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My "Platform"

I have elsewhere at this site given a brief summary of my view of how the world should be. Here I actually put the specifics in the plan of how we are going to make the world what it can and should be. You can think of this as my "platform". When you vote for me for U.S. President     (-:     this is what you will be voting for!

One warning right up front: These things will not necessarily make life easier. We have developed a far too "relaxed" approach to life, in which we depend on diminishing oil and unrealistic hopes for technology to "bail us out", as it has been doing. The fact is that the world is rushing headlong into catastrophe and we are lucky that our ingenuity has managed to help us hold out this long. In order for the human race to continue on any kind of reasonable course that doesn't bode horror for our future we will need to "tighten our belts." This is something that we simply will have to accept and try to do what we can to make the tightening as painless as possible. I refuse to paint a rosy picture when disaster is around the corner.

Democracy and Human Rights

Winston Churchill, among others, recited the well-known quote that "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." The biggest problem with democracy is, in the words of Edmund Burke, "In a democracy, the majority of the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority." The solution to this problem of democracy is to have a firm foundation of human rights. The concept and practice of human rights balances out the concept and practice of democracy to avoid atrocities being carried out in the name of the majority. The first section of my "platform" deals with these two important ideals.

Democracy:

In the United States:

Elsewhere at this site I have set out five principles upon which to base a true democracy in our country. (I live in the United States.) I repeat them here.

1. Elect Good People .

We need to elect people who are dedicated to the concept of democracy, and are not beholden to anyone other than the people of the United States. We want, and deserve, the very best of the best, the cream of the crop, and I don't believe the way that we currently carry out elections produces that. What we need to do is:

Get rid of the electoral college.

Let the people elect the president.

Don't vote for the Republican or Democratic nominee.

We need to break the Two-party system and the only way to do it is to deny the vote to either a Republican or Democrat. Everyone needs to agree to not vote for either the Republican or the Democratic candidate. After all, anyone who does is simply wasting his or her vote. This, of course, is contrary to the common wisdom that states exactly the opposite - that not voting for the Republican or Democratic candidate is wasting one's vote. But we need to realize that either party will just continue "business as usual". It is voting for "business as usual" that is the real waste of one's vote. The following two points will make it easier to do this.

Embrace the internet.

Although I do not normally recommend technology as a solution and warn against undue reliance on technology as our salvation, in this case advances in communication can truly make a great difference. Before the days of the internet is was difficult for non-major party candidates to get their message out there. Not anymore. The internet is the great "democratizer", giving voice to the "little guy". We need to get people to use sites like VoteSmart to intelligently choose a non-major-party candidate.

Establish Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), also known as Ranked Voting.

Instead of voting for just one person, with IRV you vote for your first choice, your second choice, etc. If your first choice doesn't get it, your vote automatically goes to your second choice, then your third choice, etc. You can vote for who you really want without worrying about "wasting your vote" (which, as already stated, is what you would be doing anyway if you voted for one of the two major parties). The current office-holders will not want to do this, since it threatens their privileged positions, but we need to insist.

For more details see my write-up on electing good people.

2. Keep Them Accountable.

Secrecy in government is not to be tolerated. Every elected leader needs to be open and accountable to the public for what he or she does. There are currently laws in place to make the government open to the people, but we need more. We cannot allow government bodies to simply classify as secret any information that they don't want the public to know about. We need to ensure that the only information that is classified as secret is that which is necessary to national security, not to the security of the office holders' positions.

3. Get the Word Out When Things Aren't Right.

When things are not going as they ought to, whether it be due to an elected official's corrupt practices or just poor judgment, we need to get that information out to the people. Our news media does a fair job of this, but we need to demand it do better.

4. Have a Mechanism in Place to Fix the Problem.

We should have mechanisms that automatically "kick in" when it is necessary to deal with a problem. We sometimes set up "ad hoc" committees to deal with issues as they are recognized, and, of course, we have the "ultimate" mechanism of impeachment, and even "more ultimate" mechanism of voting people out of office, but a better system is required.

5. Have a Populace That Will Demand That the Problem Be Fixed.

No mechanism is perfect, and the ultimate safety valve for democracy, of course, is the people themselves. Democracy won't work unless we have a population that is willing to stand up and demand, in no uncertain terms, that things be fixed when they need to be fixed.

Outside of the U.S.:

We should only support democracies that uphold human rights. Why is Saudi Arabia, a country that is far from being a democracy and denies basic rights to many of its citizens, especially women, counted as one of our closest allies in the Middle East? We should refuse to do business with the Saudis until they democratize and recognize basic rights for all.

