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                A Second Open Letter to President Obama                                                                                              

        Provocative Proposals for Real ‘Change We Can Believe In’                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                  Dr. Tiffany B. Twain  

                                                                                                                  August 27, 2009

Dear President Obama,

Three emerging challenges overshadow all human endeavors.  First, an epochal ecological crisis is unfolding.  Second, the federal government is using the fiscally irresponsible expediency of borrow-and-spend policies and unprecedented amounts of public debt to deprive future generations of a fair legacy.  And third, regressive tax policies are making social inequities worse and causing a radical increase in the disparities of wealth and power between rich people and everyone else, creating extreme unfairness and injustices. 

We must address these three mounting problems THIS YEAR.  We must not wait until some nebulous future date to begin solving these problems.  Salubrious solutions to these daunting challenges exist.  Proposals setting forth these solutions are presented in Three Bills of Right: A Triumvirate of Responsible Actions for the Greater Good.  I sent this to you, attached to my first Open Letter.  These proposals can also be viewed in Part Four of the Earth Manifesto website at www.EarthManifesto.com.

In summary, three vital new legislative initiatives are needed to solve these problems: 

  (1) A Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2010; 

  (2) A Social Justice Taxation Act of 2010;  and,

  (3) An Ecological Balance Initiative of 2010.

To make the reasons for these proposals clear, and to provide a cogent impetus to ensure that they are put into effect, the following discussion is presented in a colorful dialogue held between various historic personages and famous people and literary characters.  The scene is set, and a sterling cast of characters waits patiently to weigh in with their provocative perspectives.

Senator Robert Byrd:  “I pride myself on working to create a better future for our nation.  The times today are tumultuous.  Titanic struggles are taking place all about us like relentless thunderstorms marching across the landscape.  The economy is in a severe recession.  Ecological conditions are deteriorating.  Social circumstances are sensationally stressed.  We are awash in a sea of red ink.  Unfairness is in the air like a befuddled old deity.  The crowds are getting ever more definitively crowd-like.” 

Jacques Yves Cousteau:  “Each generation, sharing in the heritage of the Earth, has a duty as trustee for future generations to prevent irreversible and irreparable harm to life on Earth and to human freedom and dignity.  The planet Earth is our home.  We are assaulting it with an astounding and far-reaching litany of abuses that is daunting and unacceptably detrimental.  NOW is the time to courageously step forward to deal with these challenges in an intelligent and assertive way.  NOW is the time to reject the status quo that is responsible for this threat to the security of people worldwide.  NOW is the time for bold new ideas to be heard.”

Will Durant:  “Ariel and I spent our lives studying history.  We wrote eleven lengthy volumes called The Story of Civilization.  Then we thought long and hard about what we had learned from our studies, and we wrote the succinct book The Lessons of History.  One of the things we discovered was that wealth in human civilizations naturally and inevitably tends to become increasingly concentrated.  Occasionally a point is reached where the strength in the numbers of the poor rivals the strength in the influence of the rich.  When this happens, the unstable equilibrium generates a critical situation.  At such times in history, the crisis is either dealt with through legislation that redistributes wealth a bit more fairly, or it is dealt with through social upheaval or violent revolution which tends to have the effect of destroying wealth and redistributing poverty.  It is clear that the most sensible plan is for the rich to recognize the need for a greater modicum of fairness through legislation that makes taxation more progressive, rather than risking more crime and instability and violent revolts.  It would be wise indeed to choose to make our societies more just.”

Ariel Durant:  “You’re right, Will.  In the Athens of 594 B.C., the disparities of wealth reached such a height that despotic power or violent revolt seemed the only two options.  Good sense prevailed when moderate elements elected the wise businessman Solon, who took charge and created a series of dramatic reforms.  One of them was the creation of a graduated income tax that made the rich pay at a rate twelve times as much as that required of the poor.  The rich protested;  and the radicals complained because it allowed the rich to maintain most of their fortunes;  but within a generation almost all agreed that Solon’s reforms had saved Athens from destitution and revolution.  The Social Justice Taxation Act proposed by Dr. Twain utilizes this same principle to remedy the serious social ills and debt and ecological challenges that are gathering like a vast hurricane spiraling toward us.”

