Election and Critical Life Issues – 2004 and Beyond
We are two weeks away from the 2004 election. I recently read a news report that a recent poll shows the presidential candidates to be dead even following John Kerry’s superior performance in the various debates with George W. Bush, while other polls show Bush to be ahead despite his dismal performance. Actually, I have difficulty thinking of those character assassination events as debates, for nothing useful is debated. They are sorry and demeaning pissing contests, unworthy of the time of any thinking person. A debate, in the formal sense, has a central subject and both sides argue for different goals relative to that subject, presenting arguments of substance, not hollow slogans. Poll results will fluctuate a lot prior to the election, due partially to the "debates," but ultimately the voters will decide (maybe), and a decisive number of them are not represented by the polls. Alas, many who could vote won’t. During the two weeks prior to the election other events and engineered situations will support further character assassination and provide nothing useful from which to make a decision.
It is too easy in the present environment to get caught up in the issues argued, however poorly and superficially, and to fail to think about long range consequences to the citizens of the USA and those of other countries. In short, tactical election issues while important now do not address longer range strategic considerations for where we want and need to be ten years from now, in economic, quality of life, education and security areas. It is the linkage of the present ugly realities of our world to desirable future realities that is most important and that is the reason for writing this article. We have a critical need to respond strategically in creating our future regardless of who is elected as president.
Why is this so? If true, isn’t it always so? I have a short list of issues and trends that I will share with you, along with future conditions of reality that can occur depending on the paths we do take. Think of my challenges as a simple example of presence of mind … when presented with high-risk situations most of us think twice and show good judgment. The problem now is that too many of us do not even realize the seriousness of the local and global economic and security issues, and thus we do not perceive ourselves to be in a high-risk situation demanding our personal good judgment. It is too easy to dump the burden on Washington and look the other way. I believe that behavior to be suicidal at this moment in history, for we are now in a crisis in multiple areas.
One might argue that we have had crises of one sort or another throughout our history, and that today is different only in specific subjects and not in categorical considerations. There is truth in that assertion. There is also an implicit assumption that having weathered previous storms we will deal with the present as effectively as we dealt with past serious issues. Taking a very broad view of our past 200 years one can rightly claim that we have survived all challenges to our existence and wellbeing. The problem with that view or perception is that we tend to look only at the generalities of the results and not at the price paid or the efficiency or fairness of how objectives were met. We may also have exceeded our limits.
Another way of looking at the broad view of our history is to consider how we have evolved. Societal issues change through time and there are key transition points that demark fundamental change in how we will have to live our lives. In short, quality of life is as important as physical security, and to be intelligent about the present and the future we have to understand our larger evolutionary changes and test them against goals for the future. Yes, it is inadequate to be reactive instead of proactive. Yes, we need a national plan to grow our people and to be good stewards of our land, and we need to be a contributing part of a global plan for the development of the future for the entire human race.
Thus, I think it wise to list both our present and longer-term issues, and to question what we are doing considering both timeframes to achieve economic health and physical security. We also need to examine other critical issues relevant to our future, like education and the use and development of new technologies. In each area we need to ask the following questions: Is what we are doing sensible? Is what we are doing efficient? Is what we are doing moral and ethical? Are we failing to address fundamental evolutionary changes locally and globally that could undermine our future? Are we continuing on a path that repeats the worst parts of human history?
Well, it is pretty obvious from my words above that the tactical issues that comprise our election debate subjects are only part of a much larger and critically important iceberg of current and pending issues whose resolution will determine the future of Humanity. I do believe that all those issues are the domains of government, business, education and religion. It is a matter of figuring out how each group is responsible and how they must work together to the common good. Let us begin …
Items of top priority include but are not limited to: 1) Energy, 2) Internal economic strength, 3) Internal security from terrorism and crime, 4) External influence in stopping war and terrorism, 5) External influence in controlling global population, 6) Tight immigration control, 7) Major improvements to our educational systems, 8) Control and removal of excess wealth for individuals and corporations, 9) A strategic plan for using the fruits of genetic engineering, 10) Political process changes to curtail monetary influence on legislation via lobbying and contributions, 11) A strategic global development plan for the world as we want it to be fifty years from now, considering the environment, population, health laws and the ability to grow the gross capability and good will of Humanity at large.
A few of the above items are part of current presidential debates. Most are not. As always, it is the things we fail to think about or fail to address that put us in a bad way. Worse, some of the real problems and reasons for some of our external actions cannot be addressed openly for fear of enraging people here or elsewhere in the world. Oil availability and price is a major example.
Let’s take the issue of energy first. We have a physical infrastructure and a culture in the USA that demand abundant and inexpensive energy if we are to avoid a serious decline in standard of living. Unlike food, energy must mostly be imported from other oil producing nations. We have no ability, now or in the future, to become energy sufficient in petroleum based on our natural resources. Nor can we curtail our use of petroleum fuels until we have alternative types of energy that are practical on a large scale. This means the very continuance of the USA demands oil in massive quantity at a price that will not destroy our economy. Thus, one aspect of our foreign policy is to assure oil availability, no matter what has to be done to get it. That includes military adventures to control oil-producing regions of the world.
In short, you will never hear our leaders talk about this necessity relative to what we have done in Iraq, or how we try to control politics in Venezuela, or compel Mexico to provide cheap oil to receive our investment capital to employ Mexicans. Behind the scenes and behind the rhetoric about evil dictators and democracy our leaders are doing what they believe necessary for our survival. That is the real reason for our being in Iraq now, and that reason cannot be acknowledged publicly or we would be rightfully treated as international terrorists by the rest of the civilized world.