Two problems: First, we need their oil. At least, we think we do. So we need to get off our oil kick, as I talk about below. Second, how can we demand that the Saudis uphold human rights when we kill over a million of our own preborn children every year? We need to stop killing our children, as I also talk about below.

Unfortunately, our country has a history of supporting dictatorships and undermining people's democratic efforts when it is deemed in our "national interest". We need to recognize and apologize for such actions in the past, and make it clear that we will never do so again, bringing to justice those of our leaders who would flaunt this basic principle.

Human Rights:

Not everyone is agreed as to exactly what a list of "human rights" should include, but in 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights attempted to spell out a list of these rights. This was at least an attempt to set a standard. The rights contained therein were to be held by "everyone...without distinction of any kind" -- the very definition of "human rights".

The Right to Life

Killing people is the most obvious and egregious human rights infraction. Indeed it has been said that without the right to life all other rights don't matter. The killing of children still living in the womb, a process referred to as "abortion", is by far the biggest human rights atrocity on earth, killing 27 times as many people as all other forms of violence on earth combined. This is an absolutely outrageous and unforgivable violence that must be stopped at once. We cannot resort to killing people to solve our problems.

War, by its nature, is another form of killing that constitutes a horrible human rights violation. Although we need to allow societies to have armies and protect themselves against aggression and invasion, we cannot allow them to use their armies for aggression and invasion, such as the United States did in invading Iraq in 2003. We need to learn from the mess that we have created there, apologize for our arrogant and belligerent actions, and promise never to use military aggression and killing as tools to get what we want. We need to abide by the U.N. Charter premise that says, "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force". One of the worst moments in our history was when the Congress gave a 20-minute standing ovation to George H.W. Bush after the first Gulf War. We had just killed thousands of people, and it was considered a cause for celebration. We should never celebrate war and violence. In any case where we truly are forced to go to war we should do reluctantly and with a sense of sorrow and regret for the death and violence that results.

We should stand fast against war and genocide, whether international or intranational (civil war), and demand that all nations respect the peace and lives of both their own populace and their neighbors. We cannot do this unless we ourselves refrain from using force except in self-defense.

The worst weapons of war are, of course, nuclear weapons. We need to stand fast against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and not tolerate their spread. We should not support any nation, such as Israel, which is purported to have such weapons of destruction. We should be as horrified by the prospect of a nation such as Israel having such weapons as we are about a nation such as North Korea. Not a penny of aid to any nation that has nuclear weapons or that refuses to come clean as to their possession of such weapons. Indeed, we should be using all peaceful sanctions and punitive measures against any such nation. In any case where a nation or group has acquired nuclear weapons through the help of a proliferator, we should investigate and determine who the proliferator is and hold the proliferator accountable, including removal of such weapons from the proliferator.

Other Human Rights Issues

Violence in all forms, not just killing, should be abhorred and rooted out. Female circumcision, rape, domestic violence, and all other forms of violence are not to be tolerated. We should be "intolerant", that is, not tolerate violence of any kind.

We should make all effort to eradicate diseases no matter who the affected are. Healthcare should be provided for every person so that he or she is fully able to contribute his or her part to society.

We should not support any country that considers itself to be of one religion, nor should we ever consider ourselves to be a "Christian" or other religious country. Nor do we support any nation that forces its citizens to espouse any specific ideology. We should uphold pluralism and embrace diversity.

We should do all within our power to lift people out of poverty, both in our own country and around the world. This means giving them the tools and skills to achieve.

Corruption in government or any part of society is not to be tolerated. Any office-holder found to be engaging in corrupt activities is to be immediately removed from duty and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Basic rights and freedoms are to be guaranteed to all, "without distinction of any kind", as stated in Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This includes not discriminating on the basis of age, stage of development or state of dependence.

Effective law system to support human rights

An effective legal system is necessary to support human rights. Judges need to be held accountable, as do other office-holders. Courts serve the benefit of the people, not of lawyers, judges or others in the legal system. People have a right to justice, even if they cannot afford or do not wish to engage a lawyer. There should be no expectation of having a lawyer in a legal proceeding. Lawyers should only be used in cases of unusual complexity and should charge rates comparable to those of other professions. Justice for people, not money for lawyers.

The rights of those accused of crimes should never be allowed to take precedence over those of the victims of crimes. We need better laws and procedures to ensure that victims are not further victimized by the legal system.

A system should be set up for "routine" matters, such as a place where people can simply forward emails that appear to be scams.

