Precautionary Principles Enunciated – Holy Cow!
An Earth Manifesto
publication by Dr. Tiffany B. Twain
Political Precautionary Principles
We human beings
are evolutionarily adapted to be social animals. This is our true human nature. The survival of thousands of generations of
our hunter-gatherer ancestors depended on close cooperation between males and
females, and between members within clan groups. Our ancestors depended on
cooperation and group cohesion much more than on individual selfishness or
ruthlessness in competition.
honed human beings to be disposed to share food, shelter and child-rearing
duties with other members of the groups in which they lived. Social misfits and freeloaders and pugnacious
non-conformists were likely ostracized or banished, along with those who were
unwilling to help provide for the greater security of the group or abide by
communal rules for rubbish disposal and cave hygiene. Such clan discord diminished the prospects of
being successful for all clan members in their common evolutionary goal of
surviving to pass their genes on to their offspring in future generations.
With the advent
of the Agricultural Revolution, the size of in-groups expanded and they became
more focused on extended families and their agrarian communities. In essence, as the civilizing influences of
living in larger communities increased, our groups became more “domesticated”
and civilized. Behaviors consistent with
Golden Rule reciprocity came to be more important and adaptive.
In modern times,
sink-or-swim Social Darwinism became fashionable among the few who gained most
of the wealth generated by the Industrial Revolution, and on-your-own economic
ideologies were espoused. But the main
current of our social success as a species resides in reining in greedy and
violent impulses in order to ensure that the groups to which we belong survive
and achieve a good degree of well-being.
revolution is underway, and those who survive will likely be the ones who are
smart enough and committed enough to the societies in which they live to
champion greater good goals. Our social
groups have grown in size to encompass towns, cities and nations, and the entire
human race, so our collective survival depends on more collaborative problem
solving and a greater commitment to revolutionarily transforming our modes of
living to ensure they become sustainable.
is growing that we are all intricately and inextricably interconnected and
distinctly interdependent. Greed,
selfishness, and anti-social inclinations to avoid contributing to the greater
good will prove to be evolutionary dead ends.
The foresight essential to farsighted precautionary principles will be
vital for the long-term survival of our species. I encourage readers to consider the ideas
found in Revelations of a Modern Prophet
for a more expansive insight into such ideas.
history tell us we would be wise to make greater collective commitments in the
future to civilizing influences. We
should find ways to encourage impulse-control, improve long-term planning, and
become more honestly sensitive to the feelings and fates of others. Win/lose ethics of ruthless competition, exploitation
and obedience to authority must give way to win/win ethics of reciprocity,
recognition of consequences, collaborative problem-solving, and commitments to
“We are all in
this together”, so win/win solutions are the most advantageous ones. Such solutions equitably include the negative
motivation of experiencing lose/lose outcomes if cooperative efforts fail. Win/win and lose/lose situations are preferable
to win/lose situations because they provide more powerful motives to strive
together for common purposes, rather than to work against each other. Win/lose strategies tend to poison relations
between people, not improve them. Life
can be a “non-zero-sum game” in which cooperative initiatives like
precautionary planning, divisions of labor, fair trade, and the farsighted
sharing of technological advances are better for all.
the most adaptive of all human characteristics.
This includes social intelligence and emotional intelligence and
ecological intelligence. Critical
thinking and clarity of reason and broad scientific understandings of reality
are important to our flourishing.
Philosophers who advocate rational humanism recognize an implicit social
contract in which all people agree to reasonable limits to individual liberties
in order to help ensure greater mutual security. This is an aspect of community ethics that
does not rely on religious authority, doctrinal revelation, God-defined
morality, or any other alleged certainty that fancies itself impervious to argument.
is a philosophical perspective that encourages us to be open-minded to learning
about the natural world and our true place within it. It is philosophy that provides us with a natural basis for morality, and for
making effective efforts to improve the living conditions and prospects of our
kind. Lady Philosophy, console us -- and
come to our aid!
stands halfway between cowardice and rashness, one of which is a lack, the
excess of courage.”
--- The Greek historian
Plutarch, in the first century CE
very future of hope and well-being lies in broad-mindedness, intelligent
foresight, reasonable risk-taking, and wise planning. The need for honesty, together with clarity
of understanding, is crucial for achieving truer justice, mutual security, a
greater modicum of social equity, and peaceful resolutions of conflicts. We need to act with greater fiscal
responsibility, and make our collective activities more likely to be indefinitely
sustainable. We need the courage to
stand up for smarter social policies that are more empathetic and responsible
to others -- especially including our descendants. Ecological sanity necessarily includes a
commitment to caring about future generations, so it is the ultimate moral
is not mere moralizing. Socially and
ecologically intelligent precautionary principles are vital to our collective
survival and prospering. The proposed
Bill of Rights for Future Generations (pages 55-58 in Common Sense Revival) should be ratified because it would
provide overarching guidance toward aggregate actions that are more probably
sustainable. It is not just a value
judgment to say that we should more thoroughly understand and honor the underlying
principles of sustainable existence.
appreciation of the extent to which we are interconnected with other human
beings, and with the wider web of life on Earth, is creating a more ecological
sense of self. This “greener” sense of
self is one we need to embrace for its adaptive value. This wider construct of self-identity and
self-interest is one that is smart and adaptive, not merely noble, altruistic
wider and deeper notion of our “selves” naturally includes concerns for the
greater good and our common interest in protecting natural ecosystems. The integration of such awareness into all of
our worldviews actually serves to protect the self of each and every one of us.
crisis that threatens our planet, whether seen from its military, ecological or
social aspect, derives from a dysfunctional and pathological notion of the
self. It derives from a mistake about
our place in the order of things. It is
a delusion that the self is so separate and fragile that we must delineate and
defend its boundaries, that it is so small and so needy that we must endlessly
acquire and endlessly consume, and that it is so aloof that as individuals,
corporations, nation-states or species, we can be immune to what we do to other
--- Joanna Macy, The Greening of the Self
Concrete Examples of the
Need for Precautionary Principles
A political cartoon in the Washington Post
in March 2011 showed thick smoke billowing from a nuclear power plant in Japan
and oil spilling from a BP oil rig, and the housing market symbolically melting
down in flames, and the atmosphere being polluted with particulate emissions
spewing from industrial smokestacks. A
building that represents the economy lies in ruins, and there is a billboard
above Wall Street that reads: “For bigger profits, take bigger risks.” One guy on Wall Street is looking up at the
sign and saying to another behind a desk, “MAYBE IT’S TIME WE TOOK THAT DOWN.”
