Health care for everyone is a right, not a privilege. Affordable has no meaning with those left out of the system because of pre-existing conditions, high deductibles, or co-pays.  Every other industrial nation (and most developing nations) deliver health care to all its citizens without bankrupting them at half the price we currently spend.  Plus, we have poorer outcomes.  Do not be deceived, we can afford it.  After all, we declared we were going to the moon when we did not have a clue how to get there.  We figured it out.  And here we have the advantage of every other industrialized country that has.

Education is necessary for us to evolve into a civic and united society where everyone can benefit from a good education. Universal and equitable public education is the key. Successful industrialized countries ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to learn from cradle to grave.  It is a common good not a profit center for business. Education should be affordable for everyone that wishes to pursue post-secondary education or training. Our schools should be run as centers of learning where teachers are respected and given the means to perform.

  • Fund the unfunded mandates given to schools. Provide the money with mandates for services so the school district is not forced to raise levies referendums that consume too much time energy and time of administrators and community members.  The Republicans (Mr. Jasinski) have crowed about how they delivered a 1% increase in funding to schools.  We need to remember they only proposed a 0.5% increase in negotiations while the Democrats came in with a 3% rise (this was what school districts said they needed).  So let us be honest.  The Senate kicked the can down the road, leaving school districts facing another ominous challenge to raise levies again.  In the meantime, they are required to fulfill mandates handed down from the legislature and have to raid the general funds to cover the programs.  This is untenable and we need to have a complete vision of what it means
  • Revise funding formulas to make education equitable regardless of the tax base of the school district. School districts have inequitable tax bases that either enhance or limit funding local school districts can raise through levies.  Education should be equitable we need to level the playing field so children in districts with feeble tax bases have the same opportunity as the more fortunate districts that happen to have sources revenue that poorer districts lack. 
  • Private education has an important role to play, but not at the expense of public schools.  Public education sets the norm for educational standards.  Vouchering bleeds the public school system of funds when the schools are struggling.   We need to support public education, not destroy it.  That means providing professional development opportunity for teachers followed by adequate funding for small class sizes and providing the pedagogical supplies needed to successfully education our children.   Public Schools should not be not profit centers or evangelical centers for religious organizations. Equally home schooling by unqualified parents is not an option.  Parents have always been able to opt out of public education but should only be able to do so if the alternative education meets standards that guarantee the institution or home meets a minimum standard of instruction so the child has an equal opportunity to thrive in the community.  The tax payers’ money should go to public schools that have the mission and means to provide excellent education to our children and an environment in which children thrive.  Private institutions are for the fortunate and religious institutions for faithful.  Home schooling is an option.  All should meet the same rigorous standards with licensed teachers guaranteeing the future of our children.
  • Support schools as they navigate through the new environment of COVID-19 and beyond. COVID is not unique.  We have been warned of pandemics for decades.  COVID is particularly insidious and is not the common flu. As with funding, not schools are funded equally nor have the same level of competency to face the situation.  There is not quick fix.  For those who have gone through educational reforms in the past, we know that it takes years to make a new system of education viable.  There are no quick fixes.  Teachers and school administrators are scrambling to keep the ship afloat and deserve our moral and financial support.  Ranting and raving about masks and whether kids should be in school or out should be the domain of those who do it for a living.  The minimum we can do is to support their efforts.  We should also find the funding to support sharing of initiatives.  We don’t need couch potato quarterbacking.  It will not be the last pandemic and going back to the way we were is not an option.  We are still learning the consequences of this deadly virus.

Agriculture: ensure farmers have the means to succeed.  Farmers are stewards of the land.  We need to move to regenerative, sustainable agriculture.  We have incredible science and technology that can lead us in that direction while earning a living.  We should envision policy where production isn’t king but as the FFA Creed expresses ( I was a former State Treasurer)  “I believe… in the ability of progressive agriculturists to serve our own and the public interest in producing and marketing the product of our toil.”  It does not say the corporate interest.