Marriage needs to be defined. "A union between one man and one woman" is not a definition; it is only part of a potential definition. What is this "union"? I feel foolish that I was once married, and yet I cannot answer this question. However, I have asked plenty of people and have yet to find anyone who can provide a proper legal definition of what this "union" or "contract" is. Indeed, they can't, because, truly and amazingly, it has never been defined! The only thing our government has come up with for a "definition" is this non-definition of "a union between one man and one woman". It is not until we define what this "union" is that we can then say that it does or does not apply only to "one man and one woman".

Environment/Sustainability

It does only minimal good to establish democracy and uphold human rights if we trash the planet in the process. We need to do things in ways that are sustainable and take care of what we have so that future generations will be able to enjoy life on earth as we have been able to. Indeed, we are not respecting the human rights of those that come after us if we destroy the earth's resource base upon which they will depend. When there were only a million or two human beings on earth it didn't make much difference what any of them did in terms of sustaining life on earth. Now that there are billions of us and we have in our hands the power of technology (including the means to simply eradicate all major lifeforms on earth in a matter of hours with our nuclear weapons) we must strive to ensure that we do not ruin it for those who come after us. It is imperative that we live sustainably on the earth, doing as little damage as possible.

There are two main problems that threaten to bring about catastrophe upon our world if we do not get them under control: overpopulation and overconsumption. We need to take strong and determined efforts to being these stresses under control.

Population control

No species or population of organisms can undergo continuous exponential growth in numbers. It is simply impossible and we invite catastrophe if we allow it. The earth's resources are finite and can only support a limited number of people, particularly people who wish to enjoy a high standard of living. We must understand that the benefits of modern society such as increased sanitation, control and even elimination of some diseases, and regular food availability have greatly increased the survival rate of human beings. While many children did not survive to reproductive age in times past, now most children do. While these are great accomplishments that we as humans can be proud of, we have to realize that they have led to a great acceleration in the increase of the population of the planet. We have to realize that if we wish to enjoy these advantages we cannot continue to have the same number of offspring that we had prior to these advancements.

Sex, although good in its own right and something that should be enjoyed, must be seen for what it is - the means of reproduction. Control of reproduction, whether through contraception, abstinence or whatever measures, is absolutely essential if we are not to increase in numbers to the point of outstripping our natural resource base and experiencing catastrophic suffering.

Our educational systems must make this concept clear to all. Our laws should reward those who recognize and live by this recognition. For instance, we should not provide tax exemptions for more than two children per family (replacement rate). Indeed, extra heavy taxes should be assessed on those who have more than two biological children, since they are part of the problem rather than part of the solution. We must recognize this danger, face it head on, and take all measures necessary, short of violence (such as killing preborn children), to control and even reduce population.

Overconsumption/Consumerism

Along with the threat of overpopulation, the other thing that threatens our continued existence on this earth, at least in any manner that we would consider a reasonable way of life, is the overconsumption of resources, driven by consumerism. We need to base our happiness and satisfaction on things other than material things. We commonly measure our economic well-being in terms of our Gross National Product (GNP) or Gross Domestic Product (GDP), that is, how much we can produce. We need to start thinking in terms of how little we can produce and be happy, rather than how much we can produce. We need a different method of measuring how well we are doing. "He who dies with the most toys wins," is not a good strategy.

That being said, we do need to produce and use things. What we use can generally be grouped into two categories: material goods and energy. Of course, the two are not separate; most material goods incorporate a significant amount of energy in their production and distribution. But for our purposes we can consider them separately.

Material Goods

When it comes to material goods, the catch-phrase "Reduce, reuse and recycle" captures the essence of what we need to do quite well. These three terms are stated in this order for a reason. Of the three, reduction is the most important of all. The most important thing is to not produce it in the first place if we don't really need it. We need to avoid purchasing items that we don't really need. We should rent items that are only used occasionally. We can use alternative means to achieve our goals, even if it involves a little more work or inconvenience. The important thing here is education; we need to educate people to value and appreciate that our resources are limited, and to not tolerate wastefulness or overindulgence.

The price of material goods generally do not cover all the costs associated with the production of the item. This encourages overconsumption. We need to place a premium on our natural resources and pay the full value of them, not just what it takes to pull them out of the ground. Our prices for materials should include the environmental costs and reflect the question, "How will this material be replaced when there is no more?" This would probably take the form of a tax on all natural resources to cover the projected cost of moving to that next stage.

