Category Archives: Needs and Government

14 Things Everyone Needs From Government

Originally posted May 29, 2011

In The May 16, 2011 issue of The New Yorker (an especially fine issue even by that iconic publication’s standards), a Pakistani storekeeper doing business in the neighborhood where Osama had been hiding, says he doesn’t care about that particular struggle, or any other fight going on in the world. He doesn’t want weapons, he says, he wants “light, water, health and education”.

Most people everywhere would echo those words. A huge percentage of the history of the world being written every day, and a huge percent of the money spent each year, is tied up in competitions and power struggles going on over our heads. The people with power are shaping the lives we must live, and we appear to have zero control over that reality.

We the People

We live in a democracy, we like to think the world’s best, and certainly the world’s first in modern times (thinking of Athens in the Golden Age as USA-like in a very few respects). We vote – those who still feel it makes a difference or that we would be cowards not to try to make a positive difference. But that’s just it: more than half of us have given up voting, mostly because we are sure that there is nothing we can do that makes any difference whatsoever.

Robert A. Heinlein once mentioned a scale plotting the strength of an individual’s will (and so the probability of that individual’s survival) where the lowest point is named apathy. Giving up, believing that one has zero control, is the very definition of apathy.

Each of us has the potential to move the world. I have seen a little bit of this first hand, in a small microcosm of the Earth called the advertising business. I set out to change it and have already made some markups on it.

Moving an industry takes vast effort every day and is worth it. I recommend it to everyone. Just figure out what would make it better and cautiously make tentative suggestions for a few decades and see what happens.

If one person can change an industry, then with a little bit of gung ho cooperation among a bunch of people, it should be possible to change the world.

And now we’ve got the Internet. When I first started thinking about what were called “online services” in the late 60s, the word “democracy” just kept popping up in my head all the time. I saw webcams becoming a part of a new type of social television – something which I am sure will happen at some point in the sequencing of media revolutions still to come.

I hoped to be one of those bringing together positive thinking, socially aware advertisers as sponsors with similarly aware networks to create a new screen programming, totally interactive and melding Town Hall with Delphi techniques, to actually influence the thinking of politicians, and to provide a platform for bringing forth inventions and ideas from the entire citizenry to public attention at large.

I reasoned to myself that even just based on the people and ideas I knew were available, the programming would be entertaining and super informative and would garner a huge rating. People like Norman Cousins, Eric Sevareid, Walter Cronkite and Jimmy Carter, to name just a few, gave positive feedback to some of these ideas, and kept me charged to continue another step in the journey. And then another. I continue to this day, and hope you will join me in the co-creation of democracy social screen programming.

Taking a step back, there is another matter, another toolset we will need along the way. Taking some share of screen audience each day to play a game of running the world, and actually having impact, that’s one thing. But will it go far enough? What are the root causes of the ills we’re trying to cure?

They come back to the need for evolution of the minds of the people at the top. Those who are having the biggest effect on history. They are still getting into wars like the petty kings and dukes of yesteryear. They have not mentally, emotionally, and spiritually evolved far enough to rise above the emotions within that cause them to get us into wars.

So whatever kind of Television/Internet (I have been calling it “screen” to cover all screen media – yes, even cinema) we create, no matter how many great ideas we bring to light, the people who control our lives will only move inches and not miles per year as a result, unless we can get into their heads and make the necessary adjustments. And before we can say this justifiably, we have to get into our own heads and make sure of our own motivations.

If we act out of pride and self-aggrandizement, we are right there with them. Only by taking the long view and the big view – that we are grateful to the Universe for having us, and we want to give back in that spirit by taking care of as much of the world as we can nurture – only by being ourselves nobly motivated can we help make the shift at the top.

This is what I call psychotechnology. It is the subject of my books and videos, which are designed to get the reader/viewer to objectively look inside and consider certain adjustments to get into a higher, more effective state of consciousness.

With psychotechnology and new media we can change the world for the better. It will not be easy nor quick. But it would be cowardly and apathetic to shy away from the task. Let’s do it together.

