The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

If I were president, continued...

a) Terrorism and National Security
b) Iraq/Afghanistan  (doing good and getting out ASAP)
c) The National Debt
d) Health Care
e) Energy Consumption and the environment
f) Civil Rights (addressing the principles in the  Covenant)/Constitutional
rights as well
g) Katrina/preparing for disasters in general  all kinds
h) Education
i) Drug Enforcement/re-think the war on drugs
j) Immigration

So, these are the areas I’m going to offer opinions on.  You guys can then tell me where I’m an ass.  If I was actually president, I would also ask you  to list the smartest people you know in these arenas.  If I have no personal opinions about who might have the expertise, I would get in touch with the people mentioned most often, and ask THEM who THEY think the  smartest and best people are.  Those mentioned most often, once again, are asked to come to a symposium, to discuss proposals and ideas. Those who interact most fluidly, and with the least ego, get invited to join my  team.  I will make up my own opinions, after hearing what everyone has to say.
My first proposal was to reinstitute the draft, and to roll back taxes.  The one comment re: the draft that really hit me was that an all-volunteer army is actually more efficient.  If this is true, it would influence my decision.  This is why I need smart people with specialized knowledge.

I do not equate a draft with slavery.  Indentured servitude, perhaps.  I personally would have no problem with tying the right to vote to some kind of public service: military, teaching, Peace Corps, forestry service, WPA…something.  But I’m not putting that proposal on the table, and please remember that I am admitting to my ignorance and inexperience UP FRONT.  So we have the first proposals for my experts to debate and educate me upon.

More on terrorism and National security.
I don’t buy the “we’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here” argument.  To me, that’s like saying “let’s swat flies in Montana so we don’t have to swat them in Texas.”  Just specious reasoning, based on the idea that there are a limited, pre-existing number of terrorists. I think this is REALLY bad thinking.  For America to be secure, we need both a lethal, willing military, and policies of fair-play and contribution. We need a world community united in a common vision.  There will always be terrorists, just like there will always be bank robbers. The trick is to have a world fair enough that the sanest and most competent potential terrorists have no  rational motivation for wanting to hurt us, leaving only the loonies.  Frankly, I  think Bin Laden had motivation—the removal of an American presence from Saudi Arabia.  It boggles my mind that sane, rational Americans will argue for Saddam’s involvement in 9-11, and ignore the vastly greater connections to Saudi Arabia.  Arrgh. 

So my proposal has to deal with Iraq, which, were I a Muslim, could easily be seen as American imperialism and incompetence, evidence that America is a rogue nation that needs to be taught a lesson.  Let me have a parent or sweetheart killed in an American raid, and I might be willing to strap on dynamite and walk into a mall.  It’s possible.

Set a deadline for leaving Iraq.  Tie it to a specific number of trained Iraqi brigades meeting a specific standard of readiness.  Have the process of training and evaluation as transparent as possible.
If this is a war, Americans should feel it.  I keep my draft and tax proposals on the table until my experts convince me otherwise.
Institute a CRASH program to wean American autos from fossil fuels.  Huge prizes for entrepreneurs who develop ways to adapt existing cars to ethanol or liquid hydrogen, and more for people who can demonstrate safe ways to produce and ship such alternate fuels.  I mean a “Manhattan Project” type program, total energy independence within twenty years.
Rebuild Afghanistan.  Make THIS our showpiece of democracy and possibility
Rebuild our international reputation.  Frankly, I don’t believe the threat of terrorism can be addressed by having the biggest, baddest hammer on the block. Sometimes, you need a screwdriver.  In this instance, you can’t do it with  the most Yang, masculine approach alone.  That seems to be what this administration is trying to do.  It will also take a very, very serious commitment to nurturance of relationships and a sense of worldwide connections.
Here’s what I think: we are in the last days of the Nation-state as we understand it.  Another generation or two, and nations will mean about as much as the difference between California and Kentucky.  Organism and social structures continually strive to re-integrate at higher and higher levels of complexity.  That’s evolution.  It is obvious to me that in some undetermined period of time (a few hundred years?  A few generations?) there will be one world government.  The trick is to make that transition as pleasant as possible, and to ask ourselves what kind of government we want to see.   I’M NOT SAYING I LIKE THE IDEA. I’M SAYING I THINK IT INEVITABLE.  There’s a difference.  Terrorism can either be effectively combated by  such a world government, to it can frighten us into giving up our liberties to a crushing, brutal world dictatorship.  We have to ask ourselves how that transition would best take place, and stop pretending that the past will equal the future.

So…those are more proposals placed on the table.  I’m sure some of you will think me a moron.  Fine.  My ego is less important than the future of our children.  So…hack away, tell me what you think, and we’ll have more imbecility tomorrow.

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