The second rule, reuse, is the next most important when it comes to dealing with material goods. We should always use things until they are not usable anymore. Just because something is a little bit soiled or frayed is not an acceptable reason to scrap it. As long as the shoes will still stay on your feet - wear them! If an item is truly not of use to the owner any more, then the item should always be passed on to someone else who can use it. Donating to thrift stores is a good way to do this. The thing that needs to change is attitude. People are proud to always wear nice clothing and drive a late-modeled car. Instead of envying such people, we should scorn them if they are not willing to use things all the way out.

An important thing in regard to reuse is to not produce or purchase "disposable" items or items that are made cheaply that will not last. We need to adopt standards of durability to ensure that the resources that we do use are used to the fullest extent possible. We need to repair items rather than replace them with new items. The problem is that it is often cheaper to replace an item to repair it. This reflects a fundamental flaw in our value system. The problem is that we do not value our natural resources, which takes us back to the previous point. If we valued our natural resources as we should, then it would not be cheaper to replace than to repair.

The third rule, recycle, only comes into play after the first two rules have been thoroughly adhered to. Once we have avoided buying unnecessary items, have purchased durable items and have used what we have until it is completely worn out, then we need to make sure that we recycle whatever we then need to dispose of. Most materials can be recycled, and those that can't be may be able to be recycled in the future. We should recycle everything. There should be no such thing as garbage. For those materials for which we have not developed a method of recycling we should not be using them in the first place. If we do use them, they should not be dumped in a hole and forgotten about. No more "landfills". Any place where we dispose of such materials should be a facility where the materials are placed in such a manner that they can be pulled up at a future time when we do figure out how to recycle them. There should be no such thing as "garbage" and no such thing as "landfills".

When it comes to producing goods, we need to produce them as efficiently as possible with as little impact as possible. We should not allow the production or sale of goods that are produced unsustainably or in such a way as to destroy the environment. We should also not allow the production or sale of goods that are produced at the expense of human lives or health. We cannot allow companies to go overseas in order to get around environmental or worker health standards. And certainly not goods that are produced with "slave labor". "Slavery" can be a difficult thing to define in the present-day world, but we should never allow the sales of any goods that are produced by people who are forced against their will to work, are asked to work under unhealthy or unsafe conditions, or are taken advantage of simply because they have no other options.

Sustainability is the key, even more than "environmentalism". If we destroy the resource base upon which we depend then we have destroyed ourselves. Our agricultural systems need to be based on sustainable principles that protect the soil and nutrients, avoid desertification and do not depend on oil which is running out. It took millions of years for our planet to produce soils that we can use for agriculture. We need to respect, appreciate and value this. Any agriculture that destroys more soil than is generated is not to be tolerated.

Water also needs to be used sustainably. In a world where lakes are shrinking and disappearing, aquifers are being depleted, and rivers are reduced to a trickle or no longer reach the sea it is obvious that we are overtaxing and squandering our water supply. We do not need swimming pools, green lawns, and fine golf courses, but we do need water to drink and to produce our food. We do not need to use gallons of water every time we need to eliminate a little urine. That is simply unacceptable when aquifers are dropping around the world. We can use composting toilets. We need to set priorities and use water sustainably. Instead of continuing to drain our water resources we need to see lakes once again enlarging, aquifers rising and rivers running at least relatively full.

We currently have an economic system that encourages waste and doesn't value our natural resources. We need to account for "internalized" costs, such as protecting the natural systems upon which we depend and ensuring humane and free working conditions. We need to incorporate these costs into the goods we produce in the form of taxes that are used to protect the environment, protect workers, and pay for the replacement cost in the future when we have used up those resources.

In this regard, trade agreements must ensure safe, free working conditions for all people and protection of the environment. We cannot let "free trade" be used as an excuse to rape the earth or abuse workers.

We in the developed world have to realize that those in the developing world have a right to pursue the same goals that we have obtained. We have used our resources (and theirs) to achieve our standard of living, and we have no right to deny them the same opportunity. On the other hand, if all of the developing world were to follow our path and demand the use of resources as we have used them to achieve our level of affluence it would completely destroy our resource base. Therefore, we in the developed world must offer incentives to those less fortunate. We must share our technology, especially that which allows us to be less resource-intensive, in exchange for their agreement to help preserve what is left of our natural world. This is especially important or applicable in regards to energy and, in particular, renewable energy, to which I turn next.

Energy

Energy is necessary for any form of modern living. We would feel very poor indeed if we had to rely only on the energy in our own bodies, or perhaps, on that in other animals. We need energy for heating and cooling, for running mechanical equipment, including transportation, and for producing and processing materials and goods.

