Platform of United States Virgin Islands Green Party
Adopted 2011, With Inclusion of Universal Declation of Human Rights
THE TEN KEY VALUES OF THE GREEN PARTY
Ecological Wisdom. The Greens recognize that the Earth sustains all life processes. Green ecology moves beyond environmentalism by understanding the common roots of the abuse of people. Whatever we do to the web of life, we do to ourselves.
Social Justice. Greens want to replace the worldwide system of poverty and injustice with a world free of all oppression based on class, gender, race, citizenship, age, or sexual orientation.
Grassroots Democracy. The powerless suffer the most from resource depletion and toxic pollution. Greens believe in direct participation by all people in the environmental, political, and economic decisions that affect their lives.
Nonviolence. Greens reject violence as a way of settling disputes – it is shortsighted, morally wrong, and ultimately self-defeating. We are working to create a world where war is obsolete.
Decentralization. Power and responsibility must be restored to local communities within an overall framework of ecologically sound and socially just values and lifestyles.
Community-Based Economics. Greens seek a new economics that is based upon the natural limits of the Earth, and which meets the basic needs of everyone on the planet, under democratic, localized community control.
Feminism. The Green movement is profoundly inspired by feminist values. The ethics of cooperation and understanding must replace the values of domination and control over others.
Respect for Diversity. Greens honor the biological diversity of the Earth and the cultural, sexual, and spiritual diversity of Earth’s people. We aim to reclaim this country’s finest ideals: popular democracy, the dignity of the individual, and liberty and justice for all.
Personal and Global Responsibility. Greens demonstrate a commitment to global sustainability and international justice through political solidarity and in personal lifestyles based on self-sufficiency and living lightly.
Future Focus. Like the Iroquois, Greens seek a society where the interests of the seventh generation are considered equal to the interests of the present. We must reclaim the future for our children and ourselves.
One of the many directives of the GPVI is sustainability. Sustainability encompasses every facet of a fully functional, independent and well balanced society. The human race like every species shares this planet but the difference between us is that our role as stewards of the planet separates us from every other genus. It is with this responsibility that we act as stewards over the earth’s resources, and with insuring that these resources remain intact to be passed down to future generations. Steps need to be taken and policies made to shift away from the agenda of the dominant, two party duopoly of republican and democratic control that clearly demonstrate a lack of interest in these fundamental principles and lead us to a critical point in human history.
The Green Party will enact a radical change in our energy policies. The United States Virgin Islands must take immediate steps to reduce fossil fuel use through efficiency and conservation, develop renewable resources, and restructure WAPA and the electric industry. Energy conservation is the most ecologically sensible, economically sound and immediately available energy resource: reduce, reuse and recycle. Solar-hydrogen fuel, solar-electric photo-voltaic, solar- thermal electricity, solar heating, small-scale hydro, wind power, and biofuels must replace ecologically detrimental and socially irresponsible energy sources such as nuclear power, fossils fuels and hydroelectric. Our current energy practices rely on fossil fuels that pollute the atmosphere and nuclear generators that produce radioactive waste that remains hazardous for millennia. The detrimental effects of hydrocarbons, particulate matter, and other carcinogenic materials along with the skyrocketing costs of fossil fuels threaten the health and economic security of the territory; the cost of which that we as a people can no longer afford. The effects of Global Warming have impacted every corner of the globe to the point where governments around the world have now reconciled and come to the conclusion that it is real and places all life at risk. If we do not collectively take action, we condemn future generations to a world replete with potentially unsolvable problems that could have been avoided.
Enact a physical limit of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions (a “hard cap”) that steadily declines to zero by 2020 or sooner, with the time schedule for tightening assessed periodically according to climate, technological, and economic developments, and/or adopt a fee-and-dividend system to cut such emissions. The cap should cover all major sources of emissions, including utilities, transportation and energy-intensive industries, as well as agriculture, commercial and residential sectors. If any allowances are sold, they should be sold by the U.S. government for use in the United States only. There should be no free allowances, no offsets and no international sale or purchase of CO2 allowances. The revenues generated should be used to subsidize renewable energy, conservation, research and development, and worker and community transition. Under a fee-and-dividend system, gradually increasing fees would be imposed on the producers of greenhouse gases, while consumers would receive periodic dividends from the proceeds, based on their income level, with progressively higher dividends going to persons at lower income levels, that would provide protection from energy price hikes and promote a shift in spending in favor of clean energy and energy efficiency. The guiding principle is that those who are imposing such terrible costs on society should start paying the price for it, thereby creating an incentive for producers to transition to renewable energy and zero-emissions processes, and for consumers to transition to better insulated homes, sustainable transportation and more energy-efficient products. This would also create a more level playing field for producers of clean energy such as wind energy and solar power. As economies of scale are created for such production, the price of such energy will fall, and the shift to clean energy will accelerate and lastly we must eliminate all subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuels. We should not be subsidizing our reliance on the very fossil fuels responsible for most global warming.
Economic incentives to promote renewable energy production must be created. These can include subsidies and tax breaks but we would do well to look at Germany’s successes in promoting renewable energy – by regulating the prices that utilities must pay to renewable energy producers, essentially locking in a premium rate. The German government has also supported installation of solar and wind systems by offering 10-year interest-free loans, which can be paid off through sale of the electricity generated. Such a program has worked there; we should adopt it here. The USVI also needs to stop catering to utility intransigence and aggressively expand and enforce “net metering” requirements so that users of home-based renewable energy systems hooked up to the grid to sell their excess energy to power companies at retail price. The current net metering agreement set at a cap of 10kw is not enough and policy must be drafted to increase this figure.
Remove the restraints on renewable energy caused by Big Oil’s control over those new technologies. The giant oil, auto and other corporations have been known to buy up patents and small companies that promise new breakthroughs in solar, battery, fuel cell and other technologies, in order to keep us on the same destructive path of overreliance on petroleum. We must revisit our anti-trust and other anti-monopoly laws and create whatever legal means are required to put an immediate end to this pernicious practice.
These do not exhaust all the measures that could move us in the direction of a rational, clean energy policy. Many good environmental organizations, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, Repower the Midwest, the Environmental Law and Policy Center, Earth justice, the Sierra Club, the Apollo Alliance, The International Dark Sky Association and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, have inspired some of the proposals described in this platform – and have developed many more concrete policy proposals that would help us attain the goal of an greenhouse-gas-free, non-oil-dependent energy system. However, among political parties, it is the Green Party alone, devoted to its values of ecological wisdom, personal and global responsibility, future focus and sustainability, that recognizes the urgent necessity of getting these policies adopted, quickly and comprehensively.
Promoting cooperative and/or public ownership of our energy grid to replace the semi-autonomous status of WAPA, eliminate the LEAC and make available all records available for public review. The current price per kwh (+/- .48 cents) is clearly unacceptable as residents and businesses alike are suffering. In the short term, genuine rate rollbacks and strict regulation of the utility monopoly (WAPA) must be imposed while in the long term, roughly two to five years, we must find a better answer.
Green economy; taking advantage of the tremendous potential of the growing new renewable energy and energy-efficiency industries (wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, Green construction and retrofitting) to create new, well paying and far safer, jobs.
With respect to some of the environmental destruction caused by coal mining, off shore drilling, nuclear energy or any power derivative which poses and human health hazard or environmental threat, the GPVI is strictly opposed to such practices.
Use government purchasing power, agency practices and contracting authority to promote greenhouse gas reductions. Government purchasing alone can help boost fledgling energy efficiency companies and products, for example, by requiring the purchase of plug-in hybrids or EV (electric vehicles) for all new vehicles, or installing energy-efficient LED lighting. Territory contracting policies could require giving favor to companies that have reduced or eliminated their CO2 emissions.
What is of paramount importance is the need and urgency to recognize that we are in an energy crisis. The price per kilowatt is at least double the rate than most urban environments with some of the highest costs of living in the continental United States. With the amount of available alternative clean sources of energy, it makes sense to expedite the transfer and restructuring of our energy economy. U.S. dependence on imported oil contributes to our military involvement in other parts of the world. Scaling down the demand and reduction of this dependence by substitution of clean energy would eliminate or diminish the reason, the excuse, for such military involvement.
