POD Party Initial (National) PlatformBased on our principles, we arrive at a platform which represents either something like a "solution" for many issues hitherto dividing the country, or a framework with which to pursue solutions to difficult problems our nation faces.This platform is a work in progress. To make changes or edits to the platform, to share your own ideas, and to extend and discuss the platform, please visit the PODVoters Community. This platform is a beginning that represents ideas that follow we believe directly from our principles. We have tried to place what are uncontroversial applications of our principles to problems facing the country. This initial platform represents a beginning we sincerely believe every American no matter whether Democratic or Republican previously can agree with. To refine and develop specific initiatives, we will need your help to research, and generate creative ideas to eventually solve these problems. We know, for example, that the health care system is not working, but we need your help to develop a solution. We are setting up an area in the site for collaborative public policy efforts for all PODVoters.
Personal Moral Issues
Abortion.Abortion is probably the most divisive issue in the country. From PODVoters principles and historical evidence, there is a simple and clear common ground which points towards policy to reconcile all parties and strengthen the country. Common Ground: Reducing the Number of Abortions Performed in the Country. There are generally two sides pitted against each other in this conflict: pro-life who wish to ban abortions outright, and pro-choice who believes that it's a woman's personal moral decision to have an abortion or not. When the abortion issue is framed this way, which incidentally is extremely misleading and is promoted for the most part for political purposes (without any basis in genuine progress for society or resolution of the issue), there's a clear conflict in goals. There are better ways to frame this issue in which we can find a common ground. Let's take the pro-life position in terms of its ultimate goal: not that abortions have to be banned but simply that abortions should not occur. If having an abortion was legal but no one had them, this entire issue likely wouldn't have much interest. There are a few who would perhaps insist in principle that some law be adopted; those, however, are in the minority. Those who are pro-choice probably feel similarly that a country with fewer necessary abortions than more is a country that's better off; and almost all pro-choice supporters must be dismayed in that respect that the United States has by far the highest abortion rate of the heavily industrialized nations. We have a common ground, then: fewer abortions should happen in the United States. Could outright banning of abortion procedures decrease the number of abortions in the U.S.? Yes. Could it increase the number of abortion procedures performed in the U.S.? Yes. Could it have no effect on the number of abortion procedures performed? Yet again a resounding yes. Making abortions illegal would drive abortions underground which might actually increase the number of abortions performed as anyone in any alley could start performing them. Furthermore, just as there was prolific drinking during Prohibition, there were large numbers of abortions performed when such procedures were illegal in much of the U.S. before the Roe v. Wade decision. There continues to be widespread illegal drug use despite a million+ persons in jail on drug-related charges. There's little correlation between availability of abortions and abortion rates. In the Netherlands, abortions are free and readily available yet that country has the lowest rate of abortions in the world, one fourth that of the United States, while in Peru, abortions are illegal, but it has an abortion rate double that of the United States. Criminalizing abortion seems counter-productive as well in practical implementation; it doesn't seem on the face of it a good idea to send pregnant mothers and force them to have babies in jail. Criminalization of abortion will certainly not end and almost certainly won't even curb the number of abortions performed in the U.S. Moreover, an effective implementation of prohibition of abortion can not even be imagined in a way that would strike one as reasonable. Based on the evidence, we have to look to other means if we're sincere about reducing the number of abortions performed in our country. How can we reliably reduce the number of abortion procedures? If prohibition won't work (as we have vast evidence that it won't), we need to try to something else. A source of potential policies is from observing other industrialized countries' with far lower rates of abortion and their policies towards birth control and abortion. These policies include more extensive sex education (the U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rate amongst heavily industrialized nations), government-supported birth control, and fairer income distribution.
We Have to Give Up the War on Sex. Recent efforts and legislation from the Bush Administration have increased tragically and quite avoidably the number of abortions performed in the United States. Damage has been from at least two fronts. The first front has been the "war on sex" best represented by funding abstinence-only education. It's counter to PODVoters' principles as the decision to have sex or not have sex for adults is in the realm of personal decision-making. It's disgraceful in that "education" is not shoving a moral idea down teenagers' throats (as very disgruntled parent of a teenager knows doesn't work). While many of us would like our children to not have sex until marriage, we can not change human nature and a fantasy world in which Americans don't have sex and have no need of birth control nor abortions is not something that has or will exist. Human nature is a given and is most positively not going to change. With 500+ million years of sex leading to all of us (human beings) today, sex is not going away and any "war on sex" is simply not going to be won. Fair Economic and Tax Policies that Don't Kill Families. Every full-time working person should be able to afford to support a family, maybe not in great luxury but at least with the essentials. This is that the case at present. A study done two years ago by Glen Stassen, ethics professor and statistician at Fuller Theological Seminary, found that the two decades long trend of declining abortions reversed during the Bush Administration and much of the reversal was related to economic inequality with two-thirds of women having an abortion reporting they couldn't afford to support a child. Warren Buffett, the second-wealthiest American, points out that his income in the tens of millions of dollars in 2006 was taxed at almost half the rate as that of his secretary whose income was in the tens of thousands of dollars. Without a fair tax system and economic policies that allow everyone to have the means to support a family, potential American families will continue to be the casualties of the current pro-corporate and pro-wealthy tax and economic policies. I'm against abortion, I don't want any abortions to happen in my country, what do I do? Again, overturning Roe v. Wade and criminalizing abortion procedures won't stop abortions in our country. The government has no magic wand it can wave to stop abortions. Criminalization of performing abortions won't end abortions anymore than criminzalization could stop blinking or smiling or drinking alcohol. You can through personal or organized efforts try to share your feelings with others-to persuade persons that getting an abortion you feel is not a good decision. You can use POD principles (namely the scientific method) to research ideas particularly studying other countries' public policies which may reduce abortions. A first step would almost certainly be true and effective sex eduction for teenagers (the U.S. has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy among industrialized countries).