Most energy comes from the sun. The exceptions are geothermal energy, which comes from inside the earth, tidal energy, which comes from the moon, and nuclear energy, which comes from the conversion of mass to energy, generally by the reaction of uranium in nuclear reactors. Fusion is another form of nuclear energy that has been researched but, as yet, has proven elusive as a source of energy. The earth's geological plates contain energy also, as exemplified by earthquakes, but this is probably not a form of energy that is harvestable for human use.

The remaining forms of energy available to us are all "solar" in origin, that is, they originated in the sun. First of all, there is direct solar energy, which can be collected as electricity via photovoltaic cells, or used directly for heating. We then have indirect solar energy sources, which include wind power, hydro power and wave power. Lightning from thunderstorms could also be included here, though it is unlikely that we will ever be able to capture the electricity from lightning to do useful work. We then have secondary indirect solar energy in which the energy, originally from the sun, has been incorporated into chemical compounds. These include biomass, biofuels, methane and "fossil" fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas). Finally, we can conceive of another, "tertiary indirect", level in which the energy is contained in and applied by animals, including humans, although this may just as easily be conceived of as secondary indirect sources, since these "machines" are being fueled by biomass (i.e., food).

Our current dependence on fossil fuels must be abandoned. First, it is not right for us to use up all the reserves of this precious resource in just two or three generations and leave none of it to our descendants. We need to treat it as a scarce and valuable resource that has been entrusted to us to care for and hand down to our descendants along with the rest of nature. Second, it has become obvious that burning fossil fuels is increasing carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and thereby changing the climate of the earth. Is the earth warming? Obviously, yes; glaciers and icecaps are retreating all over the world. Is it human caused? We would suppose so. We have measured carbon dioxide concentrations for decades and they have been rising steadily. Why? Is there any other reason to explain this phenomenon? Do we have any reason to believe we can pump all this carbon into the atmosphere and not expect it to have an effect? Do we have the right to conduct this huge environmental experiment on the world's atmosphere and leave the results to our grandchildren? Absolutely not!

While there is no set of environmental conditions that are "right" for the earth, there having been both significantly warmer and significantly colder periods of time that preceded ours, changing the climate will only cause conditions of stress that we, along with the other species on earth, will have to try to adapt to. Adaptation is hard. It is painful and entails suffering. It is not right for us to inflict such suffering on future humankind (or other kinds) just so that we (at least some of us) can live lives of comfort in our own generation.

The move toward the use of nuclear energy must likewise be abandoned. Besides the horrible risks entailed by such energy production, as exemplified by Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, it is simply not right to use this substance for a few decades of comfort, leaving behind a waste that will be dangerous to succeeding generations for thousands of years. What kind of people would do such a thing to their descendants? Barbaric! Also, we must note that at current use levels, the known reserves of uranium on earth will run out even before the reserves of petroleum. Trying to solve our energy problems using nuclear power is sheer lunacy.

Biomass and biofuels can contribute minimally to furnish our needs, but as our agricultural system is based on oil, this is not likely to be a significant help. Also, biomass generally belongs back in the soil to nourish it, not being burned and released to the atmosphere.

This leaves us with the "renewables": solar, wind, hydro, wave and geothermal. (Note that hydrogen is not listed here, because hydrogen is an energy carrier, like electricity, rather than an energy source.) If we continue to use our oil and uranium at the current rates, then in a matter of a few decades, or perhaps a century, renewables will be the only resources left from which to draw energy. We need to invest in and develop them now and put them to use before we use up all the oil, rather than waiting for the cataclysm to hit when the oil is gone. Hydro power has been already extensively developed, so this leaves geothermal, solar and wind, and possibly wave if the technology can be developed, to be counted on to generate our needs. We need to rapidly develop these resources; they are really all we have. This means developing technologies to overcome the main shortcoming with three of these sources - their intermittent nature. We simply must do it.

In this vein, we need to stop subsidizing oil. We should never subsidize any industry that is non-sustainable. Any subsidies should only go to those practices that are solving our problems, that is, directed toward sustainable technologies.

