What I think, Where We Go

OpEd

This is a long one, I will apologize up front. Sorry

If one listens to the talking heads, whether Right, Left or somewhere in the Center it is easy to get lost in Ideology, rhetoric and frankly nonsense. There are times we can get sucked into believing the problems of this country are so large, so complex, so far above the intellect of the average person we shouldn’t even try to think about them let alone demand simple and straight-forward solutions, plans for resolution.

I am a Progressive Independent.

The following is my personal political stand or:

“How I Would Fix What is Wrong Without Regard to Liars, Thieves, Scoundrels or Other Politicians”

The Economy:

  1. Balanced budgets at State and Federal levels must be the law not just a campaign platforms. New Constitutional Amendments to be written and passed. Given some of the comments thus far I am compelled to add this caveat, a Balanced Budget does not mean states and the fed cannot take on debt, cannot examine need and determine what and how much debt is appropriate. What a Balanced Budget means is they cannot take on more debt than they are able to service through current revenue streams (tax, tariff, etc)
  2. Transparency in campaign spending must be the law at all levels and there must be limits on contributions of both private citizens and corporations. Citizens United must be overturned. No, corporations are not people, they do not have a similar voice or similar rights; they must not be treated as such.
  3. Regulatory laws must be in place to protect the consumer, yes there is such thing as predators and yes our government should protect consumers from them.
  4. Banking regulations must be in place including oversight on lenders, credit cards and market speculators. There was a reason why they were there after the first Great Depression, we shouldn’t have forgotten. There is no such thing as “To Big To Fail”.
  5. Reinstate Tariffs’, balance trade with our “partners” and do it within 12 months. No more weak ploys and pansy assed negotiations. Either there is fair and balanced trade with partners who
    Bill Clinton signing NAFTA, the first disaster He's no Huckleberry

    Bill Clinton signing NAFTA, the first disaster
    He’s no Huckleberry

    buy and sell in markets that are open both ways or there isn’t, it cannot be a one-way relationship. This will very rapidly begin to bring jobs back to the US. No more NAFTA!

  6. Jobs, we must repair our economy and bring jobs back to this country. Correcting the imbalance with our trade partners is just the start. While part of the sucking sound was manufacturing and the cost difference in fact this is not the entire story; millions of high-tech white and pink collar jobs have gone overseas since 1999, add to this the millions of H1B jobs that are on-shored displacing US workers. This must end! We must stop rewarding those US corporations sending jobs overseas. Stop all H1B’s for jobs that can performed by American workers. Stop all government contracts employing foreign workers until audited for cause. Stop all corporations (e.g. Microsoft, HP, IBM) from continuing to import technology and clerical workers until audited for cause.

Taxes:

  1. Tax laws must be simplified, no more loopholes. Apply the KISS method; tax all income on individuals and businesses. This includes both passive and active income. Taxes don’t have to be egregious they only have to be fair. To my mind the right strategy is to level the field by modification of the current system of graduated brackets. Eliminate all subsidies and credits available only to the very wealthy and corporations; reduce the number of deductions but increase the overall family deduction to a more reasonable amount. Incorporate cost of living into the annual calculation for marginal income (0% Tax rate on Net Income). Finally create 4 distinct brackets:

* 15% > poverty level to $90K

* 25% $90K – $250K

* 30% >$250K – $500K

* 35%>$500>

*Corporate Tax Rate flat 10% up to first $1B and 15% thereafter

  1. Stop Corporate Subsidies to the wealthiest corporations in the world. This should not be taken the wrong way, the government has a role to play in scientific advancement and we should encourage organizations to invest in partnership with government where appropriate; however it should not be with taxpayer dollars year after year where we will also being paying for the ultimate outcome as they sell us the products at inflated rates.

