10 Issues for 2018

When I first announced my candidacy for the US House of Representatives, I declared that I was not running against Dennis Ross but was running to represent the people of District 15. Real representation for my neighbors, all of my neighbors, both in District 15 and across this country must  be a priority as we move our government back to being an institution of, for, and by the people. But “real representation” is a fairly broad concept. So in a somewhat hierarchical order here is what I believe we must stand for and be willing to fight for in 2018 and beyond.

  1. We must eliminate dark money, huge corporate contributions, and gerrymandering from our political process. Until we do,  we will have a government that simply swings from favoring one group of contributors to another with no real, lasting representation for the people of our country.
  2. “If we do not quit bickering among ourselves and confront the real enemy, then it really won’t matter whose bones sit upon the iron throne.” The real enemy is the  unrelenting attack on our environment, our health, and our future. The cost of doing business must include making those responsible for poisoning our air, water, food, land, and climate also responsible for cleaning up their mess and restoring our most precious resources. If we continue to allow Koch Industries, Monsanto, and the ALEC aligned oil companies to buy our representatives while destroying our very means of survival, then soon no amount of corporate or personal profits will protect us for from a self-inflicted destruction of our very existence.
  3. Equality of opportunity, equality in our law, equality in our justice system, equality in our housing markets, equality in our job markets, equality in our health options, etc., must be guaranteed for every American. We cannot support, promote, or legislate hate and discrimination based upon race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, heritage, income bracket, or any other arbitrary factor. “All people are created equal” and must be treated equal under a system of laws that apply equally to every individual whether that person is a dishwasher, a homeless vet, or the President of the United States.
  4. Health care is not a privilege it is a human right. We give trillions away to the wealthiest individuals and most profitable companies in the world, but are told we cannot afford to make sure every American has access to basic health care. This is not a fiscal or political issue, this is a moral issue. Whether the answer is Medicare for All or a public health insurance option, we cannot continue to bankrupt millions and let hundreds of thousands die simply because our government insists that we redistribute hundreds of billions each year from working families to the inefficient and highly profitable insurance industry.
  5. Real reform for wages, worker’s rights, and middle class households. A living minimum wage that is tied to inflation (and a truly representative CPI). Incentives for corporations should be earned through increased worker benefits, employee ownership, higher contributions to retirement plans,  funded pensions, research and development, and expansion of future domestic hiring (as opposed to giving unprecedented corporate welfare for strictly political purposes).
  6. Affordable, quality education which includes increasing teacher pay so that we can hire and retain the best to teach our children, options in higher education to maximize learning and provide a higher return for investments of time and money, more options to allow students and parents to lower the costs of education, and a reform of student loan legislation that makes borrowing more affordable and that does not fiscally handicap students for decades after graduation.
  7.  Protect Social Security and Medicare. There are plenty of ways to keep both fully-funded without making draconian cuts to benefits that have been paid for through a lifetime of hard work.
  8. Strengthen consumer protection laws, including financial protections and the right to collectively seek legal justice.
  9. Protect the Freedom of Information, the freedom of the press to report verifiable and truthful news, and Net Neutrality, the open and free Internet.
  10. Tax capital and unearned income at the same rates that we tax labor.

If you agree and would like to contribute to getting real representation for the people of District 15, you can donate to Williams Works – Greg Williams for Congress here.

Net Nuetrality

Support a Free and Open Internet

I have been online since 1986. That was the year the Freedom of Information Act and a company called Compuserve made online communication affordable and accessible to Americans and created the foundation for what the world know now knows as The Internet. As I worked to expand the family business into international markets, I experienced first hand how the Internet improved communications, made trade more affordable, and allowed innovative companies to leverage this power to build relationships and to bring products to market faster and more cheaply than ever before.

When I managed a web firm at the turn of the century, I helped over a hundred small businesses and non-profit organizations expand past their brick and mortar confines to grow and expand in ways that used to be impossible to imagine.  For 31 years, I have watched the free and open Internet grow from a small, niche curiosity to a major catalyst for growth and competition across the globe.  The free and open Internet has created thousands of new companies, millions of well-paying jobs, and today accounts for over 7% of our country’s total GNP.

Unfortunately, corporations that have profited from the technology subsidized by US taxpayers want more money and more control. Whether it is ISP’s attempting to block access to web sites that post negative comments about their services, or companies that blackmail content providers like Netflix by threatening to throttle  bandwidth speeds unless a high premium was paid, the internet as we know it is at risk of turning into a stagnant, . If Net Neutrality is a new topic to you, you might be surprised that many of us have been fighting for more than decade to protect your 1st Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of information.

For me, the impact of Congress on my daily life came when Dennis Ross co-sponsored SOPA, a hollywood-sponsored bill that would have given corporations unchecked censorship of the Internet. Not only was this an attempt to impede individuals’ First Amendment Rights, it was a direct assault on my job, economic growth in my community, and employment opportunities for my students. I looked into Ross’ campaign to discover a huge part of his first Congressional campaign funds came directly from the entertainment industry. It was then that I realized my representative in Congress would sell out me, my children, my students, and my entire community for a campaign contribution. (*Although Ross originally co-sponsored SOPA on 10/26/2011, after the bill stalled amid grassroots protests and public outcry, he eventually removed his name as a co-sponsor on 01/23/2012.)

Since that time, Ross has been influential in derailing efforts to protect Net Neutrality in the US House (2014, 2015) which led to Obama’s reclassification of the Internet as a public utility. Ross and fellow Tea Party Republicans have also passed a number of corporate friendly, anti-consumer bills which have weakened security requirements for ISP’s and authorized the collecting and selling of individuals’ personal browsing history and app usage.

In order to reclaim the Internet, its potential for increased innovation, and its economic potential, we need to:

  1. Support legislation prohibiting ISP’s from collecting or selling our online and app usage history;
  2. Support legislation that prohibits any ISP who charges for Internet connectivity or online data transfer, either independently or as part of a communications bundle (Cel, cable, or satellite), to discriminate between legal content providers or to charge surcharges to legal content providers for access to their networks and customers;
  3. Not support any further government subsidies of telecommunications providers until the $400 billion in unfinished telecommunications contracts have either been completed or the investment has been returned to the US taxpayers;
  4. Support legislation to allow local communities to purchase and maintain their own public networks;
  5. Vote for candidates  who are supportive of the expansion of First Amendment Rights, want to protect and promote economic growth, are staunch advocates for consumer rights, and will never sell out your interest in exchange for political favors and campaign contributions.