Agriculture and the entire food system must be transformed so that they truly meet basic human needs and become regenerative, sustainable and active forces in healing the Earth.
The GPVI seeks to encourage patterns of food production and dietary choices that foster self-reliance, both in our country and abroad. We support the movement to “eat locally” whenever possible, and the urban food-growing movement, as these help promote energy sustainability and community-based economics. We support policies that will help advance these movements.
We promote eating lower on the food chain, giving preference to regionally produced, organic foods grown on biologically balanced soils. We favor confronting the health; ethical, environmental, and economic issues related to the drawbacks of meat- and dairy-based diets. We call for truth in nutrition science, nutrition education and nutrition labeling, instead of the current regime in which government nutrition information and recommendations are repeatedly twisted by food processing corporations with an interest in keeping Americans on an unhealthy diet.
We call for the establishment of an ecologically based, sustainable agricultural system that moves as rapidly as possible towards regional/bioregional self-reliance. In the event of any shortage of available farmland, the emphasis of agricultural research should shift to support these goals and focus on acquaponic and aeroponic food production.
Soil conservation and regeneration, composting and water conservation, purification and desalinization must become top priorities. Alternatives to fossil-fuel-based fertilizers — alternatives that will regenerate the soil — need funding along with a phase-out of the use of artificial fertilizers. This will help lessen farmers’ over-dependence on big petrochemical/agribusiness corporations.
We need improvement and acceleration of small watershed programs and a task force to review and update our drainage laws to protect and conserve our soils.
The GPVI calls for halting all uses of poisonous pesticides and encourages the widespread use of integrated pest management. We oppose the patenting of any life form and the introduction of any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into our ecosystem. At a minimum, we support the position of the American Farmers Union, which calls for a moratorium on the patenting, licensing and introduction of GMO foods. As long as GMOs exist, we insist that they be clearly labeled so the public can make informed decisions.
America needs to change farm programs and tax and fiscal policies that presently place small and family farms in a disadvantaged position compared with that of large, corporate farms. We endorse policies that advance community and family organic gardens as a top Green priority. At the same time, we oppose “factory farming” practices, which are inhumane to animals, damaging to the environment, harmful to surrounding communities and harmful to consumers, including the widespread use of antibiotics on livestock.
We call for strengthening “organic certification standards.”
We support legalization of industrial hemp, a remarkably versatile product that can at once provide a valuable source of income for farmers and a valuable source of fuel, food source, paper and other applications.
In order for regions/bioregions to increase self-reliance in food production, the GPVI will encourage the initiation of steps to form food producer associations and cooperatives within regions, and to form economic development organizations that advance the manufacture of value-added agricultural products within regions. We also encourage community-supported agriculture programs, from community gardens to farmer/consumer purchasing agreements. Farm service, credit and action programs for family farmers should be administered by democratically administered community and county committees of farmers, in cooperation with local conservation district boards. We support policies that will require land grant universities to be more fully engaged in research in sustainable, organic, ecologically balanced agriculture.
It is crucial to protect genetically diverse seed stocks. Therefore, we join citizen-led organized resistance to bio devastation, genetically engineered foods and corporate control of the world food supply. We oppose corporate control of seed stocks and support farmers’ control of their own seed supplies.
We oppose the practice of eminent domain laws to take away agrarian land, not for legitimate public purposes, but to promote reckless, sprawling development. While we support protection of natural areas, no farmer should be forced to stop farming land, which has a cropping history without being given a right to appeal and without full and fair compensation for the land.
Some USVI farmers need property tax relief and we will fight for its passage, or the passage of a similar tax reform that will shift funding for education from local property taxes to a more progressively structured territory income tax.
ELECTORAL REFORM AND VOTERS’ RIGHTS
The GPVI calls for a true government of, by and for the people. This is only possible through easy access to voting by all people; proportional representation rather than the present winner-take-all approach; accurate, unhampered counting of every vote; and easy access of all people to the information they need to make informed decisions on who and what to vote for. The government should protect people and the planet from the excesses of moneyed interests.
Our elections should be clean, fair to all candidates, informative, accurate, and reflective of the public will, not the power of big money.
The GPVI supports clean-money elections and more media access for candidates. A ban on “soft money” contributions is needed immediately. We favor campaign finance limits on donations in the United States Virgin Islands, and we favor limits on the transfer of funds from party leadership to candidates.
We also favor a ban on corporate campaign contributions. Despite the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in the Citizens United case, we can effectively bar corporate interference in the political process by reinvigorating our corporate chartering laws, and imposing a new requirement; That corporations shall not be chartered, nor foreign corporations allowed to do business in the United States Virgin Islands, unless they agree not to engage in speech aimed at influencing its officeholders or candidates, or provide monetary support to any organization that aims to influence officeholders or candidates.
We will fight to end “pay-for-play” in the United States Virgin Islands by banning campaign contributions from state contractors, their owners and officers — and barring the awarding of contracts to any company whose owners or officers had made such a contribution to an incumbent. Contracts should be awarded on the basis of merit, with consideration given to historically disadvantaged groups and under-served communities.
We support the principle that the public airwaves belong to the people. We call for the reinstatement and enforcement of the Equal Time Provision of the Federal Communication Act, requiring broadcasters to carry debates including all ballot-qualified candidates and provide free time for all such candidates as a license requirement to use our public airwaves. We also support reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine.
We support greater empowerment of the people through direct democracy: Virgin Island voters should be able to place not only advisory referendum questions, but referenda and initiatives having the force of law, on the United States Virgin Islands ballot without onerous petition-signature requirements. By the same process, they should have the right to place on the ballot, for decision by majority vote, the question of recalling elected public officials before their term of office has expired. Laws that restrict the number of local or county referenda that may be placed on the ballot should be repealed.
The GPVI supports the creation of independent and non-partisan election administration bodies. Electoral commissions at all levels of government should be free of control by any political party. The Green Party supports statehood for the District of Columbia. We support for the right of United States territories, including Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Marianas Islands and the Virgin Islands, to be allowed to choose either statehood (with full voting rights), or independence, or to maintain their current status.
Youth in America are allowed to work at age 16 and are eligible for the draft at 18. Since laws affect the workplace and since youth should have the opportunity to elect or remove public officials who support policies that could send them to war, the GPVI supports the right of citizens of the United States who are sixteen and over the right to vote, provided that citizens of age 16 or 17 first complete an approved high-school level curriculum on civics and government. The GPVI believes that if these reforms are made, the territory and America will be a stronger and healthier democratic republic.
The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not guarantee health care for its population.
The U.S. spends far more on health care per person than any other country in the world – in fact more than twice as much as the average for other rich countries. We have the best technology and certainly among the finest physicians. Yet we are not getting our money’s worth in terms of good health.
The United States ranks near the bottom of the industrialized world in life expectancy, infant mortality, and other standard measures of health. The World Health Organization ranks the United States 37th in overall quality of health-care performance. No wonders, since so many don’t have health-care coverage at all and millions more have inadequate coverage.
The costs are obviously rising far faster than workers’ earnings. Businesses and consumers alike are suffering from either being priced out of the market altogether, or from the growing strain of paying through the nose for increasingly inadequate health-care insurance.
The framing of this issue by the corporate media and politicians as a “health insurance” crisis, rather than a health care crisis, is a deliberate misdirection. Fifty or more years ago, most people, when they got sick, paid their doctor – directly. Even hospital stays and surgery, while expensive undertakings, did not have quite the shocking impact that they have today. But over the years, as medical technology and methodology improved and became more sophisticated, the costs of all health services climbed. And gradually, more and more people turned to insurance to help pay for it.
The idea behind insurance, is that consumers pay a “middleman,” on a regular but gradual basis, to cover their health-care needs, rather than pay a huge amount all at once on the unpredictable occasions when they really need it, and, being sick or injured, less able to pay for it. There is nothing wrong with that basic concept. It makes sense economically.
The real question, though, is who is going to serve as the “middleman” – a private, for-profit business, or a public, nonprofit agency of some kind?
Since 1965, when the Medicare program was launched, our elderly citizens have had coverage from the latter. The rest of us have had to rely on the former, and therein lays the problem. The private insurance-based system is driving up the cost of health-care and increasingly sticking us with the bill.
