Monday, June 21, 2010

Making "Difficult" Decisions in the Future, Starting Today!

Making "Difficult" Decisions in the Future, Starting Today!

by Earon S. Davis, JD, MPH

I've been working for years to find the commonality between progressive and libertarian values, a daunting project.  But this is where our nation needs to go if we want to avoid hostility and gridlock that undermine our ability to adapt and evolve as a sustainable nation.  Comments are welcome!

Anyone interested in social policy, and for whom "planning" is not a cardinal sin, can point to numerous "difficult" decisions we all know we need to make - but which encounter endless ideological whining, special interests and the knowledge that the short-sighted, poorly informed public will find them unpopular and unacceptable.  As humans, we hope that intractable problems will somehow just go away - without our having to make the difficult choices we know are necessary.  So, the problems continue to fester and we feel shame and failure because we can not effectively address them.

But there is a way.  Why not simply make the decisions, but postpone their effective dates?  We know that we can't immediately stop big coal and big oil from raping our planet and turning our global resources into huge sums of money and world-threatening pollutants.  But we could muster the courage to give them 7 year's notice to drastically scale back their wanton destruction while we move forward with clean alternatives.

We can't tackle our obscene overpopulation today, but we can give fertility cults 10 years to realize that their policies of encouraging irresponsible overpopulation of developed, as well as developing nations, will end.  Tax deductions that provide government encouragement to produce more than 2 or 3 children could be phased out over time, and larger incentives to adopt existing children could be greatly expanded immediately.  

We can't do away with consumerism, our addiction to stuff, immediately, but we can tax energy consumption and waste streams to provide funds for the creation and implementation of non-fossil fuel renewable energy alternatives and conservation.  We can phase in a one-dollar per gallon tax on gasoline over the next 5 years, using the funds to enhance mass transit and the development and production of non-fossil fuel vehicles.  We can start with a 20 cent per gallon tax on gasoline - in two years, building up to one dollar.

Same with our obscenely greedy financial industries.  Put them on a low-greed budget over a period of 10 years, making them justify each dollar they take from our pockets to put into theirs.  Of course, we will put Congress on a similar budget, again, over a 10 year period.  And we must never again allow a President to go to war to help bring billions to their oil-rich allies.  Such wars are simply not acceptable to taxpayers who pay for those wars with incredible sums of tax money as well as the blood of their children.  Government accountability, too, can be phased in over 5 years.  

Government can do evil things.  Government can create entitlement and dependence, whether for wealthy corporations and contributors or poor people.  But, Americans must take responsibility for the massive wealth and power that has systematically been shifted towards a minority of elite individuals and businesses.  These have taken over government and control the lives of ordinary citizens in ways that would make our founders turn over in their graves.  Corporations have become the new "Government".

It is not "government" that is evil, but we citizens who have become incompetent and unwilling to demand basic responsibility and accountability for our corporate and private citizens and multinationals.  Government can not function when all power is held by the wealthy and corporate entities who see the world only in terms of their interests, rather than the interests of the diverse and pluralistic society at large.  While the solutions are not simple, nor amenable to simpleminded demagoguery, we are floundering at present and hamstrung by competing ideologies and populist paranoia.  Enforcing the anti-trust laws fashioned by both Democrat and Republican values will go a long way towards evening the playing field that has been so heavily tilted by current monopolies.  No corporation can be allowed to grow so large as to be "too big to fail."

America can work together to solve our big problems.  What we can't change today, can be changed tomorrow, if we will all pitch in to help fix what is broken - without ideological litmus tests.  Ideology will continue to immobilize us and cause us to abdicate even more time and power to the special interests and corrupt-minded politicians and "infotainers" who feed off of our frustration and broken-hearted looks at where our nation is heading.  These people and institutions benefit from every second of our gridlock and indecision and will thwart our every effort to turn off their money spigots.  

So, if we can't all resolve to pull the nipple from the mouth of Wall Street, Big Oil and Coal, Government Contractors and demagogues, let's put some 5-year and 10-year plans into place that will give the corrupt, greedy bastards more time to skim their profits from the people - knowing that the feeding frenzy will soon end.