Impressed by the words of the Pakistani shopkeeper, I made a straw man list of 14 things we should expect from our government. I started where he started and added the rest by stream of consciousness. What you see below is how it came out, not in any systematic order yet.

Of course safety (protection) is on the list, and people who know me know of my great respect for our military. I am not against defense when I write about the need to wind down on wars. I have given many workshops to the military over the years and have met great-hearted and super intelligent people there. People who glom onto psychotechnology without a moment’s hesitation.

I didn’t put protection on the top of the list because, if we do our job right, within a century the world will be run by highly evolved human beings and the need for protection will gradually move down the list. So it came out near the bottom because I was thinking of the future ideal state – the one our children’s children’s children will inherit. Alas it cannot be removed from the top of the list yet – a sad statement about the leadership of the world in general.

That is not a blanket statement about all of the world’s leaders. I think we have some of the smartest – yet they need to look inside to better resolve their emotions into more Solomon-like action reflecting true wisdom.

The following list, being a pro forma, contains items some of which really fall into the bucket of another item on the list – “A Good Economy” would give us many of the others. But for the people who have not, it is worth spelling out even if duplicative.

The list in itself is something we can refine over the next hundred years. Meanwhile let’s get to work on building the screen superhighway through which democracy will flow healing ideas into the minds of those at the control switches.

14 THINGS EVERYONE NEEDS FROM GOVERNMENT

  1. We need Light
  2. Water (clean, please, including oceans)
  3. Health
  4. Education
  5. Clean Air
  6. A Good Economy
  7. Jobs
  8. Fair Pay
  9. Fair Costs of Living
  10. Safety (protection)
  11. Facilitation of Individual Development (I would put this one on top)
  12. Freedom
  13. Democracy (sharing of control)
  14. Equality

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers.

Originally posted 2011-05-29 06:56:15. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

What is it that is tearing us apart? MONEY!?

Volume 2, Issue 31

At least it isn’t anything important like hatred — there’s still hope for us then. Obviously money is what has brought the two major political parties into greater animus than I can ever remember existing before.

The Republican Party insists it will not back legislation that adds any tax burden to the rich, but instead wants to close loopholes. Why not do both? Unacceptable, is the hard line taken up front. As if there is something in principle wrong about asking for help from the most able at a time of crisis?

Undoubtedly the hard line rests instead on the idea that swollen government is the main problem so it must be starved.* Or maybe there’s another explanation that would make sense if explained to me.

A long dispute means that both parties are wrong.

— Voltaire

 In our last post we wrote about creative compromise. The kind of creative compromise that we need to make in the tax domain is exactly where we draw the line between “the people with enough money to do more” and “people who make a decent living but whose retirement is by no means certain”.

One nicety that has already come to public awareness is that of small corporations — where the proprietors are filing taxes combining the business with the personal — which makes these individuals appear to be wealthy. There should be a way to word the legislation so that mistake does not happen. Jobs will not be stimulated by heavier taxes on such folks.

Not sure that $250K/year is any kind of magic number that signifies ability to pay more taxes. That’s the top 4.2 percent of taxpayers. However, in our October 25 post I shared the IRS stat that the top 0.1% received 7.8% of all U.S. income in 2009. Maybe we don’t need to come all the way down to include 4.2% of taxpayers to accomplish our goals of deficit reduction and investment in America’s future? Perhaps it can be just 1%, and perhaps we can offer psychological inducements, by encouraging investments as we’ve discussed here many times.

If the government budget contains too much money for people who need that money for survival, we cannot take it away from them — we need to use that money to retrain them, another idea you’ve heard here and elsewhere.

The need to take from the rich and give to the poor is a good idea from the standpoint of making the whole country an even greater success, but only if it is a temporary idea not a way of life.** Hence the importance of training people or even investing in their family business rather than just keeping them on subsistence existence of no value to themselves or others.

Robert A. Heinlein wrote a utopian novel called For Us, The Living  in which he projects a future where the government prints and gives us all the money we need. The idea came from economist C. H. Douglas in the 20’s — he called it Social Credit. When the Depression came it was actually put into being, in 1935, as the economy of Alberta, Canada, with Douglas as the economic advisor. It never had a chance to succeed or fail because it was shut down by the courts — i.e. for ideological reasons, without letting the experiment play out.