The time has come today to more sensibly
restrict the amount of risk-leveraging that bankers and speculators are allowed
to take. Risk takers must be required to
bear the costs of risks gone wrong instead of having the government bail them
out with taxpayer money, or even worse using borrowed money and mortgaging the
future for the sins of the bad design of our corrupt econopolitical system.
Radical risk-taking is a socially
unacceptable form of shortsighted folly.
Professor Robert Reich wrote wise commentary in a Sunday newspaper
article titled, “Safety on the Cheap Invites Disaster”:
“No company can be expected to build a
nuclear reactor, an oil well, a coal mine, or anything else that’s 100 percent
safe under all circumstances. The costs
would be prohibitive. It’s unreasonable
to expect big corporations to totally guard against small chances of every
potential accident. Inevitably, there’s
a trade-off. Reasonable precaution means
spending as much on safety as the probability of a particular disaster
occurring, multiplied by its likely harm to human beings and the environment if
it does occur.
Here’s the problem: Profit-making
corporations have every incentive to underestimate these probabilities and
lowball the likely harms. This is why it
is so necessary to have such things as government regulators, and why
regulators need enough resources to enforce the regulations.
And it’s why recent proposals in Congress
to cut the budgets of agencies charged with protecting public safety are so
wrong-headed. One such proposal would reduce funding for the tsunami warning
system. Another would ban the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating
air pollution, including cancer-causing contaminants.
It’s also why regulators have to be independent
of the industries they regulate. … And
finally, the tendency of corporations to understate the probabilities of public
harms requires that limits be placed on corporate political power. The public cannot be adequately protected as
long as big corporations -- GE, BP, Halliburton, Massey and all others -- are
allowed to bribe legislators with campaign donations and boondoggles.”
This brilliantly coherent explanation
should help us formulate good solutions.
But here is the catch. Big
conflicts of interest exist between private activities and the greater public
good, now and in the long run, so resistance is powerful to the best common
good solutions. This reality makes it
distinctly imperative for us to collectively commit to championing more sensible
precautionary principles. Due to the
unfairly distorting influence of Big Money in our political duopoly system, we
have, as a nation, chosen to allow the “polluter pays principle” to be
circumvented. Those who are responsible
for pollution are thus able to foist some costs of their activities onto
governments and people, and thus onto taxpayers and society at large. This is a violation of the cost internalizing
Principle 16 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which
concerns real costs related to pollution.
We need to restructure the rules in our country to reinstitute polluter
Ecological Precautionary Principles
"In all things of nature, there is
something of the marvelous.”
The need to respect ecological precautionary
principles is the most important idea in this manifesto. Such principles are inextricably influenced
by social, economic, financial and political activities, so precautionary
principles in these arenas are also important.
An ecological precautionary principle was enunciated
in Principle 15 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.
This visionary principle states: “In order to protect the environment, the
precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their
capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, a lack of
full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing
cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”
This reasonable “no regrets”
approach to environmental policy-making sensibly takes into account the likely
impacts on people in future generations of our resource-depleting and habitat-damaging
activities. An ounce of prevention is
worth a pound of cure! This approach
helps us to focus on actions that should be undertaken to be consistent with
values of sensibly protecting ecosystems, and of reasonably sharing prosperity,
and of other greater good goals.
are collectively engaged in Years of
Living Dangerously. So NOW is the
time to begin to moderate these risks.
David Roberts provides a deeper context for this challenge when he
observes: “Humanity has never before had to grapple with a problem that
measures itself in centuries, and threatens our very existence, and requires
global cooperation to overcome.”
Edward O. Wilson, writing about Professor Jeffrey Sachs’ valuable book, Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded
Planet, notes: “The world has
changed radically in the past several decades;
it is going to change more, and faster and faster. In spite of all we have accomplished through
science and technology -- indeed because of it -- we will soon run out of
margin. Now is the time to grasp exactly
what is happening. The evidence is
compelling: we need to redesign our
social and economic policies before we wreck the planet.”
E.O. Wilson goes on to
say that we have a narrow window of opportunity today to choose sustainable
avenues into the future. If we fail to
grasp these opportunities and continue to create intense conflicts and crises,
we will catastrophically deplete the cornucopia of resources upon which we rely
and cause devastating damages to the ecosystems that sustain us.
continues: “Almost all of the crises
that afflict the world economy are ultimately environmental in origin: climatic change, pollution, water shortage,
defaunation, decline of arable soil, depletion of marine fisheries, tightening
of petroleum sources, persistent pockets of severe poverty, the threat of
pandemics, and a dangerous disparity of resource appropriation within and
between nations. Unfortunately, while
decision makers understand each of these problems to some degree, they
typically continue to be addressed as separate issues. Yet the world has little chance to solve any
one problem until we understand how all of them are connected through cause and
effect. We will be wise to look upon
ourselves as a species and devise more realistic and pragmatic approaches to
all the problems we face as a whole. … We all operate by a worldview distorted
by the residues of hereditary human nature.
We exist in a bizarre combination of Stone Age emotions, medieval
beliefs, and godlike technology.”
He also states: “We ought to develop a new kind of
self-understanding, self-reflection, and self-imaging. Then we might be able to actually get
somewhere together.” In other words, we
need Big Picture understandings! The ancient Rapanui people of remote Easter Island
were known for their monumental iconic inward-looking stone statues. One wonders if either the rulers or common
people of the island had any inkling of impending adversities that were to be
incurred as crucially-important native forests were decimated and the island’s
population continued, inexorably, to grow.
“I am the
Lorax. I speak for the trees! Let them grow!”
Lorax, Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss
Were there no cautionary Rapanui voices?
Were they incapable of foreseeing the implications of their
unsustainable exploitive activities? Was
there an equivalent of political bickering, obtuse obstinacy by decision-makers,
gamesmanship, and ideological polarization and strife in the face of what
should have been an increasingly obvious depletion of resources so vital to
What if, I muse
to myself, Henry David Thoreau was right when he declared: “In wildness is the preservation of
man?” Deep ecologists note that it is
critical for us to protect natural areas so that they will be able to serve as
genetic storehouses for future generations.