Karl Marx:  “I agree with you, Ariel.  The history of all societies is a history of class struggles.  Rulers oppressed slaves;  lords exploited serfs;  patricians took advantage of the plebian masses;  and corporate executives treat their workers as antagonists who they must prevent from gaining higher wages or benefits.  There have always been these two groups, the powerful few and the oppressed masses, and they have always stood in opposition to each other.  The fight always ends in either a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.  Today the choice is clear:  a greater modicum of social justice is the right course of action.  Workers of the world, unite!” 

John Fowles:  “A capitalist society conditions its members to envy and be envied;  but this conditioning is a form of movement;  and the movement will be out of the capitalist society into a better one.  I am not saying, as Marx did, that capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction.  I am saying that capitalism contains the seeds of its own transformation.  And it is high time the capitalist system starts to nurture those seeds.  The deterioration of our global environment seems to be too slow in developing and too intangible to motivate people to make bold and transformative changes in the status quo, so we need to focus on specific related problems and implement courageous solutions to them.  Strategic changes should be made that will help achieve common good goals in a broad range of problem areas.  This must include fiscal responsibility as well as social justice, and we can no longer ignore the vital importance of assuring a healthy environs.”

Thomas Paine:  “It is only common sense that those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.  I always opposed the tyranny of government, and of inherited power, but I recognize the necessity of fair taxation as a criterion of civic-mindedness.  We must deal with dangers in proportion to their true nature and actual potential costs.  A deep concern for the well-being of people in future generations is not communism or socialism.  It is not liberality or progressivism.  And it is a concept that is completely contrary to the modern-day expression of the radical right.  A responsible concern for the well-being of our descendents is diametrically opposed to the myopic intransigence of forces that defend the status quo.  An overarching concern for our descendents is rational.  Such a concern is the ultimate in morality and sanity.  It is a definitive form of common sense.”

Mark Twain:  “Tom and Huck and Jim, what do you reckon we should do about these critically important and perplexifying and concernful problems in the world today?”

Tom Sawyer:  “Shucks, let me see, I’ve grown up and become much more aware of the global ecological crisis.  The full scope of this rapidly mounting set of challenges is identified by the revealing 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.  I figure that most people don’t read such serious compendiums of facts and insights, so it is fortunate that the new film titled Home by the extraordinary photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand has been produced to vividly portray these environmental challenges.  Check out this film, which can be viewed online!  My, hasn’t progress progressed!  It is because of such understandings that I support the Ecological Balance Initiative proposed by Dr. Twain.”

Huck Finn:  “I tell you what, these problems sure make me want to absquatulate and light out for the territories.  Do you know any territories where space is available, and where there might be ‘gold in them thar hills’?  Or maybe I’ll just set off on another good long raft trip!  But really, I still feel like a common sensical boy, so it seems doggone clear to me that the most significant problem people face is the inegalitarian and unjust and shortsighted nature of our societies.  Let’s make change!  Peace is crucial for civilization.  Peace is justice.  Justice is peace.  Yep.”

Ben Rogers:  “You know, Tom and Huck, I feel like I’ve become a better citizen since the days of our magnificent boyhood adventures.  I’m no longer just a happy-go-lucky rascal.  I am alert to the ecological interconnectedness of all our actions, and I also see the extensive injustices that abound around the planet, and I understand the great fiscal risks of out-of-control public debt.  The United States has thrown caution to the wind with escalating levels of deficit spending.  This is not good.  Jim and I have talked about this situation, and we have come up with a solution.  This plan will deal with the looming debt crisis and the unfairness issues, and the environmental conundrums as well!”

