Happy Harbingers in Good
Ideas for a Better Future
An Earth Manifesto publication by Dr. Tiffany B. Twain
to the Earth Manifesto. My name is
Tiffany Twain, and this is my story.
am the great-granddaughter of the legendary American character Mark Twain. It has been a well kept secret that my
mother, Nina Clemens Gabrilowitsch, gave birth to out-of-wedlock twins in 1950
after a passionate love affair in Hollywood, California. Nina named us love-children Tiffany and
Tom. My mother Nina was the only child
of Mark Twain’s second daughter, Clara Clemens.
The year before Mark Twain died in 1910, Clara had married Ossip
Gabrilowitsch, a world-renowned Russian-American pianist, and they had spent
many years in Germany and New York City before they moved to Michigan, where
Ossip became the long-tenured conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
all the travels that my mother Nina had done with her parents as a youngster,
Ossip had nicknamed her “the International Monkey”. My clever brother Tom and I have done a lot
of travel ourselves, and we have seen a good part of the world and its
ways. It helps to have secretly
inherited a small portion of Mark Twain’s estate, since this boon has allowed
us to lead quite interesting and charmed lives.
Our father Jules brought us up, mainly because our mother Nina had
slipped into a serious dependence on alcohol and drugs in the last decade of
her life, before she died way too young at the age of 55. Clara Clemens’ second husband Jacques
Samossoud helped us out with money from time to time during our childhood. It was one of the best things he did in his
life, and like Huck Finn’s Pap, the town drunk, there were not all that
many! He may have been trying to make up
for his reckless gambling, a bad habit that resulted in his squandering of
nearly all the large income that Clara received from Mark Twain’s estate.
have always loved dramatic mountains like the Himalayas, the Rockies, the
Cascades and the Sierra Nevada, as well as lovely coastlines, but I
occasionally visit “America’s Hometown”, Hannibal, Missouri to re-invigorate my
connection to my great-grandfather’s riparian literary roots. Visualize yourself there with me, high atop
Lover’s Leap on the west side of the Mississippi River, and just south of
Hannibal. As we look intently upriver from
this limestone promontory, let’s settle in to a reflective mood and think about
all the news and big issues of the day, and the important things in life. And imagine taking the time to appreciate the
wonderfully vitalizing views of the natural world from any of a countless
number of beautiful vantage points like this.
story is largely one of an almost evangelical dedication to clear thinking and
open-minded exploration of Big Picture ideas and the greater good of human
societies. Doggone those conservative
evangelical proselytizers who have given the word evangelical such disgraced connotations! For this shame, the overly zealous
fundamentalists among them deserve the regard of lamentful eyes and the sounds
of sibilant aspersions.
crafty great-grandfather’s genes are coursing through my arteries and heart and
the neural circuitry of my brain, and this may be one reason why both Tom and I
tellingly developed an almost eerie love for tall tales. This expression of our great granddad’s
propensities for story telling and exaggeration have veritably oozed from our
souls like unmistakable genetic echoes of the many creative days Mark Twain
spent writing at his family home in Hartford, Connecticut and in his octagonal
study atop a ridge at Quarry Farm in western New York where he and his family
spent so many summers.
and I have always marveled about how Mark Twain was fascinated with twins and switched identities, multiple personalities,
imposters, and the true reality behind appearances -- and here it had turned
out that his granddaughter ironically gave birth to twins! For
a good perspective on the tone, tenor and particulars of the great author’s
life, check out the details of my biography of Samuel Langhorne Clemens in A Quite Curious and Illuminating Biography
of Mark Twain.
than 106 years have passed since Mark Twain died. Cultural changes and many advances in
understandings during this period have imprinted modern-day sensibilities upon
me, and I have been caught up in new worldviews and more enlightened social and
ecological perspectives. I am a bold
progressive in my economic and political ideas, and a committed
environmentalist who has a keen awareness of social and ecological truths. I have a deep respect for balanced
perspective, and an evolving sense of fair-minded feminism. The creative writing bug has bitten me, just
like it did my great-granddad, and I try to temper my inherited incisive sense
of observation with a somewhat sardonic sense of humor. At the same time, I strive to be as
perceptive and precise as possible in all of my interpretations of
reality. Picture Ernest Hemingway
striving to express a true sentence as portrayed in the evocative Woody Allen
film, Midnight in Paris.
role in society, or any artist’s or poet’s role,
Is to try and express what we all
Not to tell people how to feel.
Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as
a reflection of us all.”
--- John Lennon (1940 – 1980)
the Good News!
hope exists for achieving the goals of radically improving our societies, and
for making them more secure for all.
Good hopes also exist for making our economies more sustainable. One of the happiest harbingers signaling positive change today is that
people are beginning to come together over big issues. When I heard Pope Francis come out with
powerful moral arguments for action to mitigate climate change, it was real
heartening. When almost 200 countries
got together in Paris and agreed to incipient climate action, I saluted that
progress. It is reassuring to know that
evangelical believers are starting to champion “creation care”, and to support
initiatives that will help protect Earth’s natural ecosystems with proper
stewardship. This is vastly better than
spending huge amounts of time and energy and emotion on relatively less
consequential hot button social issues.
And when I see
thousands of evangelical congregations of many faiths collaborating together in
Interfaith Power and Light organizations to conserve energy resources and cut
carbon emissions into the atmosphere, I regard these things as very good,
indeed. When I imagine that people might
begin to listen to others with opposing viewpoints, and try to think critically
about weaknesses in their own arguments and cultivate a greater willingness to
seek consensus on the most accurate ways of seeing, I find it to be marvelous
and hope inspiring. When I read
thought-provoking books like Getting to
Green – Saving Nature: A Bipartisan Solution, it inspires good hope that
sanity will prevail and American leaders will begin to step forward to satisfy
our overarching national obligation to be better stewards of nature by
collaborating together for the greater good.
A bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus provides a solid basis for the
beginnings of such collaboration.
developments give good hope that we may begin to be more responsible in dealing
with unfolding existential challenges. I
feel strongly that it would be an excellent idea for us to invest our emotions
in important issues to a degree proportional to the consequences involved, and
thus put more of our energies and money into addressing the biggest issues that
humanity faces, like excessive consumption and waste and activities that damage
creation and produce too much trash and pollutants and environmental toxins.
I regard foresightful awareness as
humanity’s most important quality for achieving prosperity, well-being and
survival. In rash contrast, denials of
the most responsible and farsighted understandings, especially in the service
of narrowly selfish ideological agendas, is one of the most ominous harbingers
of a likely failure to adapt to changing circumstances, as time lapses steadily
and inexorably into the future. It is curiously true that, despite the fact that
simple and good solutions exist to achieve healthier goals, two particular
little problems stand in the way. The
devil, as they say, is often in the details.
we are collectively addicted to living beyond our means and indulging in
national spending without having to pay for it in full. And second, there is the elephant in the
room: those wealthy people who are the
easiest able to help finance infrastructure investments and the social safety
net and environmental protections that are needed to create a fairer and more
sustainable society are the very ones who have the power and proclivity to
subvert initiatives that require them to provide more financing for greater
good goals. Rich “conservatives”, in
particular, are staunchly opposed to plans that would assess higher rates of
taxes on the highest levels of incomes, or that would close tax loopholes that
primarily benefit the wealthiest 1% of Americans.
of the insights contained in Sad
Implications of the Two Dueling Santa Claus Strategies in Political Economics are
included herein by this reference, in all their redundant splendor, in these
aspirational Happy Harbinger ideas. So
are the understandings contained in Climate
Change Considerations, Carrying Capacity, and Ecological Overshoot. A good balance of yin and yang is almost
always a superior amalgam.
the happiest harbinger of all is how starkly clear it has become to the vast
majority of Americans that substantive and meaningful change is needed in our
country and the world. This may be the happiest harbinger to be
materializing in the 21st century, among a passel of portentous and potentially
unhappy harbingers, because politics in the USA is now radically shifting away
from a status quo that defends the political establishment and toward powerful
anti-establishment movements. This is giving Americans a choice between
leaders that are willing to pursue revolutionary changes and those who advocate
a wrong way agenda that involves reactionary actions.
or Common Sense?
have great respect for the stature my great granddad has achieved in the
popular imagination and in the world of literature. His philosophical perceptivity, incisively
humorous wit, funnily sardonic perspectives on human folly, and sharply astute
criticisms of injustices and imperialism are highly commendable. I have leveraged my Twainian inheritance,
both genetic and philosophic, with common sense and uncommon thinking, and in
the process I have articulated grand ideas that could radically improve the
prospects of the human race, and indeed of most other species of life on Earth.
optimistic statements may sound delusional.
It may appear quite unlikely that we could easily improve our prospects,
due to the daunting nature of challenges that lie before us. Political obstinacy and extreme political
partisanship tend to obstruct constructive change, and there is an on-going
emergency of periodic economic crises, systemic injustices, organizational
dysfunction, excessive debt, extreme weather-related disasters, and the rash
depletion of resources. All these
developments are being complicated by rapid global human population
growth. Our current courses of action
are driving an untold number of species of life toward extinction, and it
couldn’t possibly be a good idea to heedlessly continue on this path.
optimistically believe that it would be relatively easy and painless for us to
achieve more auspicious outcomes for society as a whole, and for a good
reason. Keep in mind the cosmic
principle of both politics and human nature, the Rule of Two Impossibles. When something is
declared politically impossible, and yet an alternative option is proved to be
impossible to an equal or greater degree, the first impossibility becomes
curiously more feasible.
More than two
thousand years ago, a Sicilian scientist named Archimedes declared that he
could move the world if he had the right lever and the right place to
stand. Here we stand together, still
poised on the limestone promontory of Lover’s Leap, and we have the right
levers in hand to choose to make historically positive changes in the future
course of world history.
How could we
easily solve a good many of the formidable challenges that humanity faces? To start, we could make more concerted
efforts to safeguard the health of ecosystems that sustain us. We could strive to stabilize the number of
human beings on Earth before it reaches an overwhelming 9 billion people. Tens of millions of unwanted pregnancies could
be prevented every year, for instance, by providing affordable access to modern
contraceptives to women around the world who want them.
these endeavors would reduce the risks, to a significant degree, that come with
escalating demands we are placing on ecosystems and the finite resources of our
providential home planet. The most important of these solutions are spelled out
in the compendium One Dozen Big Initiatives to Positively Transform
We could also easily make our system of Social Security indefinitely
sustainable without cutting benefits for people who need them or increasing the
retirement age. We could do this without
indulging in the roguishly unfair expediency of borrowing money from people in
future generations to preserve the status quo of the current system. We could courageously address the challenging
conundrum of rapidly increasing healthcare costs, and we could mitigate the
stark injustices in our system of medical care.
We could reduce the risks related to our rapidly increasing national
debt by finding fair and effective ways to reduce the outsized budget deficits
that are adding to this debt every year.
Some of these positive solutions are articulated in Radically Simple Ways to Make America
Fairer, and to Fix Both Social Security and Health Care So We Can Move On to
Address Much Bigger Issues. We
simply need the political will to make such fair-minded changes.
are achievable. Not only are they
achievable, but it is our overarching obligation to strive to make them
happen. The main obstacles to solving
these problems are found in powerful opposition by vested interest groups and
the desperate struggle of our political representatives to triumph over each
other in their internecine fight to achieve what are likely to be Pyrrhic
victories, often at the expense of the greater good.
Specific proposals to achieve socially propitious goals are made
throughout Common Sense Revival, and
in Part Four of the Earth Manifesto online.
Note that this manifesto contains
more than 1,500 pages in almost 100 separate essays. Print out the Home Page and peruse it for a
good idea of the scope, tenor and organization of the contents. And read on for good ideas for how we should be changing our economy and
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about
--- Woody Allen
A Remarkable Feminist Speaks Up
I love the
insights articulated by Olympe de Gouges, one of history’s most extraordinary
feminists. A contemporary of Thomas Paine’s, Olympe de Gouges was a great
humanitarian whose ideas shine brightly like a brilliant beacon flashing from a
lighthouse on a treacherous headland in dark and stormy weather. Olympe de Gouges was outraged when, in the
wake of the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, the details were
revealed of a first written Constitution
for France. Her chagrin was enflamed by
the fact that this Constitution had been created by French revolutionaries to
lead France to a fairer future, yet it did not even consider women’s suffrage or other key women’s issues
such as legal equality in marriage or the right of a woman to divorce her
spouse if he abused her, or a woman’s right to property or the custody of her
children. These omissions motivated Ms.
de Gouges to create a Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female
Citizen. She created this manuscript in 1791 to provide an important missing part of the
proposed Constitution, and to help women get the legitimate rights they deserve
as human beings. Today, more than 225
years later, men continue to ignore such courageous ideas; but hear anew the
transcendental truth of their common sense fair-mindedness by reading her
17-point Declaration online.
We need not
look far back in history to see significant gender inequities. Ponder the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to
our own U.S. Constitution. It declares,
simply: Equality of
rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by
any State on account of sex. It should be a no-brainer to pass this amendment! Nonetheless, our representatives have been
unable to agree with this sensibly fair proposition in adequate numbers to get
it ratified, even though it has been proposed every year since 1923. Congress did finally pass the Amendment in
1972, and President Richard Nixon endorsed its approval by the 50 states, but
the forces of reaction and male privilege managed to stymie its ratification by
a required three-fourths majority. Let’s get ‘er done!
Back in 1890, a People’s Populist Party swept into power in Kansas
and took control of the legislature.
Mary Elizabeth Lease, one of the party’s foremost orators, became a
nationally famous stump speaker as she toured all over the country between 1890
and 1896, and she became one of the decade's most prominent women. Remember that females were denied the vote
until 1920. She and her husband had lost their farm in the Panic of 1873, so she felt
strongly about the ruthlessness of industrialists and Wall Street. She was a powerful speaker who was adept at articulating the
discontent of the people, and she had a sharp tongue, so she was bitterly
assailed in the press. She was accused
of being a "petticoated smut-mill" and a “virago”. Many people thought that a woman's place
should be in the home, not on the political stage, so Mary Lease became a
favorite target of vitriol, especially because she advocated racial and gender equality. Some opponents changed her middle
name from Elizabeth to Ellen, so that they could call her "Yellin' Mary
Ellen." She was no doubt one of the
“harpies” mentioned by the staunch Republican journalist William Allen White in
an 1896 editorial, What’s the Matter with
William Allen White was being critical of the
Populist influence when he wrote this editorial, but one of the things he
belittled happens to ring with a resounding epiphany, especially in light of
the conservative spin today about the almost divine providence of the
are two ideas of government," said our noble William Jennings Bryan at
Chicago. "There are those who
believe that if you legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, this
prosperity will leak through on those below.
The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses
prosperous, their prosperity will find its way up and through every class and
rest upon them."
“Scoop” Nisker, a Buddhist meditation instructor and author who was a famous
radio commentator in the 1970s, always used to conclude his radio programs with
a provocative tagline that merits my endorsement here: “If you don’t like the news, go out and make
some of your own!”
