And From The Ashes… An Apple?

It’s all coming to a head…

As a result of decades of unbridaled, Laissez Faire, Trickle Down Reaganomics, and a detached culture that has become spoiled by overabundance and privilege, my nation is going down in flames. Today, every crisis imaginable descends upon our collective shoulders as the Bush Administration makes ready to depart from the White House. And in the aftermath, he and his cronies more than likely walk quietly into the short memory of most Americans, left unaccountable to the high crimes his administration has committed over the past eight years.

How do I despise W? Let me count the ways… Two wars, bad foreign relations across-the-board, a cascade of sub-prime mortgage failures, an ever growing energy crisis, the collapse of Wall Street along with global banking and insurance institutions, the likely demise of the Big Three US automobile manufacturers, a sharp rise in unemployment and violent crime, social discontent, and the pending bankruptcy of the American tax-payers’ collective coffer. Whew! Thank goodness W didn’t succeed with convincing us to invest our Social Security dollars into Wall Street, huh? Nonetheless, most of us view these troubling times as unparalleled in the history of Western Civilization. I agree. But as the mythological Phoenix eventually rises from the ashes, I consider this period necessary. In order for our civilization to evolve, to rethink our relationship to one another and the planet that sustains us, our society must experience a metaphorical mid-life crisis that will give us the opportunity to view our own species’ existence and mortality straight in the face and rethink all that we have taken for granted.

Bailing out failing financial institutions is not an answer...
Bailing out our failing financial institutions is not the answer… It’s time for a paradigm change.

As with any great paradigm shift though, there will, of course, be casualties. But that’s a natural quality of growth. It’s almost always accompanied by pain and loss. However, as difficult as the challenges ahead will most certainly be, this may very well be the greatest opportunity ever presented for the continued existence of our species. As hopeless as it may all seem, we are seeing glimpses of cultural enlightenment. For the very first time in the history of the United States, we have elected our very first African-American President. Thankfully, this is indicative of a major shift in our way of thinking and doing and being. But aside from the unprecedented skin color of Mr. Obama, he also gives me the impression that he is quite possibly the most genuine, intelligent, conscious, selfless, and forward-thinking of politicians since FDR. With regard to these qualities, however, I guess only time will reveal the truth…

Meanwhile, as Mr. Obama awaits his democratically elected seat of power, the politicos chatter about stimulating the economy with unoriginal ideas such as tax-payer bail-outs and road-building. I disagree with these strategies wholly. We should NOT be propping up or rewarding failed institutions and amoral corporate miscreants to deliver more of the same. Nor should we be investing our valuable time and resources toward expanding an archaic, wasteful, and filthy infrastructure. The era of the automobile as we know it is nearing it’s end. With the limited national resources that remain in what now amounts to a giant basic checking account, we should not only become more intentional and strategic in our planning process, we should endeavor to create a future for our children that is worthy of praise. The representative powers that WE elect and who are accountable to US should impose clear and stringent standards alongside serious consequences so that we will discourage the furtherance of our greedy, selfish, and misguided behaviors.

At this time, when the planet is, without a doubt, rebelling against our myopic and exploitive occupancy, and its resources are either tainted and dwindling, we are perfectly positioned to put our hearts and minds, our fiscal assets and labor resources toward becoming the global leaders in a Green Revolution.

At this very moment, we have an enormous, unemployed, skilled labor force that is sitting idle. Let’s train and employ them to retrofit the rust belt to manufacture “green” vehicles, products, and technologies. Meanwhile, let’s draw the finest technological/scientific minds away from creating video games and new weapons of mass destruction to instead work on developing more efficient solar, wind, and transportation technologies.

Environmentalism, Socialism, and Capitalism are NOT necessarily mutually exclusive concepts. Similar to Roosevelt’s New Deal, there are millions of jobs yet to be created and trillions of dollars to be made through creating clean and renewable fuels, building (and retrofitting) energy efficient architecture, improving energy collection and waste disposal/reuse technologies, restoring the quality of our water, land, and air, consolidating our physical infrastructure (in the interest of preserving the natural environment and promoting community), and developing quick, inexpensive, and efficient modes of private and mass transportation. With consideration to the American work ethic, will, determination, and vision that made this nation what it became in the 20th Century, what if we put dedicated ourselves to institutionalizing a functional paradigm? Suits and hippies alike, we may very well be able to create a global movement toward a conscious and sustainable future.

In addition to these programs, we SHOULD be investing the balance of those hundreds of billions of dollars into creating cutting edge educational, health care, public transportation, and physical infrastructure systems. Let’s endow our children and young adults with a sense of identity, purpose, and meaning. Let us no longer deny the realities of sex. Let’s teach them the basics of parenting along with the sacrifices, the consequences, and the resources available to them. Let’s carefully select our teachers and pay them well. Let’s encourage preventative medicine and healthy patterns of behavior. Let’s strengthen our society’s weakest links by putting our criminals to work in our communities or compel them to serve in the military. Let’s tighten-up our development patterns and promote mixed-use development to encourage the formation of diverse communities while enabling accessibility for everyone.