Government:

  1. Term Limits for all elected officials, especially at the Federal level. Three Terms and you are out of there.
  2. Stop all earmarks, as a matter of Law. Keep Bills straight-forward and simple don’t hide new spending for Arrow Fletchers or Ice Blowers in the bottom half where no one will see it. Don’t hide the fact that those shovel ready jobs in Michigan won’t require E-Identify to confirm citizenship or competitive bids simply to provide the biggest campaign contributor the ditch digging job.
  3. Stop all attempts to pass laws that are focused on personal decisions, choices or health matters where government is attempting to undermine what has already been decided (e.g. legality of Abortion). Stop using language in Bills that attempt to diminish the experience of more than half the population, redefinition of the word Rape is inappropriate, immoral and unethical.
  4. My father overlooking the Grand Canyon 1993

    My father overlooking the Grand Canyon 1993

    There are many reasons we pay taxes one of them is infrastructure! Ours are quickly eroding and we need to invest, our roads, levees and bridges are failing. We should also remind ourselves we pay taxes to preserve our heritage; our national parks, museums, arts and access to other facilities are maintained by the taxes each of us pay. I am happy to contribute my fair share each year to insure the wealth of this nations heritage is preserved and maintained for future generations, all members whether rich or poor. I want all of the generations that come after me to be able to read the words of Lincoln, to be able to walk the Vietnam War Memorial, to view and enjoy the Washington Mall, to see the California Redwoods in their glorious and natural splendor, to see the beauty of the Painted Desert or awesome desolation of the Salt Flats. All of these are maintained by our tax dollars, all of these are on the chopping block today if we don’t stand up, pay attention and crawl out of our apathy.

  5. End illegal wars and the massive spending on the war machine that is the beltway bandits aka The Defense Contractors. End all non-compete contracts. End the palm greasing within the Pentagon that cost the US Taxpayer billions every year.
  6. Cap Federal Reserve ability to print money. Yes, I said it there must be a check and balance and the government must be held accountable. We have never defaulted on our loans; however we must maintain our rating in Capital Markets. We must stop spending and begin paying down our outstanding debt, stop printing money to service the debt.
  7. Close foreign military bases immediately or charge the host nation to maintain them! With the exception of South Korea there is no legitimate reason for the United States to maintain a military presence in any foreign nation.

Humanities:

  1. Education, we are the only free nation in the world that doesn’t invest in our youth! We must give our young people the tools to be competitive in the market of tomorrow. We cannot continue on the path we are on, this isn’t about feel good methods rather it is about changing the manner in which we approach education and funding. We must give every child a fair start in life, the same access. We have to extend the same opportunities and make available the same tools. Public education should not ever be reliant upon the wealth of one’s parents! This isn’t about passing a child through where they don’t show aptitude but rather about giving every child the opportunity to advance based upon intellectual stimulation, capabilities and desire. Education should be consistently provided no matter the wealth of the neighborhood, teacher pay should be consistent no matter the wealth of the neighborhood, schools should be safe, children should not be hungry. Children should not be the scapegoat or the victims of society. Our system must change to meet the demands of the future.
  2. Stop the militarization of our police. Stop allowing them to murder. Stop defending their actions by creating an entire devaluation of men and women who don’t look like you, that is don’t look like you if you are Caucasian. This has to end, twelve year-old children responsible for their own murders because a White cop mistook him for a ‘scary’ adult.

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  3. Stop attempting to define this nation as a Christian nation in direct conflict with the United States Constitution! It is not, it is a Democratic Republic and a Secular Nation as it was intended to be by the Founding Fathers and as it has been clarified by case law several times by several different US Supreme Courts.
  4. Stop limiting Civil Rights based on religious views, Nationalistic views or other narrow views that have nothing whatsoever to do with actual Civil Rights of individuals born or naturalized as citizens of this nation. Civil and Human rights apply to all members of society no matter their Race, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Gender; if they don’t apply to all members equally they apply to no members.
  5. Stop the war on Drugs! It was ineffective and truly focused primarily on the inner city with imbalanced sentencing (e.g. powder vs. crack cocaine). The War on Drugs created the highest prison population in the free world with no real end in sight.
  6. Stop the war on the Middle Class! Focus instead on how to repair the most vital part of our nation’s economy. It isn’t Teachers, Fire Fighters or the Police causing States to bankrupt. It isn’t Unions causing the problems. It isn’t those earning $50K per year that is the problem today; they are paying their fair share in taxes across the board. Yet all eyes are on them as they struggle to pay their mortgage, worry whether they will keep their jobs, struggle to pay health care bills and keep gas in their 10-year old cars.
  7. Hold this nation to the same standard we hold others. I said it. We have to hold ourselves to the same high standard; it isn’t a matter of feel good but a matter of Law. Our law-makers must begin to respect the laws of the land; that means all of them starting with the Constitution. We must hold Trials for those held in Gitmo, we must hold accountable those Bankers and Speculators who broke the financial back of this nation, we must bring to trial war criminals no matter who they are. We cannot afford as a nation to continue to ignore the liars, thieves, war-mongers, torturers among us as if they either didn’t exist or worse, are above the law.
  8. Invest in science and our future. Stop the madness of religious holy wars against progress. Invest in clean energy sources, stem cell research, technology, high speed rail and anything else images (2)that will move this nation ahead of the competition!
  9. Get out of my bedroom, my medical decisions, my marriage choices and all my other personal decisions as a matter of law and morality. It isn’t your business and frankly shouldn’t be all that interesting to you. As a matter of Law, afford me the same rights as anyone else. As a matter of morality keep your opinion off the law books as it doesn’t belong there.