Once our virulent strain of extinction-causing assaults has run its
course, all genetic diversity that has been preserved will provide the life
forms that survive an opportunity to once again propagate themselves into
habitats and ranges that have been disturbed and damaged by our heedless human
Think about the
following observations from the Earth Manifesto’s Comprehensive Global Perspective: An Illuminating Worldview:
Windswept ridges and peaks that project
above glaciers and ice fields are called ‘nunataks’. During past ice ages, alpine trees like
Lodgepole Pines and Whitebark Pines and other forms of plant life survived in
nunataks, and were therefore able to re-colonize the lands that had been
scraped barren by the ice, once global temperatures warmed and the ice had
melted. Nunataks served as storehouses
of genetic materials that once again were able to colonize the land after the
glaciers retreated. Lichens built soil
bit by bit, once the glaciers had melted, using sunlight and water and the
process of photosynthesis to dissolve the raw materials of rock, leaving
organic compost when they died that is beneficial to all the generations to
Today’s wild lands and wilderness areas are
like modern nunataks: they are
biological islands in a sea of altered and developed lands. As in the past, these modern nunataks provide
irreplaceable genetic storehouses that are capable of replenishing disturbed
lands. Today’s National Parks and
Wilderness Areas, and roadless areas in National Forests, and public lands
administered by the Bureau of Land Management, are thus vital islands of hope
for the future. We simply must make much
more serious commitments to protect them!
Arch-conservative Dick Cheney, a former executive in the oil services
industry, bizarrely stated in 2001:
“Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a
sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.” He made this remark to support his
recommendation that the U.S. renew construction of nuclear, hydroelectric,
oil-fired and coal-fired power plants, and that our nation drill aggressively
for oil in sensitive habitats like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in
Aldo Leopold, the American ecologist, forester and environmentalist who
is best known for having written A Sand
County Almanac, would have strongly disagreed. As he once succinctly stated:
“Having to squeeze the last drop of utility out of the land has the
same desperate finality as having
to chop up the furniture to keep warm.”
brings up the vital issue of our collective need for sustainable energy
sources to power our civilizations. As
these words were first being written, nuclear reactors were failing in the wake
of the devastating 3/11/11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and turmoil was
embroiling a dozen Arab nations where rulers have oppressed their peoples by
governing in completely undemocratic ways using ruthlessly repressive “security
forces” and religious discrimination.
Heightened religious conflicts were taking place in which Sunni people
were oppressing Shiite people, or being oppressed by them, in dozens of nations
around the globe. Muslims and Christians
were pitted against each other, seemingly intransigently committed to an epic
economic and cultural conflict over the ridiculous issue of whose God is the
one-and-only right true absolute one.
global population of human beings first exceeded an incomprehensibly needy
SEVEN BILLION people in November 2011.
And people in every nation are trying to figure out how to break the
shackles of money-monopolizing wealthy people so that they are able to gain a
fairer modicum of social justice. All
these developments are intricately interconnected.
People who own
most of the wealth in the world are driven by ego, greed, self-centered
righteousness and compulsions to consume conspicuously. As a result of having so much money, they
wield distinctly overweening power in every nation around the planet. They
persistently use this power to demand and get public policies that allow them
maximum privileges to exploit resources AND have a minimum amount of
limitations on their actions. They staunchly oppose requirements that mandate
fairer considerations of the greater good, especially when such rules limit
their prerogatives and power.
of wealthy people almost always include socially undesirable tactics like the
shrewd privatization of profits while some of the costs of production are
socialized by being externalized onto the public. This is simply wrong! As Aldo Leopold noted, perhaps having spent
time under the broad canopy of the Tree of the Awareness of Right and Wrong:
“A thing is right when it tends to preserve
the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic
It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has long advocated that the
U.S. ramp up oil production in the fragile ecosystems of Alaska. Senator Murkowski expressed the opinion in
2011 that we should deal with rising energy prices by reducing restrictions on
oil drilling, and by cutting taxes on
Let us clearly
understand the current situation.
Americans burn about 7 billion barrels of oil each year. This is 25% of the total amount burned
worldwide. We use this much despite the
fact that we represent less than 5% of the world population. This is profligate use! Total petroleum imports represented about 60%
of our annual use in 2011, and this supply is very costly and highly vulnerable
to geopolitical disruptions.
blame the government for restrictions and “shortsightedness”, so they recommend
that we boost domestic production by streamlining regulations and drilling more
aggressively for oil in Alaska, and offshore, and elsewhere on public lands
within the United States, and they oppose precautionary measures related to
fracking. But it seems to me that the
writing is clearly on the wall.
Ecological precautionary principles tell us that we should limit carbon
emissions in the next 100 years to keep global warming from increasing to
levels that will cause unacceptably high costs.
Disastrously, we are on track to blow past a livable emissions budget
for the next 100 years in less than 25 years.
From this standpoint, “Drill, baby, drill” is a real dumb prescription!
The process of
fracking is altering our domestic production calculus in the short-term, but it
is not changing the fact that our profligate burning of fossil fuels threatens
to “double glaze” our providential home planet in coming decades.
Murkowski emulates Dick Cheney is saying that the U.S. lacks a coherent energy
policy. Most people would agree this is
true. Conservatives, however, say that
our policies are not coherent mainly because the government restricts
production, while liberals feel that the need for conservation and greater
efficiency of use and cleaner, renewable energy alternatives are extremely
important for future well-being.
Liberals further believe that we need to rethink the degree to which we
waste oil in our cities and suburbs, and in agricultural practices. And those many oil spills are obscene!
on oil is a serious national security concern.
It’s risky from the following standpoints:
(1) We import
oil from politically volatile countries in the world. This makes our supplies vulnerable to
disruptions and sudden price increases;
enormous cost of importing so much oil is a big financial drain on our economy;
(3) The costs
of maintaining a vast military machine to protect our interests in the Middle
East are contributing to record levels of national debt, and this fiscal
problem is a serious national security concern in its own right;
(4) We are
becoming increasingly vulnerable to oil price shocks and supply interruptions
because people in other nations worldwide are also rapidly depleting these
critically important resources;
health and environmental damages and threats are resulting from our collective
combustion activities. Human beings are
spewing many billions of tons of pollutants and carbon dioxide into the
atmosphere each year as we profligately burn coal, gasoline, diesel fuel,
heating oil, and natural gas. This is
contributing to growing health and environmental problems.
We should give
closer consideration to these challenges.
To formulate a truly far-sighted national energy policy, we surely
should stop giving large subsidies to powerful oil companies every year. These corporations are, after all, making
record profits. Shouldn’t we try harder
to find a way to wean ourselves from this dangerous addiction? Isn’t it the moral right thing to do to make
greater efforts to conserve resources and use fossil fuels radically more
efficiently? Shouldn’t we commit to an
effort on a dedicated scale like that of the bold Apollo Program to develop
alternatives to the burning of fossil fuels?
