For those seeing this Blog for the first time, this is the 12th in a 24-part series appointing a Virtual Cabinet and creating a balanced sane intelligence-driven budget as a baseline for evaluating any candidate for public office.
There are twelve policies that must be managed together. Inspired by the High-Level Threat Panel's identification and prioritization of the ten high-level threats to humanity addressed in my Tuesday blog (see 10 High-Level Threats to Humanity), I pulled out my copies of the "Mandate for Change" books from the last four presidential campaigns, and came up with this list. Of course there are many policies and sub-policies, from infrastructure to labor to population, but this is my best effort and I hope you find it helpful.
Here's the important part: what might be good for one policy domain is often very bad for other policy domains. A proper government must understand the true costs of all policy options, not only in and of themselves, but in relation to all other policy domains.
By way of example for why we must address all policies together: it makes no sense to allow landowners to sell water aquifers that are part of our national commonwealth, or to allow soda pop companies to empty aquifers for export, or to use water we don't have to grow grain we cannot eat to create fuel when we have natural gas right here, right now. Above all, it makes no sense to subsidize elements of the food industry that are very bad for all of us -- animals for food come with huge water, disease, and fuel costs that have yet to be understood by the public. [For a video on the "true cost" of meat as food, check out The Secret Life of Beef; see also this Duck Duck Go listing of top hits on the true cost of meat.
Below are snapshots of each of the twelve policies and why they matter. In celebration of the new HEALTH section here at the Huffington Post, I am posting this Blog under Health instead of Politics, and below I provide a graphic of how Health Policy must be central to, and in relation to, all ten threats and the other eleven policies, as well as a graphic unique to Health Policy,
Agriculture is historically the most Jeffersonian foundation for our communities and our society. We need to return to local and organic, family and community owned farming, and we must learn from our ancestors across the Americas and practice deep root farming without pesticides. It merits comment that only two sustainable agricultural models exist today: the Amish model, and the Cuban model, both without pesticides.
Diplomacy, in the past sixteen years, has disappeared as a profession. Between politically-appointed Ambassadors (our Ambassador to Sweden under President Bill Clinton paid a mere $15,000 for the job), and the conversion of our professionals into timid messengers rather than skilled observers and interpreters of foreign history, culture, and reality, we have lost our ability to understand, much less influence, the rest of the world. We need to restore diplomacy, restore the US Information Agency (USIA), and create a global information sharing and sense-making network that is multinational and competent in all languages.
Economy is in severe distress from a combination of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) greed; irresponsible trading in derivatives; financial managers skimming a fifth of the value from the stock market while creating the derivatives and sub-prime mortgage meltdowns; and the destruction of unions and export of jobs. We must demand full employment of citizens, local supply chains, disclosure of true costs, and higher wages.
Education is both dysfunctional, and insufficient. The Chinese graduate more honor students than our total high school graduation population. Generation 2.0 is the first that is not like us, with "digital native" understanding we lack. We need team learning, learning to learn, self-paced online, and apprenticeships in the trades and professions.
Energy is central. We've known this since the 1970's, but Congress -- and our Senators in particular -- chose to ignore both peak oil warnings, and the ready availability of alternative energies including wind, solar, hydrogen, sap ethanol and more recently, amoeba, bacteria and termites. A two-way grid, natural capitalism, bio-mimicry, and zero waste are all achievable now. Citizens need to demand, however, that energy policy not be created in isolation from all ten threats and the other eleven policies.
Family is the foundation for any society of faith. We have killed the family in our Republic by allowing the industrial era to destroy cottage industry, family farms, and small shops -- a Wal-Mart anywhere destroys all small shops for 100 to 200 miles around. That's simply not right. Our family policy should enable one job (or two half-time jobs) to support a family, and we should do vastly more to build family-friendly neighborhoods with community centers. Like energy, family should demand a rigorous evaluation of every threat and every policy in relation to its impact on the family now and seven generations into the future. Family is central to the neighborhood, the community, the church, and and the country. It is a necessary first plank that impacts on population policy, health policy, all of our infrastructure and energy arrangements, and so on. As goes the family, so goes the Republic and Earth.
Health is a public good and along with Family, the core foundation for a strong polity that can nurture and sustain a strong population that is balanced across age and capacity. In my view, and tightly connected to the collapse of education and the media as well as the family as a healthy unit, the health of our population has collapsed. Not only is it now demonstrated that 50% of our expenditures on health go to waste, but the cost to society, to the family, and to the individual of poor health is well-neigh astronomical. The figure below illustrates both the four corners of health maintenance or intervention, and the roles that are played by both public information (both in the educational and in the public information commons domains) and government oversight. At a minimum, government can mandate the publication of true costs to society and true costs to heal, and impose taxation while also offering or mandating insurance incentives.
