What reforms can progressives implement on the city, county or state level

If progressives want to live in a progressive society, or feel our ideas are better what can be implemented on a city, county or state level to achieve these goals?

On the state level you can get health reform (Vermonts single payer plan, etc), legalization of gay marriage, marijuana legalization, a somewhat progressive state income tax system, higher minimum wage, subsides for renewable energy. I’m guessing other progressive legislation is passed on a state level but I don’t know what all else there is.

What can be done on the city or county wide level? Is a single payer system possible on a city wide level, or would that be too hard to implement?

NYC is trying to do universal Pre-k funded by a progressive tax hike (something like 0.7%). Doing anything on the federal level is not going to happen anytime soon.

I know some cities are trying to implement the Kyoto protocol on a city wide level. I don’t know if there has been any success in doing so, or if any states have tried to implement Kyoto. I think California tried, I have no idea what happened with that.

I guess law enforcement reform can be done on a city or county level. That happens.

Self-ID’d Socialist Kshama Sawant recently was elected to the Seattle City Council. Her agenda there:

Mmm, OK.

And then can we burst the capitalist integument and expropriate the expropriators?

Sawant’s policies, if you took off the label ‘socialist’ and just asked people in opinion polls if they support them would likely get 50%+ of the vote. Politics and policy are pretty disconnected in the US. Politics is more about moral heuristics than substantive debate on policy. George Lakoff was right, and the democrats do not know how to utilize that the way the GOP does.

We’ll learn.

In terms of law, a state can do quite a bit if the legislature and governor choose to. If a state wanted to raise the minimum wage to thirty bucks an hour, it could. If a state wanted to put the tax rate at 80% for income above a million dollars and 0% for income below a million dollars, it could. If a state wanted to pay unionized government workers $200,000 a year, it could.

However, there are certain realities that can intrude. For example, California has the highest top income tax rate in the country, high minimum wage, and powerful public sector unions. So it should be a progressive paradise, right? Turns out that California also has very high income inequality, the nation’s third-highest unemployment rate, and the nation’s highest poverty rate. Other would-be progressive paradises such as New York and the District of Columbia also rank badly.

The major factor in CA’s high poverty rate is the high cost of housing since the state is mostly urban. And that bastion of liberalism, Mississippi, has an unemployment rate of 8% to California’s 8.3%. That doesn’t prove or disprove anything and I’m not interested so much in whether liberalism is good or bad in and of itself. I am wondering what all progressive laws can be passed on a city, county or state level.

Paid sick days lawsare being pushed in a lot of cities.

The American Socialist Party never had much success on the national level, but members did govern several significant cities, notably Milwaukee, for long periods in the early 20th Century. They were pioneers in establishing public services and utilities. More ideological and revolutionary socialists derided this as “Sewer Socialism.” You can read the story in The S Word: A Short History of an American Tradition . . . Socialism, by John Nichols; and also in It Didn’t Happen Here: Why Socialism Failed in the United States, by Seymour Martin Lipset and Gary Wolfe Marks.

As a practical matter, at the county and city levels, the easiest changes to make would be those that are traditionally in their purview. So schools, local infrastructure and transit, property taxes, and so forth.

It would be part of the progressive agenda to expand assistance to the poor, support education, especially for the disadvantaged, and expand access to the arts and recreation. Of course, the tax structure would probably be rearranged to support all that. To prevent businesses from leaving as a result, a quality-of-life publicity plan would have to be initiated.

How successful such a campaign would be would be largely dependent on the political and ideological makeup of the population. Such agendas have worked well in Portland, OR, for example, but have crashed and burned in even such nominally liberal places as the CA Bay Area. And of course, there would be no chance of a progressive agenda ever being implemented at all in the flyover states.

Minnesota begs to differ.

Actually at one time, many of these so-called “Flyover” states were some of the most leftist in the Union, supporting the Populist and Socialist Parties.

Local governments are very important in implementing environmental regs. Some of them are state mandates, but a great deal of them are not. LA and San Francisco have both banned plastic grocery store bags. Lots of locales have levied taxes and fees to improve stormwater systems. The majority of Virginia drivers don’t have to get emissions testing, but in Fairfax County you do.