I am a progressive and proud of it. I believe in the ingenuity of people and most of the time the greatness of the human spirit.

I am a capitalist in that I believe a free market is the best market for entrepreneurs, perhaps the difference is that I believe all markets must exist with trade regulations and restraints to work properly in a global market.

I am an American first but I am a citizen of the World, perhaps more so than most Americans having lived and worked abroad on and off most of my life.

I am I believe a moral and ethical person though I profess no religion. I am a social Liberal and believe strongly in the rights of all members of society to be free and respected for who they are and their ability to contributed no matter their gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.

I believe our nation is failing; we have set ourselves up for failure. We are creating a society that will exclude most members from ever achieving anything beyond the minimum while those in the upper tier stand on their shoulders demanding greater effort, more of their labor for less. What boggles my mind is the number of people who believe they will somehow make it into that stratosphere someday, make it out of the muck and the mire and so vote against their best interest and the best interest of their children.

I am a progressive not because I want a welfare state, not because I want the country to pay for my care or the care of my children from cradle to grave; no I am a progressive because I want future generations to have the same opportunities that my parents had.

Comments

  1. Well said. Very thorough, I think you covered all the bases, Val. The clearest path to reaching the goals you set out, would be if everyone voted, showing the big ticket funders that you don’t need money to get your message across, then maybe we’d start to see progress. Maybe we’d have a chance to turn things around. We need larger turnout at the polls.

  2. I agree with a lot of what you said. The first one I disagree with is term limits, though. While it is bad to have the same people in office forever, some of our best statesmen have been long timers. And term limits would only empower the staff — the unelected, unimpeachable staff. Having lived here in DC for so long, I know first hand that the staff is usually worse than the member.

    • Lots of people disagree with this one Elyse and I see both sides of the argument. The problem I have, elected public service should not be a life time career. Look what it has gotten us. There has to be a better way, doesn’t there?

      • I see nothing wrong with dedicating one’s life. Look at John Dingell. Look a At McGovern. Look at Ted Kennedy. I could give you quite a list from both sides of the aisle of people who went into government to serve. Both houses have always been full of people who dedicated themselves.

        But that’s not the sort of folks who go into it now, is it? Now it’s folks who do it for all the wrong reasons.

        But the staff is always reflective of the bosses. The staffers are horrible.

  3. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

    BINGO!!! “No more NAFTA!”

  4. We have the same dreams and expectations for a truly democratic and progressive society, Val. Unfortunately, we moderates keep drowning in the extremist rhetoric.

  5. A great list. I agree with most of it. While it is lengthy and complex there is a basic philosophy that I think is at the core. That is this. We are a society, not 300,000,000 individuals with no connections with each other. This idea, that we are in it together, used to be the core value of both parties. No longer.
    Understanding that I agree with almost everything you say, let me disagree with a few ideas.
    1. A constitutional amendment to balance the budget is too restrictive. There are times when national debt and an imbalanced budget might be necessary.
    7 and 8. I would include an elimination of all “tax exempt” statuses. Too much corruption in that process.
    14. (It may apply to others) Once a contract is signed with the government the deal is done. If there are “cost overruns” the contractor must eat the loss. There is not a contract today that does not end up being millions or billions of dollars more expensive due to “cost overruns”. The “low bidder”, usually with connections to a Congressman, submits a low bid, gets the contract, then jacks it up later.
    10. Don’t like the idea of term limits for two reasons. People should be able to vote for whomever they want. Also, term limits would actually increase corruption. Those only in office for a short time would be more likely to respond to short term economic interests, bribery and cater to those individuals and corporations that would have a nice job waiting for them when the term is up. It would actually add to the influence of big donors, not lessen it.
    Although your list is amazing in depth and detail I would add one more thing. We cannot have a truly democratic government unless people are allowed to vote and people have the information they need to vote. I would encourage voting by giving each voter a small tax credit. We do it for other things, why not voting. And I would make it mandatory that each candidate in every state and federal election be given at least one hour of free airtime on TV per week to discuss, debate and explain their views and plans. This is one way to offset the misinformation campaigns of their opponents.
    Thanks for the food for thought.