When Will the Year of Economic Populism Arrive?
Early in 2014, some political pundits proclaimed that 2014 would be
“The Year of Economic Populism”. This
sentiment is a marriage of optimism and a pragmatic recognition that on-going
rash increases in inequality in American society, which began with the Reagan
Revolution over 35 years ago, is going to turn out very badly for everyone,
including the wealthy, unless courageous actions are taken to reduce the
increasing concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few.
President Obama made a significant speech
in December 2013 in which he called unfairness “the defining challenge of our time.” He further asserted that the American Dream
is being shattered by the dual problems of income inequality and declining
social mobility. This idea is crucially
important, so listen to some excerpts from the President’s speech:
“People’s frustrations run deeper than recent political battles.
Their frustration is rooted in their own daily battles -- to make ends
meet, to pay for college, buy a home, save for retirement. It’s rooted in
the nagging sense that no matter how hard they work, the deck is stacked
against them. And it’s rooted in the
fear that their kids won’t be better off than they were. They may not
follow the constant back-and-forth in Washington or all the policy details, but
they experience in a very personal way the relentless, decades-long trend that
I want to spend some time talking about today. And that is a dangerous
and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that jeopardizes
middle-class America’s basic bargain -- that if you work hard, you have a
chance to get ahead.”
“I believe this is the defining challenge of our time: Making
sure our economy works for every working American. It’s why I ran for
President. It was at the center of last year’s campaign. It drives
everything I do in this office. And I know I’ve raised this issue before,
and some will ask why I raise the issue again right now. I do it because
the outcomes of the debates we’re having right now -- whether it’s health care,
or the budget, or reforming our housing and financial systems -- all these
things will have real, practical implications for every American. And I
am convinced that the decisions we make on these issues over the next few years
will determine whether or not our children will grow up in an America where
opportunity is real.” (… Stay tuned!)
“The problem is that alongside increased inequality, we’ve seen
diminished levels of upward mobility in recent years. A child born in the top 20 percent has about
a 2-in-3 chance of staying at or near the top.
A child born into the bottom 20 percent has a less than 1-in-20 shot at
making it to the top. He’s 10 times
likelier to stay where he is. In fact,
statistics show not only that our levels of income inequality rank near countries
like Jamaica and Argentina, but that it is harder today for a child born in
America to improve her station in life than it is for children in most of our
wealthy allies, countries like Canada, Germany or France. They have greater mobility than we do, not
“So let me repeat: The combined
trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental
threat to the American Dream, our way of life and what we stand for around the
globe. And it is not simply a moral
claim that I’m making here. There are
practical consequences to rising inequality and reduced mobility. For one thing, these trends are bad for our
economy. One study finds that growth is
more fragile and recessions are more frequent in countries with greater
inequality. And that makes sense. You know, when families have less to spend,
that means businesses have fewer customers and households rack up greater
mortgage and credit card debt. Meanwhile,
concentrated wealth at the top is less likely to result in the kind of broadly-based
consumer spending that drives our economy and, together with lax regulation,
may contribute to risky, speculative bubbles.”
“And rising inequality and declining mobility are also bad for our
families and social cohesion, not just because we tend to trust our
institutions less, but studies show we actually tend to trust each other less
when there’s greater inequality. And
greater inequality is associated with less mobility between generations. That means it’s not just temporary. The effects last, and they create a vicious
“And finally, rising inequality and declining mobility are bad for our
democracy. Ordinary folks can’t write
massive campaign checks or hire high-priced lobbyists and lawyers to secure
policies that tilt the playing field in their favor at everyone else’s
expense. And so people get the bad taste
that the system’s rigged. And that
increases cynicism and polarization and it decreases the political
participation that is a requisite part of our system of self-government.”
That part about “social cohesion” is of particular importance. Our national motto, E Pluribus Unum, means “out of many, one.” We Americans are so accustomed to
divisiveness and political discord today in our outrageously monopolized and
systemically corrupt political duopoly system that we do not feel the full
force of the great value of social cohesion in our communities and
countries. Social cohesion, though, is
the original civilizing force that natural selection has chosen over thousands
of passing generations as a crucial bond for the survival of human clans and
tribes, and later agricultural communities, city-states, kingdoms and
nations. And today, fairer treatment of
others is a form of social bonding that offers us the best hope of social cohesion
that will help create civilizations capable of surviving the formidable social,
economic, financial and environmental challenges that all humanity will face in
Charles Ferguson expounds on this topic in his stunning book,
Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals,
Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America:
Occupy Wall Street protestors were deeply right about one thing: over the last thirty years, the United States
has been taken over by an amoral financial oligarchy, and the American Dream of
opportunity, education and upward mobility is now largely confined to the top
few percent of the population. Federal
policy is increasingly dictated by the wealthy, by the financial sector, and by
powerful (though sometimes badly mismanaged) industries such as
telecommunications, health care, automobiles, and energy. These policies are implemented and praised by
the willing servants of these groups, namely the increasingly
bought-and-paid-for leadership of America’s political parties, academia, and
“If allowed to continue, this process will turn the United
States into a declining, unfair society with an impoverished, angry, uneducated
population under the control of a small, ultra wealthy elite. Such a society would be not only immoral but
also eventually unstable, dangerously ripe for religious and political
both political parties have been remarkably clever and effective in concealing
this new reality. In fact, the two
parties have formed an innovative kind of cartel -- an arrangement I have
termed America’s political duopoly, which I analyze in detail below. Both
parties lie about the fact that they have each sold out to the financial sector
and the wealthy. So far both have
largely gotten away with the lie, helped in part by the enormous amount of
money now spent on deceptive and manipulative political advertising. But that can’t last indefinitely; Americans are getting angry, and even when
they’re misguided or poorly informed, people have a deep, visceral sense that
they’re being screwed.”
added another interesting perspective:
“The rise of predatory finance is both a cause and symptom of an even
broader, and even more disturbing, change in America’s economy and political
system. The financial sector is the core
of a new oligarchy that has risen to power over the past thirty years, and that
has profoundly changed American life.”
This political duopoly arrangement makes clamorous sound-and-fury
about the intense fighting over values issues, but this distorting noise
inimically serves to divert attention from the financial sector’s “quiet coup,”
to use a phrase coined by the economist Simon Johnson. This strategy shrewdly
divides potential opposition to it. People who should be aligned in calling for
fairer taxes, campaign finance reform, stricter financial regulation, better
and more affordable public education, and needed investments in America’s
infrastructure are instead divided by their opposing views on issues like tax
policy, immigrants, gun laws, contraception, abortion and gay marriage. This strategy has worked remarkably well for
politicians in both parties, but the uncontrolled growth of America’s financial
sector and a correlated consolidation of wealth and power by the rich has had
poisonous and deleterious ramifications for most Americans.
Mark Twain would
have guffawed with wry and sardonic amusement at the onward trajectory from his
astute observation that “we have the best government that money can buy”! Charles Ferguson adds: “Unless America reverses course, things
will end badly, at least for the bottom 90% of Americans, and possibly for the
wealthy who consider themselves safe.”
These historic expressions of truth come at
a critical juncture in American history.
We are still waiting for the moment of “The Year of Economic Populism”
to arise, and I’m hoping it will be a year that humanity begins a peaceful
revolution that would help assure a more salubrious future. We can all help make this come true by embracing
the resounding force of these ideas, and widely hearing and respecting
them. Hear ye now -- Lend your voice to
these ideas -- And vote for leaders most likely to represent greater good
Observations on Inegalitarianism
great strength of American democracy has always been its heartening capacity
for self-correction. Political power
fueled by the growing concentration of wealth in the hands of a few is
beginning to undermine this central aspect of our democracy, and to cast doubts
on our collective ability to achieve socially salubrious goals. Anti-democratic usurpations and abuses of
power are having a dire and corrosive effect on the economy and social
cohesion, and on the long-term future of our country.
United States is being crippled by the stubborn unwillingness of the highest
income earners to pay taxes at rates that are even 60% as much as the lowest
rates that were in effect during the 45 years from 1936 through 1981. Many adverse consequences result from our
inability to collectively demand that narrow focused interest groups act more
fairly to share prosperity. As we can
see, obtuse and unempathetic avarice causes us, among other outcomes, to be
unable to make adequate investments in improved public education, a safe national
infrastructure, sensible environmental protections, a good and affordable
social safety net, a balanced budget, protected National Parks and open spaces,
and a more stable climate.
“We are seeing a dangerously unbalanced approach
to our debt crisis. Conservation
programs key to ensuring our long-term public and environmental health are
being cut to the bone, while corporate polluters like oil companies receive
billions in taxpayer dollars each year.”
--- The Wilderness Society
borrowed money to finance government activities has finally reached a risky
tipping point where the expediency of enormous levels of deficit financing
simply must be reined in. The people who
have benefitted from this long reign of fiscal insanity should be the main ones
who contribute to our nation’s stability and recovery, and to a reduction in
federal deficit spending.
have been collectively kicking the proverbial can down the road for so long
that we don’t even recognize the consequences of our fiscally irresponsible
actions. The U.S. went from being the
world’s largest creditor nation to the world’s largest debtor nation during the
1980s. The banking system was
deregulated and risk-taking was stoked with borrowed money. Debt-financed bubble economic policies were
instituted, and capital was given more free rein in its efforts to triumph over
labor by means of tactics targeted toward curtailing the collective bargaining
rights of workers. And a small elite
segment of society usurped the wealth generated by increased worker
productivity. These mega-trends are
working out very badly for most Americans today.
The masts on our ship of state are creaking
ominously, and the conservative spin machine keeps prescribing remedies that do
more harm rather than helping. “More of
the Reagan medicine, that’s what we need,” they intone. “We want none of those generic drugs, what we
need is full strength uncompromising Reaganism.
More military spending, less taxes on the rich! Down with unions! Repeal all regulations!!” Significant factions now want to have a Tea
Party and rally the faithful to the cause, despite the questionable merits of
their prescribed remedies. D.J. Trump is
an unpredictable wild card in this calculus, and he could sink the ship of our
democratic republic altogether.
Freedom entails responsibility. So does wealth. This is an aspect of ethical humanism
enunciated by Will and Ariel Durant in their thought-provoking book, The Lessons of History, and it is echoed
by John Fowles in The Aristos, and by
In a speech at the Brandenburg Gate in
1987, Ronald Reagan extolled freedom, security and world peace. He implored the Russians, “Mr. Gorbachev,
tear down this wall.” Beliefs can become
reality, he said. This can actually be
quite true! I believe we should
cultivate wholesome beliefs that are consistent with liberty and security for
all people in our nation AND we should strive for peace everywhere in the
world. We should sensibly insist on
giving valid reasons to our heirs in future generations for them to believe we
have acted fairly enough to make our societies less expediently
short-term-oriented. Let’s try to make
sure we do not exploit resources and rashly damage ecosystems so severely that
the prospects for well-being of people in the future are excessively
The Soviet Union collapsed in 1989 after 10
years of having its military forces occupy Afghanistan. As fate would have it, the U.S. did not learn
the costly lessons of the folly of having intervened militarily in Vietnam
after the French had given up their own 8-year long war there. As a result, we rashly blundered into a 14-year-long
military occupation of Afghanistan, and no good end of turmoil in that region
is in sight. Not only that, but we
compounded the terrible cost of our brash and pious Middle East adventurism by
aggressively attacking and occupying oil-rich Iraq for many years.
“What a gyp!”, exclaimed Thomas Twain. He was talking about the absurdly high cost
of wars with questionable goals in Southeast Asia and the Middle East over the
course of the past 50 years. Later, when
the vaunted Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap celebrated his 100th birthday, I
did a quizzical double take, but said nothing.
(General Giap subsequently died in October 2013.)
Who profited the most from these wars? It would be eminently reasonable to assess
higher taxes on those who profit from wars to help deal with the far-reaching
problems created by violent conflicts.
exist in the access to the sources of happiness in capitalist societies. By giving free rein to ruthless and unalloyed
greed, a great conundrum is made worse, and that is that one of the chief
sources of happiness in capitalist societies is found merely in having access
to it. Capitalist nations tend to
condition their citizens to envy and be envied.
As John Fowles pointed out in The
Aristos, envious people covet not just the apples in an orchard, but the
access to the orchard itself.
envy is an impulse, and thus a form of movement. As such, it contains the seeds of its own
transformation. The positive expression
of this potential is found in people who demonstrate a socially responsible
support for fairness and progress and humane dealings with others.
the average person feels like a pawn in the game of national politics, and a
smaller and smaller pawn as the size of the electorate grows larger, people’s
civic senses tend to atrophy. This is
bad news for democratic self-governance. A withered sense of real civic
responsibility is, according to John Fowles, “one of the most striking
phenomena of our age.”
Conservatives deem it
“politically impossible” to achieve reforms that require increases in federal
revenues. To the extent this is true, it
is mainly so because moneyed interests and other anti-democratic forces control
our public decision-making, using the undue influence of their Big Money to
gain Big Power, thanks in part to the nakedly partisan conservative majority on
the Supreme Court that ruled 5 to 4 to give them more influence with the 2010 Citizens United decision and the later McCutcheon ruling.
When the Supreme Court struck down the anemic efforts
that have been made to control campaign financing in its Citizens United ruling, former
Justice John Paul
Stevens expressed a strongly worded dissent. He stated
that conservative ideologies about campaign finance laws “rejected the common
sense of the American people, who have fought against the distinctive
corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore
Roosevelt.” Yes, siree!!
Justices John Roberts,
Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas should begin to heed the
implications of the understanding that money is subverting the greater good in
our nation by giving far too much power and privileges to the wealthy few. This is having distinctly detrimental
consequences for the American people. A
tsunami of special interest money and funds from Super PACs and secretive dark
money has created such a barrage of distorting and negative political ads that
it is driving Americans practically crazy, while undermining the adaptive
health of our democratic process.
The Continuing Need for
a New and Fairer Deal
Theodore Roosevelt proposed a Square Deal in 1904. He vowed not to favor any single group of
Americans, but to be fair to all. The
Square Deal was a proposed domestic program that was based on three main ideas,
according to Wikipedia: “conservation of
resources, control of corporations, and consumer protection. Thus, it aimed at helping middle class
citizens, and involved attacking plutocracy and bad trusts while at the same
time protecting business from extreme demands of organized labor.”
Roosevelt worked to break up big business trusts and fight against monopoly
practices that railroad conglomerates and other corporate trusts engaged
in. He endorsed new federal regulations
designed to control egregious business practices and improve unsanitary working
conditions and prohibit harmful ingredients in various products that were being
exposed by the “muckraker” writers of the time.
President, Roosevelt was one of the first American leaders to support a form of
universal health insurance. He did this,
he said, because he believed that no country could be strong whose people were
sick and poor. More than 100 years have
passed since Roosevelt’s presidency, and today there are many millions of Americans
without health insurance. Strong
opposition by “conservatives” persists to sensible reforms that would make
healthcare more preventative and affordable.
time has come for us to provide healthcare for all that includes effective cost
controls and is socially affordable. All
interested parties should work together to make this happen!
Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a
contest of principles. The conduct of
public affairs for private advantage.”
--- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary
Our political representatives are responsible for
our national decision-making and policy formulation in domestic and
international arenas. But politics is
far too narrowly focused to give fair and sensible consideration to the best
plans for the greater good in the long run.
This is why the honorable late Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota once
said that politics should be about the improvement of people’s lives and
advancing the cause of peace and justice in our country and in the world.
What politics is, and what it should be, are
distinctly different things. Politics
today has become an internecine conflict between opposing factions competing
for influence, power, money and selfish advantages. Compromise has become a dirty word, and
working together has fallen out of favor.
Obstruction and narrow-minded “purity pledges” by conservatives have
become the order of the day.
One primary theme of
this manifesto is that more comprehensive Big Picture perspectives could lead
to more responsible collective actions in our societies. To prevent the
perceptible environmental degradation of our wonderful home planet, we are
obliged to find ways to reduce the influence of short-term thinking, ignorance,
denial, overly ruthless competition, mismanagement, greed and hubris.
recommend that readers enjoy some hot Ginger-Infused
Health Beverage or icy cold Delicious Mango Banana Lassi while perusing these
words. For simple recipes to make these
hyper-healthy beverages, see Tiffany
Twain Entertains: A Philosophic
two beverages, with their combination of twelve Ayurvedic good-health spices,
could in themselves change the world!
helps one’s body maintain a proper alkaline balance. This is a key to good health because too much
acidity causes a variety of health problems.
Acid-forming foods deplete electrolyte minerals like calcium, potassium
and magnesium in vital organs and bones, and thus they make people more
susceptible to diseases and afflictions.
All foods tend to be either alkaline-forming or acid forming. Fresh fruits, vegetables and ginger help
maintain a healthy pH balance, while acid-forming foods have the opposite
effect. Acid-forming foods include meat,
eggs, sugars, dairy, most grains, white flour, coffee, carbonated beverages,
artificial sweeteners, alcohol and drugs.
one of these good health beverages may help readers maintain a cool, calm and
collected attitude, which is desirable because we need to give serious consideration
to the overarching challenges that face the human race in the world today.
Call for Good Solutions
It is as easy as pie to be
cynical in the face of deep economic injustices and ridiculously lopsided
unfairness of political representation that favors the controlling few. And you just have to shake your head when
realizing how monolithic the monopolistic domination of our econopolitical
system is, due to the entrenched political duopoly in America today.
But good and simple solutions really
do exist. Here’s one. As soon as practicable, an Office of Public
Integrity should be created by Executive Order.
In a new tradition, this post should be headed by a woman. She should have the title of National
Omsbudswoman, and the position should be a Cabinet-level job that reports
directly to the President. The mission
of the Office of Public Integrity should be to establish a system of Citizen
Civil Grand Juries in every county in the United States, and of state Civil
Grand Juries in every state, and of a federal Civil Grand Jury to be
headquartered in America’s heartland, America’s Hometown, Hannibal, Missouri.
These Civil Grand Juries will be
modeled after the exceptional system in California that recruits citizens to
serve for unpaid one-year terms to help improve government by accepting
suggestions from citizens and then prioritizing them and examining the issues
carefully, and preparing reports to the public on findings and
recommendations. This “watchdog role” of
Civil Grand Juries gives citizens a voice in the function of their government, and puts
a bright spotlight on issues of public concern.
Civil Grand Juries thus perform an important role in citizen oversight
of county government. They basically
investigate, monitor and report on the performance of local governments, and
often come up with excellent ideas on how to improve them.
Judges should be assigned in
every county and state to select volunteers to fill these honorable
positions. In every county in
California, about 100 people generally volunteer each year for Civil Grand
Juries, and about one-third of that number are selected by the Presiding
Judge. Then about 20 of these people are
chosen to serve on that year’s Civil Grand Jury. These folks agree to commit one year of their
time to work together with other civic-minded citizens to better the governance
of their communities. Almost everyone
who has served on a Civil Grand Jury attests to the fact that it is a rewarding
and intimately fascinating involvement and experience, personally as well as
for providing insights into the workings and value of real direct democracy.
The National Omsbudswoman should
be chosen in an online vote by every American who chooses to participate, from
a field of three highly respected candidates selected by the President. The resumes of these candidates should be
posted one month before the vote on an Office of Public Integrity National
Intelligence Assessment Node website (OPINIAN), and these resumes should also
be widely circulated in the national media along with a clear statement of the
purpose and mission of the Office.
Civil Grand Jurors at the State
and Federal level should be paid for full-time work, and have three-year terms,
staggered for good continuity, and they should be carefully chosen to ensure
that they are fair-minded. No
politicians or extreme partisans or religious fundamentalists would qualify.
Federal Civil Grand Jurors should
be given subpoena power to assist in their investigations, and the Jurors
should serve on one or more of 12 permanent subcommittees, including Education, Health
and Social Services, Gender Issues, Pensions, Campaign Financing, Environmental
Issues, Foreign Affairs, War and Peace, Law, Finance and Audit, and a Bill
of Rights for Future Generations.
Uniting Americans to
Achieve Greater Good Goals
E Pluribus Unum appears on the Great Seal of the United
States. This motto is also shown on
coins, the $1 bill, and passport covers.
It means “Out of Many, One.” This
was the de facto motto of the U.S.
from 1776 until 1956. E Pluribus Unum is a symbol of both an
ideal and our national challenge of seeking unity while respecting
diversity. As such, the idea has played
a crucial role in shaping our history and our literature and our national
character. Uniting with others to oppose
egregious injustices and extreme inequalities is appropriate, honorable and
eminently ethical. It gives recognition
to the overarching wisdom of the Golden Rule.
The values embodied in the Golden Rule are like basic functional acts of
hygiene, rather than being optional expediencies or something motivated by
anticipated pleasure or self-satisfaction or feelings of social esteem.
resides in the twin Golden Rule concepts of more equal social justice for all
and lesser financial hardships for the majority. True security is not to be
found in an ever-more extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of a few,
and real security is not to be found in the harsh repression of dissent. Improved national security is best achieved
by avoiding extremely costly and aggressive military conflicts around the
globe. I believe that drone bomber
attacks on people in sovereign nations are especially unjust and unwise.
Strategies like these provoke deep antagonisms and give counter-support to
extremists and incite episodes of dangerous blowback retaliation.
new paradigm of social action is needed that is more inclusive, holistic,
peaceable, fair, long-term oriented and sustainable. This new way of living should be designed to
protect the underpinnings of our prosperity by including measures that help
ensure the health of natural ecosystems and the environmental commons.
people, ever since the days long ago when Aesop was telling his pithy stories,
have noted that “United we stand, divided we fall”. In pathetic counterpoint to this wisdom, some
of those who control our nation -- most notably, extreme conservatives -- find
that it is easiest to control people by sowing division and conflict between
people, and by taking advantage of feelings of grievance, rather than by trying
to foster harmony and make collaborative efforts at problem solving. We should reject the usurpation of power by
those who try to scapegoat minorities and divide Americans in their eagerness
to control and dominate us. By uniting,
we could alter our collective destinies and give control of our country back to
old maxim states that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Vigilance is a quality of alertness and
attentive watching and seeing, and of true understanding of what is going
on. It is clear that we would be best
served by coming together in unity of purpose to take back our country from
those who are abusing their power and undermining the foundations of well-being
and liberty for the vast majority of Americans.
I encourage readers to join a movement that supports farsighted ideas
and propitious public policies.
National Motto Significantly Altered
1956, Congress passed an Act that adopted a different official national
motto: In God We Trust. A trust in
God may be a fine virtue for individuals, because faith helps provide hope and
moral guidance. Faith may assuage
people’s fears, insecurities and natural trepidations about the fact that each
of us, sooner or later, is going to die.
But faith sure seems to me to be a poor strategy to rely on as an honest
or adequately effective means of solving our domestic and international
views of Texas Governor Rick Perry unfolded bizarrely during his brief run for
President in 2012. His evangelical faith
stood in stark contrast to the idea that we should courageously act to improve
our societies. He claimed instead that
prayer is the best approach for solving problems. But really, God is far too elusive to be
relied upon to fairly adjudicate conflicts between all the competing interests
in our society.
fine, fine with all the prayer stuff, evangelicals. There are positive qualities associated with
the practice of praying, but let’s not make the mistake of placing our trust in
a providence designed by reactionary social engineers who represent the
interests of the few, and who apparently don’t give a damn about equality of
opportunity or true social fairness, or resource conservation, or environmental
protections, or preserving open spaces and protecting National Parks and saving
wilderness areas. Let’s reject efforts
by apologists and operatives who claim they believe in creating a “kinder and
gentler” society, but in reality they push policies that make our country more
unequal, less fair and obtusely lacking in empathy and compassionate caring.
our trust in God has an accompanying liability:
people argue intensely about whose God is the right one. This
leads to a wide range of problems including religious strife that intensifies
the already serious conflicts between people of differing faiths. Note to conservative religious
fundamentalists: Beware! There are many master manipulators in our
the great prophets of every faith espoused transcendent virtues of peace, love,
compassion and forgiveness. Do you think
there could be anything in it?
A Proclamation by Thomas Twain
My twin brother Tom has always been a real
rascal. When I told him the motto E Pluribus Unum had been abandoned in
favor of In God We Trust, he
veritably chortled. “Think about it,” he said, shaking his head. “We tossed aside the most admirable principle
in the history of national unity and diversity-respecting ideals, and replaced
it with a divisive parochial religious doctrine that in practice might as well
be, <Hail to the chosen few, all others go to Hell.> No wonder our nation is going to hell in a
Tom snorted triumphantly in gleeful rapture
at his clever witticism. We had been
talking in a desultory way about how the good old USA had spent the decades
after the trauma of the Second World War investing in a great system of public
schools and universities, an extensive national highway system, worker
protections, a social security safety net, civil rights initiatives, a modicum
of gender equality, and protections of Clean Air, Clean Water, public lands,
wilderness areas and endangered species of life. I had mentioned that these forward-looking
public policies were financed from 1940 to 1980 by a progressive tax structure
in which rich people paid taxes on the highest levels of incomes at rates of at
least 70% every year.
Then Tom did a real interesting thing. He methodically placed a soapbox on some
risers in the living room, put on an old military hat, saluted an imaginary
flag, and began a stentorian-voiced harangue:
“I say unto you that, without a shred of doubt, we create the conditions
in our societies by choosing to institute the specific policies we pursue. It is almost as if we live in a world of
cause and effect!” Then he collapsed in
a paroxysm of laughter. Perhaps you had
to have been there, and I must admit that a good friend once deemed Tom to be
trying to be “too clever by half.”
laughed together at Tom’s antics, and wondered if the physicist Werner
Heisenberg, who had articulated an abstruse physical uncertainty principle, had
ever thought about formulating a Social Uncertainty Principle. Bertrand Russell
certainly gave us pause for thought when he expressed this opinion: “The
fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are
cock-sure, while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
America prospered during the 40-year period
before 1980 when high-income people paid taxes at more steeply graduated
rates. Then Ronald Reagan launched his
folksy anti-egalitarian revolution in favor of the rich, and against
progressive taxation and the rights of workers, and he set us on a trajectory
of excessively wasteful military spending and huge debt increases.
President Reagan shrewdly couched his
powerful ideas in soaring rhetoric about a Shining City on a Hill. He asserted that the United States is “the
last best hope of man on earth.” But
then he championed insidiously unfair voodoo economic policies and acted to
stoke inequality in America. He took a
nap and let his minions try to extinguish the hope of the masses -- there I go
again -- by using hyped-up fears of Communism to ram through regressive
taxation schemes and anti-regulation initiatives. While working to reduce the collective
bargaining rights of workers, he diverted the public’s attention by contending
that, to make everything work better, we should enact a new Constitutional
Amendment that would decree individual and group prayer must be allowed in
public schools. Surely that’d help
provide providential succor for the democratic masses, the suckers! Ha!
Tom was in one of his not infrequent spells
of braggadocio, so he adopted a voice of mock indignation and chided me for
being deeply concerned about social problems.
“Get a life!”, he suggested. Tom
is a big thinker, not unlike Mark Twain’s character Tom Sawyer, always hatching
clever plans and trying to work new angles and pulling pranks and looking for
adventure. Remember that Tom Sawyer took
advantage of unsuspecting friends to help him with what he considered the
opprobrious chore of spending the day whitewashing a neighborhood fence.
Today, mere whitewashing will no longer do,
here or anywhere. We must agree that the
fence needs to be painted, and we must come to a consensus on the type and
color of paint to be used -- and we need to begin the project! Let’s not subcontract the difficult job of
improving our societies to rip-off artists, hypocritical deceivers, manipulative
priority changers, giant multinational corporations, no-bid contractors,
naysayers, or the unfair and domineering control of right-wing
conservatives! And soundly reject the
snide and coldly calculating money-grubbing Mercurial Trickster Trump!
Puritans in the American colonies and our
early democratic republic had a credo that professed that both faith and good
works together are necessary for personal salvation. Others curiously asserted that God regarded
dutiful faith in Him alone as enough to attain salvation. In contrast, Gnostics in the early days of
Christianity believed salvation was to be found in enlightenment. God and scriptures are not clear on this
matter, so let’s consult the providential ideas of Humanism. This philosophy holds that reason, ethical
action and fairly-applied justice should be the basis for morality and
decision-making. Humanists consequently
posit that good works are more desirable for society than do-nothing policies
-- or retrogressive ones! -- in the face of an unjust status quo.
Humanism is a philosophy that specifically
rejects religious dogma, pseudoscience, supernatural deities and superstitious
belief as a basis of either morality or public policy decision-making. Hallelujah for this sensible philosophy! Essential aspects of Humanism include a
central faith in reason and a continuous adaptive search for truth through
philosophic exploration, open-minded reasoning, critical thinking, scientific
understandings, and honest intuitive awareness.
should initiate a movement that seeks the truly best ideas about how to
successfully adapt to the changes taking place in our societies, and in
physical conditions on Earth. And we
should support those who are committed to protecting the natural foundations of
I think once again of H.G. Wells’ compelling
observation: "Human history becomes more and more a race between education
and catastrophe." These
words are especially relevant today. As
Dr. Dana Meadows, who is famous for her 1972 book, The Limits to Growth, was known to optimistically declare, we have
exactly enough time to prevent catastrophe -- as long as we begin, “starting
now.” Folks who are concerned about
growing risks of changes in the global climate heartily agree with this
sentiment, as they demonstrated in New York City and around the world on
September 21,, 2014 in huge People’s Climate Marches, and in
advocacy efforts that led us to the Paris Climate Accords in December 2015.
seems to be accelerating as technological innovations proliferate like an algal
bloom, and as conditions deteriorate on our home planet. It’s as if we are hurtling more than 66,000
miles per hour around the Sun, and picking up speed. (Wait a minute! That would be 575 million miles in a
What’s Up, Doc?
few years ago I read the phenomenal book, Spontaneous
Evolution: Our Positive Future (And A Way to Get There From Here). This book, according to Thom Hartmann, is
“a world-changing book that offers a heartening view of humanity’s
destiny. Built on the foundation of the
latest discoveries in science, it points us in the direction of functional
politics, sustainable economics, and individual responsibility in the context
of an interdependent community.”
surely have a great need for a better functioning political system! It would also be an excellent idea to
encourage economic activities that are more likely to be sustainable, and to
foster collective behaviors that are consistent with these goals. We need people to demonstrate greater
individual responsibility in the context of interdependent communities. I can’t imagine any sensible person
disagreeing with the idea that we all have some degree of obligation to leave a
fairer legacy to people in future generations than current trends portend. These things can be achieved by embracing a
new holistic worldview, as provocatively proposed in Spontaneous Evolution, and as articulated in many of the ideas set
forth in this manifesto.