Farfetched ideas like this need to be given careful consideration by economists. I invite any economists reading this to post their comments in answer to the following question:

If the U.S. started doing Social Credit and people within the U.S. were fine with giving and taking these dollars from each other so hyperinflation did not occur domestically (though foreign trade would be hard hit), could the country do just fine using only its own resources or what further refinements in such an idea would make it workable and desirable to all?

Sure, I know it sounds like Communism. Heinlein admitted the same but emphasized that it does not stifle individuality the way Communism does. People in his story are independent, do what they want to do with their lives, and tend to wind up not being takers but instead giving greater value to others.

What if we did a test? Only do it as an investment, and only to those people who show a plan of what they intend to do for that money, with a diverse nonpartisan board or Internet voting to decide which plans were worthy of backing. We could budget for a million households as a test of the idea. If people knew they had so high as about a 1 in 100 chance of being selected, a lot of people would be motivated to write plans of what they would do with their time for their own enjoyment and the good of others — if only they had enough money to pay their modest bills. It would focus us all on positive solutions. Since it would be an investment, the money would be repaid in the normal way that investors recoup. If the idea worked, it could be rolled out.

Another crazy idea scenario for economists to play with and form into something workable: forgiving all debt every 50 years starting now. Leviticus in the Bible advises that every 50 years mortgage debt is to be forgiven, which was called a Jubilee Year. Economists could run computer simulations or whatever would provide a trial-and-error feedback mechanism to tinker this advice into potentially workable models.

Again, whatever we do has to be done domestically first (and test-piloted) because the idea of getting the whole world to do something radical with money seems a bit over the top. If the hunch that the U.S. needs to experiment monetarily on its own is right then it has to be built into whatever strategy we creatively and unifyingly come up with in the days ahead. Now is the time for creativity and consensus building, not for naysaying. We are hard up against it.

But we shall prevail.

Best to all,

Bill

*”Starve the beast” was an idea first promulgated by Republicans in the late 70s and 80s. “The beast” refers to welfare, Social Security, and Medicare, and does not usually refer to spending on the military, law enforcement or prisons (per Wikipedia). You might find this Forbes commentary of interest:
http://www.forbes.com/2010/05/06/tax-cuts-republicans-starve-the-beast-columnists-bruce-bartlett.html

**Although CEO compensation has skyrocketed off the chart while average wages are flat, and this in itself appears to be a prima facie social ill.

Tom Paine, Viral Marketing Pioneer

Pamphlets from hand to hand were a mainspring of the American Revolution.

Who was Thomas Paine, the writer of Common Sense, a single pamphlet that changed the world, and The American Crisis, a series of pamphlets that widened his reach and influence still further?

He was also involved in the French Revolution. A serial revolutionary.

Using clear common language to reach the common man and woman. Using shortform media with pass-along capability. The act of passing was endorsement from a disinterested party: the most powerful form of advertising and/or propaganda and/or idea promulgation.

We consider our own media to be far ahead and yet no one has really used Digital to change the world for the better as profoundly as Tom Paine did, working with the other Founders. Perhaps there’s a clue.

Inspired by Paine, June 10, 1975 (back in the days when I was Wild Bill) found me in the back of a station wagon en route to Washington DC on a self-assigned mission to employ the Paine methodology within the highest ranks of our own government. In the car was a box of reports called “A Plan for America: Report to the President and Domestic Council”. The report’s author was listed as the Human Effectiveness Institute (then called something else).

No one had ever asked us to deliver such a report. (Hence, Wild Bill.)

Our plan was to pretend to be delivering a report that had to be distributed at the beginning of the meeting of the Domestic Council, which the news had reported would be convening that day in the White House to deep dive into domestic problems existing then (similar to the ones existing now) — budget problems, jobs, inflation.

In the back of the station wagon I sensed the spirit of Tom Paine. Guess he wanted us to know that he “got it”.

My friend RR was the sometimes-actor, sometimes-writer who would carry out the actual contacts with guards to get the report inside. His mood was cheerful and excited and he did not seem nervous at all. He was dressed as sort of a messenger except for his battle-scarred short leather jacket.