  • Farming practices that regenerate the soil and make agriculture sustainable for the next generation are essential.  Supporting research at public research facilities is essential for transparent and open discussions that lead to sustainable farming solutions.
  • Regulatory practices should not be determined by the will of the congress that is the handmaiden of corporate interests, but the will of the people and science.  We have experienced the benefits and disasters of chemicals and unchecked gene modification in agriculture.  Both can be wonderful tools but we bounce from crisis to crisis.  Honest questions and be asked and researched to find the answers.  I believe we all want clean water and healthy food.  Technology wonderful but amoral.  We need to honestly engage in the conversation of how we produce, process, and consume food and byproducts to sustain a good living, not just accept propaganda handed down to sustain short term profits.
  • Low-interest loans for small and mid-sized farmers are critical for new startup farmers thru the Rural Finance Authority.  Equally, the MDA Disaster Recovery Loan Program is critical.
  • Health Care is ranked the number one concern by most farmers.  In an occupation that is ranked in the top three dangerous jobs in America, health is a right.  Minnesota Care is big step in that direction. 
  • Bio fuels are step toward cleaning the environment and moving toward carbon neutral practices. More critically it provides a market for corn.  In the long term, we need to be moving toward policies that reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture although it accounts for about 10% of Green House Gases and sequesters a large amount of carbon.  We can do better.
  • Markets that sustain farmers on the land. Many farm families have inherited the land for several generations.  They see themselves as stewards of the land.  COVID exposed the weaknesses in our value chains.  We can rethink and restructure for the common good.  We need an equitable system of production subsidies serve the farmer’s and public interests.
  • Practices that protect the environment and produce wholesome food. Production and food security are not mutually exclusive.  It is both/and.  We have great technology that can help solve this.  Producers and consumers are at odds on this issue and need to come to a common understanding that preserves the environment and produces the quality of food and products the consumer demands.

Climate change is real and a proven fact. We should have learned the scientific method in grade school. Test a hypothesis through experimentation and go where the observations lead you.  Facts are verifiable. They standup under scrutiny.  It is hard to imagine the suffering caused to society and the economy that stems from new pandemics, mass migration, starvation, wars over resources and barren zones that were once productive. It is challenging our humanity. 

  • Moving away from carbon-based energy. Renewables like bio fuel are step in that direction.  In the short run, supporting ethanol production provides a cleaner source of energy and income to the farming community as we transition to a carbon neutral energy system. To speed this up, we need to stop subsidizing fossil fuel energy as we move to a carbon neutral economy.  Just like going to the moon.  We didn’t have the technology nor the money at the time. But in the end, we took that giant leap forward.  Good jobs are to be had if we set our minds to it. 
  • Pragmatic ways to reduce energy consumption: We can reduce our carbon footprint with solar and wind technology and becoming more efficient in the use.  Programs that encourage energy efficient building and retrofit existing buildings create good jobs.  Subsidizing fossil fuels and relaxing pollution regulations will take us back to a time when rivers burned as well as our eyes in the smog.  Endless rhetoric over the Green New Deal only fires mindless passion.  Let’s get down to business and build a better world.

Will our great grandchildren look back in awe at our foresight and sacrifice to make the planet better or will they look back in shame and anger at their ancestors that destroyed their planet and lives for a few more years of greed and plunder while they made America Great for themselves regardless the consequence.   We need to support people and businesses that are attempting to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Climate change affects every aspect of our lives from health to the car we drive.  If we keep our fixed on the future, we will succeed.  We are in a state of transition, and Americans are very clever.

Justice for all is a broad category. We have grown accustomed to injustices between racial and economic groups, policing, and economic opportunities. The COVID-19 public health crises and subsequent collapse of the economy presents an opportunity to rebuild a more just society. The Republicans lead the charge to keep the status quo.