There will always, however, be more needs or wants than resources. Especially when the oil runs out and we are forced to rely on renewable sources of energy only, we need to learn how to use less, not just produce more. Energy conservation needs to be top priority. Heating and operational efficiency needs to be of top priority. We cannot allow people to live in poorly insulated homes, burning up unnecessary fuel. We need to enact very stringent standards of efficiency for heating homes, for transportation vehicles, for industrial processes, and everywhere. But we also have to reassess our "needs". There is a huge and murky "gray area" between human wants and human needs, but we certainly don't need a 4,000 square foot house for two people to live in, with its requirements for heating, cooling and electricity. We don't need to heat our homes to 72 degrees in the winter and then cool them to 68 degrees in the summer! We don't need to cool our houses in the summer at all. It is a comfort that we enjoy, but we will have to decide whether we can and are willing to do what it takes to have that comfort. If it means the entire mass of the earth covered with wind turbines, then perhaps it is not worth it to have that comfort. And, of course, reducing our use of material goods reduces the amount of energy required to produce them.

Having said all this, what we really need to do is to simply stop burning oil. What will generate the will to fully develop renewable energy will be to simply remove fossil fuels from the picture.

What we need to do is make a decision between what we think we need to satisfy our needs and what we are willing to put up with to satisfy those needs. If we want to use huge amounts of power we may have to put up with a wind turbine or a solar array on every acre of land across our country. If we don't not want that, then we have to decide what it is that we will live without. We must live within our means. Oil will no longer allow us to live outside them. We can power our transportation with electricity from renewable sources, power and heat our homes with electricity from renewable sources, even power most of our industrial processes with electricity from renewable sources, but we may not be able to do as much of it as we want. We will have to balance needs and set priorities -- and we will have to tighten our belts. We need to encourage public transportation and non-powered transportation, such as biking and walking (and even skateboarding). Resources, energy or otherwise, are not infinite.

We need to save our oil for emergencies. There may come a day when humankind just has to have that resource available. There are or will be uses for which no other alternative can be found. Oil should be used for those purposes only. We should save our uranium for use in outer space. It is far more reasonable to use this resource for the incredible amounts of power that would be needed to reach the speeds necessary to travel in space, than to waste it here on earth. If we use it all up we may be forever stuck here on earth.

We cannot keep on recklessly using and abusing our resources. Paul Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb in 1968, and, in spite of his warnings, we have managed through technology to continue to produce enough food to feed the billions of people on earth. Advances in technology have allowed us to feed people, generate power and produce more material goods. There is a tendency among many to think that, because we have been successful in using technology to stave off disaster so far, we will always be able to do so. No gamble could be more foolish. Technology will not save us; at least we cannot depend on it to do so. The fact that we have avoided catastrophe so far doesn't mean we will continue to do so. To risk our grandchildren's future on the assumption that it will is a bad risk. It is irresponsible and cruel to do so.

Our educational system must instill sense of responsibility to the future. We need to train our children and ourselves to look with disfavor on wasteful practices. We must stress the limitations of our world and our responsibility to avoid suffering in the future.

Related Points

Extinctions have been a regular and normal part of the process of life on planet Earth. However, we currently live in an age of extremely rapid extinction and loss of biodiversity as a result of human activity. The rate of extinctions is alarming, possibly surpassing the extinction rate in any of the mass extinctions that have taken place on earth, such as the Permian extinction in which ninety percent of species were lost. The difference with the current extinctions is that they are not natural; they are caused by the deliberate actions of one species on earth whose responsibility it is to ensure that no such mass extinction takes place. We do not have the right to decimate the lifeforms of the earth, and it will be to our own long-term detriment if we do so. It is our responsibility to preserve the biodiversity of the earth.

This means that we need to prevent environmental degradation and ecosystem loss. We have done fairly well at this in our own country (the U.S.), but we need to be diligent to ensure no further loss of ecosystems. We also need to take the appropriate actions to help prevent ecosystem loss in places that do not have the environmental controls that we have in our society. As mentioned previously, we should not allow goods to be sold in our country that have been produced in ways that either cause environmental damage or endanger people's lives or health.

A major driver of ecosystem loss is climate change. As already mentioned, it is clear that human impact has led to climate change and will continue to do so if we allow it. It is difficult to predict the "good" or the "bad" of these changes, but change is always stressful and not only causes suffering for ourselves, but is a strain on the ecosystems and the other species of the earth that are already undergoing an alarming rate of extinctions. We must reduce or even eliminate all of our pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions.

Other:

Move toward science and reason

It has been hundreds years since the founding of modern science and since Magellan proved that the earth was round, and yet the majority of our population still professes to believe in superstitious beliefs such as God or gods. Our educational system should require a strong grounding in the sciences, and every high school student should be required to take a critical thinking course. Children should be taught to question assumptions and continuously urged to consider why they believe what they believe.

