Future Kulture, Nordic GPS, Lavoz magazine, La Familia Stop & Shop and The Transnational Advocacy Group, all endorse Ben Mitchell for the Democratic primaries in Vermont, USA. We believe in his platform and the issues he raises and believes in. We will be a platform promoting his campaign activities and goals. We hope you will share our support for Ben Mitchell and will support his campaign. Thank you. Raymond Marcel Andrews.
Ben Mitchell for Democratic primary U.S. House of Representatives
My name is Ben Mitchell, and I will be entering the Democratic primary for U.S. House of Representatives on August 14, 2018. I want to provide Vermonters a choice, a candidate not bought and paid for by corporate interests in industries like pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, and energy. By refusing corporate money, I am choosing to represent the working people of Vermont. In a time of record corporate and Wall Street profits, over 100,000 Vermonters struggle to make it to their next paycheck. Survival in Vermont gets more difficult every year; hourly wages fall as the cost of living marches always upward. We are losing ground; everyone knows it. Nevertheless, we do have a voice with our vote.
Why a Socialist?
My grandmother, Ingabor Lorenz, was the postmaster of Marlboro, Vermont until she was blacklisted as a communist. After refusing to provide the names of her friends, she lost her job and sent my mother to live with her cousins in New Hampshire. Nevertheless, after a century of violent propaganda against the idea of the “common good,” these ideas are still here. In 2016, Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders demonstrated that a socialist can compete in a Democratic primary with small contributions from working people – people whose voices are rarely part of the collective conversation.
As a member of SPUSA and Liberty Union, I’ve been a Socialist candidate for over a decade. 2018 is the first time I will enter a Democratic Primary.
Issues for Ben Mitchell Campaign:
When Rush Limbaugh needed help to kick his Oxycontin addiction, he had the money to check into a clinic. Despite the amazing people who work in Vermont’s recovery movement, most residents do not have access to a level of treatment to get back on their feet. Pharmaceutical treatment – another big Medicaid handout to drug companies – can help, but rehab costs $5,000 to $10,000 for most people.
Addictive Substances Tax
I propose we levy an addictive substances tax to pay for a network of treatment centers. The distributors of any substance shown to lead to addiction – opioids, amphetamines, alcohol, tobacco, even legalized marijuana – should be taxed to address the negative effects on society created by those substances. We face a major health crisis, one driving down the life expectancy rate in the US.
Where does your Congressperson stand on taxing and regulating the pharmaceutical industry?
Now, I know Peter Welch is a good man and would never intentionally wish to harm teenagers by feeding them drugs, but that is the trade off corporate Democrats make to fund the campaigns.
According to VTDigger, “In total, during the 2014 and 2016 election cycles,” VT. Representative Peter “Welch received about $76,000” from pharmaceutical lobbyists. VTDigger goes on to say Welch received an additional $27,000 directly from pharmaceutical distribution companies.
Then in 2016, Welch co-sponsored a bill written as a part of a larger effort by the pharmaceutical lobby to curtail the use of “immediate suspension orders.” According to the Washington Post, the law, “Makes it virtually impossible for the DEA to freeze suspicious narcotic shipments from the companies.” In other words, when the DEA believes that opioids are being diverted to the black market, they are now blocked by statute from any effort to stop them. If the DEA discovers that 1,000,000 hits of fentanyl are going to a town that has a population of 1000, the law eliminates the tool once employed to freeze that account.
Here is the Washington Post Story
We know the pharmaceutical industry paid for favorable research and opioid promotional campaigns leading to increased prescription of opioids nationally. Furthermore, the resulting increased rates of addiction have been documented since 2007.(Ballantyne and LaForge).
For Ten years we have watched it grow and have been paralysed to do anything.
Over that decade, I have watched former students and friends of all generations turn to opioids and never recover. It is a horrible epidemic and stands as a glaring example of why the profit motive is not appropriate in critical services. Medicine is not a consumer good; it is a basic human need. In a public system, we would invest in treatment centers where addicts could find a stable place to get clean.
In the private system Doctors are paid to promote increased usage and the drug companies profit off the epidemic. As long as elected officials are beholden to the donor class, there will remain those who believe themselves entitled to profit off our medical care. Pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, medical manufacturing — all large conglomerates extracting profits from the suffering of the population. There are conference rooms full of well educated people collaboratively brainstorming ways to suck out ever more profit.
