Bills of Right: A Triumvirate of Responsible Actions for the Greater Good
An Earth Manifesto publication by Dr. Tiffany B. Twain
I propose three detailed plans that
would be quite effective in addressing three of the most egregious injustices that
humanity is collectively committing around the world today. These three overarching injustices are:
An epochal ecological crisis is unfolding due to our lavish consumerism
and profligate resource use, along with our polluting activities, over-fishing,
wasteful depletion of fresh water resources and fossil fuels, deforestation,, the
spewing of enormous quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and the
damages we are wreaking on the providential ecosystems upon which we
Federal government policies are using the fiscally irresponsible
expediency of deficit spending every year, and correlated rash increases in the
national debt, to burden people in the future with financial obligations. This mounting tidal wave of red ink is
effectively fleecing the future and creating a wrong-headed intergenerational
transfer of wealth from our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to
bankers, investors, speculators and wealthy people today. And,
Social inequities and the disparities in power and wealth between rich
people and everyone else are being made worse by shortsightedness and unfairly
regressive tax policies and a system that champions a status quo of
profiteering on things like war, oil, medical insurance and drugs above all
All human endeavors are overshadowed
by these developing inequities. We
should regard it as our transcendental obligation to begin dealing fairly with these
three mounting challenges in fairer and more responsible ways. We should not wait until some future date to
honestly address these problems. I
propose three salubrious solutions to these dilemmas. They include three important new laws:
(1) An Ecological Sanity Initiative;
(2) A Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2014;
(3) A Social Justice Taxation Act.
A convincing rationale for why these
laws should be enacted is included in A Second Open Letter to President Obama - Provocative
Proposals for Real ‘Change We Can Believe In’, in the Earth
Manifesto. Check it out at www.EarthManifesto.com.
#1. ECOLOGICAL SANITY INITIATIVE. Make a revolutionary commitment to
sustainable existence and a better quality of life for people alive today AND
for all people who will be born in the future.
To accomplish this, enact this farsighted Initiative that gives higher
priority to the following ideas:
1. Honor Precautionary Principles in all
decision-making, as enunciated in the Rio Declaration on Environment and
Development of 1992. This will help
protect Earth’s ecosystems and biological diversity.
2. Restructure the economy according to a
sensible consensus of well-prioritized national goals.
3. Implement full-cost pricing that prevents
corporations from externalizing costs onto society that are related to
pollution, toxins, environmental damages, and resource depletion costs. Mandate the inclusion of these costs of
production in the prices of all products and services.
4. Increase gasoline taxes and implement
other carbon emission taxes to fund incentives for more efficient usages of
energy, conservation programs, and the development of renewable energy
alternatives and programs that will slow rainforest and temperate forest
5. Assess costs for wasteful uses of water,
fossil fuels, and other non-renewable resources, and use the funds generated by
these measures to help us make the transition to renewable alternatives.
Require all coal-burning power plants to be modernized with
Make urban areas more livable through smart investments in safe
communities, good public transportation, and urban parks.
Discourage suburban sprawl by making of urban areas more desirable
through revitalization programs and smart zoning rules.
Defend and enforce the Clean Air Act and its New Source Review
Establish more protected ocean Marine Reserves to reduce overfishing.
Enforce environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air
Act, the Wilderness Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the
Endangered Species Act.
Increase protections of National Parks, Bureau of Land Management lands,
National Wild and Scenic Rivers, and roadless areas of National Forests.
Proposal #2. BALANCED BUDGETS INITIATIVE. Our federal government is recklessly
borrowing huge amounts of money from people in the future, and squandering it
to give low tax rates for high-income earners and corporate subsidies and
bailouts of corporations that are deemed too-big-to-fail. We are also financing wars and military
occupations and other short-term-oriented purposes by using borrowed
money. The spiraling use of debt and
lavish waste of taxpayer funds and borrowing should be reduced by implementing
the Balanced Budget Initiative spelled out in One Dozen Big Initiatives to Positively Transform Our Societies.
This plan would
strongly discourage our irresponsible inclination to live beyond our means. It is a five-year plan that is guaranteed to
be effective because it would give a powerful motivation to the primary
deciders in our system -- wealthy people and big corporations -- to demand and
support balanced budgets. It would work
by requiring big businesses and the wealthy to be assessed, incrementally, for
federal deficits at the end of each fiscal year.
