"Honesty is the best policy."
- Benjamin Franklin
Wage Increase : Did you know that the federal minimum wage is currently $7.25/hour? Working full time with no vacation that is the equivalent of $15,080.00/year. There is simply no way in today's America an individual can reasonably live on this amount, let alone support a family. No one should work full time in America and still live in poverty.
We need to create policy for working, livable minimum wages, influenced by regional costs of living. For example, the wage base in Silicon Valley, California should not be the same as in Gunnison, Colorado due to cost of living differences. Many economists believe today's federal minimum wage should rest somewhere between the $10-$12/hour range, with up to $15/hour in more urban regions. Let's work together to uphold fair wages to all Americans.
Pay Equality : Speaking of fair wages, we must mandate equal pay for all genders, races, and ethnicities. We must not settle for anything less than equality: Even a 1% difference would be a difference. People must be paid equally for equal work. Period.
Tax Reform : Our taxes fund the very core of our society - it is not a handout, it is community. We should be proud of the taxes we pay! Together we create the roads and bridges that connect us, the education which carries us into future generations, and the men and women who secure our country here in the U.S. and abroad.
We need to work to create a fair and balanced tax system by simplifying tax codes, closing loopholes, and deterring offshore tax havens. All Americans should pay their fair share of taxes - it is simply unpatriotic to seek unfair reductions, and we need policies which reflect this value.
We should also work to modernize our tax processing systems using available technologies to reduce error (e.g. an integrated system which combines work incomes, student loans, mortgages, federal/state assistance received, and more so as to accurately deduct taxes throughout the year), simplify the process and cost for every day citizens, and reduce long-term government processing costs.
We also need to readjust our priorities of where our tax monies go so we can feel good about supporting this great nation. This is where your voices matter - get out to vote and be heard!
Fiduciary Responsibility : It is common sense that we must require all financial advisors and investors to act in the client's best interest. It is simply against American values to knowingly put a client in a compromising position. We can and should do better.
Wage Percentage Ratio : As many of us know, we have a systemic wage-gap issue growing in our country. Those with the most money are only making more and more, while the poorest Americans earn less and less. Did you know the average CEO in America makes approximately $13M/year?
In lieu of controversial wage caps, I propose we instead consider policy based on wage ratios. In this model, thriving businesses would still be able to pay a top-most employee as much as desired, so long as the amount should not exceed (for example) >125x that of the lowest paid employee. For example, if a company wants to pay the CEO $5M/year, the lowest paid employee must make at least $33,333.00/year. If the company wants to pay the CEO $10M/year, the lowest paid employee must make at least $80,000.00/year.
The simple truth is that we all know a company does not run without the roles of all personnel, whether it be the janitor, the cook, the engineer, or the CEO. Gradients in pay are perfectly acceptable based on experience, education, risk, etc., but fundamentally, if a company has enough profits to reward a CEO $14M/year, why should the lowest paid employee receive only $7.25/hour, a wage at or below the poverty line? This isn't about socialism, it's about American values. We need to value all of our citizens and the skills they provide.
Of note, income policy designed in this way would not place unnecessary or burdensome restrictions on small businesses as it applies only to companies which make enough to exceed the maximal income threshold in the first place.
Fiscal Responsibility : Work to minimize the national debt by working to ensure the wealthy are paying their fair share of taxes, covering the cost of all newly proposed programs prior to implementation, and investing in programs that develop long term strategies for long term problems. Funding increases may need to be considered, as does reorganization of our budget priorities, to free up monies for essential community programs.
Government Efficiency : Work to modernize our government systems by creating modern electronic and mobile options for mandatory processes such as voter registration/voting, taxes, vehicle registrations, driver's licenses, and more. Reduce administrative costs to free up monies for new positions and programs, without displacing workers using re-training and alternative job opportunities.
Sustainable Jobs : Invest heavily to expand renewable energy and sustainable technologies, particularly in regions previously reliant on non-financially stable factories, coal, and gas. Ensure that any new stimulus monies are used to create long term, environmentally and financially responsible employment opportunities.
Job Re-Training : It is difficult and maddening to be in the position of watching your livelihood become obsolete. We should work closely with small towns affected by modernization and provide as many re-training and community grant opportunities for those affected. For some, there may be new job opportunities in other manual labors such as building and maintaining wind farms, local and sustainable agriculture, solar installments, and more. For younger generations who are willing to re-train toward technological opportunities we should provide such access. We need to remember that in our modernization process we cannot neglect the small and rural areas on which our country was founded upon.
Personal note: I've watched family and friends lose jobs at the local pulp and paper mill or other factories as the technological revolutions have come. I know what it's like to grow up with concerns over money and work as those mills and factories slowly closed their doors. Modernization is necessary, but we need to protect our working class, too.
Infrastructure Revitalization : Revitalize public parks and infrastructure using modern, sustainable development and human health designs.
Youth Opportunities : Provide increased young entrepreneur and mentorship programs. Expand early-career grant programs focused on both the arts and the sciences. We need to make all careers and talents viable again, not just sciences. The arts, music, and apprenticeship markets should be highly encouraged.
Job Rehabilitation : Expand community rehabilitation programs offering jobs to those who have fallen on hard times or have circumstances which make obtaining gainful employment difficult. Such employments might include community revitalization projects, mentorships, counseling programs, and more.
Community Grant Programs : Create community grant programs to encourage mobile farm programs to assist local agriculture and eliminate "Food Deserts". This would also encourage local job growth and support of community agriculture.
Work-Life Modernization : Work hard, but play hard, too. Family, friends, and community are the backbone of our country and contribute to our health and happiness. This ultimately make us better, more efficient workers as well as better citizens. In the day and age of automation and wireless technologies, we should encourage able businesses to incorporate flexible work hours and increased mobile-work abilities so as to accommodate the vast lifestyle needs for American citizens.