Why? First of all, we, the consumers, and employers, are necessarily picking up the tab for insurance company profits, as well executive salaries that run into the millions, or even tens of millions. Because we have nowhere else to turn, they have a fairly captive market, with inelastic demand.
Second, insurers make money by not paying bills. They have incentives to erect administrative hurdles – by complicating and stalling payment they can hold premiums longer, boosting their interest income. Such hurdles also discourage some patients and providers from pursuing claims. In short, their profits rise when they can find ways to avoid paying bills, passing them on to either the government, other insurers, or to you, the patients.
Third, functions essential to private insurance but absent in public programs – such as underwriting, marketing, and corporate services – account for about two-thirds of private insurers’ overhead. But the waste that results from the system of private insurers is even larger than just the difference in administrative costs. The efforts of private insurers to avoid paying claims force hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other health care providers to spend hundreds of billions of dollars dealing with paperwork from the insurance industry.
Fourth, and related to the last point, a fragmented payment structure is inherently expensive. For insurers, it means the duplication of claims processing facilities and reduced insured-group size, which increases overhead. Fragmentation also raises costs for providers, who deal with multitudes of different insurance plans — one study pointed out that there are at least 755 insurance plans in the City of Seattle alone. This means providers must determine each patient’s insurance coverage and eligibility for a particular service, and keep track of varying co-payments, referral networks, approval requirements and formulas.
As a consequence of these factors, the administrative costs of the private health insurance system are almost ten times as great (per dollar amount of health-care payouts) as the administrative costs of the Medicare system. That is why the GPVI stands squarely, unequivocally and explicitly in favor of a single-payer universal health-care system, that will provide comprehensive, high quality physical, mental, dental health care, and eye care.
What is meant by “single-payer”? Simply stated, it means a government-financed health-care system – like our own Medicare system (leaving aside the recent “reform” regarding drug coverage), or the system in Canada and many other nations around the world. Under such a system, government pays the principal medical bills; consumers pay modest co-pay at most, and private insurance, at most, plays a secondary role, to cover co-pays or exotic or cosmetic treatments that aren’t covered by the publicly financed system.
The wealthiest nation in the world clearly ought to be able to deliver quality health care to all its citizens, no less than other industrialized nations. Health care is a critical social good that demands that collective interests prevail over private gain. It should be viewed as a right, not a privilege.
In addition, the GPVI supports:
1. Strong representation and a decision-making role for health-care recipients and health-care workers, and their unions, in public planning and oversight bodies.
2. More emphasis on promoting public health through better education on nutrition, organic food, exercise, avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol, practicing safe sex, and other healthy practices. Studies have shown that such education proves the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: Investing in public health education today will save public health-care costs tomorrow.
3. Drugs or medicines developed with public funds should be made available at affordable prices, by prohibiting monopoly licensing and control of new drugs and, if necessary, by imposing price controls.
4. High quality and adequately staffed mental health facilities, designed to provide a high standard of care in the least-restrictive appropriate environment.
EDUCATION, FAMILY AND YOUTH: A HEALTHY HOME ENVIRONMENT
Our Party’s approach to education recognizes that there are two major dimensions to the issue: Both the home environment and the public education system itself. Accordingly, in this section we propose measures that will help improve the ability of families to thrive and create a positive home environment. In the next section, we take up the issue of public education policy.
We cannot achieve success in education without addressing all the needs of our people and environment, and without re-examining our national and local priorities, including the way our government funds are spent. While government officials proclaim we do not have adequate funds for education, at the same time they squander most of our tax money on subsidies for “corporate welfare”, i.e. Diageo. Shifting these resources to education, health and basic social services is an enormous priority. We have the money, and need to use it for our people and environment, not to fuel corporate aggression for the benefit of an elite few, which is the hallmark of our present political and social regime.
Education begins at home. There is no question that the care given to children when they are infants, and even prenatally, has a tremendous and critical impact on their future ability to learn and become full, productive members of society and responsible citizens. The issue of education thus cannot be separated from the issue of quality, living-wage jobs, access to health-care, decent housing and the other basic requisites of a healthy home environment. In addition, education needs to start at the top as well as the bottom: As a society, we need to make parental education – teaching prospective parents how to be good and responsible parents – a priority, just as much as we need to make quality pre kindergarten programs accessible to parents throughout the territory.
We need to recognize that parenting is real work (as are the other invisible labors of the home) and support it in a real way. In some European countries, there is mandatory paid parental leave for parents of children up to the age of three. We would do well to emulate that example.
We need support for child rearing done in the home, and professional quality day-care for families where all the adults work outside of the home.
In keeping with our support for the family, and the rights of youth, we support:
1. Paid emergency leave for workers to care for sick children or parents/elders.
2. Full benefits to domestic partners, regardless of sexual orientation.
3. Flexible hours and/or job-sharing in the workplace, to further support families.
4. Full social security and pension benefits for spouses and domestic partners of workers.
5. Support for meaningful gathering places, programs, and work/study opportunities for youth. Respect for the wisdom of our young people, giving them opportunities to be heard.
6. More effective intervention to break the cycle of domestic violence. Greater societal support for social workers so that they aren’t given impossible case loads and can provide meaningful intervention and assistance to families struggling with poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, violence and other conflicts.
7. Decent wages for part-time and summer jobs for youth.
PUBLIC EDUCATION POLICY
Recognizing the value of a holistic, sustainable approach to public education, the GPVI supports the following public education policies and reforms:
1. Nutritious, safe foods must be made available and subsidized in all school cafeterias, breakfast and lunch programs, etc. There must be required health and nutrition education for all children and teachers.
2. Citizenship/civics classes, including ethics education, must be required in all schools. Students must learn how to assert their power and rights as citizens to control their government and communities, rather than having citizenship defined as learning to “salute the flag” and follow orders.
3. Human Rights Education (HRE) must be supported in all public schools in the United States Virgin Islands, from preschools to institutions of higher learning. Because human rights issues pervade so many areas of learning (e.g., history, social studies, geography, literature), we support the integration of HRE into existing subjects, rather than the creation of new classes artificially focused solely on human rights. Effective HRE will result in better-informed, more compassionate citizens, who in turn will be more willing and able to play a constructive role in their governments and communities. Effective HRE will also embrace understanding of diversity of view and culture, and will include learning about the wide variety of religions and social customs, including those within our own communities.
4. The development of critical thinking skills is imperative to the survival of democracy. Accordingly, students of all ages and at all levels must be encouraged to examine critically all materials presented to them, including science, history and current events, and must be afforded diverse learning materials and the opportunity to develop, express and debate alternative viewpoints, not merely the viewpoints advocated by textbooks, teachers, and school officials.
5. Home economics classes should also be required – for the purpose of teaching real home economics, beginning with the basics of home budgeting, financial responsibility and planning, and avoiding unmanageable levels of debt.
6. We need to make our schools safe – not by promoting a mini-police-state environment but by combining strict enforcement of safety rules with early intervention to promote non-violent conflict resolution. The school curriculum must include teaching and modeling of non-violent conflict-resolution and peer-counseling skills. There must be meaningful teaching and discussion of skills surrounding interpersonal relationships, taking into account different cultural mixes.
7. Safe education also requires safe transportation to and from school. Seat belts and shoulder harnesses must be made available on, and their use required in, school buses, no less than in private automobiles.
8. We need to ensure adequate funding of special education for all children with disabilities, physical and mental.
9. We oppose any impositions on school curricula, such as the Federal “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” programs. The Federal dollars provided cannot justify sinking our schools under the awful weight of this horrible education regime, with its destructive over-emphasis on testing and “teaching to the test.” We also oppose most plans to introduce “merit pay” for public school teachers – a concept that sounds good on the surface but that creates divisiveness over how to fairly assess a given teacher’s performance — especially when so many factors affecting student performance are beyond the teacher’s control.
10. We support decentralization of the school system, making it responsive to the specific needs of each community. We support policies that encourage meaningful input and participation from all members of the community, including students and parents.
11. We oppose corporate involvement or influence in our school and educational system, via advertising, advertising-biased curriculum, and promotional materials sneaked into classrooms through “donations” of biased teaching materials.
12. We affirm the right of families to home-school their children, and support the entitlement of home-schooling families to the same benefits as are given to private school attendees.
