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Voices / Letters from readers

A roadmap of priorities to a sensibler, fairer country

The media have given us endless coverage of the protests. And many have spoken of their hope that, at long last, we will become a sensibler, fairer country.

But there’s been almost no talk of how we will get there, of the actual changes we now need to work for.

So here’s a list. I don’t know if it’s right. But we need an agenda, in no order except the first:

• to protect life for all of us, an urgent and sustained government program to stop global warming.

• to institute an immediate federal minimum wage of $12 per hour, $15 in 2022.

• to limit corporate salaries and other compensation to 100 times the hourly pay of the corporation’s lowest paid employee.

• to implement a fair and simpler tax code, including a serious estate tax and no unnecessary special benefits for corporations and industries.

• to require that any employer with a federal contract or subsidy have 10 percent Black employees by 2025, 15 percent Black or Hispanic by 2030.

• to create an urgent federal, state, and local program to enlist and train Black schoolteachers, with the requirement that every public school have 10 percent Black teachers by 2028.

• to institute means-tested support for child care (0–5 years), and free pre-kindergarten and kindergarten (4–6 years) provided by the public schools, with staff appropriately trained and paid.

• to provide free public higher education for those with prior-year family income below 130 percent of the national median.

• to put into effect Medicare for All by 2024.

• to rescind the “qualified immunity” doctrine that now shields police from lawsuits and punishment for use of excessive force.

• to remove inappropriate military equipment from civilian law-enforcement agencies.

• to prohibit assault weapons, their equivalents, and their ammunition for civilians, including police.

• to enact a reparations program to provide adults with majority-Black ancestry $3,000 a year for five years.

• to create an immediate, serious infrastructure rescue program.

• to create a permanent program for the unemployed similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps or Works Progress Administration, with a youth division, with no income limits for 17-to-20-year-olds. (Could this be a pilot for a national service program?)

Byron Stookey

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Originally published in The Commons issue #567 (Wednesday, June 24, 2020). This story appeared on page B4.

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