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                         Success, Failure, and Rationality

                                                                                                        Earth Manifesto Insights

                                                                                                              Dr. Tiffany B. Twain  

                                                                                                             November 2005

"A better world has gotta start somewhere.  Why not with you and me?"

                                                               --- Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker

It becomes increasingly important for humanity to make better decisions, and to plan more wisely as the world becomes more crowded and challenges intensify.  Americans should take inspiration from the Finnish National Project, which was an effort that involves much of Finland, and nearly all of the elites in its society.  The goal of this project is to improve public education, to make the teaching profession more prestigious, to make their economy more agile and adaptive, to invest in research and innovation, and to become a ‘greener’, fairer and more competitive nation.

These goals have made Finland one of the most competitive countries in the world, according to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  Finland also ranks first in a "sustainability index" that measures a country's ability to protect the natural environment over the next several decades, and it is perceived as the least corrupt country in the world, while the United States is tied for 17th, according to a survey by Transparency International, the leading global non-governmental organization devoted to combating corruption.

Our conservative leaders, in pathetic contrast to those of Finland, support social program cuts and private education to the detriment of public education.  They represent rigidity of doctrine and inflexibility of privilege.  They are effectively anti-egalitarian, and their policies are corruptly oriented towards cronyism, corporate welfare, wasteful resource consumption, war profiteering, aggressive intervention in the affairs of other nations, religious fundamentalism, and abuses of power.  This is a far cry from embracing fair competition, social well-being, peaceful cooperation, distinct separations of Church and State, and strong environmental ethics!

There are many reasons that people fail to act in socially and environmentally responsible ways.  Some are rational -- and some are not.  Jared Diamond analyzes this topic with in-depth considerations and illuminating insights in Chapter 14 of his valuable book entitled Collapse --- How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.

Clashes of interest are the primary rational reasons that narrow interests dominate decision-making.  Small and selfish elites who lust for wealth and power often collaborate to create conditions where corporate shortsightedness and monopolies facilitate the irresponsible overexploitation of resources in what is known as "the tragedy of the commons."  Also, selfish short-term motives and greed and pandering to narrow constituencies seem to be far more powerful influences than broadminded considerations and saner long-term motivations.

Irrational reasons for disastrous behavior include confusion, ignorance, cultivated denial, unreasonable fears, clashes of values, persistence in error, closed-mindedness, ideological inflexibility, and stubborn resistance to progressive adaptation as societal needs change.  Shared delusions, psychological denial, and the madness of crowd psychology and "groupthink" also contribute to socially irrational public policies.

Productive decision-making involves critical thinking, honest assessment, and respectful consideration of dissenting perspectives.  Poor strategies like the steamrolling of dissent, deceiving the public, and pandering to vested interests until a crisis occurs effectively create increased probabilities that problems will become extremely expensive to remedy, or insurmountable to fix.  The disaster of Hurricane Katrina in the South confirms this.

"Plans are one thing and fate another. When they coincide, success results.  Yet success mustn't be considered the absolute.  It is questionable, for that matter, whether success is an adequate response to life.  Success can eliminate as many options as failure. "

                                --- Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues           

The great risk in America today is that right-wing extremism is all-too-successfully dominating politics without reasonable consideration to more enlightened ideas.  The right wing gets it wrong, failing our country, for nine principal reasons:

1.  They willingly use any means to justify their power-obsessed ends, no matter how adverse or unfair these means may be to the general welfare.  Narrow-minded convictions assert that their ends are supremely good, but this disguises opposing perspectives that reveal that their ends are negative to public health and safety.

2.  They eagerly embrace socially unacceptable public policies, reducing the separation of Church and State and attacking our government's valuable Constitutional checks and balances.  They do this to strengthen the Executive branch and give power and bigger subsidies and greater benefits to cronies, giant corporations, and small elites that are out of touch with mainstream needs and values.

