The Meaning of Liberty "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed."
--Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence
"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United State; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; not deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law."
--14th Amendment, Constitution of the United States
Political Liberty: "The state of condition of those who have the right effectually to share in framing and conducting their government."
"The right to participate in determining the form, choosing the officials, making the laws, and carrying on the function's of one's government."
Members of Congress and the state legislatures, through wanton abuse of their authority and power, "effectually" deny citizens their right "to choose" their own representative in 90 percent and more of legislative districts in the United States, where incumbents are virtually unchallenged.
Have they not violated the Constitution, Both the meaning and intent, by abrogating the "privileges and immunities" of the citizens of the United States?
Have they not deprived us of our political "liberty" as effectively as any dictator, king or tyrant could accomplish?
Does it matter that the incumbents have insured their own electoral invulnerability through guile, duplicity and manipulation, rather than force?
The Platform of the Independence Party of New York
The historic core of our democratic system is Political Liberty; which is the right and opportunity to choose those who will serve as representatives with the consent of the governed. This "right to choose" is the single factor that controls the ambitions of those who would impose - through force or stealth - their will on the majority of citizens. When democracy operates as intended, an aroused public can replace those who govern outside of the boundaries established by public consent.
Today, however, the condition of our democracy is tragically flawed. The incumbents of both political parties have manipulated every resource at their disposal to all but eliminate electoral choice in the United States; and they have, in the process, converted the state and federal budgets into a gigantic payoff system for the interests and organizations that contribute to their campaigns. The result is a frustrated and angry public; a public that has no place to express this anger because the electoral system is rigged to guarantee the re-election of the incumbents in office.
The incumbents of both parties have collaborated to subvert our political liberty to serve their own ambition for pensions, privileges and perks. In the process of paying off those who contribute massively to their campaigns, they have erected a mountain of public debt which will eventually crash down upon the lives of our children and grandchildren, crushing the value out of a democracy that ten generations of Americans have struggled and died to preserve.
The platform that follows is directed at the restoration both of our political liberty and of fiscal and economic solvency for our children. Unlike the incumbents of both parties, we not only welcome electoral competition, we cherish it. We not only espouse the virtue of fiscal conservatism and responsibility, we will actually practice it with spending and taxes. We not only desire political and electoral reform, we will support these reforms as the core of our effort to restore choice and accountability. and, we will support only those candidates who are committed to the reforms we seek as a party.
The maintenance of our democracy requires a price of each of us. We will retain democracy for our children only as much as our own willingness to sacrifice for it.
The Central Mission
The Independence Party of New York is organized around a core of values, beliefs and principles, and these are embodied in the objectives described in this platform. The following elements define the mission of the party:
- To restore democratic choice and electoral accountability.
- To put an end to budget deficits, unfunded pension liabilities, and other underfunded long term liabilities.
- To create a modern budgetary process that uses professionally acceptable accounting standards and accrual accounting, avoiding mandates, understated liabilities, and off-line budgeting.
- To diminish the pervasive and pernicious role of campaign contributions in buying access to legislative decision making and in promoting claims to public money.
- To promote public policies that are more directly consistent with the desires and needs of the public:
- In welfare, where Americans want a system that discourages teenage pregnancy, encourages work, and encourages families to stay together.
- In education, where Americans want to promote improvements that move us toward a world class education system.
- In crime, where Americans want a system that keeps violent felons off the street, and which promotes more creative alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent criminals.
- In taxation and spending, where Americans want solutions that do not require continually increasing the burden of taxation on Americans and do not require continually expanding the scope of government activity.
In area after area of public policy, the state and federal governments continually produce policies that are badly unrepresentative of the desires of the American people. This occurs because the current election system renders incumbents all but indestructible, making them unresponsive to the public and highly responsive to the campaign contributions that guarantee their electoral invulnerability. As a result, Americans are angry, frustrated, alienated and discouraged at a level that has not been present in at least 50 years or more.
In effect, our current two party system has proved a monumental failure in the most essential public function it performs -- the representation of what Americans want from government.
The Restoration of Democratic Choice and Electoral Accountability
The Current Condition:
Electoral accountability requires democratic choice. By democratic choice, we mean simply that two or more candidates and parties in an election district have a relatively equal opportunity and resources to communicate with the voters for the purpose of securing their support. By this standard, more than 90 percent of all legislative districts in the United states lack anything approximating democratic choice. The reality is that the incumbents of both parties have such disproportionate resources that reasonable competition is all but impossible.