Election Financing: As long as our political system is funded by large corporations and billionaire oligarchs, regular working people will see life get harder. I support the measures introduced by Bernie Sanders to create publicly financed elections; I will personally only raise money from people. (Corporations are not people.) We need a new class of politicians, funded by grassroots and small donations, who work directly for the people. In past elections, I have refused to accept money out of disgust with the campaign finance system, but Bernie Sanders demonstrated the power of social media to raise money from ordinary citizens. I will still refuse contributions from corporations, super PACs or their lobbyists. I will only accept contributions from citizens and those who truly represent their interests: unions and non-profit advocacy groups. Where does your Congressperson stand on campaign finance reform?ns, I will only accept contributions from citizens and those who truly represent their interests: unions and non-profit advocacy groups.
Climate Change and Public Power
All “free” scientists agree; we need to take immediate action to limit the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere or face increased devastation – wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, extinction of species. In order to address this, we need both new regulation and new investment.
Public Power: We need to invest in a diversified, clean energy network, owned by local municipalities. I propose installing photovoltaic solar assemblies on every municipal building in the US – schools, town halls, police and fire departments, even public universities and hospitals. This initiative would have many immediate benefits beyond reducing carbon emissions; it creates jobs, lowers taxes by reducing the energy costs for towns and cities, diversifies energy production, and by flooding the market, it drives down the cost of energy helping working families. Where does your Congressperson stand on public power?
Carbon Tax: We pay for this investment by taxing carbon and creating a national carbon trading system. Right now, China is creating the largest carbon trading market in the world, taking the lead on this new paradigm and leaving us in the dust with our “clean coal.” Worldwide, the carbon trading market is poised to hit a trillion dollars a year by 2020, and we are missing the boat. It seems that taxing carbon is the least we can do, and it is time.
The telecommunications industry and its paid representatives present telecommunications – telephone, television, internet – as a product offered to consumers, but the reality is that having phone and internet access is a basic necessity to participate in the modern economy. If you want to have a job, you need a phone and email. In my view, “we the people” allow the telecommunications industry access to our attention, but our attention is more valuable than any iPhone or cable package. We, the American people, are the most powerful demographic in the history of demographics, and if corporations want access to our attention, they should pay for it, and we have every right to set standards consistent with our values of freedom and equality. The right of the people to a free press is a cornerstone of our democracy, and in 2018, telecommunications is “The Press.” We cannot allow corporate interests to self-regulate and sensor the internet.
Medicare For All
Imagine if your house were on fire and when you called the fire department, the operator demanded a credit card payment of $999.99 before they would allow you to speak with the dispatcher. This is the current healthcare system. We are sick and need help, so they charge us extra because we have no choice. As I have said for years, I believe in a single payer “medicare for all” system to bring the US in line with the rest of the world. Nevertheless, healthcare is a striking example of how the profit motive destroys essential services. The constant increase in the cost of healthcare is driven by insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, for profit clinics and hospitals. A doctor is no longer a servant of the community, but a brand, a profit center for an overarching entitlement class of profiteers.
The primary issue driving up the cost of healthcare is artificial scarcity: we artificially limit the number of licensed doctors. We all know it’s almost impossible to get into medical school. You must have an outstanding GPA and MCATS just to apply, and then we only accept 20,000 new doctors a year nationally, roughly 40% of those who are qualified. Add to that the reality that a quarter of all doctors will reach retirement age in the next few years.
Who benefits from this scarcity?
Rural communities in particular are short of doctors, and this is especially evident in Vermont. Paul Harrington, the executive vice president of the Vermont Medical Society, says thirty percent of the state’s primary care doctors are over the age of 60, which means the shortage will get worse in just a few years (VPR). If we treated medicine like the important social service it truly is, we would address this crisis directly, increase the number of people we accept into medical schools. Instead, the first question is always, how do we squeeze more profit out of the consumer; solving this crisis does not make it to the floor.
New UVM Medical School in Springfield VT.
