010 - 2015), they made around £600 million of cuts to Legal Aid. Today, the new Conservative Justice Minister, Michael Gove, said the legal system is "failing the poorest" and "the finest legal provision is accessible only to the wealthy".

How Michael Gove can say this when he was a Conservative cabinet minister between 2010 and 2015 is almost beyond belief. The audacious and hypocritical speech was an insult to all who'd campaigned against the cuts to Legal Aid that have left the poorest in society unable to afford justice.

Perhaps Gove's motivation for making this speech on June 23rd 2015 was the new play `The Invisible' which is due to open in 10 days time on July 3rd. The play is about people fighting for justice and having to represent themselves in court because they're not entitled to Legal Aid. It's based on the real life impact of Conservative cuts. Coincidence? I doubt it.

The Conservatives have shown utter contempt for the poorest in society, and this latest speech by Michael Gove is his way of saying `we can get away with it'. Whether the mainstream media will pick up on this is unclear, but The Political Dissenter will do all it can to point out the hypocrisy and corruption of the current UK government.

-UPDATE- (18/10/2015) Now it's being reported that 1 in 4 victims of domestic abuse are having to defend themselves in family court. Some are being cross-examined by their own abusers.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Is Hillary Clinton Corrupt? Should She Be President?

Hillary Clinton. Public Domain Image via Wiki Commons.
Let me preface this by saying I'm a liberal democrat. However, if you're anything like me, you'll put partisan politics aside and consider the scale of corruption that Hillary Clinton has been involved in.

In 2010, Wikileaks found that Clinton had ordered US diplomats to spy on UN officials. She asked them to gather biometric data, computer passwords, and credit card details. Though her name was on the order, she claimed it was affixed by someone else.

In 2002, Hillary voted for the Iraq War and lied to us about WMDs. However, less is known about her attitude towards Iran. In 2007 she voted to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, which could easily have led to war. Indeed, her support for Israel is emphatic, and her overall foreign policy is on a par with that of the previous Bush administration.

Learn about her warmongering and the support it gets her from Wall Street in the following video:



Then there's her healthcare turnaround. After championing socialized health care in the 90's, Hillary's stance dramatically changed when she became the 2nd highest paid recipient of donations from the pharmaceutical and health insurance sector. Then, in 2009, Hillary came to the aid of a number of pharmaceutical companies who subsequently donated money to her husband's foundation.

For her 2000 Senate campaign, she swindled a large amount of money from Peter Paul. Then, in 2008, she hired convicted thief, Sandy Berger, as an adviser. Her campaign ads that year used images of Bin Laden and Hurricane Katrina to scare people into voting for her. And, in 2012, she laughed at the death of Colonel Gaddafi in an interview.



In 2013 there was the Benghazi scandal. She was accused of using propaganda to mislead the public about an assault on the US embassy. She denied knowing about multiple warnings of the impending attack, and used this as an excuse for withholding those warnings from the media in the aftermath. However, Clinton's aid had removed all mentions of terrorism, warnings, and al-Qaeda from reports, instead promoting the idea that it was a protest about a controversial book. Hillary denied giving the order, or even knowing about it.

Then, of course, there's the personal email account that Hillary used to keep her Secretary of State business secret from the public. This was a breach of rules, and the latest in a long line of scandals to hit the press.

Unfortunately, most people will remain ignorant of these scandals, or will consider them unimportant. Indeed, the majority of Hillary's supporters base their entire opinion of her on the fact that she's a woman who was cheated on.

To learn more about Hillary's history of corruption, and to see sources for the information included in this post, please visit here.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Iran Has Every Reason To Hate America

Oil well. Pic by Belizian via Wiki Commons.
Despite preconceptions, Iran is a peaceful country that hasn't started a war in almost two centuries. However, in 1953, Great Britain sought American help when the Iranian Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, threatened to nationalize the country's oil industry. Britain had been mopping up Iran's natural resources for decades and desperately wanted nationalization to be avoided. So, America sent the CIA to organize a coup that would topple Mohammed Mossadegh from power. Named Operation Ajax, the coup succeeded in removing the democratically elected leader of the Iranian people.

For denying the Iranians the right to choose their own leader, America may never be forgiven. However, what was truly unforgivable was the 26 years that followed. America and Britain installed Shah Pavlavi as their new puppet dictator in Iran. The Shah ruthlessly oppressed the population, using his SAVAK secret police to destroy any form of political opposition. Thousands of Iranians died or were tortured as a direct consequence of American actions in their country. Eventually, the Iranian revolution deposed the Shah in 1979 and installed the current theocratic regime (which America doesn't like, of course).

After one year of freedom, America found another way to subject the Iranian people to unspeakable horror. Whether he was initially encouraged by America or not, Saddam Hussein sensed an opportunity to invade Iran in 1980, triggering an eight year war. Despite starting the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam received American support and weapons. His use of chemical weapons (WMDs) against the Iranians was even condoned by America at the UN. The United States repeatedly vetoed attempts by the UN to condemn Saddam's WMD use against the Iranians. After eight years, and many dead, the two nations agreed peace.