The results of this condition are apparent to any but the most prejudiced observers:
- Voters simply do not hear a balance of competing views in most districts.
- Invulnerable incumbents pay less attention to the voters of the district.
- The incumbents pay attention to the interests of the campaign contributions that guarantee their invulnerability.
- Voters who have little influence both over the outcome of elections and the policies of their government become alienated, frustrated, and discouraged, and they stop participating as a result.
The elimination of the right and opportunity of democratic choice in the United States is simply not tolerable. The Democratic and Republican officeholders are responsible for this condition. They are the beneficiaries of the abuses which they and their predecessors created. They promote the propaganda that would blind the public to the loss of the public's right of democratic choice. They promote the hypocritical concept that while they clearly are part of the legislative process creating the abuse, they are without any personal responsibility for the consequences of this process.
The Solutions of the Independence Party:
The Independence Party is committed to the concept that voters have an inherent right to a democratic choice in all their elections, and that the only way to guarantee that right is to insure that challengers have relatively equal access to resources. Further, the Party believes that the voters themselves must be empowered to resist a legislature that has proven unresponsive to the public will. Toward these ends, we support the following measures.
To Increase the Power of Voters:
1. Initiative, Referendum and Recall: Commitment to Initiative, Referendum and Recall at the federal, state and local level.
2. Referendum on the State Budget: Commitment to a state-wide referendum on a two year state budget. (See Fiscal proposals on budget reform).
3. Voter Nonapproval Proposal: Place a category on the ballot that allows citizens to vote "None of the Above." If this category wins, a special election must be held.
4. Citizen Empowerment Plank: Grant legal "standing" to citizens and citizen groups to bring court challenges for waste, fraud, financial abuse, and criminal acts at all levels of government. Eliminate sovereign immunity as a defense against such actions.
5. Unrestricted Party Registration: Commitment to the right of citizens to register as a member of any party of their choice, at any time, without prohibition by the state.
Enhance the Potential for Voter Participation:
1. Motor Voter Plank: Automatically register individuals to vote who have a driver's license, are eighteen (18), and who are otherwise qualified to vote.
2. Extended Polling Times: Hold elections in a manner so as to allow voters the opportunity to vote during a period beginning on the Saturday before the traditional Tuesday date for elections and ending on election day, and expand the opportunity for absentee voting.
Improve Ballot Access to People or Groups Seeking Office:
1. Uniform Ballot Access Plank: Support the creation of uniform ballot access for elections for President, the US Senate and the House of Representatives, easing access for independent or other party candidates.
2. State-wide Ballot Access: A measure whereby a state-wide ballot position as a party could be obtained either by running a candidate for governor who receives 50,000 votes in the general election, or by registering 50,000 voters under the name of the party state-wide.
3. Local Ballot Access: A measure whereby any political organizing committee securing the registration of one percent of the registered voters in any electoral district would have the right to place candidates on the ballot as a major party in that district as long as they maintain the one percent registration.
Reduce the Advantages of Incumbency and Grant Challengers Relatively Equal Ability to Compete for Office:
1. Term limits: Support term limits of no more than twelve (12) years for a legislative position and eight (8) years for an executive position.
2. Extension of Terms: Support the extension of Congressional and state legislative terms to four (4) years (thereby reducing the need for continuous campaigning and the need for campaign funds).
3. Public Funding of Campaigns: Commitment to public funding of elections, coupled with the complete elimination of Political Action Committee (PAC) money for local, state and federal offices. Candidates accepting public funds cannot accept any funds or services for the general election from party organizations (the so-called soft money), and they must accept funding limits for their campaign, with unused campaign funds returned to the government.
4. Local Funding of Campaigns: Restrict fund raising so that at least eighty (80) percent of campaign funds for primaries come from within the area where the candidates live.
5. No Foreign Campaign Contributions: Support for legislation declaring illegal campaign contributions by foreign governments or foreign owned corporations or other organizations.
6. Reform of the Franking Laws: (1) Prohibit an incumbent from any mailings at public expense after August 31st of an election year. (2) Prohibit any franked mass mailings by incumbents to voters outside of the district in which the incumbent serves. (3) Extend the franking privilege to political parties of record whereby these political parties get mailings equal to the number made by the incumbent during any election year. (4) Remove the incumbent's name and picture from any newsletter sent to constituencies using the franking privilege.
