Program of the Greens/Green Party USA
DRAFT IN PROGRESS – DRAFT FOR DISCUSSION
This document is a draft-in-progress to update the Green Program of the Greens/Green Party USA. It is proposed that
the 2000 Green Congress of the Greens/Green Party USA to be held May 26-29 in Chicago, Illinois accept it as a Draft
for Discussion. In practice, as a Draft for Discussion it would not be binding on the leadership of the Greens/Green Party
USA. It would be a document for discussion for the coming year.
TOWARD ECOLOGICAL DEMOCRACY
GREEN STRATEGIES FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
GREEN PARTY STRUCTURE
ECONOMIC BILL OF RIGHTS
PROGRESSIVE AND ECOLOGICAL TAX REFORM
HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
CRIMINAL AND CIVIL JUSTICE REFORMS
TOWARD ECOLOGICAL DEMOCRACY
The Greens/Green Party USA is a political party that stands independent of the corporate oligarchy and its political
representatives: the Democratic and Republican parties. In contrast to these corporate parties, the Green alternative is a
a party for the working class majority;
a party for all people oppressed by racism, sexism, heterosexism, or any form of domination; and
a party for everyone who loves peace, justice, a clean environment, and a participatory democracy.
For the Green Party, independent political action means much more than running Green Party candidates for public
office. It also means direct action in social movements—organizing, acting, and speaking out in every nonviolent way
necessary, from popular education, community organizing, and union organizing to demonstrations, civil disobedience,
and building democratic counter-institutions.
The Green Party is a movement-based political party. The Greens participate in the democratic social movements
as partners with other organizations and provide an electoral arm for the movements that is independent of the
Green politics is an ecological approach to politics that links social and ecological problems. Ecology studies the
relationships among organisms and their environment. Political ecology brings human institutions and ideologies into
this holistic perspective.
We find that the same institutions and ideas that cause the exploitation and oppression of humans also cause the
degradation and destruction of the environment. Both are rooted in a hierarchical, exploitative, and alienated social
system that systematically produces human oppression and ecological destruction.
Thus, Greens believe that in order to harmonize society with nature, we must harmonize human with human. For
the Greens, the struggles against racism, sexism, exploitation, war, and all other forms of social domination and
violence are central to the struggle for an ecologically sustainable society.
Green movements and parties have arisen all around the world in recent decades in response to the ecological
crisis that threatens humanity’s very survival. In particular, Green Parties have emerged out of the extra-parliamentary
“new social movements” of the New Left that arose in the 1950s and 1960s. The Old Left of Social Democratic and
Communist parties had not been responsive to the “new social movements” concerned with issues of racial justice,
women’s liberation, gay liberation, peace, and the environment. They tended to subsume and subordinate the
“secondary contradictions” of hierarchy, culture, and quality of life to the “central” question of economic class. They had
taken sides in the Cold War, while the New Left tried to cut a democratic path that was independent of both superpower
blocs. The Old Left had also abandoned economic democracy by equating it with nationalized industries even where the
state bureaucracies that ran them (Social Democratic as well as Communist) were as exploitative and authoritarian as
private corporate bureaucracies. The New Left wanted participatory democracy, while the Old Left was satisfied with
representative “democracy.” To the New Left, the Old Left had been co-opted into the system when it subordinated
direct action and movement politics to an almost purely electoral and legislative strategy. In the US, this took the
extreme form of an electoral strategy that even abandoned class independence and coalesced with the “liberal” wing of
the corporate power structure inside the Democratic Party. Green Parties emerged as movement-based parties in the
1970s and 1980s when movement activists realized that movements alone, without independent electoral expression,
have limited impact because the traditional left (in the US, liberal) parties can ignore their protests and still take their
votes for granted.
The Greens carry forward the traditional values of the Left: freedom, equality, and solidarity. We want to create a
society without class exploitation or social domination. But Greens expand this notion of a classless, nonhierarchical
society that is harmonized with itself to include an ecological society that is harmonized with nature as well.
To the social movements, the Greens say that in order for humanity to progress toward a democratic society, we
must resolve the ecological crisis so that people are around to enjoy democracy.
To the environmental movements, the Greens say that in order to have an ecological society, we must have a
democratic society so people have the power to choose ecological sustainability.
To survive, we must have ecological sustainability. To have ecological sustainability, we must have democracy. In
short, we must create an ecological democracy.
The Crisis of Corporate Rule
We live in a world ruled by a wealthy oligarchy that exercises its power through giant corporations and corporate-
oriented political parties that use nation-states to enforce corporate priorities. The biggest of these corporations have
annual sales revenue larger than most nations’ gross domestic products (all retail sales in a year, or GDP). Of the 100
the biggest economies in the world (as measured by sales), 51 are corporations, 49 are countries. The combined sales
of the top 200 corporations in 1995 was $7.1 trillion, bigger than the US GDP and bigger than the combined GDP of 182
countries – all except the nine biggest nations.
These giant corporations dominate the economy, making choices for all of us about technologies, products, and
services. And this economic power translates into political power.
The corporate rich pay for the election campaigns of Democratic and Republican politicians. Corporations
dominate the lobbying of legislatures and regulatory agencies. With nine giant media conglomerates now dominating
global mass media—from newspapers, radio, and television to books, records, and movies—the corporate media shape
public opinion by determining what is read, heard, and seen in the mass media.
Driven by ruthless competition for profits, the corporations ceaselessly push for cheaper labor, lower taxes, and
less environmental regulation. Workers are degraded from human beings into mere commodities bearing labor power, a
factor of production to be bought by the corporation at the lowest possible cost. Nature is reduced from a complex and
wondrous web of life into mere resources to be bought, sold, used up, and discarded. As corporations struggle with
each other for profits and try to grow bigger in order to compete, the economy grows blindly without any sense of
balance or reciprocity with nature, becoming to the planetary biosphere what cancer is to an organism. In short,
economic competition institutionalizes and compels corporate social and ecological irresponsibility.
Ceaseless corporate expansion has created an ecological crisis that threatens the very survival of humanity.
Already human society consumes 40 percent of the global biomass (vegetation) on land created each year by
photosynthesis. Forests and fisheries, soils and hard minerals, and nonrenewable fossil fuels are depleting rapidly.
Continued growth in the material and energy used by the human economy is simply not sustainable.
One result of this accelerating growth in human production and consumption is that the habitats of more and
more species are reduced to the point where species cannot survive and become extinct. Estimates of the extinction
rates are as high as 150,000 species a year. As species become extinct, ecosystems simplify, making the ecological
foundations of human society and its economy less stable and sustainable.
Pollution from synthetic chemicals, radioactive byproducts of the nuclear industry, and genetically-engineered
organisms is upsetting the very biochemistry of life at the molecular level, creating a proliferation of cancers, genetic
alterations, and other diseases that are killing off entire species and threatening the continued existence of others,
The introduction of synthetic chemicals into the environment on a large scale is a recent phenomenon, beginning
about a century ago, but accelerating rapidly since World War II. These chemicals are wreaking havoc with the
environment, accelerating extinctions and adversely affecting human health.
Age-adjusted cancer rates have increased 60% since 1950 due to these new synthetic chemical and radioactive
pollutants. Nearly 50% of the people now alive will get cancer.
The US generates 200 million tons of hazardous materials a year. The cost of cleaning up already existing US
toxic waste sites is estimated at $1.7 trillion.
The scale of human impact on the environment reaches from the molecular to the geological. Increasing carbon
dioxide and other greenhouse gases have created a global warming which threatens to melt the ice caps, raise sea
levels, flood out the majority of humankind that lives by oceans, and change climate zones, resulting in massive crop
losses, drought, hunger, and pestilence. Depletion of the atmospheric ozone layer alone will cause skin cancer in 1
billion people—1 in 6 alive today—even if the release of all ozone-depleting chemicals ceased today.
Now, on top of chemical and radioactive pollutants, corporations are creating genetic pollution. They are
engineering new, cross-species life-forms by splicing the genes of one species into another. Despite studies indicating
dangerous consequences, corporations are moving rapidly ahead and trans-genic foods are showing up in our stores,
including corn and soy products. Corporations are claiming patents on life itself, not only on these new trans-genic
organisms, but also on crop seeds, human genes, and any other life-form from which they think they can profit by
The human economy of manufactured capital rests on a foundation natural capital—fresh water, forests, soils,
fisheries, minerals, the biogeochemical cycles of the biosphere, and so forth. The loss of these ecological services due
to the degradation of the environment is already beginning to hurt economic performance. Yet, our economy accounts
for this natural capital as if it were recurring income rather than principal. Global corporations competing to maximize
profits create a relentless growth imperative that is destroying this natural capital and the ecological foundations of
human society and its economy.
However, even disregarding this ecological havoc, this economy is not performing well strictly in human terms.
The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.
The world’s richest 225 people own combined wealth equal to the annual income of the bottom 3 billion people, or
47%, of the world’s people combined. Every year, the richest 1% of the world’s people receive as much income as the
bottom 57% of the world’s people combined. In 1960, the global income gap between the richest 20% and the poorest
20% was 30:1. By 1994, it was 78:1. 1/3 of the world’s workers—1 billion people—are unemployed.
Globally today, there are 800 million hungry people, 1 billion illiterates, 4 billion in poverty, 250 million child
workers, 100 million homeless, and 1 billion unemployed workers.
In the US, wealth has become more concentrated over its history, but the concentration increased especially in
the last two decades. The percentage of total personal wealth owned by the richest 10% has increased from 45% in
1774, to 66% in 1870, to 67% in 1962, to 68% in 1983, to 70% in 1989, to 72% in 1995, to 73% in 1997.
In the US in 1999, the richest 1% owned more than the entire bottom 95% of us combined. That richest 1% (2.7
million people) now has as much annual income as the bottom 37% (100 million people). Twenty years ago, the richest
1% “only” had as much income as 29 million people, less than 20% of the people.
If principal residence, the major asset of the most middle Americans, is set aside, the top 0.5% of the populations
owns more than the bottom 90% combined as land, real property, businesses, stocks, bonds, bank deposits, and other
Fortune Magazine estimates that Bill Gates' wealth expands at an average rate of $50 million per day, or $35,000
per minute. The wealth gap between Gates and the average American today is 311 times greater than the gap between
John D. Rockefeller and the average American in the Age of Robber Barons.
From 1973 to 1996, non-farm business productivity jumped 33%. But the gains have all gone to the top of the
income scale. Since 1979, the bottom 80% of the US population have lost real income, while the richest 1% have
increased their income by 80%. The average hourly wage in 1996 was 6.2% below its 1973 level and the average
weekly wage in 1996 was 12% lower than in 1973. 40% of all workers aged 18-64 (44.2 million workers) earned wages
that bring an income below the latest poverty level ($17,000 a year—$8.50 an hour—for a family of four).
Meanwhile, the growth in the ratio of pay between average blue-collar workers and CEOs in Fortune 500 US
companies is accelerating: 1:8 in 1945, 1:42 in 1980, 1:149 in 1993, 1:419 in 1998, and 1:475 in 1999. By comparison,
the ratio in German in 1999 was 1:13 and in Japan it was 1:11. GE’s CEO, Jack Welch, got $92 million paycheck in
1999, about half of GE’s entire payroll in Mexico where 30,000 workers average $6,200 a year. Since 1986, GE has cut
its US workforce in half and doubled the size of its cheaper labor workforce abroad. Gap CEO Millard Drecker received
$7.9 in salary and upped his accumulated stock options to $685 million in 1999 while paying his Russian workers 11
cents an hour and his Honduran workers $4 a day.
Poverty could easily be eradicated. According to the 1999 UN Development Report, it would take only an
additional $40 billion to provide universal access to primary education, adequate food, clean water and sanitation,
preventive health care, and family planning services for everyone on Earth. That $40 billion is only 13% of current US
military spending, or only 4% of the wealth of the world’s richest 225 people.
But the global economy of competitive profit-seeking systematically polarizes global society between
concentrated wealth and massive poverty. Billions of people lack basic food, shelter, sanitation, education, and health
care because there is no profit in meeting the needs of the poor. This economic system responds only to monetary
demand, not human needs.
The deregulation of financial markets and trade rules in recent decades has accelerated the growing inequality of
wealth and income in the world. The competitive economy compels firms to grow or die, to expand by any means
necessary, regardless of the human and ecological costs. The competitive economy also compels firms to cut costs,
especially the costs of labor and raw materials produced by labor. The result is the fundamental contradiction in the
world economy that undermines its stability, the contradiction between chronic overcapacity and inadequate demand.
In recent years, the corporate elite’s surplus capital has been over-invested in both productive facilities and
financial speculation. Productive overcapacity, alongside insufficient demand, has created gutted supply and falling
prices. Faced with overcapacity, surplus capital has flowed into speculative investments that have inflated stock
markets. But as the recent Asian and Russian financial meltdowns show, these speculative bubbles can burst,
threatening to unleash a deflationary spiral of falling prices, competitive devaluations, and business bankruptcies.
The US has sustained the world economy in recent years by being the world’s buyer of last resort, providing
about half of the total growth in world demand. The US has done this through record levels of consumer debt and
massive borrowings from foreign creditors through giant trade deficits. Average consumer debt in the US reached a
record 85% of annual personal income in 1997, up from 58% in 1976. The annual US trade deficit now equals one-fifth
of US GDP. This economic bubble is not sustainable. When sooner or later the US goes into recession, it could mean a
The US leads the industrial world in income and wealth inequality. Consequently, the US also leads the industrial
world in poverty, infant mortality, illiteracy, and incarceration.
1 in 6 Americans—44 million people—are without health insurance, an increase of 10 million people since 1989.
The 1996 welfare “reform” has pushed poor people deeper into poverty.
This economic polarization is creating social polarization. Instead of education, employment, health, and welfare
programs for people in need, the US has militarized domestic social policy.
The US spends $80 billion a year on a Prison-Industrial Complex, more than any other country spends on its
entire military. The US now imprisons 2 million people a year, more than any other country in the world. Indeed, 25% of
all of the world’s prisoners are in the US, which has only 5% of the world’s population.
US rates of incarceration are higher than they were in South Africa under the regime of apartheid and similarly
racist. 70% of those arrested are white, but blacks are more than 50% of those imprisoned. 1/3 of black men aged 20-29
are in jail, prison, probation, or parole.
Instead of economic aid to poor countries, the US spends a Cold War-level $300 billion a year on its Military-
Industrial Complex in order to keep those countries poor and subordinate. In 1999, the US bombed four countries—Iraq,
Afghanistan, Sudan, and Yugoslavia—countries that posed no threat to the security of US territory. The US bombed
them without even a declaration of war by Congress. The US engaged in economic warfare through sanctions against
Cuba, Libya, Iraq, and Yugoslavia. The US spends as much on militarism as the rest of the world combined, even
though 7 of the next 10 biggest military powers are allies.
The US has the lowest voter turnout in the industrial world. The people who don’t vote—the low and middle
income people—have the most to gain from change. But people see that the electoral system is rigged against change.
In 1998, only 1 in 3 voted in the US House elections in which 98.5% of incumbents were re-elected. 4 out of 10
state legislators who were up for election in 1998 didn’t even have a major party opponent.
The system has been rigged from the start when the slave owners and slave traders who drafted the US
Constitution designed it to protect the wealthy oligarchy from the common people. By dividing government against itself
through separation of powers, bicameral legislatures, staggered terms in office, onerous amendment procedures, and
other devices, they created a government designed for political gridlock. This stifling of the democratic majority through
divided government and bureaucracy shields the corporate elite of today from democratic change as effectively as it did
the slave owners of 200 years ago.
In addition to a governmental structure designed to protect plutocracy from democracy, the plutocratic
government has erected other barriers to the democratic majority.
For one thing, public elections are privatized in the US. The richest ¼ of 1% contributed 80% of campaign funds
for federal candidates in the 1996 election.
For another, while most other industrial democracies have adopted proportional representation of political parties,
the US clings to the archaic, elite-protecting winner-take-all system, thus denying political and ethnic minorities and new
parties their proportional share of representation and power.
The polls have shown consistently for a decade that Americans want a new major political party, but the barriers
to ballot access for new parties are greater in the US than any other industrial democracy. The result is two major
parties owned by the same corporate oligarchy, both them to the right of the major conservative parties of other
It is thus not surprising that most Americans do not bother to vote.
The Roots of the Social and Ecological Crisis
Hierarchy and Domination
People of all ages have projected their social structure on to the natural world. Societies that have misused and
abused people in systems of oppression and exploitation have been societies that misused and abused nature as well.
Hunter-gatherer societies saw their egalitarian kinship structures in nature, saw themselves as participating in a
natural world with which they had to maintain balance and harmony. They tended to live in ecological balance with their
Tributary agricultural societies in which the mass of peasantry paid forced tribute to aristocratic landed elites
projected their feudal hierarchies into nature, giving us such notions as the lion as the king of beasts. The domineering
regard of elites for the peasantry extended into their attitude toward nature, leading often to the exhaustion of forests
and soils and their decline as empires.
The mechanistic world view of Newtonian science has led to an engineering approach to nature in industrial
societies and the pollution and resource depletion that threatens contemporary society. With the colonization by the
market of evermore social relations, the competitive market ethos has been projected into a social Darwinism that sees
nature as an atomized struggle of each against all, of the survival of the fittest, rather than as a balanced and mutualistic
ecological community. Now the whole natural world is turned into commodities to be bought and sold, used and abused,
in the competitive social struggle for survival. The view of nature as a dog-eat-dog struggle is, in turn, used to justify as
“natural” a competitive society polarized between opulent winners and marginalized losers.
The roots of the ecological crisis thus lie in the emergence of hierarchy and domination in society. Hierarchy
started with early age-grading in which the old dominated the young and with the conversion of sexual differences into a
hierarchy in which men dominated women. Over time, these hierarchies developed into fully institutionalized elites
based on status. Shamanistic and priestly elites eventually became landed elites that exploited the agricultural labor of
peasants. The state emerged to protect these landed elites. Their towns engendered markets and eventually cities with
propertied elites based on financial and manufacturing capital as well as land. Economic classes congealed on the basis
of these status hierarchies. Competition between states for empire and slaves fostered militaristic and racist ideologies.
To uproot the sources of the ecological crisis, we must uproot social hierarchies as well as economic classes.
Common ownership of the means to life is not enough. As long as domination persists, it will organize humanity around
hierarchies based on gender, race, sexual orientation, rank, and occupation, as well as exclusionary ownership of
productive resources. As long as this domination remains, the project of dominating nature will continue to exist and
pose the threat of ecological extinction. An ecologically sustainable society must be nonhierarchical as well as classless.
The destructive contemporary society we must change is a social system with a name. We must name it, analyze
it, and understand it in order to change it. This social system is called capitalism.
Hierarchical society divided humanity against itself and, in so doing, divided nature from humanity. With the
emergence of capitalism, however, not only are humans pitted against each other universally in the competitive buyer-
seller relationship of the market, but every aspect of nature is converted into a commodity to be exploited and wantonly
merchandised. With the scale and power of technology racing forward, impelled by the competitive struggle for profits,
growth, and continued survival as businesses, the power of modern capitalism to destroy the natural world is
What is Capitalism? The defining characteristic of capitalism is its institutionalized drive to grow by any means
necessary, no matter what the human and ecological costs. Capital is driven by competition to expand itself without limit.
Capitalism is not simply private property and markets as opposed to public property and planning. Private
property and markets preceded capitalism. Public property and planning exist under capitalism.
The defining institutions of capitalism are the combination of private ownership of productive resources, market
allocation, and wage labor as the predominant economic institutions.
Pre-capitalist markets were limited to the exchange of goods and services, not also labor, land, and money
capital. Private property was largely limited to personal property for household use and to the productive resources of
owner-operator farmers and artisans. Common people had access to the commons—common pastures for grazing their
animals and common forests for hunting, gathering, and fuel.
For example, feudalism was characterized private property, but very limited markets and virtually no wage-labor.
Feudal serfs on largely self-sufficient manorial estates owned their own tools, had tenure on their own plots of land, and
had free access to common lands. They were exploited by the landed aristocracy to whom they owed a portion of their
produce as tribute, but the purpose of exploitation was to maintain aristocratic status, not expand money wealth
endlessly as under capitalism.
To take another example, colonial New England was characterized by private property as well as common lands
and more extensive markets in goods and services, but not much wage labor. Small farmers and artisans exchanged
their products principally to get things to use, not to expand their money wealth as capital.
To take one more example, the Communist states of Eastern Europe had a system of state ownership, extensive
planning, and wage labor. The state bureaucracy replaced the private capitalists as the class exploiting workers through
wage labor. Theorists have variously characterized this system as “state capitalist,” “bureaucratic collectivist,” or simply
The point here is that capitalism is characterized by the combination of private property, markets, and wage labor.
Capitalism came into its own as a system of self-expanding capital as agrarian people were excluded from
common lands and artisanal workers were forced into the more productive factories with which they could not compete.
In order to survive, common people now had to sell their labor power to capitalists who now owned the former common
lands and the new factories as private property and excluded common people’s access to them.
In pre-capitalist markets, people used money to facilitate the exchange of goods and services of equal value. The
purpose was to acquire goods and services to use. Under capitalism, capitalists use money to buy productive resources
and labor to produce goods and services for sale at a profit. The purpose is to acquire more money. If capitalists do not
try to grow faster than their competitors, they will lose their ability to compete. They may get bought out by a bigger
corporate barracuda or go bankrupt because they did not have the resources to acquire they latest productivity-
increasing technology. Competition forces capitalists to grow or die.
In its fullest form as finance capital, it speculates on the future values of stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities,
and currencies, hoping to expand its money capital without making any productive contribution. Finance capital comes
to dominate industrial capital as managers of industrial firms are compelled to increase the value of the securities of
their absentee-owners in the short term, no matter what the social and ecological costs of corporate irresponsibility and
even if it is against the long-terms interests of the company.
Exploitation. Capital under capitalism is thus not simply capital goods—land, raw materials, tools, and
machinery. It is an exploitative social relation. What makes social relations under capitalism so insidious is that
exploitative relations between people appear as equal relations between things. The ideology of equal market
exchanges between commodities obscures employers’ domination and exploitation of workers in the labor market.
When workers create value with their labor, their wages do not include the full value they produce. The owners of the
productive resources take a disproportionate share of the value added by workers. Workers spend part of their day
producing unearned income for owners simply because these wealthy people own the productive resources (land,
machinery, buildings, patents, and so forth) that the workers use. Studies of industrial countries show that workers today
receive only about half of the value added by their labor and that the small class of owners receives the other half.
What is presented ideologically as an equal exchange in the labor market—a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s
work—is in fact an unequal exchange in which the owning class takes, on average, about half of the value workers
create. In pre-capitalist hierarchical societies, it was clear that the master exploited the slave and the landed aristocracy
exploited the peasants. However, in capitalist society, the exploitation of workers by propertied elites is hidden behind by
the ideology of fair exchange in the labor market.
Reinforcing Hierarchy: Racism, Sexism, Heterosexism, Nationalism. As a social system motivated by
competition and greed instead of cooperation and need, capitalism sustains the other negative isms that divide
humanity against itself: sexism, racism, heterosexism, nationalism. Employing the age-old strategy of divide and
conquer, the owning class encourages these negative isms that divide worker against worker. Workers of a relatively
privileged gender or ethnic status often support sexism, racism, and nationalism to secure favored access to jobs. As
long as capitalism persists, sexism, racism, and nationalism will be structurally integrated into capitalism’s competitive
ethos and institutions.
Imperialism, Militarism, and War. In its ceaseless quest for more profits and growth that is driven by economic
competition, capitalism breeds war and militarism. The big corporations in the US and other industrial powers have
constantly demanded and received countless foreign military interventions in order to secure their access to resources,
markets, and cheap labor. A century ago, this took the form of outright colonization. Today, it takes the form of a neo-
colonialism where industrial powers prop up repressive regimes that keep labor cheap, taxes and tariffs low, and
environmental standards non-existent or not enforced. Especially since World War II, the military industries themselves
have become major sources of easy profits, creating an economic base for organized militarism, the Military-Industrial
Complex that President Eisenhower warned about upon leaving office. The industrial corporate giants earn super-profits
through cost-plus contracts and corrupt practices in bidding, billing, and accounting.
Waste and Inefficiency. Waste is not limited to the military industries. It is rampant in a capitalist economy that
wastes enormous resources on advertising, security, duplication, overcapacity, and other irrationalities that results from
an atomized process of economic decision-making and a polarized distribution of resources. For example, public power
companies owned by municipalities, or by consumers as cooperatives, have for decades provided gas and electricity to
their customers for one-fourth to one-third less than the private investor-owned utilities (IOUs), even though the IOUs
had already cherry-picked the most lucrative territories leaving public power to serve mostly dispersed rural and small
town populations. Medicare provides health care with 3% overhead, compared to the private health insurance industry,
which uses 28% of policyholders’ premiums for paperwork, accounting, advertising, executive salaries, and shareholder
profits. It is time to reject the prevailing dogma that private enterprise and markets are always more efficient.
Externalization of Social and Ecological Costs. Another problem with the capitalist economy is that
competition forces business to externalize their costs onto society and nature as much as they can. Businesses profit
more by using a cheaper but polluting process rather than by using a cleaner but more expensive process. Businesses
profit by depleting resources now for short-term gain rather than using them on a sustainable yield basis over the longer
term. It pays to cut wages, pensions, and health and childcare benefits and make society as a whole pay for a social
safety net. If businesses do not make these ecologically and socially irresponsible decisions while their competitors do,
the responsible businesses will lose out to the irresponsible competition and go out of business.
Social Parasitism: Absentee Ownership and Finance Capital. Capitalism creates a wealthy class of social
parasites who make no productive contribution to society. Capitalism’s institutionalization of social irresponsibility
reaches its most advanced form in the subordination of the publicly traded, for-profit corporation to finance capital.
Under this form, the ownership of capital is completely separated from its application in production. Instead of
entrepreneurs and inventors as working owners, power has shifted to absentee owners, finance capitalists whose sole
interest is in short-term profits. Managers of companies with publicly traded securities become captive to the interests of
stockholders’ demands for immediate profits. To keep stock prices and dividends up, managers will undermine the long-
term interests of the company by cannibalizing it. The workforce can be downsized in order to enhance short-term
returns. Stock values can be pushed up with highly leveraged mergers and acquisitions even though they add no
productive capacity. Financial capital uses money to make money. It has no interest in real production. It wants a quick
and high return on investment. It feeds speculative bubbles in stocks, real estate, and currencies. Owners of financial
assets increase their claims to society’s wealth without making any productive contribution. Finance capitalism uses the
publicly traded for-profit corporation as a parasitic structure for wealth extraction, not wealth creation.
Alienation. Capitalist “bad guys” are not the central problem with the capitalist system. The more fundamental
problem is that capitalism creates an alienated society. Everyone, from top to bottom, is coerced into behaving in certain
ways by the system. It is beyond anyone’s conscious control. The atomized decisions in markets sum up to create
market forces that dictate to capitalist and worker alike what their options are. Though created by our own individual
actions, they add up to forces that come back at us as alien forces. We become alienated from each other and the
products of our labor and thus from our own labor and our very selves.
Lack of Future Focus. The market is also terrible at pricing future costs. Market prices reflect current supply and
demand and cannot anticipate future shortages and higher costs based on the depletion of resources, leaving society ill-
prepared for looming crises.
Economic Instability. As mentioned above, the market creates economic instability as firms competing for
profits and growth create overcapacity, gutted supply, and insufficient demand, leading to economic recessions and
depressions and misery for millions.
Ecological Destruction. Capitalism is simply not a sustainable system ecologically. As a system of competitive,
endless accumulation, capitalism is growing blindly in the planet’s biosphere like a cancer in an organism. Unless
surgically removed, this cancerous capitalism will kill its host, the biosphere.
All of these problems—compulsive growth, exploitation, racism, sexism, nationalism, imperialism, waste,
militarism, inefficiency, economic insecurity, social irresponsibility and parasitism, and ecological destruction—are
systematically produced and/or reinforced by the capitalist economy. These problems will remain with us until we
replace the capitalist economy with a democratic economy.
The Green Alternative
In response to the interrelated social and ecological crises we face today, Greens the world over have united
around “four pillars” of Green politics: Ecology, Social Justice, Grassroots Democracy, and Nonviolence.
Ecology means society should provide for its material needs in a manner that is balanced with nature. It means
moving toward a society that relies on incoming solar energy and its derivatives for energy rather than nonrenewable
energy sources, using and recycling materials from nature on a sustainable basis, and releasing no waste products that
poison or imbalance upset ecological cycles.
Social Justice means an egalitarian society in which everyone’s basic material needs are met and privilege
based on gender, race, sexual orientation, occupation, and class hierarchies are eliminated. No social group will
receive, as a group, any special degree of control of over productive resources and preferential treatment in distribution.
