BELLINGHAM - Break up the big banks. Forgive student loan debt. Invest billions in clean energy and conservation to put millions back to work. Drive down the cost of health care with a single-payer system. Raise billions with a new one-half-percent tax on Wall Street transactions.
Those are just a few of the dramatic ideas that Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate, was proposing during a Friday, Oct. 19, visit here.
In an interview before an evening talk at Western Washington University, the Harvard-educated physician said her party stands for a lot more than just green energy and environmental protection.
"We are about the planet, but we're also about the people," Stein said. "If you want to take care of the planet, you have to take care of the people."
Green Party candidates have not made much of a ripple locally or nationally. Four years ago, Green Party standard-bearer Cynthia McKinney got 210 votes in Whatcom County.
But Stein's name will be on the ballot in 38 states this November, including Washington.
A sample of some of the Green Party proposals that Stein advocates:
Student loan debt: "Instead of continuing to bail out the banks ... how about instead we bail out the students? That would free up a generation who are really indentured servants right now. ... They can do what their education trained them to do and reboot the economy."
Green New Deal: For an amount less than Barack Obama's economic stimulus, 25 million people could be put to work on energy conservation, alternative energy and other projects that would be administered by local governments, Stein said.
"The green economy puts a halt to climate change and makes wars for oil obsolete."
Health care costs: "What we call a health care system now is really a sick care system. The sick care system is bankrupting us while we're getting sicker ... and maintaining those pharmaceutical and insurance company profits."
She says a single-payer government-funded system has controlled the cost of medical care in Canada, but she doesn't want to stop there. She wants to encourage healthier diets and cleaner air and water to stop "poisoning people into the sicknesses they have now."
Education: Stein wants to get rid of high-stakes tests while focusing on promoting the well-being of students.
"You can't teach kids who are stressed out and malnourished. ... Kids' brains are on fire, really, because they are eating mostly toxic stuff."
Stein contends that the cost of these proposals could be covered by shifting money out of the national defense budget and adding a half-percent Wall Street transaction tax that would have the side-benefit of discouraging speculative trading.
The financial crisis and the bank bailouts that followed have triggered anger across the political spectrum. Asked why conservative political groups appear to have tapped into that anger more effectively, Stein attributed that to big contributions that those groups can get from powerful financial interests.
"They tend to have very big budgets behind them," Stein said, noting that her party has many areas of agreement with right-wing groups.
"Where we don't agree is the power of big money to run our economy," Stein said. "The solution to bad government is not no government. Then all we have is corporate government."