I want to mention three facts central to getting Health Policy right in the long-term:
a) Medicare future unfunded obligations as well as current costs can be reduced to one percent (one percent) of the existing tariffs because we can legally buy all of the drugs wholesale overseas for one percent of what we are paying now (at best. 10 percent of what we pay now is a worst case).
b) Evidence-based medicine is coming to the fore at the same time that our society is beginning to appreciate the sensibility of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and its India-based counterpart.
c) Universal service, for both natural-born citizens and immigrants of any age, is a superb means of baselining the health of the population in multiple ways. At a minimum, it will ensure that the poor receive a complete physical examination including blood work that they would not normally have access to; and it puts all adults at a condition of physical fitness that cannot be achieved efficiently in other ways. The cultural bonding, civic duty, and social responsibility outcomes are naturally very valuable also. In my view, everybody should do boot camp together both after high school, and at mid-career, followed by a voluntarily chosen path into the Armed Forces, the Peace Corps, or the America Corps. Two years of universal service after high school or four years after college, and a mid-career fully-funded "sabbatical," will bring us all back together as a healthier nation.
Immigration is a problem today for two reasons:
a) first, our federal government refused to follow its own prescriptions with respect to the urgent need for a population policy as outlined in Stephen D. Mumford, The Life and Death of NSSM 200 : How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy (Center for Research on Population & Security, 1994). and
b) second, our federal government is incompetent at both border control and at the enforcement of visa stay limits. Latinos (and I am a Latino on my mother's side) are not the problem. By accepting "free trade" and ignoring the true costs of exporting jobs and importing twice as much oil as most realize (half to use here, half to get Wal-Mart high cost low price goods here), we have hurt our earnest blue collar and lower middle class workers twice -- first sending their jobs overseas, and then making it possible for non-citizens to fill lower-paying jobs here in the USA, immune to either employer responsibility or government intervention.
Justice cannot be addressed without understanding that we have three major failures embedded into our economy: we need to release all marijuana offenders to time served and balance in national service with a full paycheck; wind down the prison-slave complex; and eliminate corporate avoidance of liability through the personality clause.
Security is now a global, total, and permanent challenge -- there is no hiding from disease, or toxic fumes or poisoned water or food. The USA needs to sharply redirect funding away from waging war and creating monstrously expensive technical systems (both military and for secret intelligence) and instead move back toward the Common Security paradigm that wages peace, funds preventive measures, and empowers the 5 billion poor with access to free education and cell phones. Such a paradigm would only be successful if all nations and organizations agree to:
a) Share information -- 96 percent of what we need to know is not secret, not online, not in English, and not known to the federal government as it is now trained, equipped, and organized (for Rule by Secrecy & Cold War)
b) Share the sense-making burden (including historical and cultural) in partnership with all nations and all organizations from all eight tribes that I have been writing about since the 1990s: government, military, law enforcement, academia, business, media, non-profit, and civil society including labor unions and religions;
c) Harmonize policies and investments on a transparent basis -- this means both the policies and investments that are made on our behalf with our taxes, AND the policies and investments of all other stakeholders -- foreign governments, corporations, international and non-governmental organizations, and foundations -- in our name, the government should be steering investments by others.
Society in the USA has fragmented. We the People, regardless of who is elected to high office, must demand English as the common language; federally-funded high-quality education across the Nation; and universal service with common fitness training and then three choices: Armed Forces, Peace Corps, or America Corps.
Water! Most of Earth's water is sea water, and most of the fraction that is fresh water is locked up in ice. Less than 0.1 percent of Earth's water is available for human use. The primary obstacle to water desalination, apart from expense, has been energy, but with new sources of renewable energy, including deep water thermals and cost-effective wind and solar, it becomes possible to address this as a global project. Think about what $100 million can buy: it can buy a Navy battleship with ammunition and crew; it can buy an Army brigade with tanks and artillery; it can buy 1,000 diplomats or 10,000 Peace Corps workers; it can buy one day of war over water....or....it can buy a water desalination plant able to produce 100 million cubic meters of potable water a year from the sea, preventing war.
Below is a final graphic, adapted with permission from Michael Crane's The Political Junkie Handbook (SPI Books, 2004). We live and work within a two-party tyranny that has displaced the center. It is my opinion that going back and forth between these two parties will not save us and is very counterproductive. There are 65 political parties in America, and it is my view that there is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by restoring the integrity of our electoral and legislative processes that have been corrupted beyond belief by BOTH parties--"one bird, two wings, same shit." The above policies will never be coherently managed as long as we allow two narrow slices of our great diverse nation to monopolize power and misrepresent We the People. We need Electoral Reform before 2012. Building on Ralph Nader's work, with a nod to Christina Tobin's championship of Open Ballot Access, and with appreciation to Jim Turner, a leading defender of the public interest in the health arena, I have created a "dirty dozen" (13) must-have reforms to be legislated prior to 2012. Absent this reform, 2012 will be a year of implosion rather than a year of Emergence. We must all converge on Electoral Reform as the ONE issue that all 65 parties can support and demand.
Next week I will begin profiling members of the Virtual Cabinet that I named in my second post (see Virtual President Announces Coalition Cabinet) and for each department or agency, three specific policies that I would recommend to whoever is President in 2012. In the meantime, here are several short articles or chapters on the challenge of sane intelligent governance.