Every good architect and engineer knows
that a solid foundation is critically important to the building of a
substantial edifice. Skyscrapers, for
instance, need to be anchored on bedrock, and it would be shortsightedly crazy
to build them with inadequate foundations, shoddy structural materials, or
overly rigid frameworks, especially in areas prone to high winds or
earthquakes. Likewise, to build a sound
economy and a healthy commonwealth in an age of turmoil, a flexible framework
of smart public policies is needed that takes into account the best knowledge
Riane Eisler posits in The
Chalice and the Blade that
we have a realistic possibility to shift from a system
that leads to chronic wars, widespread social injustice and ecological
imbalance to a system of greater social justice, more egalitarian
relationships, peaceable coexistence and more farsighted ecological
balance. What is needed to accomplish
this transformation is new intellectual and cultural perspectives, and
radically reformed social and political institutions, and better management. And less institutional corruption and a
diminished domination of politics and the economic system by narrowly
paraphrase Swami Beyondananda in Spontaneous
Evolution, we need more than just a theory of evolution, we need to make a
better practice of it! Prosperity and
the quality of life, and even our species’ survival, hang in the balance.
Aside on Happy Harbinger Goals
me, readers, for I have sinned. Some
less than happy harbingers have insidiously infiltrated this intended paean to
positivity. I intend to refocus the tone
and content of this story to make it more positive once I fully grasp more
enlightened perspectives. I am working
on it, and will continue to update these ideas as I more fully grok the
astounding paradigm-changing new worldviews contained in Spontaneous Evolution. This
book explores how we human beings, with our big brains, perceive the world --
and how different it may turn out that reality actually is. We should make no mistake about it: early-life programming and general social
conditioning have profound effects on our brains, and so do the impacts of
pervasive promotion and advertising. A
barrage of images impinges on our awareness;
propaganda is propounded astoundingly.
am going through many Earth Manifesto essays and revising the tone, tenor and
substance of the perspectives expressed to incorporate more hope-providing and
heart-conscious understandings of reality like those contained in Spontaneous Evolution. Meanwhile, this manifesto contains many
answers for questions we’ve been collectively asking, and it proposes many
win/win solutions to the major problems we face.
is a hopeful and positive outlook on the world and the future and
ourselves. Optimism turns out to be good
for one’s physical health and mental resilience in getting through tough
times. An attitude of realistic optimism
can help us see big picture perspectives, and make things go turn out
better. Optimism and the practice of
gratitude can even be good for our immune systems and healing. So let’s look on the bright side of
everything, and work together to make our world a better one!
this. A 2014 Pew Research study of young
people in the Millennial generation found them “burdened by debt, distrustful
of people, and in no rush to marry.” But, despite all that, they were
“optimistic about the future”!
Think about this
optimism in the context of a “new populism” that is being manifested in America
today. This populism is characterized by
deep suspicion of political and corporate and media elites, and it is revealed
in the eagerness of young people who are new to politics to get mobilized,
along with an expanding willingness of people to embrace policies that have
long been on the fringes. On the right,
this has meant proposals to crack down on immigrants, Muslims, and outsiders of
all kinds. On the left, it has meant
demands to better regulate big banks and risky financial derivatives, crack
down on tax-dodging multinational corporations, shift to a much more
progressive tax system, and get serious about curbing carbon emissions. Bernie Sanders has promoted leftist language
that is resonating broadly among Democrats, particularly young ones. This is not surprising due to the fact that a
recent study showed that, between 1975 and 2012, nearly half of all the pre-tax
income growth in the United States went to the richest one per cent
Surveys by the
Pew Research Center show that half of Millennials describe themselves as
political independents and almost one-third say they are not affiliated with
any religion. These are near the highest
levels of political and religious disaffiliation recorded for any generation in
the quarter-century that the Pew Research Center has been polling on these
topics. “At the same time, however,
Millennials stand out for voting heavily Democratic and for liberal views on
many political and social issues, ranging from a belief in an activist
government to support for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization.”
have also been keeping their distance from another core institution of society
-- marriage. Just 26% of this generation
is married. When they were the age that Millennials are now, 36% of
Generation X, 48% of Baby Boomers and 65% of the members of the Silent Generation
were married. Most unmarried Millennials
(69%) say they would like to marry, but many, especially those with lower
levels of income and education, lack what they deem to be a necessary
prerequisite -- a solid economic foundation.
Marry this state
of affairs with the fact that students are being burdened with record high
levels of debt for their educations and then face relatively high rates of
unemployment and under-employment, and it is easy to see why Millennials are
justifiably cynical about the politicians who have contributed to making our
society increasingly unfair.
is why young people have given such strong support to Bernie Sanders, who calls
for revolutionary change to make our society much fairer. And this is why filmmaker Michael Moore makes
such a strong case for smarter public polices in his new and highly
entertaining and thought-provoking film Where
to Invade Next.
Closer Look at Iowa in February 2016
have a long history of backing Christian conservatives like Mike Huckabee in
2008 and Rick Santorum in 2012 and Ted Cruz in 2016. But a recent survey
by the Pew Research Center indicates that pious God-talk that is common with
Republican candidates has actually been more than usually effective this year,
until the Trumpster managed to triumph using ungodly vitriol. More than
half of Republican voters say that there is “too little” discussion of religion
and prayer from political leaders this campaign season (only 39 percent said
the same in 2012). The number is even larger among white evangelical
Protestants -- Ted Cruz’s core constituency -- 68 percent of whom wish
candidates would talk more about their faith, compared to 55 percent who
said the same in 2012.
The reason this
is so bizarre is that a heavier focus on substantive ideas about the positions
a candidate intends to support would be much more important in informing voters
about the qualifications and desirability of choosing a candidate to be
president than having a politician pander to voters by sermonizing about how
faithful he or she may be to whatever particular God they believe in, or how
fervently they pretend to believe.
Jeb Bush made an
eminently valid point at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire after the
Iowa caucuses, when he questioned whether his opponents Ted Cruz and Marco
Rubio had ever sacrificed any of their personal ambition for the
public good. Surely Ted Cruz was primarily focused on getting
attention and press coverage when he grandstanded on the Senate floor in a
21-hour long filibuster-like harangue in support of shutting down the federal
government in September 2013 over budget issues and funding of the
Affordable Care Act. This stunt led to a costly two week long shutdown of
the government soon thereafter. Even after that expensive disaster, Cruz
contemplating a repeat of that government shutdown in September 2015 to
demonstrate his extreme ideological opposition to having the federal government
provide funding to Planned Parenthood clinics that help provide life-saving
healthcare to needy and vulnerable women.
irresponsible display of ambition, manipulative political calculation and scurrilous tactics may stimulate rigid support for his scheming pursuit of power in
politics, but it is contrary to the greater good of society. Ted Cruz
also panders to anti-gay zealots so vociferously that one liberal Christian
group fairly criticized the stances he has taken as "bigotry wrapped up in
"To God be
the glory,” Cruz told jubilant supporters after he managed to win the Iowa
caucuses, partially by having used a dirty trick on voters in which his
campaign propagated a lie about Ben Carson having dropped out of the race. Cruz briefly became the leading Republican
candidate before Trickster Trump eventually quashed all primary contenders,
but God, I would think, would not have looked favorably on using dishonest
dirty tricks to gain power. We should
not allow shrewd hucksters and political opportunists to use the name of God to
advance their political careers and to hijack the electorate into supporting a
socially regressive national agenda.
The outcome of
Iowa caucuses has an impact on the choosing of our leaders, and it seems
downright dumb in theses modern times to accept this influence, given that more
than two-thirds of the voters in the state of Iowa are evangelicals who do not
fairly represent the broader American public. We should of course let
people everywhere in our great nation believe in any God that they want to, but
we should not allow some of the most gullibly delusional and fear-prone
conservative folks in the USA have an outsized role in influencing the
determination of who should lead us in these perilous modern times.
Oregon and Colorado and Virginia were the first three states to have all the
candidates spend time visiting every county, appealing to these more moderate
voters, instead of letting Iowa and then New Hampshire have such unwarranted
influence. After the near tie vote
between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in Iowa, Senator Sanders declared
that, "given the enormous crises facing our country, it is just too late
for establishment politics and establishment economics.” His candidacy
had already forced Hillary moderately to the left on several issues like international
trade agreements and income inequality, so his astonishing success through June
was a positive development to the extent that he shifted the Democratic
platform toward a less establishment and more populist national agenda.
Marco Rubio had finished third in Iowa by aggressively trying to woo
evangelical conservatives, running an ad in which he spoke of “the free gift of
Salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ.” I believe in a smart separation
of church and state, and I feel strongly that the American people should work
together to improve the prospects for humanity while we are alive in the here
and now, and not allow rich people and giant corporations to stack the deck
against the vast majority of the people while choosing our leaders by casting our
hopes into the heavens for salvation in some imagined future life after we are
dead. The fact of the matter is that the only persons experiencing either
heavenly well-being or hellish conditions will be our descendants who will live
on Earth after we die, so we should give greater consideration to making
decisions most likely to favorably impact them.
Try This Thought
Suppose that you
feel that you may be coming down with some serious affliction, so you choose to
go to two doctors to get their diagnoses, and it turns out that the doctors
give you radically different diagnoses and prescriptions. You really want
to trust your doctors, but when you are presented with two conflicting courses
of action, you must assess which one is best.
Further, imagine being in a country where the doctors do not adhere to
the Hippocratic Oath of "First, do no harm", and in fact they have
many ulterior motives like profiting by pushing unnecessary surgical procedures
and high cost prescription drugs, so you are understandably leery. What
are you to do?
First, you need
to objectively evaluate the credentials and character of the two physicians,
along with any evidence for what their motives may be, especially if they are
in conflict with what is in your best interests.
basically the situation all voters find themselves in here in early 2016.
All the Republican candidates for president accused the black man in the White
House with having screwed up the world and they tried to stoke fears about
immigrants and Muslims and refugees and the government taking away people’s
guns. These ambitious politicians and politician wannabes repetitively
vowed that they would fix everything by bringing back policies similar to those
pushed on the USA by George W. Bush, only more extreme when judged in terms of
more tax breaks for rich people, reducing the collective bargaining power of
working people, giving more influence to the wealthy and giant corporations,
allowing less voice for minorities and students and women, and adopting more
aggressive military stances on the international stage.
candidates for president competed by advocating more substantive proposals on
how to improve our nation's prospects.
They seemed to me to offer much better plans for fairer representation
for all constituencies, including fairer taxation plans, more honest approaches
for addressing the far-reaching impacts of growing social inequalities, less
opprobrious student debt, more responsible protections of the environmental
commons, and more level headed approaches in international affairs.
are starkly different, and the messaging machines are working at full bombast
volume, so it may be confusing to choose which course to take. It is my
hope that this Common Sense Revival will cut through the noise with a good dose
of plain truths that will help sway the American people to choose wisely.
prescriptions for healing the patient are astonishingly different on the right
than the left. Hard right elements not
only fervently oppose progressive changes in taxation and better control of
military spending, but they stand against defending the social safety net and
assured rights for gay people, immigrants and women with regard to reproductive
rights and options. Their stubborn
opposition to environmental protections and smart action to mitigate the risks
and damages caused by climate change are particularly dumbfounding. In
opposing workers’ rights to collectively bargain, they prevent workers from
exerting a fairer modicum of power to offset some of the overweening and almost
unaccountable power of big corporations. And when they obstruct efforts to
reform campaign financing and work to curtail voting rights of the downtrodden
who would be must likely to vote for more progressive policies, they make our
political system less representative of the common good.
They also tend
to support harsh punishment and lengthy incarcerations, and fail to strongly
support reforms that would reduce the multitude of injustices inherent in our
criminal justice system. Right now, there are more people incarcerated in
America than in any other country in the world.
The U.S. has less than five percent of the world's population, but
almost 25 percent of the world's prisoners. There are plenty of people who
deserve to be in prison, but there are also far too many nonviolent offenders
serving unfairly long sentences.
Louder than Words
I have a friend
who proclaims that she is a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. She
generally supports Republican politicians, even though the fact of the matter
is that Republican presidents have consistently increased overall government
spending more than Democratic presidents, and they have also presided over
bigger quantities of deficit spending and larger percent increases in the
national debt. How have shrewd Republicans managed to erroneously paint
themselves as fiscal conservatives when, in fact, they are the most
instructive to see how Republicans end up increasing spending more than
Democrats. They tend to rant and rave about the urgent necessity of
cutting spending on domestic programs that Democrats support, but their meager
successes in such efforts are more than offset by their eagerness to throw much
more money into the military. The Editorial Board at the New York Times succinctly encapsulated the
state of affairs in the run up to the November 2016 election with these
surprising but true-sounding words:
past painful year, the Republican presidential contenders have been bombarding
Americans with empty propaganda slogans and competing, bizarrely, to present
themselves as the least experienced person for the most important elected job
in the world. Democratic primary voters, on the other hand, after a
substantive debate over real issues, have the chance to nominate one of the
most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern
Clinton would be the first woman nominated by a major party. She served
as a senator from a major state (New York) and as secretary of state -- not to
mention her experience on the national stage as first lady with her brilliant
and flawed husband, President Bill Clinton. The Times editorial board has
endorsed her three times for federal office -- twice for Senate and once in the
2008 Democratic presidential primary -- and is doing so again with confidence
finally gained enough delegates to be declared the presumptive presidential
nominee in June 2016, she became the first woman to accomplish this feat in
U.S. history. Congratulations to
her! Millennials have given enthusiastic
support to Bernie Sanders, and judging from the growing need we have for
revolutionary change rather than continuing to prop up the status quo, they
have good cause. Their interests need to
be well reflected in the real Democratic national agenda, and American citizens
would be best served by choosing more Democrats in the Senate to get done the
important business that the Republican Senate and House have been obstructing
a Holy Place
my great-grandfather looking down on us and bursting with mischievous wit and
making some droll and drawling exaggerations.