7. Anti-Gerrymandering Plank: Conduct the ten year redistricting through an independent commission where commission members are nominated by the Governor and must be confirmed by a two-thirds in both houses of the legislature. Members must be appointed in the year prior to the census year. At lease one member must come from each political party with state-wide ballot status in the state. Redistricting must be completed before the end of the first year in which the census is completed. Should any of these provisions not be met by the legislator and the governor, the power to take action falls immediately to the Court of Appeals.
8. Uniform Disclosure Plank: Support a proposal requiring the clear disclosure of any organization soliciting support on behalf of a candidate, whether in person or by phone.
9. Media Time For Debates: We support in principle the belief that radio and television, as publicly licensed broadcasters, should be required to set aside some set number of programming hours to support debates among the candidates for the various offices.
Improve Dramatically the Ethical Standards and Conduct of candidates and Office Holders.
1. Party Standards for Candidates: The Independence Party imposes certain standards on its candidates. These Include: (1) they will accept no PAC funds; (2) they voluntarily accept term limits on themselves even before they are enacted into law; (3) they will strive to avoid negative campaigning, and will strive to conduct their campaigns in a manner that sticks to issues, educates voters, and raises the quality of discourse in campaigns; (4) they agree to participate in debates; (5) they agree to participate in a balanced and fair process of reviewing complaints against unfair, inaccurate, and misleading campaign practices on a timely basis.
2. Requirement to Caucus as a Party: Independence Party candidates agree, when elected, to caucus as members of the Independence Party.
3. Fair Campaign Practices Commission: The party supports the creation of local and state commissions to review campaign complaints.
4. Anti-Gratuity Plank: Independence Party candidates will refuse all gifts or gratuities from lobbyists or other private interests seeking services, favors, or legislation from the local, state or federal government in which they serve.
5. Anti-Revolving Door Plank: Support legislation such that office holders will not serve as lobbyists with the state or federal government within three (3) years of the date of termination of their service from their respective office, and they will not represent, before the state or federal government, any foreign government or corporation (or an American subsidiary) for a period of five years beyond the end of their government service.
Improve Opportunities for Citizen-Legislators:
1. Citizen Legislator Plank: Restructure legislative service to support the concept that all legislative offices, other than the House and the US. Senate should be part-time positions that can easily be held by most citizens.
2. Legislative Salaries: End the policy of granting pensions to elected legislative positions.
3. Legislative Reform: Make the state budget a two year budget cutting the legislative year to two months and cutting salaries by 50 percent.
4. Uniform Application of Laws: support legislation that would make Congress and the state legislature, and the members of both, subject to the same laws imposed on others, including pension laws, discrimination laws, etc.
5. Budget Penalty: Reduce the salaries of state legislators and the Governor by $1,000 for every day the budget is late in delivery.
The battle to restore democratic choice, electoral accountability and ethical behavior is paramount. Unless these reforms can occur, it is impossible to institute budget and fiscal reforms because the system of funding now in place creates overwhelming pressures to increase government spending.
The most important reform of the Independence Party, however, is the party's very existence. The Party will contest the seats where one of the other two parties has decided that the incumbent cannot be contested. The Party will seek to finance itself from among its own members, and thereby present the choice of a locally funded candidate against a candidate beholden to special interests and interests outside the district. In this manner, the Independence Party will alter the present stalemate in politics and increase the choices available to the voter.
The Restoration of Fiscal Solvency And Budgetary Sanity
The Current Condition:
The profligate fiscal behavior of the incumbents of both parties has reached proportions over the past decade that clearly threaten to destroy the future for our children and grandchildren. The federal debt stands in excess of $4.5 Trillion, and it will rise nearly another Trillion before the end of the 1990's. This does not include the enormous underfunded liabilities in virtually all of the long term programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and federal, state and local pensions. These underfundings occur because state and federal authorities deliberately understate the financial implications of long-term obligations by using actuarial tables that are well out of date. This allows them to avoid paying for these obligations with current dollars, which might require tax increases, and instead they transfer the obligations to future generations of tax payers. In New York State in 1993, the Governor and the leaders of the state legislature (both Republican and Democrat) increased this underfunding of pensions by an additional $3 Billion, in order to produce a temporary balance of the state budget. They were sued by the Controller and lost, and now the taxpayers must make up this additional amount.