One of our obvious problems has to do with oil consumption by China. The price for a barrel of oil has risen from about $36 to $53 very quickly, and that reflects the old tenet of capitalism regarding supply and demand. Oil producers are making us pay dearly for the fact that they now have another very large customer willing to pay higher prices. Thus, the issue of energy is what is really behind our military and political adventures. Worse, we don’t appear to have a practical alternative available in the next ten to twenty years.
The seriousness of the energy problem is major, and our leaders have no choice but to force other nations to provide the oil we need, else we perish. If you think through the problem you will realize that nothing short of a technological miracle can pull us out of the fire, for we simply cannot exist without abundant and cheap oil, at least for the next five to ten years. There is no valid alternative. There is no choice.
At this point you must be wondering about my statements and conclusions about energy. In the past I have railed against the dishonesty of the Bush administration in forcing us into war with Iraq, through previous articles. How can I now be saying that we have to do what we are doing? It turns out that the knowledge of our dismal and worsening oil situation has been common knowledge for at least ten years. My position in Destiny was to force development and use of alternative energy on a massive scale, and I wrote about that six years ago. What have we done since that time?
Yes, we have failed to even get started using alternatives to oil. In just the short space of those six years we now find ourselves unable to control world prices, with continuing bad news on the horizon. This means that I realize the physical necessity of our current pursuit of oil, but I am most displeased that we find ourselves in such a sick condition. That is the fault of our leaders, and now you have no choice but to support international crime, with us as the criminals, unless you are ready to accept us becoming a third rate nation for lack of cheap oil. I do not know what the consequences of our behaviors will be going forward in time, but I can assure you that we will be punished, economically or militarily or both.
I railed against further use of nuclear energy to produce electricity in my book, Destiny, because of the environmental considerations. Now, we appear to have no valid alternative to bridge the gap between our current infrastructure and a future of alternative energy devices. This means, for instance, that such things as electric heat become sensible if we generate electricity from nuclear power plants in massive quantity. Yes, nuclear energy is likely to become a stopgap alternative to help us use less oil. Yes, we have excess nuclear material and the ability to make more. That means we will be using electric cars, trucks, etc. Most important, it means we will not be using so much oil.
We developed nuclear submarines for military purposes, and that technology can be used to power regular shipping. Air transportation is a different matter, and to be blunt we need to reduce air travel by 80%. High-speed trains have been and are the answer, and yes, they can be and are powered electrically.
Internal Economic Strength:
What is internal economic strength? Think about the USA in the historical time period from 1800 to 1900. We were basically isolationist. We fought off the British in the War of 1812. We fought our own Civil War. We expanded our use of low population territories. We developed technology from scratch. We exported nothing of consequence and we imported almost nothing. We grew by leaps and bounds with virtually no involvement with the rest of the world. We were self-sufficient.
That reality spoke to what can be true when a country is blessed with great natural resources, inventiveness and high motivation. So we were. We also had a need for expanding population and no entitlement programs. What about today? For starters, let me remind you about our oil dependence. Then, lets think about a few precious ores from South America, Africa and the Far East. Then, lets think about the things we don’t make anymore that have been given over to Japan, Germany, China and other countries, purely for "economic" reasons.
No one has said that we cannot make everything we need, except oil. No one has said that we must participate in a world economy to survive. Our international adventures have been politically motivated in our quest to become the be all and end all of world leaders. What a stupid mistake!
We can have all the internal economic strength we want. But somewhere along the way we have to give up our delusions of global grandeur, which are not shared by anyone outside our borders anyway, and we have to get past our energy dependence on oil producers. That is no small challenge, but it is, nonetheless, achievable. We also have to control the size and composition of our population and eliminate entitlement programs of all types. Control of the flow of wealth from the USA to developing nations, in the form of investment capital, must be stopped cold.
How? One required action is to reduce our driving and our flying. We must use mass transit nationally. We must use electronic technology and the Internet to work from home. How many of us must be physically present in an office or factory to do our jobs? Sure, doctors, industrial workers, truck drivers and chefs must be there. In all likelihood you could do your job from your home, provided you had the infrastructure to communicate flawlessly with your direct business partners and your customers. We are well along in making that a reality. Commuting to work in an automobile is stupid for about 80% of us.
Do we need more people? No. Our population needs to decline. Do we need immigrants? No. They have nothing to offer that we cannot have internally based on our needs now. We are not the expanding labor hungry nation of 100 years ago. Do we need to manufacture for all our needs? Yes. Do we need the rest of the world’s output? No.
Our historically strong economy was not founded on exports. It resulted from being internally sufficient. Our balance of payments problems were and are a direct result of trying to drag other nations of the world along in the pursuit of capitalism and, presumably, democracy. Are we in a good place now? More to the point, what does the future look like if we continue our present course?
The best of parents figure out when the time is ripe to cut the apron strings. It is timely for us to internalize and allow developing nations to plot their own futures and risk their own hazards. That is what being adult is all about. We are not daddy or mommy to the rest of the world. They owe us nothing and if we continue to depend on them they will own us. We do, however, have to make certain that they don’t exacerbate the global warming problem that we have created.
Internal Security from Terrorism and Crime: (to be continued)