Jim:  “That’s right, Ben.  I’ve been reborn as an enthusiastic black activist in the wake of the historic election of a black man to the White House.  Imagine that!  My thinking has turned to “America’s pastime”, professional baseball.  Hey, Baseball -- I’m from Hannibal, Missouri -- ‘America’s Hometown’.  You guys are America’s sport – that’s cool.  Say, could you help the fans??  The U.S. economy is stumbling, and we sure could use your support in advocating higher progressive taxes on all earnings in excess of a million dollars a year.  Revenues generated would help to finance needed investments in social justice, and in energy modernization, and in physical infrastructure, and in ‘green building’, and in protections of public lands and rivers and wetlands and ocean ecosystems and the atmosphere.  Please give your support to a Social Justice Taxation Act initiative that would ensure that, no matter how a person earns more than a million dollars in a given year, they agree to a fairer social contract that contributes more of those earnings in excess of a million dollars to these causes.  As you are well aware, tens of millions of people are struggling with daunting challenges, and millions of people are unemployed.  Millions of men and women and children do not have adequate health insurance or access to medical care other than over-crowded emergency rooms.  I call on fat cats in every profession to agree to this proposal.  Yo, CEO’s!  Yo, high rollers!  Yo, hedge fund scammers!  Yo offshore tax shelter aficionados!  Agree to this, effective THIS YEAR!”

Andrew Carnegie:  “I once wrote that the man who dies rich dies disgraced.  I believe this for a variety of reasons.  The bottom line is that economic and political systems in nations worldwide have been gamed to the extreme advantage of those who make the most money.  The super-rich are the triumphant class.  Think about it!  People who make more than $1 million a year should give more back to the societies in which they earn their good fortune.  They should do this, not just because they are best poised to afford it, but because they are the ones who have been the primary beneficiaries of the system as it is structured.  They benefit most from low tax rates on capital gains, and from property rights, and from law enforcement and fire protections, and from tax loopholes and giant bonuses and executive pay and windfall earnings and debt instruments and profiteering on wars.  They are the ones who have scandalously outsized ecological footprints because their wealth allows them to consume so much.  They contribute the most to the insidious calamity of the pathological phenomenon known as the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’.  They benefit most from laissez-faire capitalism and corporatism and the externalizing of costs by big corporations upon society.  They contribute the most to resource depletion.  For these reasons, the rich should be compelled to contribute more to the greater good to address the wide-ranging problems that face humanity.”

Theodore Roosevelt:  “The person of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the State, because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government.  It does not matter how someone makes more than $1 million, they should be required to pay a higher rate on those earnings.  There is a wide variety of ways that someone earns more that $1 million a year, including the following:  they receive enormous inheritances;  they are exceptionally lucky in being in the right place at the right time;  they invest and speculate shrewdly on Wall Street;  they are insiders in financial trading schemes that pull others in, often figuratively leaving others holding the bag;  they derive gargantuan commissions from the trillions of dollars in Treasury bonds that are sold to finance the irresponsibly-incurred federal debt;  they drive a NASCAR race car faster than most of the others;  they are one of the best professional golfers or baseball or basketball or football players;  they work very hard;  they have a powerful manipulative personality that helps them take advantage of other people;  they indulge in fraud or other corrupt activities;  they are thrifty or cheap;  they evade their fair share of taxes;  they win a lottery;  they make outlandish profits from armaments sales or war services companies or war reconstruction activities;  they own land and real estate and so they benefit from the appreciation that is stoked by generous government policies;  or they ruthlessly and harmfully exploit workers or natural resources.  By whatever means they make more than a million dollars, there are very good reasons for the public to take a larger cut of the earnings in excess of $1 million.  High earners should be required to make a larger contribution to the common good.”

Bill Moyers:  “Capitalism simple must be better managed.  The price of all products and services should include every cost that is related to its production.  When corporations are allowed to externalize costs onto society, products are priced artificially low.  This leads to market distortions and resource misallocations.  It also impedes innovation and the development of new products.  It hinders creative start-up companies and obstructs the transition to the use of renewable alternatives.  All of the following costs should be included in every products and service:  (1) pollution reduction and mitigation costs;  (2) healthcare costs for people harmed by air pollution and toxins and other detrimental aspects of industrialization and urbanization;  (3) a reasonably generous contribution to 401(k) plans as a minimal form of guaranteed social security for workers;  (4) an allocation of funds for resource depletion costs to be used to finance the development of alternatives;  (5) a provision for rainy day funds that cover increasingly costly natural disasters like floods and wildfires and hurricanes and crop failures that are made worse by climate changes that are being caused by greenhouse gas emissions;  and, (6) a reasonable amount of corporate tax that ensures that we do not rely on borrowing from future generations to finance our needs today.  These costs should be included in all products and services so that inept and easily manipulated governments are not forced to borrow money to pay for these obligations.  Our pricing system must reflect the larger societal values of a stable economy and a fairer society and healthier communities and a sustainable future.”