3.  Right-wing certitudes hold that economic and military domination are necessary to protect American interests in the world.  This results in ruthless competition and war, rather than cooperative problem solving.  Embracing preemptive warfare and prisoner torture in a world that is growing increasingly dangerous is a serious mistake, when in truth we need stronger commitments to mutual respect and peaceful coexistence.

4.  The right wing champions economic policies that favor corporate welfare, irresponsible growth, suburban sprawl, reduced regulation, unsustainable development, increased inequities, more tax breaks for the wealthy, more intrusive government, and increased corporate privileges at the expense of workers and of a healthy environment and of future generations.  Abuses of our low-income assistance and Medicare programs, like those externalized onto society by corporate giant Wal-Mart, tend to do great harm to communities and workers.  The compulsion of radical ‘conservatives’ to stack the Supreme Court with justices that oppose progressive change exacerbates these social, fiscal, and environmental problems.

5.  Neoconservatives promote the unsustainable expediency of enormous and systemic deficit spending in order to advance their causes, foisting costs upon future taxpayers instead of courageously addressing the competing interests and conflicting priorities of balanced policy-making today.

6.  They promote divisiveness in order to control and manipulate people.  They do this instead of striving to unite Americans, to respect individual rights, and to make our nation fairer, healthier, stronger, and more responsible to its citizens.

7.  They crusade against reason and objectivity, embracing unethical campaign strategies and clever Karl Rovian smear tactics, as well as anti-democratic secrecy, deceptive propaganda, suppression of dissenting opinions, distortions of scientific understandings, anti-environmental initiatives, unchristian religious extremism, and amoral abuses of power that harm people and society.

8.  The right wing blatantly opposes responsible family planning, sex education, contraception, safe sex initiatives, women's equality, and civil rights for gay people.

9.  They corruptly sacrifice truth, integrity, true justice, and fairness in order to implement these socially detrimental and radical neoconservative policies.

We must stop allowing the control of our government by crony capitalists who corruptly abuse power and pander to Big Money and giant corporations.  We cannot let politicians remain in power who obsessively pursue world domination and the promotion of preemptive warfare against other countries.  Nor can we accept the government's condoning of prisoner torture or any such amoral manipulation of society in extremely unchristian and anti-egalitarian ways.  We must restore the effective checks and balances of government that limit the abuse of power by federal officials.  We must get Big Money out of the political driver's seat.  We must demand that politicians be more fair, honest, honorable, visionary and diplomatic.  And we must keep the judiciary progressive, rather than ideologically reactionary!

The cabal of Neoconservatives must fall!  We must begin to right the ship of state. The Neoconservatives are proving to be a colossal catastrophe, and an unacceptable failure for the United States in terms of social, fiscal, diplomatic and environmental policies. They are arrogant, militarily aggressive, vindictive, and socially regressive --- just the opposite of what intelligent planning dictates for the good of society.  Their hypocritical religious righteousness and their false patriotism are perversely contrary to the principles upon which the United States was founded.

Truth, clear thinking, broadmindedness, and far-sightedness must prevail over deceptive spin, propaganda, lies, ignorance, denial, dogmatic doctrine, corporate pandering, and blind religious extremism.

We would be wise to impeach the regime of Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld and Bush.  We must stimulate American objectivity, reason, insight, courage, trust, integrity, fairness, social justice, environmental protection, sustainable activities, ecological awareness, and true caring for the general welfare of the people.  We must stand up and reject right wing Neoconservatism and its desire to embrace homophobic discrimination and macho male authoritarianism that is detrimental to women's equality and reproductive freedom.

Perhaps few people will read these words;  or millions may.  Some might regard them as transcendent;  others will chuckle at their naivety.  But the Muses are insistent that these ideas be committed to the public discourse, and their feminine wisdom appeals passionately to the deeper good in all people to leave a better world than the one we have inherited.

                                                                                     --- Dr. Tiffany Twain