We cannot recount all of the fiscal and budgetary abuses in this short document. The abuses are available in more than two dozen books that have been written about this behavior during the past five years alone. What we can say is that these abuses are the direct product of agreements between the leadership of both political parties. At the federal level, the leaders of the two parties have produced three massive tax increases in less than a decade, 1986, 1990 and 1993; and in all three instances they have done little or nothing to control spending or to alter the forces that are driving spending upward. The Republicans pretend to believe in fiscal conservatism, but they have been directly supportive of all but the last agreement. Under the direct leadership of both parties, the rise in federal spending continues unabated and untouched by the actions of Congress or the President.
In New York State the problem is even worse. The Republicans have controlled the State Senate and the Democrats the Assembly for nearly three decades. During that time, particularly since 1980, state spending has risen at an average of two to three times the inflation index. The continuation of this practice for another ten years will prove catastrophic for the State. Again, the Republican leadership pretends to fiscal conservatism, but this spending increase could not have occurred without their explicit agreement through their control of the State Senate.
During the whole time, both parties have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in propaganda to persuade Americans and New Yorkers that they are fiscally prudent and responsible. The incumbents of both parties routinely return to their home districts and pretend that they bear no responsibility for institutions that no longer function to serve the public will.
The facts are today not even in serious dispute: (1) Spending remains out of control at the state and federal level; (2) Both major parties contribute to the problem because of their need to pay off interests that support their candidates; (3) Both parties contribute to hiding the problem from the public through the use of phony budgets, gimmicks such as off-line budgeting, the deliberate understatement of long-term liabilities, and mandates to transfer the cost either to other units of government, to the private sector through regulations and requirements, or to the future.
The time is long since past that a responsible person can believe that either party will step forward with real solutions to these problems. These incumbents will not bite the hands that feed money into their elections through the corruption of the PAC system and the soft money transfer through the national and state committee of the two parties.
The Solutions of the Independence Party
We believe that the restoration of democratic choice in elections and direct electoral accountability are the surest ways to restore fiscal and budgetary responsibility. However, we also believe that institutional reforms are required to sweep away the residue of corruption and incompetence that permeates the budgetary process in New York and the nation. Budgetary and fiscal policies in the United States should be guided by a number of principles:
1. Continued deficit spending and underfunding of obligations are unacceptable.
2. Federal, state, and local governmental budgets should be subject to the same accounting principles and processes imposed wisely on private corporations and organizations.
3. Our policy should call for the reduction of the deficit to zero before the end of the decade, and it should include a gradual paydown of all long-term obligations.
4. All long-term obligations must be funded with current dollars, applying accepted actuarial figures to every public pension program and other long term obligations under the authority and guidance of an independent accounting firm.
5. Wherever possible, we prefer to minimize the role of the government, transferring needed activities into the private sector through privatization.
6. When a government program transfers income to individuals, we prefer to minimize the size and scope of administrative and bureaucratic involvement, making such transfer payments directly without excessive interference in the lives of recipients.
The first obligation of all obligation of all governments is to prove that they can provide services with a level of quality that meet the needs and standards of performance required by the taxpaying public. So far, governments have fallen terribly short of acceptable quality in areas where direct comparisons with the private delivery of similar services is possible. For example, would Americans, where they have a choice, prefer to get their medical care through the Veterans Administration Hospitals or go to a private hospital. Would businesses prefer to trust their packages to the Post Office or to one of the private carriers?
We believe that the time has arrived for government at all levels to concentrate more on improving the quality of services they provide rather than throwing more money at services that are not performing well. While we as a party do not follow the rather mindless cant of some Republicans who decry all government; we equally reject the bureaucratic liberals in the Democratic Party who with similar mindlessness propose monstrous new program after new program as a cure for all of our problems, even as they fail to make the existing programs work. In this light, the solutions of the Independence Party of New York include the following:
Decrease Federal and State Budget Deficits to Zero In Five Years.
1. Federal Deficit Plank: A five year plan to reduce the federal deficit to zero that emphasizes exclusively spending cuts since federal taxes have already been raised twice in 1990 and 1993 with no real spending cuts.
2. Automatic Cost of Living (COLA) adjustments: An end to the use of automatic (without legislative vote) cost of living adjustments for all government programs. (Periodic cost of living adjustments will obviously be necessary from time to time, but legislatures should be forced to vote on these increases).