My colleague Ina was driving and was in similar high spirits. She made first contact at the gate of the White House, and was told that the meeting was going to take place at the Executive Office Building. She got directions and we headed to the new location.

At the Executive Office Building, RR had no trouble getting himself and the box inside and X-rayed. He was gone a long time while we waited in the car. It crossed my mind that perhaps they have arrested him and we’re next, though I did not mention this to Ina.

He came back in an obviously high mood and let us know, “I got into the room.” Turns out someone took the box from him once he was in the room with the President and other recognizable figures and ordered it distributed, whence it was slit open and a copy placed in front of each personage. Before he had to leave he saw that a couple of people had picked it up and flipped through it before the meeting started.

In the following weeks we received letters of thanks from President Ford, Mrs. Ford, Ted Kennedy, Walter Mondale, George Wallace, Carl Albert, Senator Charles Percy, Birch Bayh, Donald Rumsfeld and many others. That was better than getting arrested.

What was in “A Plan for America” that generated gratitude letters?

While covering many areas, its focus was on developing the people resource.

This is still our recommendation today.

Our 300,000,000 Americans, if properly led and organized, could be the most powerful team the world has ever seen.

It is in all of our interest to think this way and to get to that “team” state.

We are not talking about submerging individuality but rather the exact opposite: developing the individual’s talents and innate desires in order to deliver the highest value, the highest social good and the highest ROI. Adding to the net value of the Universe.

In 1975, the first page of “A Plan for America” said:

There will be many Future Plans to discuss. Each Future Plan will be based on a particular way of stating our national purpose.

This Future Plan states our national purpose as follows:

TO BRING OUT THE BEST IN OURSELVES.

This is the way to state our national purpose if the object is to inspire and unite the people behind a common goal they can see themselves participating in and enjoying.

This is the new promise we propose AMERICA make to each of her people:

I, AMERICA, WILL HELP YOU DISCOVER WHAT YOUR UNIQUE HIGHEST POSSIBILITIES ARE, AND I WILL HELP YOU ACHIEVE THEM.

This was the proposed platform for communicating the Plan to the people, and to other countries. It was also the driving and focusing idea for the specific mechanisms recommended later in the Plan. Developing people and plugging them in. A tweak on “pursuit of happiness”, a bit more methodologically specific.

Whereas “pursuit of happiness” as the summum bonum (highest Good) or ultimate goal describes a targeted end state, “developing people and plugging them in” describes a means to that end state.

Visions of what defines happiness are all over the lot — hedonistic, amorous, comfort-oriented, and especially security-oriented — and often after a moment’s reflection one realizes there is no meaning to life unless one is working at something one loves that is ultimately of some perceived value in the eyes of others. Our happiness depends on this as much as on the conditions listed above being met. Work, love and play must all be optimized, as echoed by the Qabala, Freud and Maslow among many others. Leave out the work and you will not be happy.

All of us can continue our life’s work until the very end. Here, I am using the word “work” interchangeably with “purpose” and “mission”. I’m not talking about the work you do for money but rather about the work you would be doing if you had your druthers. The system has not made it easy for most of us to get to our ideal work. This is the first thing to fix. Digital offers efficient means for massive movements to be set in motion in this regard. Governments have been slow on the uptake to use Digital for anything more than tax forms and getting elected. The whole bureaucracy could be shrunken and would perform better by leveraging Digital. At the same time, the people no longer needed for some government jobs need to be efficiently plugged in where they can do the most good for themselves and others. It is a people development and redistribution optimization equation.

Page 2 of “A Plan for America” described two scenarios side by side. In Scenario A, the June 10, 1975 meeting changes nothing — the Domestic Council is business as usual, unemployment and inflation worsen and drag on, other nations surpass us, we become insecure and thus even more concerned about security, and backbiting increases. In Scenario B, in the June 10 meeting the President and Domestic Council decide to announce a vision of the future based on the philosophy of the Founding Fathers (especially Jefferson), in which each American can see himself/herself playing a real part, beyond being a cog in the machine. The people become reinspired and they reunite behind the goal of developing themselves to their highest capacities. All of the specific issues are then approached and individually solved with knowledge of that overall goal in mind.