He would surely ridicule our on-going human foibles, and would not
hesitate to express cynical sentiments about our forbearance for abuses of
power by corporations, governments and conservative religious authorities. He would likely be aghast that pretentious
conspicuous consumption has had such a profligate expression in modern years,
since it approaches that of the Gilded Age he wrote about. He would be practically apoplectic that we
still have such a pronounced national enthusiasm for interventionist wars and
economic imperialism, and he would probably sharply criticize our unaffordably
costly and sadly reprehensible military occupations of other countries and our
aggressively hawkish military adventurism in general. He was, after all, a leading figure in the Anti-Imperialist
League, America’s first national peace movement.
next time an American leader proposes that we get involved in another long-term
occupation of some foreign country, we would be wise to heed Mark Twain’s
“It is easier to stay out than get
And it would certainly be a less costly strategy, to boot!
President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1961 caveat to the nation resonates anew
with these ideas:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of
unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial
complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists
and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination
endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing
for granted. Only an alert and
knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial
and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that
security and liberty may prosper together.”
Most people are unaware that Eisenhower regarded the entities that were
perpetrating a significant threat to a proper balance between national security
and individual liberties to be a military-industrial-Congressional
complex. The role of Congress,
lobbyists, Big Money and other corrupting influences in our political system
cannot be overstated. These driving
forces have gotten much worse since President Eisenhower’s days.
Twain was notably clamorous, back during the courageous trust-busting days of
Theodore Roosevelt, about the all-but-evil ways in which giant conglomerates
abused their power by using monopoly practices and operating with unsafe
workplaces, long working hours, six-day work weeks, child labor and the
like. After all, the last three decades
of his life coincided with those of the reform-minded Progressive Era and the
muckraking exposés of that time.
Twain himself had invented the phrase the Gilded Age. Recall that he co-wrote a book about this era
in 1873, entitled The Gilded Age - A Tale
of Today. This was a story about
materialism, deception, graft, lobbyist shenanigans and corruption in public
life. One theme of the novel is that
materialistic lust is pervasive in society and people want to get rich by
speculating in land and other assets.
This book was also a story of the social pretensions of the nouveau
riche and their preoccupations with high status, as reflected by extravagant
Maslow was an American psychologist who first visualized a Hierarchy of Human
Needs. He expressed the opinion that
once people have their basic biological and safety needs met, they seek
meaningful things like belonging, intimacy, friendship, love, family, and
healthy community relationships.
Intermixed with these impulses, and higher up the pyramid -- but still
far, far short of enlightened self-actualization -- is a province of
self-esteem, achievement, self-gratification, aggressive ostentation, hedonism,
and a quest for the respect of others (or at least for their envy).
The Gilded Age was written at the
beginning of the first Gilded Age in the late 19th century, it did not yet
emphasize the degree of industrialization, corporate domination, labor strife
and urban machine politics that were to come in the following decades. Nor did it highlight the obscene amount of
extravagance and showy resource-squandering consumerism that became so
distinctive a characteristic of the years to follow. Queue up a few commercial jingles to sell
some more stuff!
recommend watching the documentary film George
Harrison: Living in the Material World, for it inspires a musically
enlightened spiritual perspective of the overly materialistic nature of modern
societies. The film was produced by
Martin Scorsese and George Harrison’s second wife, Olivia, who incidentally
reveals her simple key to a long marriage:
“Don’t get divorced.” Aha!
is interesting that the Beatles had evolved from struggling musicians to heroes
of love, and then they ascended to superstardom. When the band progressed to sitar-playing introspection,
they adopted alternate personas as members of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club
Band. This role seems to have provided them with expansive license to
experiment with songs and techniques, and the new alter ego of the Beatles as
the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band freed them to achieve new heights of
creative expression. The album was to
become one of the most widely acclaimed albums of all time.
the Beatles performed their last live concert in San Francisco in August 1966,
the four members of the group went their own separate ways, and in 1971 John
Lennon recorded Imagine, a song with
some of the greatest lyrics ever written.
Give it another listen!
it is valuable to adopt a new point of view to see the world in a more accurate
light. In the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life, for instance, the
main character George Bailey, who is played by Jimmy Stewart, focuses on what’s
wrong in his life until an angel shows him what’s right with it. This led him to the realization that he
actually already had a wonderful life.
Be Here Now!
Introspection into Government
Twain’s observation that “We have the best government that money can buy”
is an odd and thought-provoking one. Almost everyone I know
would agree that when we allow Big Money to buy our representatives, it allows
rich people to have an excessively domineering influence, and common folk are
forced to endure impacts that are highly negative on people and society and the
providential ecological commons. In this
sense, we are vastly overpaying for our government!
are paying a preposterously excessive premium for a political system that is
corrupted by entrenched interest groups.
Rich people are the primary culprits in this state of affairs, because
they jealously insist on getting the biggest proportion of the economic
benefits of our system for themselves.
As a consequential result, our government has
been rigged to give insufficient influence to the greater good.
A study done by the economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman has
showed that the richest 0.1 percent of households in the U.S. own almost a
quarter of the country’s wealth, which is more than the bottom ninety per cent
of households in the USA combined. That is
charge that the U.S. government is dysfunctional, and many opinions in this
manifesto corroborate such a characterization.
But in the big picture, this is nonsense. Let’s look again. The government is not the least bit
dysfunctional from the standpoint that it is very successfully achieving the
main function that power-abusing vested interest groups want it to do: RUTHLESSLY ADVANCING THE NARROW GOALS OF
THOSE WHO ARE THE MOST PRIVILEGED.
government is, however, terribly dysfunctional from the perspective of the vast
majority of the American people. This
majority would be much better served by having a government that is managed
more fairly and guided more properly. We
would be much better off having a government that would honestly and
courageously champion more sensible national priorities. It would be much better if the
representatives we elect would work together better and make fair compromises
that take into account the greater good for all. We would be better off in aggregate if we
chose to enact national policies that reduced inequality of opportunities and
outcomes in our country.
corruption and institutionalized bribery are the primary reasons that the
federal government fails to enact common good goals. Economic inequality and environmental injustices are, in substantial
part, political phenomena. They are NOT
necessary states of affairs.
opinion polls taken in the wake of the last minute federal debt limit increase
in August 2011 gave our representatives the lowest approval rating ever
recorded in a CNN poll. Even worse
evaluations were recorded after the October 2013 government shutdown in which
Senator Ted Cruz tried to filibuster for 21 hours and many functions of the
federal government were shut down for 15 days.
The American people see that our leaders are often pathetically
ineffective in their performance at the helm of our ship of state. Our political system is paralyzed, and our
representatives seem to be incapable of acting in ways that are responsible to
either the majority of people alive today or those to come in future
generations. Many Americans are getting
tired of the unwillingness of our leaders to seek common ground. We are collectively outraged that it seems
impossible to implement win/win solutions, or ones that are more socially just
than the status quo.
When a Gallup Poll was released in August 2012
indicating that the approval rating of Congress had fallen to an all-time low
of 10% of Americans polled, one member of the House of Representatives at the
time said: “We’re below sharks and
contract killers.” This lousy approval rating of the job that Congress does is as close to
unanimity as Americans get. It shows
that people want their political representatives to begin collaborating
together in better faith to sensibly address national problems.
An oath of office is required of all our national
representatives. In this official oath,
they swear to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. This oath requires them to “well and
faithfully discharge the duties of the office” to which they have been
elected. The American people today hold
their congressional representatives in low regard not only because of nasty
partisanship in Congress, but also because of high rates of unemployment and
under-employment in the nation, and stagnating wages for most working people,
and the dangerously high level of national debt. In addition, the scandalous sweetheart deals
that our representatives give themselves don’t help. For perspective, the all-time low approval
rating of Congress reached just 5% in October 2013, contrasting to the average
34% that Gallup has found since it first began polling on this question in
“There is nothing wrong with America that can’t be
fixed,” said President Obama. “What’s
broken is our politics.” Understanding
this, it becomes obvious that we need to demand fair-minded fixes!
Congress has made so many revealing December compromises that
confirm a fact that should be apparent to every observer: deep down beneath the sound and fury of
rancorous political discord and the ruthless competition between our
representatives for the most lavish possible pandering to wealthy people, a
complacent calm prevails. We can see
that this underlying collaboration between the two treacherous wings in our
political duopoly acts as one in its purpose and outcomes. This basic intent is to stay the course in
the über-arena where influential wealthy people all agree together that
national tax policies should not be made more progressive, so that wealth can
continue to be further concentrated in the bank accounts of the top dog
wealthiest 1% fat cats.
Even the Supreme Court has gone along with Congress and the Federal
Reserve in this overarching game-rigging strategy. The five “conservative” Justices on the
Supreme Court (before Antonin Scalia died) often basically violated the oaths
of office they once took by betraying We
the People when they made decisions using ideological rationalizations,
twisted logic, narrow legal interpretations, partisan positions, and unfair
favoritism of the interests of rich people and giant corporations.
The Judicial Oath of office that Supreme Court Justices are required
to take before they proceed to execute the duties of their offices is
straightforward and clear. They put
their hand on a Bible and are required to declare: "I, _(name)_, do solemnly swear that I will administer justice without
respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I
will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent
upon me as Supreme Court Justice under the Constitution and laws of the United
States. So help me God."
When these Justices made decision after decision in favor of
corporate interests, and against the greater good, and they did so by a narrow
5 to 4 majority of conservatives, this was a direct violation of the intent of
this oath. This is systemic corruption,
and anathema to the valuable democratic ideal of a truly independent judiciary. In my opinion, the conservatives on the Court
need to be much less ideologically partial to the rich!
An Aside on Criminal Justice
people have faith in the fairness of our American criminal justice system. I myself am an agnostic. I do feel strongly, however, that we should
strive to do two things simultaneously:
(1) Foster a modicum more fairness in our
society to reduce the risks associated with hard-nosed attitudes and
heavy-handed tactics and discriminatory policies and the shackling of workers
to their employer masters in an unfairly extreme triumph of capital over
labor. Greater fairness would help
ensure that our societies as a whole would be healthier, happier and more
secure, and this would create a much truer form of democracy!
(2) Sow a greater modicum of international
justice to improve the prospects of achieving peace. An expansive perspective of this dualistic
idea can be cultivated by pondering the perspectives expressed in the Earth
Manifesto essays, Sow Justice, Harvest
Peace, and Reflections on War – and
Another Viewpoint: A Fanciful Proposed Deal on the
National Debt Limit
A good friend of mine who fancies himself
El Gaviero (the Lookout) was captaining his boat near Cave Rock on beautiful
Lake Tahoe’s eastern shore on August 1, 2011.
We looked out to the northwest across the dark blue waters of the lake
toward lofty Squaw Peak. Subliminal
perceptions of cavemen and cave women, and the entire panoply of their
respective behaviors, pulsed through the charged atmosphere as thunderclouds
rumbled in the distance behind us. The
ghosts of some native Washoe Indians buried in sacred crevices of Cave Rock
could almost be heard grumbling about the highway tunnels blasted through the
rocky promontory, but we moderns apparently decided long ago that we can with
impunity ignore the sensibilities of our natural-world-respecting Native
Somehow the conversation on the boat had
drifted to big picture perspectives and politics and deficit spending. El Gaviero, looking out smartly, shook his
head pensively and proclaimed that there was only one solution to the National
Debt Limit Crisis, which at that moment was so starkly affecting our
communities, thanks to our self-interested and stubbornly uncompromising
“There’s only one thing to do”, proclaimed
El Gaviero. “We default on our national
debt and give Washington, D.C. and Newark to the Chinese. Throw in a cool place like Barstow for a
LOL. Let’s deal fair and square
with China, I thought, and throw in something they would really want, like Las
Vegas. We should remember to bargain in
good faith, after all. God only
knows! I even gave some momentary
consideration to throwing in the Grand Canyon to make it a better bargain, for
this would have been an appropriate salute to the perfect symbolic channeling
of the Goddess of Poetic Justice that such a move would represent in light of
the absurdly deep chasm of debt we have incurred by indulging in the
intergenerationally unfair expediency of unprecedented levels of deficit financing
of wars and low marginal tax rates on the highest income earners. But I rejected this idea in deference to my
enthusiasm for protecting beautiful places, wilderness areas, National Parks
and open spaces.
Then I thought, in a comedic puff of dust,
that there’s got to be a silver lining to all the dark clouds that are
gathering on our human and biotic horizons.
And there is.
Time Has Come Today
is great news! We can take back our
country by twelve primary means, enumerated below for reference. Believe me, I know that a “Curse of
Knowledge” can afflict the salubrious stickiness of ideas, so feel free to skip
this list for now.
the large projected increase in the national debt in the next decade by 50%
without imposing severe austerity measures on the masses. To accomplish this goal, reverse the markedly
regressive changes made in the tax code during the past three decades in ways
recommended in specific detail in One Dozen Big Initiatives to
Positively Transform Our Societies.
the Social Security system and improve our costly healthcare system so that
both programs are affordable and indefinitely sustainable. Recommendations on how to do this are
contained in Radically Simple Ways to
Make America Fairer, and to Fix Both Social Security and Health Care So We Can
Move On to Address Much Bigger Issues.
Implement the best ideas in the Progressive
Agenda for a More Sane Humanity.
Reform our political system to reduce the overwhelming influence of
corporate lobbyists in Washington D.C.
In particular, enact farsighted restrictions on the financing of
politicians’ campaigns by corporations and wealthy people. Also, require disclosure of contributions to
political campaigns, and put stronger Congressional ethics rules into effect.
Find sensible ways of establishing fairer protections of workers and the
(6) Implement a 2%
Future Viability Assessment on all products and services to cover some of the
costs associated with corporate scams that externalize onto society a variety
of real costs of making goods and providing services. The details of this Assessment are spelled
out in One Dozen Big Initiatives to Positively Transform Our Societies.
Adopt a Bill of Rights for Future Generations. This move would help ensure that we succeed
in protecting the best interests of humanity in the long run, and it would also
serve to prevent us from continuing to sacrifice the best interests of our
descendants in future generations to primarily enrich the few today.
Reverse the concentration of Big Media by requiring a break-up of
enormous conglomerates that control television networks and newspapers and
radio stations. Also, take steps to
alter the trend toward “too big to fail” corporatism in the banking industry by
limiting the multiples of leverage allowed and raising capital requirements for the world's largest
Reduce military spending by 25% over the next 5 years, and create a
cabinet-level Department of Peace to commit our nation to “soft power”
initiatives rather than hard power aggression.
At the same time, extricate our troops from so many overseas deployments
and military occupations of other countries.
(10) Devote at least 2% of our federal budget
to foreign aid, and target it to helping other peoples by reducing poverty,
mitigating desperation and reactionary extremism, encouraging family planning,
developing clean energy, and protecting forests, wetlands, rivers, oceans,
fresh water sources and ecosystems worldwide.