Grassroots Democracy means a society where political freedom is real because we, the people, participate in
power to make the decisions that affect our lives. It means a participatory democracy where the people meet in
Community Assemblies at the community-level base of society to make social policies and delegated bodies to larger
levels of social coordination are freely elected and subject always to instructions from the base and to recall. Grassroots
democracy also means that political democracy is extend into the economy so that economic democracy replaces
coercion by market forces and propertied or bureaucratic elites.
Nonviolence means a world where war to achieve social objectives has been eradicated, nations have disarmed,
and conflicts are settled democratically instead of by armed force. It also means that while Greens support the right of all
people to self-defense, the Green movement works for an ecological, just, and democratic society using nonviolent
“Ten Key Values”
Greens in the United States have expanded upon these “Four Pillars” of Green Politics to come up with “Ten Key
Values” for Green Politics. The additional six are:
Respect for Diversity
Personal and Global Responsibility
This Green Program is how about how the Greens translate these values into political actions and public policies.
GREEN STRATEGIES FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
The Green movement has to answer several questions about changing this society:
What is the power structure we face?
Who will make the changes?
What actions will the Greens take to bring about change?
How should Greens organizations relate to broader publics in helping to instigate social change?
What organizational structures best suit the Green Party’s values and purposes?
Understanding the Power Structure
Most of the power in this society is not up for election. Most of the power lies with the private economic decisions
of large corporations and the unelected bureaucracies and military forces of the state.
A Green government instituting reforms will thus face the extra-parliamentary powers of corporate wealth and
state bureaucracies. The corporate elite can resist economic justice and ecological reforms by a strike of capital. They
can lower government bond ratings, redline, and disinvest from the jurisdiction in which Greens hold governmental
power, attempting to wreck the economy, blame the Greens, and recover a pro-corporate government in the next
election. For a century now we have witnessed in country after country how labor and socialist parties have been elected
into office only to abandon their programs when big business threatened a flight of capital that would ruin their economy.
In countries where the government has persisted in their program for change, the military—often backed by US military
force—can stage a coup and slaughter the reformers, as we witnessed in Chile in the early 1970s.
Even modest reforms at the local level in this country can be nullified through bureaucratic red tape and non-
enforcement by regulatory bureaucrats angling for more lucrative jobs in the private sector they regulate and by police
agencies that have become powers unto themselves in municipal and county jurisdictions.
The corporate media dominates the means of communication. Not only the corporate slant on the news and
corporate politicians’ political advertising is involved here. It is also the choice of what books, films, and records get
produced. It is the constant advertising to shape people’s needs and wants to fit corporate marketing strategies. This
corporate view of the world is propagated 24 hour a day, day in and day out, year round. As the Green Party grows in
influence, the corporate media will target it for smear and slander.
All this means that voting is not enough and that Greens must be active outside as well as inside the electoral
arena. It means that the Green Party must recognize that when it is elected into office it is not being elected into real
power. The Greens must understand that they will inevitably antagonize big business with their program of change. They
must be prepared for a drawn-out struggle that will rely at least as much on popular mobilization and direct action as
legislation in order to transfer power from corporate elites, state bureaucracies, and military forces to the people. The
only way to counter the extra-electoral power of the corporate power structure when it resists lawful change is through
the extra-electoral direct action of the people to support lawful change.
A Majoritarian Alliance of the Concerned, the Exploited, and the Oppressed
Green movements and parties around the world have found their initial base in the educated middle strata of their
societies. This base is not unusual for social change movements. The leaderships of working class and national
liberation movements have generally come from the same social groupings.
Nevertheless, as a movement committed to nonviolent, democratic change, the Greens recognize the movement
for social change must become a majoritarian movement with a much broader social base.
Accordingly, the Greens appeal to all people who concerned peace, justice, democracy, and a sustainable
The Greens appeal to working people who are exploited by capitalism and live without economic security. While
not imparting any inherently revolutionary nature to the working class as some movements have, the Greens believe the
majority of workers will support radical ecological measures that change the nature of technology and consumption if
basic economic security is guaranteed, starting with the right to a job at a living wage or a decent minimum income and
free access to quality health care, child care, and public education.
The Greens appeal to the most oppressed and marginalized sectors of society—to racially oppressed minorities,
to immigrants, to sexual minorities.
The Greens appeal to feminists who want to end once and for all the age-old subordination of women.
These groups—concerned citizens, exploited workers, oppressed minorities, feminists—constitute a majority of
society. The challenge for the Greens is to bring them together in a majoritarian coalition.
The Greens reject the notion of the centrality of any one sector to a movement for an ecological democracy. The
Greens believe all are central and necessary. The Greens build coalitions by supporting each other’s issues across lines
of race, gender, sexual orientation, locality, nation, and issue. We multiply our numbers by supporting each other’s
issues and moving forward together on all the issues.
Nobody’s issues take a back seat for very practical reasons. People of African, Asian-Pacific, Latin, and
Indigenous descent in the US are not going join a movement that downplays questions of racism in order to unite on the
basis of class because racism is often the most pressing grievance in their lives. Women are not going to join a
movement that relegates sexism to a “secondary contradiction.” Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people are not
going to support a movement that is afraid that standing up for their human rights will alienate a broader constituency.
Working people are not going to join a movement that says saving the planet is more important than their families’
economic security. Nor are environmentalists going to join a movement that is afraid to shut down ecologically
destructive industries for fear of alienating particular workers. The Greens work for changes that secure economic AND
environmental security, that liberate people from oppression based on race, gender, sexual orientation, AND class, and
that improve the lives of Americans AND people from other countries. Linking issues and mutual support builds bridges,
not walls, and multiplies our numbers.
In organizing, Greens take the path of least resistance, starting with those who are ready now to around the
Green program. At the same time, they orient their work toward the most oppressed sectors of society with the most to
gain from fundamental democratic change. They take affirmative action to bring people from oppressed social sectors
into positions of responsible and visible of leadership in order to demonstrate the Greens’ commitment to these sectors.
Transitional Demands as Structural, Non-Reformist Reforms
Creating an ecological democracy is a process of social transformation, not a single event. In most periods,
movements form around concrete, winnable reforms, not demands for a complete transformation of society. The role of
the Greens is not simply to proclaim the ultimate vision, but to raise demands that mobilize people for practical
The Greens support all popular demands for reforms that to expand democracy, increase economic and social
justice, and protect the environment. In the sections that follow, this Green Program lists many such reforms that we
support. While supporting these reforms, the Greens also point to their limitations and make the case for more
fundamental democratic changes.
In particular, the Greens raise up structural reforms as transitional demands. These are demands that are self-
evidently just, reasonable, and necessary to large numbers of people, but not necessarily compatible with the system.
They are non-reformist reforms in that they justify themselves not in terms of what can be within the existing system and
power structure, but in terms of what should be to provide for human needs and a sustainable environment. They are
structural reforms that expand democratic powers.
For example, the demand for the right to a job at a living wage for every one willing and able to work is something
a majority of people believes is only right and just. However, it is also a demand that the capitalist economy cannot
integrate without engendering inflation and declining profit rates, investment, and thus a recession. At this point, society
will face a choice either of securing full employment going beyond full employment with such measures as
democratizing investment policy and regulating prices, or of falling back to previous rates of unemployment.
To take another example, the demand for the right of local governments to set higher labor and environmental
standards within their jurisdictions than the federal government or world trade agreements set is a demand most
Americans regard as their democratic birthright. However, it is also a demand corporations will resist by disinvestment
from jurisdictions with higher standards. At this point, the local reformers face the choice of replacing absentee
ownership of productive resources in their communities with community ownership, or capitulating to the corporate
blackmail of disinvestment threats.
The strategy of transitional demands as non-reformist reforms is not a recipe for gradual change. To the contrary,
because the reforms are democratizing and impinge on corporate prerogatives, the reforms provoke a corporate
backlash and possibly a social crisis in which the movement must either move beyond the immediate reform in order to
secure it or back down before the corporate status quo.
The Greens understand that in a world of global corporations operating in global markets where US military
forces will intervene to maintain corporate rule, no country, let alone any local jurisdiction, can long survive as a
democratic island in a sea corporate dictatorship. The Greens are by necessity an international movement that
coordinates its actions, develops common demands, and acts in solidarity to create a democratic globalization from
below to replace today’s corporate globalization from above.
Direct Action for Direct Democracy
The Greens’ goal is not to get into the existing power structure, but to restructure the power. Electing Greens to
office who legislate non-reformist reforms will provoke a corporate counter-revolution that will seek to undermine and, if
necessary, overthrow the Green government. The Greens must be prepared to counter the extra-legal actions of the
corporate power structure with its own direct action to defend and expand the democratic reforms. In the end, the goal is
to create direct action in its highest form—direct democracy—where we, the people, make the social decisions that
affect our lives.
Even before such a crisis erupts, Greens support direct action and civil disobedience as means of protest, public
education, and practical education for movement activists. But they do not believe civil disobedience is the only tactic or
the best tactic in many circumstances.
The Greens remember that new people enter the movements for change every day. These people are concerned
about the consequences of social activism for themselves and for how it appears to the public at large. Greens take
these considerations into account when planning actions. Which tactic will be most effective in any given circumstance
depends upon the goal, who is doing the action, and how the public is likely to perceive the action. Thus, what the group
wants to accomplish—the goal—should be clear before deciding on a tactic.
If the goal is to inform the populace on a particular issue, one could:
hand out fact sheets in public places;
gather signatures on a petition while handing out the fact sheets;
write letters to the editors of local newspapers;
speak at schools and churches and community clubs;
put up information tables wherever allowed.
If the goal is to get a new law passed by the State Legislature, one could:
get one’s legislator to introduce the legislation and use this to inform people;
gather signatures on a Citizens Referendum (if your state allows) to put the issue before the voters to decide, using
the ensuing debates to further inform the populace;
run for office oneself, using the campaign to inform and organize people.
If the goal is to show militant and massive public support, one could organize a coalition of as many people and
groups as possible in a public place to demonstrate against a policy and insist on an alternative. Such a demonstration
would generally be a legal, peaceful protest with steps taken (movement marshals, prior agreements, etc.) to ensure the
safety of those who do not wish to participate in illegal actions. Actions that risk arrest should be kept separate from the
legal demonstration. Most first-time participants, and those physically unable to deal with arrest and jail, usually do not
wish to partake in acts of civil disobedience. To build broad movements, we must make it practical and comfortable for
such people to participate.
Most of these forms of action are direct action because they engage many people directly. They have a very
different dynamic from electoral campaigns where the focus is on the candidate and the rest are a supporting cast.
Direct action is thus a practical school for participatory democracy.
Because the Greens aim to build a massive movement for genuine democracy, they work on all fronts, using
whatever tactics are most effective to help build the movement.
Too often, people indulge in acts of civil disobedience as an end in itself or to act out personal frustrations. Some
want to appear militant. For some, it is the most cathartic way to express their outrage at the system. Some want use it
to bear their own crosses and salve their own consciences. Some like to brag about the number of times they have gone
to jail in civil disobedience actions. For some, it is a macho thing, as if they could “Smash the State” by physically
challenging the police or military on the street. The Greens discourage people from using movements to act out of
personal issues like these. They encourage choose tactics that advance the movement, not simply enable some people
to act out other concerns.
Symbolic militancy in the form of window smashing or street battles with the police is rarely effective in building
the movement and broad public support for its goals. The general public views such tactics as vandalism, violence, and
“terrorism” and the corporate media focuses on it to obscure the broader movement’s message. The Battle in Seattle
garnered broad public support because there were tens of thousands of trade unionists and environmentalists who
supported the several thousand who participated in direct action blockade of the World Trade Organization meeting. But
the isolated window smashing and dumpster fires of a few dozen acting against the actions guidelines did nothing for
the movement. Instead, it gave the corporate media a sideshow to sensationalize and the police cover for their
unprovoked brutality against the nonviolent blockaders.
Greens support civil disobedience wholeheartedly when it is an effective tactic to advance the movements toward
their goals. Civil disobedience can be effective early in movements to bring attention to issues that are being ignored. It
can also be effective at later stages of a movement when the general populace is ready to support it because it has
exhausted legal and less forceful methods in trying to get the power structure to change a policy.
Rather individualistic acts of symbolic civil disobedience, the Greens focus their efforts on building a massive
movement capable of bringing about fundamental social change for ecological democracy. Civil disobedience has a
role to play in building that movement as one of many tactics the movement employs. However, we need a broad
movement where everyone who cares can play a role. Only such a movement, with the support of the general populace,
has the power to make real democratic change.
Green Workplace and Union Organizing
While the Greens do not regard the working class as the sole or hegemonic agent of democratic social change,
they do know that a majority of the working class majority must be won over to the movement for an ecological
At its peak in the mid-1950s, 35% of the workforce was organized. Today the unionized workforce has declined to
12%. Although in decline for decades, labor unions remain the largest popular social organizations in America. Labor
unions present one of the key organizing arenas in which Greens can link to large numbers of people.
Labor unions are contradictory organizations. On the one hand, unions are a principal vehicle for defending and
advancing the economic interests of working people. On the other hand, they are often hierarchical, bureaucratic
institutions that corporations use to discipline their workforces and advance corporate political agendas. Unions have
often been undemocratic. They have often practiced racism and sexism. They have often sided with their corporate
employers against environmental protection. They have often been special interest rather than class institutions that
advanced the interests of their members, or even a sector of their members, against the broader interests of workers.
Today, they represent only a small portion of the working class.
As long as we have a capitalist economy, unions—even unions with reform leaderships, even Greens, elected by
rank-and-file democracy movements—will be contradictory, caught between the pressure of rank-and-file members from
below and the pressure from above of the corporate employers with whom they must bargain. Nevertheless, organized
workforces are in a better position to advance their interests than unorganized workforces. Greens work to organize
unorganized workplaces and to strengthen rank-and-file democracy in organized workplaces.
Every Green who works should be involved in workers’ struggles. Greens do not counterpose the Green program
to the union program and set up dual unions or forsake union organizing for Green Party organizing. They work within
the existing unions as Greens and acquire the moral authority to speak as co-workers rather than outsiders by being
consistent activists in union struggles. As Greens, they have three goals in particular.
First, Greens support union drives to organize the unorganized and to build rank-and-file organization and
democracy in organized workplaces. They work for labor law reforms that will make union organizing and recognition
Second, Greens argue for demands that unite workers and environmentalists around a common program for
economic and environmental security. The labor movement has won very little over the last 50 years of what it has
sought in terms of labor law and economic reforms. Despite all the fear generated by the supposed conflict between
jobs and the environment by the corporate media and public relations industry, the most significant gains labor has
made in recent decades have been in alliance with environmentalists, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act
and Right-To-Know laws that enable workers and communities to know what chemicals are being used. Greens can play
an important role in linking the labor and environmental movements.
Third, Greens argue for independent labor political action. They argue against the dominant political strategy now
in organized labor of supporting the Democrats in particular and incumbents more generally in hopes of securing
influential allies in the power structure. As a junior partner in coalition with the corporate oligarchy inside the Democratic
Party, labor has lost its independent voice. Because they can take labor’s votes and financial support for granted,
Democratic politicians move to the right chasing swing voters. Labor has gained nothing from this alliance. As the
largest popular organizations with the most resources, unions can provide a solid organizational and financial base for
independent progressive politics. Greens argue within the unions for class independence in labor’s politics.
In addition, workplace organization will be in political crisis where a Green government making changes is being
resisted by the private power of the corporations. Organized workers at the point of production, taking their extra-
parliamentary direct action to counter corporate extra-parliamentary action of the corporate power structure, will be
necessary to secure democratic changes.
Green Electoral Strategies
The Greens regard community self-government and confederal to forms of social self-administration as a fundamental
alternative to elitist conceptions of government by representatives and statist forms of social management. Conventional
electoral parties are based on elitist and statist conceptions of politics. The Greens, however, do not abstain from
electoral politics. Greens enter the electoral arena in a new way—to extend extra-parliamentary direct action movements
into the electoral arena, not in order to get into the existing power structure, but the restructure the power and create
direct action in its highest form: direct democracy.
The Anti-Party Party: Linking Movement and Electoral Politics
Some people look at this power structure of corporate capitalism and conclude that electoral politics is pointless.
They look to building social movements and direct action to make social changes.
The Greens are not a conventional political party interested only in electing their candidates to public office. The
Greens have a broad conception of politics. The Greens are civic force between elections as well as an electoral force
during elections. Not only do the Greens embrace electoral politics, but also popular education, personal transformation,
alternative institutions, nonviolent civil disobedience, and the incorporation of Green values into our everyday lives.
The Greens participate in social movements as a necessary but not sufficient means of social change. The
Greens support all nonviolent social movement methods, from education and alternative institutions to mass
demonstrations and civil disobedience.
However, the Greens do not support one method over another. Education without action is not serious.
Alternative institutions can prefigure the new society, but they will not supplant the corporate power structure simply by
expecting people dropping out of the existing institutions. Mass demonstrations can be ignored by the power structure if
they are not accompanied by an independent electoral alternative and direct action. Civil disobedience and direct action
can isolate the movement if its participants regard those who do not or cannot take the risks involved as not sufficiently
committed. The Greens support and participate in the range of tactics, urge movements to place them into
complementary relationships, and support activists working in whichever ways they feel they are best for them.
Social movements have their limits. Movements tend to be episodic and single issue. As a political party, the
Greens can provide things that episodic movements cannot. A party provides a forum in which to link the issues into a
common program. A party provides an organizational framework that can sustain activists in periods when movements
subside. And, of course, a party is an electoral vehicle for the movements, an independent electoral alternative, so that
the Democrats, as the liberal side of corporate rule, cannot ignore movement demands and still its votes for granted.
In the US, which has never had a major independent progressive political party, the liberal face of corporate rule,
the Democratic Party, has been able to take for granted the votes of the people’s movements—the farmers movement,
the workers movement, the movements of people of color, the peace and environmental movements. When the
People’s Party fused with the Democratic Party in 1896, the farmers’ and sharecroppers’ populist movement died. When
the industrial union movement abandoned the idea of a Labor Party for the Democratic Party in 1936, the labor
movement relegated itself to being a junior partner to the corporations inside the Democratic coalition. When the black
liberation, anti-war, women’s, environmental, and other movements of the 1960s failed to consolidate the many
Freedom Democratic, Black Panther, and Peace and Freedom initiatives of the 1960s into a new People’s Party, the
Democratic Party was able to continue to pay lip service to the concerns of the movements while carrying out the
corporate agenda as loyally as the Republicans.
In Europe, 1960s activists coalesced their “new social movements” against war, environmental destruction, and
the oppression of women and minorities into the Green Party. One Green Party founder, Petra Kelly, called the Greens
“the anti-party party.” The notion of the anti-party party meant the party of the movements. It meant that the Green Party
participated in the democratic movements, was the electoral arm for the movements, and was accountable to the
grassroots base of movement activists organized into the party. This new type of party was in contrast to the traditional
parties of the Left in Germany and Europe. They had abandoned action outside the electoral arena for a purely electoral
strategy of change and became integrated into the system as hierarchical bureaucracies serving career politicians
instead of the party program of change.
In the US, it is the corporate-ruled Democratic Party that serves as the phony party of the people. The Democratic
Party has been the graveyard of every democratic social movement for more than a century. The people’s democratic
social movements need their own party. Voting is not enough. Movements are not enough, either. It is in combination, in
a movement-based anti-party party, where the strengths of each compensate for the other’s weaknesses.
The key criterion for uniting the many against the few—the people against the corporate ruling class—inside the
Green Party is class independence. As generations of progressives have proven by their repeated failures, the
Democratic Party is hopeless as vehicle for democratic change. Inside the Democratic Party progressives become very
junior partners in a corporate-dominated coalition. They lose their voice inside the Democratic Party, where they are
reduced to lobbying corporate politicians to say something about their concerns. Outside the Democratic Party,
progressives can speak for themselves, directly to the people, and build a movement that is strong and clear about what
The Greens are therefore committed to independent political action. “Independent” means outside and opposed
to the corporate ruling class. It means running candidates from this position of class independence against the
candidates that represent the corporate parties, the Democrats and Republicans.
A United Electoral Front
Under the winner-take-all electoral system in the US, the Greens seek to build a party with the broadest possible
unity of progressive movements outside and independent of corporate oligarchy’s parties, the Democrats and
Republicans. The Green Party seeks alliances and eventual convergence with other political parties and organizations
that share a commitment to independent political action and a program of grassroots political and economic democracy,
social and environmental justice, and international solidarity.
Greens do not make the mistake of confusing being elected into office with being elected into power. We do not
want to be held captive by the extra-parliamentary powers of the corporate oligarchy and responsible for administering
public policies we started out to change.
Greens concentrate first on winning office in legislative bodies, particularly city and county councils, where we
can raise alternatives without compromising our fundamental opposition to corporate rule by taking executive
responsibility for administering the existing system.
Greens may enter races for executive offices where they afford the opportunity to achieve certain goals, such as
ballot qualification or the public profile of a Green policy demand. Greens will take executive office if elected and make
the best of it. But as a general strategy, Greens do not want executive responsibility before a legislative majority—and a
popular movement ready to back it up—is ready to restructure the political institutions and subordinate executive power
to the people’s representatives in the legislative branch and the Community Assemblies that hold representatives
accountable to the people.
Community Power and Intercommunal Confederation
The Greens are committed to building popular power from below. In the end, the only power that ordinary people
have that can counter the private power of corporate wealth is an extra-parliamentary movement of the majority of
people. That movement must be ready and willing to take direct action to carry through a democratically legislated
program of change when the ruling elites try to subvert democracy through their own extra-parliamentary actions.
The only means we have of creating a participatory political culture is to build a grassroots movement that creates
a local, immediate institutional framework through which millions of people can participate in shaping social policy.
The Greens are therefore committed to building a new politics that is practical for ordinary people. We believe
that the principal arena for a practical popular politics is the arena where we can begin immediately to exercise some
democratic power, namely, our own communities.
The Greens call for citizens to take control of their own communities and, by that means, eventually society as a
whole. We seek the progressive development of a grassroots counterpower in opposition to the centralized state and
Municipal and county governments in the US have more autonomy than most local governments around the
world. They have to power to zone, tax, borrow, spend, invest, divest, boycott, contract, lobby, police, and even
expropriate private property for public purposes through eminent domain. While the state and federal governments do
put some limits on these powers, the practical problem is not the lack of local powers but a democratic movement willing
to use them.
The strategy is to build up a grassroots counterpower, a parallel system of self-administration that is in opposition
to the centralized state and corporate powers, in the following roughly successive phases:
Green Locals: Organizing local Green political organizations that combine study, action, and mutual aid;
Direct Action: Building issue-oriented campaigns and democratic counter-institutions such as Community
Assemblies, cooperatives, and educational and cultural projects;
Independent Political Action: Standing independent Green candidates, at every level but with a concentration on
local legislative offices at first;
Parallel Councils of Assembly Delegates: Forming shadow city councils, county boards, state legislatures, and
eventually a new “Continental Congress” consisting of mandated delegates elected by Community Assemblies that
can track the “official” legislative agenda, add its own agenda, vote the wishes of the Community Assemblies on these
agendas, and thus act as a moral force upon the “official” legislative bodies and prefigure the eventual replacement of
statist oligarchy with confederal democracy.
Municipal Democratization: Campaigning inside and outside the electoral arena to secure home rule from state
constitutions and to change municipal and county charters so as to institutionalize a structure of municipal democracy
based on Community Assemblies that elect mandated, recallable, and rotating delegates to municipal councils and
Municipal Confederations: Linking democratized municipalities and counties into confederations for mutual
support, shared resources, and joint projects in order to bring more and more political and economic power into
Dual Power: Working through the municipal confederations to develop a parallel system of self-government, a dual
power that can initially resist and …
Confederal Grassroots Democracy: … ultimately replace the centralized power of the state and corporations
with grassroots political and economic democracy.
Local elections are where the Greens have the most opportunities to begin having an immediate impact. The
1992 Census of Government found that there are 511,039 popularly elected officeholders in the US:
542 (0.1%) in the federal government,
18,828 (3.7%) in 50 state governments, and
491,669 (96.2%) in 84,955 local governments.
The major parties’ corporate money has a dominant influence in federal and state elections. But in most local
jurisdictions, it is harder for money to buy elections. Grassroots organization with old-fashioned person to person
campaigning can beat money.
The Greens do contest state and federal elections for many reasons: to establish ballot qualified parties that
make it easier for local candidates to run, to bring the Green program to more people, and, as a growing grassroots
Green base makes it possible, to win state and federal offices. But the Greens emphasize local races where the
campaigns are more readily accountable to rank-and-file members, where greater initial advances are possible due to
the smaller scale and reduced influence of corporate money, and where grassroots organization, power, and experience
can be developed.
Local electoral campaigns may grow out of a movement that is already forming Community Assemblies or may
be an initial means of propagating the idea of Community Assemblies. Different circumstances will call for different
approaches. In a large city with huge city and county electoral districts, it may not be effective to run for local office and
the emphasis will need to be on organizing Community Assemblies in the neighborhoods and confederating them as a
counterpower to the city and county governments. On the other hand, in some of the smaller and more democratically
structured states, it may be appropriate to run candidates for state office immediately on a program of democratizing the
state into a municipal confederation based on Community Assemblies.
Greens are under no illusion that the national state can be reworked through its own legislative processes into a
confederal grassroots democracy. Small minorities can too easily block the constitutional amendment process. A
constitutional convention will be required for restructuring. Moreover, the corporate oligarchy will never let democratic
restructuring happen without fighting back with its enormous extra-parliamentary powers. In the UK, the metropolitan
regional governments were simply abolished by the Tories who did not approve of reforms instituted by the Left
Laborites in these metropolitan councils.
The confederal grassroots democracy we seek will have to develop alongside the national state, resist its
attempts to crush its emerging alternative power, and eventually replace it. Just as the dual power based on town
meetings and the parallel and illegal legislatures they set up resisted and eventually overthrew the rule of the British
monarchy in the first American Revolution, so a democratic revolution to overthrow the corporate oligarchy will require
the development a popular grassroots counterpower.
Greens are skeptical of the efficacy of state and national electoral politics because they implicitly convey the idea
that radical-democratic social change can come by capturing the offices of the national state and imposing change from
the top down. Democratic change requires democratic power exercised from the bottom up.
Moreover, activity in the state and national electoral arena can easily degenerate into the conventional party
politics of pandering to the lowest common denominator in order to win office and of appeasing the extra-governmental
powers of the corporate oligarchy in order to stay in office.
The foundation of our electoral approach is therefore local elections and democratizing municipal and county
institutions where we can build up a grassroots-democratic popular power in opposition to the centralized state and
corporate power. The question of whether to enter a particular state or national electoral race will be answered
according to whether it serves the goal of building the movement for a confederal grassroots democracy from below.
GREEN PARTY DEMOCRACY
Prefiguring a Democratic Society
Green Party organization aims to prefigure the grassroots democracy that Greens want for society as a whole.
That means every Green should have a direct role in decision-making in local membership assemblies at the base of
the organization. It means Greens in positions of responsible leadership as candidates for public office, as delegates to
county, state, and national committees and conventions, and as party officers at every level are bound by the mandates
of the Greens they represent and subject to recall at any time.
The Green Party strives for transparency, simplicity, and clarity in its organization so that all its members can help
direct it from below, and so that thousands of new people can enter it at any time and quickly learn how to participate.
While accountability runs from the bottom up, requiring leadership to carry out membership decision or step down
from leadership, the top cannot tell the bottom what to do in the Green Party. The Green Party respects the autonomy of
its local and state organizations and the rights of both the majority and minority on any question. The majority has the
right to set policy and expect the leadership to carry it out. The minority has the right to abstain from implementing
policies with which they disagree and to criticize them publicly.
The Greens call this “democratic decentralism.” It means:
1. protection of the right of minorities to abstain from implementing majority decisions with which they disagree and to
dissent from them publicly;
2. protection of the right of majorities to see that their decisions are the official organizational position; and
3. protection of the right of majorities to see that their decision are actually implemented by requiring that Greens in
responsible positions—candidates, public and party office holders, spokespeople, delegates to councils and
conventions, and staff—are obligated to carry through organizational policies even though they may personally
disagree with them (or obligated to resign from the position of responsibility if carrying through a policy would violate
This structure of democratic decentralism enables the party to act on majority views without requiring conformity.
It encourages democratic debate by affording minority views the opportunity to continue discussion and perhaps
become a majority view in time.
Democratic decentralism differs fundamentally from both the democratic centralism of the Leninist Communist
parties and the total lack of democratic accountability in the Social Democratic and corporate parties.
Under Leninist democratic centralism, every member must carry out the majority line on every question, whether
they agree with it or not. This structure sacrifices public transparency of internal debates (and hence public trust) to
compulsory unity in action. It also tends to create constant splitting over political differences and to stifle free and open
debate within the party.
Democratic decentralism also contrasts with the irresponsible structures of the American corporate parties as well
as the Social Democratic parties of other countries. These parties’ structures are lacking in democratic accountability.