It appears that since 1975 we have been following Scenario A.

There is still plenty of time to shift to Scenario B.

Page 5 of the Plan looked like this: 

 A Plan for America U.S. budget

What we are saying is that government needs to efficiently come to an understanding of the highest performance that might come out of each individual on the huge American team. Without Digital the very thought would be laughable. With Digital it’s doable.

Then the education/training and in some cases resources the individual needs must somehow be delivered to him/her in a way that is economically sensible to everyone. This again is an equation.

The thing about taxes is that the current system is hugely labor intensive and invites cheating. Meanwhile far vaster pockets of wealth are sitting around nearly dormant, producing value only for the hoarder (earning interest) who clearly is the last person that needs it. Rich people have started coming to their senses and philanthropy has voluntarily increased. This is a trend that ought to continue. People with more money than they need should find sustainable ways to invest that money in people — starting with their fellow Americans. In the next few years I hope rich people come up with hundreds of ideas to invest in people in ways that make sound business sense. I would bet that every single one will involve Digital.

Just as a pebble in the pond, to get even better ideas started, here is one.

BEST PLANS

A Digital Destination in Virtual Reality

Scenario: a rich person or corporation or grant-giving organization — or a group of all these types — creates a new website similar to Worlds.com and Second Life — or in one of these virtual worlds. If you’ve been there you know: you choose an avatar to represent you, and then you go where you will, speak with whomever you like, and can buy and sell things using virtual money. (Neal Stephenson’s latest novel REAMDE is based on a cyberspace in which the virtual economies blend with the real economies of the world.)

Now picture (perhaps you have seen it) the TV series Shark Tank, in which investors decide whether or not to back entrepreneurs based on their business plans. Now translate that into virtual reality. What have we here? A way of test marketing business plans with virtual money.

The idea would be a process by which to organize and optimize — entertainingly! — the investing of billions of dollars into a new mutual fund called BEST PLANS. The fund invests across entrepreneurial opportunities that have scored high in virtual reality pretests — many people bought their product or service and stayed with it and the process was profitable in getting enough people to spend enough virtual money to pay the people doing the virtual jobs and still turn a tidy profit.

Just a for-example.

Again, readers of this blog are a hand-picked lot because of your minds. We have every confidence you can think of better ideas than this one to reoptimize the work we each do and the way we find our jobs and the ways of compensation so that the tweaked system is better than ever before. Why not let your daydreams drift in that direction and see what happens?

Thank you in advance for sharing your daydreams.

Best to all,

Bill

NOTE: Comments are disabled for this post only – temporary glitch – back to normal on 11/13

 

A Founding Father Reincarnates

What If?

Consider this post to be metaphorical rather than something we are proposing is possible. Of course, neither is it impossible, based on the current state of science.

Picture a day like all days, one day in the near future, say around the start of election season.

Out of the blue, there on television, as you flip the channels in your living room, is what looks like an actor made up to look just like George Washington, sitting there talking to a well-known TV journalist.

You take it off mute just for a moment out of curiosity.

The journalist is asking, “Mr. President,” (your eyebrows raise as this is a serious journalist looking serious so perhaps this is not a Saturday Night Live rerun you missed) “why have you waited so long? The USA has been in trouble for quite some time now and many of us are suffering more than we like to admit.”

“Had to pick the time of course,” Washington says. “It had to be a time where one of us could make the difference,” apparently referring to the Founding Fathers. “This is the right time because there is no choice anymore. We stand a good chance now and if it does not work then all has been in vain.”

“You’re speaking of the national debt I assume sir?”

“More than the current trillion or so of debt — what about the going-forward annual shortfall, the budget deficit?” Washington asks “We are looking at tens of trillions over the next decade even if we arrest the course and set things straight. It’s got to get worse before it gets better. That’s the hard part. Americans don’t like hearing about that.”

“Sir, can you tell us what you would do?”

