Economics

The Earth and its natural systems cannot be owned; they are to be respected and cared for in accordance with ecological principles. Concepts of ownership are provisional and temporary, to be employed in the context of stewardship and of social and ecological responsibility.

We call for an ecological economic system that is based on democratic and decentralized cooperative and public forms of ownership and control, not excluding small businesses-a new way that goes beyond the economic systems prevailing in the world today.

The corporate-market system is based on a competitive struggle to exploit people and nature for profits and growth. We reject this system because it creates a dynamic of endless growth that is incompatible with ecological sustainability and that fosters greed and domination in society.

State-bureaucratic command economies like those which once dominated Eastern Europe are no alternative to capitalism. We reject these systems as well because they place centralized power in the hands of state elites who have likewise exploited people and nature for military-industrial expansion in competition with the capitalist countries.

Overall goals

We therefore note the following as our goals for a Green economy:

Character of the current crisis

The world economy today faces a fourfold crisis: To deal with both the immediate effects of these crises and their underlying causes, we will work for the following as part of the struggle for a basic transformation of the economy.

Direct action for economic alternatives

We need to act now and support experiments to begin creating an alternative even before the public policies we advocate have majority support and can be implemented. We support direct action to create the decentralized, democratic, cooperative, and ecological economic alternatives that we call for as part of the struggle to win new public economic policies that transform the economy. Direct actions we support include but are not limited to:

Immediate public policy goals

Economic rights

Guaranteed right to a job:
Public job banks should be established so that people who cannot find decent work in the private sector can take a good publicly funded job that fulfills community-defined needs. A 30-hour workweek with no loss in income: We should equitably distribute income earning opportunities so that technologically induced structural changes in the economy do not create a bitter schism between affluent, securely employed production workers and marginalized, underemployed service workers.
Generous minimum wage :
The current minimum wage yields an income well below the poverty line. A generous minimum wage, indexed to inflation, will raise demand for basic necessities (an anti-recessionary stimulus), reduce inequality, and lift millions of the working poor out of poverty. Workers' superfund: We should provide income, education, and retraining grants to workers displaced by bankruptcies, corporate flight, military conversion, and technological change. The Superfund would pay workers at their current salary for hours lost from both involuntary layoffs and planned reductions in the workweek.
Child labor:
At least 88 million-and perhaps as many as 200 million-children under the age of 16 currently serve in the world's work force. The exploitation of child labor is growing in many newly industrializing countries, where children are frequently exposed to hazardous conditons, subjected to mental, physical, and moral harm, and denied the opportunity for education and personal development. The exploitation of child labor continues to exist in the United States in agriculture nationally and in sweat shops in New York and California. Child labor not only harms children, it takes jobs away from adults. We believe no child should be denied the opportunity for quality education and personal development. We therefore call for:
Generous minimum wage:
The current minimum wage yields an income well below the poverty line. A generous minimum wage, indexed to inflation, will raise demand for basic necessities (an antirecessionary stimulus), reduce inequality, and lift millions of the working poor out of poverty.
Fair trade:
The Greens stand for fair trade, not free trade. Free trade agreements increase the international mobility of capital, causing the loss of many U.S. jobs, the disruption of communities, federal preemption of state and local measures to protect labor and the environment at home, and abuse of labor and the environment abroad. To restrict the mobility of capital we propose the use of measures such as taxes, tariffs, and public enterprise, foreign aid policies that encourage indigenous public ownership and discourage foreign repatriation of profits, the cancellation of Third World and East European debts, and one year advance notice of company closings, with at least one year salary compensation as severance pay. We also support the efforts of rank and file unionists to organize internationally to counteract capital's mobility.

Taxation

Variable taxation on production:
This tax will fund the Workers' Superfund. It will be varied like a value-added tax according to the social and ecological priorities we choose. We advocate "true-cost" pricing to reflect our democratic choices about individual and collective consumption and ecological balance. This tax will be a democratic means of internalizing social and ecological costs in production.
Progressive wealth tax:
There is no reason for wealth to escape taxation while production, sales, and income are taxed. A progressive wealth tax on the richest 1% of Americans could more than pay for the $200-billion annual federal deficits of the last decade. We therefore propose a progressive wealth tax on the 1% of the population with more than $1 million. Peace tax fund: Until military expenditures are ended, we support the U.S. Peace Tax Fund, which allows citizens to direct their tax payments away from funding the military in a manner analogous to provisions for conscientious objection to military service.

Decentralized public sector industries and services

Rejecting all dogmatism as to either private or public ownership of productive wealth, we support a maximum of free initiative for individuals, cooperatives, and small companies, enabling them to earn a decent living in useful, meaningful vocations within an economy based on the goals of meeting human needs and protecting the environment. Diversity is a prime principle of ecology; we believe it should be a guiding principle of economics as well. Today our economy entails nearly total domination by for-profit corporate enterprise. The corporate sector has failed to meet human needs and has consistently abused the environment. Therefore we will work to promote alternative economic structures that put human needs ahead of profits and that are accountable to the communities in which they function.

Green economics will advocate and promote:

The approach we advocate in any given circumstance will be based on consideration of the particular conditions. Thus, our aim will be to select the most appropriate approach rather than deciding a priori that one model is correct regardless of circumstances.

