With the 2014 MassGOP convention coming up, many people are starting to think about what should be in the platform. The party has had a rather minimalist platform in the past, allowing candidates maximum freedom on the issues. However, it seems there is a strong feeling on the State Committee that we need to add more planks.
I wrote most of this document more than a year ago to show that we can have strong ideas that address many areas, without taking stands on the most controversial social issues. What I have written below has real consequences for how government should function, yet none of it will set off alarm bells with independent voters. I have not been asked for my opinion by the SC, nor will I be. This is just food for thought. So if anyone is wondering what kinds of solid ideas might make for a Republican platform that would find support among a majority of voters, here is a source of solid ideas.
Massachusetts will have the most efficient state government in America
We are living though a revolution in information technology that has barely taken hold in government. We should make all efforts to use online services, open source software, and cloud computing to dramatically reduce the size and cost of government. We will seek input from the private sector, not government technology contractors, on the best ways to take advantage of efficiencies already achieved in our many native corporations.
A preference for work
A strong work ethic is one of the things that has made America, and Massachusetts, great. We support efforts to remove government programs and regulations that result in less work from the private and public sector, and we also support policies that make working full time lead to a better life.
Sound governance is more valuable to cities and towns than additional financial aid from Beacon Hill
Too much effort is spent routing money from taxpayers through Beacon Hill to communities across the state. The state should encourage best practices across municipalities and focus on spending money more wisely at the local level. Better governance will provide greater benefits than larger local aid distributions.
Protection of our great non-profits, religious institutions, and charities
We are blessed by the work of the many charities, hospitals, churches, think tanks, and universities in our state. They help our citizens in many ways, they displace the need for government services, and they enrich our culture. We will defend their independence, resist efforts to compel them to make payments in lieu of taxes, or participate in government programs that violate their principles. We will regulate them with a light touch.
An environmentalism about people
We support the management of our resources in a way that will improve public health, preserve natural resources, and provide natural spaces for human recreation. We do not support the arbitrary protection of plants and animals as a matter of public policy. We believe that public-private partnerships are superior to the model where government is automatically in opposition to private interests.
Innovation in education by favoring students over institutions
We need citizens to be learning throughout their lives to provide a superior workforce. Our current education system is a product of pre-Internet delivery mechanisms. New technologies and new approaches must be tested and employed to improve the quality of education. Policy must favor lower-level experiments rather than higher-level mandates. We must also favor the students, not the existing institutions that work in education. Home-based education for children and adults must be protected from regulations that favor institutions.
Superior public health thorough choice, competition, and individual responsibility
Public health, and the cost of government programs, have become a major concern for our state. We believe that choice and competition should be the means by which services are improved and made more affordable. We believe the goal is health, not health insurance. Individuals must have incentives to maintain their own health; government officials cannot absolve them of this responsibility through comprehensive insurance and command-and-control policy. We encourage private-sector involvement to improve public health and wish to protect and indemnify all good-faith efforts toward that goal.
Reduced incarceration through local community action
Massachusetts, like all states, incarcerates far too many of its citizens, at enormous financial and social costs. We must take all reasonable measures to reduce the prison population, especially non-violent offenders. More community based probation programs must be employed, as well as community policing, and increased funding for drug treatment.
A preference for the private sector, with respect for government
When the private sector can provide a workable solution, that should be preferred to a government effort that promises an ideal solution. When a task is something that the private sector can not or will not provide, we will respect a disciplined government effort to solve the problem.
Equality of public and private sector employment
There should be parity between public and private work. We need good government workers, but their total compensation should not exceed their private sector counterparts. A bus driver or tutor in the private sector should not be asked to fund a more comfortable lifestyle or retirement for bus drivers or teachers in government.
Tolerance and oversight of gambling, not a lust for its revenues
Some people in Massachusetts desire to gamble their money in various ways. That is their choice. The government should supervise these activities, and collect revenues beyond ordinary taxes to compensate for the social costs incurred by abuse of gambling. However, the government should not enter into any arrangement where it has a strong incentive to cooperate with private gambling interests to increase the gambling done by our citizens.
A level playing field for all workers in all contracting
All free citizens who wish to work, be it for a private interest, or for a government contract, should be able to compete freely and fairly against others. There should be no discrimination related to membership in a union or political connections of any kind.
Taxation should be simple, fair, non-politcal, and fund the basic needs of a humble government
Taxation should not be a means for social engineering or rewarding powerful interests. It must primarily fund the basic operations of government, not redistribute income. It should not discriminate among individuals or corporations in similar circumstances.
Infrastructure is a critical investment in future prosperity and must be freed from considerations apart from utility, quality, and cost
Massachusetts desperately needs to spend money to repair and upgrade a great deal of infrastructure. This money should primarily be raised and spent at the most local possible level. It should involve private investment whenever possible. The work should not be awarded according to politics or any affiliation with a corporation of any type.
A fair deal between good government and good business
Our government does not keep score about the various burdens it puts on our businesses. We need a new arrangement. In return for capable infrastructure, quality educational options, and efficient government services, businesses will support reasonable regulations and taxation. Government should not increase taxation or regulation without improving what it provides. Businesses should not seek favorable treatment from legislators.