No one—not candidates, public and party officials, sometimes not even staff—is obligated to follow party platforms or
other organizational policies established by the majority of the membership. A classic example is the UK Labor Party
members of parliament who constantly defied the party manifesto adopted by the majority of delegates from trade
unions and locals. For example, the manifesto called for unilateral nuclear disarmament, but the Labor Party members
of parliament consistently voted for nuclear arms expenditures, saying they were accountable to the whole electorate,
not their party’s members.
In the American corporate parties, there is not even a pretence of accountability. Here, party politicians have no
accountability to party organizations. Basing themselves on independently financed candidate committees, they are
easily able to disregard party platforms simply by winning primary elections, This system sacrifices rank-and-file
democracy to the careerism of self-seeking politicians and their campaign cadre seeking the spoils of victory. These
entrepreneurial politicians sell out party positions in order to trade political favors for private campaign donations and to
appeal to a broader voter base as indicated by polls.
Under the Greens’ structure of democratic decentralism, internal debate is publicly transparent, dissent is
encouraged, state and local party organizations have autonomy, and unity in action is voluntary. Significant minority
dissent is a signal to the majority that further development of positions is needed to broaden unity in action. By the same
token, majority decisions actually affect organizational policy and behavior.
The Greens offer a fundamentally different conception of candidacy from that offered by the corporate parties.
While the Democrats and Republicans sell image and personality, the Greens focus on their program.
Regarding accountability, the Greens are committed to the following policies for Green candidates:
Green candidates should be active members of the Green Party.
Only the Greens who reside in the political district electing the public officer should select the Green candidates for
Green candidates should sign candidates’ pledges that commit them to support the Green platform for that district
and abide by the mandates of the Greens they represent—unless and until the political system has been restructured
to allow for imperative mandates from the citizenry itself through Community Assemblies.
Greens should not run as Democrats, Republicans, or any other party that does not share the Green commitment to
class-based political independence and compatible political principles.
Affiliated units of the Green Party should not endorse Democratic, Republican, or other candidates that do not
share compatible political principles and the Green commitment to class-based political independence.
Greens may run as cross-endorsed fusion candidates (i.e., listed on the ballot of more than one party) at the
discretion of the Greens in the political district concerned so long as such candidates remain accountable to the
Green platform and membership mandates. Fusion with other independent progressive parties is encouraged. Fusion
with corporate parties is not.
Greens elected to public office should rotate out of office after an agreed upon period of time and the Green
candidacy and incumbency carried by another Green.
Membership Rights and Responsibilities
The Greens subscribe to the motto of the first international workers’ association: “No rights without
responsibilities. No responsibilities without rights.”
Members with voting rights in the Green Party should be people who subscribe to the party principles, participate
in a local party organization, and support the party financially with dues scaled to their ability to pay.
We reject the structures of the corporate parties as dictated in state election laws. These laws vest the right the
vote on nominations of party candidates for public office (and often the election of internal party officers) in anyone who
enrolls in the party through the state registration process (in 14 states), or anyone who simply declares they want to vote
in a party primary or caucus election (in 36 states), no matter what their politics or participation in party activities. This
structure is anti-democratic: it allows one group (casual party voters) to make decisions for another group that has to live
with the decisions (consistent party activists). It breeds unprincipled parties because politicians with money but no
participation in party activities can and ignore the party’s platform and win party primaries over candidates who are
supported by party activists.
The right to vote in party decisions should be limited to those who participate in a local party organization. The
only way to repeal the infamous “iron law of oligarchy” in large organizations is to have an organized, informed, and
active rank-and-file membership.
Self-Financing through Membership Dues and Party Projects
The Green Party should be largely self-financed and not dependent on any outside sources. The membership of
the Green Party should be the principle source of party funding. This practice will reinforce the accountability of the party
organization to the membership.
Membership dues should be expected of party activists and scaled according to their ability to pay. However, no
one should be denied voting rights for lack of money to pay dues.
Greens elected to public office should donate their salary for the office to the Green Party and receive back from
the party the salary of a skilled worker. As a guideline, we suggest using the US Bureau of Labor Statistics “Moderate
Income” for a comparable household, or the median income in that district, whichever is greater.
The sale of party publications, buttons, bumper stickers, T-shirts, hats, yard signs, house meetings, and other
grassroots fundraising activities should be another major source of party funding.
We reject corporate funding as something that compromises our very identity as a people’s party independent of
the corporate parties.
We view government funding with skepticism because it can co-opt the party into the existing system and enable
a party bureaucracy to dispense with an organized membership. At the same time, we believe government should
support parties to facilitate citizens in preparing and presenting their policy ideas to the public. We favor public
campaign financing to parties rather than individual candidates. We favor party public financing based on a matching
funds system for membership dues and small donations up to a reasonable limit.
Base Membership Assemblies: Every Green Party member has a voice and a vote in a local membership
assembly. County, state, and national organizations of the Green Party are accountable to the base membership
assemblies through elected, mandated, recallable, and rotating delegates.
Imperative Mandates: Elected leadership (including party officers, delegates to councils and conventions, party
candidates for public office, and public office holders) are obliged to carry out the democratic decisions of their
electors in the party.
Party Responsibility: The Green Party in government is responsible and accountable to the party platform and
mandates of the party membership they represent.
Separation of Party Office and Legislative Mandate: No Green simultaneously serves as a party officer and an
elected public official. This policy helps insure that the Green Party in government is accountable and responsible the
Nominations by Membership Convention, Not State-Run Primaries: The Greens prefer to nominate candidates
for public office by membership convention, not state-administered primaries, in order to have candidates who are
accountable and responsible to the party platform and membership. The Greens work to change state election laws
that mandate nomination by primary.
The Green Party makes its organization and decisions transparent to members and the general public.
Open Meetings and Committees: Meetings and committees at all levels are open to observation by party
members who are normally accorded a voice even when they do not have a delegated vote.
Openness to Allied Movements: Representatives of groups working for the same social and ecological values as
the Greens have the right to speak and submit resolutions at Green Party meetings. Outside observers also normally
are accorded a voice, but not a vote.
Rotation: The leadership responsibilities of party officers and public officials rotate at regular intervals.
No Accumulation of Party Offices: Concurrent offices at the local, state, and national levels is discouraged.
Shared Responsibilities: Multiple co-chairs and co-speakers share executive and spokespersons responsibilities
at every level.
Proportional Representation: Preference voting is used to elect party officers and delegates to committees and
conventions to insure all viewpoints have their fair share of representation and power.
Guaranteed Parity for Oppressed Groups: Constraint rules in preference voting to elect party officers and
delegates to committees and conventions are used to insure that women, people of color, youth, and LGBT people
are have representation no less than proportional to the general population of the district they represent.
Affirmative Action: The Greens work to include women, people of color, youth, LGBT people, and members of
other oppressed groups in the membership and in leadership roles in numbers at least proportional to their numbers
Right to Caucus: The Greens recognize the right of members to form organized caucuses to advance shared
views and concerns.
Recognition of Anti-Oppression Caucuses: The Greens give official recognition, including a direct voice in
county, state, and national committees, to organized caucuses of Greens who are members of oppressed groups,
including women, people of color, youth, and LGBT people.
Politics is far too important to trust to professional politicians. The Greens believe in a popular politics where people
participate directly in making the decisions that affect their lives and do not leave these decisions to a professional
representative elite. Professional political elites inevitably put their own interests ahead of the public interest. The
Greens stand for a new politics of Grassroots Democracy, where the elitist structures of representation today are
transformed into new institutions of popular participation and power.
From Plutocratic Oligarchy to Grassroots Democracy
Grassroots Democracy is one of the “Four Pillars” of Green Politics. Grassroots democracy refers to the idea of a
participatory democracy where we, the people, in a direct democracy of face-to-face assemblies in local communities,
meet to debate and vote on the collective decisions that affect our lives.
Governmental structures in the United States have virtually nothing in common with Grassroots Democracy.
American government is commonly called a democracy, but that notion is propaganda spread by the corporate rulers,
their media, and their other educational and cultural institutions. To be honest and accurate, the form of government in
the United States is plutocratic oligarchy.
Going back to the Greek origins of the words we use today to describe forms of government, “democracy” means
the rule (kratos) by the common people (demos).
We do not have a democracy in the United States, except concerning local matters where town-meeting
governments—face-to-face assemblies of all citizens of a township—still exist in parts of the six New England states and
seven other Northeastern states and some American Indian nations. Everywhere else, at the local, state, and federal
levels, government in the United States is oligarchic (rule by the few).
Elections are merely a mechanism by which the people choose the individual oligarchs. For millennia, elections
have been the telltale mark of oligarchy, of government structured around the elitist concept of representation instead of
the egalitarian concept of participation. Elections today lend an aura of legitimacy to oligarchy for democratic-minded
people who have forgotten what real democracy is.
Elections are also a means of pacification of the oppressed. They serve as a mechanism for co-opting the
brightest and most energetic members of the lower classes into the ruling class, diverting them from movements to
transform the class and hierarchy structure into a classless, nonhierarchical society.
In the US in particular, privatized elections yield the best politicians that money can buy. Elections are corrupted
by the corporate rich, who have effectively privatized the public system of elections through private campaign financing.
These private campaign contributions function as legalized bribery, creating a government oligarchy dependent on the
corporate plutocracy (rule by the rich).
Plutocratic oligarchy is exactly what the “Founding Fathers” intended when they replaced the Articles of
Confederation with the US Constitution. These slave-owning planters and slave-trading merchants designed the US
Constitution to maintain elite rule by the wealthy oligarchy over the common people.
Among the mechanisms they set into the US Constitution to protect the wealthy oligarchs from the democratic
spirit of the people and their recent revolution were:
the checks and balances that divide government against itself, enabling the Congress, Senate, Presidency, and
Judiciary to stall and veto each other in multiple ways, creating the political gridlock that today shields corporate power
and privilege from the democratic majority of common people,
the monarchical imperial Presidency, with its personalized executive power and independence from and veto
power over the more representative Congress,
the aristocratic Senate, the most unrepresentative legislative body in the industrial world, where gross violation of
the one-person, one-vote principle is institutionalized, where voters from Wyoming have 61 more times clout than
voters from California, where the Senators from 26 states, representing only 20% of the population, can block
legislation supported by the other 24 states with 80% of the population,
the unelected lifetime federal Judiciary, its independence compromised by its appointment by the monarchical
President with the advice and consent of the aristocratic Senate and holding veto power over the more representative
legislative branch of government,
the ultra-conservative amending clause, which requires multiple super-majorities in the House and Senate and
then approval by 75% of the states, enabling just 13 states representing only 4.5% of the population to block any
amendment sought by the other 95.5%, except that it requires 100% of the states to approve any change in the
aristocratic structure of the Senate under the clause of the amendment article that says “no state, without its consent,
shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”
Plutocratic oligarchy is also sustained by the absence of democratic political parties that can hold their office
holders accountable to party principles and platforms. The result is that virtually all US politicians are corrupt,
entrepreneurial self-servers who raise campaign funds and cut legislative deals do as to advance their personal careers
by serving the super-rich and the giant corporations.
The absence of principles political parties means that the 144-year old Democratic-Republican duopoly is the
longest lived two-party regime in history. It gives voters the choice between the Center-Right Democrats and the Center-
Harder Right Republicans. It represents the narrowest political spectrum and most vapid political debate in the industrial
America’s Democratic Spirit
The US has never lived up to its democratic ideal of government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
But there has always been a strong democratic spirit and counterforce to plutocratic oligarchy in the US. The roots of
American democracy run deep:
in indigenous American Indian nations—the popular participation and free and equal forms of association
practiced by the confederations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), Penacook, Muskogee, Yaqui, Lakota, and other
in the first American Revolution—the town meetings of New England that were the cradle of the revolution;
Washington’s call for neighborhood “mass meetings,” Jefferson’s call for “ward republics,” Franklin’s acceptance of
the advice of Haudenosaunee diplomats to model the Articles of Confederation on the Iroquois Six Nations
in the earliest “Rainbow Coalitions”—the multi-cultural Maroon societies of runaway African slaves, Irish
indentured servants, and other European conscript sailors and rebels who united with Muskogee (Creek) Indians to
form the Seminole Nation and fight to overthrow the slave owners and establish a popular democracy based on racial
in the Abolitionist Movement—where the contradiction between the reality of slavery and the ideal of democracy
in Radical Reconstruction—where former slaves helped to elect and lead the most progressive state governments
in US history, instituting universal public education and raising the issues of land reform and proportional
in the Populist Movement—the struggle against agrarian debt slavery, where a massive movement of millions of
small farmers and sharecroppers formed countywide farmer’s alliances that conducted sophisticated political and
economic education, organized cooperatives, and built a movement counterculture and an independent People’s
Party that nearly united poor blacks and whites in an interracial majority of the “plain people” to prevent the
consolidation of the corporate oligarchy at the turn of the last century;
in the Labor Movement—the struggle against industrial wage slavery, particularly the anti-racist, rank-and-file
democracy traditions exemplified by the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies), by the best of the sit-down strikes
of the 1930s, and by the more recent rank-and-file democracy movements like the Detroit Revolutionary Union
Movement (DRUM) and Teamsters for a Democratic Union;
in the Participatory Democracy movements since the 1960s—starting with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee (SNCC) and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the spirit and practice of participatory democracy
was carried from the civil rights and antiwar movements into the women’s, radical ecology, gay liberation, and other
popular movements and then into the Green movement as Grassroots Democracy.
Throughout American history, these democratic struggles have made progress in some ways. For example,
originally the elective franchise was limited to propertied white males. Over the course of two hundred years of struggle
to extend democratic participation, the property, color, and gender restrictions have been stricken from the law.
However, there is still a long to go from our representative elected oligarchy to participatory democracy.
Most Power Is Not Up for Election
In many ways, there has been regression from democratic to oligarchic forms. Concentrations of wealth with
decisive political influence, massive bureaucracies impervious to individuals and communities, virtually no remaining
public sphere for political discussion by ordinary citizens, the corporatized and stupefying mass media—today’s political
culture and structure is anti-democratic in fundamental ways.
First, the US State and its sub-jurisdictions are structured around the elitist concept of representation. The people
have no enforceable means of expressing their desires and controlling their representatives between elections. We
don’t govern ourselves. Instead, we elect elites to govern us.
The Greens don’t want to elect new rulers. The Greens want to enable people to make the rules. Real democracy
requires new institutions through which people can participate in the formulation of policy and then can monitor policy
implementation by their elected representatives.
Second, most of the power in this society is not up for election. The power of these elected representative elites is
severely circumscribed by the extra-legislative powers of unelected elites:
the private power of unelected corporate elites who effectively veto public polices that would advance the public
interest against the corporate oligarchy by threats of capital flight and setting exorbitant conditions for government
the growing power of the executive branch and its unelected bureaucracy over legislative bodies, acting with
increasing secrecy beyond the control of our legislative representatives and often undermining what reforms are
passed by the legislative branch;
the growing power of the federal and global over the state and local levels which results in federal and World
Trade Organization pre-emption of state and local measures to protect people’s living standards and the environment;
the unelected federal court judges which have expanded Bill of Rights protections for “fictitious persons”—
corporations—while reducing Bill of Rights protections for real persons in name of law-and-order and national security;
the unelected National Security State, the military/industrial complex of military, covert operations, and domestic
police agencies linked with corporate military and prison contractors, which attacks—at home and abroad—
democratic movements and activists who challenge corporate power.
Third, the ability of people to freely choose their representatives is undermined by the private financing of
elections by wealthy elites. Long before the people have a change to express their preferences, the field of possible
candidates is selected by elites who control the purse strings of private campaign financing.
Fourth, political and economic elites are fostering militarism, racism, and chauvinistic nationalism as irrational
diversions from the facts of popular powerlessness, economic hardship, and environmental degradation. The middle and
lower reaches of society are being discouraged from participation in public affairs by political and economic elites
through policies that combine the centralization of state power with a lowing of living standards for the majority of
Americans. Instead of democratic participation, elites are encouraging disempowered people to identify vicariously with
the power of the aggressive militarism of the national state as in the Balkan and Gulf wars. Elites are encouraging the
people to blame each other, to scapegoat other races and nations—and gays, feminists, environmentalists, radicals—for
their own powerlessness and economic hardships.
Principles of Grassroots Democracy
The Greens are committed to a grassroots democracy, to decentralized, confederal, participatory forms of self-
government. Direct democracy at the community level is the foundation for genuine self-government at larger scales of
The Greens call for the creation of forms of face-to-face democracy at the base of society that control their own
communities and their representatives to larger political jurisdictions with which they are associated.
The Greens therefore envision a radical reconstruction of our political institutions to replace the centralized US
nation-state with bioregional confederations of self-governing communities. This will mean radically restructuring the US
government, honoring the land and treaty claims of indigenous American Indian nations, and reconstituting
intercommunal relations of the basis of community self-determination and free and equal confederation from below.
Grassroots Democracy is based on the following principles:
Direct Democracy in Community Assemblies: Community Assemblies, general meetings of the whole
community, in every neighborhood and town, will be the source of and final authority over public police at every level.
Community Assemblies will hold representatives to larger political jurisdictions accountable through their right to
instruct and recall their representatives. Community Assemblies will address regional, national, and international as
well as local issues. These grassroots legislatures will bring the people directly into the political process and give
people the power over the decisions that affect their lives.
Confederation: Community Assemblies will confederate at the local, regional, national, and ultimately international
levels in order to develop and coordinate common policies to deal with common problems. The higher levels will be
accountable to the lower levels, reversing the present pre-emptive powers of the centralized state hierarchy.
Confederal Councils: Community Assemblies will not make every detailed decision. They will often delegate
responsibilities and powers to confederal legislative and administrative councils of mandated and recallable public
officials. But the Community Assemblies always have the right to address any issues and instruct their
Proportional Representation: Confederal legislative councils will be constituted through a system of mixed-
member proportional representation. In mixed-member proportional representation, voters vote once for their district
representative and once for their party of choice. Half the representatives are elected by preference voting by the
Community Assemblies in districts. The other half are elected from party lists. The district seats count toward each
party’s total and the party lists are used to establish overall representation that is proportional to the party vote. By
combining community representation by assembly delegates and proportional representation of party representatives,
mixed-member proportional representation combines the advantages of both district and party representation. The
assembly delegates would carry mandates from the Community Assemblies. The party representatives would carry
mandates from political parties in proportion to their support in society, thus enabling minority viewpoints their fair
share of representation.
Imperative Mandates: The assemblies and parties will instruct their assembly delegates and party representatives
to larger political jurisdictions. The delegates and representatives may be given imperative mandates (binding
instructions) that commit them to a framework of policies within which they must act.
Recall: Assembly delegates and party representatives can be recalled by the assemblies and parties they
represent at any time for failing to carry out the mandates they are given.
Rotation: All public officials with delegated powers will rotate at regular intervals to preclude a professionalization of
politics and an elite political class. Every citizen will have their opportunity to participate in turn in the coordination and
administration of public affairs.
Sortition: Sortition—selection by lot as now in jury selection—will increasingly replace election for increasing
numbers of public offices: legislative, administrative, and judicial. Those eligible for sortition would be willing to serve if
selected and competent for the position. Replacing election with sortition will reduce oligarchy and increase
Legislative Sovereignty: The legislative branch will be the people organized in their Community Assemblies and
the confederal councils. Legislative majorities will form the executive branch administrations of political jurisdictions,
as in “parliamentary government.”
Accountability Boards for Administrative Departments: Accountability Boards will reinforce the accountability of
executive branch officials and departments. The members of accountability boards, selected by sortition, will be given
time off from work with pay to attend meetings, review reports and records, and conduct hearings with subpoena
powers. The power of the boards would vary according to the public function they monitor. In some areas, their
powers might be limited to forcing a reconsideration of any regulation or policy promulgated by a public agency. In
other areas, their powers might include sanctioning misbehavior, as in a Citizens’ Police Review Board.
Economic Democracy: Political democracy is undermined whey concentrated corporate power can effectively veto
public decisions by threats of disinvestment. Genuine political democracy presupposes economic democracy where
substantial productive resources are under democratic social forms of ownership.
Economic Bill of Rights: Democracy is undermined when some communities are impoverished while others are
affluent. The material and moral basis for unity at every level of political jurisdiction must include an Economic Bill of
Rights that guarantees every individual’s basic economic needs. It must also include revenue and resource sharing by
larger political jurisdictions so that every community meets a minimum floor for public services and human needs.
Civil Rights and Liberties: Political democracy is undermined when majorities dominate minorities, be they social
groups or political tendencies. The democratic basis of unity at every level of political jurisdiction must include
enforceable legal guarantees of the civil right and liberties of all people without regard for race, color, creed,
nationality, gender, sexual orientation, or political views.
Physical Habitat for Grassroots Democracy
Civic Architecture: Reconstruct the physical design of our communities to create a new architecture of civic and
public space. Reconstruct dwelling, work, recreation, and shopping spaces to foster social interaction and
conversation and give citizenship a convivial physical habitat for spontaneous social congregation. Build attractive,
functional, convenient buildings to serve as homes for Community Assemblies in every neighborhood and town.
Decentralize the Economy: Political democracy requires economic democracy, and economic democracy
presupposes a comprehensible and readily self-managed economy. In today’s physically centralized economy, over-
specialization and complexity creates dependence on the technocrat. Local diversification and increasing self-reliance
of local economies will make possible the rotation of work tasks, a human scale to the technology, and a visible
integration of the economy into the ecology of the community, all fostering a technically competent citizenry that
cannot be easily manipulated by experts. Self-reliance provides a human scale and a physical framework for
community and participatory democracy.
Decentralize the Cities: Industrial capitalism has left us with an unsustainable patchwork of sprawling urban belts,
agribusiness monocultures, industrial zones, and military reservations. This physical infrastructure is no amenable to
community self-governance or to ecological sustainability. The Greens call for long term planning to reconstruct our
society around humanly-scaled agro-industrial eco-communities. Existing settlements should be progressively rebuilt
around ecological technologies. Public funding should finance the construction of new eco-communities that can
experiment and develop ecological technologies that foster community self-reliance without pollution or resource
depletion. Public planning should encourage the resettlement of people from the vast conurbations into new eco-
communities in less populated regions.
American Indian Decolonization: From Nation-State to Intercommunal Confederation
We will never have real democracy in the Americas until we decolonize indigenous nations and resolve the
corresponding land question. The US and other nation-states in the Americas are predicated upon the domination of
indigenous nations and the possession of their lands. The liberation of indigenous nations presupposes indigenous land
recovery, which can only mean the territorial restructuring of the United States and other nation-states in the Americas
and the negotiation of a new set of equal relations among the peoples who now live in the Americas.
The Greens believe that serious negotiations to resolve the land question can create a just resolution for all
concerned and are preferable to litigation. Negotiations should start with the premise that true self-determination must
acknowledge the right of indigenous nations to complete secession. However, the Greens hope that negotiations can
develop agreements between equal partners to share the land—in a decentralized confederation in place of the nation-
state. A just resolution of land claims, the Greens believe, would secure the tenure rights for existing home owners,
residents, and family-owned farms and small businesses (but not for large corporations). It would also secure the basic
political and human rights of all residents, including the right to become citizens and participate in the public decisions
that affect them.
Negotiations in the US should consider carefully the proposals of indigenous activists for the creation of a land
base for indigenous nations in the Great Plains and Great Basin areas of the lower 48 states. These proposal flow from
these key facts:
After decades of research, the US Indian Land Claims Commission acknowledged in the 1970s, after a review of
370 treaties ratified by the US Senate as well as 400 unratified treaties with Indian nations, that the US has no legal
claim whatsoever to over one-third of the land area of the lower 48 states and that land claims to Alaska and Hawaii
are virtually nil.
The US government owns 35% and the state governments own 10% of the land area of the lower 48 states.
The cattle ranches and wheat farms on some 140,000 square miles of the so-called Buffalo Commons in the Great
Plains area west of the 98 meridian are economically viable only with public subsidies and rapid net losses of natural
capital, particularly underground acquifers. Much of the Great Basin area further west is federally owned. These two
contiguous areas cover about one-third of the land of the lower 48 states and encompass the majority of indigenous
people residing in the lower 48 states.
Negotiations also must deal with the land claims based on fraudulent and coerced treaties (an additional 15-20%
of the land area of the lower 48 states) as well as the needs of untreatied nations in other regions of the country.
The Green vision of a continent of decentralized regions of self-governing communities cannot be realized as
long as the US and the other nation-states of the Americans exist by virtue of their domination of the indigenous nations
on whose land they claim sovereignty. The Greens are committed to negotiations to achieve the recovery of a viable
land base for indigenous nations and the replacement of nation-states with intercommunal confederations based on
equal relations between indigenous nations and the rest the people, with ancestry from the world over, who also reside
here. The Greens envision a continental mosaic of colorfully differentiated communities, each adapted to the unique
environments of their bioregions, working together the meet many of the needs and respecting each others’ cultural and
Community Assemblies: Amend city and county charters and state municipal laws to enable Community
Assemblies to form as grassroots legislative bodies, like New England Town Meetings, with power over local affairs,
with independent budgets provided by revenue-sharing, and the power to instruct and recall their representatives to
larger political jurisdictions.
The new foundation for democratic self-governance must be the direct democracy of people assemblies in their
community neighborhoods, towns, and villages. Bring the people directly into the political process through Community
Assemblies that create direct democracy. Community Assemblies will have the power to administer their own budgets
funded partly from federal revenue-sharing and the power to monitor, instruct, and recall their municipal, county, state,
and federal legislative representatives.
We call for federal legislation to encourage the creation of Community Assemblies by automatically providing
direct revenue-sharing to communities that establish directly democratic Community Assemblies and additional
funding to municipalities and counties that amend their charters to build Community Assemblies into their governance
Abolish the US Senate: Eliminate this unrepresentative, aristocratic carryover from slavery times.
A Unicameral, Proportionally Representative US Congress: Make a unicameral US Congress, elected by mixed-
member proportional representation, the sovereign power in the federal government.
Abolish the Electoral College: Abolish this anti-democratic relic of a time when the wealthy oligarchy in this
country did not trust the common people to govern themselves. Until a parliamentary federal executive is established,
directly elect the President and Vice-President by preference voting.
Parliamentary Administration: Replace independent election of executive branch officials with the formation of
administrations by the legislative majority in order to end government divided against itself—for example, by
abolishing such executive compromises of legislative sovereignty as presidential veto powers. Parliamentary
administration will make the executive branch accountable to the people’s representatives in the legislature and the
people themselves in their Community Assemblies.
End Judicial Review: Abolish the power of the US Supreme Court to declare legislation passed by Congress to be
unconstitutional. Federal laws should be repealed or abrogated only by act of Congress or by a referendum of the
Judicial Independence: Direct citizen election of judges for limited terms, instead politicized appointments by
Constitutional Amendment by Simple Majority: Make the US Constitution amendable by a majority vote of the
War Referenda: No initiation of military action outside US borders (i.e., except in the unlikely case of an invasion)
without majority support of the whole people expressed in a referendum. The question of going to war is too important
to leave to politicians who do not do the fighting. The people should be able to debate and vote before going to war.
Initiative, Referendum, and Recall: Extend these basic democratic rights to cover every local, state, and federal
Increase the Size of Legislative Councils: Increase the size of representative legislative councils to bring
representatives closer and more accountable to their constituents.
Mandate Gender and Ethnic Diversity and Parity in Legislative Bodies: Establish systems of representation that
create equal representation of both genders and proportional representation of historically excluded ethnic groups
through such measures as dual member districts balancing male and female representation, as Finland and Norway
have introduced, and constraint rules in proportional voting systems that establish a floor of representation for
historically excluded populations, as New Zealand has done to correct the exclusion of the indigenous Maori people.
Amend the Voting Rights Act to include protection against gender discrimination in representation.
Statehood for the District of Columbia: No taxation without representation. Decolonize the District of Columbia.
Citizens of the District of Columbia are entitled to elect their own representatives to participate in decisions over how
their tax dollars are spent. Extend full home rule and representation in national government to the citizens of the
Fully Informed Juries: Require that the courts inform juries of their right to judge the law as well as defendants—
their right to find defendants innocent even if review of the evidence strictly in terms of the law would indicate a guilty
verdict. Juries should be able to exercise this right when they believe that justice would be better served by a “not
guilty” verdict because no harm was actually caused, or because they believe the law itself to be unjust, or because a
guilty verdict would other wise violate their sense of right and wrong. The right of citizen jurors to judge the law will
protect our individual liberties and freedom from political repression and capricious intrusion into our lives by
Average Workers’ Pay for All Public Officials: Pay public officials no more than the US Bureau of Labor
Statistics’ “Moderate Budget” for a comparable household in order to prevent political careerism and the
professionalization of politics. Greens elected to public office before this measure is adopted should donate any pay
they receive over a “Moderate budget” to the Green Party.
