Prosperity and Growth
California is a major world power. Our economic policies need to reflect the size and scope of our economy, and our values, both at home and abroad. We are the 5th largest economy in the world, yet still have a higher poverty rate than any other state. Clearly, our system can evolve in a way that ensures our continued global prominence, and creates a better standard of living for all Californians.
California must get a fair deal until we separate from the United States. Currently, we receive far less from DC than we send to it each year. We demand an immediate end to this unjustifiable policy. California can no longer be expected to subsidize other states and reckless federal spending while our own needs go unmet.
California, with a dynamic economy that includes both Silicon Valley and the Central Valley, is afflicted with a persistently high level of income inequality. We should examine ways to reduce this inequality, and to limit the immense power that is wielded by individuals whose wealth derives from stock options and initial public offerings. In order to stimulate economic growth, we advocate progressive taxation and a simplification of the tax code. All types of income should be taxed, and in a way that encourages people to invest wealth instead of hoarding it. The current system has led to an unsustainable situation in which the public looks to billionaires to solve problems, rather than seeking to create community-based solutions to issues that affect everyone.
We advocate universal health care as outlined in our healthcare platform. This removes the burden from businesses of paying for employee healthcare, which in turn removes a major barrier to entry for startups and small businesses.
Universal Basic Income
California should adopt a Universal Basic Income, or UBI, for all citizens. Automation, the growth of robotics, and artificial intelligence means that fewer human workers will be needed in the future. Left to its own devices, the free market has no reason to provide a livelihood to persons who are not necessary for its function, and so the government must provide social benefits in order to avoid a humanitarian crisis. Persistent poverty, homelessness, and crime are just some of the blights upon society that can occur when people are replaced by technology and have nowhere else to turn.
Our current federal and state social welfare and unemployment insurance programs are costing us nearly $100 billion per year according to the Congressional Budget Office. The administration of CalFresh, Section 8, welfare, WIC, Medicaid, and many other anti-poverty programs requires a tremendous bureaucracy, and absorbs a large percentage of the tax dollars that should be delivered to those in need. Despite this, poverty is still rampant and frequently an increase in earnings results in a decrease in benefits, sending families into a “poverty trap”.
To address this the California National Party endorses the study and subsequent implementation of UBI. With UBI every adult citizen receives a modest monthly payment regardless of earnings or any other “means testing”. When designed correctly, this will dramatically reduce welfare administrative costs as the myriad of programs are replaced by simply issuing standardized cash payments. It would also eliminate the time and stress suffered by welfare recipients as they attempt to navigate the complexities of the current system, which should enable more efficient pursuit of economic activity. It is not the intent of UBI to provide a luxurious standard of living, rather to ensure that no one goes without housing, food, and other basic needs due to circumstances beyond their control or even their own poor life choices.
In addition to better managing tax dollars, UBI spurs art and innovation and empowers individuals to seek a job that suits them, rather than desperately clinging to one out of fear of homelessness and starvation. Importantly, with full UBI there is no need for a minimum wage, which imposes a tremendous burden on small businesses and distorts the labor market.
This is a very ambitious goal and will require a great deal of careful experimentation. It will be expensive, however the monies distributed via UBI will almost immediately be spent and re-spent locally, not stashed away in an offshore account. The city of Stockton, with a grant from Facebook, has recently begun the first trial of UBI in California. We will be watching the results closely and hope to draw on their experience in developing a plan for state-wide implementation.
California should create a state-owned bank that will hold our gold and other precious metal reserves, manage the Innovation and Equity Funds described below, provide banking services to all Californians, and allow industries which are legal in California yet still illegal or over-regulated in the rest of the United States to have access to banking services. The bank, which we suggest calling the Bank of the Republic of California, will be subject to independent audits every 5 years.
We propose a ban on high-interest payday loan and check cashing businesses that prey on poor and working class people, and charge unconscionable fees for basic services. We propose to instead add branches of the public bank in each county to ensure that all Californians have access to low-cost banking services in their local communities.
California Innovation Fund
We advocate for the creation of an Office of Innovation whose mandate is to find ways to leverage technology to make government more responsive, efficient, and democratic. This office will administer an Innovation Fund that provides funding for science and pure research, in-line with what the most progressive EU nations provide. California should retain patents on technology created, license those patents to businesses that pay taxes in California at a discount in order to encourage tech companies to locate here, and apply the profits towards an endowment for the fund to help it grow and become self-sustaining over time. This innovation fund can also finance research aimed at improving desalination and clean energy technologies that are critical for California’s long-term security.
We encourage cities and counties to create publicly-owned broadband services. These efforts should be woven together in order to create a California-wide system of public broadband that should seek to be the fastest and most affordable broadband in the world.
We advocate for the legislature to facilitate the deployment of autonomous vehicles through sensible regulations regarding their use and funding for additional research and development.
Address Economic Inequality
California should encourage entrepreneurship among working class communities where people lack the skills and social networks that make so many startups possible for those who are already wealthy. California should fund free public classes on how to start and run a business successfully; and offer counseling on obtaining financing, including from the public bank.
