The average Arkansan family will pay $440/YEAR which will insure EVERY member in their household under Medicare For All. The time has come for America to follow every other industrialized nation and give its citizens universal healthcare. Our current health system is putting profits above the health of Americans. Citizens are literally dying because they can’t afford their prescription drugs! The working class is spending 10-20% of their total income on health insurance which is completely unacceptable. There is not a single country on Earth that has reverted from a single payer health insurance to a private system. Dan's family spends around $8,300 a year on their insurance premiums, then must pay $3,500 in deductibles before his private insurance helps. Last year he lost part of the hearing in his left ear (and now has tinnitus, never ending ringing, for the rest of his life) because of the costs (nearly $1,200 to get a referral and see a specialist plus the tests involved) required to get medical help. Dan understands the struggles of private health insurance and wants to make sure no more Americans suffer because they can't afford medical care while paying huge sums of money for insurance. America is the only modernized nation in the world where citizens can go bankrupt just for getting sick. Last year the top 5 pharmaceutical companies profited $69,000,000,000, while Americans DIED because they could not afford their prescription drugs! As a cable guy I went into houses where senior citizens had to cut their prescription pills in half because they couldn't afford a refill! It’s time we tell these insurance companies that enough is enough and that we must start putting People > Profits. Human misery should never be monetized.
We live in a time where there are more than 29 lobbyists per U.S. Congressman that spend 24/7 trying to get your congressman to vote a certain way. Billionaires funnel unlimited amounts of money into our political system in exchange for political favors. The Koch brothers alone spent $400,000,000 in 2018 to help candidates get elected, when 86% of candidates with more campaign funds get "elected." Why would someone spend 400 million to help candidates get elected you ask? With the last tax bill that was passed by the congressmen they helped get elected, they were able to save over $50,000,000,000. We NEED elected officials to start representing their constituents and not the special interest donors that are making them rich. When a brave citizen enlists in the military, they give up certain rights, and I believe elected officials should do the same. If running for a public office a candidate should give up the right to financial privacy. Constituents should be able to go online and view their representatives' bank accounts. People should be able to see where money is coming from and where it goes. If someone doesn't like this because they are engaged in unethical or illegal activities, don't run for public office. I also believe elected officials should give up their right to plead the fifth amendment. If you want to represent people, don't be a criminal. Period.
I believe Marijuana should be federally decriminalized. It should be up to the voters in each state whether they want this drug to be illegal, whether medicinal or recreational. Let the people vote for the laws they adhere to. The war on drugs has done nothing for Americans but create a way to mass incarcerate individuals and ruin lives. If you look at the success of states that have legalized marijuana you would understand why this is such an important issue. Oregon has used the tax dollars gained from marijuana sales to fund their schools. Colorado made so much money they even refunded their taxpayers! If your child goes to school in Oregon their bus rides are free, their school lunches are free, their school materials are free, the instruments for band can be rented for free. No citizen, resident, guest, or undocumented immigrant should EVER go hungry. There is so much revenue gained from marijuana taxes that conservatives have come together with liberals to support legalization across more than half of the states. Americans that have obtained a medicinal recommendation should not have their second amendment rights removed. We need to protect legal patients' ability to purchase a firearm. Not only do we need to give states the option to vote on this legislation for themselves, but we need to pardon all marijuana related crimes across our great nation. That includes possession and paraphernalia. Together we will federally decriminalize cannabis and nationally expunge cannabis related charges for ALL Americans! Another thing that needs to happen is protecting law-abiding Americans' right to employment. An employer should NOT be allowed to fire an employee for testing positive for cannabis IF; They are a legal medicinal patient and test positive; They live in a recreational legal state; And have broken no laws.
Corporations like Amazon are getting away with paying little to no taxes. Amazon, FedEx, and Netflix paid $0 in taxes last year. While these corporations are skating by taxes, billionaires are also dodging them. An estimated $21,000,000,000,000 is floating around offshore bank accounts avoiding taxation. When we spend our money, we expect it to be taxed and come back into our communities, but it is instead going to offshore banks to build interest rather than building our economy. We need to close the loopholes that allow the rich to avoid paying their fair share. Why do we punish people for working? Why do we tax the working class so high while giant corporations and billionaires get away with paying little to nothing? The answer is simple: billionaires lobby money into legislators’ pockets in exchange for favorable legislation. What we need to do is enforce taxes on those avoiding them, then lower taxes for the working class. The new tax bill that our "representatives" voted to pass cost Americans $93,000,000,000 more in income taxes in 2018, while corporations paid $90,000,000,000 less. This is not what a representative should have done. This is what happens when legislators are on the payrolls of the corporations.