Gay Marriage.Gay marriage and homosexuality is another highly contentious issue in the country today. It has resulted in extremely unfortunate remarks from Supreme Court Justices placing their personal bigotry above their oath to defend and interpret the Constitution to political leaders comparing their anti-gay marriage stance to opposing Hitler in 1938 (it's precisely the separation of human beings into separate classes or giving different rights and status that leads to such injustice as the arrest and persecution of a hundred thousand homosexuals by the Nazis and other crimes against humanity by that government). Our principles and the U.S. Constitution guide us fairly definitively to an answer. The choice of what consenting adults can do with their respective genitals is clearly a grey area, a personal moral decision, and thus an area in which the government should not be involved. There should not, thus, be any discrimination or prohibition against homosexuality. In the case of marriage, the crux of the idea of marriage is an agreement to a set of vows between two people. While most marriages are between a man and a woman, there is nothing about the situation of marriage that would limit its experience to a man and a woman unless we define some fundamental difference between a man and a woman. We don't believe there is a fundamental difference that the government should define between a man and a woman-there is the matter of genital difference, but here no one would be particularly happy if we re-defined marriage as between not two persons but between two genitals. Thus, if we accept that a man and a woman should not be viewed as fundamentally different entities under law, then by the equal rights amendment in the Constitution, the government can not discriminate against any group of persons. This includes the groups of same-sex couples. Does this mean the State has to "support" Gay Marriage? No, not necessarily. It means our country has to respect the equal rights of all citizens including those who are gay. This means that if the government assigns a certain status to heterosexual couples, it must also make that status available to homosexual couples--this status could be that of "marriage" or "civil union", but the government simply can not discriminate its treatment of us. I don't like the idea that homosexual couples can say that they're married, what should I do? You should petition your state to remove all recognition of marriage and instead recognize only civil unions. Another option if you have an open mind about the issue is to try to meet homosexual couples and see if their bonds and love for each other resembles your own feelings for your spouse-you might feel inclined to consider them married and accept that status. I don't think homosexuality should exist; I don't want to live in a country with homosexuals. I want the government to outlaw it. Unfortunately, the government doesn't have a magic wand to eliminate a lot of things that we don't like whatever these things may be. Whether it's homosexuality that you don't like or verbal abuse of children which another may not like, there are certain things that each of us doesn't like to happen in our country but that we have to give each other the freedom to do. Homosexuality has existed almost certainly throughout the entire history of human beings and is not going to disappear. We have to learn to accept others who are different, who've made different decisions-there frankly is no other solution. The Supreme Court has ruled that anti-homosexuality laws are un-constitutional so homosexuality can't (even it could be) banned in the United States. You could move to another country that has strict anti-homosexuality laws, but again, we're certain that hasn't eliminated homosexuality, but has simply led homosexuality to be more hidden and led the society itself to be bound to itself more around hate than around reason, mutual care, freedom and respect.
