One of the government's most important responsibilities is to promote the general welfare by making sure everyone has safe, well paying jobs and the ability to acquire the skills for those jobs no matter their ethnicity, gender identity, religion, age or disabilities.
We must raise the federal minimum wage to at least $15 an hour. No one who works a full time job should have to be on welfare. This only benefits the wealthy corporations that exploit workers leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. Raising the minimum wage reduces assistance spending, reduces crime, boosts the economy, increases tax revenue, increases pay for everyone and increases jobs. It makes more sense to remove people from assistance through improved pay and no sense for hard working families to require public assistance even when the breadwinners are working full-time.
We must establish and enforce equal pay for women. Equal work demands equal pay. Also, we must support and strengthen the labor movement to ensure that workers have a say in their own economic future. We need to support the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to organize and bargain collectively.
Nearly 40% of jobs in America will be automated in the next fifteen years and more will be shipped overseas. Corporate subsidies propping up factories and the fossil fuel industries cost billions of tax dollars a year while creating few jobs and only returning thirty cents for every dollar spent. Almost half of fossil fuel workers are no longer employed in the fossil fuel industry. This will not change as China, India and Europe move to clean renewable energy. Instead of wasting money propping up industries, we need to support the further development of renewable energy companies of our own.
Jobs aren't worth anything without the skills to work. In order to be competitive in an increasingly global market and save people from a lifetime of debt we need to have tuition free colleges and trade schools.
Infrastructure not only is the foundation for our communities, it is also a way to support jobs and increase the economy. Right now, too many towns in Louisiana have unsafe drinking water. Roads, bridges, levees, dams and railroads are in disrepair. Rebuilding our failing infrastructure would inject cash into the workforce and economy. Inexpensive and fast internet is essential in the modern economy for work and school. We must have net neutrality and consider the internet a utility.
None of these ideas are unachievable or radical. We are falling behind many other countries in the world economy who are implementing these exact policies.
Health care is a moral and financial issue. Almost seven hundred thousand families go bankrupt every year because of medical bills while insurance and pharmaceutical companies rake in trillions of dollars in profit. The U.S. pays more per person for health care than any other country in the world while we aren't even in the top ten of countries in quality of care. Obamacare doesn't go far enough while Trump and the current Republican Congress plan to throw millions off health care, increasing rates, and causing many more problems. People don't stop getting sick when they are uninsured or under-insured. Feelings and morals aside every uninsured person costs everyone else more, hurting working families the most. The only logical solution is universal care like Medicare for All. A single payer health care system drastically reduces costs, improves quality of care and improves quality of life.
In less than two years, we have lost consumer protections that have been carefully crafted for decades. Today our jobs are safer, our environment is cleaner, and our medicine is better because of common sense regulation of corporations. Consumer protection has been under attack by powerful corporate interests and the politicians they control. The consequences for us can be deadly, because without regulation, none of us are safe and insurance companies, Wall Street banks, dangerous hospitals and other wrongdoers can get away with the worst. We must act to make sure that there are common sense regulations in place and enforced to ensure consumers are protected.
Cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes legitimate scientific research into the plant's medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color. Thousands of veterans use it effectively to treat PTSD. It also alleviates the symptoms of many other afflictions including epilepsy, cancer, chronic pain and depression. States that have legalized cannabis have seen a large reduction in crime, opioid use, teen cannabis use and unemployment. States have also gained billions of dollars in revenue which have been invested in education, infrastructure, health care and social programs. Products from hemp include paper, clothing, plastic, fuel, and building materials. Millions of people have been locked away for years just for having a plant that most Americans think should be legal. We must end federal cannabis prohibition, remove it from the Controlled Substances Act and let people decide what is best for themselves.
Regular people no longer have representation in Congress. Billionaire donors and wealthy corporations elect the politicians and write the laws which we pay for in the end. Real campaign finance reform must happen as soon as possible by overturning the disastrous Supreme Court decisions permitting this. In the meantime, we need to pass legislation to require wealthy individuals and corporations who make large campaign contributions to disclose to whom their money is going. We need effective Truth in Advertising laws applied to political campaigns. Eventually, we need to move toward the public funding of elections so no one has financial control of our representatives.