Climate change is real. Period. 97% of the scientists on Earth have come to agreement this is no longer a political issue. You can say it is not and pretend all you want, but that does not change the facts. The impact mankind has had on our ecology is so unsustainable that we have already entered the sixth great extinction. We stand to lose 70% of ALL species on our planet within the next 50 years. We have already lost over 50% of the coral reefs around the world which contain 25% of ALL sea life. To make things worse this cascading effect will continue to hasten. As the ice melts around our planet the oceans are less white and bluer, which means the earth absorbs more light and reflects less heat. As the ice melts it is uncovering millions of acres of frozen tundra that is releasing carbon and methane that has been stored for millions of years. We have a mere 12 years to make drastic changes before we reach the point of no return. I am not saying the world is going to end, but the world as we know it is now changing. Our children will suffer dire droughts and great storms to the like’s mankind has never faced. A republican Mayor in Texas was able to get his constituents to agree on changing to a 100% renewable energy source and has since then created safer jobs with less hours and higher pay, lowered the electric bill of residents to less than $20/month, while lowering emissions. We can follow this brave republican’s model and make Arkansas the leader in clean energy. Let’s keep our Natural State the most beautiful in the nation.
I support free college tuition for 2 year degrees, with the ability to continue at no cost to the student if they have a 3.0+ GPA. If we are to continue to be the greatest nation in the world, we must continue to educate without the threat of having a lifetime of debt. Students are graduating with tens of thousands of dollars of debt and get stuck paying the interest while barely touching the principal debt owned. I propose we cap the interest rate on Federal Student Loans at 1-2%, the current rate is 4.5%+. It’s time we stop punishing our youth with endless interest payments and start rewarding them for furthering their education in order to better our society. We also need to start promoting the continuing of education after high school. We need to promote vocational training and college degrees. I understand not everyone wants to get a degree, but the option should be there. Let's focus on supplying vocational training for those not wanting a degree and helping support our future working class by providing free college tuition to community colleges. The price of college textbooks has risen 1000% over the last 10 years. Colleges have become an industry of giant profits and huge debts, rather than a tool for education and the betterment of society.
For FAR TOO LONG America has been in the business of war. We have turned our military into a last resort occupation for poor kids looking to get free education and healthcare. Giving the military industrial complex a steady supply of soldiers. Companies that profit from these wars, such as; Exxon Mobil; Raytheon; and Boeing, have been lobbying billions of dollars into our political system in order to receive favorable votes that allow them to keep these wars going. We have been at war with foreign nations for the last 222 out of 239 years. What we need to do is bring all our troops home and stop destabilizing foreign governments, which in the long run makes regions worse for their inhabitants while creating terrorists that hate America. I do not support spending $25 billion taxpayer dollars to build a wall, but I can support bringing our troops home and having them build the wall instead. We spend on average around $3 billion dollars PER DAY on war. Most of this money does not go to our troops, but to defense contractor companies which are mostly owned by ex-legislators. They use these defense companies and wars to funnel tax dollars into their pockets.
Disarming citizens and taking our guns goes against everything that America stands for and is unconstitutional. A person can purchase a firearm without undergoing a background check and this needs to be fixed. We need to provide, enforce, and properly fund background checks in order to prevent the wrong people from being able to legally purchase firearms. This would keep weapons in the proper hands, and out of the hands of people unfit to wield them. I do not believe that the Government should be relieving law-abiding citizens of their right to own a firearm. I do not support bans on possession or transport of firearms.