Think about it for a moment… If, as part of a 20- to 30-year plan, we were to recognize our potential as a species – with aspirations to become an intelligent, healthy, conscious, and functional society – ignorance, fear, and crime would diminish considerably while our quality-of-life and worldwide reputation would improve measurably. If such standards were put into practice, the United States could very well lead the world’s nations on a path toward economic, environmental, and social excellence.

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5 responses to “And From The Ashes… An Apple?

  1. Hey Craig,

    A well stated and heartfelt argument you have proferred. A little apocalyptic as is your way :)

    Anyway, I have heard similar sentiments, but I think that Obama’s recent comments indicate that he understands that it is not a liberal versus conservative problem except on the surface. The core issues are much deeper than which types of programs are supported by which party. This is why he has said he will go through the budget line-by-line: i.e., there is no money for the programs you propose because we have a MASSIVE federal deficit. And he will try to hold the lobbyists in check because they already control the congress. Really there is only one more factor to consider — the issue of taxpayer fairness that neither party will fess up to because it shatters the nurtured illusion of the middle class that it is pulling its own weight when in truth the top 10% of taxpayers pay 70% of income taxes. That means that the middle class is already on tax welfare.

    Well, here’s my analysis which is not heart warming at all, but perhaps closer to truth than the ideal of a caring and reasonable society to which you aspire, and in reading between the lines, it is what I believe Obama understands:

    It would be so nice if our real problems really were all the President’s fault and we could just flip a switch at the White House and away go the real problems: An obscene national deficit, campaign and lobbying laws that have corrupted both parties, and an incoherent foreign policy. Our elected government still likes to tax and spend like it’s funny money and yes they will just print more until inflation pays the bill because we like the benefits now and don’t really care that our kids will pay the price.

    Congress subsidizes the middle class with tax welfare (yes, 70% of Americans are subsidized by the top 10% of taxpayers who pay 70% of all income tax) and we all act like its the wealthy who aren’t pulling there own weight. Sorry, but its us, middle-class America that isn’t paying its tax bill. I could go on, and it is true that Bush was awful, but even his egregious and revolting excesses pale in comparison to what is an underlying bipartisan government problem.

    Hopefully Obama is done with that generation of finger-pointing divisive Democrats who failed as miserably in their own ways as the Republicans. It is time to move forward, and if the liberals can not get over gloating and posturing in order to assuage their own long-aggrieved egos which demand self-righteous justification, then it is just a matter of time until the Senate degenerates into bipartisan gridlock and the lobbyist swarm, and divide, and conquer and walk away with the loot as surely as other interests did under Bush, and we, the public, are stunned again by the incompetence we have wrought. There are bills to pay, but we just don’t get it, do we?

    Hey, on a lighter note – hope your Thanksgiving was good!

    j-

  2. Thanks Jim! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving too!

    So, I too think our state of affairs far transcend party brands and philosophy. Though I do subscribe to a political ideology that sees the accumulation of wealth by a small group as the consolidation of power that creates a threat to liberty, I’m not a big fan of what the word “liberal”. Somehow the Limbaugh’s and Hannity’s have managed to convince America that it is synonymous with namby pamby. I am, however, without a doubt, a radical. Being one wants to get to the root of an issue, and who favors considerable political, economic, or social reform from our current model. But when I use words such as “conscious” and “green” to describe what I think needs to happen, I am not promoting a Hippie agenda. Rather, I think it’s imperative to our evolution and continued existence as a species. If we do not make a major shift in collective consciousness, we’re heading toward a speedy self-induced annihilation.

    As for the national deficit, I need to ask… Will more wars, bailouts, stimulus of consumer behavior, and an attempt to simply get back to “normal” ultimately benefit our civilization? I don’t think so.

    The comforts and privileges we have experienced for the past seventy, or so, years have been greatly based mostly upon the illusion of cheap fuel (a la government subsidies), the hidden costs of production and wastes, war, greed, lies, deception, manipulation, and the promotion of archaic ideas that should have long since been laid to rest. If we continue to think solely in terms of propping up already failed institutions, and seek only to propose an array of quick fixes, the REAL costs and the REAL consequences of our behaviors may soon overshadow anything we currently view as a threat to our continued existence.

    As opposed to attempting to carry on with business-as-usual, how expensive would it be to create the foundations of a sustainable existence? “Sustainable” isn’t just a flowery word that suggests a utopiz. It implies balance, if not surplus over the long term. As urgent (or apocalyptic) as I may often seem, I believe survival of the human race and the remaining species – be they plant, animal, or microbe – upon which we depend are contingent upon the decisions and actions we will commit to over the next few years.