The Congressional Budget Office:  “Corporations are paying 60% less than the share of federal revenues that they paid in 1960.  Large businesses have managed to achieve this narrow benefit by increasing the influence of lobbyists to enable big corporations to grab a variety of special privileges for their shareholders and themselves.  These perks include direct subsidies, accelerated depreciation write-offs, tax loopholes, offshore tax shelters, and the relaxation of common-good rules.  The time is now to include a fairer amount of the burden of society in all products sold.”

Lee Iacocca:  “Let’s congratulate the businesses that make good profits.  Let them keep these profits.  But by all means implement full cost pricing.  Businesses should pass along the higher actual costs of production to consumers so that these previously externalized costs are included in current prices.  All corporations must agree to these new pricing parameters, because they will result in a smarter allocation of resources and a saner system.  Our leaders must exhibit more commitment to finding good solutions to pressing problems.  Adopting the transcendental ideas of Dr. Twain would be a great start.”

The Sierra Club:  “Good call.  Tens of millions of people in low-income and minority communities are severely affected by environmental degradation.  They are much more disproportionately affected than rich people, who tend to live in safer communities and to be more insulated from such hazards.  This is why these deleterious conditions are known as ‘environmental injustices’.  These hazards include contaminated soil, diesel pollution, agricultural pesticides, hazardous industrial wastes, air pollution downwind of factories, environmental toxins, nuclear wastes, mercury-laden fish, unsafe drinking water, lowland flooding, and environmental degradation in general.  The rich, who have profited the most from policies that result in externalized costs like these, are the exact right people to help pay for the resulting healthcare problems and inequities.”

Ted Kennedy:  “A firestorm of self-interested opposition from powerful people confronts any suggestion that the rich and giant corporations should pay more taxes.  But let me make one thing perfectly clear:  No matter what rationalizations or ideological arguments are adduced for clinging to the status quo and for opposing progressive change, if the bottom line is that we will continue to contribute to the rapid damaging of the ecological commons that supports us, and to the unwise undermining of the health of communities, and to the rapid increase in debt, then we must go back to the drawing board and figure out better ways forward.  Let’s take differing points-of-view into account, and utilize the best ideas they contain, and then committedly pursue the best courses of action that will leave a salubrious legacy for our descendents.  There is no question that the proposed Social Justice Taxation Act and the Fiscal Responsibility Act are outstanding ideas.”

Alan Greenspan, belatedly:  “Our nation must be more fiscally responsible.  If Chinese and Japanese investors and others worldwide decide to no longer trust the financial stability of the U.S., the dollar will plummet in value and interest rates will skyrocket.  This could make the current recession look like a picnic in the park.  This outcome is increasingly likely as long as we are incapable of bringing our federal budget into better balance.  We must enact a revised system of taxation to increase revenues THIS YEAR.  This revised system must tax high income earners at a higher marginal tax rate.  It should also assess corporate taxes in a more steeply graduated way, since this will benefit small businesses, which are widely and accurately regarded as the true engine of job growth and innovation in the United States.  Also, taxes of rich kids’ inheritances, known as Estate Taxes, should be taxed at a more steeply graduated rate for wealth in excess of a generous exclusion.”

