Monday, August 10, 2015

My Proposal for a Party Platform

The Arkansas Populist Party

I. Arkansas -
Arkansas is a unique state in our country, rich in natural resources, traditional values, and a hardworking labor force. It is not state where distant party idealogies in Washington D.C. are accepted at face value, oftentimes at their own detriment. We are a state which strongly resists being quantified and categorized into left or right ideologies, and we believe that the Arkansas people have the right for their unique views to be heard both in local government and in the federal government.

As a party, we strongly support the right of self-determination for the people of Arkansas on the pressing social and economic issues of our day. We commit to the state motto of "Regnat Populus" ("The people reign"), believing that a free and democratic United States relies on free and democratic states.

We commit to working with any of the national parties who are willing to meet our demands as representatives of the Arkansas people, but we are absolutely opposed to caucusing or joining in coalitions which prevent us from holding those major parties accountable.

II. Constitutional Reform
The Arkansas Populist Party believes that the Constitution of the state of Arkansas must be amended to allow proportional representation in the House of Representatives using the open party list voting method or another similar (and transparent) voting formula.

We believe that state delegations to the United States House of Representatives should be elected proportionally by the whole state so that each representative represents the same number of people and that the share of votes earned by smaller parties are duly represented.

We support a national popular vote for the President of the United States using the Instant Runoff Voting (preferential) system.

We support term limits for Senators and Representatives in the United States Congress.

III. Taxation
We believe that the wealthiest should contribute more to the stability of our state and the support of our most vulnerable citizens. The APP supports an increase in the highest marginal income tax rates for federal income taxes.

The APP supports an altered income table for Arkansas state tax brackets, so that no income tax is collected on those who earn less than $12,600 and the tax indexes are increased for those earning higher incomes.

The APP believes that people should have more freedom to spend their money in the way that they see fit. For that reason we support a single, standard sales tax throughout the state at 5%, with no tax on food items.  We believe that tobacco products should be taxed at the same rate as other non-food items.  

The APP believes that the federal government should not use federal funding to force states to accept national policies which fall under state authority. We believe that the Arkansas drinking age should be lowered to 18. In order to replace federal funds lost as a result, Arkansas would increase the alcohol tax.  In the federal government, AUP representatives and Senators will support a general repeal of federal restrictions on local self-determination with regards to alcohol and tobacco consumption.

The APP supports lowering corporate taxes and the tax burden on small businesses.

The APP is opposed to taxing online sales and purchases.

IV. Life Issues
Fundamental to all other freedoms is the right to life. Without this right, secured even for those who are unable to defend or speak for themselves, all other rights become illusory, as it is certain that a person who is not allowed to live will also not have health care, freedom of speech, freedom to pursue a better life, or otherwise enjoy the benefits of a just society.

Populists strongly support the rights of states to regulate and restrict the abortion industry, a right that is currently denied to them by the federal government.

We support the right to life of the unborn as well as the rights of mothers to longer, paid maternity leaves, free prenatal healthcare, and public aid in establishing publicly-funded college savings plans for newborns.

The APP believes that the process for implementing the death penalty should be reformed so that each defendant is given a separate, impartial hearing to confirm both guilt and eligibility for the death penalty. We believe that it should be in the power of local governments to abolish the death penalty for crimes committed in their communities. We welcome members who propose abolition of the death penalty altogether and will support a frank exchange of ideas on this issue.

The APP is opposed to physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia.

The APP is opposed to research using human embryos.

V. Family Issues
The APP strongly supports the right of the people of Arkansas to a fair and democratic process for determining whether to recognize gay marriages under the law, while always maintaining the highest respect for members of the LGBT community.

We support equal treatment of LGBTQ workers in the workplace and are opposed to any prejudice against LGBTQ Arkansas residents.

We support the extension of spousal benefits to domestic partners.

We support a protection of the rights of individuals who oppose same-sex marriage and, for reasons of conscience, refuse to offer services pertaining to it.

We support an increase in deductions permitted for additional children.

VI. Minimum Wage 
We support an increase in the minimum wage to $9 over a year-long period and a law which adjusts the minimum wage for inflation and rising cost of living.

VII. Labor Organization
We support tax incentives for corporations whose workers are members of a legally recognized union.

We believe that every worker should have the right to join a union and that workers should be empowered to form unions by a fair and free democratic process.

We support Right to Work laws which allow any person to hold any job, but believe that individuals should only be able to access health care benefits, retirement funds, and other benfits negotiated by unions if they join the unions themselves.

VII. Health Care
We believe that access to primary care for children is a right that should be guaranteed by universal coverage.

We support a single-payer health care system throughout the United States, administered by state governments, and paid for by general tax revenue.

We support the freedom of individuals to choose their own doctors and determine their level of care with their own money, but we believe that individuals should always have the option of joining an inexpensive public health system.

We support tort reform to restrict lawsuits against doctors for punitive damages.

VIII. Immigration
The APP believes that immigrants are the backbone of a working economy. They support the creation of wealth and ensure that there are enough working, taxpaying people in this country to support our social infrastructure and move Arkansas and the United states forward.

The APP believes that the states should determine the legal status of undocumented immigrants and should be able to create a path to citizenship for any of their residents.

We support cooperation and dialogue with Mexican authorities to create integrated police records that will help us track and apprehend individuals who have committed crimes in the United States and Mexico.