13. We oppose vouchers, or other use of public money to support non-public education and divert public money away from education that is accessible to all.
14. We support the availability of public “magnet” schools that focus on special interests such as science or music. We do not oppose public charter schools within carefully prescribed limits, if the intention is for the school to offer an educational experience that is qualitatively different or specialized, and is not used as a pretext for dividing children on the basis of class, race or other improper criteria. Charter school funding should not disproportionately divert resources from other public schools and should not be established to the detriment of neighborhood schools. Charter schools must be subject to the same public sector labor laws as other public schools, and charter school employees should have the same collective bargaining rights as other public school employees. We oppose the “turnaround model” which entails firing teachers en masse, then hiring teachers under lower wages and worse working conditions in order to enrich private, for-profit contractors.
15. We oppose the alarming degree of monopolization of school textbooks by a small handful of for-profit corporations with an agenda to present history, social and physical sciences and other subject matter in a biased manner. We support alternatives to this corporatist model, including the establishment of non-profit institutions to produce textbooks and the use of open-source, collaborationist and cooperative methods to develop educational materials and curricula.
16. The school system must recognize and honor multiple learning styles and varying speed of educational development of different children. The definition of “normal” must be expanded to include these different learning types, and the curriculum must be adapted to provide appropriate educational methods to reach all of these children without labeling them as “abnormal.” This includes active children who currently are not given the resources and opportunities needed for them to learn in a healthy way.
17. We oppose medicating, or pressure to medicate, children whose learning styles do not “fit in” with a uniform classroom or the comfort of the teacher. We support education of teachers and others (including parents) in alternate, natural ways of working constructively with children not thriving in the standard “classroom” environment.
18. Military recruitment should not be allowed in our schools (including ROTC and Jr. ROTC). Recognizing that some schools may be resistant to an outright ban on recruiters, we support equal access to our schools by peace organizations, counter-recruitment counselors and alternative service organizations.
19. Ethical topics must be included in teaching science, especially in “controversial” areas such as biotechnology and nuclear power.
20. We support universal pre-K education.
21. All education for and about the Earth must acknowledge the reality of the interdependence of all existence, and must approach the human relationship with this planet and all life that it supports with reverence and respect, not with the view that the Earth is merely an object to be conquered, exploited or subjugated to the will of humans.
22. A well-rounded education must include education and experience in the arts, as well as physical education and adequate time for exercise during the school day. These are not “frills” to be cut at the first sign of financial difficulty but must be understood as a vital part of P-12 education.
The issue of immigration policy in the United States is a thorny and often emotional issue that seemingly defies finding any one “right” answer. But if we are to find the best, most sensible policy, comporting with Green values, we must begin by recognizing some basic precepts.
First, the fact that there are 12 million or more people in this country who have few, if any, legal rights is a huge problem for all working people. Other things being equal, when the supply of labor rises, relative to demand, the price of labor – wages – will fall. That is simply a fact of economics. And when a large part of this increased supply consists of undocumented workers who can be forced to work under miserable conditions and even below-minimum wages, it has an even bigger downward impact. An underground economy that defies minimum wage laws will necessarily take away jobs that pay decent, or at least minimum, wages. Unscrupulous politicians and political commentators use this situation to whip up anti-immigrant sentiment among native born working people.
Second, let’s also not blame the undocumented workers who are being victimized by this system. The majority of immigrants who come from Mexico or other impoverished nations are being driven by dire circumstances. They do not choose to leave their homelands or their families and take tremendous risks to get here because they want to take away American jobs. They are trying to do the same thing that workers everywhere do – survive, support their families, and hopefully make a better life for themselves. It makes no sense to criminalize them for it. A Green immigration policy has to be grounded in the demand for social justice for all working people, documented and undocumented.
Third, let us not be self-righteous or arrogant in our treatment of, or attitude toward, immigrants. Except for the Native Americans, who were here first, and African Americans, descended from persons brought here against their will, the rest of us “Americans” are descended from immigrants, most of whom were fleeing either persecution or economic hardship, or both – just like immigrants today.
Fourth, let us identify the real causes of this situation of such a large section of working people in this country having a second-class status. These include:
The role of U.S.-based giant agribusiness corporations, the international banks, NAFTA, CAFTA, and U.S. foreign policy generally, in creating massive poverty in Latin America in the first place. Farmers in Mexico are being driven out of business and driven off their land by our heavily subsidized corporate agribusiness, which floods the Mexican market with cheap imported corn and other grain. Already poor to begin with, many of these displaced farmers flocked to the factories and sweatshops near the border, called maquiladoras, where U.S. manufacturing corporations exploited them. However, now many of the maquiladoras have closed, their operations moved to China or other nations where their owners can exploit even cheaper labor. These displaced farmers and former farm and factory workers comprise most of the desperately poor that are being driven to seek work in the United States. (For good background information, see, for example, the reports on Mexico and Guatemala at www.madre.org.)
The demands of U.S. agribusiness and reckless urban growth in unsustainable regions has also led to a misappropriation of water resources (e.g., the Colorado River) that has robbed Mexico of this essential resource and further harmed Mexican agriculture, generating more poverty.
The role of U.S. corporations, and smaller sweatshops in the United States, in the agriculture, meatpacking, construction, textile and other industries, as well as restaurants, custodial contractors, landscaping contractors, etc., in knowingly employing undocumented workers, so that they can get away with paying sub-standard wages. These are the real criminals – the giant corporate outfits and the sweatshop “cockroach capitalists” alike. They are deliberately and cynically taking advantage of the huge influx of immigrant labor – which is part of the reason why the two corporate political parties are so conflicted over the immigration issue. Thus, we see some Republican leaders pandering to the extremists who favor the most militaristic and repressive “solutions” to immigration, while other Republican and Democratic leaders alike try to cater to their wealthy contributors who benefit from the exploitation of undocumented workers – talking out of both sides of their mouth by pushing schemes like the “guest worker” program.
There are other factors that contribute to the flow of immigration – such as the oppressive and corrupt government in Mexico, which has betrayed its people in order to cater to multinational capital, and which has cynically used immigration as an escape valve for its own unemployment problem.
Every nation has a fundamental right to control its own borders and the terms and conditions of entry into its territory. Yet considering why so many undocumented immigrants have been forced to come here, and considering the dangers of further militarizing an already over-militarized society, it makes no sense to attempt to “solve” the immigration problem by militarizing our borders. This not only sends a negative signal internationally; it is a dangerous and bad precedent.
We believe in the rule of law and we are searching for a way to develop an immigration policy that is socially just and consistent with the rule of law. We also need to recognize that a policy that would even attempt to expel 12 million or more persons who have been living and working here, many for years and sometimes decades, would be both extremely unjust and logistically impossible. Any solution to the immigration issue has to be grounded in respect for the human rights of the undocumented immigrants. Accordingly, to bring our policy in line with the rule of law, we must find ways to make legal pathways to immigration easier and faster, both for workers who seek entry and workers who have already been contributing to our society.
We must be extremely vigilant against our government undermining our basic civil liberties under the guise of searching for undocumented immigrants. We must not allow politicians of any party label to use scare tactics to further attack our liberties.
The GPVI accepts as a goal a world in which persons can freely choose to live in and work in any country he or she desires. We recognize that this would be impractical without reciprocity between nations. We seek that reciprocity as a practical goal. Countries do have a right to know the identity of persons seeking to enter. They also have the right to limit who can come in to protect public safety and legitimate security concerns.
While these precepts may not yield perfect answers, they provide better answers than the status quo. We must recognize that there cannot be any true solutions to the conflicts created by immigration until we are able to organize globally to overcome the power of multinational corporations, which are engaged in an unending campaign to drive down workers’ living standards everywhere. International cooperation and solidarity among labor organizations, to advance the rights of labor and raise such living standards globally, are essential to combat this trend. Until the power of the multinationals is curbed, we will continue to be confronted with seemingly “no win” choices.
While working toward that goal, however, the following immigration policies would be consistent with the Ten Key Values and the above-stated precepts:
1.The undocumented immigrants, who are already residing and working in the United States, and their families, should be granted a legal status, which includes the chance to become U.S. citizens. Persons should be excluded from this process only if they present a clear and present danger to other members of our society. The level of fees required for this process should not be a burden on low-income workers. In any path to citizenship created to provide an orderly and appropriate resolution of the status of persons currently in the United States without proper documentation, we demand a recognition of past, uncredited payments into the Social Security System as part of any fees assessed for regularization of status.