The wisdom of precautionary principles resoundingly responds: “YES WE SHOULD!”
The best course
of action would be to promote precautionary principles and sensible worldviews,
and to spend less time and energy on efforts to rationalize boom-and-bust
laissez-faire corporatism. We should
begin to act in ways that are more honestly responsible to future
generations. Disaster Capitalism is
simply proving to be too risky and too destructive. Far-reaching reforms are called for.
In many of our
aggregate actions, it is as if we are chopping off the limb of the tree upon
which our civilizations are perched. The
distant echo of our agents hacking away at the massive biotic trunk of the tree
of life is deeply unsettling. We can,
and must, figure out new ways of living!
It is becoming crystal clear that we should work together with better
stewardship to decisively address the existential imperative of protecting the
ecological foundations of our well-being, now and in the future. We owe it to our children, and to all our
descendants, to leave them a fairer legacy.
Unfortunately, our current collective actions presage a legacy of
depleted resources, devastated
fisheries, poisoned habitats, decimated old-growth forests, overheating
planetary ecosystems and diminished biological diversity -- unless we soon begin to make an overarching
commitment to changes in our habits, behaviors and econopolitical systems. It is outrageously irresponsible,
undisciplined, weak-willed, and self-centered for us to continue borrowing enormous
sums of money from people in the future to stoke these outcomes.
We should manage resources better to ensure
sustainable harvests. This is a more
sensible plan than squandering resources in a manner that threatens our future
well-being and drives untold numbers of species of plants and animals toward
eternal extinction. It is markedly rash
for us to collectively fail to protect vital ecosystems. It is crazy for us to fail to make concerted
efforts to preserve the stability of the Earth’s climate and ecological
conditions. Shortsighted actions can
have far-reaching consequences. These
facts make precautionary principles increasingly important.
We need to implement highly effective incentives and disincentives to
cut down on pollution and toxic wastes and greenhouse gas emissions into the
atmosphere. We should revolutionarily
redesign our economic and political systems to prevent short-term-obsessed
interest groups from dominating our decision-making and despotically
determining our national policies in ways that are contrary to the greater
good. These vested interests are
powerfully motivated to maintain the entrenched status quo, but we cannot allow
them to prevent needed reforms.
It came to me in the middle of the night, I
thought, as I lay in a sunshine-flooded green meadow near the top of a hillside
with an expansive view: Every person in every country worldwide
should be accorded the right to a maximum amount of individual freedoms. This is true for all people in the United
States, and those in China, and all in those Middle Eastern nations where
economic, social and political turmoil have erupted into violence and
revolution in the dreadful aftermath of the so-called Arab Spring. And within the larger context of these
theoretically unalienable liberties, overarching responsibilities exist. Golden Rule responsibilities and resource
conservation responsibilities, and ecological responsibilities and civic
responsibilities and community responsibilities.
The United States should make a revolutionary commitment to life and
liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans, and nations worldwide
should make similar commitments to human rights for their peoples. Religious and political freedom should be
championed as bedrock principles for all.
A greater modicum of fairness of opportunity should be established. Ecological sanity should be defended by
choosing to support ecological precautionary principles that help guarantee
greater respect for the foundations of our collective well-being.
We do, to an extent, make our destinies by the gods
we choose. It is high time we cease
worshipping money above all other values.
It is important for us to stop giving special privileges to society’s
elites when that lavish generosity causes extensive harm to the majority of
people. We should begin to accord more
respect to our neighbors, our communities, and our descendants.
A true respect for the well-being of humanity, now
and in the future, would guide us in new and more sensible directions. Such greater respect would lead us to pursue
wiser priorities. It is all but insane to fail to embrace precautionary principles related
to environmental protections and emissions of climate-disrupting greenhouse
ideas must be given greater sway, ones that are more fortuitous to the general
good. The honorable late Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota believed that
politics should be about far more than power, money, and winning at any
cost. He once said, <Politics is
about the improvement of people’s lives. It’s about advancing the cause
of peace and justice in our country and in the world.>”
--- Comprehensive Global
Perspective: An Illuminating Worldview
A Digression on Climate Disruptions
An article in the
October 2011 issue of National Geographic
magazine investigated an episode of global warming that took place 56 million
years ago at the end of the Paleocene Epoch.
A sudden dramatic increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere occurred
way back then, probably caused by an intense period of volcanic activity
associated with the opening up of the North Atlantic Ocean as Greenland and the
North American continent were pushed apart from the continent of Europe along
the Mid-Atlantic Ridge rift zone. This
impulse of greenhouse gases caused a global warming trend, which in turn thawed
frozen methane molecules in polar regions and released them into the
atmosphere, radically accelerating the warming trend.
have a greenhouse warming effect that is many times more intense per molecule
than carbon dioxide. Large deposits of
methane hydrate exist today under the Arctic tundra and the ocean floors. Such hydrates are stable only in a narrow
range of cold temperatures or high pressures, so the warming trend being caused
today by our rash burning of enormous volumes of oil, coal and natural gas
could trigger a runaway release of methane from the frozen north and the deep
seas. This occurrence could parallel the
events at the time of the biotic calamity that brought the Paleocene to an end,
so it is instructive to investigate the impacts that this radical warming had
on the Earth at the time. Evidence
indicates that far-reaching destabilizing impacts occurred back then.
This is an excellent
reason to embrace precautionary principles rather than continue burning fossil
fuels at nearly the fastest possible rate to power our agricultural and
industrial activities and satisfy our residential and consumer-oriented needs.
today is disrupting prevailing jet stream wind patterns and causing more
intense El Nino and La Nina weather patterns and generally altering the global
climate. As a result, many regions are
experiencing episodes of higher rainfall and flooding, while severe droughts
are affecting other areas. Monsoon
seasons in Asia and other regions seem to be becoming more volatile. More extreme heat waves and cold weather
snaps are also being experienced. In
2012, wildfires burned more acres of forest in the U.S. than any year on
record. In May 2015, Texas went from
drought to severe flooding caused by torrential rains at the same time that
more than 1,600 people in India died due to a heat wave that featured
temperatures as high as 118 degrees.
weather events strike places worldwide, an overwhelmingly consensus of
knowledgeable climate experts warn us about the dangers related to
Economists, in response, analyze the range of damages that can be
expected because of unfolding changes in climatic conditions, and they
calculate a range of costs that will be associated with coping with these
changes. They further compare these
costs to a range of spending that would help prevent or mitigate climate
changes and sea level rises, and they assess the impacts these outcomes will
have on nations worldwide. Such analyses
are swayed by the assumptions made, and by political considerations, but we
should certainly think clearly and assess honestly, and take into account the
broadest possible big-picture understandings.
