Modest Proposals from the G.I.A.T.How to return America to American values of democracy, liberty, and minding one's own garden instead of spying on and imprisoning one's neighbor? Glad you asked! You are welcome to borrow or steal, unattributed, the following ideas, generated by the Think Tankers from the Global Institute of Alternative Thought, generously funded by myself and staffed by 1 person. Of course we borrow and steal ideas too. Here's what G.I.A.T. recommends over the next few months to save the world. In fact, we believe that these modest steps, absent any revolution, represent the last best hope before the end of civilization as we know it:
1. Ban Christian Marriage. A new social movement to B.C.M. from the grassroots. In the 11 states that voted to ban gay marriage, citizens form political action committees to put measures, proposals, and propositions on the next election ballot stating the illegality of any marriage license issued for the following indentities:
a. fundamentalist christians
b. born-again christians
c. evangelical church members
d. anyone who actually liked Gibson's _The Passion_.
Ah, but will this be allowed by any constitution, you ask. Smart question -- the answer is No. Eventually every such proposition will be rejected, often even before reaching the voters, since it will be declared absurdly unAmerican and unconstitutional. This raises exactly the point, the critical point that banning marriages cannot be part of American politics. Those state laws that were passed will thus most likely be questioned and repealed on this sudden legal awakening. Call it a dose-of-your-own medicine strategy if you like, but the new BCM movement will revitalize the meaning of American democracy.
2. Deport Theocrats. The foundation of this nation, devoted to the Jeffersonian "pursuit of happiness" does not grant bigots the right to impose their religious beliefs on others. Those citizens who insist on this unAmerican practice should be deported to Pakistan, where they can practice theocratic patriarchy with the best of them. The GIAT proposes that "Bon Voyage" be printed on their deportation orders. The GIAT nevertheless warns against excessive enforcement of theocratic deportations. Citizens have the right to express theocratic opinions, and to voluntarily join patriarchal churches. However, whenever theocracy is foisted onto the American legal system, the perpetrators should rightfully be deported.
3. Terrorism. American voters who feel safer today than 3 years ago voted for Bush, while those who feel more endangered voted for the only available alternative, Kerry. This choice is based on systematic disinformation from TV and talk radio (see "Media education" in item 5 below). As a way out of this wholly false situation, the GIAT recommends an international solution to the Palestinian problem, a situation that requires American cooperation and even leadership. We also recommend that secret security forces in Pakistan be paid a sufficient reward and promise of US immigration in exchange for turning over Osama bin Laden to face a fair trial at the Hague. Following this historical performance of the World Court, the GIAT calls upon the US and remaining Islamic militant organizations to negotiate a truce, while respective demands are negotiated. Meanwhile, the US covert agencies responsible for funding the rise of Islamic militants in Afghanistan should be held financially responsible for the resulting destruction of life and property, according to civil suits. Finally, war crimes such as torture, lethal attacks on journalists and hospitals, massive bombing of civilian populations, and secret detentions, all of which have been encouraged by US officials, viz. the Secretary of Defense, should be tried in an appropriate court of law, following the precedent of the Nuremburg Trials. Taken together, these steps will substantially reduce the trend toward terrorist attacks over the past 40 years.
4. Deconstruct the Democratic Party. This party is damn near hopeless, having betrayed its only strengths in the name of moving closer to the so-called "middle" in a country that is far more rightwing than anywhere else outside of Argentina and Austria. Democratic Party members must call for sweeping resignations and a thorough overhaul of the party structure, probably including a name change. Heads must roll after such an embarrassing failure. Those who don't have the common decency to resign will have to be pushed out. The GIAT calls for an emergency congress of the D.P. to dramatically alter the power structure from within the party. The new agenda and structure should be formed by the membership itself.
4.b: Reconstruct the Republican Party. The GIAT calls on Republican party members to do the same. Any party that encouraged Bush to win twice has got to find some way to overcome its historical guilt. We recommend that consultants from Germany's postwar programs to confront historic war crimes be brought into the Republican party to let the healing begin.
5. Media education. Much of the disinformation circulating in the U.S. has created a monster of irrational decision-making based on illusions and propaganda. The GIAT calls on all universities that grant degrees in journalism, communications, and media to either shut down or reform their programs. Journalists in the future should be hired from the ranks of those who have earned a degree in higher education, (a.k.a. science, humanities, sociolgy) not in the "vocational discipline" of communications. The GIAT likewise calls upon the federal bureaucracies that regulate media to move quickly toward reversing the historic trend toward the monopolization of information. Democracy without communication is impossible. The GIAT fears that this step will not be optional for the revival of a defunct American democracy.
6. Public education. The USA should fully fund its schools, equally in every community. The content of the curriculum should follow the broad consensus among the educated about what counts as fact vs opinion in the fields of biology and history especially. Ideals of reasoned debate based on evidence should be fostered in practice. Illiterate students should be held back until it is clear that they either are literate or should be placed in alternative vocational programs. These basic ideas are indeed ideals throughout most of America, but the ideal is seldom realized due to a lack of public will and funding. The GIAT proposes that the new funds be reappropriated from the military budget, a budget which grossly exceeds that of every other nation in the world, often by a factor of 100.
7. Energy reliance. The GIAT recommends "A Thousand Points of Light". Energy generation through appropriate technologies of wind, geothermal, wave, solar, hydrogen (albeit experimental) should not be centralized but rather distributed at all levels, so that every home generates more power than it consumes, recycling power into the national grid. That this is technically feasible is well-known. That it is socially feasible is a matter of political will. The GIAT recommends a systematic shift toward tax incentives and federal funding toward this goal. The basic shift here would relieve the US military from having to occupy foreign oil producing countries, thereby saving money to instead fund our schools.
8. N.G.O.'s: While the State maintains the old monopolgy on violence (see stats on strength of U.S. military), taking back the State with a popular uprising is a long shot. The GIAT doesn't recommend this. As of November 6, 2004, the potential remains for the FBI to challenge the widespread cheating during the election by Republicans; but given that most of the judiciary is more conservative than an anal retentive grandpa, this challenge would take about 23 years to wind its way through the courts. Thus the GIAT instead recommends that citizens support, join, and form more powerful coalitions among the NGO's. (If you don't know of any NGO worth joining, please write to us for a long list.) The international civil society has seen a positive trend gaining steady strength over the past 25 years, centered on NGO's. These have had small but significant success in challenging both State and corporate injustices.
9. Global Climate Change. This is a veritble "no brainer" and hardly requires the assistance of any think tank, much less from one as prestigious as the GIAT. We all know what must be done, with the single exception of the President. The GIAT therefore recommends going over his head. See NGO's above for how to do so.
Further information, brochures, and interviews with GIAT fellows can be obtained by request from email@example.com