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     Three 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:

(1)  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 depend. 

(2)  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,

(3)  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 other values.

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;  and,

   (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.

Proposal #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 deforestation worldwide.

  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.

  6.  Require all coal-burning power plants to be modernized with pollution-control equipment.

  7.  Make urban areas more livable through smart investments in safe communities, good public transportation, and urban parks.

  8.  Discourage suburban sprawl by making of urban areas more desirable through revitalization programs and smart zoning rules.

  9.  Defend and enforce the Clean Air Act and its New Source Review provisions.

  10.  Establish more protected ocean Marine Reserves to reduce overfishing.

  11.  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.

  12.  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 responsibility.

A combination of the following strategies should simultaneously be used to ensure that deficits are minimized, up front:

  1.  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.

  2.  Limit the overall level of government spending to the rate of inflation in the most recent fiscal year for the next five years.

  3.  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.

  4.  Courageously reduce total military spending by 10% over the next 5 years.

  5.  Reduce the total number of federal government employees by 5% over the next five years, primarily through job attrition and a leaner military.

  6.  Reduce subsidies to large businesses like Big Oil, Big Drug, and Big Agribusiness companies.

  7.  Act to limit the growth of ‘entitlements’ in the fairest and most responsible ways possible.

  8.  Reduce government waste, and control pork barrel spending more strictly, and evaluate and streamline senseless bureaucracy and red tape.

  9.  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.

Recognizing that 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. 

To accomplish 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 poor. 

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 communities. 

In addition to this Fair Taxation Initiative, the following strategies should simultaneously be used to ensure that taxation inequities are minimized:

  1.  Eliminate tax loopholes and offshore incorporation that allow giant corporations to evade tens of billions of dollars in U.S. federal income taxes each year. 

  2.  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 rates.

  3.  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 family. 

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.

      Truly yours,

          Dr. Tiffany Twain