    • Yes, you are right we need to make voting accessible.

      I think we deal with the issue you bring up on term limits by adding the caveat ‘no member may go to work for a lobby or donating company for 2 years after leaving office’.

      Agree entirely with your comment on the issue of defense contracts.

      Yes on Tax Exemption, with maybe on exception those living below the absolute poverty line.

      I say this over and over, maybe I should put it in the post itself. A balanced budget does not mean you cannot have debt it means you cannot have so much debt you cannot service it. That is what balancing the budget means.

  6. Amen! Beyond impressive! I am awed. You did an absolutely outstanding job in putting your thoughts down in writing. I am in the middle of doing a blog from the point of a RINO republican with a libertarian bent. I agree 100% with your thinking on points 2,3,4,6,11,12,13 and 17 through 25. I concur but with some reservations or caveats on your points 5,7,8,14. I disagree for the most part with your points 1,10,15,16.

    If we were in Congress, we could iron out our differences while still writing legislation that puts our country in a much better direction. However while this tea party has such a strangle hold on the republican party, nothing is getting done.

    The one major point that I would have added is the ending of gerrymandering in states by whoever happens to be in power. I would have the lines drawn by an independent board of highly qualified folks who are above board in their ethics and the way they conduct their business. Most Americans do not agree with the thinking of these far right, tea party republicans but they have been gerrymandered to be in districts that will elect these type of legislators over and over again to maintain the power they currently exert. It is obvious when I say that they have no comprehension of the word “compromise.”

    PS. you have done a far better job than I could ever dream of doing. Thanks for taking the time to do this work.

    • I am interested in how you would agree with balancing budgets by law and term limits (1 & 10). Curious on these. Then, my other curiosity actually sits with the ongoing maintenance of foreign bases. Why would you, or anyone for that matter wish to continue to support this?

      • Let me start with foreign bases. These have been set up in many instances to also serve our own interests. Remember Benghazi. There was the issue that military back up should have been available but wasn’t because there was no base close enough to provide help within a certain time frame. My disgust about the partisan nature about all the Benghazi hearings is why wasn’t there a plan in place to fix this issue. We also collect intelligence via many sources. We have treaties to honor. In return for many countries to allow us to maintain our bases on their land for our strategic benefit, we have made certain agreements, Also, don’t forget that many of our troops hurt in recent combat have been air lifted to our hospitals in US military bases in Germany.

        This does not mean that I wouldn’t like to see a lot of US bases closed if they do not provide an essential need that could be met elsewhere or to end funding to weaponry systems that even our military are not asking for just to bolster companies in certain districts. I am not opposed to closing overseas military bases if they are not necessary for our own strategic defense.

        As for number 10, I do see benefits for term limits but I also see the downside. For example, If I had a Bernie Sanders representing my district whose allegiance to the well being of his constituents could not be purchased at any price, I would like the benefit of continuing to vote for him for as long as he wishes to serve. In the real world, an elected official like him is not easily replaced.

        Now for number 1, I have no problem with states adhering to balanced budget laws. However, it again may be in our national interest to incur a REASONABLE AMOUNT of debt. For just one example, I would like the investment in our infrastructure to be major. I am envious when I travel abroad to cities and countries that have these fast trains which are exceedingly affordable and which go almost everywhere. Then there are businesses such as Caterpillar asking that our ports be updated to accept business on the larger container ships. I do not like hearing that our bridges, etc. are crumbling and that our broadband usage is rated at level of 26 in comparison to other countries. While interest rates are still low, this would have been the time to incur some debt in order to make this investment.