The imprisonment of humans is at a record high. The U.S. accounts for only around 5% of the world’s population, yet we account for nearly 25% of all incarcerated people. We have prisons that deny parole to inmates merely to keep jail cells filled, because that's how they get paid. Between 1990 and 2009 the prison population increased by nearly 1600%! In 2010 the two largest private prisons received nearly $3 BILLION in revenue while paying their executives over $3 million per year. It's time we stop putting criminals in cages and start rehabilitating them instead. Take some time to read this amazing book, Banking on Bondage to better understand the terrible conditions we subject American citizens to. https://www.aclu.org/banking-bondage-private-prisons-and-mass-incarceration The migrant child detention facilities are costing taxpayers $22,000/month in order to incarcerate innocent children in conditions that doctors have deemed "torture conditions." Children belong in homes, not concentration camps. I propose we offer loving American families $2,000/month to house a child. This would be like foster care but would be a limited amount of time while the child's parents are undergoing the immigration process.
The most important thing in our country is the nourishment and education of our future generations. In Arkansas the beginning salary for a teacher averages at $33,973. This has created the problem where we lose so many quality teachers to other professions that our children are suffering. We need teachers’ pay to reflect the importance of the job they have, to mold and prepare the future of our society. A few months ago, we raised teachers' minimum wage to $36,000, but that isn't enough. I propose we raise the teacher's minimum to $40,000. We can do this by improving the economies in rural towns. We need to bring industry to these areas which will bring more income to their communities. We can do this with new cash crops and clean energy.
I keep getting the question, "What is a livable wage?" and here is my answer. A person should not be working 2-3 jobs or 50-60 hours per week just to live paycheck to paycheck. There are no more cities in America where a single mom can work a full-time job and be able to afford a 1-bedroom apartment. This wage should not be determined by the federal government but should be determined state to state and county by county. But the current minimum wage is too low. We have seen workers’ wages remain near stagnant over the last 20 years while CEO's pay has increased 168%. If we change how we classify business, we can take on this challenge more easily. We can reclassify business as small, medium, and large. Small businesses will be mom and pop shops that profit under $1,000,000/year. Medium business will be companies that profit under $100,000,000/year. Large corporations will be classified as businesses that profit more than $1,000,000,000/year. Large corporations should be REQUIRED to pay a minimum of $15.00/hour. We can then tax businesses in a progressive way where small pay around 10%, medium pay around 20%, and large corporations pay 30% in taxes. This will alleviate that tax burden on struggling small businesses while enforcing corporations that profit billions to pay their fair share.
The #22aday epidemic, 22 veterans commit suicide every day in America, this issue should be at the top of all headlines. The VA does not work. We need to have both Veterans and Doctors come together to find a way to make sure our soldiers get the care they need when they come home.
It is law that all government building is handicap accessible. While traveling to Little Rock I spent a few hours talking to a group of homeless citizens. Who are the most vulnerable people in America? The elderly? The homeless? The disabled? Well one of the gentlemen I spoke with is in all three of these categories. There are 2 homeless shelters in Little Rock and only one of them has handicap access. We need to require ALL homeless shelters to be handicap accessible.
When a citizen enlists in the military, they give up certain rights. I believe an elected official should have to do the same. Politicians should be required to give up their right to financial privacy. A constituent should be able to access every politicians’ financial records to see where their money is coming from, and where it is going. If you don't like this, don't run for a public position. Elected officials are public servants, they are supposed work for the people, not the other way around. Legislators should not have any financial interest in the laws they vote on. I propose we require all elected officials to liquidate their portfolios upon taking office. While in office legislators will not be allowed to be shareholders during their time of public service.
I propose we lower elected officials pay. Why does a senator need to make a huge salary while their constituents are making closer to $40,000? Yes, it is important to understand a congressman must own a residence in both his home state and in Washington DC, but that doesn't require such giant lavish salaries. It should be up to constituents to determine if their representatives' salary either increases, decreases, or remains the same.
Corporations spending unlimited amounts of money to help candidates get elected is not freedom of speech. When 86% of candidates with more campaign funds get "elected," and most of their finances are coming from huge corporations there is a problem. We can fix this issue, strengthening our democracy, by ending Citizens United.
Currently, we need to eliminate the grey area on what belongs to us and what does not. Our political representatives in the US Senate gave our Internet Service Providers, after taking huge sums of money from them, the rights to our private internet usage data. Our ISP monitors, records, then sells our internet history to third party advertisers. We need to put an immediate stop to this. We must make it clear that what we do online is OUR personal property and not someone to sell to others.