Open Proceedings: All citizens should have access to all public business, records, computerized information, and
Computerized Access to Government Information--Provide for the people to have free computerized access in
public libraries, as well as from their own homes, to the full range of government information, from statistical data to
Environmental Home Rule: Pass environmental home rule laws at the state and federal levels establishing the
absolute right of state and local governments to bar disposal or transshipment of hazardous materials, to reject the
location of hazardous industrial projects in their communities, and to set higher than federal environmental standards.
Municipal Home Rule: Amend state laws and constitutions to allow municipalities and counties to revise their
charters without requiring the approval of the state government.
Community Funding Option on Federal Income Taxes: Allow people in low-income communities to give up to
75% of their federal income tax to their neighborhood and community assemblies.
Fiscal Federalism and Revenue Sharing: Establish a federal revenue sharing system that sends federal revenues
to community assemblies, municipalities, and counties according to a formula that gives all local jurisdictions some
money and low-income jurisdictions more funds.
Constitutional Conventions: Where the amending provisions of the federal and state constitutions make
constitutional changes too onerous, convene constitutional conventions to rewrite these constitutions.
Election Law Reforms
The established corporate parties in the US do not offer principled political alternatives. They are shifting
coalitions of political careerists held together only by the prospect of victory, spoils, and patronage. Transient
candidates’ committees, rather than ongoing party committees, receive most of the funding and dominate the process.
Behind the candidates’ committees are the rich, the ¼ of 1% of the people who gave 80% of federal campaign
contributions in 1996. Winning is all and any principle will be sacrificed to win.
The corporate parties do not have memberships who can control their decision-making staffs and candidates.
They only have supporters who only get to choose in primaries between candidates already pre-selected by the
moneyed interests. The party platforms have little effect on candidate positions and behavior in office because
whomever wins the primaries can do whatever they want, not matter what the platforms say.
The American-style corporate party controlled by politicians rather than members is a direct consequence of state
election laws that regard political parties as franchises licensed by the state rather than private voluntary associations.
The Greens fight for the independence of parties from state control and the right to be a membership party controlled
democratically from the bottom up. They fight to change election laws that interfere with party self-government through
both legislation and court challenges, which they believe they will win based on the rights of free speech and association
in the 1 and 14 Amendments.
We need election law and related reforms that will remove the economic and institutional barriers to full and equal
participation by all citizens and viewpoints in the electoral and legislative process. These reforms must enable principled
parties to emerge that can create coherent platforms, nominate candidates responsible to their platforms, and have the
capacity to reach the public with their platforms.
In order to secure equal access to the electoral and legislative process for all citizens, to end the domination of
elections by private moneyed interests, and to enable internally democratic, principled, and responsible political parties
to form, the Greens support the following reforms:
Preferential Balloting for Single Office Elections: Institute majority preference voting for races to elect a single
candidate to office. In majority preference balloting, voters rank the candidates in their order of preference. If a
candidate receives a majority of over 50% of the first, she or he is elected. If not, the last place candidate is eliminated
and the ballots for that candidate are redistributed to according to their designated second preferences. This process
continues until a candidate receives a majority of over 50%. This voting process ends lesser-evil voting where voters
choose what they regard as the winnable lesser-evil candidate instead of their first preference because they are afraid
a vote for their first preference will help what they regard as the greater-evil candidate. Majority preference voting
enables people to vote their hopes instead of their fears.
Proportional Representation for Legislative Bodies: Institute systems of proportional representation that
represent all political parties in proportion to the support they receive. In proportional representation, 10% of the vote
entitles a party to 10% of the legislative seats. Proportional representation allows a wider range of debate and a fair
share of representation for minority and majority viewpoints and constituencies in legislative bodies.
The winner-take-all electoral system is fundamentally anti-democratic. It denies people of color and political
minorities their fair share of representation and power. By systematically under-representing minorities, it inflates the
power of bare majorities or pluralities far beyond their actual support in the population.
The winner-take-all system also perpetuates negative “lesser evil” voting. Many voters find themselves always
voting for the lesser evil in order to prevent the greater evil instead voting of for their first choice which is an
independent or third party candidate. Therefore, they vote for the major party that they see as the lesser evil so the
greater evil, the other major party, won’t get elected. Proportional representation will enable us to vote our hopes
instead of our fears.
Among the major democracies in the world, all use some form of proportional representation except the United
Kingdom and some of its former colonies, the largest being the US, Canada, and India. New Zealand recently
switched to proportional representation. The Australian Senate has proportional representation. The new
democracies in Eastern Europe and South Africa chose proportional representation. In countries with proportional
representation, more people vote, more women and minorities are elected, and more parties and points of view get
Mixed Member Proportional Representation: Many systems of proportional representation require large districts,
which are inconsistent with the imperative mandate and immediate recall of representatives by Community
Assemblies. The Greens call for mixed-member proportional representation in legislative bodies as the system that
best combines the advantages of both districted and proportional systems: grassroots democracy based on
mandated, recallable district representation and proportional representation of party viewpoints. In mixed-member
proportional representation, voters elect half of the legislative body from single-member districts by preference voting
and the other half election at-large from party lists. Voters vote once for their district representative and once for their
party of choice. Overall proportionality in the legislature is determined by the party vote for the party lists, with the
district winners counting toward each party’s total and the remainder of their share of seats taken from the party list.
Public Campaign Financing: Provide equal allotments of public campaign financing to all ballot qualified
candidates who agree not to accept private campaign funds.
Free and Equal Access to Broadcast Media for All Candidates: Ballot qualified candidates should also have
equal allotments of free broadcast media time, provided by all private broadcasters as a condition of their FCC license
to use the public airwaves.
Public Party Financing: Provide public financing through a system of matching funds for party dues and small
donations up to $300 a year. We oppose public financing of parties based on votes or other measures not connected
to grassroots financial support because we do not believe public financing should support party bureaucracies that
can operate independently of material support from and accountability to their members.
Free and Equal Access to Broadcast Media for All Ballot Qualified Political Parties: Require that all broadcast
media, as a condition of their FCC licenses to use the public airwaves, make free and equal time available year-round
for all ballot qualified political parties to explain their party principles and views on the issues of the day.
Fair Ballot Access: The US has the most restrictive ballot access requirements of any industrial democracy. Some
states have not had a third party with ballot qualification since restrictions on ballot access were legislated early in the
20 century. The Greens call for federal legislation to insure state election laws provide fair ballot access for minor
parties and independents. We support a federal fair ballot access law establishing reasonable signature requirements
to qualify a new party or an independent candidate. Support the standard that was developed in the American Civil
Liberties Union’s Model Election Law of 1940 and has been the basis for bills introduced into Congress many times.
The standard to qualify a new party or an independent candidate should be no greater than one-tenth of 1% of the
total vote cast in the last gubernatorial election in the district concerned, with 10,000 signature maximum limit.
Universal Voter Registration: Make it the responsibility of government, not individual citizens, to insure that every
citizen of age is registered to vote, as most industrial democracies do.
Same Day Voter Registration: Allow voter registration at polling places on election day.
Immigrant Voting Rights: No taxation without representation. Immigrants ought to have, as they did prior to World
War I, the right to participate in electing the people who decide how their tax dollars are spent. Extend voting rights to
immigrants who are residents. All people should have the democratic right to participate in the decisions that affect
Prisoner and Parolee Voting Rights: Restore the voting rights of people who are in prison or on parole. The
stripping of voting rights of convicted felons, many of them drug war victims, has eliminated the voting rights of 1 out
of 6 African American males. Loss of voting rights is no deterrent to crime, but it is a deterrent to rehabilitation.
Initiative and Referendum: Establish binding initiative and referendum processes in every municipal, county, state,
and federal jurisdiction where they do not now exist. Make initiatives and referendums more democratic by setting
overall spending limits on initiative and referendum campaigns and by guaranteeing free and equal access to
broadcast media for both sides as part of FCC licensing conditions.
None of the Above: Institute binding ‘None of the Above” (NOTA) options in all elections. Should NOTA win the
election a new election is called requiring new candidates.
Eliminate Mandatory Nonpartisanship in Elections: Eliminate laws that prevent candidates from being identified
on ballots by their party if they want.
Eliminate Mandatory Primaries: Eliminate laws that require parties to nominate candidates by primary elections
instead of membership conventions. Primaries take the nomination decision away from the active members of a party
and give it to any voter who is registered in the party 14 closed primary states or to simply any voter in 36 states.
Primaries enable voters who do not support the party’s principles and platform and who do not support the party with
activity and money to make nominations for the party. The result is a system where candidates win primary elections
without any commitment or accountability to the party’s principles and platform. Parties should have the right to
primaries closed to voters who are not enrolled in their party and the right to nominate by membership convention
instead of primary elections.
Eliminate Mandatory Open Caucuses and Conventions: Eliminate laws that require parties to hold caucus and
convention processes that allow anyone who wants to participate, no matter what their commitment to party principles
and membership responsibilities. Parties should have the right to form as membership organizations with shared
principles and defined membership responsibilities in order to develop as principled parties under democratic
membership control. A political party, not the state, should have the right to determine who has voting rights in their
Citizen Control of Redistricting: Redrawing political jurisdictions and electoral districts after censuses or to
accommodate new electoral systems such as proportional representation should be controlled by Community
Assemblies or some other form of independent citizen oversight, and not by legislative committees dominated by the
major parties who have historically gerrymandered safe seats for their incumbents. Redrawn political jurisdictions and
electoral districts should be consistent with Community Assemblies representing real neighborhoods and towns at the
local level and bioregions for larger jurisdictions.
Repeal the Hatch Act: The Hatch Act restricts the rights of public employees to stand for office and participate in
election campaigns. It has disproportionate adverse impact on African Americans, who are disproportionately
employed in government because of greater job discrimination in the private sector. This anti-democratic, racially
biased law should be repealed.
ECONOMIC BILL OF RIGHTS
In his State of the Union Address on January 11, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called upon Congress to
enact an Economic Bill of Rights:
We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—
whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.
This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable
rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches
and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political
rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security
and independence. "Necessitous men are not free men." ...
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a
second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of
station, race or creed.
Among these are:
1. The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
2. The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
3. The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent
4. The right of every business man, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition
and domination by monopolies at home and abroad;
5. The right of every family to a decent home;
6. The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
7. The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
8. The right to a good education.
...I ask Congress to explore the means for implementing this economic bill of rights—for it is definitely the
responsibility of Congress so to do.
Congress never enacted an Economic Bill of Rights. The Greens call for federal legislation to implement a
contemporary Economic Bill of Rights, including:
1. Guaranteed Basic Income—Universal Social Security: Build into the progressive income tax a Universal Social
Security system to provide a guaranteed minimum income sufficient to maintain a modest standard of living.
Everyone will receive a Basic Income Grant, paid in monthly installments like current Social Security. This income
will be included in the income tax base, so that everyone will receive a basic income floor, but the cost of providing
it to those who do not need it will be recovered through the progressive income tax. Universal Social Security will
combine entitlement universalism with tax universalism, thus avoiding the political isolation of means-tested
programs and the fiscal irresponsibility of entitlement universalism regardless of need. Universal Social Security will
replace the existing Social Security system and the stingy, punitive, and intrusive welfare program, Temporary
Assistance to Needy Families. In 2000, the Guaranteed Basic Income should be $26,000 a year for a family of four
($500 a week), with $3250 adjustments for more or fewer family members ($62.50/week). This would bring families
to above a realistic poverty line. The official poverty line in 1999 was $17,000 for a family of four. However, if it were
adjusted for the high increases in the costs of housing and energy since the poverty line formula was created in
1959, the poverty line would be about 150% higher, or about $26,000.
2. Jobs for All: Official unemployment figures count less than half of the unemployed. In reality, 33% of the American
work force is unemployed or under-employed if we count all the unemployed plus part-timers looking for full-time
work. The Greens call for jobs for all through public works and a shorter work week. Private jobs are good, but
public jobs are necessary for full employment.
3. Living Wages: More than 30 million full-time workers' incomes are below the poverty line. A job should lift a
worker's family above the poverty line. Raise the federal minimum wage to a living wage—at least $12.50 an hour,
indexed to the cost of living.
4. A 30-Hour Work Week—6-Hour Day, No Cut in Pay: Cut the standard work week to 30 hours with no loss in pay
for the bottom 80% of the pay scale. An immediate cut in the work week to 30 hours will increase full-time jobs by
33% and increase workers’ free time by 25%.
5. Social Dividends: Establish a Social Dividend system to pay workers a “second paycheck” to enable them to
receive 40 hours pay for 30 hours work. The burden of paying the hours not worked will not fall on particular
enterprises, but on society as a whole through progressive taxes on income and wealth. The Social Dividend
represents each worker's share of social productivity gains. Workers would be paid the Social Dividend at their
current wage rate, up to the 80 percentile on the pay scale. Labor productivity has increased 33% since 1973, but
average weekly wages have declined 12%. Workers should start getting their fair share of increased labor
productivity as a Social Dividend. A full-time minimum wage worker at $12.50/hour would earn $19,500 a year in
wages and $6,500 in social dividends, for $26,000 a year, or a modest standard of living at 150% of the current
poverty line for a family of four. The labor productivity of American workers has doubled since World War II. Had we
channeled these productivity gains into leisure instead of higher production and income (mostly for the upper
reaches of the income spectrum), we would now have a 20-hour work week. Future productivity growth should be
used to reduce working hours further rather than channeling productivity growth into higher production. For reasons
of ecological sustainability, we do not need more overall consumption of resources, just a fairer distribution of what
we already produce.
6. Health Care: Enact a single-payer National Health Program to provide free medical and dental care for all,
federally-financed and community-controlled by locally elected boards. It will provide universal coverage,
comprehensive benefits, a single class of quality care for all, complete freedom of choice among health care
providers, and real cost containment through the efficiencies of a single public payer and overall budget limits
instead of the micro-management by for-profit insurance companies of every clinical encounter.
7. Child Care: Establish a nationwide system of federally-financed, community-based child care as part of the public
school system and modeled after Head Start, available voluntarily and free to all who need it.
8. Education: Provide free, quality public education from preschool through graduate school at public institutions. Use
federal revenue sharing to equalize funding of public schools.
9. Housing: Everyone household should have the right to decent housing that costs no more than 25% of their
income. To achieve this goal, invest $25 billion annually over the next 10 years in state and local non-profit housing
providers, including rental and home ownership assistance, fair housing enforcement, and the building and
renovation of affordable public housing, cooperative housing, and owner-occupied houses by non-profit community-
based organizations. Pay for this program by capping the federal tax deductions for mortgage interest, capital gains,
and local property taxes for the wealthiest 20%, who receive 75% of these homeowner tax breaks (over $100 billion
10. Recreation: Invest public funds so that every community has ready access to quality public parks, sports and arts
facilities, libraries, and community centers.
11. Legal Representation: Legal aid and public defender programs, never sufficiently funded, have been gutted over
the last two decades. Restore funding to levels that enable all people to have access to competent legal
12. Labor Unions: Restore workers’ right to organize democratic labor unions. Enact comprehensive labor law
reforms, including automatic union recognition upon majority card check, speedy union elections, speedy
procedures and strong penalties for employers who violate labor laws, legalization of minority union membership
and activity, binding arbitration for first contracts at union request, expanding cover of the Fair Labor Standards Act
to include farmworkers and workfare workers, a ban on exploiting prison labor to provide goods and services sold to
the public, and repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 which outlawed or severely restricted labor’s basic organizing
tools: strikes, boycotts, and pickets.
13. Industrial and Commercial Democracy: Workers and consumers should have the right to participate in governing
the businesses they use as workers and consumers. Enact federal policies to provide financial and technical
assistance for voluntary conversions of businesses to democratic worker, consumer, and/or public ownership. Of
the 22.5 million non-farm businesses in the US in 1995, just 500 controlled 70% of output. The 300 largest global
corporations now own nearly 50% of the productive assets of the world. Enact a program of mandatory conversions
of Big Business to worker cooperatives, consumer cooperatives, or to public enterprises on a municipal, regional, or
national scale, choosing the democratic form and human scale most appropriate for the industry concerned.
Democratize existing public authorities and enterprises.
14. Financial Democracy: In 1997, 173 banks (1.9% of all US banks) held 73.9 all banks assets. This dangerous
concentration of financial capital has undermined government monetary policies and shifted resources from
productive to speculative investment. The Financial Services Modernization Act will make matters worse by
breaking the barrier between commercial and investment banking. We need a Financial Democracy Act that will
break up the big banks into democratic public community and regional banks, repeal interstate banking, restore the
barrier between commercial and investment banking, extend community reinvestment standards to the entire
financial industry, prohibit bank loans for financial speculation, place a 100% reserve requirement on demand
deposits to restore control of the money supply to government, and democratize the Federal Reserve System. Take
monetary policy out the hands of the private bankers who now select Federal Reserve officers and put it under the
control of our elected government. Strengthen the regional development mission of the regional Federal Reserve
Banks and direct them to target investments and loan guarantees to promote key policy objectives, such as
high-wage employment, worker and community ownership, conversion to ecological technologies, and inner city
15. Fair Markets: Concentrated market power and free appropriation of our common wealth of natural capital are
distorting market prices, rendering them unfair to workers and consumers and not reflective of ecological costs.
Corporate industrial, commercial, and financial oligopolies are exploiting consumers and taxpayers through their
concentrated assets and market shares and their power to force corporate welfare subsidies from government. The
1990s saw the biggest corporate merger mania in history, with the value of mergers growing by about 50% almost
every year. Big Business must be cut down to size. Any firm with a market share over 10% should be broken up into
smaller firms, with workers and communities having the first option to acquire the new smaller firms, unless the
large firm can justify its size as in the public interest in a public regulator proceeding. Corporate welfare must be
eliminated. The ecological costs of products must be incorporated into their prices through ecological taxes on land
use, resource extraction, and pollution. Government should record and publish the current and dated labor time for
goods and services. This labor time accounting will establish the average labor time required of each product.
These labor values will serve as shadow prices against which to judge the fairness of actual market prices.
16. Fair Trade: Oppose chauvinistic protectionism as well as corporate-managed "free" trade. Withdraw from
corporate-managed trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade
Organization. Corporate-managed trade is leveling down labor and environmental standards. Establish an
internationalist social tariff system that will equalize trade by accounting for the differences in wages, social
benefits, environmental regulations, and political and labor rights. Social tariff revenues will go to an international
fund for financing democratic, ecologically-sustainable economic development in countries with lower wages, social
benefits, and environmental protections. The social tariff system will level up wages, benefits, regulations, and labor
and political rights among nations.
17. Sustainable Farms: Reform farm price supports to cover the costs of production plus a decent income for family
farmers and farmworker cooperatives. Break up corporate agribusiness and create new family farms and
farmworker cooperatives through a homesteading program linked to land reform based on acreage limitations and
residency requirements. Subsidize farmers' transition to organic agriculture while natural systems of soil fertility and
pest control are being restored.
18. Sustainable Economy: The human economy is a subsystem of the larger ecosystem. Future generations should
have the right to enjoy the same ecosystem services that sustain life today. The present economy is running at an
enormous ecological deficit. This destruction of natural capital must be reversed. Enact federal polices to finance
and require conversion of the economy to renewable, ecological systems of production. A fully sustainable economy
requires ecological production based on the sustainable use of energy and materials from renewable sources, zero
emissions of synthetic chemicals, and emissions of biodegradable biological wastes in amounts that can be
assimilated by local ecosystems without disrupting them. The transition to a sustainable economy based on
ecological production requires goals and timetables for phasing out synthetic chemicals and the investment of
currently used nonrenewable energy and materials in the development of self-reproducing renewable energy and
19. Progressive and Ecological Taxes: Taxes must be scaled to ability to pay through progressive, graduated rates
that place low taxes on low income people and higher taxes on higher income people. Taxes must also encourage
the conservation and restoration of the natural environment, the ecological capital that is the foundation of the
human economy. Shift taxes from regressive payroll, sales, and excise taxes to (1) progressive income and wealth
taxes and (2) ecological taxes on pollution, resource extraction, and the use of our common wealth of natural capital
(land sites according to land value; timber and grazing lands; ocean and freshwater resources, oil and minerals,
electromagnetic spectrum, satellite orbital zones).
20. World Peace—A Global Green Deal: Nobody’s economic rights are secure when billions around the world are in
need and the economies around the world are running at an ecological deficit. This polarization of wealth and
destruction of natural capital is setting the stage for wars over increasingly scarce resources. As the wealthiest
nation on Earth, the US can initiate a Global Green Deal that shares that wealth in order to provide assistance to
other countries in the creation of a sustainable economy globally that meets everyone’s basic material needs. First,
the US should finance universal access to primary education, adequate food, clean water and sanitation, preventive
health care, and family planning services for every human being on Earth. According to the 1999 UN Development
Report, it would take only an additional $40 billion to meet these basic human needs globally, an amount that is
only 13% the US military budget. Second, the US, now spending half of the world’s military expenditures by itself,
should demilitarize its economy and reinvest the Peace Dividend in financing and technical assistance that helps to
environmentally retrofit all of human civilization with renewable, ecological systems of production.
We are producing more wealth in this country than ever before. We could end poverty now, but the number of
people in desperate need of jobs, income, food, housing, and health care is growing. Perhaps the most important issue
facing our society is how we can transform the growing polarization of wealth and poverty into an abolition of poverty
and economic insecurity. Greens propose to do this by sharing the gains in wealth producing capacities that are being
ushered in by the emergence of the high-tech information economy.
The politicians of both corporate parties talk about how we all have to sacrifice because government deficits
require cuts in public services and foreign economic competition requires cuts in jobs, wages, and benefits. However,
the reality is that we are producing more wealth than ever. Where is this wealth going?
Most of it is going to the wealthiest 1%, whose incomes have more than doubled over the last two decades. The
next 20%, a well-paid minority with secure technical and professional jobs, have gained as well, although not nearly to
the same extent. The next 20%, typified industrial and public sector unionized workers, has been holding its own, but
only by moonlighting and having more family members join the workforce. The bottom 60% has been losing ground
economically over the last two decades, and the poorer you are the harder you have been hit.
We are in the midst of the greatest polarization of wealth and poverty since the industrial revolution displaced the
agrarian economy. Now the industrial economy is being displaced by the high-tech information economy. By the year
2020, less than 2% of the global labor force will work in factories. While robots replace blue-collar factory workers,
computers are displacing white-collar workers. We are rapidly becoming a society bitterly divided between a well-paid
minority with secure jobs and a marginalized majority working in low-wage, no-benefit, temporary, insecure, part-time
jobs. Automation, far more than foreign competition and the relocation of production to off-share cheap-labor areas, is
creating a permanent class of structurally marginalized workers who are underemployed, underpaid, and economically
insecure. The system no longer needs the labor of millions and millions of people.
The corporate politicians who call upon working people to sacrifice are really representing corporate interests that
want to monopolize the wealth gained from high-tech productivity. Their vision for our future is a high-tech version of the
plantation: production is geared to luxury consumption by the well-paid minority and extravagant consumption by the
super-rich elite, while the marginalized majority, competing frantically with each other for scarce low-wage jobs, is
rendered easy to exploit. The corporate future for the vast majority is low wages, paltry public services, and high crime in
neighborhoods preyed upon by desperately unemployed, poor, and alienated young people.
Our vision of the future is one where we share the wealth and use this same technology to meet everyone’s
needs. Our visions calls for four changes—the right to a living wage job, a minimum wage that is a living wage, the 30
hour work week with no loss in pay, a guaranteed minimum income for those who cannot work—that are interrelated and
need to be introduced as a package. In addition, our vision regards some goods as too important to be left to the profit
motive in the market where they are underproduced. Instead, they should be provided free through public funding,
including public education through university level, childcare, and health care.
We should share the productivity gains of high-tech in the form of a guaranteed right to a job, at reduced work
hours, with no loss in pay. Each individual should be entitled by virtue of their participation in the social process of
production to a Social Dividend representing their fair share of socially-produced wealth. Wealth created by a complexly
interdependent economy should not be monopolized by the tiny elite that owns most corporate stocks and bonds. That
wealth is commonwealth by virtue of its social creation and should be shared equitably.
Instead of employers reducing the workforce, we need legislation to reduce the workweek. Everyone must be
able to work less (reduced workweek) so everyone can work. And everyone should be able to work (the right to a job) so
everyone can work less.
Less work should not mean less income for workers because more wealth is now created by less work. Working
hours should be reduced with no loss in income. The difference between wages in the 40-hour week and wages in a
reduced workweek should be paid out of public resources as a second paycheck, a Social Dividend representing each
worker’s share of social productivity gains. The productivity gains of high-tech are unevenly distributed between different
industries and different companies. The only way to distribute the overall social productivity gains equitably is to cover
the income lost in a Social Dividend paid out of public resources.
This requires taxing a portion of the wealth generated by automation and using it to fund the Social Dividend as
well as public services and investments in the ecological conversion of the physical infrastructure of the economy. If we
do not share the wealth in this way, wages and the purchasing power of the majority will collapse as automation
proceeds, leading to stagnation in the economy. Purchasing power should not be dependent solely on hours worked,
but on the total wealth produced. To maintain balance in the economy between production and consumption, we need
tax, price, and incomes policies that are democratically determined to equitably distribute the wealth gains of the high-
tech economy. We need a democratic economy so we can prioritize social and ecological values in giving positive
direction to the advance of the information economy.
The wealth gains of high-tech not only create the preconditions for ending material poverty and guaranteeing
everyone decent jobs, income, health care, education, and housing. They also create the preconditions for transforming
the spiritual poverty of a consumerist society where too many people aspire to conspicuous consumption and see
shopping as the means to self-fulfillment. With more people working in publicly funded community service and everyone
having more free time, people may find that participating in the community life is more meaningful and satisfying.
The Greens call for:
Universal Social Security—A Guaranteed Basic Income Above the Poverty Line for All: In 1995, with so-called
“welfare reform,” the Democrats and Republicans repealed the federal government’s 60-year long commitment to
income assistance to poor mothers and their children. Two-thirds of those who lost their right to assistance are
children and most of the rest are their mothers. The Greens condemn the Democrats’ and Republicans’ strategy of
attacking fiscal deficits by depriving children and their mothers of the means of subsistence. Green call for restoring
the federal government commitment to the entitlement of people to income assistance. But we do not want a
restoration of the old welfare system, which was intrusive, punitive, and stingy, never providing enough income to lift
families from poverty. The Greens support a universal entitlement to basic income above the poverty line for all.
Build into the progressive income tax a guaranteed minimum income that maintains a modest standard of living.
Everyone will receive a Basic Income Grant, paid in monthly installments like current Social Security. But this income
will be included in the income tax base, so that everyone will receive a basic income floor, but the cost of providing it
to those who don’t need it will be recovered through the progressive income tax. Universal Social Security will
combine entitlement universalism with tax universalism, thus ending the political isolation of means-tested programs
and the fiscal irresponsibility of entitlement universalism regardless of need. Universal Social Security will replace the
existing Social Security system and the stingy, punitive, and intrusive welfare program, Temporary Assistance to
Needy Families. In 2000, the Guaranteed Basic Income should be $26,000 a year for a family of four ($500 a week),
with $3250 adjustments for more or fewer family members ($62.50/week). This would bring families to above a
realistic poverty line. The official poverty line in 1999 was $17,000 for a family of four. However, if it were adjusted for
the high increases in the costs of housing and energy since the poverty line formula was created in 1959, the poverty
line would be about 150% higher, or about $26,000.
A Guaranteed Right to a Job: Living Wage Jobs for All Willing and Able To Work: The government should be
the employer of last resort. Every person who cannot find a private job should be able to go a local government
agency and get a job that pays of living wage. There is lots of work to do—childcare, elder care, health care,
converting to a peace economy, converting to an ecological technology, rebuilding our cities. Public job banks should
be established so that people who cannot find decent work in the private sector can take a good publicly funded job
that fulfills community-defined needs.
A 30-Hour Work Week and a Social Dividend—Six-Hour Day, No Cut in Pay: The productivity of American
workers has doubled since World War II. Had we channeled these productivity gains into leisure instead of higher
production and income (mostly for the upper reaches of the income spectrum), we would now have a 20-hour
workweek. We should equitably distribute income earning opportunities so that technologically induced structural
changes in the economy do not create a bitter schism between affluent, securely employed production workers and
marginalized, underemployed service workers. The Greens call for an immediate reduction of the standard workweek
from 40 hours to 30 hours, with no reduction in pay. Pay the difference between 40 and 30 hours wages out of public
resources because different industries and companies have different rates of productivity growth. Pay the difference
as a second paycheck from the government to all workers, a Social Dividend representing their share of social
productivity gains. This measure will increase the number of jobs needed to do the same work by 33%, creating
enough jobs for most everyone willing and able to work. Future productivity growth should be used to reduce working
hours further rather than channeling productivity growth into higher production. For reasons of ecological
sustainability, we do not need more overall consumption of resources, just a fairer distribution of what we already
produce. A full-time minimum wage worker at $12.50/hour would earn $19,500 a year in wages and $6,500 in social
dividends, for $26,000 a year, or a modest standard of living at 150% of the current poverty line for a family of four.