(11) Impeach Supreme Court Justices Clarence
Thomas for his ideological rigidity and deep conflicts of interest, and agree
to replace him with a Justice who is committed to the greater good of the
people instead of narrow prerogatives for corporations and wealthy people and
Ensure that we make a national commitment to a fairer society and a
greener future by striving to achieve a good portion of the goals specified in
Common Sense Revival (and Part Four
online of the Earth Manifesto).
that Progressive Tax Reform is Required
three indisputable facts: (1) The national debt has increased by more than $18
trillion since 1981; (2) The net worth
of the top 1% of Americans has increased from less than $3 trillion in 1981 to
more than $21 trillion today; and (3)
rich people are paying nearly the lowest tax rates in generations on their
incomes and capital gains, and on their estates when they die.
a very real sense, $18 trillion has been borrowed in the past 35 years from
people in the future to give it to the richest Americans. This $18 trillion heist since 1981 is a Big
Cheat and a Big Fraud. A significant
portion of the large additional deficits that are anticipated in the next 10
years is due to on-going insidious effects of regressive tax cuts enacted by
Republicans during the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
are thrown in prison for the rest of their lives if they rob a liquor store 3
times in any one of the 25 states that have enacted Three Strikes laws. But rich people who are part of this $18
trillion class-action rip-off of our children are treated as though they
completely deserve impunity for their grotesquely unfair participation in this
all but criminal malfeasance.
people who have benefitted the most from this fraud are like the robber barons
of the late nineteenth century. In many
respects, their success has been achieved by corrupting our democracy instead
of fairly competing or providing superior products or services. Their success has often not been achieved
through honorable innovation or personal integrity, and certainly not through
fairness to future generations. This
state of affairs emphasizes the need for an overarching Bill of Rights for
Future Generations to more fairly guide our national decision-making.
more that wealth is concentrated, the more power becomes concentrated. And as power becomes more unfairly
distributed, the impetus increases for it to be abused. Where, one might
wonder, are we headed?
tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
--- The historian and moralist Lord Acton
was inevitable when Ronald Reagan slashed marginal tax rates on the highest
incomes from 70% in 1981 to 28% by 1988 that this fiscally irresponsible action
would increase the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few at
the expense of the vast majority of Americans.
It was also inevitable that, when inheritance taxes began to be reduced
under George W. Bush’s tax cut plans, such policies would serve to lock in a
financial Easy Street forevermore for heirs of the richest 1% of wealthy
people. The late author John Fowles pointed out in The Aristos that the
envious masses tolerate wealth in this order:
most, they applaud wealth acquired after birth by pure luck; next, they admire wealth that is fairly
earned according to the current system;
and least, they are cynical about all huge amounts of wealth acquired at
birth through inheritance.
People are particularly opposed to concentrations of wealth when they are
inherited, instead of being earned through hard work, intelligence, merit,
taking smart entrepreneurial risks, or making positive social
Our political system has been so corrupted by moneyed interests that the
outrage of socially-unaffordably low taxes on the richest Americans has been
concealed under a barrage of propaganda, subterfuge, and deceptive ideological
arguments that advocate low tax rates on the highest incomes.
is foolish for us to have allowed inequality to grow so extreme in the U.S.
since 1981. This trend is strongly
correlated with increases in the power of individuals and groups who have a
stake in doing little to counteract the disparities between the Few, who have
the most income and wealth, and the Many who have much less. The manipulation of public opinion by the
entities with the most money and power is a big factor in perpetuating this
state of affairs.
Extreme social injustices, in all their many
specific manifestations, are pathetic, especially when they are harshly
perpetrated by privileged people to selfishly gain more advantages at the
expense of those with fewer privileges and less power. The sad irony is that many social injustices
not only have harmful impacts on people today, but they also have
unconscionably detrimental implications for the prospects of all people in
It seems downright immoral for our leaders to create
ever-increasing inequalities of opportunity, privilege, income, wealth,
security, and access to healthcare. And it is unfair and mean-spirited to
push economic policies that are designed to increase already glaring social
sometimes skips a generation.”
--- The 2011 film, The Help
small modicum of greater social justice would be positive for the well-being of
all. Even the famous economist Adam
Smith would have corroborated this assertion, for he stated in his veritable manifesto of capitalism, The Wealth of Nations, that the wealth
of a nation is measured by the productivity and living standards of ALL of its
people, not just by its accumulated wealth.
Adam Smith’s book was essentially dedicated to improving the welfare of
the common man, not just that of merchants or the upper class. It is one of the most colossal ironies in the
history of ideas that Adam Smith’s book has been used by wealthy people and the
industrialist class as a justification for NOT seeking to remedy the scandalous
social ills caused by industrialization. Bah, humbug!
Seven Primary Challenges We Must Honestly Deal With
seven biggest problems we collectively must tackle are:
(1) The deterioration of the ecological
foundations of our physical well-being and a related global water crisis and
the risks inherent in massive extinctions of species on Earth.
(2) Changes in weather patterns and correlated
increasing incidences of natural disasters that are being exacerbated by
increasing concentrations of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. The human activities that are contributing
the most to these harmful impacts include excessive burning of fossil fuels,
slash-and-burn deforestation, and maintaining large herds of methane-producing
ruminants like cattle and sheep.
(3) The strife that threatens peaceful
coexistence and the mutual security of nations worldwide. This strife is made substantially more
risk-laden by profligate spending on armaments and wars, and the proliferation
of nuclear weapons, and the U.S. having set an international precedent of
initiating preemptive warfare that destabilizes other countries like
Afghanistan and Iraq and Syria.
(4) The fiscal irresponsibility of leaders in
the U.S. and other debt-ridden nations and the concomitant increases in risks
of heightened economic turmoil and potential recession.
(5) The inadequate upkeep of the physical
infrastructure of the U.S. and the failure to invest in the well-being of
people in future generations.
(6) The increasing concentration of wealth and
power in the hands of the richest 1% and a correlated diminishment of the
security and prospects of prosperity for workers, young people and people in
(7) Population overshoot and the dangers
associated with wasteful uses of fossil fuels, along with a failure to put into
effect smart measures that are focused on resource conservation, efficiency of
energy use, and the development of cleaner and more renewable energy
Hands on the Scales of Justice
Americans love the courage and ideals championed by our country’s Founders, and
yet every single one of the Founders, if alive today, would be horrified to see
how easy we have made it for special interest groups to rig the system and
usurp and abuse power. After all, the
Founders had strived valiantly to establish the safeguards of a balance of
power between Congress and the Executive Branch and the Judiciary, and between
the Federal Government and the States.
Big Money speaks loudly and carries a big stick. The Supreme Court even ruled by a narrow 5-4
majority of conservatives that we should give “freedom of speech” to moneyed
interests. Unfortunately, this gives
moneyed interests an excessive ability to manipulate and control our national
insight again leads us straight to the purpose for implementing a more
progressive system of taxation. Here is
the convincing rationale. Since Big
Money has an outsized influence in determining the rules and regulations of our
economic system, and since Big Money yields Big Power, overly heavy hands are
laid on the scales of justice. These
shrewd hands collude to manipulate markets and establish unfair rules. The result is a profusion of tax evasion
schemes, no-bid contracts, regulation loopholes, subsidies for resource
depletion, accelerated depreciation provisions, negative externalities, and
exemptions from environmental protection laws.
corporations abuse the power of their size to the considerable disadvantage of
smaller businesses and partnerships and non-profit organizations and fairness
to consumers. Big corporate entities
exploit the system, often by making competition unfair through monopoly-like practices. Banks that are too-big-to-fail and huge
conglomerate businesses are one result.
crux of the matter is that the interest groups with the most money have
manipulatively rigged the system so that it gives them most of the benefits of
economic activities. So a balancing
mechanism is needed to counterbalance the heavy hands on the scales of justice
and public policy-making that are being applied by rich people and top
management in big corporations. This is
one good reason why a more steeply graduated tax system is needed on
corporations as well as on individuals.
Such a plan would level the playing field a bit, and make fairness a
truer cornerstone of our democratic republic.
taxes should be assessed on a progressive scale. All business entities that have gross incomes
less than $5 million should be assessed lower rates of tax on their net
profits, and bigger businesses should be assessed progressively higher rates on
their net profits above $5 million. A
plan like this would have a collateral benefit of diminishing the
attractiveness of corporations to grow in size until they are “too big to
fail”, and thus risk needing periodic taxpayer bailouts.
Additionally, all corporations should be required
to pay at least a minimum amount of tax every year on their net incomes to
prevent many large corporations from evading the payment of any taxes on their
incomes in any given year. General
Electric, for instance, earned $14 billion in worldwide profits in 2010, but
paid no taxes to the U.S. government. GE
employs over 900 highly compensated tax lawyers and accountants to game the
system to get such a benefit. Similarly,
Apple Inc. develops creative accounting to shelter a large portion of its
Economics and Corporate Power
Corporations long ago
began sprawling across national boundaries.
Their power has now grown beyond that of any nation’s government. Globalization has some positive economic merits,
but corporations are far too socially and environmentally irresponsible to
allow them to continue monopolizing business and growing too big to fail. They can no longer be allowed to privatize
profits while foisting many real costs of their production activities upon
society and future generations.
Corporations cannot be allowed to continue running roughshod over the
and democracy are, in one sense, opposed to each other, just as freedom and
equality are essentially competing and often conflicting values. The
greater the freedom a society allows, and the fewer the number of
fairness-oriented regulations and progressive initiatives, the more that
inequalities naturally multiply. And the
rich get richer.
societies have incorporated many “socialistic” provisions into their economic
systems to ensure a somewhat fairer modicum of equality. Meanwhile, socialistic societies have
included capitalistic provisions of free enterprise and some individual
liberties in their economic systems in order to offer a greater stimulus to
entrepreneurial activities. “East is
West and West is East, and soon the twain will meet,” as Will and Ariel Durant
poetically opined in The Lessons of
benefits from capitalist ideals by providing people with freedoms and stronger
motives to be productive, and by allowing people to benefit from their
labors. Outcomes of a Russian social
experiment many years ago showed that individual farmers were much more
productive on small private plots than farmers who worked on acreage devoted to
giant collective farms. This is one
reason that China and Russia and other socialistic societies have embraced
laissez-faire economics to a degree.
puts the profit motive on the highest pedestal of our imaginations. But then it insidiously allows wealthy people
to commandeer most of the benefits of increased productivity for
themselves. This is why capitalist
societies need to limit abuses of power and ruthlessness of monopolies through
“socialistic” legislation and tax plans that effectively share wealth more
tentacles of Shock Doctrine Disaster Capitalism are insidiously squeezing the
vitality out of workers and the middle class in the U.S. These corporate tentacles are sapping the
strength and fairness from our great American experiment in democracy, and
consequently causing a ruinous and damnable erosion of the common good. It is an assault on the majority of people by
the few, an assault on good governance, on fairness, and on the health of the
environment that sustains us. It is an
assault on the quality of life and standard of living of the majority of
people. No amount of hyperbole is
sufficient to express the outrageousness of this inegalitarian exploitation, or
the amount of damage it is doing to our home planet and the biological
diversity of life on Earth.
It is a revealing
aspect of our capitalist economic systems that corporations are allowed to make
the maximum profits that they can, by hook or by crook. Yet this state of affairs need not
necessarily be changed to reduce the distortions caused by corporate
cost-externalizing practices. We simply
must require all businesses to include all costs of production in
the prices of the products they sell.
They can pass these costs on to consumers if they are able. This requirement
would have the effect of mitigating misallocations of resources caused by
cost-externalizing gambits and their distorting impacts on purchases and
decision-making. A specific proposal to
achieve this sensible goal is contained in One
Dozen Big Initiatives to Positively Transform Our Societies.
Struggle by Capital to Exploit Workers
economic systems seem to have triumphed over societies that listened to the
ideas of Karl Marx, with his oh-so-Marxian declaration, “Workers of the World,
Unite!” Capitalists today are triumphing
over workers in a more startlingly unfair manner than at any time since the end
of the Roaring Twenties.
of worker unity and power to the people, wealthy people in our capitalist
societies have collaborated with right wing ideologues to use the power of
their money to create ever-more insecure conditions for workers. CEOs
made 25 times as much as the average worker in 1970. In 2011, the average amount a CEO of a
Fortune 500 Company made was more than 300 times as much as the average
worker. And yet the net effective rate
of taxes that these highly compensated people pay has been reduced
significantly. One way that CEOs have proven
their value to corporate profit-making is by ensuring tight control over
employee headcount and worker compensation and overtime and benefits, and by
terminating employees whenever convenient.
These developments are bizarrely unfair in light of the crucial value of
workers to the success of business.
rich are winning a Pyrrhic victory over the greater good of the people. They are also winning a similarly
shortsighted victory over the common good of our communities, our countries,
peoples of other nations, and all people in future generations. And they are spearheading a kind of
ecological Pyrrhic victory over all other forms of life on Earth.
original Pyrrhic victory was a battle victory won with devastating losses by
Pyrrhus, the King of Epirus, over the Romans at Asculum in present day southern
Italy in 279 BCE. The Greek Pyrrhus used
war elephants and a superior cavalry to gain this costly triumph over the
Romans, but the heavy losses he suffered caused him to exclaim: “One more such victory, and we shall be
Pyrrhic victories by capitalists over workers are temporary triumphs where
workers are required to work harder for less compensation and less
security. These ephemeral victories are
achieved to give the rich more wealth.
High costs for worker healthcare and retirement security are being
foisted onto others, and the harm done to people and the health of our
communities is tragic and costly. We
cannot allow these Pyrrhic victories to cause our societies to become more
are two reasons that Pyrrhic victories by rich people presage future
calamities. First, there are economic
reasons: it is a poor strategy to
undermine the solvency of the majority of consumers, who are responsible for
70% of the total spending in our economy.
And second, it is politically risky to court the wrath of the poor and
the middle class by imposing austerity measures on the majority while allowing
the highest income earners to pay the lowest rates of taxes in generations.
international economy is practically predicated on American consumerism. Since 70% of the U.S. economy is based on
consumer spending, it is inevitable that consumers cannot keep up this spending
spree when economic bubbles create periodic high rates of joblessness. Real incomes of workers have been flat or
declining ever since 1981 when the Reagan Revolution began to undermine the
power of workers and give most of the enormous benefits of increased
productivity to CEOs and investors, and very little of it to workers. The economy had been supported until the
housing bubble burst by borrowings against home equity, but those factors have
been eroded by subsequent developments and a temporary steep overall decline of
60% in the total amount of equity people had in their homes between 2007 and
more fairly distributed prosperity would be better for all concerned in the
long run. This is true because the
egalitarianism of more fairly distributed wealth would ensure less insecurity
for the masses. When people are
subjected to ever-growing insecurity, it is a dangerous condition because it
harms people, stokes crime, increases the potential for violence, and provides
a powerful impetus toward political instability and even violent revolutionary
is one reason why we should enact fairer legislative partial redistributions by
means of more steeply graduated taxes.