Warren Buffet:  “Concentrated wealth is the antithesis of democratic fairness.  It seems clear to me that inherited wealth undermines the free market system itself.  Without the estate tax, you in effect have an aristocracy of wealth.  This means you pass down the ability to command the resources of the nation based on heredity, rather than based on merit.  The repeal of the estate tax would be a terrible mistake.  It’d be equivalent to choosing the 2020 Olympic team by picking the eldest sons of the gold-medal winners in the 2000 Olympics.  Economic productivity requires competitive markets.  Competitive markets require a level playing field.  Not only is it in the common good that we maintain sensible and progressively graduated estate taxes, but we also need fiscal responsibility.  The rapidly growing amounts of federal debt are as ominous as the financial crisis itself.”

Edgar Bronfman:  “Responsible Wealth organizations likeWealth for the Common Good importantly recognize that the concentration of wealth and power not only harms the economy and corrupts democracy, but it deepens the racial divide and tears communities apart.  A committed social movement is needed to achieve greater equality.  Healthier societies are strongly correlated with a greater modicum of equality, not a lesser one.  Values, and not profits alone, should guide economic decisions.  This is why we need more responsible tax laws as well as more farsighted budgetary priorities.

Bill Gates:  “One percent of Americans owns 40% of all household wealth in the United States.  You can be assured that this disparity will become increasingly skewed as long as the regressive G.W. Bush tax cuts are allowed to perpetuate the shrewd Reagan Gush Up “Trickle Down” ideology.  The amount of exclusion in rich kids’ inheritances already ensures that only 1% of Americans who die are rich enough to incur any Estate Taxes at all.  A vote on this issue in a true democracy where each person voted his or her direct self-interest would be 99 to 1 in favor of more progressive taxes.  The reason that the super-rich have their way is that our system is functionally a plutocracy (rule by the wealthy), and not a true representative democracy.  What a pathetic Laffer!”

The sagacious lawmaker Solon:  “The super-rich are causing an outlandish proportion of the impacts that are damaging Earth’s ecosystems, simply as a result of their buying so much stuff and traveling so extensively and owning so many houses and receiving such a large part of all corporate profits earned.  No matter how vituperative the ideological arguments are by anti-tax types like Grover Norquist, their self-serving rationalizations ring preposterously hollow.  Of course we need to find an effective way to rein in the runaway growth in the size of the federal and state governments.  Of course we need to reduce bureaucratic waste, and conquer the weak-willed inability of our governments to control spending.  Of course we would be wise to prevent excessive war profiteering.  Of course we should rein in the octopus of wasteful and misguided American militarism.  Of course we should spend federal funds less profligately and stop spending so much money on pork barrel projects and wrong-headed subsidies and bureaucratic red tape.  So let’s make it a priority to accomplish these smart goals!  But we must also restructure our government and tax system in progressive ways, and be more fiscally responsible, and not just idiotically try to ‘drown the government in the bathtub’.”

The Dalai Lama:  “This issue is not one about some hollow concept that we give lip service to and call ‘compassion’;  this issue involves wisdom and true justice.  There are millions of people suffering hardships, and workers are under great stresses, and the environment is under sustained assault.  Compassion is a deep idea, and much deeper in action than in word.  There is no need to think of progressive taxation as some kind of charity or kindness.  Progressive taxation should be seen as a social insurance policy that protects against insecurity and fiscal insolvency and ecological calamity and crime and revolution and the risks associated with deep social injustices.  The more money an individual makes, and the more profitable a corporation is, the higher the marginal tax rate should be.”

Tom Sawyer:  “American economic and political systems are prioritized wrong by design.  The solution is right before us.  If we enact a Social Justice Taxation Act, and a Fiscal Responsibility Act, this re-design of our tax system will make our societies fairer and more financially sound.  I also agree that we must accomplish this goal THIS YEAR.  While we are at it, we must sensibly commit ourselves to an Ecological Balance Initiative, as I said before.  Review for yourself the details of these proposals as spelled out in the Earth Manifesto, and see the common sense they make in light of these discussions.”