3. National Debt Referendum Plank: Require a national referendum on the increase of the federal debt level except where approved by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress and signed by the President.
4. Restraint in Growth of Government Plank: Call for a five year program of holding the rate of increase in state and federal spending to at least one percent under the rate of inflation for five years.
5. Full Funding Plank: Support an end to the deliberate unfunding and underfunding of long-term liabilities such as government employee pensions. Require that expenses and obligations be fully paid in the year in which the obligation occurs.
6. State Deficit Plan: Call for a five year plan to eliminate the growing state budget deficit, demanding that the budget is current with all long-term liabilities and obligations.
7. Anti-Mandate Plank: Require an end to all mandates which transfer revenue obligations to other units of government without the approval of the other governments or the citizens they represent.
8. Sunset Provisions: Require a five year sunset provision for every budget item, both at the state and federal level, whereby the program must be fully reconstituted through the legislative process.
9. Balanced Budget Amendment: Support a constitutional amendment to provide for a balanced federal budget.
10. Full Taxation of Subsidies: All subsidies and transfer payments of any kind that go directly to corporations and individuals should be taxed at the prevailing rate for the corporation or taxpayer.
Improve the Fairness and Quality of The Budgetary Process:
1. Full and Fair accounting Plank: Support the use of generally recognized accounting standards and procedures to federal, state and local governments, including: (1) The use of the accrual method of accounting; (2) The inclusion of a balance sheet with a full expression of all assets and obligations; (3) The creation of public audit committees: (4) The requirement of an annual outside audit by an independent auditing firm: (5) The end to the use of off-line budgeting: (6) The requirement for independent actuarial evaluations of all long-term program obligations; (7) The adoption of a single set of accounting procedures and standards; and (8) Quarterly interim reports on the budget.
2. Secure Trust Fund Status for Social Security: An end to the practice of financing current debt by taking excess Social Security contributions and replacing them with government IOUs.
3. Two Year Budget Cycle: Require that all government budgeting replace the current one year budgets with two year budgets, requiring public referenda on these budgets.
4. Citizen Approval of Employment Contracts: Provide public referenda on all state and local public employment contracts.
5. Taxpayer Advocacy Plank: Create an independent Taxpayer Budget Office under the authority of the Controller, whose legislative function is to prepare the best possible case against every public expenditure and every increase in public expenditures, and which is required to make representations before legislative committees on behalf of the taxpayer.
6. Timely Budgets: Both the state and federal governments should be required to submit final budgets within timely schedules, with fines for the legislator if they fail to meet deadlines.
Improve the Quality of Service of the Government:
1. Fair Dismissal Plank: Continue Civil Service requirements for the hiring and promotion of public employees, but alter the Civil Service requirements to ease dramatically the restrictions (and exorbitant cost) of the ability of the government to discharge employees for cause.
2. Privatization Plank: Support an aggressive program, of privatizing government functions wherever and whenever possible.
3. Quality Measurement Plank: Require measurement of the quality of the delivery of all public services by those who use those public services on at least an annual basis, with full disclosure of the results.
4. Line Item Veto: Extend the line item veto to the Governor and the President.
5. Citizen Legislator Plank: Support the concept that all legislative offices other than Congress and the U.S. Senate should be part-time positions that can easily be held by most citizens, and we support the reorganization of the legislative sessions in New York toward that end.
6. Uniform Application of Laws Plank: Support a measure requiring that members of Congress and the state legislatures be subject to the same laws that are applicable to others, including laws about discrimination, pension reform and the like.
The deficit and spending crises in this country cannot be addressed unless a third force is inserted in the legislatures to force the two parties to end the destructive stalemates over taxation and spending. The Independence Party intends to create that force by electing enough legislators to deny either party the ability to organize the legislature without our votes. The members of the party will vote for fiscal responsibility, reform of the budgetary process, and the permanent elimination of deficit financing.
Strengthen the Family Structure
The Current Condition: Welfare
The deterioration of the family in American life is the product of many forces, some of which are outside of the ability of the government to control. However, government policy, itself, should not be one of the primary forces that undermines the preservation and maintenance of healthy families. The problem, of course, is that government policy, especially the welfare system in all of its dimensions, is one of the primary agents behind the deterioration of families in the inner cities across the United States.