National SecurityWhile the country was attacked and experienced a massive loss of life on 9/11 which we would like to prevent in the future, it is on the face of it unreasonable to cause the death of more than 100 times as many people (yes, 10,000% more people have died because of actions in our name by our government) in what are purported to be efforts to prevent another 9/11. Using reason, we arrive at certain conclusions namely that the threat of "terrorism" to America is vastly, vastly overstated. Cigarettes, prescription drugs, drunk driving and even lightning are much, much greater threats to American life than "terrorism" historically and based on rational forward-looking risks. The promotion of "terrorism" as one of the most significant threats to American life could not be more false. The threat of "terrorism", however, means big business for defense contractors, the mass media and fear-mongering politicians so it shouldn't perhaps surprise us that it is so diligently promoted as a huge threat. The real terror to the country are those who fear-monger "terrorism" and allocate virtually no resources to try to curb the preventable deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans annually from such not-so-fearsome but vastly-more-deadly causes as traffic accidents, cigarettes, and adverse prescription drug side effects. No American is ready to kill citizens of other countries nor have other Americans killed in order to curb drunk driving or to control lightning, and yet (as ridiculous as it sounds) threatening for example automobile manufacturer and auto engineers with death if they don't make safer cars would be a vastly more effective means of protecting American and human life than the hundreds of billions of dollars spent and hundreds of thousands killed in the name of "anti-terrorism." Roughly five times as many Americans die every year from alcohol related traffic accidents and roughly six times as many Americans are murdered each year by other Americans than died on 9/11. So we Americans in the past six years through drunk driving and murdering each other have killed more than sixty-five times as many Americans as died on 9/11!? A principled approach to national security works dispassionately from what are the most significant and likely threats to American life to how do we effectively curb them. An unprincipled approach appeals to patriotism and emotions and goes willy-nilly without proper assessments of either risks or solutions. The results are devastatingly clear. In 2000, it was brought to the attention of the leaders of our country that a risk assessment (conducted by the later-pilloried FEMA) found the following three events the most likely and catastrophic risks for the country an attack on the US by a violent group particularly by hijacking a plane and attacking NYC, a devastating hurricane reaching the Gulf Coast, and thirdly a massive earthquake in San Francisco. Unfortunately, the leadership of the country wasn't concerned with true risk assessments and invented brand-new mathematics based on the idea that 1=100 (the so-called 1% doctrine of the Bush administration where an event with a 1% risk should be treated as having in fact a 100% risk!?), and the results are plain-3000 dead from 9/11 and 3000 dead from Hurricane Katrina with at the very least most of Katrina's deaths being highly preventable. It should also be noted that Katrina's occurence is related to another phenomenon which virtually every single geologist accepts but for some reason the Bush administration doesn't believe in, global warming. Models of global warming predicted devastating hurricanes years before Katrina happened-unfortunately our political leaders believed themselves smarter than geologists with decades of training. Our political leaders have ignored science at our peril. We have paid as citizens with thousands of our lives. PODVoters respect all human life and we are not ready to sacrifice a hundred thousand lives of other countries' citizens out of a dim hope that we may prevent vague and unspecified threats. We believe in scientifically-based, sound risk assessments and a cost-analysis of preventable deaths in order to allocate resources effectively and guide legislation to protect Americans lives. We are concerned with appropriating our resources effectively to protect all loss of American life whether from violence by foreign groups or nations, or loss of American life from violence by Americans (kill 6x as many Americans annually as died on 9/11), or from cigarettes (kill 70x as many Americans annually as died on 9/11), or from traffic accidents (kill 7x as many Americans annually as died on 9/11). There is virtually no doubt that governmental resources have been used in the most ineffective ways. In the past seven years, the resources that have been allocated to the "war against terrorism" (approaching a trillion dollars!) which have resulted in thousands of American deaths and hundreds of thousands of deaths of citizens of other countries could instead have translated into hundreds of thousands of American lives saved (and few to no deaths in other countries) if those resources had been allocated towards safer cars, anti drunk-driving measures, better prescription systems, and other measures against genuine threats to American life.
Health Care.We as a country spend a greater percentage of our collective earnings on health care than any other heavily industrialized country, and yet on most major measures of the effectiveness of a health care system, the U.S. comes in last. Further, despite the vast resources that are being given to the current health care industry, 50 million Americans don't have health insurance or reliable health care. This situation is unacceptable. It is an accepted principle that every citizen should have access to health care. It is, moreover, not at all the case that every American citizen has access to health care today. The solution to this problem, though, whether to socialize the system or to engage in efforts alongside the private industry is not clear. Currently, there is a mixed private and public framework for health care. The poor and the elderly are eligible for the government funded Medicaid and Medicare. For everyone else, there are private health insurers. Something isn't working with the private system when a quarter of the people who should be in the system are not in the system. There is, thus, a need for government intervention since the private sector has not accomplished a goal which must be achieved. It isn't obvious, however, what the solution is. We need experts to present to us various proposals and evaluate them as well as have studies of others countries systems which have universal public or private coverage. We almost certainly need smaller policies, which may be test-able on a small scale, or that work incrementally towards a solution. Any wholesale change in the current health care system is unlikely to be an effective solution and even more unlikely to win a consensus of support.
Global Warming.Hurricane Katrina, more intense hurricanes having been adumbrated by models of global warming, was as clear a sign as one needs that global warming is real and a real threat. The time for evaluating risks has really ended-there is vast consensus among experts that global warming is happening and that it is serious. A genuine risk assessment, particularly long-term risk assessment, would put global warming near the top of any list. The government can and must provide incentives to industry to develop and commericialize alternative, clean energy. Other actions will need to be more creative: for example to curb the contribution to global warming by livestock (a surprisingly large percentage), the government ought promote a healthy diet which is relatively red meat free. Similarly, emergency planning and risk assessments have to use models based on global warming (which most do already) so that we are prepared for more intense hurricanes for example.
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