This plan would
lead to balanced budgets because it would create powerful political pressure on
politicians to make the difficult budgetary decisions on taxes and spending
that are required to ensure fiscal responsibility. Instead of allowing our representatives to
resort to the easy, weak-willed, self-serving and shortsighted expediency of
deficit financing all the time, they would be forced to make more responsible
public policy decisions. Confidence in
the government would increase with this new state of greater fiscal
A combination of
the following strategies should simultaneously be used to ensure that deficits
are minimized, up front:
Reinstate Pay-As-You-Go spending rules for the federal budget, and
prevent new programs from being implemented without an adequate source of
funding being identified.
Limit the overall level of government spending to the rate of inflation in
the most recent fiscal year for the next five years.
Prioritize government spending more intelligently, and shift budgets to
match these priorities. Determine these
priorities in accordance with honest assessments of the common good and the
long-term impacts of all spending on greater good goals.
Courageously reduce total military spending by 10% over the next 5
Reduce the total number of federal government employees by 5% over the
next five years, primarily through job attrition and a leaner military.
Reduce subsidies to large businesses like Big Oil, Big Drug, and Big
to limit the growth of ‘entitlements’ in the fairest and most responsible ways
Reduce government waste, and control pork barrel spending more strictly,
and evaluate and streamline senseless bureaucracy and red tape.
Reform our political system to reduce corruption and the influence of
corporate lobbyists, and to establish a stronger code of ethics for our
representatives in Congress.
borrowing money can be a smart investment for specifically-targeted plans,
create a system for selling bonds to finance voter-approved projects like
making improvements in our nation’s schools, public transportation systems, highways,
streets, and other aspects of our nation’s physical infrastructure. A system similar to the initiative process of
direct democracy used by State and local governments should be used to identify
worthy projects. Funds to finance these
specifically approved undertakings should be borrowed through U.S. Treasury
bonds that are backed by the full faith of the federal government, so that
funds will be raised at low interest rates and the lowest possible interest expense.
The provisions of
the Balanced Budget Initiative will ensure that our government will no longer
be on the path to financial insolvency, so this sound financial footing will
appeal to bond-buying individuals and institutions and they will be willing to
buy government obligations at relatively low interest rates.
Proposal #3. FAIR TAXATION INITIATIVE. Make taxation more progressive. This means making income taxes more steeply
graduated. This restructuring of our
federal tax system will increase taxes on higher levels of earnings that the
top 2% of Americans make, while keeping tax rates the same for everyone on
earnings less than $250,000 per year.
this egalitarian goal, we should enact a Fair Taxation Initiative that will
make Tax Code revisions that ensure taxes are more progressively
graduated. This Act should be made
consistent with the criteria of the wise lawgiver Solon, who created taxes that
were graduated so that rich people pay taxes at a rate 12 times that of the
The details of
this Fair Taxation Initiative are spelled out in One Dozen Big Initiatives to Positively Transform Our Societies.
Half of the net
increase in tax revenues generated by this Initiative should be applied to
reduce budget deficits. The other half
of the net tax increase should be dedicated to reducing the social and
environmental injustices that exist in our society today, including provisions
designed to prevent the externalizing of costs upon society that are creating
profound environmental injustices among poor people and minority
In addition to
this Fair Taxation Initiative, the following strategies should simultaneously
be used to ensure that taxation inequities are minimized:
Eliminate tax loopholes and offshore incorporation that allow giant
corporations to evade tens of billions of dollars in U.S. federal income taxes
Reduce the size of the significant tax advantages that investors receive
for dividend income and capital gains as opposed to higher amounts that workers
are required to pay on their hard-earned wages, and require hedge fund managers
to pay taxes on their income at regular rates, not at very low capital gains
Revise Estate Taxes on the inheritances of rich kids so that they are
much more steeply graduated above a generous exclusion of $5 million per
Itemized lists of
far more extensive plans to affect positive change in our societies are adduced
in Common Sense Revival and Part Four
of the Earth Manifesto online.
Dr. Tiffany Twain