Businesses have been taking advantage of workers and enough is enough. Your boss could walk into your office today and let you know the company no longer needs you and send you on your way, they don't even have to pay your PTO. Workers need protections that ensure if they are doing their job, they need not be worried of losing it. Just because your company no longer needs you, does not mean your bills will wait. Back in the day every single American working for a large company had the right to vote to form a Union. It took 51% of the workers voting yes. Workers also had federal protections that prevented the companies from retaliating on any worker that participated in the voting process. CEOs from fortune 500 companies have been meeting together for decades at the "Round Table." These CEOs have helped candidates get elected in both local and federal positions to weaken and destroy the Unions that protected Americans as we built America. We need to regain workers’ rights and protections through the choice of Unionism.
"Defund the Police" was a terrible title to the type of reform we need. I do think we need to demilitarize the police, because no officers need to be driving around in tanks or carrying grenade launchers to use against American citizens. There are a few key components to law enforcement reform we need to look at closely.
1. Higher educational requirements. We need to make sure that law enforcement actually know the laws they are to uphold. Current officers should be offered paid time off to complete required courses, at no cost to them.
2. Annual deescalation training. We must make sure that the officers we are calling into highly emotional and stressful situations are properly able to deescalate a situation, without making situations worse.
3. Minimum force necessary requirements. We need to enforce disciplinary actions against officers that do not use the minimum force necessary.
4. Require every law enforcement officer to wear a body camera while on duty and outside their precinct. If a camera is purposefully turned off during an incident involving the officer, the officer should be considered at fault.
5. Community Review Panels. These panels are a way we can uphold deescalation training and the minimum use of force. These panels should also be responsible for overseeing cases in which officers use deadly force against American citizens. After Internal Affairs investigates these shootings the results should be reviewed by community panels in order to make sure that the police are policing the police.
6. Ending Qualified immunity. Law enforcement officers need to be held accountable for the crimes they commit, otherwise they will continue to commit these crimes. Law enforcement officers should not receive special treatment just for being police officers, and should be held to a higher standard than a regular citizen.
No one should ever be discriminated against for their sexual orientation or identity. All Americans are created equal and should have equal constitutional protections. This applies to same sex marriages. It is unconstitutional to prevent a same sex couple from receiving the same tax benefits as any other American couple. I also support same sex couples adopting children. As a cable guy I have been in thousands of peoples homes. I have met so many wonderful people including same sex couples. Being a good parent has nothing to do with sexual orientation or identity.
The two party system has made it to where we are constantly faced with a lesser of two evils voting choice. A troubling poll asked two questions. First, are you enthusiastic to vote for Donald Trump? 68% said yes. Second, are you enthusiastic to vote for Biden? 31% said yes. The majority of people that will be voting for Biden are only doing so to vote against Trump, not because they support Biden.
Ranked choice voting eliminates the need to vote for someone because you don't like their opponent. The way ranked choice voting works is you choose your favorite candidate as your rank 1 choice. Your second rank choice will be your second choice. Then third, and so on. After the election if no candidate has more than 50% of the vote, the candidate with the lowest amount of votes will be eliminated, and the people who voted for that candidate as their first choice will now add their vote to their second choice candidate. If no candidate has reached 50% of the vote yet, the next candidate with the lowest amount of votes will be eliminated, and their voters' next choice will be added to the remaining candidates. This continues until a candidate has over 50% of the vote. This video helps to explain ranked choice voting, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P10PFuBFVL8
Gerrymandering has been used by political parties to create district lines, in which best benefit their parties ambitions, for too long. In order to fix gerrymandering for good I propose we use a computer algorithm to create district lines, rather than having interested parties do it. Only two data points should be taken into account, population and age. We should exempt political affiliation, gender, race/ethnicity, and income.
Arkansas is the only state in which a tenant can go to prison for missing their rent. At the same time a landlord has no obligation to make a dwelling livable.
Domestic abusers have been getting off easy and then returning to their old ways. Women, children, and men, suffer from abuse daily. We need prosecutors to pursue domestic violence charges. HB-4262 is a great start towards keeping families safe, other than putting the Attorney General in charge of the task force, because we are finding more and more corrupt Attorney Generals in our state administrations. One thing is clear, domestic violence is a huge issue here in Arkansas, and across the nation. Too many lives are being ruined due to a lack of acknowledgement, accountability, and a lack of leadership
The US Post has been serving Americans since 1775, when Benjamin Franklin was selected as the first Post Master. There are approximately 471 million pieces of mail delivered every single day through the USPS. We need to remove the legislation that was put into place to directly hurt the USPS in order to make it look inefficient to push for privatization.