2. In regard to who should have a right to come and live and work in the U.S., we support the following policies:
a) The Green Party calls for permanent border passes to all citizens of Mexico and Canada whose identity can be traced and verified. The “matricula consular” should be accepted as one means of proving one’s identity. Work permits for citizens of Mexico and Canada must be easily obtainable, thereby decriminalizing the act of gainful employment. This action would help eliminate exploitation of undocumented persons by criminals engaged in human contraband (coyotes) and unethical employers. It would also help ensure that taxes will be paid in each corresponding nation per its laws. These measures will also help temporary residents from Mexico and Canada to secure driving privileges and liability insurance.
b) All persons fleeing political, racial, religious, or other types of persecution must be welcomed, offered asylum and offered an opportunity for permanent resident status, excluding only those who are clear risks to public safety. The history of arbitrary denial of political asylum claims must be ended.
c) Family reunification must be a priority in accepting applications for permanent residency. The years of waiting that families are currently put through must be ended.
d) Permanent residency should not be denied based on political views, racial or national origin, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, or any other arbitrary basis.
e) There are many countries in the world where the economic policies and military actions of the U.S. government or U.S.-based corporations have caused extreme hardships. The peoples of these countries deserve special consideration if they wish to come to the U.S. to escape intolerable conditions created by our government or U.S. corporations.
(f) We must keep faith with our commitment to the United Nations, to assist in the resettlement, including to our own country, of refugees currently stranded in refugee camps in other parts of the world.
(g) All those who are issued work permits must have the option to come and go from the U.S. as they desire. They must also have the option of remaining in the U.S. and becoming U.S. Citizens.
3. Recognizing that a just reform of immigration policy may take some time, the GPVI supports:
a) Measures to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses if they can prove their identity and pass the required tests. This will improve road safety and allow the undocumented who are driving in any case to obtain insurance.
b) Measures to give legal status to undocumented immigrants who graduate from high school in the U.S. and who are otherwise qualified, to allow them to attend colleges and universities on an equal basis with other high school graduates. The Green Party is opposed to efforts to force undocumented youth into the U.S. military as the price for legal status.
c) Reduce wait lists and make the system work more efficiently: current numeric caps on immigrant visas must be increased. The current system of quotas and preferences has to be thoroughly and realistically reformed. Current backlogs must be brought up to date as soon as possible. Wait times for processing and resolving immigration benefit applications should be reduced to no more than six months. Pre-1996 screening criteria for legal permanent residency and citizenship applications should be restored.
4. The understandable concern about immigrant workers competing for jobs with current citizens cannot and should not be addressed by criminalizing undocumented immigration or punishing fellow victims of U.S. corporatist policies. Instead, we must reverse the policies. Among other things, we should repeal NAFTA, CAFTA, Fast Track and other corporate globalization policies. We must stop using our tax dollars to subsidize corporate agribusiness and to promote poverty in Latin America, and start using them to help reward environmentally responsible family farmers, encourage improved infrastructure and economic conditions in Latin America, and raise labor standards, at home and abroad. Here at home, we must also promote the policies, as outlined in the Economy and Workers’ Rights sections of this Platform, that can help us achieve a full employment economy at a living wage, including strictly enforcing and expanding the rights of all workers to form unions.
5. We advocate an end to employer sanctions, which have been shown to hurt not only undocumented workers but also U.S.-born workers (especially those of color). Instead, the focus on employers must be to vigorously enforce our wage and labor laws. Don’t further victimize the victims of corporate globalization; create real opportunities and raise labor standards for all!
6. We oppose the provision of current law, which allows state or local police to become agents of federal immigration authorities. Local policing functions should be totally separate from immigration enforcement.
7. We oppose “English-only” legislation. Immigrants already have ample incentive to learn English. But when interaction with the government is limited to the English speaking, persons are put at additional risk of exploitation. The focus needs to be on providing adequate and accessible English language instruction and assistance. We support Refugee Rights to make the United States Virgin Islands the eminent and culturally progressive territory in the nation in assisting immigrants to learn English in their communities, at their places of work, school, and worship. We advocate legislation to ensure that federal funds marked for communities to provide ESL (English as a second language) training, and health and social support services to immigrants, actually go to them. When funds are spent in other areas, immigrants are being deprived of benefits that they earn as productive workers in their communities. Meanwhile, courts, social service agencies, and all government agencies dealing with the public must provide trained and certified translators. Additionally, the language rights of peoples who were in this land before it became part of the U.S., including Native Americans and Mexicans in the Southwest, must be recognized and respected.
8. We oppose the militarization of our borders by using the National Guard as border police. This will further intensify the human rights disaster our immigration policy has become, as well as seriously harm border ecosystems. We demand an immediate end to policies designed to force undocumented border-crossers into areas where conditions dramatically increase the risk of permanent injury or death, destruction of fragile environments, and the cutting off of corridors needed by wildlife for migration within their habitat. For these reasons, we specifically oppose the walling off of both traditional urban crossing areas and of wilderness areas. We mourn the death of those thousands of men, women and children who have died trying to illegally enter the United States where a couple of decades ago such deaths were virtually unknown.
9. We must resist proposals that use illegal immigration as an excuse to put us all under further government monitoring and control by means of a national ID card or other identification or tracking systems. Citizen workers who have been propagandized to support “tougher” measures to identify and apprehend undocumented workers need to carefully consider what they are asking for. The same snare they want the government to use against undocumented workers can easily be used to repress them. Our government is already engaged in illegal spying and surveillance of its own citizens. It is already invading our privacy. A national ID card system is one of the hallmarks of a totalitarian government or police state. We need to repeal the Real ID Act, the PASS ID Act, and resist the establishment of any system that would suppress freedom to travel and require citizens and non-citizens alike to “show their papers” and reveal their private information to government monitors at every turn. Until there are structural reforms to our current immigration system, we cannot support the imposition of the “E-Verify” system to screen people applying for jobs.
10. We demand recognition of the sovereignty of indigenous nations whose territories cross national boundaries. These indigenous nations have the right to determine the status of their members.
11. We demand new policies and laws that deal more effectively and humanely with the victims of the increasing problem of illegal international trafficking in humans, primarily women and children who are bought, kidnapped, coerced, brutalized, defrauded, tricked and sold and marketed for forced sex (rape) and prostitution, with an estimated 50,000 trafficked to the U.S. And we call for stiffer, more appropriate policy, structure and laws to deal with the traffickers. We also demand that procedures that deport victims before the traffickers are prosecuted must be changed to allow the victims to testify against the traffickers, which is a major component to bringing these cases to justice and to help to stem the tide of this heinous crime. The victims of trafficking should have the option of permanent residence in the U.S. or return to their home countries according to the individual’s choice.
FINANCE AND BANKING
As the U.S. economy entered 2008, it was beset by a new crisis, albeit several years in the making: a collapsing real estate market, punctuated by a wave of foreclosures, causing hundreds of thousands of homeowners to lose their homes, and sending the economy into a tail-spin.
The immediate cause of this crisis has been identified as an uncontrolled “bubble” of speculation. Largely unregulated financial institutions engaged in new types of predatory lending, the dominant form of which has been the sub-prime mortgage, including outrageous variants like the payment option adjustable-rate mortgage, under which the homeowner’s principal debt can actually grow over time. These financial institutions then sold the mortgages to speculators who bid up the price to irrational proportions. As interest rates on these usurious mortgages soared, homeowners began defaulting – and the housing market has come crashing down.
However, the sub-prime mortgage crisis was only one symptom of a much larger disease. As giant multinational corporations and banks have looted our economy and ruined much of its industrial base, it is now heavily dominated by the “FIRE” (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) sector. This sector has taken advantage of low-income and middle- income workers, especially people of color and women, students and the disadvantaged, by engaging in an unprecedented expansion of credit and debt, fueled by deceptive and unconscionable predatory lending practices. Controlled and compromised by the same institutions, the federal government has deliberately dropped the ball in regulating wild speculation based on such practices. As a result, our national economy is facing ruin, under a crushing burden of indebtedness.
