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                          Strategic Planning Truths

                                                                                                        Earth Manifesto Insights

                                                                                                              Dr. Tiffany B. Twain  

                                                                                                              August 2005

It is vitally important that we fairly examine the true economic, social and political realities of the world today.  We must do so with clarity of perception and understanding. When we demand that our political leaders begin to make better choices and plan and act more wisely, we will be able to make marked improvements in our communities and our societies. We should reprioritize government spending to make it more far-sighted and fiscally responsible.  Our goal must be to courageously create greater justice and peace in the world.

Every person is affected by the federal government's policies, and every person has some degree of influence in choosing to help mold our human destiny and our legacy to future generations.  Each of us must become better stewards of Planet Earth.

We must strive with intelligence, wisdom and far-sightedness to keep the following principles foremost in our considerations of politics and policies:

1.  We must work together to leave America a better country, and the world a better place.  We must embrace a positive, hopeful, affirmative vision of the future, and strive to act consistently with noble values of fairness and the common good.  We must oppose and limit abuses of power by corporations and the government.  We cannot allow the goal of greater profits for Special Interests to damage people's health and prospects.

2.  Now is the time to confront great national problems.  We must not pass them on to future generations.  We must not wait until we reach crisis stages before addressing the social and environmental challenges facing us.  The nature of these problems is that the longer we delay in dealing with them, the more intractable they become, and the more insidiously difficult and expensive it is to solve them.  We must take into account the impact of our actions on the future.  And we must strive to redesign our activities and institutions to be sustainable in the long run.

3.  We must intelligently prioritize our energies and spending in handling problems.  Our concern must be to care for our land and people, and to take long-term considerations into account.  The most critical problems should receive the most attention and funding and remedial efforts.  It is a sad commentary on our political priorities that our leaders are eager to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on military interventionism each year, yet to be relatively stingy in helping with humanitarian aid for such calamities as the Christmas 2004 earthquake and tsunami destruction around the Indian Ocean.

4.  We must demand better fiscal discipline and fiscal responsibility.  We must not allow our leaders to resort to the easy political expediency of deficit spending, which is an unfair and irresponsible way of addressing our problems today because this expediency harms the prospects of tomorrow by burdening the future with enormous debt.

5.  We must be honest, and demand that our government do what is in the best interests of the public and of humanity, not just the best interests of the wealthy and of giant corporations and of war profiteers and of Vested Interests.  We must embrace respectful open debate, and see through the distorting rhetoric and deceptions of politicians.

6.  We must be flexible, open-minded, and willing to embrace progressive change.  We must support good public education.  We must be strong advocates for innovation.  We would be wise, for instance, to boldly invest in energy innovation and conservation and increased efficiency, rather than continuing to give giant subsidies to Big Oil to maintain the status quo of fossil fuel dependence.  We are gambling with our national security to pursue policies oriented around perpetuating our expensive addiction to the wasteful consumption of fossil fuels.

7.  We must insist on making our democracy more participatory, more fair, more progressive, and more open to new ideas.  We must teach all citizens to be able to think more critically.  We must build a consensus in solving problems.  We must trust and empower people, and not just accept doctrines and unexamined assumptions.

8.  We must have a justice system that is truly fair and balanced.  And,

9.  We must rein in the power, wastefulness and intrusiveness of the federal government, which has increased its size in the last 50 years from 25% of the national income to an astonishing 45%.  The purpose of government must NOT be to create jobs in a bigger bureaucracy and an ever-expanding military.

These are compelling issues that require bold, visionary, honorable and fair national responses.  Almost everyone would agree that one of the most important purposes of government is to help establish a safe, healthy, fair and sustainable society, while simultaneously allowing a maximum of individual freedoms.  Our happiness and our fulfillment of deeper purposes and our prosperity depend on this.

We may disagree as to how to achieve this goal of a wholesome society.  On the one hand, some feel that we should pursue success through patriarchal strength, trust in father figure authority, faith in God, self-discipline, unyielding convictions, unregulated free markets, materialistic consumption, tax cutting, deficit spending, subsidies for big corporations, an extremely strong military, unsympathetic mercilessness towards failure, sink-or-swim social Darwinism, self-righteousness, harsh punishment for wrong-doing, obedience, and uncompromising authoritarian foreign policy.

Others feel that a safe and healthy society can best be created through responsible parenthood, empathic understanding, true fairness of opportunity, honesty, open two-way communication, respect for others, consumer protections, peace building initiatives, limited government intrusiveness, a clean and unpolluted environment, reasonable workers' rights protections, sustainable activities, consensus-building, cooperation, mutual trust, fiscal responsibility, moderation of consumption, wholesome connectedness, community-building, the fair empowerment of women, a maximum of civil liberties, and a minimum of obstacles for pursuing happiness.

A healthy society is one that respects its traditional values, yet is flexible enough to adapt to change.  Social health is greatest where individuals are respected, and where a strong sense of family and community is fostered.  Institutions and programs are needed to help people cope who have suffered misfortune or adverse circumstances in their lives.  Since calamity and adversity can befall anyone at any time, it behooves us to create a truly compassionate society wherein those who fall through the cracks are helped, rather than being exploited, neglected, or taken advantage of when they are down.