Trillions of dollars are at stake, and unfathomable unintended
involve gaping uncertainties. But we are
in a “Bet Situation”: we are
inextricably “in the game”, and we must make decisions about what courses of
action to pursue. It would be wisest to
make smart decisions. The best plan
would be to develop scenarios of likely costs and impacts that are most
reasonable, based on the most probable assumptions, and to then find the best
balance between the costs of potential damages and the costs of up-front
sustained spending on preventing or mitigating the changes, and on adapting to
them. We need to find a good Goldilocks
scenario, the ‘just right’ level of precautionary actions!
the U.S. are in the thrall of the laissez-faire propaganda of big corporations
and the radical right, so they deny correlations between human activities and a
myriad of weather-related disasters.
They tend to pretend that spewing tens of billions of tons of greenhouse
gases into the atmosphere every year is having no effect. They deny or ignore the fact that rapid
deforestation in tropical regions is exacerbating the measurable build-up of
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They
deny that uncontrolled activities are causing, and will cause, huge future
liabilities. Denial, however, does not
diminish the likelihood of adverse outcomes.
We really must be more honest and make assessments that are the most
accurate possible, using science, not fiction.
Then, we should proceed accordingly, heeding the understandings of
hundreds of scientific experts who are contributing to greater good goals by
working on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Ten-Thousand Hour Rule
Devoid of all delusions save those of observation, experience and
--- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary
Journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell says
that what we do as a community, and as a society, and for each other,
ultimately matters much more than what we do solely for ourselves. When will we realize the vital importance of
this understanding? When will we seek to
honestly create better incentives for people to act in ways that are more
responsible to society as a whole? We
need a revolution of the mind and of our worldviews, because such clarity is
vastly preferable to an ecological breakdown or a violent revolution in the
streets. More expansive worldviews are
needed, and NOT more clever rationalizations for corporate advantages,
externalized costs, increasing inequalities, or authoritarian ideologies.
A paradigm shift has already been launched
with Swami Beyondananda’s Spontaneous Evolution -- Our Positive Future (And a Way to Get There
from Here). And, as soon as this manifesto
gains wide readership, hopes for more sensible future activities will likely
gain much more solid footing.
Malcolm Gladwell noted in his book Outliers, the Story of Success that the
key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of working at a
specific task for a total of more than 10,000 hours. He mentions the Beatles performing together
in live venues more than 1,200 times in the early Sixties, and the great dedication
of people like Bill Gates and J. Robert Oppenheimer to their life tasks. Dogged work seems to be a primary prerequisite of
“Whoa!”, it occurs to me, I have devoted
over 12,000 hours by now to my writings in the Earth Manifesto. It is time for launch! This manuscript may reach critical mass and
go viral, and thus succeed in changing the world for the better. If so, it’s about time!
III. Fiscal Precautionary
Prudent national policies should be formulated that leave our country in
a sound fiscal position so that we can afford the costs related to economic
setbacks, natural disasters or other unforeseen adverse developments. Japan, for instance, has the third largest
economy in the world, but it has run its economy into a danger zone by allowing
its national debt to reach more than 200% of its national annual economic
output. This is the highest level of
debt in the world, according to the CIA World Factbook. The percentage of Japan’s debt to its GDP
exceeds that of Greece, Italy, Iceland, Ireland or Portugal, which are all
countries suffering economic crises and dangerous national debt problems.
As a consequence, Japan was in a poor position to finance its recovery
and reconstruction in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that
struck on 3/11/11. The Japanese have
been foolhardy to have allowed their fiscal situation to deteriorate to such an
extent. The U.S., inebriated on its own
addiction to deficit spending, is also avoiding making difficult decisions between
competing interests. We do this by
taking the expedient route of borrowing money and fleecing future generations
to preserve entitlements and fight wars and continue giving high-income people
historically low tax rates.
The importance of a Rainy Day Fund concept cannot
be overstated. Instead of adopting a
common sense precautionary fiscal approach like this, we are stimulating the economy and injudiciously squandering money and
resources. By spending profligately and
borrowing heavily, we undermine our ability to cope with adversities. This is directly contrary to the goal of
creating a rainy day fund. It makes our
economy less flexible and less resilient.
This course of action is incautious, imprudent, careless, heedless,
reckless and improvident. It is, in
essence, insane. We are tempting
Nations worldwide are being forced to attempt to reduce their
unsustainably high debt loads at the same time that recessionary influences are
buffeting many national economies.
Austerity policies are a poor response, as are continued indulgences in
the expediency of epic quantities of deficit spending. In the resulting competition to decide what
programs to save or eliminate, we should not lose sight of the difference
between productive uses of debt and non-productive uses of debt. Productive debt, such as investments in
public education, vital infrastructure, worker productivity, and research and
innovation, can actually serve to improve future prospects, rather than
Competing interests argue about what are entitlements and earmarks, as
contrasted to necessary investments, but we must make smarter assessments, and
then boldly act upon them.
The only sensible economic system in the long term is one that is NOT
reliant on Ponzi-like schemes predicated on an ever-growing human population
and national debt. There is no hope of
achieving sustainable activities and using limited resources wisely unless we
recognize the need to make a dramatic shift in our aggregate activities from
nonrenewable resources to more renewable resources. Smart incentives should be used to encourage
people to live within their means. And governments should try to provide only
enough services and benefits as citizens are collectively willing to pay for.
Budgets should be established that are more balanced through a revised
system of more steeply graduated taxes on income and capital gains and
inheritances. And we should enact new
laws that honor precautionary principles in fiscal matters so that we will position
ourselves better for the daunting challenges that will be encountered as the
twenty-first century unfolds!
IV. Social Precautionary
In the lawless Wild West of yesteryear, “six-shooter aggression” and
reactive vigilante justice ruled the day.