Robert Reich:  “Tiffany Twain has neatly summarized the insights contained in my book, Supercapitalism, in her Earth Manifesto piece The Common Good, Properly Understood.   Each person has competing goals within themselves in their various roles as consumers, and as investors, and as good citizens.  Now is the time to re-structure the rules and to re-design our systems to make sure consumers and investors contribute more to the sustainability and the fairness of our activities, and to the good citizen goals we all share.  The overarching issue of human existence is to find a way to make our livings WITHOUT destroying the ecological commons.  We must pay a slightly higher price for products, so that each purchase will include an automatically contribution to healthier and greener and more sustainable societies.  And as investors, we must pay a slightly higher portion of our investment returns to contribute to socially and ecologically sound needs.  This is the ultimate ethical rightness!”

Paul Hawken:  “It is incumbent upon us to design a new system in which people will do the right thing automatically, as naturally as they would give a cordial handshake to someone they are introduced to in a social situation.  Smart incentives and disincentives, properly prioritized, are the best way to ensure that people do the right thing without freedom-infringing regulations and bureaucratic red tape.”

Henry Ford:  “I had a strategy in 1916 to generously compensate my factory workers so that they would be able to afford to buy an automobile that they were producing.  This strategy stimulated sales, which increased profits, so it was a win/win plan.  Guess what?  The shareholders and investors were so greedy that they decided those wages were too high, so they ginner up a lawsuit, and won.  The decision was made and it was upheld by the Michigan Supreme Court in the 1919 case, Dodge vs. Ford Motor Company.  It held that management must not pay its workers too generously.  One of the two primary legal purposes of a corporation is to maximize the amount of profit earned.  So CEO’s and top management ruthlessly clamp down on workers to get big bonuses for themselves.  They effectively make sure that they increase profits by squelching the work force and giving benefits of all increases in productivity to investors, with none of the gains being shared with the workers.  So it makes sense that high earners should give back some of the windfall of their good fortunes.”

Joel Bakan:  “Making profits, almost independently of all other considerations, is one of the two primary purposes of a corporation.  What, you may wonder, is the other purpose?  It is to limit the legal liability of the owners and shareholders.  This is one more way that profits are privatized and risks and costs are socialized.  Such strategies are eagerly endorsed by bankers and speculators, who are always alert to find ways to profit at the public expense.  The current recession has once again left taxpayers obligated for the costs of bailouts and unemployment insurance and programs to mitigate the economic and social problems that have resulted from financial schemes gone awry.  It is practically pathological madness to allow corporations the same rights of ‘personhood’ as those which the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteed to actual people!  Watch my film The Corporation for deeper perspective on this topic.”

Naomi Klein:  “In my book The Shock Doctrine – The Rise of Disaster Capitalism I explain how and why insiders insidiously game the system, to the severe detriment of the public.  The enormous and heretofore unimaginably large bailouts by the federal government were ‘necessitated’ because of such ‘disaster capitalism’ gambits.  So were the gargantuan stimulus funds that are being borrowed and spent by the federal government today.  We must now recognize that high levels of government borrowing are a shameless, expedient, and irresponsible tactic that steals from all taxpayers in the future to finance the short-term oriented and shortsighted expediency of self-serving vested interests today.  We must demand more fiscal responsibility!  There is no more advantageous source for financing corrective measures than those who can afford it, and no fairer source than those who most benefit from the way the system is set up.  A vote taken on this issue should be at least 99 to 1 in support of the Social Justice Taxation Act, with its higher tax rates on higher earnings, because this new level of progressive taxes will affect only the top 1% of earners, and ALL would benefit from the healthier and more financially sound society.”

Tim Geithner:  “We have been working very hard to get the economy back on track.  We are making extremely costly national efforts to achieve this goal.  But I admit that we must be far more careful as to which track we want to be on.  We must invest in a greener economy, and a more energy efficient one.  We must revise our measures of growth to emphasize the quality of growth, and not to just take into account skewed measures of consumption and waste, like war-stimulated spending activities and rapid inflation in healthcare costs and increases in the use of non-renewable resources.  Such growth is not desirable.  Our economy is addicted to growth because jobs are needed for the inexorably growing number of people on the planet.  Population growth creates its own stimulus of product demand.  As our population ages, more young people and workers are needed to help support the growing number of people in their old age.  But this is surely an overarching Ponzi scheme that will prove to be unsustainable.  We must take the full context of this understanding into consideration in all policy decisions.”