The November 2004 elections resulted in Americans essentially choosing to stick with the Status Quo, as represented by the current Administration, rather than endorsing far-sighted change.  We have effectively chosen to allow conservative Republicans to increase their dominance in the federal government.  These leaders now claim that they have won a mandate that solidly supports their policies.  But any practical realist must be honest, and acknowledge that the election victory was won by using fear and divisive wedge issues, and by cobbling together a less-than-optimum coalition of Special Interests and religious traditionalists, who strive to use power for dominance, to exploit society and public resources, and to force society to conform to their moralistic beliefs.  These interests too often oppose far-sighted progressive change.

Ideology and theology have come to dominate our politics.  Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true;  ideologies scorn facts;  both hold stubbornly to worldviews that are contradictory to what our reason shows is probable, and to what is generally accepted as reality.

Republican dominance embraces the tyranny of anti-gay, anti-abortion moralists over a more complex and more truly "Christian" morality that cares about all people in society.  True morality highly values peace and justice, and shows compassion for the poor and the underprivileged, and demonstrates a strong concern for clean air, clean water, and protected parks and public lands.  

All discussions of faith and values should avoid being used as a wedge to divide and destroy, but rather should strive to find common ground that includes understandings of human morality that are more comprehensive.  This must include honesty, integrity, respect for the rights and fair treatment of others, caring about poverty, charitable generosity, commitment to sustainable development, working with healthy ecological principles, and striving for peaceful coexistence amongst all nations of the world.

Republican dominance strives to allow Big Business to pretend to adequately regulate itself while simultaneously all too often being dishonest and inadequately accountable and irresponsible to workers and to society.  Republicans pander primarily to the rich and powerful in their greedy drive to get richer and gain power at the expense of everyone else.  They increase the anti-democratic unfairness of an ever-greater disparity between the fortunes of the Haves and the Have-Nots.

Republican dominance promotes smooth sailing for Big Business by lowering corporate taxes, making fewer IRS audits, reducing environmental protections, and providing the corrupting influence of greater access to the halls of power for corporate lobbyists.  It eagerly puts a squeeze on State and local governments by inadequately funding federal mandates.  It allows the irresponsible political expediency of wasteful government spending and giant military budgets in the face of enormous deficit spending.  It also increases our vulnerability by perpetuating our dependence on the consumption of fossil fuels.  The irresponsibly wasteful depletion of these energy sources threatens to severely disrupt our economy in the not too distant future.  

We are fostering a risky reliance on foreign capital to finance the fiscally irresponsible rapid growth of our $7.5 trillion national debt.  We are foolishly allowing increased access to public lands by loggers and oil drillers and other forces of exploitation and extraction of natural resources.  We are letting polluters avoid the mitigation of the harm that they do by facilitating corporate strategies of shifting the burden of pollution clean-up costs and related negative healthcare impacts from those who cause the problems to our society as a whole, where it is far more costly to deal with the harm done.

Republican dominance also allows power to be abused in order to suppress opposition.  We are even allowing prisoner torture as a covert military policy.  This endangers our own troops.   We are allowing aggressive economic domination and warfare in the guise of national security, causing the killing of tens of thousands of innocent men and women and children by bombings and military offensives.

The Republican strategy to gain power and to disenfranchise opposition has been brilliant.  First, they frame issues very cleverly in terms of values, vision, and moral righteousness.  Second, they give popular tax cuts to gain taxpayer support, and make the taxation system more regressive to benefit the wealthy and powerful.  Third, they increase government spending, but shift it from social programs to military expenditures.  Fourth, they create enormous budget deficits, crowding out the flexibility of future budgets to be able to afford to deal with growing social problems.  This effectively keeps society stratified into a small elite and a marginalized majority.  Fifth, they pander to big corporations and rich people's interests and the narrow-mindedness of religious fundamentalists, repressing the poor and the working class, and making the struggles of workers and the middle class more difficult.

Sixth, they capitalize on people's fears and insecurities, intimidating the public into supporting aggressively authoritarian policies at home and abroad.  Seventh, they pursue policies to divide people, using hot-button social issues like gay marriage, abortion, gun control, faith in God, defending the American flag, and the nationalistic patriotism of people's natural desire to support our troops, who have ironically been put in harm's way by the doctrines and deceptions of aggression and preemptive warfare.  Eighth, they act as if it is democratic and moral to use ANY MEANS to justify their ascendancy in power, defending their doctrinal Stern Father-knows-best goals.  Ninth, they do anything to win elections, including using deception, intimidation, disenfranchising minority voters, and using ballot-counting computer fraud.  Tenth, they effectively abuse power to reduce the civil rights of citizens, making this course of action seem like it is right and patriotic.  Eleventh, they abuse their legislative power to stack the courts with conservative activists to make society more authoritarian.  And, twelfth, once they have hijacked fear and catastrophe and hypocritical "morality" to gain power, they take advantage of their prerogatives to advance all-too-often regressive initiatives, and use harshness and repression to engineer society into a form that perpetuates their dominance.