Mark Twain attested to this characterization in Roughing It. A stagecoach in
which he was riding in Nevada was held up at gunpoint, and the bandits ordered,
STAND AND DELIVER! You’d better be sure
he complied, fearing for his life. In
those days, conglomerate trusts back East were just beginning to seriously
abuse power, and the unethical wealthy were just beginning to stretch their
peacock wings and get the Gilded Age partying really under way.
Today, we should make sure our rules and laws are designed to create a
safer and fairer system of opportunity and justice. Laws are unfortunately being routinely
violated by self-interested individuals and entities so that they can make
bigger profits or gain other benefits and advantages.
In the Earth Manifesto dissertation Principal
Reasons a Bill of Rights for Future Generations is Needed, an exhaustive
examination is made of the reasons that Social Precautionary Principles are
necessary for a fairer future. The
insights in that treatise are included herein by this reference.
A peaceful revolution is needed here in the U.S. to alter national
priorities so that people and the environment are better protected. Costs associated with the military-industrial
complex should be reduced. We should
begin to honestly and fairly deal with the overarching challenges that we face
by preventing wealthy people and giant corporations from having outsized power
to pollute the commons, exploit workers, externalize costs, export jobs abroad,
contribute to the creation of an irresponsibly high national debt, and gain
advantages at the expense of the vast majority of the people.
A revolution of the mind is what we really need. Perhaps it will come in the form of a
providential spontaneous evolution of our worldviews, and of our perceptual
awareness. Let us allow the feminine
sensibilities within each one of us to become more ascendant. That may an excellent way to create
significantly fairer and more successful societies. Perhaps it is time to
return to ways of seeing that pertained when Mother Earth goddesses were
revered and Nature was more highly respected.
Dr. Leonard Shlain would surely have posited that a better balance
between our intuitive right brains and our more analytical left brains would be
good for our overall well-being. He
wrote provocatively and at length about the desirability of a better balance
between our feminine and masculine selves, and about the advantages of more
respect for women’s rights in various civilizations throughout history.
In any case, the pendulum swings. Since 1980 it has been swinging in the wrong
direction, when one considers it from the standpoint of the whole of
society. The pendulum is swinging from a
sensible modicum of fairness to more unfairness, and from political centrism to
a more right-wing laissez-faire “voodoo economics” extremism. This is not evolutionarily advantageous!
Impoverished by the Concentration of Wealth
constrictor is a type of snake that kills its prey by squeezing it more and
more tightly until the prey can no longer breathe and it dies of
asphyxiation. Left to their own devices,
domineering classes of people tend to squeeze those they exploit ever more
ruthlessly. One of the pathetic results
of this propensity is that benefits of worker productivity are reaped by
corporate management and investors rather than being shared more broadly. As
wealth consequently becomes more concentrated in the hands of the few,
inequities are becoming more extreme and egregious. Wealthy people must eventually either share
their advantages a little more fairly or face insurrection by those they
oppress. The Occupy Wall Street events
worldwide may have portended the beginning of this change.
The total wealth in the U.S. in 2015 is
probably around $80 trillion. This
wealth is distributed in a highly unequal manner. Four years ago, 25% of households owned 87%
of the national wealth, and the middle 50% of Americans held the remaining 13%
of all U.S. wealth. The bottom 25% or so
had a net wealth of zero or less. At the
extremes, the richest 400 American families have more wealth than the bottom
50%. In other words, the richest 400
families have more money than the bottom 150 million people. Stunning!
By the end of 2015, the wealth distribution
has gotten even more extreme as the top 1% has reaped a hugely outsized
proportion of gains in the economy.
Knowing that radical social inequality like this contributes to the
potential for extreme civil strife, this form of class warfare will likely
become more obviously dangerous to the privileged as the trend continues to get
more extreme. Gross inequalities should
be mitigated and reduced for the greater well-being of all.
V. Financial Precautionary
Investment advisors sensibly recommend that the best investment plan in
the long run is to diversify the assets of a portfolio between various asset
classes. Putting all of one’s eggs in a
single basket is an incautious approach.
Since our government indulgently engages in monetary and fiscal policies
that are inflationary, the purchasing power of savings is slowly being
undermined. This is why a dollar today
is worth less than 35 cents relative to the value of a dollar in 1980. The effect of this devaluation of money over
time is to cause savings to lose value.
Investors therefore seek higher returns by putting money in riskier
investments. Government incentives for
home ownership (mortgage interest deductions, low interest rates, tax-free
allowances of capital gains on home sales, etc.) made real estate a superior
investment for many years. But these
national policies led to people using home equity increases to spend
profligately by borrowing against appreciating real estate values. This was a strong stimulus to consumer
demand, and may have seemed to be a peachy condition while the bubble was
inflating. But it led to financial
disaster when the bubble burst and a prolonged period of depressed home prices
began, along with millions of wrenching home foreclosures.
In June 2011, homeowners had only 38 percent equity in their homes, down
from 61% a decade earlier. This was near
the lowest point since World War II. The
unintended consequences of real estate bubble economics could have been
foreseen, and should be better understood.
Rash and misguided public and Federal Reserve policies have contributed
to making this situation undesirably volatile.
Inflationary Fed policies have at times made gold and other commodities
seemingly good investments, but the boom-and-bust nature of economic policies
makes prices unstable and therefore risky.
Since these words were first written, gold fell in value in 2013 more
than it has in any year in decades.
Government and corporate bonds are also volatile because they are
strongly influenced by interest rate fluctuations. Over the long run, stocks have proven to have
the highest average return of all investments in major asset classes. This is because stocks allow investors to
gain a share of profits made by corporations in the international economy, and
God knows that nations worldwide stumble all over themselves to pander to giant
corporations. But equities are also
highly volatile due to extensive uncertainties, competitive developments,
emerging trends, market manipulations, excessive debt financing, and cyclical spells
of “irrational exuberance” and accompanying “wall of worry” fears.
In general, when some asset classes are gaining, others are losing. The precautionary idea behind a diversified
portfolio is basically to hedge one’s bets, and to own some things that will go
up in value while others are going down.
The goal is to keep ahead of inflation while not risking steep plunges
in asset values due to overweight positions in any one speculative risk that
Speculators are aware that there are more opportunities to make big
profits during times when markets are volatile than when prices are steady, but
there are also much bigger chances of suffering disastrous losses. Long-term investors prefer more stable markets
for a variety of good reasons. Let’s
heed this lesson and demand that the Federal Reserve gives more serious
consideration to the stability of markets.
The Fed should emphasize fiscal stability more than economic stimulus.