        I describe this similar to a household budget in which the members decide to take on a reasonable amount of debt (that they know they can repay) to pay for major maintenance in a home like a new roof when they do not have sufficient savings. Not maintaining your own infrastructure can cost someone their home when it crumbles. It also brings down the value in one’s home as well as the value of other homes in the neighborhood.

        • Balanced budgets do not mean a state or federal government cannot have debt, it means they cannot have excessive debt to which they have no means of servicing.

          Term limits are vital. For every Bernie Sanders there are 10 Mitch McConnell, or for that matter Nancy Pelosi’s. It is ridiculous and unconscionable. Elected office should not be a career and we should not be paying the price.

          The bases do not serve any purpose, Benghazi is nothing but a sham and I am sick of hearing about it. Under every single president there have been attacks resulting in far more loss of life. Benghazi just happened to be under this president. The bases do not collect anything but $$$ in the pockets of foreign countries cities and all of the beltway bandits that service them. For the most part it is contractors stationed on these bases, not US Military. It is the State Department and the Embassies that serve as the collection points for information, not the bases.

          • I do not ever expect anyone to agree with me on every point. You argue your beliefs very well. While Benghazi has been a red herring for political expediency, the point is that we should be in a position to rescue our heroes in any given situation within a reasonable amount of time.
            As a military brat and as someone who has worked with military folks,I have a different point of view as to overseas military bases. This is admittedly a bias of mine.
            I copied the following from a reference, authored by Rep. J. Randy Forbes on 12/2/11.

            “But while we should carefully review the proper balance of our forward-deployed military assets, our overseas presence is both a fundamental enabler of our national defense policy and a means to safeguard shocks to the international system. Stationing U.S. Army soldiers, Marines, and Air Force and Navy assets forward is the only guaranteed way of protecting U.S. interests, responding immediately to a crisis, and reassuring our allies and friends.”

            “Deterring regional aggression with forward basing has been central to U.S. military strategy since the end of World War II, when we resolved to never again have to “fight our way in” as we had just done in the Pacific. This strategy remains just as relevant today. Gen. Joseph Dunford, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, recently testified that “being forward deployed and forward engaged allows us to shape the environment as opposed to reacting to the environment.” If a conflict with Iran were to erupt, or North and South Korea found themselves on the brink of war, or China threatened the use of force to acquire Taiwan, the robust regional presence of U.S. forces would have an immediate impact, either to deter escalation or quickly respond to aggression.”

            “The United States’ forward presence also offers numerous diplomatic benefits. The politics of maintaining a presence in foreign nations no doubt comes with challenges. However, it also represents a steadfast commitment to an ally, which provides the basis for a sustained diplomatic partnership and regular military engagement and training with the host nation. For example, six decades of close cooperation between U.S. and Japanese naval forces have built an unrivaled degree of trust and interoperability. The presence of U.S. forces in South Korea has also helped to fashion a close relationship with the government in Seoul that would be vital during a crisis. And in Europe, U.S. forces have trained with NATO allies so that they have the capabilities to operate with us during an operation.”

            “Despite these benefits, a number of myths about our overseas presence continue to promulgate. First, critics contend that the U.S. can sustain the same level of deterrence by maintaining sophisticated power-projection capabilities based on U.S. territory. But lost in this argument is the logistics required to overcome the tremendous “tyranny of distance” that separates the American homeland from these regional hotspots. Air Force F-15, F-16, and A-10 jets are inter-theater assets that aren’t designed to deploy across entire oceans. From Pearl Harbor, the Navy would have to sail 6,200 kilometers to Japan or 10,800 kilometers to the Strait of Malacca. The Marines would face an even greater hurdle if forced to deploy from the continental United States. Gen. Dunford testified that “it would take months to move (a force from the Continental United States) to the Western Pacific and seven consecutive miracles in terms of synchronizing the planes, trains and automobiles associated with moving that force.” Faced with these geographic hurdles, a continental-based military would be severely inhibited in its ability to credibly deter regional aggression and reassure American allies.”