Yes, the Republican strategy to grab control and disenfranchise opposition has been brilliant --- unfair, misguided, morally corrupt, deceptive, and very damaging to society and to our children and their descendents --- but brilliant!  Republican domination is having negative impacts on American society, and on workers, and on peaceful coexistence on the international stage.  It is unfair, unjust, and detrimental to the ecological fundamentals of a healthy and sustainable environment.

The Republican election victory strengthens the ascendancy of neoconservative policies, despite the many shortcomings and preposterous audacity of these doctrines.  This radical form of "conservatism" does not represent mainstream American values.  Those in power are promoting agendas that are actually extreme forms of risk-taking in foreign policy and in environmental affairs.  These attitudes and policies are tearing America apart with actions contrary to the public's best interests.  Neoconservatives use fine-sounding words and ideas that are contradicted by their actions and the impacts of their policies, like "Healthy Forests” and "Clear Skies" and "No Child Left Behind". 

We are allowing divisiveness to make the world more dangerous.  We are allowing people to become alienated and frustrated.  And we are creating hated and enemies with our aggressive militarism.

The hopes of progressive causes are being severely harmed.  The airwaves are filled with the blaming, attacking, mocking, gloating, interrupting, and criticizing of people who care very deeply about their country and humanity.  Progressive principles have made America great.  The insidious subversion of these principles in the last 25 years has been very unfortunate for our society and the world.

It would seem to be difficult for supporters of Republican leaders to have pride and conviction in these negative and arguably unethical characteristics, or to gloat over these ruinous policies.  If Republicans truly care about the American people, and about our precious, beautiful Planet Earth, then they would support positive reform and demand greater accountability of giant corporations and politicians. Sure, it would be nice to be able to blindly trust our leaders, and to be convinced that their actions are noble and supportive of the best interests of the majority of Americans.  It would be nice to be able to believe that our President is doing the right thing, that he is honest and sincere, that he makes no mistakes, that his policies are concerned with the common good, and that he is working for the majority of Americans in advocating military and environmental policies.  

But it seems clear that our founders' worst fears are coming true -- that the federal government is getting too big, too intrusive, too deceptive, too wasteful, too uncaring for the general welfare, and too biased towards Big Business and Big Money and religious fundamentalists and Vested Interests.  We must begin to marginalize, rather than empower, right-wing media moguls and hyper-consumption-oriented laissez-faire capitalism and such extremely doctrinaire organizations as the Federalist Society, the Cato Institute, and the National Rifle Association.

We can deny it, but we cannot evade the truth:  we are damning our children and our grandchildren by following Neoconservative agendas, particularly in wasteful energy and natural resource exploitation and in the political expediency of deficit spending.  We are borrowing enormous amounts of money from future generations to give tax breaks to the rich and to finance the waging of aggressive wars.  We are using up non-renewable resources wastefully, and at an ever-faster pace.  We are polluting the land, rivers, lakes, oceans and air.  We are altering the atmosphere's very composition by spewing billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the skies every year.  We are increasing the risk of domestic and international social instability by fostering greater inequities and injustices between people.  We are preying on people's insecurities, using fear and uncertainty to give ever-greater power to the U.S. government.  We are increasing strife between people through divisive actions and the exploitation of wedge issues and the fomenting of regressive social policies and the pursuit of militaristic interventions in other nations. And we are refusing to accept any method other than sexual abstinence for reducing human population growth, a stance that will almost certainly intensify all of these problems in the future.

"Quo Vadis?" --- "Where do we go from here?"  How can we rein in the hyper-partisan and megalomaniacal drives of our leaders, before they irretrievably harm the prospects of humanity?  How can we shift our political priorities to more sane ones that are in better accord with intelligent principles and greater purposes?  How can we truly make the world a better place?  How can we lead our lives in such a way as to not dramatically diminish the prospects of future generations?

We must redesign our economy, embrace smart growth, limit suburban sprawl, protect farmland and wild lands, establish effective incentives for conservation, wisely invest in our country's infrastructure, balance the budget, and emphasize renewable energy.  We must strive for national security through collective security and global prosperity and peace, not through risky unregulated capitalism and harsh militarism.  We must seek cooperation, not conflict.  We must foster innovation and moderation rather than vigorously stimulating consumption.  We must form international partnerships, rather than striving for costly and unjust hard-nosed domination.  We must create true justice, rather than favoring avarice and unfair competition.  And we must make smarter use of the world's resources and be better stewards of Planet Earth, rather than continuously striving to maintain selfish, shortsighted dominion.

There are many things that we can do to better the world, but the true State of the Union is that the inflexible Status Quo opposes the best solutions.  We must mitigate the influence of Big Money in politics, strengthen our democratic institutions, reduce the size and wastefulness of our government, wean ourselves from our addiction to fossil fuels, and embrace progressive ideas and principles that form the basis for our great American democracy!

That’s my opinion.  What’s yours?

                                                 --- Dr. Tiffany Twain