An Open Letter to the Hannibal High
School Black & Red
August 8, 2016
c/o Mr. Ted Sampson
Hannibal High School
Hannibal, MO 63401
Dear Editors of the Black & Red,
on Hannibal High School’s Black & Red being “The oldest school newspaper
west of the Mississippi.” Some years
ago, the Wikipedia entry for Hannibal, Missouri indicated the following about
your school publication:
“The Black & Red is one of America's
oldest school newspapers, however it does not enjoy the prominence it once
held. The past two years have seen low
quality papers and low classroom enrollment due to dissatisfaction with the
administration's role in the classroom and its understanding of journalistic
with many judgments and opinions, it struck me that this analysis might have
been rather inaccurate, if not entirely spurious. I would love to know your perspective, and indeed to see the
Wikipedia entry for Hannibal modified to once again include the Black & Red, and to give it a more
respectful evaluation. I have developed
a strategy to bring back the glory days of Hannibal and the Black & Red.
idea involves the launch of the online Earth Manifesto and its Bill of Rights for Future Generations. The insightful and comprehensive writings
found at this site may well prove to be an encapsulation of the most vital
understandings in the history of human thought. They contain points-of-view and intriguing ideas articulated by a
multitude of philosophers, scientists, writers, politicians, environmental
activists and spiritual leaders. No one
has so far discovered this site, or read the essays it contains, but I reckon
that one day soon it will go viral.
Hannibal may come to regard such an event with pride.
a Hannibal native and Hannibal High School alumna from many years ago, and the
author of these evolving perspectives, I am seeking Wikipedia-like editorial
inputs from young people. It would be
great if the students of Hannibal High School and those who help publish the Black & Red could give these
writings their attention. Young people,
after all, have a much bigger stake in
fairer societies and a healthy planet than older people, who are relative
short-timers. The feedback of Hannibal
High School students would be enthusiastically welcomed.
The most important concerns expressed in the Earth
Manifesto are ecological. But economic,
social, demographic, technological, industrial and political developments
profoundly impact our lives as well as the health of ecosystems and the
diversity of life on Earth, and thus of our own collective future
well-being. The implications of this
fact point to a need for broader understandings, so related ideas are explored
throughout the manifesto.
and cogent conundrums loom large in our twenty-first century societies. Economic issues are primary among them. Since a good system of public education is
vital to individual development and a better economy and a healthier society,
we need to find ways to give our schools stronger public support.
people face a highly uncertain future. Of the many increasingly unfair inequities
that afflict our societies, one of the most misguided and egregious is the
saddling of college students with large amounts of debt for their
educations. This is creating a
new form of obligation that is like a modern-day version of indentured
labor. This issue is of major concern to many high school students who are
contemplating going to college.
Millionaires and billionaires almost all grew up during times in which
we invested sensibly in public education, so they were not burdened with
long-term obligations for student loans.
The growing unwillingness of the wealthiest Americans to pay reasonable
rates of taxes on their incomes and capital gains is creating a new status quo
of inadequate financing for public education and our national infrastructure,
and this is creating poor opportunities for young people entering the work
opportunities are not good, in part, because our national policies have
encouraged multi-national corporations to export millions of jobs abroad. Rates of unemployment in the U.S. are
persistently high, especially for young people, and under-employment is also a
serious issue. Diminishing social
mobility is also a glaring problem in the land of the free, and capital is
unfairly triumphing over labor while wealthy people are contributing to the
undermining of the general welfare of the vast majority of Americans to a
greater extent than at any time in generations.
A new program is needed to provide more funds for
all levels of public education from pre-school through college graduation. The federal government should provide
lower-cost student loans. The financing
for such a plan should come from more steeply graduated tax rates on the
highest levels of income, for the folks who earn the most money in our
societies are the ones who have been the primary beneficiaries of the way our
economic and political systems are structured.
We should strive to create a fairer society and smarter governance of
the people, by the people, and for the people.
To do this, we cannot continue to allow the richest people in the nation
to pay tax rates that are nearly the lowest in 85 years.
Far-reaching reforms are needed to improve our
political system and our overly money-dominated, profit prepossessed,
inegalitarian, values-confused economic system. Entrenched interest groups are invested in the status quo, and
they are sadly able to easily undermine our democracy and aggressively rig the
economic game ever-more significantly in their already absurdly considerable
Financially privileged people are being ornery in
their obstruction of fair-minded change in the status quo. Effective ways need to be found to change
this state of affairs so that the interests of 99% of Americans are given
greater sway than the narrow interests of the top 1%.
High schools, colleges and universities are great
laboratories for the ferment of ideas.
The interests of young people are unfortunately being given extremely
short shrift by the dominant forces that control our societies today. Our materialistic “bubble economy” culture
is inimical to the future well-being of young people. The principal reason for this is that the status quo emphasizes
unmindful shopping, lavish consuming, irresponsible wasting, and excessive
polluting, as well as profligate spending, shortsighted government borrowing,
foolhardy pandering to the interests of the already wealthy, and unwisely
perverse priorities that our leaders demonstrate in politics and policy-making. These aspects of the status quo have severe
Every person has some degree of free will. We all are influenced by incentives that
encourage certain behaviors and disincentives that discourage other
choices. To the extent that we can make
choices that are better for our collective future, our economic system should
be restructured to recognize and reward such beneficial behaviors through the
use of effective incentives. At the
same time, powerful disincentives should be instituted to discourage socially
harmful, wasteful, unsustainable and shortsighted activities.