Voltaire:  “The early 19th Century Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus contended that unlimited population growth would eventually result in catastrophic natural checks on population growth.  Judging from the growing global ecological challenges associated with feeding and clothing and housing the increasing numbers of people alive, I believe that Malthus will ultimately be proved to be disastrously correct.  Malthus noted that we must place long-term stability of the economy above short-term expediencies.  We must start to do this NOW!”

Warren Buffet:  “I have another compelling perspective to share.  Another reason that we should revolutionarily reform our current system is that too much wealth is locked up in the pockets of the wealthy.  As Bill Gates has noted, 40% of all household wealth in the U.S is owned by 1% of Americans.  Consider this in light of the concept of insurance.  Many people contribute, and the premiums are pooled;  some of the funds are devoted to administration and profit, and enormous reserves are established to cover the potential liabilities of the things insured.  When a disaster occurs, these reserves are used to pay those that are affected.  Natural disasters like fires and floods and hurricanes serve to release these reserves and provide powerful stimulus to economic activity.  Likewise, progressive taxes as proposed in the Social Justice Taxation Act will free up some of the enormous amount of money that is locked up by rich people like a weight around the neck of our nation.  The rules defining how this wealth is accumulated and preserved are overwhelmingly designed to keep the money locked up, and to increase the amount that is owned by this small elite of super-rich people.  This design is misguided.  It is fiscally unsound.  It is socially detrimental.  And it is morally wrong.  To refuse to re-design this system is like allowing an insurance company to take in large premiums but never pay out any fair portion on claims.”

Donald Trump:  “You are right, I suppose, Warren.  But if we are to make design changes in our system, they should be made in smart ways.  First, taxes should be assessed in a more steeply graduated way, so that higher taxes only affect those who make the top 1% of earnings.  This will slow down the accumulation and concentration of wealth.  And second, estate taxes should be restructured in a more steeply graduated way, so that they allow a generous exclusion amount that allows rich kids to keep a secure portion of their inheritances, and makes sure that family farms are not broken up, but prevents billions of dollars from being passed on to rich kids.  Incentives should be strengthened, in addition, to encourage generous philanthropy.  These changes will release some of the 40% of all wealth that is locked up.”

E. F. Schumacher:  “In 1973, I wrote Small Is Beautiful.  In this book, I observed that we must treat fossil fuels as capital resources rather than as income.  This is true of all natural resources.  We have been treating Mother Earth like a business in liquidation, rather than an on-going concern.  Instead of safeguarding her assets, we’ve been selling them off to turn them into cash as quickly as possible.  Instead of investing in her biotic health, we have been harming her ecosystems and destroying habitats and hunting her wildlife mercilessly around the globe.  Instead of protecting her streams and wetlands and seas and wilderness areas and atmosphere, we have been irresponsibly spewing pollutants into the commons.  Instead of adequately regulating corporate abuses and properly overseeing businesses and governments, we have been inexorably stimulating the exploitation of our home planet’s resources through subsidies and privatization and globalization.  The list of detrimental impacts of our activities is long.  The logical conclusion of an intelligent and intuitively sensible worldview that regards fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources as valuable assets is that we would conserve them and put some of the profits obtained from their depletion into a special fund to be devoted exclusively to the evolution of production methods and patterns of living which do not depend on fossil fuels and wasteful usages.  Smart tax plans, not deficits and debt, would be the best way to utilize some of these profits so they can be invested in green technologies and sustainable actions and ecologically wise undertakings.”

Tiffany Twain:  “People can, and should, judge for themselves.  The integrity of ideas should be judged in accordance with one’s experience and reason and common sense and evaluations of the merits of points-of-view that are advanced by competing interests.  A doctrine proposing such ideas is called Humanism.  Let’s all become Humanists!”