In the short term, we should strive to ensure that poor people and those
in the middle class are made more secure.
This would stimulate the economy much more holistically and sanely than
allowing policies to prevail in which regressive tax cuts principally benefit
the richest Americans. Fairer treatment
of working people would result in economic growth, more tax revenue and reduced
“The war against working people should be
understood to be a real war. It’s not a
new war. It’s an old war. Furthermore, it’s a perfectly conscious war
everywhere, but specifically in the United States … which happens to have a
highly class-conscious business class … and they have long seen themselves as fighting
a bitter class war, except they don’t want anybody else to know about it.”
--- Noam Chomsky, Propaganda and Control of the Public Mind
challenge all Americans to demand that their representatives begin to honor the
greater good and “the general Welfare” of the majority of the people. We should reject the insidiously unfair goals
of giant corporations and rich people when they undermine our common prospects
have been goosing the world economy with stimulative deficit-financed
consumerism for decades. Now that
consumers are so strapped that they can no longer afford to buy as much stuff,
this game is reaching a crescendo, and fairer policies are needed. The paradigms of human behavior simply must
become more sustainable.
people have been abusing the power that comes with their increasing monopoly on
the nation’s wealth by refusing to contribute a fairer share of the total tax
burden. They are slowly strangling
American workers by tightly controlling the compensation and benefits that
workers receive, and by demanding that federal and state governments cut
spending on programs that benefit the poor and the middle class while
perpetuating the many methods by which the rich prosper. They do not want to share their prosperity,
and they are strongly opposed to sharing any sacrifices needed to make our
system more sustainable.
a result, the U.S. has the highest inequality of wealth in the industrialized
world. The implications of this fact are
unconscionable. It reminds me once again
of Warren Buffet’s astute observation: “There’s class warfare, all right, but
it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning it.” President Obama has repeatedly proposed
ending the low tax rates enacted under George W. Bush. But rich people insist on their entitlement
to these boondoggle-like boons, so little progress has been made in this
regard. Paul Ryan, responding with
vitriol to such a proposal in 2011, accused the President of “class
thing should be perfectly clear to Americans:
class warfare started long ago with regressive tax policies and
political favoritism of the wealthy.
Ending this favoritism in our nation is a goal that is important. Republicans are on the wrong side of this
issue. Once again, as in their
opposition to many progressive reforms in the past century, they are also on
the wrong side of history. Pandering to
Big Money may be good politics in the short run, but it sure isn’t Christian,
or fair, or ultimately sustainable.
Introspections into the
Tea Party Leaves
People have been
striving to divine and tell fortunes from tea leaves for thousands of
years. This practice is accomplished by
someone with alleged clairvoyance that seeks to see symbols or omens in the
patterns found in the dregs of a cup of tea.
This practice even has a name:
Tasseomancy. Using a new method
of enlightened divination, let us explore the big picture of tea parties.
Great economic thinkers
of the past 250 years have strived to understand and explain the nature of
humankind’s economic activities in aggregate.
In doing so, they have formulated some fascinating theories. Adam Smith claimed that an “invisible hand”
propitiously guides market economies.
Robert Malthus predicted that agriculture would inevitably be unable to
provide enough food for rapidly growing numbers of human beings. Karl Marx expressed the conviction that
“surplus value”, i.e. profit, was created primarily by the productive efforts
of workers, so that social justice requires workers to be treated more
fairly. Karl Marx also advocated greater
social justice rather than an overarching emphasis on industrial efficiency.
analyzed the dynamics of business cycles and described entrepreneurs and
innovation as being part of a “perennial gale of creative destruction.” John Maynard Keynes stated that the economy
should be stimulated by the government during economic recessions by means of
deficit spending, but he sensibly pointed out that this should be a short-term
expediency that would necessarily require being offset by dampening consumer
spending and balancing the budget when economic growth recovers and the threat
of a spiral of inflation begins to be felt.
These great thinkers are
being discounted by the fervor of people in the Tea Party. Why, one might naturally wonder, is the Tea
Party committed to ideologies consistent with a right-wing agenda that is
socially intolerant, economically fundamentalist, and environmentally
unwise? Presidential candidate Michele
Bachmann assured the American public in 2012 that, if she became President, “I
guarantee you the Environmental Protection Agency will have doors locked and lights
turned off …”. That was a radical anti-environmental
proposal! And the 2016 Republican
candidate pursue similar goals.
The Tea Party
has ironically constituted the most passionate political movement in the U.S.
in the last five years. It is an odd
coalition of Libertarians, adherents to voodoo economic ideologies, healthcare
reform opponents, climate change deniers, conservative “born again”
evangelicals, Creationists, “birthers”, authoritarian followers, anti-choice
activists, flat-tax proponents, gun-lovers, and those who fear government and
oppose sensible protections of the environment.
Tea Party believers have been exploited by wealthy people and their
well-financed front groups to get them to agitate for policies that are
retrogressive, divisive, and insidiously beneficial to millionaires and
billionaires at the expense of the majority of Americans. At a time when we should be moving in the
direction of solving big problems that confront us, the Tea Party has become a
major roadblock to progress.
Tea Party politicians
are preoccupied with slashing public spending, but this helps engineer a more
unfair society, and it risks causing an austerity recession or another
Depression in the process. The
shaky Tea Party “platform” is incoherent because it contradictorily supports
higher spending on the military and lower taxes. It denies the risks of climate disruptions
that are being recklessly caused by unlimited emissions of greenhouse gases
into the atmosphere. It supports
politicians who propose regressive changes in tax policy and a retrogressive
social agenda. It accepts the idea that
men are more equal than women by opposing fairness in pay for equal work.
Party adherents inadvertently help facilitate corporate prerogatives that allow
large companies to externalize costs of pollution and worker healthcare onto
society. They mindlessly go along with
the rights of corporations to dominate “free speech”, and they support
anti-immigrant policies and are tacitly in favor of racial and gender
discrimination. They support religious
fundamentalism -- as long as it is the right religion; others are regarded as heretics or evil
political “double con” is going on here.
Conservative politicians pander to Tea Party folks and other social
conservatives and religious fundamentalists, and they then use the support they
gain to help elect corporate enablers and economic fundamentalists to positions
of leadership. In turn, these
politicians use the power they obtain to raise lots of money, and they use
these Big Bucks to pay Washington D.C. lobbyists to implement policies that
advance the interests of a narrow minority of wealthy people at the direct
expense of the majority of people in the general public.
wise up! You are being duped,
manipulated, taken advantage of, and double-crossed by shrewd operators.” Subversive agitators have lit a fire under
angry Tea Party enthusiasts with their anti-government, anti-tax, anti-deficit,
anti-immigrant, anti-healthcare reform, anti-progressive and anti-science dogmas. These shrewd subversives are a radically
different breed from the peace advocates and idealistic Berkeley radicals of
the Sixties. Instead of advocating peace
and social justice, they give strength to insiders who do the bidding of
billionaires like the notorious Koch brothers, and corporate shills like the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and right-wing think tanks like the Federalist
Society. These insiders aggressively
propagate deceptive propaganda.
Some Republicans like Sarah Palin pretend
to be populists, but their policies are actually primarily in accord with the
interests of fat cats. Republican
ideologies are aligned with constituencies that are opposed to fairness. They act as if they believe in good
management and the greater good, but they pander narrowly to rich people and
the interests of CEOs and shareholders.
They should instead give more consideration to the interests of working
people and the majority of Americans.
But because they are figuratively in bed with wealthy people, they generally
oppose fiscally fair ideas and Golden Rule principles and ecological sanity and
sensible precautionary principles.
Party Republicans have cooked up a “purity pledge” that refuses to ever support
increased government revenues for any purpose, and they punish any politician
who will not sign this pledge. The Party
also threatens anyone who signs the pledge and then subsequently makes
compromises that accept any tax increases or closing of tax loopholes. This purity curiously contains a distinct
portion of defilement and corruption, and it appears to be pure pig-headedness,
ruthless partisanship, dishonesty, and an anything but pure grab for power.
purity, from one perspective, is pragmatic because uncompromising positions
were the best hope the right wing had to make Barack Obama a one-term
president. After all, by striving to
paralyze the country and prevent fair-minded solutions, they made the incumbent
president less popular due to persistent high levels of unemployment,
underemployment and wage stagnation. But
this purity is much more like ossified, manipulative tantrum-throwing
immaturity and even hostage-taking than a noble Golden Rule willingness to deal
fairly with all competing interests in our society. This purity is a form of reactionary
political fundamentalism that is contrary to the greater good. Fundamentalism, whether religious, economic
or political, is about power and manipulative control and strict adherence to
doctrine -- NOT about honest ideas or fairness.
comes from very primitive parts of us that have always been the default setting
of our species: amity toward our
in-group, enmity toward out-groups, hierarchical deference to alpha-male
figures, and a powerful identification with our territory. This is the brutal default setting that
all civilizations have tried to raise us above.
But civilization is always a fragile thing, and it must be achieved over
and over and over again.”
--- Reverend Davidson Loehr
Republicans hem and haw and pretend that
their ideologies are honorable and moral.
They claim their ideas are full of integrity, rectitude, populist
righteousness, and providential wisdom.
Give us a break! The emperor has
no clothes! Republicans should stop
obstructing efforts to manage our society more fairly. They should accept greater social
responsibility and begin to help enact smart, fair-minded and long-term
oriented solutions to our national problems.
They should stop functioning as they have for the past 7-plus years to
obstruct every initiative designed to right the ship of state.
partisanship is sharpening the distinctions between the two dominant political
parties. To me, the Trump faction
represents grave potential dangers, and the Paul Ryan establishment seeks unity
in perpetuating policies that benefit wealthy privileged people at the expense
of the majority of Americans. This sure
looks like a losing proposition for the Republican Party, and for our country,
and for humanity as a whole.
colonial ancestors bridled at taxation without fair representation. That is
what the original Boston Tea Party was all about. The reason they felt so strongly about being
fairly represented was that they hated the despotism of the colonial British
mercantile system. The Tea Party today
has been duped into a fervor in which they think the federal government and
taxes are the main problems in our society.
In this, they have been deluded into believing the spin and propaganda
of wealthy conservatives.
Party types are not even coherent with their ideologies, as stated above,
because they generally defend hard-nosed military Keynesianism in which poorly
controlled and profligately wasteful deficit-financed military spending and
wars are staunchly defended, year after year after year.
have a sensible message for Tea Party adherents: Let’s come together to champion priorities
that are more visionary, fair-minded, and longer-term oriented. Let’s focus our attention and energies on
issues that are vitally important to the greater good, and to people in future
generations. Let’s try to transcend
doctrinal convictions and dogmatic conditioning. Let’s relinquish impulses to control and
dominate and repress others. Let’s
breathe deep and exhale slowly, and resist the impulse to be obedient to the
voices of fundamentalists, conservative ideologues and authoritarian
efforts must be made to solve the transcendent problems that face us. We should make these efforts in the best ways
possible. We should remember to
recognize how wide the array is of competing interests in our society. Let us listen to others, and try to see things
from other people’s point of view, and be open-minded and empathetic.
types: Please help find a way for all
factions to work together to begin honestly addressing mega-problems like
deficiencies in public education, corporate abuses of power, high-risk Wall
Street activities, and the exorbitant costs of healthcare, social inequities,
wasteful spending on the military, climate-disrupting carbon emissions, the
rapid growth in human numbers in the poorest countries on Earth, and the
exploitation of young people and future generations by powerful vested
that our government become a more trustworthy proponent of the people, rather
than a patsy for the powerful or an expediency-addicted and wastefully
words of Swami Beyondananda echo once again across the interstices of space: We don’t need more theories of evolution, we
need to make a better practice of it!
Prosperity, the quality of life, and even our species’ survival hang in
Twain Investigates the Noble Assertions of Tiffany & Co.
& Co. was founded in 1837, the year after Samuel Clemens was born. In 2011, in keeping with modern times, this
high-end retailer of diamonds and precious metal objects claimed to be
committed to social and environmental responsibility. The company’s Chairman of the Board and CEO,
Michael Kowalski, wrote a laudable article that took a stand against gold
mining in the Bodie Hills, east of Highway 395, on the dramatic east side of
the Sierra Nevada range in California.
issue was related to a modern day land grab by conservatives who are attempting
to open up wilderness areas to private exploitation. Politicians in the House of Representatives
were considering a bill sponsored by Rep. Kevin McCarthy that would have
eliminated protections of wilderness areas and allowed development on more than
43 million acres of America’s most fragile wild lands. Some observers called this legislation a
“Great Outdoors Giveaway” because it would have mined beautiful public lands
and undermined decades of conservation protections.
land-grab scheme was similar to financial scams in which entrenched interests
monopolize the nation’s wealth. Both
ploys are unacceptable as official public policy. Kevin McCarthy is the Majority Whip of the
House, and he’d just love to whip up public lands in a slurry of socially
disastrous profit maximizing. McCarthy
is a member of the GOP “Young Guns Program”, along with arch-conservatives Eric
Cantor and Paul Ryan. It’s sad to have
had such a cast of “young guns” trying to undermine the greater good with such
perseverance and dedication to right-wing principles. A new calculus has come to dominate political conservatism, and the
startling defeat of Eric Cantor by an even more radically “conservative” Tea
Party unknown lends a compelling twist to this state of affairs.
When even more
extreme conservatives forced the resignation of John Boehner from his position
as Speaker of the House in September 2015, and Kevin McCarthy foolishly made a
revealing gaffe and subsequently withdrew from his advantaged position to
replace him because of the uncompromising partisanship of the House “Freedom
Caucus”, this new calculus threw the Republican Party into chaos.
But anyway, the fact that McCarthy attempted to allow a
43-million-acre land grab for private exploitation is stunning, and it casts a
new light of shame on his opposition to Renewable Energy initiatives and his
votes against a proposed Cap and Trade Program that would have assigned a fair
cost to emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. To
help understand the psyche of Kevin McCarthy, consider the strange fact that he
played a clip from the movie The Town at
a closed-door meeting just prior to the August 2011 debt ceiling vote. He was reportedly seeking to foster a sense
of unity among House Republicans. In the
clip, a bank robber says to his accomplice, “I need your help. I can’t tell you what it is. You can never ask me about it later. And we’re
going to hurt some people.” Cheers
may have erupted from the Republican audience.
the American people to advance really narrow interests? This seems to be the overarching mindset of
Republican politicians in the House of Representatives. There is Happy spin in this: once we see things in the clearest possible
light, the chances increase that we will be able to make much better decisions
about how to proceed in the most propitious manner possible in the future.
collaboration, not ruthless competition, may be the key to survival. Insanity has been defined as doing the same
thing over and over again, and expecting different results. Let’s go SANE!
have been arguing heatedly about the theory of evolution ever since Alfred
Russell Wallace, a commoner, and Charles Darwin, an aristocrat, courageously
proclaimed that all species of life have descended from predecessors over eons
of time through a process of evolutionary transformation. The stakes are too high today to be
distracted by arguing about WHETHER life has evolved. It is high time now that we begin
passionately agreeing on a practice of evolution, an intuitive,
practical, common sense, intelligently directed, coalescent and fair-minded
evolution that will alter the unquestionably unsustainable state of the status
Russell Wallace believed that cooperation is the dominant feature of evolution,
rather than ruthless competition. Today
we are finding out that laissez-faire economic ideologies are having
exceedingly undesirable consequences for most Americans. Let’s emulate the 50 trillion cells in our
bodies and work together to maximize prospects for the greatest well-being of
to your story and you’re stuck with it.”