California will make micro-credit loans available through the public bank to individuals who complete courses or have equivalent experience and can produce a viable risk-assessed business plan, as well as meeting other reasonable requirements. Micro-credit loans have been proven effective at bringing people, women in particular, out of poverty all over the world. They also have very high payback rates.
We support the creation of a fund, held by the public bank whose mandate is to provide financing, counseling, and logistical support to workers who want to buy their workplaces and turn them into democratically run cooperatives. These would be owned by the employees, not the government, and the loans would be paid back with interest to cover administration costs. Worker-owned businesses do not export jobs and are less likely to downsize workers. They pay living wages, contribute significantly more to community organizations, and have happier, healthier workforces. California has thousands of worker-owned businesses and would benefit from thousands more.
Changing technology means whole industries are becoming obsolete and the average worker will change industries multiple times. We need our workforce to be able to re-train to effectively seize new opportunities. Therefore we advocate government support for mid-career retraining. This must include investment into adult education and community college courses, particularly STEM, to help people change careers and move into fast-growing sectors of the economy. Public-private partnerships will be created to help place graduates of these programs into the workforce.
We will implement measures to ensure access to these programs for low-income and working class people. This includes scholarships, cost of living supports, transportation costs, and low-interest loans, as well as counseling and placement resources. Every struggling family should be provided with the tools needed to overcome poverty.
The California government must support and defend the right of workers to organize for collective bargaining, forming unions, and advocating for their collective interests.
Marijuana must remain legal for use by responsible adults in their own homes throughout California, and this right must be recognized by every county.The National Bank of the Republic of California will engage in transactions with the marijuana industry as it would with any other legal and legitimate business.
However, counties and cities will retain the right to restrict or ban sales, disallow public consumption, limit or even refuse permits for commercial operations, and set local tax rates, in addition to the California tax, to fund local programs.
Like all sectors of the agriculture industry, marijuana growers, processors, and distributors must follow employment, environmental, and business law at both the California and county level. Counties can call on assistance from the California government to enforce compliance of county laws regarding such violations.
Automobiles are different in many ways in rural and urban regions, most especially in more sparsely populated, decentralized counties where mass transit options are limited if not absent. Many of these areas also have a lower median income level compared to more urbanized regions. As such, the current system of a flat, California-wide gas tax is a clear form of regressive taxation that disproportionately impacts these communities.
The California National Party will seek to set a hard limit on the California excise tax on gasoline as a percentage of not more than 8%, immediately reducing gas costs. These funds are to be used only for transportation infrastructure, primarily for projects that span over multiple counties or are necessary transit or commercial corridors. The California government will then disperse additional funds to counties for construction and development based on factors such as population, demonstrable need, frequency and volume of both local and transient use, etc.
Counties would then also be permitted set their own local gas sales tax to be used for county transportation infrastructure programs, with matching funds provided by the California government. Smaller counties could form regional transit agencies, pooling together funds and resources.
Areas with fewer transportation developments and greater automotive needs can keep their taxes low, while areas requiring, for example, greater mass transit spending, can increase their local tax to raise funds and discourage unnecessary driving. Such taxes would be set by the Board of Supervisors, which is more responsive to the transportation needs of the community and directly accountable to voters.
Intellectual Property and Media
The way that information is produced, disseminated, and consumed has changed dramatically with the rise of first television and now the internet. We feel that allowing corporate conglomerates to exercise monopoly-type powers over information is bad for our culture and our democracy.
The California National Party advocates reforms to the way licensing for radio and TV stations is carried out to make it easier for people to start community radio and television stations. When all media is owned by a few corporations, minority voices are silenced and there is no freedom of the press. Specifically:
- We support limits on the number of radio and television stations that a single entity can own.
- Equal access to internet bandwidth is extremely important, as this is now the primary avenue for consumption of news and entertainment. We strongly support net neutrality as a way to foster independent media and limit the control that gigantic, highly integrated corporations have over the information that makes its way into our homes and minds.
Similarly we must address the rules regarding how existing works can enter the public domain. While we must enable artists and makers to legally profit from their creations, over time the laws have evolved to favor perpetual corporate profits at the expense of novelty. Copyrights exist as an incentive towards innovation; extending them infinitely does nothing to spur innovation, favors monopolistic practices and creates unnecessary barriers to entry in the market. Therefore we advocate for restoring copyright laws to their original constitutional guidelines.
California shall create an arts fund in line with EU standards to fund the arts. Public art is economical and has significant economic and cultural benefits over the long term.
California will mandate that radio and television stations broadcast on publicly owned airwaves must play at least 20% music or other locally produced content by people from their local region, in order to ensure local artists have a chance at exposure and can gain traction. Media consolidation has created significant barriers to entry for artists and musicians, and has resulted in a much less competitive media market. This is bad for artists and bad for the industry itself in the long term. This proposal is based on a very successful similar law in France that has had significant positive economic and cultural impacts, while costing virtually nothing to implement.We advocate an overhaul of patent law to encourage and reward innovation instead of erecting unnecessary barriers to entry. This includes reinstating limits on copyright, restoring the original constitutional guidelines, and eliminating copyright extensions as noted above.