We need to make sure that every American child has the proper sex education, as well as access to contraceptives. If we teach children about the responsibilities of sex, they can better understand the choice they are making. If you tell a kid not to have sex, they are going to do it anyways. We also need to make sure that teens and young adults have access to free contraceptives. By doing these two simple things we can end most unwanted pregnancies and then we would no longer have an abortion debate.
I wrote this essay for a class and it helps explain why I am pro-choice. My wife and I had a choice, we chose not to abort, BUT we had a CHOICE! No parent should have to live through their child dying in their arms. Abortion should NOT be used as a form of birth control, but it should be available.
The Five Greatest Hours
It was still dark when I woke up. I opened the sliding glass door and stepped out onto the porch, only to see the faint outline of the trees in my backyard. The first day of spring was almost here. I felt the cold dew on the wooden deck underneath my feet. I remember hearing the birds chirping, as if to welcome the morning sun. Today was the day I had been anticipating with both joy and fear. Today was the day I would meet Kristy. My wife was eight and a half months pregnant, and today was her scheduled c-section. Originally my wife, Fem, was pregnant with twins, but tragically one was absorbed leaving Kristy alone in my wife’s womb. We knew Kristy had been diagnosed with Trisomy 18, but we still had hope. Anxiously, we gathered our prepared bags and began the short, yet seemingly longest, drive to Mercy Hospital. A man stood by the entrance, reading a small black book in his hand. He looked up as he heard us approaching and closed his bible. He was from the local Catholic Church, St. Stephens. He introduced himself as Father Paul. He expressed his sincerest apology to us for what we were about to experience. He knew what his job was. He knew why he was there. He had spoken with my wife previously and understood he was there to baptize our Kristy as soon as she was born. I didn’t know it then, but sometimes the truth is hard to accept, especially when your daughter’s life is at stake. Whether or not I had accepted the truth of the situation, nothing could have compared me for the next five hours. Before we embark on my greatest endeavor together, let’s take a step back. When my wife and I found out we were going to have a second baby we couldn’t have been more excited. My daughter Kaitlynn was just over a year old, and already wanted a sibling. This was the perfect time to add to our family. Within a few months, my wife was as big as she was when during full term with ultrasound, we never expected to discover she was carrying twins! Unfortunately, that excitement was short lived. Within a few weeks I had to rush her to the emergency room because she was having terrible stomach pains. After waiting for what seemed an eternity in the waiting room that smelled of sweat and cigarettes, we were finally called into the back. Our second ultrasound was devastating. We could only see one embryo, as the second had been absorbed and was now gone. The doctor expressed his empathy for us and explained that this is a common thing. After the heartbreaking news we decided to complete a full panel test on the remaining fetus. Nothing could have prepared us for what we would soon find out. The panel tested positive for Trisomy 18, Edwards syndrome. The doctor explained that this was a 100% terminal disease. Who knew a third 18th chromosome would be such a big deal? At this point the doctor’s medical opinion was to terminate the baby. For my devout catholic wife, this was not possible.
Now where were we, Oh yeah! As the three of us entered the automatic doors into the emergency room, I noticed a subtle smell of bleach. A large woman sat at the counter. Her hair was unkempt, and she had a half dead glaze in her eyes. I asked the woman where we should go for our appointment, to which she replied, “Keep going down this hallway, then turn left at the elevator and you’ll be there. By the way congratulations!” At this point the word congratulations has a certain numbness to it. It no longer seems a word of happiness, but one of dull repentance. Unable to come up with a reply I simply nodded my head and began the long walk down the hall towards our appointment. The halls were meticulously clean. Pictures of saints, priests, and nuns lined the bright white walls. The shiny floors caught my attention, leading me to the source of the bleachy smell. We passed picture after picture, statue after statue, until we finally arrived at a brown wooden door with our last name in its placard. This door wasn’t special in any way, it was the same as every other door in the hallway, yet the thought of entering it frightened me. My wife was led away by a nurse to begin prepping for her surgery. Now it was just Father Paul and I. Time seemed to stand still inside this small clean room. His discomfort of the situation showed on his scrunched brow. Yet he still managed a small smile and a comforting, “How are you doing?” With a galaxy of worry in my mind all I could find were a few insincere words, “I’m OK.” The uneasy silence then continued until we heard a quiet knock on the door. The doctor opened the door and motioned us to him. He leaned towards me and put his hand on my shoulder, “Are you ready?” he said to me. Through a short choke, I barely managed to get out the hardest “Yes” of my life.