Raise the Minimum Wage to a Living Wage: We call for raising the federal minimum wage to $12.50 an hour and
indexing it to the cost of living. The current minimum wage yields an income well below the poverty line. A living-wage
minimum wage, indexed to inflation, immediately lift 30 million of the working poor above the poverty line. It will also
stimulate the economy by raising demand for basic necessities. And it will raise productivity by forcing businesses that
now rely on exploiting cheap labor to raise productivity or go bankrupt. Businesses that cannot provide a living wage
are not worth saving when there are so many other prosperous businesses. The living-wage minimum wage should be
coupled to a government guaranteed right to a living wage job so that workers who lost their jobs in low-productivity
firms that go bankrupt would be assured of re-employment in a public job if they could not find a private job.
Free Health Care for All: Create a decentralized National Health Service to provide free medical and dental care
for all. It should federally financed through progressive taxes and operated on a non-profit basis under the direction of
local boards democratically elected by the consumers and workers affected. It will provide universal coverage,
comprehensive benefits, a single class of quality care for all, complete freedom of choice among health care
providers, and real cost containment through the efficiencies of a single public payer and overall budget limits instead
of the micro-management by for-profit insurance companies of every clinical encounter. The National Health Service
would replace control by insurance companies, hospital boards of directors, and medical associations with democratic
control through elected representatives on local, regional, and national Health Service Boards. The Health Service
would emphasize preventive care and employ salaried health workers who would serve the public on the basis of
need, not profit.
Free Child Care for All: Establish a nationwide system of federally-funded, community-based child care, modeled
after the Head Start program, governed by local boards elected by parents and child care workers, and available free
to all who need it.
School Funding Equalization: Educational opportunity in poorer school districts should not be limited by the local
property tax base. We call for federal revenue sharing with local school districts to equalize funding of public schools.
Free Public Education through University Level: Much of the work in the high-tech information economy requires
higher education. It should be available to all who want it free at public institutions.
Affordable Housing for All: Currently more than one-fourth of all households are ill-housed, either living in
substandard or overcrowded conditions or paying more than one-third of their income for housing. The Clinton/Gore
administration’s proposals to deregulate and privatize public housing and to replace housing programs targeted at low
income people with block grants to localities and vouchers for low-income people must be opposed.
Expand federal housing assistance so that all low and moderate income households can obtain decent housing
at no more than 25% of their incomes. We support the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s call for a Federal
Housing Trust Fund to meet this goal. It would be funded at $15-30 billion annually for the next 5-10 years and
allocated to state and local entities to carry out eligible housing activities, including rental and home ownership
assistance, fair housing enforcement, and the building and renovation of affordable units, including public housing,
cooperative housing, and owner-occupied houses, especially by non-profit community-based organizations. Pay for
this program by capping the federal tax deductions for mortgage interest, capital gains, and local property taxes for
the wealthiest 20%, who receive 75% of these homeowner tax breaks (over $100 billion a year).
The profit-oriented private housing market has never provided affordable housing for all. We support measures to
replace private speculative ownership of land and housing for profit with social ownership (public, limited-equity
cooperative, and limited-equity household) under tenant control, with security of tenure and equity assured, but with
resale for speculative profit prohibited. Public funding of housing construction should go only to nonprofit builders.
Public capital grants should replace debt financing to reduce public housing costs.
Education: Provide free, quality public education from preschool through graduate school at public institutions. Use
federal revenue sharing to equalize funding of public schools.
Domestic Marshall Plan to Save Our Cities: We favor a $50 billion a year Domestic Marshall Plan, as proposed
by the National Urban League, that would target education, job training and job creation, housing, mass transit, and
business development at the core poverty areas of the nation’s 100 or so largest cities.
PROGRESSIVE AND ECOLOGICAL TAX REFORM
Taxes should be scaled to ability to pay through progressive, graduated rates that place low taxes on low income
people and higher taxes on higher income people. Taxes should also encourage the conservation and restoration of the
natural environment, the ecological capital that is the foundation of the human economy.
The Greens thus support two tax shifts: from regressive payroll, sales, and excise taxes to (1) progressive income
and wealth taxes and (2) ecological taxes on pollution, resource extraction, harmful products, and the use of our
common wealth of natural capital (land sites according to land value; timber and grazing lands; ocean and freshwater
resources, oil and minerals, electromagnetic spectrum, satellite orbital zones).
The federal tax system is the nation’s biggest welfare system. In 1995, special tax breaks cost $456 billion. Most
of these tax breaks went to rich individuals and corporations. Corporations got another $86 billion in direct subsidies. By
contrast, welfare for poor people (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) cost the federal government $22 billion. Yet,
to hear the politicians talk, social welfare programs are breaking the federal budget.
We favor eliminating tax loopholes. Subsidies should be on the budget, where we can scrutinize and debate
them, not hidden as subsidies to corporate special interests in an overly complex tax code.
Since 1960, the tax structure has become less progressive. In the early 1960s, there were the first of many
capital gains tax cuts. Then corporate income tax rates were cut. Then tax rates on personal income taxes for the
highest tax brackets were cut. Then regressive payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare were raised dramatically
in the early 1980s, while tax rates for the rich were cut once again. Today, the federal tax structure is less progressive
than it has ever been. We favor restructuring the federal tax structure so that it is progressive, with higher rates for high-
income people than for low income people.
Another serious problem with the existing tax structure is tax rate competition among states and localities. It has a
virtual civil war between states and localities offering tax breaks, subsidies, and other government favors to lure
corporate investment into their jurisdictions. Instead of corporations competing for customers, we have states and cities
competing for corporations. In addition, unfunded federal spending mandates force local governments to raise
regressive property and sales taxes, further shifting the costs of government on to middle and low income people. To
remedy these problems, we favor centralized collection of most taxes by the federal government, combined with revenue
sharing with Community Assemblies, municipalities, counties, and states where decentralized administration of
government services is rendered more democratic and accountable.
The Greens propose:
Income Tax Simplicity and Progressivity: Enact a no-loopholes, graduated personal income tax with equal
taxation of all income, regardless of source. Provide an income tax credit for each dependent to replace and fully
compensate for the current exemptions and deductions that benefit to the average taxpayer, such as the home
mortgage deduction and medical deductions.
Universal Social Security: A Basic Income Above the Poverty Line for All: Build into the progressive income tax
a guaranteed minimum income that maintains a modest standard of living. Everyone will receive a Basic Income
Grant, paid in monthly installments like current Social Security. However, this income will be included in the income
tax base, so that everyone will receive a basic income floor, but the cost of providing it to those who don’t need it will
be recovered through the progressive income tax. Universal Social Security will combine entitlement universalism with
tax universalism, thus ending the political isolation of means-tested programs and the fiscal irresponsibility of
entitlement universalism regardless of need. Universal Social Security would replace the existing Social Security
system and the stingy, punitive, and intrusive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.
Maximum Income: Build into the progressive income tax a 100% tax on all income, regardless of source, over ten
times the minimum wage. With this Ten Times Rule in effect under today’s extremely unequal distribution of income in
the U.S., a 100% tax on income above ten times the minimum wage would allow us to cut the income taxes of
everyone in the bottom 99%, by over half for the top brackets, by over three-quarters in the middle brackets, and
totally for the lower brackets—and still generate abo9ut 40% more tax revenues than under the current income tax
Ecological Taxes: Phase in ecological taxes on pollution, resource extraction, harmful products, and the use of our
common wealth of natural capital (land sites according to land value; timber and grazing lands; ocean and freshwater
resources, oil and minerals, electromagnetic spectrum, satellite orbital zones). Ecological taxes will price socially and
ecologically damaging production practices and products at their true social and ecological costs. These taxes would
steer the economy away from damaging production practices and products and encourage ecologically benign
substitute technologies and products to enter the market. Products that might have Eco-Taxes added on to their price
include gasoline, pesticides, household and lawn chemicals, air conditioners, jet travel, and disposable products. Eco-
Taxes would be revenue neutral, with the revenues received dedicated to subsidizing the development of ecological
production and products.
End Corporate Welfare: Take the Rich Off Welfare: Eliminate loopholes in the personal income tax such as
accelerated depreciation, special capital gains treatment, and home mortgage deductions for mansions and second
homes. Replace existing hidden off-budget subsidies in the form of tax breaks on corporate income taxes with direct
on-budget subsidies if they serve a vital national interest, such as building low-income housing and developing of
worker and community-owned cooperatives. Off-budget tax-break subsidies should not be used as economic
incentives. Incentives to the private sector should be direct grants, subsidies that are scrutinized as part of a regular
budgetary review process, not covertly distributed by an arcane tax code.
Eliminate Regressive Payroll Taxes: Finance increased social security and health care benefits through
progressive income taxes instead of regressive payroll taxes.
Progressive Taxes on Corporate Revenues and Assets: Since the 1960, corporate income taxes have been cut
repeatedly. The share of federal revenues from corporate income taxes has declined from about one-fourth in 1960 to
about one-eighth today. The effective corporate tax rate declined from around 49% in 1950 to 26% by 1995 due to the
many loopholes and complexities in the tax code. Corporations should pay their fair share. The Greens propose to
replace the corporate income tax with progressive taxes on corporate revenues and assets. The a no-loopholes
revenue tax would be far simpler to pay and administer than the income tax based on corporate profits, which can be
manipulated and hidden in complicated accounting practices. A progressive revenue tax of 5% for businesses with
sales less than $500 million and 10% for business with sales over $500 million would raise enough taxes today to
bring the corporate share back to its level in 1950. Retail businesses, with high expenses for inventories, should be
taxed on net revenues (gross revenues minus cost of inventories). The progressive tax on assets would discourage
mergers and acquisitions and encourage more humanly scaled enterprises.
Wealth Tax: Enact a steeply progressive tax on net wealth over $2.5 million (the top 5% of households).
Inheritance Tax: Replace the loophole-ridden estate tax with a no-loopholes, progressive inheritance tax on
inheritances over $1 million.
Stock and Bond Transfer Tax: Encourage a shift from speculative to productive investments through a federal
stock and bond transfer tax on all securities transactions.
Currency Speculation Tax: International currency speculation sabotages domestic policy by affecting the value of
the dollar. It diverts firms from using their capital productively and increases international monetary instability.
Currencies should trade hands to finance real economic activity, not reap instant windfall profits. The U.S. should
support an internationally uniform tax on currency conversion to discourage speculation. Revenues from the currency
speculation tax should be channeled through international agencies into ecologically sustainable, democratically
controlled development in poor countries.
Fiscal Federalism: Revenue Sharing and State and Local Tax Relief: The federal government should be the
principal source of tax-revenue collection in order to avoid tax rate competition among jurisdictions and in order to
overcome the disparities in tax-base potential among jurisdictions. A federal system of revenue sharing and fiscal
federalism should be established which combines centralized tax collection (to discourage tax rate competition) with
decentralized administration (to maximize local democracy and accountability). The federal government would fund all
federal mandates and, in addition, make substantial block grants to states, counties, municipalities, and citizen
assemblies on a per capita basis, with a supplementary adjustment (like the financial-equalization entitlements of the
Canadian system of revenue sharing). The supplementary adjustment would equalize the revenue capacity among
richer and poorer jurisdictions, so that all jurisdictions have sufficient resources to provide reasonably comparable
public services at reasonably comparable levels of taxation. States, counties, municipalities, and Community
Assemblies would be free to add their own taxes, but all would have a floor of revenue from the federal government
enabling them to provide tax relief from regressive state and local sales, excise, and property taxes.
Peace Tax Fund: Until there is complete and general disarmament, we support the U.S. Peace Tax Fund proposal,
which would allow citizens to direct their tax payments away from funding the military in a manner analogous to
provisions for conscientious objection to military service.
Failures of the Capitalist Economic System
Today we face fundamental economic problems that flow from capitalism’s basic structure of competition for
private profits and growth.
Corporate Globalization: Global corporations have concentrated ownership and national states under their
domination have deregulated capital flows. As a result, capital has become highly mobile due to corporate restructuring
aided by new technologies of transportation and communication. Global corporations can now shift money and
production virtually instantaneously to outflank people in one part of the world when they organize to assert their rights.
This situation is pitting the people of one country against those of another as their governments compete for corporate
investment by offering tax holidays, anti-union measures, and environmental regulation abatements.
Economic Polarization: While the technological revolution in microelectronics and automation is radically
increasing productivity, the gains in productivity are accruing almost solely to the wealthy elite. Meanwhile, higher
productivity under the control of global corporations is creating structural unemployment as the demand for labor is
radically reduced. Instead of the higher pay and increased free time for workers if work and productivity gains were
shared equitably, we have a society becoming sharply divided between securely employed technicians and production
workers and a growing mass of underemployed, poorly paid, marginalized service workers.
Ecological Destruction: The ecological costs of this technological revolution cannot be separated from the
social devastation it is creating. Massive ecological devastation is consuming the "biological capital" on which the
economy and human life are based. As long as competition for profits and growth is the regulatory mechanism of our
economy, competition will force corporate and state enterprises, as a matter of profitability and survival, to grow or die
and to externalize production costs as much as possible onto the environment.
Green Economics: Democratic, Ecological, and Feminist
We call for a new democratic economic system that utilizes ecological means of production and feminist modes
of distribution. It must be ecological and sustain people across the generations by having proper regard for the
ecological capital of nature that is the foundation of the human economy. It must be feminist and liberate women from
the double shift of household work in addition to a paid job by providing economic support for the work of child rearing
and household maintenance. We call this new economic system Economic Democracy because its prerequisite is the
democratic power to choose ecological and feminist means of livelihood and ways of life.
Rejecting all simplistic dogma as to either private or public ownership of productive wealth, Greens take a
pragmatic approach that recognizes the need for diverse forms of enterprise and ownership to deal with diverse
circumstances and the centrality of goods and services provided by households, voluntary associations, and
ecosystems as well as by private and public enterprises.
Greens support democratic self-management in all five of the economic sectors—private, public, domestic,
associative, and ecological—that Green economics values.
The Private Sector: Greens support a maximum of free initiative for individuals, small companies, and
cooperatives, enabling all people to earn a decent living in useful, meaningful vocations within a democratically
regulated economy that meets human needs and sustains the environment. We support private enterprises that are
democratic, especially cooperatives.
The Public Sector: Greens also envision a much stronger sector of public enterprises in certain industries—not
centralized, bureaucratic nationalization of industries, but a decentralized, democratic municipalization of certain
industries and services. Where a larger-than-municipal scale is required, we call for the confederation of municipalities
to share ownership of enterprises regionally and for the formation of grassroots democratic structures to perform
planning and coordination functions at the national and international scales.
We thus envision a formal economy based on a mix of enterprise and ownership forms: cooperatives, democratic
and decentralized public enterprises, and individual and household small businesses. All three enterprise forms will be
large in terms of the numbers of people working in them. In terms of assets, we envision a large public sector, a large
cooperative sector, and a smaller sector of small businesses. The enterprise form we advocate varies by industry. Our
aim is to support the most appropriate form rather than deciding abstractly that one form fits all circumstances.
We further envision an “informal economy” of three other economic sectors which have been invisible to capitalist
and statist economies. The value and centrality of these sectors should recognized and supported.
The Domestic Sector of household provision by (mostly) women of such goods and services as child rearing,
cooking, and cleaning should be values and supported by such public policies as a guaranteed adequate income and
cultural changes that democratize and share domestic tasks equitably between men and women.
The Associative Sector, sometimes called “non-governmental,” “non-profit,” or “third sector”, is comprised
voluntary associations that are formed primarily for solidaristic rather than pecuniary reasons. They provide many goods
and services that the Private, Public, and Domestic sectors fail to provide and should be supported by such public
polices as a guaranteed adequate income and exemption from corporate income taxes. Greens support democratic
associations over top-down institutions controlled by self-perpetuating boards.
The Ecological Sector of environmental resources and services are provided by natural ecosystems. They are
the foundation of human economies and essential for the continuance of human life. The Earth and its natural systems
are our common inheritance, the product of billions of years of natural evolution, not human labor. As such, they should
not be privately owned. They should be respected, cared for, and used in accordance with principles of ecological
sustainability and restoration. All concepts of ownership of land and natural resources should be provisional and subject
to collective democratic stewardship.
We regard this democratic economic vision as an alternative to both the capitalist and the statist economic
systems prevailing in the world today.
The capitalist system is based on a competitive struggle to exploit people and nature for private profits and
growth. We reject this system because it creates a dynamic of endless growth that is ecologically suicidal and breeds
greed and domination in society.
We also reject the statist bureaucratic command economies, such as those which once dominated Eastern
Europe, because they place centralized power in the hands of state elites who have likewise exploited people and
nature for military-industrial expansion in competition with the capitalist countries.
Today our economy entails nearly total domination by giant capitalist corporations. This corporate sector has
failed to meet the basic needs of millions and has consistently abused the environment. Our vision of Economic
Democracy promotes alternative economic structures to capitalist corporations that put human needs before profits, are
internally democratic, and are democratically accountable to the communities in which they function.
Among the goals Greens seek to realize in a democratic economy are:
to align our economic systems with natural ecosystems in a sustainable way that does not degrade or deplete the
to supply an ecologically sustainable level of food, shelter, health services, and education to meet the basic
economic needs of each person on the planet;
to replace alienation from economic processes that are beyond democratic control with participation in collective
economic decisions, meaningful and useful work,
to translate increased labor and resource productivity into materially sufficient incomes and increased free time for
to eliminate exploitation and oppression in economic structures with full payment for labor and workplace
to eliminate harassment, unequal opportunity for advancement, hierarchical divisions of labor, and pay differentials
based on sex, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and physical or mental abilities;
to decentralize and regionalize economic activity through local self-reliance in democratically accountable
to reverse the accelerating concentration of wealth locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally;
to develop systems of ethical social and ecological audits and accounting that evaluate all goods and services on a
"true-cost" basis, including their labor time, resource extraction, manufacture, processing, marketing, durability, and
to incorporate these true costs into the cost-accounting of local, state, and national businesses, governments, and
to produce goods that are durable, repairable, reusable, recyclable, energy-efficient, resource-efficient, and non-
toxic, using both nontoxic materials and nonpolluting production methods;
to encourage and reward ecological and socially responsible businesses and financial institutions, promoting
to provide material support for households and families in such areas as basic income, child care, leaves of
absence, and short-time work;
to restructure our patterns of income distribution with basic income guarantees to support the value and wealth
created by those outside the formal monetary economy, including parents, housekeepers, and community volunteers;
to promote these goals globally in a cooperative manner.
Economic Democracy requires a restructuring and balancing of three types of property rights:
1. The Common Property Rights of Individuals—These rights cover the rights of individuals to not be excluded
from the use of designated resources. The individual members of all households should have the right to essential
public services, including basic income, education, health care, child care, and the right to earn a living in a useful job
for those willing and able to work. All individuals should also have the right to a clean environment: clean air, clean
water, food and other products free from toxics. These rights are covered in the Economic Bill of Rights we propose.
Enacting these rights fulfills the feminist economic principles Greens uphold because it supports household
production, which is overwhelmingly contributed by women. Studies show if the contributions of household production in
industrial countries today – the child care, cooking, cleaning, and so forth – were bought on the market, it would take
income that is well over double the average full-time worker’s pay. That means that of the total value at the disposal of
the average household, paid work outside the home accounts for less than one-third and women’s unpaid work inside
the household accounts for more than two-thirds. Women (in most households) are working a double shift – one a job in
the labor market which is paid and another in the home which is not supported today by society. A Green economy will
support the household contribution through a guaranteed adequate income and other social provision of key public
The common property rights of individuals embodied in the Economic Bill of Rights also include the right to enjoy
a safe and sustainable environment. When enterprises, be they privately or publicly owned, poison and deplete the
environment, they are violating the common property rights of individuals. A Green economy must require enterprises to
interact with the environment in a safe and sustainable manner and pay for the repair of any ecological damage they
2. The Individual Property Rights of Individuals—These rights cover the right of individuals to be secure in
their personal effects, the personal property they use—their clothing, appliances, homes, vehicles, and so forth.
The individual property rights of individuals also covers their labor rights. Coupled to their common property right
to earn a living, their right to a job, should be their individual rights to receive the full value of their labor (non-
exploitation), the right to participate in the governance of the enterprise in which they work (workplace democracy), and
the right dispose of the value of their labor as they see fit (consumer choice). The right to receive the full proceeds of
one’s labor and to participate in workplace governance requires replacing capitalist forms with cooperative forms of
enterprise. The right to freely dispose of the value of one’s labor means market allocation of consumer goods and
services that are not provided freely by the public sector, such as health care and education.
The individual property rights of individuals also covers the right to exclude others from the use of their self-
earned productive resources—their small businesses and farmsteads. The Greens support individual ownership of small
businesses, subject to democratic regulation, as a welcome source of innovation, diversity, and economic
independence. Capitalism, with its relentless predatory drive to centralize ownership and increase scale, is taking over,
crowding out, and destroying small businesses based on the self-earned property of owner-operators. A Green economy
will protect small businesses from predatory capitalism.
These individual property rights are not absolute, but must be balanced with common property rights. Small
businesses cannot violate the common property rights of individuals to a clean environment, for example. A portion of
individual’s income from labor must be taxed to fund common property rights to key public services like health care and
education. How these balances are struck should be determined democratically.
3. The Collective Property Rights of Enterprises—Larger scale enterprises are inherently collective
enterprises, whether owned by capitalist firms, cooperatives, or governments. Collective property rights give enterprises
the right to exclusive use of their means of production, subject to democratic regulation. Large-scale production of
certain goods and services can only be done effectively if certain people have the right to use those means of
In this area of collective property rights, the Greens seek a thorough going democratization. We look to phase out
capitalist corporations where owners exploit the labor of workers. In particular, we want to phase out the absentee-
owned, publicly-traded corporation which dominates the economy today. This form of enterprise promotes social
irresponsibility through its very structure, which is driven by the need of finance capital for quick returns regardless of the
long-term consequences of the enterprise, its workers, its community, and the environment.
In the place of capitalist corporations, we want to promote two alternatives: (1) cooperatives controlled by the
workers and/or consumers that use them and (2) decentralized, democratic public enterprises that are really
accountable to their public owners, the citizens.
Democratic public enterprise means not only converting some private firms to public ownership, but first of all
means democratizing the public enterprises already owned by government: the many housing, transportation, energy,
and other “authorities” and corporations. Too often these operate as examples of “lemon socialism” where the
government operates a needed enterprise like rail transportation that private enterprise cannot make profits on. In other
cases, taxpayers also subsidize public enterprises that in turn subsidize private corporations, for example, where energy
authorities provide corporate welfare in the form of cheaper power than the average household or small business pays.
While many of these enterprises should be publicly owned and operated at a loss to serve the public interest, public
enterprise should not be confined to these money losing areas. Public enterprise should also include money making
enterprises that generate revenues for public services.
In place of the authoritarian structures of most corporations today, whether privately or public owned, we call for
democratic structures. In the public sector, this means boards elected by enterprise workers and by the public. In the
private sector, it means cooperatives where membership shares are not commodities traded in capital markets, but
inalienable individual property rights. In contrast to the capitalist firm, where net income is distributed according to
ownership share, in a cooperative, net income is distributed according to the contribution (labor in a worker-owned
cooperative, purchases in a consumer-owned cooperative, deposits in a credit union, product in a marketing
cooperative, and so forth). Also in contrast to the capitalist firm where voting rights are distributed according to the
plutocratic principle of capital (one dollar, one vote), in a cooperative voting rights are based the democratic principle of
one person, one vote.
Allocation of Economic Resources
Just as Greens reject all simplistic dogma regarding private or public ownership of productive wealth, Greens also
reject dogma regarding market or planned allocation of resources. For Greens, it depends on what works best for a
given economic resource in terms of meeting human needs and sustaining the environment. It also means what works
today as a next step toward a more democratic, ecological, and feminist economy may be inadequate at a later date.
How resources are best allocated is something that should always be subject to democratic revision.
As a general rule in terms of immediate steps, at one end of the spectrum, Greens want to move labor, land
(nature), and capital out of the market and, at the other end, keep producer and consumer goods and services allocated
Where markets are used, the Greens support fair markets where income is widely distributed so demand is not
distorted by the concentration of money in the hands of the rich and where there are many producers so supply is not
distorted by oligopoly.
Where planning is used, the Greens support democratic planning by bodies accountable to the affected people,
not top-down planning by autocrats. With the top 500 corporations controlling nearly 90% of productive assets in the US,
it is not a question of whether we have economic planning in our society, but of who does the planning.
Labor: Greens regard wage labor to be as deserving of abolition as slavery and serfdom. To subject the ability of
individuals to get a job to the whims of the labor market is to fail to secure their common property right to earn a living.
To subject their right to earn a living to a wage labor relation where owners appropriate a major portion of the fruits of
one’s labor is to legalize theft.
Greens support the decommodification of labor by phasing out labor markets and replacing them with free
association to allocate labor and income from labor. Free association would include worker cooperatives, public
enterprises, small business self-employment, and non-profit organizations.
In worker cooperatives, people collectively employ themselves by mutual agreement. They have a right to a share
of the net income in proportion to their labor contribution and a right to participate in governing the work community of
the enterprise on the basis of one person, one vote.
While each worker cooperative is not obligated to employ every person who applies for membership, every
worker should have the right to work for a living in the private sector (cooperatives, non-profit organizations, or self-
employment) or public sector. That right should be secured by government employment in public works and community
services if jobs are not available in the private sector. At the same time, public enterprises and agencies should not be
obligated to pay for non-performance on the job. Free association also means freedom to disassociate for good cause.
Another aspect of the allocation of labor and income from labor is pay scales. Income distribution is all out of
proportion to productive contribution in the US. The average Fortune 500 CEO made 475 times more than the average
worker, compared to 42 times as much in 1980. As an immediate step, the Greens advocate a maximum pay differential
of 10 to 1. In the long run, the Greens support moving to an egalitarian pay system of labor certificates based on hours
of labor contributed. Each worker would receive back from society exactly the share of labor they contributed to total
social production. These certificates would be non-transferable and would expire when used to purchase goods and
services. Like money, they would serve as a unit of account and means of payment. But unlike money they would not
serve as a transferable store of value that could accumulate in a few hands as concentrated wealth and power.
As a transitional step toward an egalitarian pay system that credits people with hours worked instead of money,
government should begin recording and publishing the current and dated labor time required to produce different goods
and services. Labor time accounting will establish the average labor time required of each product. These labor values
will serve as shadow prices against which to judge the fairness of pay scales and goods and services on the market.
Further steps could be distributing Basic Income Grants in a Universal Social Security system as labor vouchers
and paying people working in public employment with labor vouchers. Retailers receiving payment in labor vouchers
would receive money for them, similar to the redemption of food stamps today.
Land: The classic justification of private property is that people should be entitled to enjoy the fruits of their own
labor. Land, natural resources, and the ecological systems of the Earth are the product of billions of years of evolution,
not human labor. As such they should not be privately owned, but their use should be democratically planned.
Democratic planning does not preclude the security of tenure on the land we associate with private land ownership and
the right to own improvements on the land, nor does it preclude the extraction of natural resources by private
enterprises. Democratic planning of the use of nature can be effected by a variety of means: ecological taxes that price
resource extraction at its true costs to protect those resources; land value taxation that returns unearned income from
ground rent back to society; zoning and other land use planning guidelines; and laws that phase out and ban toxic
chemicals in production.
Capital: Greens support the abolition of markets in transferable corporate property rights and their replacement
by democratic means of controlling capital. In private sector cooperatives and self-employed small business people, this
means non-salable personal membership rights to participate in the democratic self-government of the work community
and to receive net income from their enterprise in proportion to their labor contribution. In private sector credit unions,
worker-controlled pension funds, and policy-holder insurance cooperatives, as well as public sector budgets, community
banks, and investment boards, this means non-salable membership or citizenship rights to participate, or elect
representatives to participate, in decisions regarding the allocation of investments.
In theory, capitalists risk losing their wealth they invest in productive enterprises and they should be rewarded for
their risks with profits. In practice, most of this risk is socialized.
Hundreds of billions of dollars a year in corporate welfare in the form of tax abatements, infrastructure
investments, loan guarantees, preferential contracts, and direct grants means the public assumes much of the risk.
When corporations down size, close plants, and move production, it is the communities left behind who pay the
When Big Business goes bankrupt, society cannot afford to let them fail and government bails them out:
Lockheed, Penn Central, Chrysler, the savings and loan industry, the big banks’ investments in Latin America, Asia, and
Russia, among many other major bailouts in the last 30 years.
When corporate managements are driven by absentee-owned finance capital to make decisions to promote
short-term financial returns at the expense of the long-term viability of the enterprise, as well as externalized social and
ecological costs, it is workers, communities, and the environment that absorb the long-term costs.