  • Living Wage – Raising the minimum wage of $15.  Many businesses and plants have surpassed this.  Evidence shows that paying workers a decent wage stimulates the local economy and radiates into the community by being able to afford decent housing and supporting local business.
  • Childcare – people on minimum wage jobs have children that need care just as anyone else.  When parents work, children need affordable care within the means of the parents.  We can’t afford to ignore our children.  Local child care providers should be supported to provide excellent care for children, particularly in the COVID environment.  Although regulation is critical for compliance, it should not be a club used against poor or minority communities.
  • Paid family sick leave and paid time off Why do we punish low income families living paycheck to paycheck?  COVID-19 pulled back the curtain.  Lo-income and essential workers and their families have suffered.  While being forced to go to work without proper protection, they are infected at a higher rate than those who can afford to isolate themselves.  They bring COVID home with them, infecting their loved ones.  They are often not tested nor is there serious contact tracing to warn others.  They afford to self-quarantine because they need the paycheck and have little or no paid time off.   They go to work and spread the disease.  That is unconscionable.
  • Immigration reform – Immigrants come to the US for economic, social, and political reasons. Industry and agriculture depend on immigrant labor.  Domestic laborers do not want these jobs.  Under the current system, fear mongering has demonized the essential workers we needed to get through the pandemic while denying basic rights all Americans enjoy.  If the standards proposed by Republicans had been applied a century ago, they would have been deported.  Reform is simple if we put our minds to it and reform the system to allow hard working immigrants to fully participate in the American society and dream.  They know better than anyone what hard work is and what it means to live from paycheck to paycheck.  The mean-spirited demonizing of these communities must stop.
  • Community Policing is not a Police State.  Rethinking how we do policing is not evil, socialist or anything else.  Communities are asking for a role in decision making.  That is true empowerment.  After all, citizens are the victims and want to have a say in how the policing is done, including how funds are allocated.  Is that so bad?  When communities come together, the bad guys move out.

It makes sense to give communities the opportunity to decide how policing is to be done.  We equip the police like the military.  No wonder they behave as the military.  Look around.  In Europe, unarmed police patrol the streets, most of the time on foot.  Yes, there are SWAT teams for extreme cases.  When the Belgians caught the last surviving member of the terrorists that killed 140 people at the Bataclan Café in Paris in 2015, he was brandishing a handgun, but they shot him in the knee and took him into custody.   How many cases have police pumped 7-20 rounds into unarmed people?  In one case, a kid was carrying a toy gun.  Let’s stop the nonsense.  No one is defunding the police, but reallocating funds that will make policing a community-controlled police effort where citizens trust the officers to do the right thing. 

When police are used to suppress the community and enforce the will of the elite minority, it is simply wrong.  So cut the fear mongering and propaganda.

  • Affordable housing.  Lo-income and minority communities are left behind.  Rents continue rise while wages are stagnant.  Unemployment has soared leaving people unable to pay the rent.  Loans are either refused or approved at higher interest rates to those who aspire to become homeowners but have low-income.  Republicans (Mr. Jasinski) are more concerned about landlords than families who are being thrown out.  The thread runs through the injustices of the system.  People who are not paid a living wage cannot afford the rent or loan to improve their living conditions.  That spins off into lacking the health care they need to stay healthy and work.  It is a vicious cycle we can break.

Incentives given to developers to build affordable housing is critical.  The NIMBY principle (not in my back yard) is not up for discussion, although Republicans embrace it.  City councils need to step up with zoning for affordable housing.  Gentrification should not take away units that were affordable, albeit run down.  New units need to match the affordability of those torn down or replaced.

America is great when citizens are in control.  That means all of us.  We need to correct the axiom of “one dollar, one vote”.  We were founded on the premise of one white man, one vote.  It has evolved to “one person, one vote”.  Decision making should be done by a bunch of cronies sequester at the capitol but together with constituents.  We can do that when YOU are empowered to make decisions that affect your wellbeing. It’s not a question of can we afford it. We can figure that out.  It also demands that you take the time to sift through the propaganda and hype to get to the facts.  That is what democracy demands of YOU.  Otherwise we are at the mercy of the tyrants in the 1%.  The founders of the country knew that well when they cut the strings with King George III.