    Though my suggestions for a Green Revolution is vague, and perhaps sounds pie-in-the-sky, it seems to me to present a answer that will minimize several of our problems with one grand solution. A re-engineering of the mentality by which we live, and behave, and consume, and move about. How many birds (problems) can we kill with just one stone (a Green Revolution)? Allow me to count a few ways…

    There’s the labor and unemployment crisis? I suggest we train and employ our sleeping labor force to manufacture the hardware necessary to promote a Green Revolution. Then there’s an imminent and destructive climate change reminding us of its presence every year? I suggest we assemble a global research team to propose technologies, systems, and practices to implement so that we will, effectively, realize a Green Revolution. There are entrepreneurs and investors who want to see their earnings grow? I suggest we allocate our assets and confidence toward retrofitting our daily existence with said technologies, systems, and practices, and thereby profiting from the resulting products and technologies inherent in bringing about a Green Revolution. Finally (though I’m sure there are other problems by which a Green Revolution could bring benefit), Americans hunger to again be the world leaders of ideas and industry. I suggest we take the mantle and initiate the Green Revolution.

    As for the top 10% subsidizing the middle-class with their tax dollars, I question this statistic. Over the past eight years, this demographic has all but been removed from the tax rolls. And it seems to me that the top 10% can afford the lawyers, the accountants, the lobbyists, the bankers, and the politicians to create and/or exploit the loopholes that enable them to essentially hold on to most of their tax dollars.

    Besides this, with regard to one’s income, if positioned properly, there is a tipping point beyond which most of that top 10%’s money will continue to create more money with minimum effort. While, on the other hand, the middle-class is compelled to create value through hard work and being obedient consumers… which ultimately feeds more wealth into the coffers of that top 10%.

    For the uber-wealthy, it seems as though too much is never enough. Though I am far from qualified from knowing the realistic economic or social consequences of the following, and this number is somewhat arbitrary, I would like to see wealth capped at about one-hundred million total per individual. Okay, sure. What’s the incentive to make more than this? Well, if the surplus guaranteed security as well as an intelligent, healthy, functional, and productive society, then 100 Million might provide quite a comfortable buffer from the riff-raff. Maybe I’m naive, but if the surplus above this amount were be infused back into public education, healthcare, research and development, job training, infrastructure, and security, wouldn’t, after a generation or two, the population of riff-raff be significantly smaller? And what if, instead of rewarding bad behavior with ridiculous wealth and side-benefits, such as with the Wall Street subculture, or paying occupations of questionable societal value – such as sports figures, film actors, and pop musicians – obscene amounts, we compensate our most valuable societal assets… these being teachers, social workers, public servants, national guard, military, police officers, doctors, and infrastructural construction workers. I imagine that our public servants and police officers, at the very least, would be less likely to fall prey to corrupt influences.

    And what of our society’s creatives and thinkers? Do they have value? Be they artists, musicians, performers, writers, poets, philosophers, and journalists, it is my thought that they should be encouraged and supported by our society to continue to do what they do well and share it. After all, the creatives and thinkers are, in a sense, a civilization’s conscience and subconscious. They ultimately encourage dialogue, self-reflection, understanding, and help us to keep our collective mental health. If not for great art, in all of its forms, would we question who we are? Or would we be able to recognize true beauty? Or feel deeply? A society’s creatives are comparable to the function of an individual’s dream. If an individual does not dream, he will go insane. In our current paradigm, however, art has become equivalent to entertainment. And with the intent of garnering profit – created with the purchaser’s wants in mind, and/or with the intent of appealing to the most people – it has encouraged mediocrity.

    Finally, I think we need to get beyond the self-imposed trappings of a two-party system, being a system that strongly discourages third, fourth, or fifth party points-of-view. We are supposed to be a representative Democracy, yet I’m supposed to believe that approximately 260,000,000 people have only two points-of-view? It seems to me that this artifice is designed to do little more than play one side against the other, and therefore distract us from the real issues. The powers that be keep us occupied by batting the ball between two very similar ideological views while they do mischief. Because of the two-party system, there is a spectrum of worthy ideas that fall by the wayside. The foundations of a true democracy lie in dialogue and debate, yet if the lion’s share of ideas are not put on the table, or are simply dismissed, then we inhibit our potential to grow into an enlightened civilization.

  3. Okay, originally I called it a Green Revolution… I’d like to rescind that, to instead label it a Green Re:Evolution.

    Last night my “kill four birds with one stone” article about solving the respective Economic/Labor/Automotive Industry/Climate Change Crises by focusing our efforts toward a complete retooling of our national infrastructure toward Green Technologies was validated on BBC radio. Here are two links: http://www.pri.org/business/economic-security/green-collar-economy.html
    http://www.pri.org/business/economic-security/green-energy-jobs.html

    I am in the process of trying to locate more online links to this story… If you can help, please do.

  4. You wrote: Meanwhile, let’s draw the finest technological/scientific minds away from creating video games and new weapons of mass destruction to instead work on developing more efficient solar, wind, and transportation technologies.

    No, let’s transform the gaming industry into a serious gaming industry to help model innovative solutions before we deploy them. See trailer for the new version of Innov8 here
    (it’s my favorite project here at IBM) which teaches you how to green the enterprise.

  5. Thanks Jenn… Though instead of saying “No”, I would rather see the following in it’s place… “Instead of writing off video games altogether, let’s divert these gaming programmers away from violent and distracting gaming towards transforming…” and so on.

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