--- Swami Beyondananda
An Important Recommendation
I enthusiastically recommend that people watch the
extraordinary film Home, a great film
that was produced by
Yann Arthus-Bertrand, an eminent French ecologist and aerial photographer. This 93-minute-long documentary film can be seen on YouTube right now, for free! Appreciate the astonishingly beautiful visual images of
lovely planet Earth taken from above in this film, and absorb its profoundly important ecological messages, as narrated by the
august actress Glenn Close. Home provides an excellent understanding of the nature and scope of the environmental and societal
challenges that we all face together, and it makes
ecological truths come alive by providing vividly compelling visuals and cogent
insights into the nature of reality and the true impacts of our human activities on Earth.
In your mind’s eye, fly in with Yann
Arthus-Bertrand across the South Pacific over crashing waves on the coastline
of Easter Island in the remote reaches of the South Pacific, and see the
magnificent and imagination-provoking volcanic stone statues that were erected
long ago by the peoples of a vanished civilization. To help in this visualization, watch the film
online, and you can even toggle to minute 53:36 for the specific footage of Easter
Island and the accompanying observations about it.
of Thomas Paine
apparently loved his role as a rabble-rouser for revolution so much that, after
having helped launch the American Revolution in 1776, he spent most of his time
in England and France after the French Revolution began in 1789. He wrote heretical tracts there, including The Age of Reason and The Rights of Man.
writings would be suppressed, he sent Part One of The Age of Reason to America, and asked for his ideas to be
safeguarded. In the Introduction, he
wrote: “You will do me the justice to remember, that I have always strenuously
supported the Right of every Man to his own opinion, however different that
opinion might be to mine. He who denies
to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because
he precludes himself the right of changing it.”
He added, “The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is
Reason. I have never used any other, and
I trust I never shall.”
1792, Tom Paine was forced to flee from England to France because The Rights of Man had been banned as
seditious libel against the monarchy in England. He was convicted in absentia. The French
people embraced him, but the nobility did not, and he was imprisoned in Paris from late 1793 until July 1794 for his liberal
ideas. He was fortunate not to be sent
to the guillotine, and he was freed when Maximilien de Robespierre, the architect of the Reign of Terror, was
himself sent to the guillotine.
that Tom Paine became notorious is because The Age of Reason advocated
the deist idea that one and only one God exists, and it criticized theistic
dogmas that posited a Holy Trinity of three Gods in one -- a Father, a Son, and
a Holy Ghost. He promoted freethinking
and reason, and argued against institutionalized religion in general, and
Christian doctrines in particular.
Revolution ended the feudal privileges of the nobility. It also led to the establishment of freedoms
of speech, public assembly and the press.
Some of the Church’s wealth was expropriated after the Revolution began
to help rescue a bankrupt nation in the aftermath of the overthrow of King
Louis XVI. Later, these positive
outcomes of the French Revolution were followed by some destructive
excesses. The increased likelihood of
such instability when inequities become too pronounced provides us with an
excellent reason today to take bold and fair-minded steps, in advance, to
prevent financial instability, economic weakness, and increased
dissatisfactions that contribute to impetuses for revolution.
The Revolution against the French nobility and most of the religious
authorities of the Roman Catholic Church was a salvo against tyranny, but it
suffered from the great risk that during revolutionary unrest, terrible
injustices are increasingly likely to take place. A violent revolution is a thing
we should strive to prevent, and NOT by means of repression but rather by means
of fair-mindedness and a reasonable modicum of egalitarian measures. During a violent revolution, democratic
reforms are generally suspended while a despotism of liberty assaults those who
have tyrannically abused their powers.
This often results in terrible atrocities like the thousands of
beheadings that took place in the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution.
King Louis XVI was executed by having his head chopped off in a
guillotine in January 1793. The question
of what to do with “Let them eat cake” Queen Marie Antoinette was a tumultuous
one. Thomas Paine advocated that she be
exiled to America. But by October, her
fate was settled, and she too was sent to the guillotine.
A Propitious Plan Enunciated
excellent remedy mentioned earlier to address the burgeoning risks associated
with high levels of deficit spending and record levels of national debt
involves PROPER ACCOUNTING. We need not
accept smoke-and-mirrors gimmicks any more;
we simply must stop allowing profits to be privatized while considerable
costs are socialized.
Given that the
smartest way forward is often found in the clearest understandings, the optimum
solutions come from the best and most comprehensive understandings. Our capitalist “free-market” economy allows
large corporations to abuse the power of the undue influence of their wealth to
gain enormous subsidies, and to evade paying taxes on all their income, and to
indulge in the insidiously undesirable gambit of externalizing a wide range of
costs onto society. Significant
socially-disadvantageous effects are associated with allowing corporations to
have these privileges.
individual buying decisions are distorted by allowing real costs to be
externalized onto society rather than more fairly including them in the prices
of products and services. Once again I
recommend that readers refer to One Dozen Big Initiatives to Positively Transform
Our Societies. It contains a Future Viability Assessment as
proposed in the 3rd Initiative, A Vibrant
and Sound Economy. This is a
fair-minded proposal that would be effective in shifting all of the significant
costs of producing products and services that are currently being externalized
onto society back to the products and services that are the source of these
negative externalities are involved in allowing costs to be shifted from the
prices of products and services to taxpayers and folks in future
generations. It should be noted that
there are also many kinds of “positive externalities”, like the ways in which
taxpayers provide funding for propitious investments in the public good. The most distinct examples of these positive
externalities are public investments in education, infrastructure, healthcare,
and protections of the environment.
investments made in education generally cascade into future earnings and
greater social well-being. They also cut
down on the need for increasing costs of social support programs for low-income
people and higher costs of incarcerating people in prisons. Increased investments in education lead to
better prospects for employment and expanded kinds of job opportunities. And they tend to lead to a lower population growth rate, which
is beneficial to the sustaining capacity of natural resources and
ecosystems. Also, public investments in
universal healthcare would lead to lower costs, fairer health outcomes, and a
healthier work force. It would also give
people some reassurance for them to become more confident in taking
entrepreneurial risks without the fear of losing health insurance.
need to find the political will to do what needs to be done. We should embrace smart thinking, cooperative
problem solving, intergenerational fair-mindedness, courageous willingness to
govern well, empathetic understanding, and common sense. We can no longer let every public decision be
made by corrupt politicians and K-Street lobbyists in Washington D.C. If we do not change this state of affairs,
inequalities will continue to increase between the Haves and Those Who Don’t
Have Much. It is as if we are failing to
realize that turning up the flame under a simmering pressure-cooker that has a
malfunctioning pressure release valve could cause a deadly explosion.
the greater good of ALL concerned, let us immediately implement a more
steeply-graduated tax system with fewer loopholes for the wealthy, as
recommended by Warren Buffet, the Oracle of Omaha. And let’s crack down on people and
corporations that use offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes.
evolved out of the essay Sad
Implications of the Two Dueling Santa Claus Strategies in Political Economics. At
the same time of this development, I was reading the revealing book Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive
Future. This book provides
compelling understandings of how we could be co-creating a more propitious
future for ourselves and our descendants.
It gives a good sense of hope for how we could be moving forward in
positive directions. NOW is the time to
The Overarching Need for
a New Paradigm of Human Perception
There have been four principal paradigms of
human perception since our Cave Clan days.
Long ago in human prehistory, Animism prevailed. Then came Polytheism, and later Monotheism,
and then current day Scientific Materialism.
Animism was a harmonious state in which
early humans made little distinction between themselves and the environment
where they lived. Every animal, plant,
rock, mountain and living thing was seen as possessing a spirit, and all of the
world’s spirits were regarded as a part of the collective whole. It was a period during which humanity was
emerging from a primitive but ecologically integrated existence into a new era
of greater knowledge, but less unity, and more discord and less respect for our
Polytheism came into prominence about 4,000
years ago. This was a way of regarding
the world that involved a more sophisticated religious story in which
intangible spirits were projected into iconic deities that represented elements
of Nature. Presto, gods and goddesses! The ultimate expression of this paradigm was
found in ancient Greek and Roman deities that exhibited archetypal human
qualities. During the time that
polytheistic beliefs were in ascendance, a disconnection from Nature began, and
it has gotten worse as changing religious and materialistic paradigms have
The next leap forward (that’s debatable!),
was the Eureka! revelations of Monotheism.
Aha -- there are NOT lots of gods and goddesses, there is only ONE
God! Unfortunately, most competing
faiths claimed that their God was the one and only true God. Holy books proliferated. Everybody’s God, proclaimed in written words,
shared one aspect in common: all were
moralizing disciplinarian males.
In this dogmatic new era, the God of every
other faith was regarded as not only false, but evil, to boot. This sparked terrible conflicts. Monotheism was a more sophisticated way of
seeing deities in everything, but it involved such obedience-demanding faith,
and such harsh condemnations of a curious subset of sins, that it became
horribly destructive. One outcome was
widespread and long lasting divisiveness, and enmities between believers and
non-believers became much more pronounced.
The theory of evolution came along,
providing a more sophisticated and accurate way of understanding life and how
it has come to be than is told in holy book catechisms. Along with the better explanation, Scientific
Materialism gained great power, and the Industrial Revolution and economic
competition facilitated rapid economic expansion and an astonishing growth in
the population of human beings on Earth.
It also unfortunately caused completely unprecedented environmental
destruction and has led to mindlessly wasteful usages of natural resources.
Now, a new way of seeing the world is
needed, a new existential paradigm of perception. The latest materialistic paradigm to dominate
humanity’s worldview does not give adequate respect to the natural world and
its crucially vital ecosystems. This is
exceedingly odd, because the human race ultimately depends completely upon
these ecosystems for our prosperity and survival. And we depend on the biological diversity of
life on Earth that healthy habitats support.
species of animal has its own animal awareness, it own appreciation of pleasure
and well-being, and its own sensitivity to pain. It is beyond folly to allow the poisoning of
the environment, the paving over of paradise to put up parking lots, and the
slaughter of Earth’s terrestrial and marine wildlife in heedless obedience to
domineering materialistic worldviews. The
paradigm of human behaviors that is directed by marketing-stimulated wasteful
consumerism is unethical in much deeper senses than all the admonitions of
humankind’s holy book moralities put together.
of the greatest contradictions of our human nature is that we have great
difficulty living the lofty principles we claim to hold dear. When we understand the contradictions of our
nature, perhaps we will be able to more easily forgive ourselves, and others as
well. This might be a key to seeing more
clearly how to sensibly and feelingly control the impulses that undermine the
vital greater good.
The new worldview that is needed must be
accompanied by a reformed means of organization and new behavioral
incentives. Let’s give this new
worldview a name: Life-Affirming Healthy
Ecosystems Protectionism. This new
paradigm will be one that gives greater respect to Mother Earth and is willing
to protect the health of the vital ecosystems that sustain us.
A primary measure of our progress toward
achieving this new paradigm and a sustainable existence will be found in our
making a commitment to intergenerational fairness as defined in a Bill of
Rights for Future Generations. The agonizing death throes of unsustainable practices and old
ways of living are converging with the growing pains of new ways of being that
are struggling to be born. In this
condition, a variety of morbid symptoms appears and intensifies and struggles
to persist. We must re-program
our perceptions and perspective, and redesign our economic and political
systems to adapt them to be consistent with the long-term greater good of the
human race in its pursuit of happiness, its quest for pleasure, and its
inextricably interdependent struggle for security and survival.
Humboldt was one of the more honorable people in history. He was a German naturalist and explorer who
has been hailed as “the second Columbus”. He traveled widely in South America
and Mexico and Cuba from 1799 to 1804, and then visited Thomas Jefferson in the
United States before returning to Europe to live in Paris from 1804 to
1827. He was an “enlightened discoverer”
who published 30 volumes on his scientific findings during his travels in the
Western Hemisphere. His understanding of
the link between living things and their environment provided a key inspiration
to Charles Darwin, who called him “the greatest travelling scientist who ever
science had heart. In The Passage to Cosmos, Alexander von
Humboldt and the Shaping of America, Laura Dassow Walls writes that
“Humboldt blended an Enlightenment-derived certainty in the agency of reason,
factuality, and precision with a Romantic’s enthusiasm for feeling and
poetry.” She says Humboldt spoke out
boldly against American slavery and European imperialism, and took courageous
stands against racism and inequities, and viewed nature holistically, and
explained natural phenomena without resort to religious dogma. For these perspectives, I give him a happy
and hearty salute!
famously concluded his great short story Candide
with the simple prescription that despite all else, “we must cultivate our
garden.” The authors of Spontaneous Evolution tell another great
story that has arisen like a hope-inspiring phoenix firebird rising from ashes,
providing great hope that we can identify and implement ways of changing the
world for the better and creating a new renaissance of hope and auspicious
Evolution introduces the notion that a miraculous healing awaits this
planet once we
our new responsibility to collectively tend the Garden rather than fight over
--- Dr. Bruce Lipton and Swami Beyondananda
us all embrace such broader visions!
Tiffany B. Twain
June 12, 2016 (Originally written in September 2011 and
revised occasionally thereafter)
me at: SaveTruffulaTrees@hotmail.com
“Before my departure for the Elysian Fields, I
must leave behind me what the Eternal Spirit has infused
into my soul and bids me complete.”
--- Ludwig von Beethoven, 1817
Earth Manifesto is destined to become the most widely read manifesto in all of
whatever is left of it before the End Times.”
The Twelve Books of the Earth
Manifesto by Dr. Tiffany B. Twain:
Common Sense Revival Book One of the Earth Manifesto
Entertaining Illumination Unleashed Book Two of the Earth
Existential Enlightenment Book Three of
the Earth Manifesto
Perspectives and Ecopsychological Insights
Book Four of the Earth Manifesto
Recipes and Provocative Worldviews Book Five of
the Earth Manifesto
Incisive Global Perspectives Book Six of the Earth
Comprehensive Global Perspective: An
Illuminating Worldview Book Seven
of the Earth Manifesto
Big Picture Perspectives, and A Pursuit of
Social Activism Book Eight of
the Earth Manifesto
The Original Earth Manifesto Book Nine of the
A Marvelous Miscellany of Musings and Evolutionary
Understandings Book Ten of the
Germinating Reflections in December 2015 Book Eleven of the Earth Manifesto
Miscellaneous Germinating Reflections Book Twelve of the Earth Manifesto
One through Book Ten are available right now from Lulu Publishing for $10.22
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