Even most of the private money invested does not orignate from capitalists’ but comes from the workers, either
from their savings or from profits appropriated from workers’ labor. Workers’ savings in bank deposits and insurance
and pension funds is the major source of investment funds in the US economy.
We also need to be clear that most so-called capital markets are giant gambling casinos where investors bet on
the future value of financial securities and rearrange and concentrate ownership of productive assets. They are not
efficient or rational means of raising and allocating fresh capital. Between 1989 and 1996, US corporations retired $700
billion more in stock than they issued.
In short, we have a system of capital markets where the risks and losses are socialized, but the profits remain
private and ownership is being progressively concentrated.
Since most investment funds come from the labor and savings of ordinary people in the first place, either from
profits or savings in banks and insurance and pension funds, it is only fair that ordinary people should share both the
risks and enjoy the benefits that productive investments produce through democratic social control of investment.
Insurance is a means of socializing risk. A democratic investment process should be seen as a type of social
insurance system that socializes both the risks and rewards of social investments.
A democratic investment system should be democratically coordinated and decentralized as well. It should
incorporate national planning of basic economic objectives and also have a multiplicity of sources of democratically-
controlled investment from which enterprises can seek financing. These sources would include publicly-owned
community banks, a democratically restructured Federal Reserve System, credit unions, worker-controlled of pension
funds, and policyholder-controlled insurance cooperatives.
Enterprises themselves should remain free to reinvest their earnings where they see money making
opportunities. But socially planned investments need to cover two additional areas that are neglected under the current
system of capital markets: marginally profitable but socially useful enterprises (e.g., rail transportation) and the free
provision of public goods and services, such as education, health care, and infrastructure.
Producer and Consumer Goods: When most of us think of markets, we think of the goods and services we
purchase. In the democratic economic system that Greens envision, these markets would continue with reforms to make
them fairer: more equal income distribution, more anti-trust enforcement, more prosecution of corporate fraud and
negligence, more consumer organization and education.
In the longer run, when a more egalitarian system of labor time prices replaces money prices, consumer choice
will remain but the market as a system of commodity exchanges will be replace by a system of equal labor exchanges.
As the economy becomes more productive in terms of both labor and natural resources, and as scarcity in relation to
rational needs is reduced, progressively more and more goods and services should be distributed free instead of
rationed by money or labor voucher demand. As the work week is reduced with increased labor and resource
productivity, people will have the freedom to engage in informal household and community production and distribution,
those areas of life which the market has been colonizing for the past few centuries. People will be free and secure
enough to take the time to craft artful goods and services for their own sake, for creative expression, for pleasure, and
for social solidarity. Ultimately we envision a fully free economy where voluntary production and free consumption are a
natural and normal aspect of living in self-governing ecological communities and bioregions.
Workplace Democracy and the Division of Labor
Economic democracy means democracy in the workplace as well as democratic decisions about general
economic policies. Real democracy in the workplace means not only the right of every worker to vote in workers
assemblies on enterprise policy decisions and the election of committees and boards, but also the right to take on
comparably fulfilling responsibilities in their jobs. Occupational hierarchies based on specialized skills and conceptual
tasks as opposed to routine tasks should be replaced with diverse job responsibilities that enable everyone to take on
an equal mix of routine and creative tasks. Because different workplaces have different opportunities for routine and
creative work, rotation between workplaces in a community as well as among tasks within a given workplace should be
organized to so every worker has equal job complexes.
Developing equal job responsibilities does not mean everyone will spend time doing brain surgery. No one should
be put in the position of doing a task they cannot handle competently for whatever reason. It does mean that everyone
will have the opportunity to develop and contribute specialized skills and everyone will have the obligation to do their fair
share of the routine work.
Direct Action for Economic Democracy
Greens support direct action now in experiments to begin creating alternatives even before the public policies we
advocate have majority support and can be implemented. We support direct action to create the decentralized,
democratic, cooperative, ecological, and feminist economic alternatives.
Direct action for Economic Democracy that we support includes but is not limited to:
boycotting socially and ecologically destructive businesses;
organizing labor unions;
supporting rank-and-file movements for democracy in existing unions,
organizing international labor networks for coordinated struggle against the international power of capital;
organizing consumer unions to act on behalf of consumers in dealing with large industries such as electric, gas,
telephone, and cable utilities, banks and savings and loans, and broadcast media;
organizing consumer and worker cooperatives;
forming community land trusts to broaden access to land and reduce land speculation;
encouraging ecologically sound personal life-styles;
organizing cooperative banks and credit unions;
organizing community-controlled economic development corporations;
organizing local currencies and barter systems to increase the local circulation of value;
supporting investment instruments that use social and ecological as well as financial criteria;
supporting efforts to gain worker control over pension funds;
encouraging war tax resistance.
Greens see these experiments and alternatives as part of the struggle to win new public economic policies that
transform the economy. We do not see these alternatives as a substitute for changing public policy.
Labor and consumer unions, important as they are, tend to be more defensive than transformative.
We know that food co-ops, credit unions, community land trust, and loan funds are not by themselves going to
displace giant agribusiness marketers, supermarket chains, the big banks, and the predatory real estate industry. We
recognize the limits of alternative enterprises within a capitalist economy. Enormous effort and energy has gone into the
wave of co-ops and community economic development initiatives coming out of the 1960s. But they have had very little
impact on any significant economic scale. For example, by 1995, Community Development Loan Funds accounted for
only $108 million in loans and $208 million in assets nationwide, compared to total value for land, buildings, and other
tangible assets in the US of nearly $20 trillion. Over the previous ten years, the jobs they created accounted for only two
days of normal job growth in the US economy. Their housing production accounted for only ten days of normal housing
But these small numbers do not tell the whole story. These experiments teach their participants lessons in
organizing and democracy. They create living examples of economic democracy which demonstrate that democratic
economic alternatives work. In these ways, they help build the movement to transform public policies in ways far beyond
their economic scale.
Economic and environmental policy should be integrated to promote a transition to an ecologically sustainable
economy that is based on the sustainable input of renewable energy and resources and on the discharge of
biodegradable, non-toxic wastes that can be reabsorbed by natural ecosystems on a sustainable basis. The first steps
toward an ecologically sustainable economy require reforms in economic accounting, taxes, resource extraction, and
Ecological Accounting: Incorporate into national economic accounting, statistics, and indicators the valuation of
natural capital as well as financial, physical, and human capital.
Depletion Quotas: On the basis of natural resource accounting in the national economic accounts, set quotas to
limit resource extraction, aiming to use non-renewable resources as a bridge to make the transition to the sustainable
use of a renewable resource base.
Ecological Taxes: Phase in ecological taxes on pollution, resource extraction, harmful products, and the use of our
common wealth of natural capital (land sites according to land value; timber and grazing lands; ocean and freshwater
resources, oil and minerals, electromagnetic spectrum, satellite orbital zones). Ecological taxes will price socially and
ecologically damaging production practices and products at their true social and ecological costs. These taxes would
steer the economy away from damaging production practices and products and encourage ecologically benign
substitute technologies and products to enter the market. Products that might have Eco-Taxes added on to their price
include gasoline, pesticides, household and lawn chemicals, air conditioners, jet travel, and disposable products. Eco-
Taxes would be revenue neutral, with the revenues received dedicated to subsidizing the development of ecological
production and products.
Democratic Economic Planning
A Public Planning Administration—Create a Public Planning Administration in the executive branch to provide
cost and investment subsidies to enterprises that promote key policy objectives, including high-wage employment,
worker and community ownership, conversion to ecological technologies, and urban reconstruction. The U.S. Census
Bureau would expand its annual Current Population Survey to provide an annual needs inventory to help the Public
Planning Administration gear production subsidies to popular needs.
Price Stability Incentives—Full employment at decent wages for all will enhance productivity and will lead to fuller
utilization of the economy’s productive capacity. Higher productivity and capacity utilization will generate lower unit-
costs and larger supplies and hence downward pressure on prices. However, at the same time, higher levels of
demand for labor and for products will generate upward pressure on prices. To maintain price stability, we call for a
permanent program of government price stabilization. Unlike traditional direct price controls, we call for a flexible
program utilizing tax disincentives assessed on price increases above a target level of price stability. A federal Office
of Price Information would collect quarterly data on the unit prices of each corporation’s products. If a corporation’s
unit prices increased more than 2% per year, it would be assessed a price-stability excise tax of 50% of the increase
above the 2% target. Revenues from this tax would go to a price-stability investment fund in the Public Planning
Administration, which would allocate cost and investment subsidies to industries squeezed by cost increases outside
their industries. The Office of Price Information would also review the unit costs in each industry every four years (on a
rotating basis) and make adjustments in unit prices as warranted to adjust for the differential costs of inputs and gains
in productivity among different industries. Rather than the government directly planning prices, firms set their own
prices within the framework of tax disincentives against excessive price increases. Price stability incentives are a
more effective and humane way to keep inflation at bay than either the recessions and unemployment deliberately
engineered by the Federal Reserve’s high interest rates or the bureaucracy and bottlenecks that develop with direct
central government administration of prices.
Corporations are not sufficiently accountable to either their shareholders or their other stakeholders: workers,
customers, suppliers, and communities in which they operate. We call for a comprehensive Corporate Democracy Act,
which would include the following provisions:
Boards of Directors Elected by All Stakeholder Groups: Different stakeholder groups would elect
representatives to the board, including shareholders, workers, and representatives of the appropriate level of
government (municipal or county for local corporations, state for corporations operating statewide, federal for
Eliminate Corporate Personhood: Legislation or constitutional amendment to end the legal fiction of corporate
personhood.Eliminate Corporate Personhood Legislation or constitutional amendment to end the legal fiction of
End Corporate Limited Liability: Make corporate shareholders to bear the same liabilities as other property
Increased Civil and Criminal Liability for Corporate Managers: End the ability of white collar criminals to hide
behind the limited liability of corporations. Change the legal fiction of the corporation as person to create appropriate
liability for white collar corporate criminals.
Federal Chartering of Interstate Corporations: Interstate corporations should be chartered federally instead of by
states which bid against each other to create the most lax laws to attract investment. Corporations chartered by the
government have a responsibility to live up to the conditions of their charters. Government should be willing to pull the
charters of corporations that repeatedly violate labor, environmental, tax, or other laws.
Periodic Review of Corporate Charters: A public corporate charter review process for each corporation above
$20 million in assets every 20 years to see if it is serving the public interest according to social and ecological as well
as financial criteria.
Strengthen Anti-Trust Enforcement: Require breakup of any firm with more than 10% market share unless it
makes a compelling case every five years in a public regulatory proceeding that it serves the public interest to keep
the firm intact.
Consumer Unions—Require that all corporations that are legal monopolies (electric, gas, telephone, cable) or
subsidized or subsidizable corporations (including banks and savings and loans) to include periodic inserts in bills that
enable consumers to join consumer action groups to act as a watchdog and advocate and negotiate on behalf of
consumers. A similar consumer action group should be established for public airwaves through a dues check-off
system in income tax forms.
Ownership of certain large and key industries and resources must be democratized as a necessary prerequisite
for effective democratic planning and investment decisions.
Full Compensation to Owners of Democratized Enterprises: Federally-financed programs to convert publicly-
traded, for-profit corporations, banks, and insurance companies into cooperatives or public enterprises owned at the
municipal and regional should fully compensate present owners through 15-20 year bonds in the same corporations,
banks, and insurance companies. Redistributive policies should be effected preferably through progressive taxes
rather than expropriations. By giving previous owners a stake in the financial success of the corporations, banks, and
insurance companies converted to democratic ownership, the threat of capital strikes and capital flight will be reduced.
Cooperative Development Fund and Regional Centers—Create a capital fund (similar to the federal home
mortgage and farm loan programs) and endow an associated regional research and technical assistance centers to
enable workers and communities to start up or buy out and convert privately-owned corporations to worker
cooperatives or public enterprises and, for retail industries like apartment buildings, supermarkets, and department
stores, to consumer cooperatives.
Democratic Conversion of Big Business: Mandatory break-up and conversion to democratic worker, consumer,
and/or public ownership on a human scale of the largest 500 US industrial and commercial corporations that account
for about 10% of employees, 50% of profits, 70% of sales, and 90% of manufacturing assets.
Democratic Conversion of Small and Medium Business: Financial and technical incentives and assistance for
voluntary conversion of the 22.5 million small and medium non-farm businesses in the US to worker or consumer
cooperatives or democratic public enterprises. Mandate that workers and the community have the first option to buy
on preferential terms in cases of plant closures, the sale or merger of significant assets, or the revocation of corporate
Democratic Banking and Insurance: Mandatory conversion of the 200 largest banks with 80% of all bank assets
into democratic publicly-owned community banks. Financial and technical incentives and assistance for voluntary
conversion of other privately-owned banks into publicly-owned community banks or consumer-owned credit unions
and insurance companies into public enterprises or policyholder-controlled cooperatives.
Natural Resources: Land, mineral resources, forests, the electromagnetic spectrum (used for communication), and
other natural resources are the product of nature's evolution, not of any one individual. As such, natural resources
should be held in common for the common good. Ensure security of tenure for homeowners and farmers using land
within a framework of democratic regulations and land value taxes that return unearned ground rent to society.
Energy Industry: We call for a public ownership of the energy industry, from the oil companies to the electric
utilities. The industry should be reorganized under a decentralized system of elected local, regional, and national
energy boards so that people have the power to decide that we should move from nuclear and fossil fuels to the
efficient use of solar-based renewable energy sources, emphasizing home-based systems.
Transportation Industry: The auto and rail corporations should be brought under democratic control through the
public energy institutions (transportation accounts for 25% of energy consumption). With democratic, public control,
people will have the power to choose to rebuild the railroads and inner-city light rails and to convert the motor vehicle
transport system from internal combustion to such nonpolluting means as electric propulsion through solar-hydrogen
Democratic Money and Credit
Restore Separation between Commercial and Investment Banking: Repeal the Financial Services
Modernization Act which eliminated the Glass-Steagal barrier between commercial and investment banking and
generally facilitates the concentration of finance capital in the hands of a small elite.
100% Reserve Requirement: Place a 100% reserve requirement on demand deposits in order to return control of
monetary policy from private bankers to elected government.
Low Interest Rates: A policy of low interest rates will benefit everyone except bankers, which is why the Federal
Reserve must taken out of the hands of private banks and placed under the democratic public control. Lower interest
will stimulate consumer spending and business investment and ease the onerous debt burdens of American farmers
and poor countries overseas.
Democratize the Federal Reserve System: Selection of Federal Reserve officers by our elected representatives,
not private bankers.
National Reinvestment Fund: Strengthen the regional development mission of the regional Federal Reserve
Banks. Establish a National Reinvestment Fund administered by the regional Federal Reserve Banks and coordinated
by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors under policy direction from Congress. The National Reinvestment Fund
would expand community reinvestment standards to the entire financial industry and make strategic investments and
loan guarantees that promote key policy objectives, including high-wage employment, worker and community
ownership, conversion to ecological technologies, and urban reconstruction. Strengthen and democratize the regional
development mission of the regional Federal Reserve Banks by electing their boards during presidential elections as
follows: three directly elected by the people in regional district elections, three elected by community development
financial institutions in the region, three elected by member financial firms in the region, and two appointed by the
Federal Reserve Board of Governors, with the regional Federal Reserve Bank presidents elected by Congress.
Worker Control of Worker Assets—Pension Funds and ESOP Shares: Pension funds representing over $5
trillion in deferred wages account for nearly one-third of financial assets in the US. Pension fund assets are greater
than all commercial bank assets combined. As the deferred income of workers, pension funds should not be
controlled by financial elites who often invest these funds in companies and projects that are anti-worker. 11 million
workers participate in employee stock-option plans (ESOPs) but in most cases financial managers control their
shares. Reform ERISA, labor laws, and ESOP tax provisions to enable workers to democratically control their assets.
Amend ERISA to require that pension funds’ worker-owners democratically elect pension-fund boards.
Progressive Fiscal Policies
The politicians’ balanced budget rhetoric during the 1990s was a cover for cutting public services. To balance
federal operating budgets without promoting further economic stagnation and cuts in public services, we call for:
progressive tax reform to eliminate corporate welfare and raise taxes on the concentrated wealth and unearned
income of the wealthiest 5%;
deep cuts in military spending, with the “peace dividend” reinvested in conversion to a peace economy based on
ecological technologies, in rebuilding the nation’s cities and infrastructure, and in funding a first-class system of public
services and social programs;
enactment of a program of full employment providing living wage jobs for all because every 1% drop in
unemployment reduces the federal deficit by $50 billion by reducing safety net expenditures and raising income tax
repeal of the so-called balanced budget deals adopted by Congress that lock the government into budgets years
ahead of the conditions in which they operate;
the separation in federal government accounting of operating and capital budgets so that budget policy is made on
the basis of the real operating surplus or deficit;
accounting for federal spending on education and health as investments in human capital in the federal capital
federal operating budgets that are balanced over the course of business cycles, with stimulatory deficits during
recessions and surpluses during expansions.
Trade should not be conducted for the profit of global corporations but for the mutual benefit of all the peoples of the
world. The Greens support creating a fair trade system where world trade is based on the exchange of equal hours of
labor. Rather than administered prices set and controlled by international cartels of global corporations, fair prices
should be paid for the labor, raw materials, and finished products of all countries. The US should pull out of the North
American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization, which are leveling down labor and environmental
standards to the lowest level. These trade agreements are increasing the international mobility of capital, causing the
loss of many US jobs, the disruption of communities, preempting local, state, and even federal measures to protect labor
and the environment at home, and abusing labor and the environment abroad. To begin to restrict the mobility of capital
we propose the use of measures such as taxes, tariffs, and public enterprise, foreign aid policies that encourage
indigenous public ownership and discourage foreign repatriation of profits, the cancellation of Third World and East
European debts, and one year advance notice of company closings, with at least one year salary compensation as
severance pay. We support the efforts of labor unions to organize internationally to counteract capital's mobility.
Social Tariffs: The Greens oppose chauvinistic protectionism as well as unregulated, corporate-managed, "free"
trade. Instead, we call for an internationalist social tariff system that establishes tariffs that equalize trade by
accounting for the differences among countries in labor productivity. World trade should be based on the exchange of
equal hours of labor. A social tariff system will use the labor values as well as difference in wages, social benefits,
environmental regulations, and democratic production conditions to establish appropriate tariffs for different countries.
Money from the tariffs will go to an international fund for financing sustainable development and democratic
production conditions in countries with lower wages, social benefits, environmental protections, and worker and
community control of production. The social tariff system would level up rather than down the wages, benefits,
regulations, and production conditions among countries. With a social tariff system in place, corporations would find
no competitive advantages in moving production to countries with lower wages, taxes, and regulations.
International Capital Flow Controls—Corporate wealth holders will resist democratic economic reforms by
moving, or threatening to move, capital overseas. The U.S. should pursue the creation of a system of internationally
negotiated controls on capital flows that require countries to return illegal capital exports. Such a system will enable
vigorous international trade without massive capital flows. Requiring that new investments be financed with locally
raised capital will restore the capacity of national monetary authorities to use interest-rate policies for economic
stability, a capacity being eroded today by massive international capital flows. To assist poor countries in need of
capital, the system governing international capital flows should combine reduced mobility for private capital with
progressive forms of international taxation (such as social tariffs to equalize international trade and a tax on currency
speculation) to fund real capital transfers from the rich to the poor countries.
Corporate America has never accepted labor unions. Since the organizing drives of the 1930s organized workers
in over 40% of factory occupations, Big Business has been on an anti-labor offensive. With the passage of the Taft-
Hartley Act of 1947, corporations succeeded in crippling labor’s ability to organize by outlawing or severely restricting
labor’s basic organizing tools: strikes, boycotts, and pickets.
The Taft-Hartley amendments to the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 …
re-instituted court injunctions against strikes,
gave the government the ability to break strikes by declaring 80-day cooling off periods,
outlawed organizational picketing,
gave employers the right to hire scabs as permanent replacements for striking workers,
banned election campaign contributions from union dues and union treasuries,
banned “secondary boycotts” making it illegal for workers to refuse to cross a picket line when they themselves
were not directly party to a labor dispute and illegal to refuse to handle “hot goods” coming from or going to a struck
forbade sympathy and solidarity strikes by one union with another where a contract was in effect,
encouraged state anti-union “right-to-work” laws which outlaw union shops where union membership is a condition
prohibited unions from expelling company spies as long as they paid their union dues, and
enabled employers to deplete union treasuries with endless litigation.
The major result of the Taft-Hartley Act was to divert unions from organizing to cautious administration of
contracts so the company could not sue the union for violating the contract. Unions began devoting most of their
resources to handling grievances through “proper channels” and defending themselves from lawsuits by corporations
with far more resources to go to court.
The Landrum-Griffith Act of 1959 tightened up the prohibitions on secondary boycotts and organizational
picketing and enabled scabs to vote in union certification or decertification elections. This latter measure encouraged
employers to break strikes and unions by hiring scabs during strikes and then having the scabs call union certification or
The Taft-Hartley Act quickly ground union organizing to a halt. Union membership peaked at 35% of the US
workforce in 1955 when the AFL and CIO merged. With the recession of the early 1970s, Big Business launched a
campaign to rollback union membership. With Democrats controlling the White House and both Houses of Congress,
organized labor pushed a Labor Law Reform Bill in 1997 that would have speeded up union certification elections and
unfair labor practice decisions by the National Labor Relations Board, certified union recognition if 55% of a bargaining
unit signed authorization cards, given union organizers greater access to employer premises, awarded back pay at time
and a half for workers discharged illegally for union activity, and provided monetary penalties for employers who refused
to bargain. It was a modest reform bill which did not touch Taft-Hartley’s “right-to-work,” secondary boycott, and
injunction provisions. But the Democrats didn’t even get it out of committee for floor votes.
Employers then went on government-backed offensive against unions and workers’ rights generally that is now
into its third decade. The right to organize unions and bargain freely has been destroyed in the US. Appointments to the
National Labor Relations Board and the courts have tilted the field of labor-management relations sharply toward
management. Employers now violate labor laws with impunity to defeat union organizing drives and bust existing unions
because the adjudication takes years and the sanctions are minimal. Today, nearly 1 in 10 workers involved in union
organizing drives is illegally fired. The proportion of the workforce in unions has declined to 14% today, and less than
10% in the private sector. Consequently, the average worker’s wage has declined 15% in the last 25 years.
The corporate elite has chosen the low road of low-wages and deregulation to make profits by exploiting cheap
labor and natural resources. The Greens favor the high road of high wages and high environmental standards to create
social wealth by raising the productivity of both labor and natural resources.
The high road of economic development pre-supposes increasing workplace democracy which is key to raising
productivity. Today, workers surrender their first amendment rights of free speech, association, and assembly when they
walk into the office, store, and factory floor.
The Greens call for a Workers’ Bill of Rights to extend democratic rights into the workplace, reforming labor laws
to restore the rights of workers to band together in democratic labor unions, strengthening the Fair Labor Standards Act
to cover all workers and insure that all workers have the opportunity to contribute to and receive from the social wealth
their labor creates, and a Workers’ Superfund to provide full income and benefits to workers displaced by the conversion
of military and polluting industries to peaceful, ecological technologies.
Workers’ Bill of Rights
Greens call for the enactment of a Workers’ Bill of Rights that establishes a set of legally enforceable civil rights,
independent of collective bargaining, which guarantees to all workers …
the right to a living wage job;
the right to portable pensions;
the right of association and assembly at the workplace;
the right of free speech at the workplace;
the right not to be discharged at will;
the right to freedom from search and seizure at the workplace;
the right to freedom from sexual harassment;
the right to equal pay for equal work or work of comparable worth;
the right to information about chemicals used in the workplace;
the right to refuse unsafe work;
the right of whistleblowers to report fraud and violations of labor and environmental standards without being
disciplined or fired;
the right to strike;
the right to engage in boycotts and secondary boycotts;
the right to form unions;
the right to speedy union elections and resolution of labor law violations by employers;
the rights of democracy in unions and worker organizations;
the right to vote on contracts;
the right to have worker representatives on corporate boards of directors.
Labor Law Reforms
The Greens call for comprehensive labor law reforms to restore the right of workers to organize unions, including the
Repeal the Taft-Hartley Act
Repeal the Landrum-Griffith Act
Repeal State “Right-To-Work” Laws
Card-Check Recognition of Unions: As in Canada, recognize union bargaining status as soon as 55% of the
workforce signs authorization cards.
Speedy Union Elections: Require that union elections be held within one month after 40% of a workforce has
signed union representation cards. Delays between card signing and union elections enable employers to mount anti-
union campaigns and defeat union drives.
Strong and Speedy Penalties for Employers Who Violate Labor Law: Employers engage in unfair labor
practices and illegal anti-union actions at will because the National Labor Relations Board is not empowered to apply
strong enough punitive sanctions to deter employer violations of labor law. The NLRB is also far too slow in making
decisions. By the time sanctions are imposed years after the violations, most of the original workforce violated is
Legalization of Minority Union Membership and Activity: Unions whose membership includes only a minority of
the workforce should still have the right to meet and advocate their positions in the workplace.
Binding Arbitration for First Contracts at Union Request: Today, half of newly recognized unions never get a
contract because employers refuse to bargain in good faith. Members of newly recognized unions must have the right
to submit a first contract to binding arbitration at the request of the union.
Labor Rights for Farmworkers: Extend all labor rights under federal labor relations, minimum wage, and fair labor
laws to farmworkers.
Full Labor Rights for Public Employees: All federal, state, and local employees must have full collective
bargaining rights. They must also have full political rights—the Hatch Act restrictions must be repealed.
Full Labor Rights for “Workfare” Workers: Workfare assignments in return for welfare checks should be
converted into public jobs at living wages with full labor rights.
Ban Prison Slave Labor: Ban the use of US prison labor for the production of goods and services for sale to the
Fair Labor Standards
The Fair Labor Standards Act should be substantially strengthened to provide a national minimum wage that is a
living wage and fairer distribution of work and income by cutting the standard workweek without reducing income.
National Living Wage of $12.50/Hour: Raise the national minimum wage to a living wage at an hourly rate
sufficient to enable one adult employed 1500 hours a year to support a family of four at a decent standard of living.
$12.50 an hour in 2000 and indexed to the cost of living in the future will bring a 30-hour per week worker $19,500 in
wages, enough to bring a family of four above the 1999 poverty line of $17,000.
30-Hour Workweek—6-Hour Day, No Cut in Pay: Cut the standard workweek to 30 hours without loss of pay or
Social Dividends: Establish a Social Dividend system to pay workers a second paycheck to enable them to receive
40 hours pay for 30 hours work. The burden paying the hours not worked will not fall on particular enterprises, but on
society as a whole through progressive taxes on income and wealth. Labor productivity has increased 33% since
1973, but average weekly wages have declined 12%. Workers should start getting their fair share of increased labor
productivity as a Social Dividend. A minimum wage worker at $12.50/hour would earn $19,500 a year in wages and
$6,500 in social dividends, for $26,000 a year, or a decent standard of living at 150% of the poverty line for a family of
Prohibit Mandatory Overtime
Double-Time Pay for All Overtime: Require double-time pay for all hours worked over a 30-hour week or an 6-
4 Weeks Paid Vacation: Require twenty days of paid vacation in addition to federal holidays.
1 Year Paid Leave for Every 7 Worked: Provide one year of paid educational leave for every seven years worked.
Right to Work Short Hours: Forbid discrimination in pay and promotion against workers who choose to work short
End Child Labor Exploitation
250 million children under the age of 16 currently serve in the world's work force. The exploitation of child labor is
growing in many newly industrializing countries, where children are frequently exposed to hazardous conditions,
subjected to mental, physical, and moral harm, and denied the opportunity for education and personal development. The
exploitation of child labor continues to exist in the United States in agriculture nationally and in sweat shops in New York
and California. Child labor not only harms children, it takes jobs away from adults. We believe no child should be denied
the opportunity for quality education and personal development. We therefore call for:
a ban on the importation of products made with child labor;
international agreements to ban trade in products made by child labor;
an amendment of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which prohibits the exploitation of children, to cover
agricultural workers; and
increases in the fines and the addition of jail sentences for employers convicted of violations of the Fair Labor
Standards Act by exploiting child labor.
A Workers’ Superfund for a Just Transition to Ecological Production
The Environmental Superfund pays for the clean-up of toxic wastes created by corporate polluters. It is effectively a
subsidy to corporations. We should also have a Workers’ Superfund to subsidize workers displaced for environmental
reasons. There must be a “Just Transition” for workers from polluting to ecological production. Paid for by taxes on
corporate polluters, create a Workers’ Superfund that guarantees income and benefit maintenance during retraining and
new jobs at comparable income for all workers displaced by conversion of industries to ecological technologies.