We believe that the immigration process should be simplified and the number of immigrants permitted to live and work in this country should be increased.

We oppose proposals to deport all undocumented workers in this country and believe that a federal legalization process should be created.

IX. Homeland Security
The APP supports the reform or elimination of the Department of Homeland Security.

We believe that states should have access to all federal law-enforcement records collected by federal agencies and should be permitted to disclose them in accordance with their own laws.

We oppose the FISA court and believe that warrants should be obtained for all wiretapping and surveillance through the ordinary court system.

X. Education
The APP believes that every child has the right to an excellent, free education provided for by public funds in cooperation with and under the direction of their parents.

We believe that the best way to achieve this is through community-directed education which seeks to keep children in their own communities rather than through competition between school districts.

We also believe that parents should have the right and ability to remove their students from the public school system and enroll their children in private schools or engage in home education with public assistance.

For this reason, the APP will support the creation of a voucher system for homeschooled parents worth up to 65% of student's equitable share of funding and 85% for parents who enroll their children in private schools. As a condition for accepting public vouchers, private schools will be prohibited from collecting tuition fees.

Populists oppose transferring students to schools outside of their local district through the so-called "school choice" program except for reasons of hardship.

The APP is strongly opposed to further consolidation into larger and larger public schools and believes, where possible, small charter schools utilizing the latest teaching methods should be established in districts which include several smaller communities. Students attending such schools should receive 100% of their public funding.

The APP is committed to ending tuition and fees for students attending two-year community colleges.

The APP supports the creation of a JROTC program in every public high school and an ROTC program in every public university.

XI. The Natural State
Fundamental to the character of Arkansas is its wide diversity of resources and natural beauty. This natural beauty is not only something that gives pleasure, it is a resource, attracting thousands of sportsmen, tourists, and entrepreneurs each year, in addition to helping to supply many Arkansans with essential food and water.

We are committed to protecting water quality and wildlife in Arkansas; the APP believes, however, that it is the people of Arkansas, and not Washington, who should have the most say in protecting our environment.

We support responsible hunting and fishing and will do everything we can to encourage hunters both inside and outside of the state to make use of the diversity of wildlife in this state.

We will support regulations seeking to protect our air from dangerous pollutants.

The APP will support the programs which seek to alleviate the difficulties experienced by Arkansas farmers through a vigorous public safety net. We support reduced taxes on incomes derived from farms as well as on the purchase of farm equipment and supplies. We believe that policies pertaining to Arkansas farms should be made in Arkansas, not Washington.

XII. Public Safety
Individuals have the right to feel safe in their persons and belongings. To that end, we support the efforts of law enforcement and believe that they should be compensated more for their services.

The AUP believes strongly in the right to bear arms, both for personal protection and for hunting. We will oppose any laws to increase regulations on gun ownership in this state.

We recognize that the prison system in this state is overcrowded and underfunded. The source for this problem is largely the over-incarceration of nonviolent offenders for scores of drug-related offenses.

We therefore propose to eliminate prison terms for nonviolent drug and alochol-related offenses (with the exception of  drunk driving laws) and reduce all such crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.
Marijuana use is a hotly debated topic in this state. In order to give people more individual freedom, we will strongly advocate for the federal government to give states authority over regulating the use and prosecution of drugs.

We support the legalization of marijuana production, purchase, and use for individuals over the age of 21.

We will vigorously fight the production of harder drugs and seek to curtail their use by minors, always, however, with the goal of keeping drug offenders out of the prison system and into programs of recovery that help to make them better and more productive citizens.

XIII. Religion and State
Arkansas is a state with strong moral and religious convictions. The APP believes that such a faith in God is a strength and not a weakness for our people.

We support the expression of religious faith by public institutions, provided that such expression does not in any way coerce participation by those of a different faith or of no faith at all.

We believe that the academic study of religion is a key component in a complete education and will seek to give it greater attention in the development of state educational standards.

We are in favor of partnerships with faith-based initiatives to help the poor and vulnerable.

XIV. Social Security
The APP believes that Social Security benefits are the right of individuals who have paid into the system. However, the social security system is in need of reform so that it benefits individuals of all social classes, but especially the poorest, rather than simply providing an additional source of income for wealthy retirees. We support reform, for individuals under the age of 45, that will distribute Social Security benefits on a need-based system.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Aphrodite's Revenge.... (Sonnet)

There were a thousand times when you deserved
To be told that "I love you", and by tacit
Consent I gave up nothing unreserved;
How long was it credible I should mask it--
Fading attachment, a wayward heart? Well,
Now I've found my release--the solitude
I claimed to love more than you--and it's hell.
I wish, though, hell could change my attitude;
I wish that seeing you made me believe
In love once more or its dizzying charms,
But holding you again could not relieve
Me, since I was as lonely in your arms
--As now. Could something so sweet steal away
--Faith in love, or is it my fine to pay?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Tower of Babel (A Sonnet)

If I could build a tower of what raises
My spirit at your voice and glue its joints
With memories of you, then all your praises
Would reach the panoply of starry points
And graze the flowing zodiac, and there

Amidst the clouds, where I inhabit, hearing
Your light footfalls approach, my eyes would stare
Down on those left below me, only fearing
To be with them. So you, so I. What we
Experience is far more solid rock,
Standing for ages, while what fleetingly
Some call love falls into rubble and block.

Then let us build a ziggurat of passion
Greater than ancient Babel hands could fashion.