The current welfare system is the creation of both the Republican and Democratic parties, and both parties have been loath to reform this area of policy, despite the near uniform agreement that the welfare system, as designed: (1) encourages the creation of a dependent class of citizens, wards of the state for multiple generations, (2) encourages fathers to leave their families because it is more economically profitable for the family if they do, (3) encourages teenagers to have children out of wedlock because the state enables these children to leave home when the baby is born, (4) and fosters the growth of values formed by peer groups rather than parents, fostering violence, disruption, and mayhem destroying the security and safety of family members and neighbors.
Moreover, the current welfare system has produced a huge bureaucracy that absorbs a disproportionate share of financial resources, estimated at 68 cents out of the dollar. The amount of money currently spent on the various welfare programs would completely eliminate poverty if the money was simply given to the poor.
The Independence Party has no ability at this time to rewrite all of the very specific provisions of the laws that govern the welfare system broadly defined. At the same time, we believe that voters have a right to understand the principles that would guide such an overhaul of the welfare system, if the Independence Party were responsible for the system.
Further, we believe that the educational system is the greatest agency for creating equality of opportunity in the United States, and the enhancement of the educational system in that role is a key factor in strengthening the prosperity and future for our children.
Completely Overhaul the Welfare System.
The Values promoted by the current welfare system are incompatible with the larger goal of strengthening the family. We believe that the welfare system must be completely overhauled to promote the following values.
1. Work and Not Dependency: To require and encourage "work" and not "inactivity" on the part of income recipients, ending permanent "welfare dependency" except for the seriously impaired and disabled.
2. Keeping Families Together: To encourage, rather than discourage, fathers to stay with their families, assuming in the process financial responsibility for their children.
3. End Teenage Pregnancy: To discourage teenage pregnancy, and to discourage the current practice of children trying to raise children of their own.
4. Tame the Welfare Bureaucracy: To reduce the size, scope and power of the welfare bureaucracy, providing the money for reform out of the exorbitant overhead costs of the current welfare system.
5. Parental Support: Take steps to insure that both biological parents contribute to the support of children by strengthening the state and federal government's ability to assist in enforcing children support orders and child support agreed upon by the parents.
6. IRS Cooperation: Remove barriers to permitting the IRS to divulge the whereabouts of non paying parents to appropriate state and federal agencies.
7. Residency Requirements: One year residency requirement in New York State before one can receive welfare assistance.
8. Illegal Aliens: No welfare assistance to people who are illegal aliens.
9. Federal Waivers: Request federal legislative waivers so that New York can change its welfare system without explicit federal approval. The Independence Party clearly rejects the approaches of both the Democratic and the Republican Parties on the issue of welfare. The Democrats insist on reforms that leave the entire welfare bureaucracy intact, perpetuating the agency most responsible for resisting changes that would reduce its power. The Republicans, by contrast, promote solutions that are largely propaganda, knowing full well that they will never be responsible for implementing their positions in most areas of the country. The Independence Party acknowledges the continuing need for a safety net to protect citizens, but we believe that the system needs a complete overhaul.
The Current Condition: Education
The American educational system is the single most important force for upward mobility and economic prosperity in the United States. The improvement of the current system of education is a central objective of the Independence Party. Toward that overall mission, the Party has several specific objectives.
To Improve Productivity in Education in the United States and New York State.
1. Support Capital Intensive Technologies: Create and fund research and development efforts aimed at bringing capital intensive technologies into classroom teaching, including computers, interactive video, educational software, multi-media, etc.
2. National Science Act for Americans: Create and fund a national science and technology act that will create educational funds for American citizens who study in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics fields.
3. National Prize Program: Create a national prize program for the development of computer based educational tools and materials for the schools.
4. Schools as Community Centers: Provide funding to keep schools open on evenings, during weekends, and in the summers as community centers for our youth.
5. Extension of Education: Extend the school year and the school day.
Increase the Choices Available to Parents and Their Children for Their Education:
1. Enhanced Choice: Provide funding for children who wish to seek education outside of the district in which they reside.
2. Enhance Competition: Allow parents to use public funding to send their children to qualified private schools.
3. Early Education: Increase state and federal support for early education, particularly for children who come from the impoverished backgrounds.
Make the Restoration of Order, Discipline, and Safety in the Classroom a High Priority, Even at the Expense of Isolating Students Who are Disruptive in the School.