AFFORDABLE AND ECOLOGICAL HOUSING
UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE
GOOD PUBLIC EDUCATION AND CHILD CARE
The American family farm is the most efficient unit of agricultural production in the world, yet today our agriculture
is increasingly dominated by vertically-integrated and tightly-concentrated agribusiness corporations. This monopolistic
control of our food economy means overpriced farm production inputs, price instability for agricultural products,
exorbitant farm credit costs, overbearing family farm debt, the spread of ecologically damaging factory farming by
corporate agribusiness, and inordinate market power for a select circle of corporate agribusinesses. At the same time,
corporate agribusiness, having lobbied for special subsidies and tax breaks denied family farmers, is selling products
adulterated by synthetic chemicals and pesticides and cross-species genetic engineering. Packaging and franchising
chains sustained by expensive advertising then market these products. The family farmer is being driven from the land
by the cost-price squeeze of corporate agribusiness while the consumer pays for unnecessary corporate middlemen and
Corporate agribusiness makes less efficient use of land, capital, and labor than family farmers do. Corporate
agribusiness is just more efficient at farming the government for subsidies. We oppose the thrust of recent farm bills,
which have been phasing out 60 years of New Deal farm programs that once provided a safety net for family farmers.
We favor policies that will support family farmers, farmworkers, and sustainable agricultural practices.
The Greens support:
Fair Price Supports—Reform farm price supports to cover the full costs of production plus a living income for
family farmers and farmworker cooperatives. Farm families should receive a fair share of national income and a fair
exchange value for farm products.
End Agribusiness Subsidies—End subsidies and special tax advantages for agricultural conglomerates.
Moratorium on Family Farm Foreclosures--Enact a moratorium on family farm foreclosures and a government
program to refinance family farms on fair terms.
Technical Assistance for Family Farmers, Farmworker Cooperatives, and Sustainable Agriculture—Make the
Department of Agriculture and the land-grant college system responsive to the needs of family farmers, farmworker
cooperatives, and sustainable agriculture instead of agribusiness corporations and chemicalized agriculture.
Subsidize Farmers’ Transition to Organic Agriculture—Establish a well-funded program to subsidize family
farmers in the transition to organic farming while natural ecosystems of soil fertility and pest control are being
restored. The program should support research, development, and production of biological pest controls and organic
soil amendments. It should also support other practices and infrastructure for organic agriculture, such as diversified
land use, grazing instead of feedlots, community-supported agriculture programs, and regional food processing and
Soil, Water, and Habitat Conservation and Restoration—Establish regional farm conservation trusts that pay
farmers directly for conserving and restoring natural capital, including soil, groundwater, and habitats.
Agricultural Cooperatives—Establish a federally funded program (similar to the farm loan program) to enable
farmers and consumers to bypass the food and farm supply monopolies through cooperatives and community-
supported agriculture programs that link farmers to consumers directly without middlemen.
Integrated Regional Food Systems—Assist farmers and consumers in developing self-reliant regional food
systems based on diversified production and direct farmer-to-consumer marketing through cooperatives.
Ban Patents on Life Forms—Preserve genetic diversity and farmer access to seeds and breeds by banning
patents on life forms.
Ban Transgenic Organisms—Ban the release and use in food production of genetically engineered organisms
that splice genes from one species into another.
Ban rBGH—Reverse the decision to permit rBGH injections in cows, the Clinton administration’s shameless
capitulation to the Monsanto Corporation which developed rBGH with government grants and stands to make
hundreds of millions of dollars in publicly-subsidized profits. Ban, as Europe and Canada have done, recombinant
bovine growth hormone (rBGH) injections in cows. rBGH is bad for cows, farmers, consumers, and the environment.
Legalize Industrial Hemp—Restore the legality of hemp cultivation. Hemp is an excellent ecological source of
high-protein food; edible oil high in essential fatty acids; industrial oils for lubricants, paints, and varnishes; paper pulp;
fiber for clothing, canvass, and rope; crops for soil building and weed suppression in agricultural rotations; cosmetics;
and many more uses. Hemp should be a major source of biodegradable materials for an ecological economy. Once a
staple crop of US farmers, the US government banned the cultivation of industrial hemp in the 1930s because it is the
same species as marijuana. However, marijuana is a different variety than industrial hemp plants, which have very
small amounts of THC, the chemical that gives marijuana its narcotic effect. People cannot get high from industrial
hemp plants. One of the longest and strongest of natural fibers, hemp has some 25,000 applications. Hemp should
once again be staple crop for ecological manufacturing industries based on biodegradable, plant-based feedstocks.
Hemp cultivation is key to making agriculture a major source of raw materials for manufacturing. These new markets
for farmers will help bring farming communities out of their economic depression while hemp production contributes to
the alleviation of many environmental problems, from global deforestation to toxic pollution by petroleum-based
A New Homestead Act—Create a wider ownership of farms through a new homesteading program, with the land to
come from the break up corporate agribusiness through enforcing acreage limitations and residency requirements.
The program would enable young family farmers and farmworker cooperatives to acquire land and credit to stay or get
back on the land and would help to restore the drastic loss of farmland by African American, Latino, and Native
Labor Rights for Farmworkers—Amend the National Labor Relations Act to extend all labor rights to farmworkers.
Amend federal minimum wage laws and fair labor standards to include farmworkers.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND RESTORATION
For every organic compound produced by a living organism, there is an enzyme in the ecosystem that makes
substance biodegradable. The enzyme will break the substance down and recycling its components in the biochemistry
of life. The biosphere has evolved as a self-consistent but limited array of substances and reactions that are internally
About 150 years ago, and accelerating rapidly since World War II, industrial processes have been creating
synthetic organic chemicals that are never found in nature and are usually dangerous to the biochemistry of life. Often
they mimic natural chemicals, attaching themselves to living cells, but disrupting their normal functioning, inducing
cancer, genetic mutations, and other malfunctions and disease. These synthetic chemicals are often long-lived and
bioaccumulative, meaning they concentrate in tissues as one organism eats another up the food chain and concentrate
in certain tissues of organisms at the tops of food chains.
Environmental policy since the early 1970s has focused on Pollution Control instead of Pollution Prevention.
Pollution Control is adequate for wastes of biological origin, which are biodegradable and ecosystems can break down,
assimilate, and recycle in limited amounts. But when Pollution Control measures are applied to synthetic chemicals, they
ignore the fundamental difference between biodegradable wastes and synthetic substances that accumulate in the
environment, ecosystem food webs, and our bodies. These synthetic chemicals cannot be integetated into natural
cycles. They disrupt these cycles. Even in minute amounts, these synthetic substances build up over time in ever higher
concentrations in ecosystems and organisms.
Environmental policy must therefore move from controlling the release of synthetic pollutants to preventing their
creation in the first place. Policy must follow the Precautionary Principle that synthetic substances must prevented from
being created even where there is no evidence to prove a causal link between emissions and deleterious effect. With
tens of thousands of synthetic chemicals now used by modern industry, it would take centuries to do toxicological
studies of their effects. We already know from the few hundred that have been studied that they almost always have
harmful effects on living things. It is better to safe than sorry.
The Precautionary Principle thus reverses the onus of responsibility from the public to industry. Now industry can
use new chemicals until the public proves they are dangerous. Instead, industry will not be able to use new chemicals
until it proves them safe to the public.
Further, we must require Chemical Sunsetting, with goals and timetables for phasing out synthetic chemicals and
by-products in industrial materials and processes and replacing them with nonpolluting materials and processes. This
means an ambitious program of industrial conversion to ecological technologies.
The big successes in pollution reduction over the last 25 years have come from bans, like leaded gasoline and
DDT, not from pollution control programs, like smog control devices in cars and scrubbers in the stacks of coal-fired
power plants. The bans that prevent pollution have reduced toxics dramatically. The pollution control measures that
regulate emissions have reduced the emissions per unit of output, but because output has increased, the total
emissions have increased.
Our present technologies and environmental policies cannot long sustain our society ecologically. The are
poisoning ecosystems, driving many species to extinction, depleting resources, and upsetting the most fundamental
biogeochemical cycles and balances of the planetary ecosystem. Yet, existing environmental laws are under attack by
corporate interests. We must defend and strengthen these laws and oppose corporate efforts to shift environmental
liability from polluters to taxpayers.
An emphasis on Pollution Prevention for synthetic chemicals requires the replacement of toxic technologies with
ecological technologies. The development of ecological technologies must be supported by the full range of public policy
supports, including public investment, eco-taxes, preferential purchasing by government, and industry-wide standards
for packaging, energy efficiency, and non-toxic materials.
Protect the Safe Water Act: Strengthen it to get cancer-causing pollutants out of drinking water.
Protect the Clean Water Act: Strengthen it to stop toxic discharges and runoff into water that endanger species
and to better protect America’s wetlands.
Protect the Superfund Law: Improve it to make polluters pay promptly for toxic waste clean-up and to make toxic
waste clean-ups quicker and more effective.
Protect the Clean Air Act
Ban Chlorine Discharges: End the build up of dioxin and other toxic chlorinated compounds by passing a Chlorine
Discharge Act to ban most organochlorines in production processes and products.
Stop Hazardous and Solid Waste Incineration: Place an immediate moratorium on new incinerators and rapidly
phase out existing incinerators.
Ban Hazardous Waste Exports
Ban Deep Well Injection of Hazardous Wastes: Deep well injection wastes can migrate to contaminate water
aquifers and other environmental systems.
Rapid Phase Out of Nuclear Power: In all but a few areas of the country, excess capacity means nuclear power
plants can be shut down immediately. All plants should be closed within five years. We oppose further public bailouts
of the failed nuclear industry—liability for construction debts and decommissioning costs must be born by their
Oppose a National Radioactive Waste Dump: Keep radioactive waste at nuclear power plant sites, above ground
and continuously monitored.
Ban Methyl Bromide Pesticide: Oppose the efforts of the Clinton administration and Congress to exclude a ban on
this toxic and ozone-depleting substance from the Clean Air Act and the international Montreal Protocols, the
international agreement to phase-out ozone-depleting chemicals.
End Military and Government Exemptions from Environmental Laws
Space Shuttle Moratorium: Place a moratorium on space shuttle and other chlorine-fueled missile launches until
alternative safe fuel sources are developed.
Materials and Waste Management
Federal policy should encourage major reductions in per capita consumption of materials, significant increases in
the efficiency with which materials are used, and the rapid phase out of toxic substances and their substitution with safe
Green Dot Program: Pass legislation, similar to the Green Dot program in Germany, requiring manufacturers to be
responsible for the whole life cycle of their products and packaging. Manufacturers must be required to take back
products and packaging when they are used up and to be responsible for their recycling or disposal.
Toxic-Free Manufacturing: Establish a national program provide technical and financial assistance to help
businesses reduce waste and toxic chemicals and materials and to find safe substitute chemicals and materials.
Industry standards must be established to create ecologically responsible production entailing zero-emissions of
persistent toxics in production, use, repair, or disposal; energy efficiency; ecological resource extraction; and worker
Sustainable Agriculture: Redirect the priorities of the Department of Agriculture and land-grant colleges toward a
sustainable agricultural system based on biological pest controls and organic soil amendments.
Pass a National Bottle Bill: Help restore the returnable/refillable system for food and beverage containers by
requiring a deposit on glass, metal, and plastic beverage containers as an incentive to return containers for reuse.
Recycled Content Requirements: Require 50% recycled content in newspapers and increase government
purchasing of recycled products.
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
Initiate a massive program to replace fossil and nuclear fuels with renewable energy sources, including wind,
solar, biofuels, and solar-hydrogen fuels.
Energy for Employment: Initiate Congressional legislation to put into effect Greenpeace?s Energy for Employment
proposal to spend $15 billion per year in public investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy to create 2.8
million new jobs.
Energy Efficiency Goals: Save consumers $5 trillion over the next 40 years by adopting the energy efficiency
goals for the year 2030 proposed by the Union of Concerned Scientists:
Cut U.S. energy use by 50%;
Cut oil consumption by 70%;
Cut carbon dioxide emissions by 70%;
Meet more than 50% of U.S. energy needs with renewable energy sources.
Car Fuel Efficiency: Increase fuel efficiency standards to 45 miles per gallon by the year 2004.
Expand Rail Transportation: Expand Amtrak to rebuild networks of inter-city rail lines and expand assistance to
cities for intra-city light rails.
End Taxpayer Subsidies to the Coal, Oil, and Nuclear Industries: Subsidies to end include the depletion
allowances for oil and mineral ores, below-cost timber sales and public land grazing by private ranchers, and the
Price-Anderson Act limiting liability in the case of nuclear accidents.
Ban Patents on Life Forms: Congress must join the European Community in banning patents on life forms,
including seeds, livestock, body parts, and bioengineered life forms.
Moratorium on Bioengineered Life Forms: The release of genetically engineered life forms into the environment
must be banned until the ethical and ecological implications are studied and society can make informed decisions.
Protect the Endangered Species Act: Strengthen it to focus on the protection of entire ecosystems, not just
Ban New Offshore Oil Drilling
Protect Old-Growth Forests and Roadless Wilderness Areas: Ban all logging in the remaining old-growth forests
and roadless areas. Protect wild regions in the Northern Rockies, Colorado Plateau, and Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge by giving areas protected wilderness designation.
Reform the 1872 Mining Act: End taxpayer subsidies for mining and set protective environmental standards for
Restore Fisheries: Strengthen international regulation of fishing with a goal of restoring depleted fish populations
and then fishing on a sustainable yield basis with equitable access to this resource for all nations.
End Subsidies for Cattle Grazing on Public Lands: Withdrawing subsidies in the form of below market land use
fees and publicly financed water projects will end this use of public land where it is uneconomic and anti-ecological.
The monitoring and enforcement agencies of the Environmental Protection Agency must be strengthened to
relieve the backlog of cases. Efforts to shift liability from the polluter pays principle to general public liability must be
opposed. Individual citizens should have legal standing in all pollution cases. Penalties for white-collar environmental
crimes must be strengthened to include mandatory minimum fines and jail time for the corporate officers responsible. In
addition, we call for three pieces of federal legislation to enhance the capacity of workers and citizens and their
communities to defend themselves from polluters:
Community Right to Know More Act: Strengthen the rights of the public to be informed of toxic chemicals in
communities and workplaces.
Environmental Democracy Act: Pass a no-pollution-without-representation bill establishing the absolute right of
local communities to bar the disposal or transshipment of hazardous materials and the siting of nuclear and toxic
industries. The act should also establish the right of states, counties, and municipalities to set higher environmental
standards than the larger jurisdictions in which they are located.
Environmental Justice Act: Strengthen the existing Executive Order on Environmental Justice with legislation that
provides stiff penalties and compensation for victims when minority and low-income communities are targeted by
public or private entities for toxic dumps or toxic industries.
Furthermore, the Greens oppose efforts to undermine the “polluter pays” principle of environmental policy:
Oppose “Takings” Legislation—Oppose corporate efforts to require taxpayers to compensate polluters for the
costs of complying with environmental laws.
In the United States, federal lands should be managed primarily for ecosystem protection and restoration. To that
end, we advocate the end of commercial extraction (logging, mining, grazing) and off-road vehicle use on federal land.
Erosion from the immense network of National Forest logging roads (8 times more miles than interstate highways)
damages water quality and fragment wildlife habitat. Many of these roads must be decommissioned, beginning with the
most ecologically damaging roads. We support large-scale ecological restoration based on conservation biology.
Corporate propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding, the overwhelming scientific consensus is that modern
technologies have emitted enough greenhouse gases to have already committed the global climate to warming.
Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere like glass insulation does in a greenhouse, letting sunlight in but not
letting heat escape. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs),
perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride. All are increasing due to industrial processes, with the major culprit,
carbon dioxide, increasing mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide in earth’s atmosphere has increased
25% since industrialization began burning coal and oil, from 280 ppm (parts per million) to 350 ppm today. It is projected
to rise to 550 ppm by 2100 if fossil fuel burning continues for another century. An especially potent greenhouse gas,
methane, has increased largely because of the flatulence of human-tended livestock.
The 12 hottest years in recorded history have taken place since 1980. When heat is trapped in the atmosphere,
20% of it goes to warm the air and 80% of it produces increased evaporation. Because of the increased heat energy in
the atmosphere and higher rates of evaporation and precipitation, there has been a significant increase in the last
decade in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events—hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, and heat
waves. There have been ten times to average number of catastrophic floods worldwide in the last ten years.
The global climate is predicted to increase 2 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit in the next 100 years and continue
increasing thereafter if greenhouse gas emissions are not curtailed. A 2 degree increase may be enough to melt the
glaciers of Greenland and raise sea levels 20 feet, enough to swamp the southern half of Florida, most of Bangladesh,
and all of several island nations. 50-70% of the world’s population lives in coastal areas where rising sea levels and
more frequent storm surges will create millions of environmental refugees. The range of such infectious diseases as
malaria and dengue fever will expand into the Temperate Zone, including parts of the United States. Climate change
poses significant threats of crop failures in the world’s major breadbaskets. Without immediate and massive measures
to reverse global warming, human society will experience millions of deaths due to changing climate zones, crop
failures, hunger, and disease in the next century.
The danger exists that rising temperatures will trigger an ever-worsening, runaway catastrophe as the forests,
soils, and seas that absorb carbon dioxide die back. Billions of acres of Amazon basin rain forest may turn into desert by
2050 due to the combination of climate change and deforestation for wood products and cattle ranching. As such key
elements of the global ecosystem die off and decompose, they will turn from being elements that absorb carbon dioxide
into major sources of greenhouse gases themselves.
Unless measures are taken to stop and reverse the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, global
warming will continue for centuries to come in a runaway process of global warming that will transform Earth’s climate
into one like Venus’s, too hot for complex life.
As the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change stated in 1990, in order to stabilize greenhouse gases at non-
catastrophic levels, greenhouse gas emissions from human sources would have to be reduced immediately to at least
60 per cent below 1990 levels. The US and other industrial countries came up criminally short of this standard in
December 1997 in adopting the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for them to reduce their emissions just 5.2% by 2012. The
US Senate refused to ratify even this token gesture. Even if the Kyoto goals were implemented, global greenhouse gas
emissions will still rise 30% by 2010 due to increased fossil fuel burning by the newly industrializing countries.
Many of the developing countries have resisted the Kyoto caps on greenhouse gas emissions as measures that
condemn them to remain poor. They consider it the moral duty of the industrialized nations to begin reducing emissions
at home rather than creating an international market for selling and buying the right to emit greenhouse gases. The US
has proposed implementing the Kyoto Protocol through tradable pollution rights, which shifts the burden of cleaning up
energy sources from the rich, who can afford to buy the right to pollute, to the poor. As the world’s most wealthy nation
with the largest economy, the US must set the example and take the lead in reversing global warming by transforming
energy and production technologies and helping the poor nations develop them.
The Greens support:
Phase Out of Fossil Fuels in 50 Years: The US should accept the goal of reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide
below 1990 levels. In 30 years, carbon dioxide emissions should be cut by 75% in 30 years and near 100% by the
total phase out of coal, oil, and natural gas as energy sources within 50 years. The US should unilaterally adopt these
goals and offer assistance to other nations in developing renewable energy sources.
Phase In 100% Renewable Energy Sources in 50 Years: Solar energy income from the sun can provide all the
energy we need for a decent standard of living using technologies we already have. Development of renewable
energy sources should receive massive public investment.
Transfer All Government Subsidies for Fossil Fuels and Cars to Renewables and Public Transport.
Ban the Development of New Coal, Oil, and Gas Reserves
Reject Nuclear Power: Nuclear power is no answer to global warming. We reject the nuclear industry’s cynical
attempt to take advantage of public concern over global warming by pushing an industry that not only creates
dangerous radioactive emissions and wastes, but also contributes to global warming by consuming more energy in
fossil fuels than it yields in electricity. When the total life-cycle energy cost—construction, parts manufacture,
transportation, fuel production, decontamination, waste storage, decommissioning—is figured in, nuclear power has a
negative net energy yield. It takes more fossil fuel energy input to create a nuclear power plant than we get out in
electricity. Solar-derived sources, from direct solar to wind, hydro, and biomass, can provide electricity without fossil
fuel energy subsidies.
Protect and Restore Natural Carbon Sinks:
Compensate Undeveloped Countries for NOT Cutting Down Their Forests
Fund Massive Reforestation Around the World
Cut Consumption of Wood To Sustainable Yield Levels
Legalize Industrial Hemp—Replace wood with hemp as the source of paper products.
2. Oceans—Ban Ozone-Depleting Chemicals to Protect and Restore Phytoplankton: Phytoplankton in the
oceans, which absorb a massive amounts of carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, are being killed off by
increasing ultra-violet radiation due to the depletion of atmospheric ozone.
Enforce the Montreal Protocol Banning the Production of Ozone-Depleting CFCs
Require the Removal of CFCs Before Disposal of Appliances
3. Soils—Transfer Public Subsidies from Industrial Agriculture to Organic Agriculture to Protect and Restore
Soils: Agricultural soils can be a huge sink for carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, energy-intensive industrial
agriculture, with its pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, is killing soil ecosystems and well as releasing massive
amounts of greenhouse gases by burning fossil fuels.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
American Indian and Chicano Treaty Rights
The US government must live up to the moral and legal commitments it made in treaties with Native American
nations and with Chicanos when it took over the Mexican land grants in 1848. The lost lands of American Indians and
Chicanos must be restored or reparations paid.
No compromise on Civil Liberties and Due Process Rights for reasons of “national security,” “anti-terrorism,” or
“the war on drugs.”
Repeal the 1994 Crime and 1996 Anti-Terrorism Bills.
End Domestic Political Spying: Ban spying and disruption of citizens groups by police, military, and intelligence
Strengthen Affirmative Action—The full range of federal affirmative action laws and programs to create equal
opportunities for women and minorities must be defended, strengthened, and fully funded.
Enforce Anti-Discrimination Laws—Justice delayed is justice denied. Increased funding and staffing must rapidly
eliminate the backlog of discrimination cases at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other federal
Comparable Worth: Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value
Pay tends to be substantially lower in occupations where women and minorities are the majority than in other jobs
of similar responsibility, difficulty, skill, and training. Women and minorities are predominant in these job categories due
to the history of discrimination and these job categories are paid less for the same reason. Women who work full-time
earn only 74% of what men working full-time earn. Unequal pay for jobs of comparable worth is discriminatory. We favor
federal comparable worth legislation that would develop standards for evaluating to comparability of the worth of
different jobs and then require all public and private employers to evaluate the comparability of the worth of different jobs
in their agency or company and adjust salary structures to create equal pay for comparable worth.
We regard heterosexism (the cultural belief that the only legitimate form of sexual expression is between men and
women) as a violation of human rights and dignity.
We opposed discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity/transgender status,
including in the realm of adoption, inheritance, family visitation and benefits, except in roommate/housemate situations.
We support the right of consenting adults to engage in any sexual activity and not be subject to any form of
harassment, arrest, criminal prosecution, discrimination, or other negative treatment by any state, local, or federal
We oppose the exemption from anti-discrimination laws currently granted to small businesses.
We support legal recognition of same sex marriage.
We oppose non-consensual gender reassignment surgery, i.e., for infants.
We support individuals right to be treated as a member of there chosen gender.
We support progressive sex education in public schools, including education on sexuality and sexual orientation
with parents and communities having input on what is taught.
We support a 10 percent goal of l/b/g/t teachers in public education.
We call for an increase in funding for research and development on the prevention and treatment of AIDS, along with an
increase in educational efforts on AIDS and its prevention. This must extend to ALL types of research. We must not
continue to meekly let the pharmaceutical cartels dictate the treatments. Research must be done with the sole goal of
what works best and what does the least harm and not what gives the greatest profits. Researchers must not be allowed
to take bribes, bonuses, payoffs or perks from the pharmaceutical corporations.
Immigration Policy Reform
We support the traditional right of the Chicanos to move freely across the U.S./Mexico border, a right that long
pre-existed the U.S. takeover of jurisdiction in the Southwest. The U.S.-Mexico border should be recognized as a zone
of bi-national interdependence where people are free to move for work, shopping, and recreation.
Most immigrants come to the U.S. in response to cyclical demands in the labor market. Since labor demand
drives the migration, most immigrants—legal or not—do not displace native workers. Keeping workers illegal just makes
them more vulnerable to exploitation and illegal actions by employers. This makes them an attractive labor source
which, in turn, increases their demand. This cycle of oppression and exploitation is the equivalent of a modern-day slave
Seasonal labor demands country-wide should be allowed to be filled by foreign workers using work visas, with
these workers subject to US wage, tax, and labor laws. The Employer Sanctions provision of the 1986 Immigration
Reform and Control Act should be repealed as ineffective. Bi-national unions and hiring halls should replace the illegal
and exploitative activities of labor contractors.
People with Disabilities
The disability experience in our society is one of oppression, but it needn't be. We all have limitations, which are
different at various points in our lives. Sometimes they are temporary, sometimes permanent. Some of us have
difficulties with math, some with memory, others with walking or dancing, seeing or breathing. Some of us are
discriminated against by the rest of society, others not. It changes in various localities and historical periods.
Some of us are born with recognized disabilities. Many of these result from economic disparities, or from some
problem in the non-sustainable organization of the earth. Some of us, our parents or caregivers lack proper nutrition,
health care, working or living conditions.
Others become disabled due to a variety of mostly changeable conditions--war, other acts of violence like battery
or drunk driving, drugs (both prescription and so-called "recreational"), neglect, lack of appropriate medical care, or
hazards in the workplace or community. How folks are treated with their limitations depends often on the ideology of the
society they live in, explicit or implicit.
In early agrarian societies People with Disabilities (PWD's) were incorporated into the community based on work
exchange. They might work at their own pace (as opposed to an arbitrary pace devised by management time and
motion studies). Folks with physical or mental disabilities could contribute to their community in the arts, as storytellers,
or by tending the fields or the kitchen. And they could eat with everyone else, and take their share of amenities.
As society developed into early capitalism, work was done for the profit of others, and workers fueled the war
machine whose goal was to kill pre-determined enemies. All roles changed, including that of the PWD.
Nietzsche wrote that "the sick person is a parasite of society." PWD's were called "useless eaters" after World
War I. "Crazy" relatives were locked up in attics, basements, and later mental hospitals that often paralleled prisons.
People were valued only by their ability to work, to breed, and to be warriors.
The present attitude in the U.S. toward PWD's has shocking similarities with the Nazi concepts that we hold in
contempt. Various sectors in society determine the concept of "normal," from schools, to church groups, to social
service agencies, corporate expectations, the military, or even the Boy Scouts. Various political groups have differing
ideas about who is worth health care costs and who is not.
The "Final Solution" began with the execution of "mental defectives." When society didn't protest, it escalated.
Now even liberals campaign for "physician assisted suicide" at a time while support services are still not adequate,
prompting some individuals and families to choose the least costly option, thus prioritizing who's life is more worthy in an
Killing certain others quickly can be rationalized, as can killing others slowly with lack of support services.
Increasing numbers live below the federal poverty line even in times of economic "boom." Tens of millions of children
and adults have no health plan or ability to purchase medical care. There is criminal neglect of health and safety
provisions at work from the oil refineries, to office buildings, to farm work. Home Care Workers and some hospital
workers make the minimum wage, while those who do animal care make $4 to $5 more per hour!
Spraying of toxic chemicals is now used not only in wars against civilians, but against our own citizens who dare
to dissent, or happen to live in an area where crops are protected from bugs at the expense of human health.
Thousands of companies still pollute their workers and communities. Our government even turns its back on its own
warriors, who were poisoned by Agent Orange in Vietnam, and by vaccinations and chemicals in the Gulf War. It's all a
process of "thinning out the herds." But by whom, and for what?
In the '50's Jerry Lewis started his "pity program" to play on guilt to solicit donations for "crippled children." Still,
people with every disease from cancer, to AIDS, to Multiple Chemical Sensitivities have to raise their own funds, find a
poster-person with their disease in Hollywood or in sports, and do their own research, often in opposition to corporations
like the tobacco or chemical industries.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (A.D.A.) was passed in 1990 with much pomp and circumstance. But still
there is an uphill fight for access at work and in the community even in places like Berkeley, California, the home of "crip
Even after working all one's life and paying into Social Security and Medicare, most need to hire a lawyer and
avoid starving for two years before possibly becoming eligible for these expected benefits. Most programs, from welfare
to workers’ comp, are designed more to weed out fraud, than to service those eligible.
In a more humane and sustainable society, how could PWD's fare? The health of each person could be
supported by society from birth, through school, work, retirement and with dignity in death. Society could be run with the
impact on the Seventh Generation in mind!
HEALTH CARE AND LIFE SUPPORT SERVICES ARE A HUMAN RIGHT!