Greens in government would work to “bring the FIRE under control.” One top priority would be to stop the wave of foreclosures, with a goal of saving home ownership – not by bailing out predatory lenders with taxpayers’ money, but by imposing an immediate emergency freeze on foreclosures, followed by national legislation requiring renegotiation of unconscionable mortgage agreements, to meet new regulatory standards. Lenders would still be assured a return but on terms that maximize the successful retention of homes by the purchasers. Similar bold new strategies should be employed to bring record credit card debt and student loan payments within affordable limits.
The GPVI also supports more sustainable pathways toward home ownership, and community ownership of productive resources, through community land trusts, producers’ cooperatives and similar institutions that empower the people.
The predatory practices of banks and other lending institutions are not limited to their direct scamming of unwary consumers. The monetary foundation of our Republic is another, longstanding target. The Constitutional power to issue the nation’s money supply was reserved to Congress. But in 1913, Congress abdicated that responsibility and turned it over to the Federal Reserve, a private banking cartel given the right to issue Federal Reserve Notes and lend them to the U.S. government. These notes, issued by the Fed for the cost of printing them, today form the basis of the national money supply. Except for coins, which compose only about one one-thousandth of the total U.S. money supply, all of our money is now created by banks. Federal Reserve Notes (dollar bills) are issued by the Federal Reserve, a private banking corporation, and lent to the government. Furthermore, Federal Reserve Notes and coins together compose less than 3 percent of the money supply. The other 97 percent is created by commercial banks as loans.
The “reserves” of the Federal Reserve consist of government bonds (I.O.U.s or debts). The government issues bonds, the Federal Reserve issues Federal Reserve Notes, which are essentially just traded for the bonds, leaving the government in debt to a private banking corporation for money the government could have issued itself, debt-free. One consequence of this system is that new money must continually be borrowed into existence just to pay the interest owed to the bankers. The economic problems generated by our spiraling national debt problem could be greatly alleviated if Congress were to take back its Constitutional power to issue the nation’s money, and banks restricted to responsible lending practices based on actual funds, rather than a never-ending supply of government bonds, ultimately backed by its taxpayers.
The GPVI believes that an essential condition for the improvement of the Virgin Islands’ neighborhoods and communities, as well as its rural and unconsolidated areas, is for people who dwell in these places to have fair and equal access to credit and banking services, especially lower-income and minority communities, in the form of home and business loans made widely available on reasonable and responsible terms. Therefore, we support the continued existence and rigorous enforcement of the Community Reinvestment Act, which mandates that financial institutions doing business in local communities set aside a portion of their loan funds for use by individuals, organizations, and businesses in those communities.
The GPVI promotes community reinvestment by seeking to build the capacity to accomplish it between existing and emerging community organizations, and by creating the necessary understanding and support among business leaders, elected officials, and government regulators.
Ensuring the enforcement of the Community Reinvestment Act is an especially urgent task in the face of rapid changes in the financial industry brought on by mergers between existing small and medium-sized banks and the much larger metropolitan banks, resulting in huge mega-banks headquartered hundreds and even thousands of miles distant from the communities they serve.
CRIME AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE
In the United States Virgin Islands, as in the rest of the nation, our criminal justice system is in dire need of an overhaul. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. As of 2005, there were nearly 2.2 million people in prisons and jails nationwide. Hundreds of thousands more are on probation or parole. The United States incarcerates seven times as many people per capita as Canada or Germany and more than triple the rate for Mexico. Yet massive imprisonment has had little, if any, impact on the rate of violent crime.
Our nation spends approximately $60 billion a year on so-called corrections. Yet despite the millions spent on new prisons annually, our prisons are still bursting at the seams with overcrowding. The dehumanizing treatment experienced by most prisoners makes it all the more likely that they will commit violent acts upon their release. The current theory that our society can solve the crime problem by punishing or “incapacitating” criminals through massive, long-term incarceration isn’t working.
The crime problem needs to be attacked on several levels. The most important step is to address the causes of crime by creating a healthier economic system that can provide well-paying jobs for all who need them Poverty and economic insecurity are not the sole causes of crime, but they are probably the most important single factor. Economic insecurity also breeds domestic violence and child abuse, which, in turn, perpetuates violent behavior when abused children become adults.
Another important step is to redefine the kinds of conduct that are regarded as “criminal.” Eighty-four percent of the increase in the prison population since 1980 is attributable to persons convicted of nonviolent offenses. One survey of state prison inmates showed that 53% were convicted of crimes that most people would regard as “petty” — such as shoplifting $10 worth of merchandise or possessing small amounts of marijuana.
Indeed, much of the prison-overcrowding problem stems from our society’s misguided attempt to legislate morality by criminalizing the use of drugs. It is senseless to punish people for using a relatively benign substance like marijuana while the use of more harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco is being encouraged through mass advertising. The prohibition of more addictive drugs such as cocaine or heroin only ensures that the price remains so high that many addicts must turn to theft or prostitution in order to feed their habit. We advocate a more sensible policy: Cannabis should be legalized, although its legal use should be restricted to adults. The penalties for simple possession and use of other drugs should be greatly reduced.
Serious substance abuse problems of all kinds, including alcohol and tobacco, should be dealt with as a public health matter, not as a criminal matter, with more resources devoted to drug education, treatment and social intervention. A sensible policy on drug abuse and crime should also eliminate the hypocrisy, double standards and injustices that permeate the criminal justice system today, such as:
1. The hypocrisy of the federal government proclaiming “zero tolerance” on drug abuse when the CIA for years has employed the “services” of organized crime and has winked at, if not aided, major suppliers of heroin and cocaine.
2. The injustice of “civil forfeiture” laws, which have allowed law enforcement agencies to rake in millions of dollars by seizing the property of persons who have merely been accused of drug offenses and retaining it even when the accused is later found innocent.
3. The double standard of specially targeting African-Americans for arrests and tougher prosecution, resulting in a disproportionate rate of convictions, longer sentences and a higher rate of capital punishment for African- Americans than for white Americans.
4. The double standard of imposing severe punishment for victimless crimes, while much corporate, “white- collar “crime — including violations of environmental and worker safety laws that can kill hundreds or thousands of people — often goes unpunished or is punished by “slap on the wrist” fines.
5. The injustice of providing inadequate resources to public defenders’ offices, resulting in wrongful convictions and incarceration of poor people.
6. The injustice of allowing private enterprise to exploit prison labor, a policy that eliminates real jobs from our communities, while undermining unions and the wage standards of all workers.
Finally, when people must be incarcerated for committing violent or other serious crimes, our criminal justice system must make serious attempts to rehabilitate offenders, not just punish them, by providing better counseling, psychiatric evaluation and therapy when needed, and better educational and vocational training opportunities to inmates. The use of alternatives to prison, such as “half-way houses” and programs that help convicts find jobs and manage their lives successfully, should be expanded. Persons convicted of crimes should be encouraged to turn their lives around, not brutalized and degraded.
Similarly, in keeping with its values of nonviolence and social justice, and in light of recent experience showing that the State’s criminal justice system has put innocent people in danger of being executed, which in turn prompted a moratorium on the death penalty, the GPVI is opposed to capital punishment.
This does not mean that Greens are “soft” on crime. The Green Party recognizes that our society, at least at present, does create some people who have become so violent that they must be separated from the general population through some form of incarceration. However, to be truly “tough” on crime means attacking the causes of crime as much as possible, focusing on crimes that truly harm society, and focusing on turning offenders into productive, law-abiding citizens. It means recognizing the human potential for redemption and rehabilitation. This Green policy on crime and criminal justice will be far more effective at eradicating crime than the policies of those who talk “tough” but who lack the political courage to attack this complex problem with integrity.
MEDIA, THE ARTS, AND INFORMATION
We recognize that free access to information is one of the cornerstones of the ability of communities to control lives and make meaningful decisions. The public has a right to know what is happening in the news, current events, the sciences, and the environment. The increasing centralization and corporate control of the media, including the recent round of mergers, plus withdrawal of government funding for community radio, has made access to relevant sources of information increasingly difficult. We are bombarded with false, biased “news” plus sophisticated corporate advertising campaigns, to disempower us from learning about, and responding to, what is really happening in our communities and the world at large. The cynical saying, “Freedom of the press belongs to those who own the press,” has never been more representative of our lack of access to accurate news and community input and lack of vehicles for expressing our own opinions.