Broad-mindedness is a key aspect of adaptive
versatility, so open-mindedness may be a vital requisite for a more propitious
future. Our ability to reason objectively may prove to be indispensable
in our efforts to prosper and survive. Corporate propaganda and the
narrow perspectives of ideologues and apologists for powerful interests tend to
distort our ability to see issues in a clear light.
Some think that we should “believe in nothing and
set ourselves free”. Such an
open-minded attitude could help us assess reality in a more constructive
way. Thus, it would be a valuable way
for us to find more accurate understandings of the true nature of our societies
and of our selves, and of the workings of our home planet and its providential
ecosystems. Open-mindedness is potentially more salubrious in helping us
deal effectively with looming challenges than closed-mindedness, due to the
distinctly self-defeating and dysfunctional aspects of being closed-minded.
Statistics indicate that Hannibal Sr. High
School continues to experience a higher dropout rate than the state
average. I hope that this issue will be
effectively addressed in the near future.
Also, as responsible citizens, everyone should be more broadly concerned
with the plight of high school students once they graduate, and with larger
issues that face American youth.
irresponsible deficit spending has saddled our children with a record level of national
debt. The interests of people in future
generations are being even more harshly affected, because in addition to this
debt, we are unsustainably using up non-renewable resources and externalizing a
wide variety of worker and pollution costs and environmental damages upon
society. The priorities that allow this
state of affairs are a national disgrace.
The wealth gap between older and younger
Americans has widened sharply in recent years, according to an analysis done by
the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.
The average net worth of people over the age of 65 increased by 42%
between 1984 and 2009, while the average net worth decreased by 68% for
those younger than 35, and net worths went down by 44% for those in the
35-to-44 age group. These statistics
confirm that the interests of older people have been given significantly more
weight than those of younger people in the last few decades.
Meanwhile, corporate profits are near
record highs, and tax rates assessed on the highest levels of incomes are near
the lowest rates they have been since the Roaring Twenties almost a century
Insidiously cynical special interest groups
seem to have intentionally engineered these outcomes. One would be well justified in wondering how could this has come
to be. How have our economic and political systems become so unfair, so risk
laden, so undemocratic, and so unstable?
We need only “follow the money” to find an answer to this question. The policies that have enabled these trends
are a form of intergenerational treachery by the richest Americans against
face it. The economic and political
systems in the United States have entered a new phase of Shock Doctrine
“disaster capitalism”. The middle class
is being eviscerated, the poor are being abandoned, young people’s interests
are being radically undermined, and the interests of people in future
generations are being almost completely ignored. Our nation has become increasingly unfair, excessively
inegalitarian, and unethically corrupt.
It is as if some Machiavellian manipulators and wizards of deceit have
succeeded in fooling us and hijacking our nation by making influence peddling
excessively easy and giving undue influence to wealthy people and big
American experiment in representative democracy is being corrupted by vested
interests, and the U.S. has in effect become an oligarchic plutocracy. In a true democracy, all interest groups
would be more fairly represented.
have gotta change …
we live in don’t have to be this way …”
--- Kenny Neal, Hooked on Your
In the 15 years since the terrorist attacks of
September 11, 2001, the policies of the United States have been characterized
by hyper-spending on the military together with extreme partisanship, divisive
politics, increasing inequalities, anti-environmental initiatives,
unprecedented deficit spending, and short-term-oriented political strategies.
And “the war on terror” has become a broad assault on many of our cherished
American ideals, as poignantly made clear by Jane Mayer in her
multi-award-winning book The Dark Side:
The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals. At the same time, deep-seated and widespread
injustices are creating a less safe world, and desperately barbaric terrorist
attacks seem to be proliferating across the world.
It is time for us to revolutionarily transform
this status quo with a focus on bigger picture understandings informed by
greater fairness and longer-term considerations.
Relentless efforts are being made by social
conservatives and rich people to shift tax obligations even further from the
wealthiest 1% and giant corporations to everyone else, including everyone in
the future. These misguided efforts are inegalitarian, anti-democratic,
reckless, and absurdly myopic. They represent a risky course of action
because they make social status conflicts worse and increase the dangers of alienation,
frustration, political instability, anti-establishment fervor, violence and
even revolution. Let’s give the young and people in future generations a
break and restructure our societies to be fairer and safer!
Global competition for markets and resources is
intensifying. The population of human
beings on Earth has grown to more than 7.4 billion people. The time is NOW to embrace broader visions
and wiser, more precautionary courses of action.
Please check out the website at www.EarthManifesto.com. I hope that you will consider using these
ideas as a design for course discussion in social studies, history, philosophy,
government and literature. My long Open
Letter to Hannibal Mayor James Hark should be particularly interesting to
Hannibal residents. And the books
listed in Recommended Reading for a
Broader Understanding and Appreciation of the World could provide a
valuable guide to deeper understanding.
The assertions in this letter might seem to
smack of grandiosity, but I’m an honest and levelheaded gal, and the compendium
of ideas contained in the Earth Manifesto is straightforward and
sensible. It is hard to argue that we are not increasingly in need of
more enlightened worldviews and smarter, fairer public policies. And it cannot be denied that major reforms
are needed in the way our current economic and political systems work -- and
how our societies are structured.
Let’s cooperate together to create a better
future for young people and our descendants!
And thank you for reading and considering these ideas.
Dr. Tiffany B. Twain
320 Broadway, Suite 16
Contact at: SaveTruffulaTrees@hotmail.com