Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution

Book Notes

Okay, I really have no idea why I picked up this book. It was on some list, it sounded interesting, so I picked it up.

This is not a guide to political revolution.

This is a Bernie Sanders Manifesto, along with resources to work within the system.

The book is a long iteration of his platform, is beliefs, what he stands for. The book says, "Here is a problem. Here is how I think this problem could be solved." Not, "Here's how to solve this problem, and the data to prove it will work." Not, "Here's the legislation I have introduced." Not, "Here is the cultural problem that contributes to this social problem and do these actions to fix it."

Revolution is painful, the callouts in this book to "get involved" are not. Yes, they are time consuming, but revolution means an overhaul of the system, not an evolution of the system.

One can appreciate what Sanders is trying to do to make the country better. A complete upheaval might be the way to go. This is not the guidebook for that revolution. Better to look at The Moon is a Harsh Mistress for a guide, even if I disagree with that book's actual politics.

The book is worth a read to understand what Sanders stands for. For that part, it was worth the read. I don't disagree with much of his platform, I just don't see the pilot programs, the supporting data, or the means to implement.

In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, a basic principle of American economic life should be that if you work forty hours or more a week, you do not live in poverty.
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Increasing the minimum wage is good for businesses as well as workers because it reduces employee turnover. When workers earn a living wage, they are more likely to stay with their company.
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And spend money.

Public assistance given to low-wage workers is essentially subsidizing the profits of the companies paying the low wages.
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Which is bullshit.

Walmart makes profits by paying wages so low that the workers not only qualify for but also need public assistance just to get by.
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Hate Walmart.

I do not believe that the government should burden taxpayers with the financial support of profitable corporations owned by some of the wealthiest people in this country. That’s absurd.
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If we are serious about reversing the decline of the middle class, we need a major federal jobs program that puts millions of Americans to work at decent-paying jobs. We need workers to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure—our roads, bridges, water systems, wastewater plants, airports, railways, levees, and dams.
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Our tax code essentially legalizes tax dodging for large corporations.
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America is not broke. The very wealthy and huge, profitable corporations just aren’t paying the taxes that, in the words of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. more than a century ago, “are what we pay for a civilized society.”
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The Roundtable also wants to raise the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare to seventy, and to cut cost-of-living adjustments for seniors and disabled veterans. These CEOs callously promote the idea that increasing their corporate profits is more important than their fellow Americans receiving the benefits they have earned by working or by serving in the military.
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We have been losing millions of jobs as a direct result of our disastrous trade policies. This is a major contributor to the decline of the middle class, rising poverty, and the growing gap between the very rich and everyone else. We must do everything possible to stop companies from outsourcing American jobs.
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Americans see that there are different rules for the rich and powerful than for everyone else. They see kids arrested and sometimes even jailed for possessing marijuana or for other minor crimes. But when it comes to Wall Street executives, whose illegal behavior hurts millions of Americans, they see that there are no arrests, no police records, and no jail time.
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There is something fundamentally wrong with our criminal justice system when not one major Wall Street executive has been prosecuted for causing the near collapse of our entire economy in 2008.
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“Equal Justice Under Law” cannot just be words engraved over the doors of the Supreme Court.
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 To create an economy that works for all americans and not just a handful of billionaires, we have to address the ever-increasing size of the megabanks.

 We must end, once and for all, the scheme that is nothing more than a free insurance policy for wall street: “too big to fail.”

 We need a banking system that is part of a productive economy—making loans at affordable rates to small and medium-sized businesses—so we can create a growing economy with decent-paying jobs.

 We need a banking system that encourages homeownership by offering affordable mortgage products that are designed to work for both the lender and the borrower.