1. Increased Authority: Grant principals and schools districts greater ability to expel unruly students.
2. Weapon Suspension: Immediately suspend students who bring guns or knives to school.
3. Bureaucratic Reduction: Reduce central bureaucratic control, including state control, over individual districts and individual schools; thereby reducing the ability of large scale state and local interests to dictate school policies.
The educational system in New York State is filled with fine people who want nothing more than to make the system work more efficiently and more effectively for our children. These people are hampered by model of education where large scale bureaucratic control is exerted downward from the state, creating rigidity and inflexibility throughout the system. We believe that the children in the State would be much better off if parents had more influence and bureaucrats less influence in determining the education that our children receive. Continuous improvement should be the guiding light of education, but improvements determined by the needs of families, children and parents, and not the needs of the other interests in education. Education primarily exists to serve the needs and interests of the consumers, and not the needs and interests of the providers. The current organization of education in the State reverses this priority.
The Problem of Crime
The Current Condition:
Crime is a central issue threatening the family in New York State. The statistics on the rising wave of violent crime appall those who remember a time when our communities were relatively safe from violence. Neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party are in favor of crime, and neither the Republicans nor the Democrats want to be perceived as soft on crime. If either of the two parties had a "magic bullet" that would cure this problem, we would have heard about it long ago. The reality is that neither party has proposed anything that approaches a solution to this problem, and both parties and their candidates are periodically guilty of absurd propaganda against the other in the pursuit of electoral advantage on this issue.
Principles of the Independence Party
The Independence Party has not yet developed a full blown set of positions on the issue of crime, but we can enunciate some principles that will guide the development of these proposals over the next few months:
- Try as much as possible to keep non-violent criminals out of prison, using various forms of rigorous public service as an alternative to incarceration.
- Reduce the ability of parole boards to release criminals who committed or threatened violence in the commission of their crimes.
- Develop options for dealing with excessively unruly and disruptive youth that takes them out of the school system where they injure the educational possibilities for other children.
- Sharply increase the penalties for the use of a weapon in the commission of a crime.
- Use taxes on cigarettes and alcohol to support efforts aimed at preventing children from using any drug, including cigarettes and alcohol.
- Put more police services into communities, close to the people they protect.
- Increase the number of police personnel who are recruited from among the racial and ethnic minorities.
Regardless of any opportunity to do so, the Independence Party will not practice the kind of cruel propaganda practiced so frequently by the other parties on the issue of crime. We will not offer "magic solutions" that might win votes, but would not improve the conditions. We will not accuse the other parties of "softness on crime."
Every reasonable person in this State wishes crime could be reduced. The way to reduce crime is to make it less of a partisan issue and more of a community issue.
The So-Called "Social Issues"
There are a number of issues promoted by the existing parties which we in the Independence Party believe have no place as party issues. These issues are largely a matter of one's own personal ethical or moral standards, and we believe that candidates should be permitted to state their positions on these issues without the party attempting to dictate the position for the individual. Moreover, we further believe that efforts by outside groups to dictate policies for the parties on these issues have proven extremely destructive to the overall political process by diverting attention away from the deterioration of our democracy and the impending financial catastrophe facing our children.
For these reasons, the Independence Party will take no formal position on the issue of abortion, the death penalty, or school prayer.
On the whole, as well, the party takes no position on questions pertaining to one's sexual preference. However, the Independence Party stands steadfastly opposed to discrimination, prejudice and racism in their myriad of forms, and we do not believe that anyone should be discriminated against on the basis of his or her sexual preference.
The Independence Party is in the process of considering other issues of consequence, and the Party will issue position statements from time to time when a consensus is reached within the party on an issue. However, this should not obscure the fact that the Independence Party has a very specific program of political and fiscal reform that constitutes the top agenda of the party. Unlike the other parties, we have a core set of issues that form the basis for our very existence, and we are recruiting both candidates and supporters primarily around this core. We believe that unless we restore political and fiscal integrity to our politics that the other issues won't matter very much. Moreover, the outcomes of these others issues will - without substantial reform - be dictated by the very same large interests that currently distort all of our priorities, using power they gain through their ability to support incumbents in the electoral process. If you agree with our views, we urge you to join the Independence Party, making your own contribution to the restoration of our democracy and our children's financial future.
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Dave Ketchum's alternative version of the platform.
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