With even a basic reading of history, it's not difficult to understand why many Iranians have a problem with America. Unfortunately, the American government relies on our ignorance of history when pushing for war with Iran, and our servile media reinforces this position by pretending animosity between the two countries started yesterday.

Of course, not all Iranians hate America, but we should be very careful when condemning those that do, as their hatred is quite justified. Though Obama has pushed for closer ties with Iran, what really should happen is an apology. Unfortunately, the noxious level of patriotism and national pride in America would make this political suicide for any politician.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

5 Reasons Why Prostitution Should Always Be Legal

Public Domain Picture.
Prostitution is a contentious subject that tends to get people's emotions in a bit of a muddle. Many are morally against it, while others simply find it revolting. However, there are several practical reasons for why it should always be legal.

1. When prostitution is legal, it can be properly regulated. This means that prostitutes can work in licensed brothels with panic buttons, disease testing, clean living conditions, security, and a community of fellow prostitutes to help and protect them. It makes them less likely to be economically and sexually exploited by violent pimps. It also means the majority of their clients will be sad, lonely men who would never dream of being violent to a woman.

2. However, when prostitution is illegal, all of this goes away. The sad, lonely clients are too afraid to break the law, so many of the clients are abusive. The protection of the brothel is gone, meaning the women have to surreptitiously occupy alley-ways, or live alone so no-one can report them to the police. Most will have pimps who are involved in other criminal enterprises, and any brothels that remain will typically be run by the criminal underground. The end result is prostitutes who're at greater risk of disease, violence, drug addiction, and sexual and economic exploitation.

3. Although a small fraction of prostitutes are trafficked, there are already laws against this. There is no need to outlaw prostitution in order to stop trafficking because traffickers (by definition) will ignore whichever new laws are used to threaten their business. By legalizing and regulating prostitution, there is less of a business opportunity for traffickers (less demand to fill), and trafficking is likely to decrease as a result.

4. Many prostitutes are vulnerable products of their upbringing. They grew up in care homes, or they have drug habits to feed. So should society be exposing them to greater danger by making their work illegal? Or should we be protecting them and giving them help to overcome their problems? By bringing them into licensed brothels, they can be given the support they need from peers, social workers, and health professionals. For those who are against prostitution, this may actually be the best way to get prostitutes to change their ways.

5. Prostitution is a moral issue for some people. However, is it moral for a woman to pretend to like a man to get a piece of jewelry, a free meal, or a free holiday? In this instance, the man is being duped into parting with his money. With prostitution, there is no facade. The man knows the woman is being affectionate because she is being paid to. It's an honest transaction between two people, and a far cry from the dishonest tactics used in the dating game. From a libertarian perspective, prostitution is between two consenting adults who are fully aware of what they're doing and why. There should be no law to stop them from doing it.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

5 Reasons Why Drugs Should be Legalized

Picture: Psychonaut via Wiki Commons
Most people in America and Europe are taught to believe that illegal drugs are inherently bad. However, there's little difference between legal and illegal drugs in terms of what they can do to your body. In fact, a majority of health and police professionals agree that legalizing drugs has the potential to reduce crime, expenditure, and the number of people dying from substance abuse. The remainder of this post presents 5 reasons why they hold his view.

1. The war on drugs has been a catastrophic and expensive failure, costing governments around the world 100 billion dollars every year. It's a ridiculous waste of public money. The botched attempt at alcohol prohibition in the 1920's should have shown lawmakers that making a narcotic illegal doesn't prevent people from taking it. Policing has also been extremely ineffective. Even in Afghanistan, where there was a huge US military presence, the opium trade reached record levels. A new strategy to combat drug use is required.

2. As a society, we are free to enact all manner of harm on our bodies and minds. We can eat until we die from heart failure, and smoke until we get lung cancer. People who use drugs are harming their bodies, but that is their right in a free country. Your body is your property. Drug dealers are the real criminals because their objective is to increase the number of people who are abusing their bodies with drugs. So lets get a grip and stop locking up drug users.

3. The most effective way to close down a business is to undercut them and take their customers. The drug-dealing business is no different. Western governments should understand that the only way to end drug use is to control the market. If a government nationalized the drug trade; buying in bulk and selling to users for zero profit, all of the drug dealers in that country would be instantly forced out of business. The drive for new addicts would end.

4. If drugs were legalized, something could be done about the problem. Users would have better access to health and rehabilitation services, and their habits could be moderated better by health professionals. The trendy image associated with drug use could be quashed and re-branded. It would be considered a health problem rather than a fashion choice, making it less attractive to the young and vulnerable.

After a short time, sales could be restricted to those who have a preexisting addiction, meaning no new addicts would be created by the system. The dealers wouldn't be able to fill the gap. Any new addicts they manage to create would be immediately lost to the non-profit prices offered by the government. Eventually, the drugs problem would diminish and die out.

5. If drugs were sold legally at zero profit, most of the crime associated with the problem would go away. There would be fewer muggings and burglaries because users wouldn't have to find money to fund their habit. The crime associated with the drug-dealing enterprise would also vanish, though we could probably expect criminals to move into other vices such as gambling and prostitution.

Legalization is a solution that makes sense to professionals working in the field. Lets start listening to them!