 We need a banking system that is transparent and accountable and that adheres to the highest ethical standards as well as to the spirit and the letter of the law.
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One might have thought that as part of the bailout, these huge banks would have been reduced in size to make certain that we never experience a recurrence of what happened in 2008. In fact, the very opposite occurred. Today, three of the four largest financial institutions—JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo—are about 80 percent bigger than they were before we bailed them out.
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No financial institution should have holdings so extensive that its failure would send the world economy into crisis.
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If a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.
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Today, commercial banks still have over $ 177.46 trillion of derivatives contracts on their books. That is insane.
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All derivatives trading should be done in an open, transparent exchange similar to the stock market, without exceptions. As
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Needless to say, this game of high-speed speculation adds absolutely nothing to a productive economy.
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We have to discourage reckless gambling on Wall Street and encourage productive investments in a job-creating economy.
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we need to turn for-profit credit-rating agencies into transparent nonprofit institutions that are independent from Wall Street and accountable to a board of directors that represents the public interest.
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The decisions that the Federal Reserve made during the 2008 crisis sent a very clear message: while the rich and powerful are “too big to fail” and are worthy of an endless supply of cheap credit, ordinary Americans must fend for themselves. This was a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for everyone else.
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We must require the Government Accountability Office to conduct a full and independent audit of the Fed every year.
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Health care should be a right, not a perk of being employed.
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it has never made sense to me that our health care system is primarily designed to make huge profits for multibillion-dollar insurance companies, drug companies, hospitals, and medical equipment suppliers.
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The details of the national health systems vary in each of these countries, but all of them guarantee health care for all their citizens, and none of them allow private health insurance companies to profit off human illness.
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Think about the extraordinary impact it would have on our economy if all Americans had the freedom to follow their dreams and not worry about whether the family had health insurance.
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The pharmaceutical industry, because of its great power, rarely loses legislative fights. It has effectively purchased the Congress, and there are Republican and Democratic leaders who support its every effort.
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There was a time, forty or fifty years ago, when many people could graduate from high school and move right into a decent-paying job with good benefits. Strong unions offered apprenticeships, and a large manufacturing sector provided opportunities for those without an advanced degree.
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Exactly how much do students benefit by having, in some cases, dozens of vice presidents of this or that, each earning hundreds of thousands of dollars or more?
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Another reason college educations are becoming so expensive is that colleges are increasingly being run as businesses competing for market share.
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In fact, it is much easier for a big bank or corporation to declare insolvency and be forgiven for outstanding debts than it is for an individual going through personal bankruptcy to be discharged from a student loan.
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America rightfully outlawed debtors’ prisons in the mid-nineteenth century, but some cities and states are issuing contempt-of-court warrants that get around those rules.
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The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, of which I have long been a member, found that these for-profit schools spend, on average, about 30 percent more per student on marketing and recruiting than on actual instruction.
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Not everybody wants to go to college, and not everybody needs to go to college. This country needs carpenters, plumbers, welders, bricklayers, ironworkers, mechanics, and many other professions that pay workers, especially those in unions, good wages for doing very important, skilled work.
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In today’s world, that’s not quite the way it works. In opposition to science and what the people want are enormously powerful forces who want to maintain the status quo. They are more interested in short-term profits for fossil fuel companies than in the future of the planet.
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Forty percent of energy used in this country goes to heat, cool, and light buildings and run electricity through them.
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The great irony of climate change is that American taxpayers are subsidizing the most profitable industry in history, whose products are quite literally killing us, to the tune of more than $ 20.5 billion every single year.
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For every dollar of taxpayer funds invested in renewable energy over the past fifteen years, fossil fuels have received eighty dollars!
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We should also end all new federal leases for oil, gas, or coal extraction on public lands and waters. Public lands and waters are for the public to enjoy for generations to come—not for the oil companies to exploit for profit in the short term.
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The hypocrisy of those who argue that solar and wind tax credits are too expensive or are no longer needed because the industries should be able to stand on their own is stunning. Taxpayers have been subsidizing fossil fuel companies through tax credits for more than one hundred years, and Congress long ago made those incentives permanent features of the federal tax code.
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Police officers must be held accountable. In a society based on law, nobody can be above the law, especially those who are charged with enforcing it.
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African Americans and Latinos together comprised 57 percent of all prisoners in 2015, even though neither of these two groups makes up even one-quarter of the U.S. population.
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The time is long overdue for this country to understand that we cannot jail our way out of health problems like mental illness and drug addiction.
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We have around 4 percent of the world’s population, yet we have more than 20 percent of all prisoners.
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And we spend $ 80 billion a year in federal, state, and local taxpayer dollars to lock them up.
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Private corporations should not be making profits off of the incarceration of human beings.
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No one, in my view, should be allowed to profit from putting more people behind bars.
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Every effort should be made to have police forces reflect the diversity of the communities they work in. And that must include in positions of leadership and training departments.
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We must demilitarize our police forces so they don’t look and act like invading armies. Police departments must be part of the community they serve and be trusted by the community.
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We should federally fund and require body cameras for law enforcement officers to make it easier to hold everyone accountable, while also establishing standards to protect the privacy of innocent people.
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When policing becomes a source of revenue, officers are often pressured to meet quotas that can lead to unnecessary or unlawful traffic stops and citations. And civil asset forfeiture laws allow police to take property from people even before they are charged with a crime.
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Undocumented immigrants are woven into the fabric of our society and our economy. They work in some of the hardest and lowest-paid jobs.
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Moreover, the institute estimates that they pay an average of 8 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes—which, by the way, is 48 percent more than the 5.4 percent paid by the top 1 percent of taxpayers.
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All too often, farmworkers are paid horrendously low wages, exposed to pesticides, and deprived of the most basic decent living conditions.
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When employers report that they need to bring in foreign labor because there is no one in this country able to do their jobs, what is really going on is that there is no one here willing to do the job for the low wages being offered.
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To my mind, the U.S. government should not be in the painful and inhumane business of locking up families who have fled violence.
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Immigration reform must allow individuals to apply for relief, even if convicted of nonviolent offenses.
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Binding workers to a specific employer or not allowing their family members to work creates a situation rife with abuse and exacerbates an already unequal relationship between the employer and the employee.
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Immigration reform means making sure our borders are modern and secure, especially in this era when terrorism can come from anywhere.
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The word “government” refers to the way people organize authority to perform essential functions. It usually describes who does what, who has what power, and who is responsible for what. When there is no organized authority, there is no government, and that is called anarchy.
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