We deplore the promotion of the culture of “buying and acquiring,” of violence, of sexual exploitation, of economic and racial elitism, and of chauvinism that is promoted by the corporate-controlled, centralized media. This is damaging to our communities and to the environment.
Accordingly, and in keeping with the Ten Key Values:
1. We support the continuation and growth of independent, non-corporate media such as the Independent Media Centers that have sprung up in many localities of this state and country. We support the access of reporters and journalists from independent media sources to press conferences and all events to which the “corporate media” are invited.
2. We support the decriminalization of “pirate” radio and the existence and growth of community radio and community/public access television stations. Public access to the airwaves is an essential part of our free press and our community control of our lives. We support access to public funding and technical information for these entities. We support community broadband Internet access.
3. We vigorously oppose targeting of children and the elderly by corporate and government advertising.
4. We support public funding for the arts, including both its creation and the access of the public to viewing it, without corporate and government censorship of its political content.
5. We oppose hidden corporate advertising being incorporated into so-called non-advertising sections of news. We oppose the use of corporate press releases and “PR” wires as “news” stories, especially those that do not mention the source of the “information.”
6. We oppose the glorification of violence, aggression, and sexual exploitation in our media.
7. We oppose the media’s demeaning and misleading representations of people of varying races, nationalities, religions, and cultures, of women, and of gay and lesbian people.
8. We support funding for education in the arts.
9. We support our right to privacy, and we oppose corporate access to our personal data without our informed consent.
10. We oppose the aggressive campaigns and misleading advertising of credit card and other financial companies that entice the public into debt.
11. We support access for reporters and journalists to all sources of information.
12. We support protection of reporters and journalists, regardless of whom they work for, from negative consequences, job-related or otherwise, of telling the truth.
13. We support net neutrality.
14. We support the open source movement. Proprietary software should not be used in any voting system and government agencies should be encouraged to use open source software elsewhere, when feasible.
15. We call for the repeal of the FCC’s relaxation of the ban on cross-ownership of broadcast media and newspapers in major markets. We oppose any further relaxation of rules limiting media consolidation and monopolization.
16. We oppose media collaboration with the Federal government to spy on the American people in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
MILITARISM AND WAR
On April 16, 1953, years before he warned us of the dangers of the military-industrial complex, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower declaimed:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
Our society pays dearly for war, not only with the sacrifice of our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, who were enticed into military service, drawn mostly from the ranks of the poor and working class. We pay for it not only with the terrible human and social cost imposed on veterans who survive war with mental and physical disabilities. We pay for it not only with the terrible human and economic costs visited on the countries that the corporate-dominated government chooses to attack, invade or occupy. We pay for it not only when the stature and respect formerly enjoyed by the United States throughout the world is increasingly replaced with fear, loathing, disgust and hatred. We also pay for it in the most literal sense, economically, with both direct and indirect impacts on our personal income and our quality of life.
Today, annual total military spending (not just the “Defense” budget but other war spending and military costs) is approaching $1 trillion per year. Forty-three cents of every federal income tax dollar collected today goes to pay for past and present military and war spending. As of 2007, the share of funding for the Iraq war and occupation alone borne by the U.S. taxpayers could have covered the cost of providing millions of people with health care or outfitting over 32.8 million homes with renewable electricity, or providing over 2.8 million university scholarships, or building 2,931 new elementary schools or 179,067 affordable housing units or pay the salaries of 403,550 elementary school teachers.
Yet as costly as it is to us, the corporate interests that dominate government today find it immensely profitable to them. Fed by our own tax dollars, supported by Democrats and Republicans alike, the military-industrial complex (or more accurately, the military-industrial-media complex), has become a mainstay of our economy, creating a self- perpetuating “permanent war” economy, based on this pernicious form of corporate welfare. In addition, the interests of multinational corporations generally has driven our government to seek to dominate other nations, in order to control their resources, sources of labor, investment opportunities and markets.
The GPVI, based on its key values of non-violence, social justice, and personal and global responsibility, opposes aggressive war and intervention as a matter of central principle. That’s why we opposed the Iraq War before it began – not simply because we recognized that the Bush administration was lying about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction, but because Iraq had neither attacked nor even threatened to attack the United States. Therefore, in keeping with international law, the Nuremberg principles, and its own principles, we recognized that there was no justification whatsoever for attacking, invading or occupying Iraq. We also oppose the continuing occupation of Afghanistan, new threats to attack Iran – and indeed, any military intervention and war, excepting for legitimate self- defense to repel an attack.
Principled opposition to war is necessary – but not sufficient. It is not enough to be “anti-war”; we must be pro- peace. It is not enough to protest against war: We must understand and eliminate the structural, economic causes of war. Here again, the immediate struggle against militarism and war must be linked to the larger struggle against corporate domination of our economy, government and media. If we do not fight the corporatist agenda, if we do not dismantle the military-industrial complex, if we do not put an end to corporate domination of our government, we will be doomed to continuing periodic protests against continuing periodic wars.
Accordingly, while waging the larger fight against corporate domination, the GPVI, and its candidates for local and federal office, are committed to the struggle, not only against war, but also against militarism. Specifically:
1. We call for an immediate, massive reduction in military spending, to the level needed for actual defense of United States territory and contributing to international peacekeeping actions under the auspices of the United Nations. A portion of the finances saved by this reduction must be allocated to peace conversion projects, retooling and refurbishing military facilities to serve socially useful purposes, and compensating, retraining and re-employing displaced workers into socially useful jobs.
2. We oppose all research, testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons and call for rapid, mutual nuclear disarmament. We support immediate ratification and signing of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and complete honoring of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and any other treaties banning or limiting research, development, testing, or deployment of any nuclear weapons. We insist that the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty be honored.
3. We oppose the manufacture and use of depleted uranium, biological, chemical and anti-personnel weapons such as cluster bombs and mines.
4. We oppose recycling of radioactive waste into consumer or industrial products. We demand full disclosure as to any such use that is occurring or planned. We oppose exporting nuclear waste, including enriched uranium or plutonium, for any use.
5. We demand citizen and state inspection and oversight of the storage and disposition of all radioactive waste.
6. We oppose the “Nukes in Space” and “Star Wars” programs. These include tritium bombs, directed energy weapons, space and airborne lasers, “pure fusion” weapons and particle beams.
7. Regarding the terrible events of September 11, 2001, many serious, scholarly researchers and responsible investigators have raised valid questions regarding the acts and omissions of some elements of the Bush administration prior to and during the attacks, and the causes of the destruction and death that occurred that day. These questions demand real answers, yet they were not answered by the 9/11 Commission, which failed to conduct a comprehensive and impartial investigation. Considering that the 9/11 tragedy was used by the Bush administration and others to promote militarism and war abroad and assaults on civil liberties at home, and is still cited as a justification for war to this day, the GPVI supports the call of the 9/11Truth Movement for a new, fully funded, independent and exhaustive investigation of the attacks that occurred on 9/11, with meaningful input from that Movement, victims’ families and other citizens. This is in keeping with our values of Nonviolence, Social Justice, Personal and Global Responsibility and Grassroots Democracy.
One of the hallmarks of the Green Party is its devotion to ecological wisdom and protecting the long-term environmental health and sustainability of the Earth. Before adopting a policy or position on any issue, we must always consider and weigh the environmental impact. A holistic and sustainable approach to our relationship with this planet and all life that it supports must be one of reverence and respect, not one that views the Earth merely as an object to be conquered, exploited or subjugated to the will of humans.
We are living at a crossroads in human history. In the last 50 years, human society has begun to have a major impact on the global environment, as evidenced by the problems of global warming, the destruction of the ozone layer, the wholesale destruction of rain forests, the dispersal of dioxins and related chemicals into the environment, and the general deterioration of the quality of our air, water and land. Our health and the health of other living things have already been compromised by the pervasive presence of toxic chemicals, radioactive waste and pesticides. Meanwhile, new challenges are arising, such as the threat posed by giant agribusiness corporations that are attempting to manipulate and control the genetic makeup of our food supplies. The next 10 to 20 years may prove to be a crucial turning point: Will we as a species develop the wisdom and means to halt and reverse these trends, or will we continue to muddle through as we have — adopting weak regulatory measures that are constantly being watered down under pressure from big business?