Sexual education should also be a required topic for children entering their teenage years. Such education should include an understanding of sexual actions and physiology, but also the role of sex. We need to understand that sex, regardless of whatever enjoyment or other benefit we might get out of it, is the means of procreation. Children need to appreciate the advances that humans have made, but understand how they have led to an increase in population and exponential population growth and recognize the need to control reproduction. Youth need to learn the problems associated with sexual activity, in particular, spread of communicable diseases and the possibility of pregnancy. Since the sexual process is "designed" to lead to reproduction, students need to have an understanding of the results when such process is "successful". That is, they need to understand and appreciate prenatal development and understand the reality of what abortion does. No person should engage in sexual behavior without an understanding of the natural results of that behavior. Our educational system needs to assure that understanding.

Our news media also need to inform us properly. We need to demand a responsible media that gives us a true understanding of reality. The lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq is a clear example of how the media trumpeted what the powers-that-be told them without asking the hard questions that were necessary to truly analyze the situation. Similarly, the media ignores the reality of the killing that is taking place in abortion facilities across our country, focusing instead on the controversy surrounding the issue. While the media loves to focus on controversy, we need to demand that they report the facts, no matter how unpleasant they are or how much we might prefer not to face them.

Paying for it all:

Doing all this will not be easy. Yes, we need to "tighten our belts". It will make life harder, and most people think that life is already hard enough. However, we do not have the right to trash the earth and leave nothing but impoverishment to our descendants. We cannot just take, take, take and not worry about the consequences and those that come after us. We have to act responsibly.

There are things that we can and must do, however, to make this less painful. First of all, everyone needs to pay their taxes. Instead of viewing taxes as an obnoxious burden, we need to see them as the way we work together to make life better for all. We need to eliminate loopholes. Everyone pays taxes on however much they earn, period. There are no deductions, exemptions, tax write-offs, etc. However much you make you pay taxes on according to the rate determined by our graduated tax system. It doesn't make any difference how you got the money - from laboring, from investments, from capital gains, whatever - you simply pay the taxes on the amount that you make. We will have to set up a scale that is sufficient to ensure the revenue that we need, but the scale should go from zero percent for those making less than a very minimal amount, perhaps $10,000 per year, to probably at least fifty percent for those in the top income ranges. It is appropriate for those who make more to pay more. No one who is rich got there by going out into the wilderness and carving out their fortune by their own individual efforts. Anyone who has prospered has done so by using the economic system that we have in place. Those who make greater use of that system pay a greater share to support it. This is fair.

Churches also need to pay taxes. No longer do we give a tax break to those who promote superstition.

Most of all, we need to recognize that money is not something to be "played with". It is to be used to measure value - the value of each person's contribution to society and the value of all of the things that we use and consume. The "Great Recession" of the late 2000s was brought about by people "playing" with money - manipulating it to gain its value for themselves when they did not contribute something to society of value to get it. This devalues the money, which devalues the efforts of the people who produced it. We need to ensure that money is only used to measure value and not allow it to be manipulated by those who wish to take advantage of the system. The system is good. We have a monetary/economic system because we benefit from it. What is bad is when people manipulate the system for their own advantage.

We need to eliminate deficit spending. There is absolutely no need for this. Deficit spending comes about as a result of manipulating money. We get nothing by "spending" more than we take in. Borrowing does not somehow create resources that are otherwise not there. By refusing to pay for what we want and borrowing, we just indebt our children needlessly. We allow the money holders to manipulate money to create false debt. We need to decide how much we want our government to provide for us and simply tax that amount, using a graduated tax system.

Relatedly, we need to stop allowing "riders" to legislation, otherwise known as "pork barrel" spending. Any legislator or congressperson who insists on doing this should be removed from office.

Everybody works - at least everybody who wants and is able to. If a person can't find a job then the government will provide one for him. This will be at a low rate of pay to encourage everyone to seek employment in the private sector, but anybody who is willing to work should be provided a job. There is always something that can be done, even if it is only to sweep the streets. A system to pay people in this way who are working on their own new ideas, so that innovation can be attempted and encouraged without risking "starvation", should at least be explored.

A balance between socialism and capitalism is to be achieved. We presently have both, and we should continue to have both. Neither should be regarded as bad or unwanted. We just have to draw the correct balance. We need capitalism to reward and encourage innovation and advancement and socialism to make sure no one "falls through the cracks". We can and must have both. The goal is to achieve the right balance that accomplishes both of those goals.