VI. Military Precautionary
Our leaders need to recognize the overarching necessity to pursue more
sound economic and military policies than our current stimulative
deficit-spending system of “military Keynesianism”.
Keynesianism is the term used to describe government economic policies that
stimulate the economy by spending huge amounts of borrowed money on weapons,
munitions, military personnel and military operations abroad. In a pathetic irony, this strategy has become
a tactic that is itself creating increasingly grave threats to our national
security. To make our nation more
secure, LESS spending on the military is called for, not increased
spending. It’s stupid to make our nation
more vulnerable to financial cataclysms by indulging in wasteful and poorly
controlled military spending.
has practically become a sacred cow on the American political scene. It has been subjected to few cost controls
and wholly inadequate oversight and accountability. It has served as a cover for wasteful
spending, bureaucracy, unethical profiteering and many types of misallocations
of resources. Military Keynesianism
makes it easier for our leaders to aggressively intervene in the affairs of
other countries, making us less safe by goading blowback opposition and
creating increasing numbers of people who regard us as war-mongers,
imperialists, enemies or evil oppressors.
“In my opinion, any future defense secretary who
advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia, the
Middle East, or Africa should ‘have his head examined’, as General MacArthur so
delicately put it.”
--- Defense Secretary Robert Gates, February
The U.S. today
spends more money on its military than all the other nations in the world
combined. This is bizarre, because we
are getting poor value for our money.
The “opportunity costs” of devoting so many resources to misguided goals
are extensive, and this makes military Keynesian policies counterproductive. The late Chalmers Johnson made a poignant
point: “Such expenditures are not only morally obscene,
they are fiscally unsustainable.” This
is a dangerous state of affairs, indeed!
Chalmers Johnson also noted that, despite the fact
that the Cold War had ended years earlier, “U.S. reliance on military Keynesianism
has, if anything, been ratcheted up, thanks to the massive vested interests
that have become entrenched around the military establishment. Over time, a commitment to both guns and
butter has proven an unstable configuration.
Military industries crowd out the civilian economy and lead to severe
economic weaknesses. Devotion to
military Keynesianism is a form of slow economic suicide.”
Wars require great material sacrifices, as well as
extensively stressful and disturbing emotional sacrifices by those actually who
do the fighting. Wars also necessitate
extremely high monetary and social costs by those who must pay for the
expensive conflicts. In this context,
there is a cynical shortsightedness and shrewdness to the unethical strategy
that facilitates the foisting of these costs and sacrifices upon those with
little power, and those in the future with no voice in matters.
The citizens of Arab countries are making
it radically clear that people cannot trust their political leaders to make
fair-minded reforms. Leaders everywhere
are simply too inextricably vested in the status quo. Likewise, lobbyists for amoral corporations
cannot be trusted to do the right thing, because their goals are very narrowly
focused. We need to shift the balance of
power to democratic fairness and actions that are more distinctly responsible
to future generations. Public
decision-making must be guided by sensible overarching principles.
For a more comprehensive perspective on issues of
war and peace, see the online Earth Manifesto dissertation, Reflections on War -- and Peace!
figuratively live <<Home, home on the range, Where the deer and antelope play; Where seldom is heard a discouraging
word, And the skies are not cloudy all
day>>, as the unofficial anthem of the American West goes. While this ‘State Song of Kansas’ epitomizes
an indomitable American spirit and encapsulates a positive sunny attitude,
there are strangers on adjacent properties, some of them our agents, who are
clear-cutting the forests, drilling for oil, belching acrid-smelling coal
smoke, polluting streams, spewing toxic and climate-altering emissions into the
atmosphere, and squandering the common wealth, as if there will be no
there will be a tomorrow. And it will be
a tomorrow whose well-being is dependent upon decisions we are collectively
making today. We ignore this fact at our
own extreme peril, and at a terrible price to our children, and theirs. Let the sun shine in!
In an even
larger collective sense, a sense of purpose for us all together must of
necessity involve responsibility for the rights and prerogatives of future
generations. Let us all commit ourselves
to responsibly participating in helping make a global team effort to make the
world a better place. And, in this case,
think of the slyly witty definition: a
team effort is a lot of people doing what I say. Ha!
Apropos of Something Else
We would be wise
to remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s words:
“Ultimately a genuine
leader is not a searcher of consensus, but a molder of consensus.” We as a nation need to choose to undergo a
new and radical revolution of values. We
should begin a rapid shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a
“person-oriented” society. The
creature comforts of conspicuous consumption have a seductive allure that is an
impulse toward shallow materialism and resource-wasting consumerism. A better sense of balance is needed!
than property and profits, should be guaranteed a greater importance of
priority. The lion’s share of benefits
in our societies must be more fairly shared.
Racism, wasteful materialism, and aggressive militarism must be
What could go
wrong if we ignore growth constraints and continue to allow the heedless
exploitation and depletion of resources?
What could go wrong if we continue to let our advertising-stimulated
“needs” and selfish impulses wreak terrible damages upon the natural world
through a ferocious and poorly-controlled assault against entire ecosystems and
the best long-term interests of millions of species of life, including our own?
“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a
beggar. It comes to see that an edifice
produces beggars needs restructuring.”
--- Martin Luther King, Jr.
The quality of
our lives is profoundly enhanced by having protected public parks and open
spaces and extensive national forests and wild areas. It is pathetic that privatization proponents
demand a proliferation of <No Trespassing> signs instead of laudably
working to protect public lands. The
rude selfishness of certain privileged people in our societies is undermining
the ethic that honors one of America’s most important contributions to the
world, the idea of protecting National Parks.
Bravo to Ken Burns for having created a beautiful series of films on our
great national parks!
VII. Political Precautionary
Will and Ariel Durant wrote in The Lessons of History that the concentration of wealth in societies
occasionally reaches a critical point where either sensible legislative
redistributions of wealth are enacted (like progressive tax reforms), or else
increased violence and possibly even destructive revolutions take place that
generally destroy wealth rather than redistributing it.
would be safer for all Americans if we were to create a fairer and more just
society, rather than one that is increasingly unfair due to growing disparities
in income and wealth between the top two percent of people and all others. To make our nation safer, we must reform our
political system soon!
political reform is needed because of the extraordinary economic and
demographic changes that have taken place in recent decades. Consider the fact that the size of our early
human clans was probably less than 30 people, on average, while today our
social groups consist of entire societies of millions of people. Remarkable urbanization trends have occurred
in the past century in the United States, as reflected in statistics that show
only 40% of Americans lived in urban areas in the year 1900, and now more than
80% of Americans live in cities and metropolitan areas and suburbs.
significant changes, the need for social cohesion and lower levels of
aggression and violence between groups has increased dramatically. The social danger associated with allowing
radical increases in inequalities of income, wealth and political influence is
becoming more pronounced as increasing inequalities of opportunity and social
mobility effectively make everyone less secure.