Wikipedia:  “In the broadest philosophic sense, Humanism is a large body of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity of humankind.  These philosophies assert that people can determine right and wrong by using their own individual reason.  Humanists reject supernatural strictures and the supposedly ‘divine authority’ of religious texts.  Humanists endorse a kind of universal morality in recognition of the commonality of the human condition.  They believe that solutions to human social and cultural and environmental problems cannot and must not be parochial or narrowly self-serving, and they believe in an ethics that says public policies should be socially responsible and ecologically farsighted.”

Victor Hugo:  “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” 

Percy Williams Bridgeman:  “There is no adequate defense, except stupidity, against the impact of a good new idea.  We should strive to be better informed.”

John Kenneth Galbraith:  “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral  philosophy;  that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.  Hyper-individualist conservatism has been a distinct feature in America in the past 30 years.  We need a new vision today, one of farsightedness and confidence in our own problem-solving abilities.  This open-minded attitude, reinforced with the recognition that we are all figuratively in the same boat together, should give us the impetus to work together to accomplish common good goals!”

John Lennon:  “Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.”

El Gaviero:  “I am the vaunted Lookout, a watchful navigator, yet sometimes I feel like a cork being tossed about on the choppy seas of fate.  Can’t we all just get along?  I’ll bet that we could embrace common good solutions if we all really tried to find them.  Even though I am a conservative, I’ll grudgingly admit that Dr. Twain’s objective approach is a good starting point.  One must admit that the dominant paradigm of vested interest domination and paralyzing hyper-partisan inertia and political acrimony is not exactly constructive.”

Lina Wertmüller:  “Let us be swept away by an adaptive transformation on a blue sea of August!  We need to defuse class warfare with a greater modicum of egalitarianism.  A reversal of roles is needed to alter the dominant paradigm of male domination of our societies, because it is having such damaging effects on human societies and the Earth.”

Huck Finn:  “Hmmmm.  Well, curious and curiouser.  I guess that’s the whole scoop.  Let’s all get together, and admit that in a way we are all on the same raft.  Let’s recognize that our lives are truly interconnected and interdependent.  Let’s make do in the best way possible.  Let’s get along by honoring live-and-let-live precepts and the fairness principle as embodied by the Golden Rule!”

The Beatles: 

       “One thing I can tell you is     You got to be free

                Come together, right now   Over me …  Shhhuuuccck!   Come together!”  

Tiffany Twain:  “That’s all folks!  The details of the three proposals discussed herein can be viewed in Part Four of the Earth Manifesto website.  See Three Bills of Right: A Triumvirate of Responsible Actions for the Greater Good.  There are also many more good ideas in the Earth Manifesto, as summarized in One Dozen Big Ideas to Positively Transform Our Societies, and in the Progressive Agenda for a More Sane Humanity. Check them out!”

President Obama, I’d like to offer one more piece of perspective on the true nature of progressive taxation.  It is contained in a letter to the intelligent and progressive MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow.  See the Real Memo to Rachel Maddow in Part One of the Earth Manifesto website for details.

Thank you for your attention to these ‘clear-seeing’ perspectives!


      Dr. Tiffany B. Twain      

         Contact at:  SaveTruffulaTrees@hotmail.com

             Minor revisions made on December 7, 2009.



Copy sent in August to: 

       All Americans, via the Earth Manifesto at www.EarthManifesto.com

       Allan (Bud) Selig, Commissioner of Baseball

           245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor, New York, NY 10167

       Katharine Weymouth, Publisher of the Washington Post

           1150 15th St. NW, Washington D.C.  20071

       Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., Publisher of the New York Times       

           620 Eighth Avenue., New York 10018

       Rachel Maddow c/o NBC News, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10112

       Senator Robert Byrd, 311 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington D.C. 20510

       Jack Whitaker, Publisher of the Hannibal Courier-Post  

            200 N. 3rd St.  Hannibal, MO  63401

        Earth Justice, Because the Earth needs a good lawyer, and I may too!

           426 17th Street, 6th Floor;  Oakland, CA  94612

        The Nation, c/o Submissions, 33 Irving Place, 8th Floor  New York City 10003  

        Graydon Carter, Editor-In-Chief, Vanity Fair

           4 Times Square, 7th Floor  New York City  10036