The type of public sector we advocate in certain situations is not centralized, bureaucratic nationalization, but rather decentralized, democratic municipalization of industries and services. Where a larger-than-municipal scale is required, we call for the confederation of municipalities to share facilities regionally and the formation of grassroots democratic structures to perform planning and coordination functions at the national and international scales.

Public health service:
Health care should be provided free under democratic public ownership and control. A Public Health Service would replace control by insurance companies, hospital boards of directors, and medical associations with democratic control through elected representatives on local, regional, and national Health Service Boards. The Health Service would emphasize preventive care and employ salaried health workers who would serve the public on the basis of need, not profit.
Public banking and insurance:
The allocation of credit and capital investment should be democratized by bringing the banking and insurance companies under decentralized public ownership and democratic control. Public housing: The profit-oriented private housing market has never provided affordable housing for all. We support measures to replace private speculative ownership of land and housing for profit with social ownership (public, cooperative, or limited-equity household) under tenant control, with security of tenure and equity assured, but with resale for profit prohibited. Public funding of housing construction should go only to nonprofit builders. Public capital grants should replace debt financing to reduce public housing costs.
Public energy:
We call for a public ownership of the energy industry, from the oil companies to the electric utilities. The industry should be reorganized under a decentralized system of elected local, regional, and national energy boards so that people have the power to decide that we should move from nuclear and fossil fuels to the efficient use of solar-based renewable energy sources, emphasizing home-based systems.
Public transportation:
The auto and rail corporations should be brought under democratic control through the public energy institutions (transportation accounts for 25% of energy consumption). With democratic, public control, people will have the power to choose to rebuild the railroads and inner-city light rails and to convert the motor vehicle transport system from internal combustion to such nonpolluting means as electric propulsion through solar-hydrogen fuel cells. Public ownership of natural resources: Land, mineral resources, forests, the electromagnetic spectrum (used for communication), and other natural resources are the product of nature's evolution, not of any one individual. As such, natural resources should be held in common for the common good.
Peace conversion:
The money we need for public investments in social and ecological reconstruction is being squandered on the U.S. military to make the world safe for exploitation by global corporations. We call for massive immediate cuts in military spending of at least 75% and for the transfer of these funds to social and ecological reconstruction, including a peace conversion program to plan for alternative uses for the facilities of the military and defense contractors and to assist military personnel and military production workers through income, education, and retraining grants.

Guaranteed Minimum Income (August 1995 amendment)

A guaranteed minimum income should be structured into a progressive federal income tax as a negative income tax for those below the poverty line. The guaranteed minimum income should be sufficient to lift every American above a realistic poverty line, which would be 50-70% higher thantoday if it was readjusted to the real cost of living. This yields a guaranteed minimum income of $20,000 for a family of four in 1995 (with $2500 adjustments for more or fewer family members).

In 1995, the U.S. government has ended its 60 year commitment to the entitlement of poor people to income assistance. Two-thirds of those who lost their right to assistance are children and most of the rest are their mothers. The Greens should condemn the Democratic and Republican parties strategy of attacking fiscal deficits by depriving children and their mothers of the means of subsistence. The Greens should call for the restoration of the federal government commitment to the entitlement of poor people to income assistance. But we should not call for a restoration of the old welfare system, which was intrusive, punitive, and stingy, never providing sufficient income to lift families from poverty.

Maximum Wage (August 1995 amendment)

A Maximum Wage of ten times the minimum wage should be incorporated into a progressive federal income tax. With this Ten Times Rule in effect under todays extremely unequal distribution of income in the U.S., a 100% tax on income above ten times the minimum wage would allow income tax reductions for the bottom 99% and yet generate enough revenues to balance the federal budget without cutting spending.

The concentration of wealth and income of the top 1% has never been greater in the U.S. since the 1920s. In 1960, CEOs made 40 times the average factory worker's wage. By 1993, CEOs made 149 times more. At the same time, the income of the bottom 60% has declined for 20 years. The income of the next 20% has remained stagnant. Only the top 20% has seen their income and wealth grow in the last two decades, but most of this has been taken by the top 1%, whose after-tax incomes more than doubled in the 1980s and who now own 48% of all financial assets in the U.S. Meanwhile, the federal government has passed tax cuts for the rich and shifted the tax burden to the working middle class. The interest on the national debt now equals 15-20% of federal spending. Instead of borrowing from the rich (and paying them interest), the Greens should call for taxing the rich.

Long-term goals

The creation of worker cooperatives is a prime objective in transforming the market sector. These would be democratically controlled by their workers on the model of the Mondragon cooperative network in Spain (worker-owned industrial cooperatives that started in the mid-1950s and that are Spain's largest producers of refrigerators and stoves). We call for public funding and technical assistance to convert capitalist firms to cooperatives.

Community economics and an expanding informal economy: Progressively more and more goods and services should be removed from the money economy. As the work week is reduced, people will be able to reclaim time for informal household and community production and distribution, those areas of life which the market has been colonizing for the past few centuries. People will be free and secure enough to undertake these activities for their own sake, for creative expression, for pleasure, and for social solidarity. Ultimately we envision the substantial reduction of the money-dominated market economy, as production and consumption become a natural and normal aspect of living in self-governing ecological communities and bioregions.