The Greens support:
taking the profit out of disease, disability, and pain—free universal, healing health care for all, not dependent on our
ties to families or workplaces; public, not privatized, hospitals and clinics;
retraining all private health insurance employees for productive work;
free medical rehabilitation, equipment, and medication (with emphasis on natural supplements rather than
accessible medical marijuana;
relevant health information in schools and in the community on nutrition, sex information, parenting, safety in sports,
conflict resolution, anger management, and stress relief;
full access for all disabilities in the workplace and the community;
Home Care and community-based assisted living arrangements to replace inhumane warehousing in Nursing
Living Wages for Home Care Workers;
a holistic plan for health research to be directed by committees, including PWD's, focused on prevention, treatment,
all service programs to be based on human needs, designed with the input of those who need them;
jobs designed with health concerns considered, with emphasis on ergonomic safety, proper ventilation, flexible
schedules, and with access to child care and exercise programs;
government funded health and safety programs in the workplace, designed and monitored by unions or
independent workers organizations;
hospice care, quality pain relief, support and dignity in dying.
Reparations for African Americans
We call upon Congress and the President to pass and to sign into law H.R. 40, sponsored by Representative
John Conyers, a bill to establish a commission to examine the institution of slavery, subsequent de jure and de facto
discrimination against freed slaves and their descendants, the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, and to
make recommendations to Congress on appropriate remedies.
African Americans are due reparations for the cruelty and exploitation they have suffered during centuries of
slavery and an additional 150 years of racist oppression and discrimination. African Americans must be compensated
for the labor that millions of people were forced to give during the period of their enslavement and for the suffering and
loss they have had to endure for generations due to its legacy.
In Oklahoma, a biracial commission has just concluded that justice demands that reparations be paid to the victims of
the Greenwood massacre. The US government must recognize this legitimate claim to reparations and begin the
process of compensation.
Slavery and the slave trade in the Western Hemisphere was one of the most horrific episodes in all of human
history. For hundreds of years, millions of Africans were forcibly brought to this country against their will and enslaved.
Their labor, for which they were not compensated, enriched this nation. In 1860, the greatest amount of capital in the
United States, larger than industrial and banking capital combined, was created by slaves. African American slave labor
created tremendous wealth for America, wealth which would be valued at trillions of dollars today. And, in addition to
being super-exploited, slaves were prevented by law from accumulating any wealth of their own.
After the Civil War, the freed slaves never received their promised 40 acres and mule. No program of
compensation or land reform was put into place for America's ex-slaves. With the abolition of slavery, a system of legal
white supremacist segregation and discrimination was put into place that continued much of the unjust economic
exploitation and racial oppression of Black people, right into our lifetime. African Americans must be compensated for
the suffering and losses of slavery, for the agricultural peonage known as sharecropping, for the convict labor-lease
system known as the chain-gang, for the deaths and expropriation and destruction of property during white racist riots,
like that which took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma during the 1920s, and for economic discrimination as a result of Jim Crow
People should be free from government interference in making their reproductive choices. The medical aspects of
reproductive choice should be free through a federally financed universal health care system.
However, under any system of health care financing, we support:.
The right to complete birth control information and devices for all men and women and for all adolescents without
requiring parental consent;
The right to abortion, including in all publicly funded medical insurance programs;
The right to counseling and support for pregnant women;
The right to complete maternity care;
The right to post-partum leave for both parents;
The right to be free from involuntary sterilization.
We support paid maternity/paternity leaves, with the option of extended unpaid leave, as well as leave for the
care of significant partners, children, or other family members.
We support the right of females and males to information regarding birth control, including family planning
methods, and the ready availability of those methods regardless of the ability to pay.
We must encourage an environment where every pregnancy is a wanted pregnancy.
We call for education concerning the ramifications to females of controlling their fertility, and we support the right
of women of all ages to full reproductive freedom and to determine the degree of technological intervention, including
abortion, that they deem appropriate for their own care and protection, regardless of their ability to pay.
We reject abortion as merely another form of birth control and offer full emotional support for a woman who
makes this decision. We will make sure that all her options are explored so that there is no danger of abortion being
used as a tool of genocide for poor communities and communities of color.
Education for both males and females should be provided on sexuality, birth control, child development, and
We call for full economic support in the form of job placement at a living wage, or welfare benefits at a living
income, so that no woman makes a decision on a pregnancy based solely on financial hardship.
Adoption practices should be reformed to make it more acceptable to give up a child for adoption. The reform
should ensure that children are not bought and sold, and that qualified persons are not excluded on the basis of income
level, sexual orientation, marital status, or race. Women who want anonymity must have this option. Women who want
the child to be raised in a particular culture (e.g., as a Muslim, as a Native American) should have this option. Native
children must not lose their cultural connection.
We call for the elimination of sexual harassment in the workplace and the development of public processes and
follow-up procedures to address complaints.
We call for the recognition and punishment of marital rape by all states. Ongoing community support systems
should be created and funded to break the "cycle of violence" that often surrounds so much of family life.
We recognize the destructive use of sexual stereotyping by advertisers, and call for education of advertisers and
society on the damaging use of such stereotyping.
We support and encourage "changing men's/men's movement" activities.
We encourage men and women to relate in peaceful, cooperative, and life-enhancing ways.
CRIMINAL AND CIVIL JUSTICE REFORMS
The criminal justice system in this country is a scandalous miscarriage of justice and misuse of resources. By
failing to provide decent educational, recreational, and occupational opportunities to young people coming up—
especially to minority and inner city youth—our society fails to address the root causes of street crime in poverty and
alienation. Instead of more jobs and justice, our government is giving us more cops and jails.
Domestic social policy has been militarized. The U.S. spends $80 billion a year on police, jails, and the criminal
justice system—more than twice as much as any other country in the world today spends on its military. The U.S. now
incarcerates 2 million people, more than any other country in the world. With 5% of the world’s population, the US has
25% of the world’s prisoners.
Prisoners are the new slaves in America. As many as 500,000 of these prisoners are working for as little as 20
cents an hour, some as low as 75 cents a day. They work for private corporations like Dell Computers, Boeing,
Starbucks, Microsoft, and Jostens Caps and Gowns, and for the government-run Federal Prison Industries. Prisoners
make clothing, electrical hardware, aircraft parts, computer circuit boards, mattresses, vehicle parts, Army helmets, body
armor, tarps, ammunition cases, and many other things. They shrink wrap Microsoft software packages, telemarket,
pack meat, and enter data. Prison labor in America is as cheap as labor under the most repressive governments in Asia,
driving down the wages of Americans in the “free” labor market.
The criminal justice system is utterly racist—two-thirds of US prisoners are African American or Latino. One in
three African American males between 18 and 30 is under arrest, in jail, or on parole. The penalties for crack cocaine—
which is distributed by organized crime in inner city communities of color—are 100 times more severe than the penalties
for powder cocaine—which is distributed by organized crime in suburban white communities. The use of cocaine is
higher in the white suburbs, but 80% of the cocaine-related arrests are of people of color in the inner city.
The racism is exemplified by “racial profiling” where police officers search people simply for DWB (Driving While
Black) and for simply being on the street. The racism is most exemplified by the many beatings and murders of black
and latino people by white police officers who usually face no consequences for these beatings and murders. Rodney
King, Jonny Gammage, Amidou Diallo, Max Antoine, Patrick Dorismond, and Tyisha Miller are only a few of the better
publicized of hundreds of cases in the last decade.
By failing to make any further public investment in the remediaton of social conditions, the U.S. is forced to make
increasing investment—both public and private—in physical security. Nearly 25% of workers today are in “guard labor”—
police, armed forces, surveillance, private security, corrections, judiciary, workplace supervision, or arms production.
Instead of producing goods and services of value, nearly one-fourth of the workforce is protecting the property of the
haves from the have-nots.
Criminal justice has become Big Business—a Prison-Industrial Complex with a vested interest in filling the jails
instead of ending crime. Private corporations are running public prisons under contract and some, like General Electric,
are building prisons on spec in anticipation of further growth in the prison population.
Instead of a rehabilitative approach that provides educational and training programs that prepare convicts for
successful re-entry to civilian society, prisons are becoming pools of cheap forced labor. In an effort to relieve the
growing fiscal burdens of the prison system, government is renting the forced labor of convicts to corporations for
exploitation in the production of goods and services in competition with labor on the outside. Slavery in a new form is
returning to the U.S.
The so-called “war on drugs” is not reducing drug abuse but it is filling the jails. The Prison-Industrial Complex
uses its enormous political clout to exploit the legitimate concern about the violent struggles for control of the drug
economy that flare up in our communities in order to call for still more jails, longer sentences, and less due process
rights for the accused—which means less due process rights for all of us.
Over the last two decades, the federal criminal code has been revised several times in anti-crime and anti-
terrorism bills to erode our basic civil liberties and political and legal rights and introduce elements of preventive
detention, limits on habeas corpus, and other limitations of due process rights.
Meanwhile, white-collar crime in the form of embezzlement, fraud, and violations of labor and environmental
standards costs this country far more than street crime in terms of property loss and violence. White-collar crime costs
consumers an estimated $200 billion a year. Over 100,000 workers die every year from on-the-job accidents and
occupational diseases. Corporate criminals buy the services of the best lawyers to protect them from prosecution while
those accused of street crime are assigned overworked public defenders.
Now the legal standing rights of citizens to sue corporations and the government for compensation for fraud,
negligence, and misuse of funds is threatened by tort reform that would put a cap on victim compensation and by other
measures corporate lobbyists are pushing.
The Greens support the following policies:
Abolish the Death Penalty—This penalty is barbaric, cannot be remedied if a mistaken conviction is later proven to
be wrong, and has been racially biased in practice against people of color.
New Trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal
Clemency for Leonard Peltier
Mandatory Minimums for White Collar Crime—This is one area where mandatory minimum fines and jail
sentences should be introduced given the judiciary’s traditionally lenient sentencing of affluent, well-connected
Progressive Criminal Code Reform—We favor comprehensive progressive reforms of the criminal code to restore
civil liberties and due process rights eroded by the Congress and the courts over the last two decades.
Restore Legal Aid—Legal aid and public defender programs, never sufficiently funded, have been gutted over the
last two decades. We favor restoring funding to levels that enable all people have equal access to legal remedies and
Rehabilitative Prisons and Alternatives to Incarceration—Federal standards and appropriations for the criminal
justice system should be revised to insure that programs of rehabilitative education, training, and counseling are
sufficient in size and scope to meet the needs of the prison population and that, where appropriate, nonviolent
offenders can make amends for crimes through victim restitution, community service, supervised rehabilitative
probation, and other alternatives to incarceration.
Oppose Tort Reform that Caps Victims’ Compensation—The threat of high victim compensation awards by civil
juries is an important deterrent to corporate crime and should be maintained.
Community Control of the Police
End Police Brutality
All across America the families of victims of police violence are crying out for justice. Thousands upon thousands
of young people of color are being terrorized daily and scores are dying needlessly. This carnage is the legacy of three
decades of public polices which have prioritized police and prisons over jobs and justice.
The Greens call upon Congress and the President to recognize the epidemic of police brutality and take the
The President should a National Commission to investigate the epidemic of police brutality and misconduct which is
afflicting communities of color and poor communities across the nation and make recommendations.
The Attorney General should issue a Justice Department directive to intensify “patterns and practices”
investigations of police departments with high incidences of complaints of police brutality.
The Attorney General should expedite Justice Department investigations of ongoing civil rights cases and appeals
for re-opening cases which may not have received proper consideration.
The House Judiciary Committee should convene hearings to take testimony on police brutality and misconduct.
The Congress of the United States should pass legislation to fund data collection on police brutality.
The Congress of the United States should pass legislation to provide for independent federal prosecutors to
investigate and prosecute police officers charged with violating the civil rights of human beings, including causing their
injury or death—The Jonny Gammage Law.
The Jonny Gammage Law: Federal Prosecution of Police Brutality
In far too many cases of police brutality and murder, officers of the law are not forcefully prosecuted because their
prosecutors are the people they work with on a day to day basis in the local criminal justice system. To effectively hold
police officers accountable to the law, federal prosecutors must be appointed who are not tied to the local “old boys
networks” in the local justice system.
The Greens support federal legislation to establish a Jonny Gammage Law which would require:
appointment of a federal prosecutor by the US Attorney General whenever a law officer is charged with violating the
civil rights of a human being, including bodily injury or death;
US Department of Justice investigation of whether prosecution is warranted for all charges of civil rights violations
and brutality by police officers by credible public or private sources, such as Citizen Review Boards, Human Rights
Commissions, and civil rights organizations;
removal of jurisdiction over such cases from the local and state justice system, including the grand jury, to the US
Department of Justice and the federal courts;
the immediate suspension of an officer charged until their case is resolved;
a permanent bar from an officer convicted under the Jonny Gammage Law from ever being employed as a law
enforcement officer again;
federal monitoring to insure fair treatment on the job of police officers who testify against other officers in these
It is unrealistic to expect local and state prosecutors, judges, and police chiefs and officers to vigorously and
unequivocally prosecute, judge, and testify against their comrades in law enforcement with whom they work every day
and often associate with socially. The Jonny Gammage Law would end this conflict of interest and eliminate the
influence of local politics.
The Jonny Gammage Law would break through "Blue Wall of Silence" that is used to intimidate good cops from
testifying against rogue cops and results in the cover up of police and official misconduct and corruption. It would disrupt
the comfort zone for rogue cop activity by taking away their luxury of being investigated by their own friends. It would
protect police officers who believe in the oath they took to protect and serve from being intimidated by their peers and
superiors with the “Blue Wall of Silence.” It would provide support for the brave and true officers who come forth to
testify and expose brutality and corruption. It would tell rogue officers that there will be consequences if they violate,
maim, or kill citizens.
Just as it has required federal enforcement of civil rights that local and state justice systems refused to uphold, it
also requires federal enforcement of the law against police brutality that local and state justice systems have failed to
The Jonny Gammage Law is not a panacea for ending police brutality. Effective Citizen Review Boards; elected
Police Commissions; community policing; investing more public resources in jobs, education, and recreation instead of
police and prisons; prohibiting racial profiling; and hiring more minority police officers are all part of the answer as well.
But the Jonny Gammage Law is an indispensable part of the whole program.
The Jonny Gammage Law is named for Jonny Gammage Jr., a young black man who was murdered by five white
police officers outside Pittsburgh on October 12, 1995. Gammage was killed during a routine traffic stop, allegedly for
driving erratically but likely for “driving while black” at night in the white suburb of Brentwood. He was handcuffed, placed
on the pavement, and only then officers beat him with at least 20 blows by nightsticks, a metal flashlight, and a leather
blackjack. Bruises were found all over his head. Then the officers pressed down hard on him against the pavement with
their knees, causing hemorrhages on his back and preventing his breathing. His face was pushed to the pavement,
flattening his nose against his face as blood and mucous filled his throat and mouth. The officers smothered him until he
was killed by asphyxiation. His last words to the cops as he begged for his life were, “I’m only 31.” The paramedics had
to yell at the officers to get off of Gammage when they tried to revive him.
None of the five police officers responsible were convicted of any crime in this killing. The case received national
attention because Gammage’s cousin was Pittsburgh Steeler defensive tackle, Ray Seals. Seals’ father and
Gammage’s uncle, Tommie Seals, was a member of the Syracuse police force. Jonny Gammage had no criminal record
and was known in Syracuse as a positive and generous member of the community.
The inquest jury recommended that all five officers face murder charges. But the prosecutor charged only three of
the officers with the lessor charge of involuntary manslaughter. The first trial against two officers ended in a mistrial
when the county coroner blurted out improper testimony. The case was thrown out because—of all things—these two
officers were “singled out” while two other officers were not charged at all. The second trial of these two officers ended in
a hung jury when the sole African American juror refused to vote for acquittal. The District Attorney decided not to
pursue a third prosecution of these two officers. The third officer charged was acquitted by an all-white jury and
subsequently promoted by his Brentwood PA police department.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request after the trials, activists were able to obtain tape recordings of two
phone conversations between the prosecuting District Attorney and the Brentwood Chief of Police in which the
prosecutor and police chief strategized on how to get the officers out of the charges they faced. But despite this
evidence of misconduct, Clinton's Justice Department declined to pursue a criminal case against the officers under
federal civil rights laws.
The murder of Jonny Gammage by police officers is similar to scores of cases around the country. The problem
has become epidemic in recent years. There ought to be a law to make sure police brutality and killer cops are
prosecuted. That law is the Jonny Gammage Law.
The movement for enactment of the Jonny Gammage Law was initiated by activists in Syracuse NY and has been
taken up by around the country by movements against police brutality and for police accountability. The Jonny
Gammage Law was one of the four demands of the National Emergency March for Justice Against Police Brutality in
Washington DC, April 3, 1999, endorsed by Amnesty International, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education
Fund, Center for Constitutional Rights, Greens/Green Party USA, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, National Action
Network, National Black Police Association, National Coalition for Police Accountability, National Conference of Black
Lawyers, National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, National Lawyers Guild, Racial Justice Working Group of the
National Council of Churches, Southern Organizing Committee for Social and Economic Justice, Women for Justice,
and many other organizations.
It is now time to put the Jonny Gammage Law onto the congressional and presidential agenda. We call upon
Green federal candidates to champion the Jonny Gammage Law. Justice for Jonny did not come from the justice
system. But it will do justice to the memory of Jonny Gammage and all the other victims of police brutality and murder
when the Jonny Gammage Law is enacted.
End the War on Drugs: Harm Reduction Policies
Greens view drug usage as a civil liberties, medical, and social issue, not a criminal justice issue. The war on
drugs has become a war against the people, not drug abuse, especially against the youth in poor communities of color.
The Greens call for:
Drug Treatment on Demand—Drug abuse is a health problem, not a criminal problem. We support drug abuse
counseling and treatment on demand. State and federal government should treat drug abuse, including alcoholism, as
a medical issue instead of as a crime. Immediate treatment for addicts (including tobacco addicts) should be available
on request, as should social renovation and self-help programs that seek to improve abusers' relationships to
themselves and to society. Most people in jail today are nonviolent drug offenders. They need drug treatment
programs, not jail time for their drug habits. However, drug treatment is not available to most drug abusers due to cost
and the limited number of places in subsidized programs. Free access to drug treatment should be included as part of
a national health plan providing free medical care for all.
Legalize Medical Marijuana—We support legalization of medical marijuana and legal recognition of not-for-profit
Decriminalize Marijuana Possession—We support decriminalization of recreational marijuana and its possession,
use, transportation and cultivation. Imprisoning people for using a substance less harmful than legalized drugs like
alcohol and tobacco is the real crime.
Decriminalize Controlled Substances—We support decriminalization of all controlled substances, i.e., no arrests
for personal use amounts of any controlled substance.
Harm Reduction Policies—We support harm reduction based drug policies, with the degree of control of a given
substance commensurate with the amount and type of harm it can cause.
Support Needle Exchange Programs—We support both roving and stationary publicly funded needle exchanges
as an effective harm reduction and anti-AIDS public health measure.
Stop Using the Drug War to Criminalize Whole Communities—We oppose drug and police policies that
disproportionately and adversely affect the poor, communities of color, and youth.
Release Nonviolent Drug Offenders—We call for the immediate release of all nonviolent drug war prisoners.
We are all struggling for meaning and purpose in societies that reduce the Earth and its diverse living community
to markets, commodities, and objects to be bought and sold, managed and controlled.
This society’s denial of yearnings to be connected to the web of life, rather than outside and exploiting it, has left
a vast emotional, psychological, and spiritual void in many people. The disconnection has contributed to a destructive
lack of respect for the life-web of the planet, for other human beings, and for deep parts our own selves.
Consumerism and other addictions, religious escapism, rigid adherence to dogmatic beliefs, militarism, social
oppression, pursuit of power for its own sake, cynicism, and violence are all indicative of a social failure to meet our
spiritual needs for a fundamental sense of connection and meaning.
Spirituality is for many Greens a way of being in the world that acknowledges and celebrates connectedness to
the Earth, to other people, and to all life. It is an attitude of love, compassion, and humility that embraces diversity and
respects new and old spiritual traditions. It is an evolving, flexible, reciprocal process of healing—a process that brings
us to our center, back into balance with ourselves and our community.
Spirituality for many Greens seeks to restore balance through recognizing that our planet and all of life are unique
aspects of an integrated whole, and through affirming the significant inherent value and contribution of each part of that
Spirituality empowers many Greens within the political process. It energizes us to resist actions and institutions
that harm the life-web or desecrate the Earth; it affirms us in supporting those that are truth-seeking and life-affirming. It
reminds us to consider the seventh generation yet unborn in everything we do.
The Greens support the separation of religious practices from the activities of government, commonly known as
the separation of Church and State.
We support the freedom of all peoples to worship, or not worship, as they choose. And we support individual and
group spiritual communion and celebration.
We support actions that are life-affirming and truth-seeking, and oppose actions that exploit the Earth and its
We support practices and policies that enhance the sense of interconnectedness (such as meditations, therapy,
wilderness experience, art, and music).
We encourage the development of all aspects of our being: body, emotions, mind, and spirit.
The Cold War is over, but US military spending is still the average Cold War military budget. Congress passed
and President Clinton signed an $308 billion military budget for 2001. None of the six next biggest military powers—
Russia, France, Germany, Britain, and Japan—spends more than $35 billion a year and five of them are our close allies.
Indeed, the U.S. spends as much on the military as the rest of the world combined, maintaining enough armed forces to
fight two and a half Gulf Wars at once.
The current level of military spending has little to do with defending the United States. Military spending
continues to be high because U.S. foreign policy is interventionist and uses military force to keep the world safe for
corporate exploitation by suppressing popular movements for democracy and justice, especially today in Mexico and
The most deeply rooted obstacle to military spending cuts, however, is not foreign threats to corporate interests
abroad but congressional representatives’ fear of domestic unemployment in their districts. The Pentagon has built a
military-industrial political patronage system, which ties the economic fortunes of virtually every Congressional district to
military-related jobs placed in that district.
It is time to dismantle the Military-Industrial Complex and reinvest the Peace Dividend in the conversion of the
military economy to civilian production. Civilian investments create more jobs and more wealth than military spending.
Peace will be more secure by pursuing a pro-democracy foreign policy and cooperative security agreements with other
countries, and by adopting a non-offensive military defense.
The Greens call for:
A Global Green Deal: Build world peace and security through a Global Green Deal. First, the US should finance
universal access to primary education, adequate food, clean water and sanitation, preventive health care, and family
planning services for every human being on Earth. According to the 1999 UN Development Report, it would take only
an additional $40 billion to Fund Global Basic Human Needs, an amount that is only 13% of the 2000 US military
budget. Second, the US, which now spends half of the world’s military expenditures by itself, should demilitarize its
economy and reinvest the Peace Dividend in financing and technical assistance for an Ecological Conversion of
Human Civilization to Sustainable Systems of Production. The US should commit 1% of its gross domestic
product to aid development in poor countries. This money should be channeled through international agencies and
oriented toward assisting countries to develop ecologically sustainable means of production under democratic
ownership and control.
Deep Cuts in Military Spending: Cut US military spending unilaterally by 75% in two years to establish a non-
interventionist, non-offensive, strictly defensive military posture and save nearly $250 billion a year.
The US cut military spending by 90% in the first two years after World War II before rearming again for the Cold
War. The US continues to spend at Cold War levels. But there is no security threat that can justify such spending.
As an immediate step, military spending should be rapidly reduced to 50% of Cold War levels ($150-160 billion),
a level called for in the first years of the post Cold War era even by many managers of the military-industrial complex,
including former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, former CIA Director William Colby, William Kaufman and John
Steinbruner of the Brookings Institute, and Reagan’s former Assistant Secretary of Defense, Lawrence Korb.
A second step, to be pursued over the next few years, should be further reductions to 25% of current military
spending toward a non-offensive defense, capable of defending US territory and participating in multilateral
peacekeeping. Randall Forsberg of the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies has proposed a $70 billion
defense budget for these capacities, which include a 240 nuclear warhead minimum deterrent (which we reject), 5
ground troop divisions, 5 tactical air wings, a 40 ship navy including 3 aircraft carriers and 10 strategic submarines,
and the same levels of global surveillance and communications, airlift and sealift capacities, and air, coast, and border
defenses as at present. This budget would still leave the US with a military twice as big as any other country currently
By pursuing a "cooperative security" strategy that seeks mutual arms reduction agreements to progressively eliminate
atomic, biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction and cross-border offensive capabilities, further cuts in defense
spending can be made. A strictly non-offensive defense of U.S. national territory using a coast guard, border guard, national
guard, and light air defense system would cost $2-3 billion.
Peace Dividend: Dedicate the $250 billion a year Peace Dividend to the Global Green Deal, Ecological
Conversion, the Economic Bill of Rights, and providing full income and benefits for all workers and soldiers displaced
by demilitarization until they find new jobs at comparable income and benefits.
Peace Conversion: The Pentagon’s job patronage system can be defeated if the Peace Dividend from military
spending cuts is used to provide retraining with income maintenance and then re-employment for all soldiers and
workers displaced by military spending cuts. The US has done this before. After World War II, the US cut military
spending by 90% in two years and provided the GI Bill to workers and other federal moneys to assist companies in
converting back to civilian production. The peace dividend this time can be spent to train and employ all workers and
soldiers displaced by military spending cuts in urban reconstruction and converting the economy to ecological
technologies. Existing military bases, laboratories, and production facilities are assets that need to be converted to
civilian uses. This requires alternative use planning by on-site workers in conjunction with representative of the
We support passage of an economic conversion bill that would establish a federal Office of Economic Conversion
to develop and implement a conversion plan through a decentralized economic conversion planning process involving
alternative use planning at every Pentagon-serving base, factory, and lab with 100 or more employees. The
economic conversion bill should also fund a new GI Bill for demobilized soldiers and workers, giving them income
maintenance, benefits, and tuition grants for college and job re-training programs.
Unilateral Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Disarmament: These weapons of mass destruction have no place
in a non-defensive military. The US should set the example and demand that other nations match our lead before the
proliferation of weapons to countries around the world leads to mass destruction.
Cooperative Security: The US should pursue a cooperative security policy that engages other military powers in
coordinated military spending reductions that progressively reduce and then eliminate offensive, cross-border military
capacities that can support ground invasions or air strikes. Today’s post Cold War world is the opportune time to set
up a cooperative security structure.
Under a cooperative security structure, US military spending could be reduced further by steps beyond a
minimum nuclear deterrent to a fully non-offensive defense in coordination with reductions in military spending by all
countries. The goal of cooperative security arrangements would be to eliminate weapons of mass destruction
(nuclear, biological, chemical), minimize the economic burden of military spending, and minimize armed conflict in
international relations. National military forces would be limited to small, stable, strictly non-offensive defenses: a
coast guard, border guard, national guard, and light air defense system, all oriented to territorial defense and internal
security. Today, in the United States, such non-offensive defenses would cost 3 billion per year, or less than 1% of
current US military spending.
Democratize the United Nations: The creation of a cooperative security system also requires a global movement
of democratization and social transformation within nations and in international institutions. Cooperative security will
not work as long as the United Nations is a puppet of US foreign policy. The US should support reforms to
democratize the United Nations, such as more proportionality and power in the General Assembly, an elected Security
Council, and the elimination of the Great Power Veto on the Security Council.
Dismantle the CIA and End Covert Operations: A democratic government should not be conducting secret wars.
The CIA and other covert operations agencies of the US government cannot be trusted to limit themselves to
gathering information. Their funding must be eliminated and their various covert enterprises and operations
systematically dismantled. Another agency should be established strictly for intelligence and information gathering.
Ban Arms Exports: The proliferation of arms, including nuclear arms, is the single greatest security threat to this
country. The U.S. should act unilaterally to ban arms exports from this country and use cooperative security
negotiations and other means of leverage to cut arms exports by other countries.
A Pro-Democracy Foreign Policy: We call for a fundamental shift in US foreign policy, from supporting repressive
regimes in the interests global corporations to supporting the pro-democracy labor, social, and environmental
movements of the people. We call for a foreign policy for the United States that promotes self-determination for all
peoples, human rights and democracy in all countries, and equitable and ecological development of the world
But first we must have democratic control of US foreign policy, which has traditionally been formulated by elites
allied with multinational corporations. We see a fundamental difference between the interests and security of the
American people and the interests of private corporations in having repressive regimes abroad that are profitable
sources of cheap labor, markets, and resources. As long as the US maintains its elite-controlled foreign policy and
aggressive military capacities, we regard any military intervention by the US as suspect—military assistance cannot
legitimize a government that does not have the support of its own people, nor can military and economic pressure
delegitimize a government that has the support of its people. Self-determination means each people must be free to
choose their government without foreign interference. To democratize the making of foreign policy at home and to
promote democracy abroad, we call for:
Support International, Multilateral Peacekeeping to Stop Aggression and Genocide
No Unilateral US Intervention in the Internal Affairs of Other Countries
End Military and Diplomatic Support for Anti-Democratic Regimes.
Close All Overseas US Military Bases
Disband NATO and All Aggressive Military Alliances
Ban US Arms Exports
Abolish the CIA, NSA, and All US Agencies of Covert Warfare
End the Economic Blockades of Cuba, Iraq, and Yugoslavia
Cut Off US Military Aid to Counter-Insurgency Wars in Columbia and Mexico
A National Referendum of the Whole People to Declare War