Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Plan for Change

I posted this to the Obama transition team that was looking for people's visions for America. Surprisingly, I have yet to get a call from Mr. Obama about my ideas. Maybe after getting my post on his blackberry in the middle of the night and reading it several times shouting "Eureka!" at the end, he is too busy implementing it as we speak!

For too long the USA has been threatening and carrying out violence on the world through economic policies, military policies, and lifestyle choices that treat the world as a giant marketplace and seek to dominate the globe for supposed noble reasons of democracy, prosperity, and opportunity. It is time for this to stop. The United States should close its 700+ military bases worldwide, unilaterally disarm its nuclear weapons, radically cut defense spending, stop being the number one worldwide provider of arms to the world, stop the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, voluntarily clean up depleted uranium, pay, forgive, or renegotiate war reparations to Vietnam and other countries with an acknowledgement of aspects of our nation's misguided, oppressive and violent legacy. Then, ensure that no government money goes to covert war making through CIA or other programs. Our new national defense will be non-violent.

In this vein, international trade deals like NAFTA and corporate agreements with US companies must come under radical review in light of a new initiative that the US must launch with the UN, WTO and World Bank--to remake the crashing global economy into one that works for local areas so that the web of international goods shipment contributing to global warming and social unrest can be shut down. This would include land reform, farming initiatives, and ensuring local food and basic commodities. The aim is to disentangle the United States from the heights of the global economy as we see it today, with a responsibility to the rest of the world to coordinate this initiative with them for the planet's benefit. Decentralized energy like photovoltaics and wind power must be emphasized in this effort. The message is: we can no longer live on this planet like America has encouraged for the past 60 years, and must work together to change this urgently. Once again, we must face and acknowledge the aspects of the US's recent history that have encouraged this terrible and self-destructive economic behavior.

The average American must be a part of this project--no longer can we have unlimited cheap gasoline and cheap consumer goods. The new local economics will be a hard adjustment for some, but with luck, the social fabric that has torn over the past decades under our current decadence and hubris will on the whole provide people with quieter, slower, more humble, and far more satisfying lives. Making this a national priority would help those struggling with these issues feel part of something bigger and allow the propagation of wonderful alternative energy techniques and local businesses and would also allow a new entrepreneurship based on these global priorities to flourish.

This shift would bring us closer to Thomas Jefferson's ideal of America than we ever have been--a nation of fiercely independent farmers and small businessmen. We have no more time to lose, we must reverse the trajectory we have been on up to this point. I think that there will be significant resistance to this from the entrenched powerful. But, I believe that the American people would love to take part in such a daring and honest national direction. With good leadership, people would, I think, recognize the neccessity of these changes and would find meaning in the attempt, even if it should fail. These are not radical changes, though they may seem so to some. They are simply a long overdue maturing of the United States from the misspent and violent adolescence into a necessary recession, an exile based on self reflection and a spiritual reform from sins of the past.