Father Paul and I entered the operating room to find more than a dozen people inside. I could feel 30 eyes penetrate me. I felt naked, like I was in a nightmare where I showed up to school with no clothes on. I was worried about my wife’s surgery as I was worried about our unborn daughter inside of her. My wife was lying in a bed surrounded by doctors and nurses. All I could see was her upper torso. She had a blue hair net on that matched the cloth blocking our view of the operation to come. Next to her head was a small steel stool, in which I quickly decided would be mine. I really needed to sit down, that’s all I had wanted since I entered the room and the weight of the situation hit me. I could feel the cold stool through my jeans. Father Paul decided to find a spot with a better vantage point of the operation and found that spot at the foot of my wife’s bed. As the operation proceeded, I focused on calming my wife and talking with her. Now and again I would glance at Father Paul and see him gazing, as if memorized, at the doctors who were hard at work. His eyes opened so wide it almost seemed his eyeballs may fall out. His mouth was slightly open making him look like a vulture waiting for its prey to finally succumb to its end. Quite suddenly the doctor stepped back and began walking the baby across the room to another group of doctors. I didn’t hear anything. I sat frozen, unable to look, unable to comprehend what was happening. I sat frozen unable to breathe. It took 30 seconds of panic, 30 seconds of not being able to find any air in a giant open room, until I finally heard a cry. It was 8:29 a.m. March 9, 2015. Jumping to my feet I quickly moved to my newborn daughter’s side. There she was, the most fragile and precious thing I have ever laid my eyes upon. Father Paul followed close behind me, he had a job to do and he knew he may not have a lot of time to do it. He began reciting something inaudible to me, moved his hands around as is performing a seance. Like that, his job was done.
The next five hours were among the greatest moments of my life. I was escorted back to that frightening brown door, which now seemed more welcoming. Inside the room were flowers that seemingly appeared out of thin air. I liked this; it made the room feel more alive. I waited anxiously for any news about my wife and daughter. After what seemed hours, in this timeless room, I heard that familiar knock. My wife’s bed was wheeled in, she was asleep. She looked as if she had just glanced at the other side of life. Her skin was pale, and her eyes closed tightly. Following behind her was a nurse carrying our little Kristy. The nurse placed Kristy in my arms. I instantly pulled her in close to me and held her firmly against my chest. She wasn’t crying at all. She just looked up at me with huge curious eyes, ready to take in the whole world. Continuing to hold her as if she was everything, I’ve ever worked for I sat down for some much-needed rest. As I started examining her, I noticed differences in physical features that are common with Trisomy 18 babies. Her ears were much lower than mine, they were in line with her nose. In fact, she had my nose, my lips, my eyes. Her hands and feet were near perfect copies of mine. To me she looked to be a healthy happy baby girl. Yet I could tell there was something wrong. Her hands were purple, her breathing heavy. She didn’t seem to be in any distress, only happy to see my smile. With a reflecting smile on her face she giggled at me. I asked the doctor why her hands were so purple, a question to which I was not ready for the answer. Her heart wasn’t fully developed, so her blood wasn’t flowing properly through her body. I asked what we could do to solve the problem, another question I wasn’t ready to hear the answer to. The doctor explained, “There is nothing we can do. We can put her on machines and keep her alive, but the longest she could possibly survive with her condition is a few days. I suggest you enjoy what little time you have with her.” The answer to my question devastated me. I knew I had to make every minute count. I put on some music on my phone, Owl City. I wanted something relaxing, warming, comforting for her to hear. My wife had woken up and was excited to hold our little Kristy. For a few hours we all laid together, smiling, laughing, and crying. After some time, I looked over and noticed Kristy’s hands were no longer purple, they were white. It was 1:34 pm March 9, 2015. For the next 5 hours I experienced the greatest pain in my life.
Dan and Kristy Fem Whitfield The Five 5 Greatest Hours