BY VERN TURNER
Let’s begin with some positive solutions to existing and future national problems and issues. We can examine the negative stuff later, not the least of which is the image and appearances projected to the world by the unfortunate accident that produced Donald Trump’s presidency. There is a pattern associated with societies that failed after centuries of great success. But the United States is not yet a failed state or society. Let’s see what we can do to reset our priorities to retain our civilization and its accomplishments.
It’s probably too late to slow or reverse the trend in climate change. We’ve crossed a threshold where the changes will cascade and reinforce once another for centuries to come. Our behavior and commitments to preserving enough of the environment to keep humans fed is critical, however.
First, we have to slow our procreation way down. There are almost eight billion of us and, with each new net gain of one person, the Earth will have to bear another 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide and waste. Nations must wink at their religious constraints [a repetitive theme here] and promote contraception. As a liberal person, I am pro-life. I am opposed to terminating pregnancies except in dire needs cases. I am for prevention of unwanted lives and reproductive diseases. That means I am for organizations like Planned Parenthood who provide those services for mostly poor people.
That said, I am also for eating and adequate food supplies for everyone. Today, around two billion humans are food insecure or starving to death. Overpopulation, poor agricultural habits, environmental changes and peculiar religious dictates all contribute to that number. Oh, and the rise in ocean levels is inundating even more croplands around the world, to say nothing of threatening the expulsion of about 60% of the humans who live along the world’s coasts. With fewer humans, it will be more manageable to find new homes for those displaced people in the near future. Already, low-lying areas like Bangladesh and Miami Beach, FL are experiencing high water issues. There’s more to follow.
Next, let’s commit to renewable energy in as many areas as possible while we still have the fossil fuels to fuel the manufacturing of the needed conversion devices. Things like wind, solar and hydroelectric power generation must become the main electrical providers. Even putting water wheels in streams and rivers can generate electricity. We must also commit to car battery re-charge stations based on the propane tank return system now seen almost everywhere. Since car battery life is limited to 200 miles, or so, having these swap stations everywhere – like our current gasoline stations – would spike the use of all-electric vehicles and their subsequent sales and manufacturing. These things will create millions of jobs at all levels.
Education in the United States is beginning to show the consequences from decades of neglect and overt parsimony from the public. We simply cannot continue to underpay our teachers while we’re underfunding our school infrastructure. We must stop the dreadful waste of money and resources associated with high-stakes testing. We must increase curriculum vigor in all subjects and lengthen the school year so that the children will have time to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills for which we send them to school in the first place.
Under-paid teachers simply cannot survive in today’s economy and have a life that is conducive to their teaching excellence. They should be treated and paid as if they were the professionals they are. Teachers unions are not the problem. If it weren’t for teachers unions, such as they are, we wouldn’t have any teachers at all.
It is counter-productive to the continuation of our culture and society to undercut the best idea we’ve ever had: educating our children, en masse, and for free. We pay taxes, of course, but the key is for everyone to pay a little so that all are benefitted.
This same thinking applies to health care. We cannot have the society we want if our people are sick, injured and bankrupt. When people have to work extra just to pay their medical bills, their quality of life suffers in all other areas.
All other industrialized nations have universal health care for their citizens. They decided to invest in their people instead of yet another aircraft carrier. Unhappy, unwell workers do not produce as well as happy, healthy workers.
This dichotomy has been with us since the invention of economics. The “managers” of production have always exploited the labor required for the products, be they agrarian or industrial. The trick is to minimize the disparity in life quality through wages and benefits. To call an earned benefit an entitlement is not only wrong, but also counter-productive and stupid. Anyone falling into that definition trap has an agenda that is mostly centered around themselves.
The world of humans is basically an armed camp. Religious wars lead to international wars which lead to world wars. Ideology and religion are often misused and abused to create friction and exploit the most ancient mind of humans, the tribal mind. The tribal mind is programmed to fight and to kill anything and everything that threatens the existence of that tribe.
But this is 2017, not 200,000 years ago. We have made the conscious decision to make weapons of mass destruction including those weapons that can end all life on Earth if let loose. Instead of realizing what we’ve done and putting the genie of doom back into its jug, we’ve advanced those weapons as a way to foist one’s will upon someone else. Maybe I’m getting old, but this human operating philosophy is more than just the metaphorical MAD [Mutually Assured Destruction] doctrine, but a true gape into the maw of our own extinction event.
All great societies have done some things that led to their demise. The Mayans built elaborate canal and irrigation systems that fed millions. They engineered sewage systems and cities of sprawling dimension – all before there was hard metal tooling. The Egyptians did the same thing. They were in synchrony with the Nile’s seasons and were able to feed millions. They built colossal structures on the backs of slaves. The Romans basically took their lessons from the Greeks and built a fantastic civilization and conquered much of the known world for centuries before their self-inflicted economic fallacies finally weakened to the point where others just marched in and took over. They just couldn’t keep affording the expense of constant war and conquest. There’s a lesson the United States needs to remember.
These failed societies had one other main thing in common. They were generally monotheistic societies. But when the religions took over policy-making, the practical solutions to problems ceased and the societies failed and collapsed. They Mayans made human sacrifices to appeal to the drought gods instead of building more cisterns and irrigation systems. They failed. The Egyptians took it upon themselves to assume their leaders were, in fact, gods. The caprice of those “gods” led to a self-absorbed leadership that weakened the society to the point of collapse even before the Romans took over the management of North Africa.
The United States avoided the mistake of European nations in making a state religion. Instead, we allowed the practice of any religion as long as it didn’t advocate the overthrow of our form of government. With so many people using and abusing their religious pulpit for this or that issue these days, we should be thankful that we do have so many voices of faith. If We, The People were subject to the edicts and fantasies of Pat Robertson or Michelle Bachmann, we would experience mass insanity instantly. But we are a fee country with a Constitution that allows us all to make fools of ourselves without necessary retribution unless we harm someone else. That is a good thing. But to use faith as a substitute for pragmatism is a huge mistake.
Betsy DeVos wants her version of God taught in the public schools where there are multiple religions among the students. Why would she do that when there is so much else to be done regarding the education quality of our children? No, that’s not why she was hired by this administration. She was hired to destroy public education and install for-profit education for the elites who could afford private schools. This is a canary in the mineshaft moment.
Scott Pruitt wants all environmental regulations taken off the “extraction” industries, including the lumber industry. He also has been hired to open up our precious national parks to drilling, mining and logging. Another of the common factors in the demise of societies was that they cut down all their trees. It is the job he was hired to do by this administration. It is another canary in our mineshaft.
One of our most enduring traditions is Boy Scouts of America. So, how is it that our current president felt compelled to cast aspersions on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton at the Boy Scout Jamboree?
This is typical of our president, we are discovering. He lacks grace, compassion, ethics, veracity and decency in every area known. Canary in our mineshaft …
He is also consorting with our enemies in a shameless display of hubris, disrespect for the defenders of our nation and the people who work hard every day to keep us safe and secure. This president will throw us all under the Russian bus if it suits his pleasure and he can build another goddamned hotel somewhere.
Well, the canaries are falling off their perches now. They are asphyxiated with the poison gas of lies, incompetence, counter-productivity, more lies and perhaps treason.
Personally, I fear that this president will feel the heat of his crimes and plunge us into perhaps our final war just to deflect the attention from his illegal, unethical and corrupt acts that harm us all. We must stop this terrible direction before it is too late.
– Vern Turner lives in Marble Falls, TX and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism, is available through Amazon.com.