Summary

To summarize, these are the basic "planks" in my "platform":

We need promote and uphold democracy both in our own country and abroad. To promote democracy in our own country we need to (1) elect good people, (2) hold them accountable, (3) get the word out when things aren't right, (4) have a mechanism in place to fix the problem, and (5) have a populace that will demand that the problem be fixed. In regards to point (1) we need to stop voting for the Republican or Democratic candidates for office, and we need to institute Instant Runoff Voting. Abroad, we should only support democracies, not dictatorships.

The "balancer" of democracy is human rights. We need to firmly stand for human rights for all, and, in particular, demand and uphold the right to life for everyone at all ages, all stages of life and all degrees of dependency. We cannot kill children just because they still live inside their mothers' bodies. Abroad, we must support only those nations that uphold human rights.

We need to respect and follow the U.N. Charter's promise to "refrain ... from the threat or use of force". We use military force only in self-defense.

We need to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. We should never provide financial support to any nation that spends its resources on acquiring such weapons, and we need to hold accountable those who spread these weapons.

We should not tolerate violence of any kind.

Health care should be provided to all.

We need to uphold pluralism and embrace diversity. We should never support any country that demands that its citizens submit to any specific religion or ideology.

We do not tolerate corruption in government.

Everyone should have access to the legal system. There should be no expectation that anyone needs a lawyer. The courts are for the people, not the lawyers.

The rights of criminals should never take precedence over those of victims.

Marriage need to be truly defined.

We need to act responsibly to protect the earth for future generations. We do not have the right to provide for our own needs and desires without regard for those who come after us.

We need to control the two main drivers that threaten our continued existence: overpopulation and overconsumption. We need to take all steps short of violence to control population growth. We absolutely need to stop the increase of population.

We need to severely reduce our consumption of resources. We need to have disdain, not envy, for those who display profligate consumption. We need to educate people to not tolerate wastefulness or overindulgence.

We need to "reduce, reuse and recycle". We need to institute policies that and educate our youth to reduce our consumption of resources.

We need to incorporate the real costs of goods in the price, including the environmental and resource replacement costs.

We need to do away with disposable items and establish standards of durability.

We need to make it cheaper to repair things than to replace them.

No more landfills. Everything should be recycled (after being used and reused completely). We should not be using materials that cannot be recycled. We need to eliminate the concept of "garbage".

We should not allow goods to be sold that are produced through "slave" or inhumane labor conditions or in a manner destructive of the environment. Trade agreements must not be allowed to subvert these principles.

Agriculture needs to be practiced only in ways that preserve the soil and its vitality.

Water use needs to be reduced. No more flushing our wastes away. We need to recharge rivers and aquifers. No swimming pools and golf courses as long as our aquifers are dropping.

We must share our technology with the developing world in exchange for them preserving our resources.

Energy conservation is crucial. We need to institute the highest standards of efficiency, but we must also change our living habits. We have to reduce what we perceive to be our needs.

We need to stop using oil and other fossil fuels, or at least only use them in very minimal amounts for those purposes for which there are absolutely no other alternatives. We need to instead supply our energy needs with renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal. It is wrong to use the oil all up and leave nothing for the future. It is wrong to carelessly pump carbon into the atmosphere and leave our grandchildren to deal with the consequences.

Nuclear power also needs to be ended. It is wrong to leave this danger behind for hundreds of generations to deal with.

No subsidies for fossil fuels or other destructive or irresponsible activities.

Our education system needs to instill a sense of responsibility for the future and a distaste of wastefulness.

We cannot allow ourselves to be mollified by the assumption that technology will save us. Although technology can be of great help in the process, we cannot count on it to "bail us out". It won't.

We cannot simply use the earth and its resources however we wish. We have responsibility to those who come after.

We need to end the mass extinction event that we have started. Just as we have no right to destroy things for our grandchildren, we also have no right to destroy the other lifeforms on earth.

We need to base our assessment of well-being on something other than what we can produce and consume.

We need to move away from superstition and teach our children to think critically, challenging assumptions.

Sex education should be provided, including knowledge of prenatal development and the reality of what abortion is.

We need to demand that our news media provide us with the information we need, not just focus on controversy, and they must dig into and challenge information that is handed to them by authorities.

We must accept that we will have to "tighten our belts". We can no longer continue our free ride based on oil.

Everyone pays taxes for the full amount earned - no exemptions or other deductions - according to a graduated tax system. Churches, too.

Money should not be allowed to be manipulated. Money should only be used to measure value.

No more deficit spending.

No legislative riders.

Everyone works. Government provides low-paying jobs for those who are unable or unwilling to find jobs in the private sector.

We strive for the best possible balance between capitalism and socialism.