Extreme insecurity often makes people engage in atavistic behaviors, and
this creates an increased disposition toward crime, violence and terrorism. Such actions are maladaptive for society as a
already live in gated communities in the U.S. and we have strong police and
military forces. If we continue to let
privileged people increase their advantages while all others become more
insecure, the privileged will soon jealously demand greater fortress-like
protections and harsher laws and more authoritarian government. Revolution is brewing if we are unable to
collaborate together better to measurably reduce the inequality and insecurity
of the vast majority of the people.
The simple fact
of the matter is that “everyone does better when everyone does better”. Public policies should be targeted to ensure
that the maximum numbers of people do better, not just the few who already
monopolize a large part of the wealth. I
strongly believe that the most important political reforms, to start with,
would be to stop giving corporations the rights of personhood, and to seriously
limit the influence of money in our politics.
Tiffany B. Twain
January 2011, updated
periodically in 2012 through June 2016
Seeking Inclusion in this Common Sense Revival
Walking up the steps to the Supreme Court, an observer sees the words
etched into the building "Equal Justice Under Law." That is a great principle! But some of the current members of the
Supreme Court act as though this equal justice is for corporate entities rather
than the people, and certainly not for women when they give preferential rights
to egg/sperm zygotes and embryos and incipient fetuses.
Tomas Paine wrote that he knew it is difficult to get over local or long
standing prejudices, yet when the need becomes pronounced enough for us to feel
obligated to suffer to examine these biases and preconceived notions, we may
begin to see a clearer way forward. We can no longer afford to be
a house divided against itself, and we can no longer remain fettered
by obstinate prejudices.
are those who, in good faith, believe that we should leave the balance between
civil liberty and security entirely to our elected leaders, and to those they
place in positions of executive responsibility.
Again, we do not agree. [...] government run amok poses the greatest
potential threat to the people’s liberty, and [...] an informed citizenry is
the necessary check on this threat.[...] watchdog journalism -- is a key
element in helping the public play this role."
--- Stephen Engelberg and Richard Tofel
"A truly free and independent press is a vital
component of any healthy democratic society. [...] We believe the prime value of journalism is that it
imposes transparency, and thus accountability, on those who wield the greatest
governmental and corporate power."
--- Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and
Protections of forests, rivers, oceans, wildlife, wilderness areas and
intact ecosystems are a fundamental foundation for the greater good in the long
Pope Frances suggested that Donald J. Trump “is not Christian”
because of the harshness of his campaign promises to deport more immigrants and
force Mexico to pay for a wall along the border. "A person who
thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building
bridges, is not Christian,” Francis said when a reporter asked him about Mr.
Trump on the papal airliner as he returned to Rome after a six-day visit to
Mexico in mid-February 2016.
Many Catholic conservatives are so inflexibly opposed to the use of
contraception that they view the church’s teaching that anything
which works to "render procreation impossible is intrinsically
evil." So those conservatives were likely practically apoplectic
when Pope Francis declared that "avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute
It is interesting that the Church does see some relativity in the moral
good, since the issues are complex and there are a myriad of circumstances in
women’s lives, so simplistic judgmentality is inappropriate. On his
flight from Mexico to Rome on February 18, 2016, after his six-day trip that
included a visit to Cuba, Pope Francis adopted a more nuanced stance when
he told reporters that using contraception to avoid infecting fetuses with
the Zika virus is better than abortions to terminate pregnancies in
which the fetus is infected.
It is difficult to predict when the Church will inevitably admit that
God is not absolutely opposed to women using contraceptives to prevent
pregnancies, but I will shout out Hallelujah when that finally occurs! Among the Catholic rank and file, the
attitude in Latin America is very much at odds with the Vatican’s overall
stance on contraception. A poll by the Spanish-language
network Univision found that 88 percent of Mexicans, 91
percent of Colombians and 93 percent of Brazilians support the use of
This manifesto has been evolving for fifteen years, and its purpose is
crystallizing here in 2016 as the bitter divide in our political duopoly system
is reaching a crescendo of acrimony and understandable anti-establishment
discord. On the one hand, a formidable outcry in defense of custom,
white privilege and alpha male ascendancy is erupting into an ugly Trumpian
spectacle of almost laughably epic proportions, and on the other hand, the heir
apparent of democratic presidential politics is being challenged by Bernie
Sanders, a plain spoken and passionate Jewish democratic socialist who
advocates revolutionary change to fix a corrupt and dysfunctional system that
rashly favors the rich -- and does so at the consternating expense of the vast
majority of people and most of the wildlife on Earth and all our descendants in
generations yet to be born.
Paul Krugman's article in the New York Times on February 22, 2016,
titled Cranks on Top, provides readers with an incisive understanding of
the status of the Republican presidential race and the misguided "crank
economics" that Marco Rubio peddled to try to win the Republican
nomination for the presidency.
“Voters are angry, we’re told.
They’re ticked off at immigrants and terrorists and student loans, yes,
but mostly they are angry with the people in charge. Crazy angry.”
--- Bill Bishop, Why Do the Voters Rage
American explanation for what’s happening today begins in the 1970s, when
political scientist Ronald Inglehart made a prediction. As societies grow
richer and our individual survival is assured by abundance and the welfare
state, he wrote, people’s politics would change. In this “post-materialist” age
people would lose respect for established authorities. With each succeeding
generation, trust in government, party leaders, science, the media, the church
— any and all institutions and traditions — would decline. People wouldn’t
follow elites, they would challenge them. They would vote less and protest
A Dutch sociologist named Anton
Zijderveld described “twin maladies of modernity” -- alienation and anomie.
Alienation is a reaction to the overwhelming power of institutions.
Anomie comes when those institutions lose authority and trust. When
the architecture of society collapses, the consequence is social isolation, the
feeling that the world is adrift in chaos and meaninglessness.
doesn’t have a US passport. Britain will soon vote on leaving the
European Union in a movement that is repeatedly compared to that surrounding
Trump. Anti-establishment parties are on the rise across Europe.
In every industrialized country, most people don’t trust their government
to do the right thing. Such are the politics of modernity. Get used