# Bread and Roses Socialism #
Advancing the Alternative American Dream
I’m running for the U.S. Senate to play a leadership role in a cultural revolution – as we rethink the basics of work, time, money, meaning, and identity; as we try to find a way of living in harmony with each other and the planet, at peace, with justice, in a decent society, with lives of beauty and work of passionate intensity.
I don’t have all the answers, but I do bring a fleshed out vision of where we need to go, and new policy ideas to get us there. I call it Bread and Roses Socialism. It brings together simple living, beauty, and equality. Most centrally it offers new ways of understanding work, education and the purpose of an economy. It’s an outlook that emerged from my book, Graceful Simplicity: The Philosophy and Politics of the Alternative American Dream.
What Do We Want?
- A less competitive society, with much less disparity between those at the top and those at the bottom.
- Less economic anxiety from early childhood through old age. Much more basic economic security.
- A steady reduction in necessary labor time. Expanding time outside the job system.
- Simpler lives, with less stuff, more quality, less quantity, and more time for friendship, community and environmental stewardship.
- More meaning, living our values, both at work and throughout life.
- More beauty in our lives, both natural and created, public and urban.
- Introducing, and then progressively expanding, the realm of passion-work in the lives of all.
- Education for its own sake and for critical thinking to solve pressing problems – more history, arts and humanities.
- Real global citizenship – taking the lead in protecting the planet and protecting the weak.
Most ambitiously, we seek a new culture, one in which personal identity and social status will have little to do with how one earns one’s money and the amount of it. We seek a culture in which identity and status will revolve around one’s passion-work, one’s values, character and excellences.
We seek to usher in a new vision of a developed society, and a new definition of progress, a culture that does not constantly aspire to more, one in which we live with a lighter footprint, yet at higher quality, one of human renaissance, one of frugal living within material limits, with an ever growing abundance of time that is truly one’s own.
Policies (See the fuller Bread and Roses policy agenda)
Guaranteed Basic Employment: A legal guarantee of at least 32 hours/week of paid employment.
Transition To the Four-Day Work Week: via a time liberty law allowing workers to opt for four days, after three years on the job.
Building the Simple Living Option: by policies to reduce the cost of meeting core economic needs —thus making the 4-day workweek viable for all. (e.g. A right to a one-time Zero-Interest Mortgage for modest or tiny new homes, Free education pre-k through college, Reducing automobile dependency by free public transit and highly subsidized alternatives to the car).
Tax transformation: that includes tax-elimination for the bottom third of households and more progressive taxation among the top 1/3, including progressive property taxes.
Schooling having less to do with the job market: with more focus on history, the arts, the humanities, and civics. With the love of books and the ability to contribute to the lives of others and to the beauty of the world as the hallmarks of successful education.
The Right to a Childhood Without Fear: Restoring sanity in setting limits to private weapons ownership. Transforming our most crime-ridden cities, where America's least advantaged children are 24/7 in a shooting gallery. A Marshall Plan for Baltimore. Building a Wealth-Stake in Poor Neighborhoods through Home Ownership by Those at the Bottom. Rethinking Imprisonment. Using inner-city creativity and energy to bring beauty to the mean streets of America. Immediate: Two Months of Safety = Sleep-away camp for the kids in our worst cities.
Free higher education in all public colleges: (just as I had at City College of New York). Untying education spending from personal earnings. Free public childcare as well. Education for simple living. Learning how to be happy without being rich, without having to have more than the other guy. Accessing, through education, the wealth that we have by virtue of inheriting great works of literature. This means schools in which each and every student loves to read and learns how to be “value added” to the world.
Medicare Option for All: To address, immediately, the needs of those who cannot access or afford decent health insurance from the private sector. Enhancing Medicare to cover long-term care, and gradual premium-elimination funded through tax reform, thus, untying health care from personal earnings. It also means Medicare that will be forward-looking as we transition into the health care revolution that is just beginning, one that will ultimately explode the life-span and transform the human condition.
Take Back Your Time: Worker Liberation—The right of every person to determine how much time they will put up for sale to the so-called “job creators.” Paid time-off, paid sick leave, paid family leave, paid vacation time -- minimum total of 30 days a year. Returning to the traditional Labor Agenda of a Shorter Work Week and a Short Work Day. Lowering the need for money by making America a truly efficient society in which basic needs can be met with modest incomes. Education of all young people in how to become your own non-profit, as we all become our own “job creators."
And Beauty for All: Equal access to America’s natural and human-made beauty. Protecting the environment for the next generation. Urban Renaissance. A recognition of the unappreciated role of beauty and creativity, both in economic development and as an essential part of the good life. Creativity classes in our schools. Arts for the elderly. Funding the humanities. Not just bread, but good bread, and New York style bagels too.
Foreign Affairs: Strong engagement in promoting the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Turning to the United Nations to take the lead by establishing a Peace Commission that would engage with all of Israeli and Palestinian civil society and develop a peace agreement most likely to win referendums of the Palestinian people and of the citizens of Israel. De-escalation in our relations with Iran. Building international structures of law and robust mechanisms of humanitarian intervention under the United Nations. Recognition of a legal right to boycott. Increased economic development assistance directed at the poor majority through basic human needs development strategies. And really, really, meaning it when we say: Never Again -- Not To Anyone -- Not Anywhere.
My campaign banner is Bread and Roses, the banner carried by women textile workers in their historic strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912.
Bread means: A Decent Society, one in which basic human needs are met, even for the poor. Roughly speaking this is Bernie Sanders. I support the goals of Bernie's agenda, and most of his policy positions.
Roses: means: Something higher. Something not attained through higher pay. It speaks to the more complex needs of people, even beaten-down immigrant workers in 1912. It is about our deeper need for beauty and meaning, about having time for life itself, time for being with old friends, time for enjoying our children when they are very young, time for being with our parents as they age, or in a book club, or for playing racquetball with an old buddy, three times a week. It's what I call the Alternative American Dream. It is captured in the bumper sticker wisdom: Nobody ever died wishing they had spent more time at the office. My campaign offers something new to progressive politics. It offers a policy agenda for Roses, one I developed in my book: Graceful Simplicity: The Philosophy and Politics of the Alternative American Dream.
I raise the most basic question of public policy: What is an economy for, anyway? My answer is this: To give us all a material platform that satisfies core needs with enough time and energy left over to allow us to turn away from the economic realm and to do those things that are most important in life, each according to their own drummer.
Bread & Roses