When I am in the US House, I will sponsor legislation to build Medical Schools in underserved rural communities. If we double the number medical students in rural states, we could use incentives like free tuition to encourage more doctors to plant roots in the community. Imagine if students were invited to attend Medical School in VT; they could graduate with no debt provided they practice primary care in VT for a comfortable wage. Not only will this address the well documented shortage of doctors, it would totally revitalize an area like Springfield. Once an economic engine of Northern New England, Springfield made the weapons for world war one, but now there are few high paying jobs, little industry, little hope. Imagine if all the people of Southern VT who currently go to Dartmouth for serious care, could attend a world class teaching hospital in Springfield? Imagine a Dental School in Springfield where lower income families could get treatment, and students could practice under skilled mentors. As it is, people in Springfield have a perpetually under-resourced hospital, but plenty of fentanyl.
A Voice For Working People
The chart below shows the difference between how people think wealth should be distributed in the US, and how wealth is actually distributed.
Notice that the Bottom 40% of workers — the purple and blue — don’t even register on the “actual” chart. 40% of us have no wealth, so we have very little voice in the conversation. Meanwhile the top 20% control close to 90%.
The Corporate Democrats are dependent on the large corporations and wealthy individuals to finance their campaigns, so they vote to help their donors. Any time you make a law or create a regulation, you are picking a winner and a loser. This is why the Republicans pretend to hate government; it interferes with “freedom,” but we do need government. When congress picks its winners and losers, regular working people are always the losers, because we do not have enough voices in the conversation.
There’s nothing wrong with getting rich. Getting rich is an old American tradition,
but there’s everything wrong with being rich, enjoying vast government subsidies, both
direct and indirect, and refusing to pay your fair share to support the country that made it possible for you to get rich. Tax inequity, wealth inequality — these are signs of corruption in a country overtaken by thieves.
Thoughts on “Class Warfare”
Anytime one of us points out the gaping void between the rich and the poor, we are charged with stirring up “class warfare,” but that is missing the point The oligarchs have always waged class warfare, and they have been just kicking our butts since Ronald Reagan. Record profits followed by ever more tax cuts and look at the roads and the bridges and the schools. The rich few have plundered the country at the expense of the rest of us. The corporate Democrats just stand there looking at their shoes, awkwardly stuffing their pockets with money. Well it’s time we had some democrats with backbone. You can’t shut down the racket when you’re waiting for your cut. Well, I am not looking for a cut. I’m not afraid to fight back, to fight injustice and inequality, not to mention the blatant stupidity of short term profit. I’m ready to fight for “We The People” to create a government of the people, that works for the people.
Don’t you want a Congressman who’s on your side?
Government For The People
Anyone who says we don’t need government has never driven in Boston. Human nature drives us to get ahead, to be first, to win. Any school teacher knows human nature can be selfish, greedy, violent and cruel, and we have a popular culture that celebrates criminals and thieves. The rule of law is the very foundation of our freedom: the constitution set in order a process of laws that hold people to be better than out lowest impulses. The rule of law protects the greater good for the people — to protect our livelihood from selfish and dishonest individuals and organizations. Our very freedom is protected by real working people who risk their lives everyday to do their job. Not just the Military — Firefighters, Law Enforcement Officers, Postal Workers, Bridge Builders, Road Plowers — these are our neighbors and they make our life better.
Nevertheless, working Vermonters are under attack from every direction. Some days it feels like everywhere you turn, people are working to rip us off, scam our children, poison our food, get us hooked on drugs… A representative democracy is intended to represent the majority of people pooling our resources (taxes) to create laws and create structures to protect our lives, our liberty and our property. But more and more it seems Congress passes laws to protect the criminals themselves from the very people they are harming.
Note on Impeachment
On December 6, a majority of Democrats in the US House joined all House Republicans in voting to prevent the House of Representatives from even debating articles of impeachment against President Trump. The House voted 364-58 (with 10 non-votes) to table impeachment articles (H RES 646) sponsored by Texas Democrat. I support both articles in Al Green’s proposal: 1. Impeachment for fanning the flames of bigotry and white supremacy, and 2. Impeachment for violating the Emoluments Clause — receiving money from foreign entities. I would further support articles of impeachment for collaborating with hostile foreign intelligence agencies working to undermine our democratic institutions. I would also vigorously support an investigation into his record of sexual harassment and assault to which he has already confessed on television.