            “Second, the argument persists that the United States’ forward presence allows allies and partner nations to invest less in their security. If the U.S. pulled back, the thinking goes, we could spend less because our allies would be forced to spend more. This is flawed for two reasons. First, allies that find themselves in regions where the security environment is growing tenser have already begun aggressively modernizing their militaries. Southeast Asian nations, including Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore, are all acquiring advanced capabilities. The navies of Japan and Australia are also amongst the most capable in the world and continue to make major investments in their militaries. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is the United States’ strength and commitment to security in the region that provides regional states the confidence to build their capabilities in the face of China’s decade-long military modernization. Also, at a time when the U.S. should be focused on making and keeping friends in critical regions, ending our overseas presence would send the message that we can’t be counted on as a partner. If we packed up and came home, there’s no telling the damage this would do to perceptions of our leadership, or how these states would respond if we asked to return to these facilities during a future crisis.”

            “A final myth contends that the United States’ overseas presence isn’t welcome and only generates challenges. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Of course our overseas presence will sometimes create diplomatic strains, but on the whole allies and friends continue to express their desire for the U.S. to remain in the region and actively work to facilitate it. Following America’s withdrawal from the Philippines in 1991, for instance, Singapore stepped in by building a naval base large enough to berth a U.S. Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.”

            “In Europe, countries like Germany and Italy have helped to pick up the tab for our presence. Japan spends over $2 billion each year to cover the costs of our presence and has been in negotiations with the United States for over a decade – not to eject our forces, but to realign them to find a better balance between domestic demands and strategic priorities. South Korea provides over 40 percent of the total cost of maintaining U.S. forces on its soil and provided $4 billion in construction to better realign forces to the evolving mission. Finally, President Barack Obama recently announced that Australia has offered American troops and ships “permanent and constant” access to their facilities, another major step in our six-decade alliance with Australia.”

            “Since the end of World War II, the United States has maintained a forward defense presence to better enable regional deterrence. The flexibility afforded to U.S. forces to operate from a network of overseas facilities allows them to quickly respond to any regional crisis as it is emerging. Constraining U.S. forces to a continental posture would undermine this very advantage, placing an insurmountable logistical and geographic burden on them. While the Pentagon is being forced to make tough decisions about how to align itself for the future, our national security policy demands that we remain forward deployed and forward engaged.”

            • And I will say this only once….THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IS NOT AND SHOULD NOT BE THE POLICE OF THE WORLD.

              Sorry didn’t mean to yell. We have our own problems, here at home.

          • I would write on the other 2 issues but I am not so opposed to them where I couldn’t be flexible in my thinking. I may blog on these issues sometime in the future.

            Again thank you for all your impressive work!

  7. Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

  8. With the list that long, no wonder people would think this is complicated. 🙂
    But it actually is complicated, at least when you’re trying to regulate a large industry, because it can afford to hire thousands of lawyers to look for loopholes and ways around the regulations.
    Some of this stuff is simple – for example, Japan solved the problem of too many foreign workers by requiring corporations to pay more money to a foreign worker than to a local one for the same job.
    But how to stop corporations from outsourcing jobs – I’ll be damned if I know.

    • Also, I disagree with you on budget deficits on a federal level – it’s not a problem to carry some debt, and a country has to be able to borrow in case of an emergency, or when the rates are good and there is a legitimate reason – just like you’d borrow to go to college or buy a house. It’s just too much debt can become a problem

    • That one is actually quite simple X, by taxing the hell out of them when they send entire industries off shore. Treat the products they make to nice fat Tariffs coming back on-shore. That wipes out any savings they gain and makes them think twice.

      • That also permits the foreign countries to set the same fat tariffs on the American products, which would hurt the exports and cost jobs here.

        • That is what fair trade is X. We generated revenues for years through ‘fair’ trade that included tariffs. When we tell American companies they cannot send entire industries off-shore, reap profits, not pay taxes, get our tax dollars in the form of subsidies, put American workers out of work and not pay a single dime to bring the products they make back on-shore to sell we are shooting ourselves in the foot. That is not fair trade that is pure BULLSHIT.

          Tariffs on American companies doing this simply means they don’t make extraordinary profits.

          We are not talking about a Chinese company making products in China. We are talking about an American company shutting down manufacturing to take operations where they don’t have to pay fair wages, safe manufacturing laws, safe products or all the rest.

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