Our future depends on our ability to make major changes, not just in policy, but also in our whole philosophy of government. That is one of the major reasons why the GPVI is needed, and why it must play a continually increasing role in government.
Most of the threats to our environment are global in character and will require global solutions. However, Virgin Islanders can play an important role in effecting change, not only by sending Green representatives to Washington, but by attacking at least some of these problems at the state and regional levels.
Some of our proposals for protecting and improving the environment are found in other sections of our platform, such as the sections on Energy Policy and Agriculture. In addition, one important policy change that could be adopted at the state level is the introduction of a “pollution tax.” One variation of this is a proposed “carbon tax”; however the principle deserves to be applied to more than just carbon emissions. The idea behind the pollution tax is to impose the costs of despoiling the environment on those businesses that are responsible for creating the environmental hazards. Producers of greenhouse gases, ozone-depleting chemicals, dioxins and other toxic and radioactive substances, would be taxed in proportion to the quantity and severity of the emissions. The tax would give manufacturers an incentive to change their practices and give nonpolluting competitors an edge in the marketplace. Furthermore, the funds raised in this manner could be used to help develop and implement alternative methods of production.
However, taxing the emission of pollutants into our atmosphere and waterways, by itself, is not sufficient. As more and more heavy metals, toxic pesticides, volatile organic compounds, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, dioxins, endocrine disrupters and other toxic and radioactive wastes are allowed to enter our air, water, land, food – and ultimately our bodies – it is not enough to say that, in some areas, we are perhaps reducing the rate at which we are poisoning ourselves. To continue to allow this gradual poisoning of our own environment and our fellow human beings, in any one of these categories, let alone in combination, with its unpredictable synergistic impact, is irrational and intolerable. Every ounce, let alone every ton, of such toxic releases, is tantamount to releasing so many tickets in a death lottery that every human being and every other creature on our planet is forced to play.
Given that protection of public health is a fundamental duty of government, the Green Party supports more aggressive action to reduce and eliminate the production, storage, use and release of toxic chemicals – moving rapidly toward a requirement that all industrial production use “closed loop” practices with respect to such substances. We support intensified and independent research into the subject of endocrine disrupters (chemicals that mimic hormones) particularly with regard to dose-response relationships and to the possible synergistic effects of endocrine disrupters with each other, and with other compounds and pollutants. We also support more rigorous scrutiny of all potentially endocrine- disrupting compounds before these substances are permitted to be placed into the stream of commerce, whether in foods, household products, or industrial items. Proven endocrine disrupters should be banned from the marketplace in the absence of a compelling countervailing interest. Even in those instances, products containing endocrine disrupters should be accompanied by highly visible, strongly worded warnings on their labels.
Such changes, of course, require regulatory agencies that are concerned first and foremost with the health and welfare of the public. We support greater transparency and accountability, as well as a ban on “revolving door” industry participation in such regulatory agencies.
One of the largest contributing sources of dioxin contamination is industrial and medical waste incineration. Direct regulatory measures should be implemented to phase out such incinerators, or at least to eliminate dioxin-creating plastics from the waste stream. Encouraging hospitals to use reusable and re-stabilized supplies, rather than throw-away items, and more careful policing of the waste stream could go a long way toward eliminating the United States Virgin Islands contribution to the dioxin problem.
Greens support the maxim, “reduce, reuse and recycle” and recognize that this involves both informed, socially responsible lifestyle choices and systemic or policy changes. “Reducing” does not have to entail reduction in the quality of life; it can actually improve the quality of life. What it implies is the elimination of senseless and wasteful practices, such as the mass consumption of throwaway products, planned to have limited life, made from finite resources, without any consideration for where the product came from, how far it traveled, who made it, under what conditions, what it is made from, whether there are any alternatives, and where it is going after being thrown in the trash. The same principle can and should be applied to energy and transportation practices, as outlined elsewhere in this Platform.
The United States Virgin Islands must take encouraging steps to promote recycling, much more can be done to expand the scope of recycling and encourage the manufacture, sale, and purchase of reusable products, at both the personal and industrial levels, by using appropriate monetary incentives and disincentives, as well as easier, more available recycling collection and consumer education.
We call for an improved funding stream for clean water programs, to meet our obligations under the federal Clean Water Act, for the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF), and the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development Fund (OSLAD). We support a territory wide wetlands protection program.
The Virgin Islands do not meet the federal health standards for air quality. The U.S. Virgin Islands branch of the EPA must prepare and submit plans to attain healthy air quality in the most heavily polluted areas, specifically on St. Croix in regards to HOVENSA, and all superfunds, sewage issues, etc. In keeping with our platform on Energy policy, we must rapidly phase out WAPA and the burning of fossil fuels for our power needs as this power source emits hydrocarbons, nitrates, sulfides, particulate matter, dioxins and carcinogens. It is extraordinarily expensive and wasteful.
We must raise emission standards for vehicles, including diesel, and enact an emissions testing/permitting program for vehicles licensed in the Virgin Islands.
The GPVI stands up for environmental justice. In siting and permitting decisions, government must consider the impact of all pollution sources in a community and must put a halt to the victimization of poor and oppressed communities. Communities that have been victimized already by extraordinary levels of pollutants or toxic or radioactive contamination must be afforded fast and effective protection, fast remediation and intensive health-care monitoring and care. Indeed, we support a government commitment to medically treat and compensate all workers and residents exposed to and sickened by exposure to toxic or radioactive contamination, and for thorough studies to discover any “clusters” of illness that have occurred. We support the implementation and enforcement of community “right to know” laws. Where environmental issues arise on any policy question, the GPVI will consistently support environmental protection over destruction, saving natural ecosystems and endangered species, not risking their demise, and promoting the long-term sustainability of the human race and other living things over corporate capitalism’s naturally short-sighted quest for maximum short-term profits.
Cruelty to animals is repugnant and criminal. The mark of a humane and civilized society lies in how we treat the least protected among us. To extend rights to other sentient, living beings is our responsibility and a mark of our place among all of creation. We call for an intelligent, compassionate approach to the treatment of animals.
We reject the belief that our species is the center of creation, and that other life forms exist only for our use and enjoyment. Our species does not have the right to exploit and inflict violence on other creatures simply because we have the desire and power to do so. Our ethic upholds not only the value of biological diversity and the integrity and continuity of species, but also the value of individual lives and the interest of individual animals.
The Green Party advocates humane treatment of animals with the following policies:
1. Redirect the funds that are disbursed annually by the National Institutes of Health away from animal experiments and more towards direct health care, preventive medicine, and biomedical research using non-animal procedures such as clinical, epidemiological, and cell culture research.
2. Phase out the use of animals for consumer product testing, tobacco and alcohol testing, psychological testing, classroom demonstrations and dissections, weapons development and other military programs.
3. Mandate clear labeling of products to tell whether or not they have been tested on animals and if they contain any animal products or by-products.
4. Establish procedures to develop greater public scrutiny of all animal research. These should include the welfare of laboratory animals, and a halt to wasteful public funding of unnecessary research such as duplicative experiments.
5. End the abuse of animals, including farm animals, and strengthen our enforcement of existing laws.
6. Ban the use of goods produced from exotic or endangered animals.
7. Prohibit large scale commercial breeding facilities, such as “puppy mills,” because of the massive suffering, overpopulation, and ill health such facilities produce.
8. Subsidize spay and neuter clinics to combat the ever-worsening pet overpopulation problem that results in the killing of millions of animals every year. Where unwanted companion animals are being killed in shelters, we advocate mandatory spay and neuter laws.
9. Ban the exploitation of animals in violent entertainment and sports.
UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts, which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world, in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,
Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ON HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it is independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Article 4. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
Article 5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 6. Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
Article 7. All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Article 8. Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
Article 9. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Article 10. Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offense has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offense on account of any act or omission, which did not constitute a penal offense, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offense was committed.
Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections, which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
Article 22. Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Article 24. Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
Article 28. Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Article 30. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.