“Yes sir I can, that’s exactly why I’m here. Without stringing it out, first we have to stop blaming and start thinking of new out-of-the-box creative ideas for the underlying problems. These ideas need to be studied carefully without rejecting any out of hand based on opinion alone — what has happened before, factually, if something like this has been tried, computer simulations, even in-market tests in small areas. Secondly we have to work out the economics carefully in advance so that we speed up the inflection point where we start to see the debt being paid down and the people getting back some fairly basic amenities like jobs and good schools.”

“Is that it?” The journalist actually blushes at what he’s just blurted. “I’m sorry sir, I do not mean any disrespect. But surely it’s going to be a lot more complicated than that?”

“I thought you fellows invented sound bites?” Washington quips and smiles for only a second then his face turns serious again. “Of course it’s complicated. I’m just trying to lay the keel first. If we don’t know the main ideas we will never get the details right either. The key is to be objective and to have solidarity with one another, and to think out of the box, because none of the ideas we have generated thus far are going to do the job, and we all know it.”

“In the green room you seemed to be making solidarity the overarching principle,” the journalist commented.

“It is. Think about the word ‘union’ and its derivative ‘united’. The United States of America. Closet mystics that we all were, we dreamed secretly that one day there would be a United States of Earth. Just as the Temple at Jerusalem was to be a temple of all religions, The USA was to be a land to serve the whole world; to be the seed crystal from which Unity would ripple out.

“Now,” Washington goes on, “all we see on television is that the two parties are at each other’s throats. Of course, that would be the first stage after denial — anger. But as we often said back in the day, we’re just wasting time now trying to blame it on somebody else. Let’s get on with the solution. Every day we waste time this way we are investing in future suffering.”

The journalist interrupts “But sir, isn’t part of the solution to find the guilty?”

“‘Let him or her who is without sin cast the first stone’, as Jesus wisely said,” Washington gently notes. “We are all a little guilty aren’t we? There is a grey area between tax shelters and gaming the system. Once you see that you have even a little bit of ‘taking advantage’ in your own behavior, how can you continue to be so mad at those who were sucked even further into this direction by a system that was fundamentally not thinking out the details clearly enough.”

“Sir, I don’t understand.”

“The system was designed to be perfect, to operate perfectly, with checks and balances and a built-in self-learning method called the legislature. The only thing we didn’t think deeply enough about was how ignoble motivations could derail our ideas. There weren’t a lot of ignoble emotions among us back at our nation’s dawn. We were as babes in the woods in that terrain. We didn’t foresee how the system could be made to operate poorly to the extent that individuals were seduced by ego, power, money and sex. We could have built in even more creative controls if we had those insights back then. But it is not too late now. We can fix the dream machine so that it works perfectly —” Washington cuts himself off. “Well, this is Earth not heaven so I won’t say ‘perfectly’. Let’s settle for a perpetually balanced budget and a land of comity and brotherhood/sisterhood.”*

“How do we get there, sir?”

“Lay aside the blame and start thinking creatively. Stop rehashing the same old ideas in different garb. We are afraid to do so in the atmosphere that pulls down anyone who has a word out of place, we interrupt constantly, and this is the first signal that we have all lost respect for each other and therefore for ourselves and everything else. But bravely expressing the ideas you have — even when you are unsure of them — is the way to fill the idea marketplace with grist for the mill. Perhaps your lame sounding idea can provoke a new line of thought. Speaking your mind out was one of the freedoms, the innate rights we see in all people, the core of Democracy. If we hesitate to speak out because of the current atmosphere, then everything has gone to hell in a handbasket at the core already; the rest of the fruit will go next unless we change the core.”

“Surely sir there are some among us who deserve to go to jail, or at least be taken out of their power seats, or they will continue to ruin us?” the journalist doggedly persists.

“Stop picturing good guys and bad guys,” Washington says. “We need to all get past these conventional mind traps. We need to get into unconventional ways of seeing situations. Out of the box. Instead of seeing good and bad people, just try on for size another way of looking at it, keeping an open mind. I know, this is very difficult — that’s what got us into this pickle. Picture the tendency to bad behavior to be like a mind virus. What it is in reality is not the point now. First we have to stop the bleeding before we give the patient a nose job. We are action oriented, and whatever way of looking at things that helps us think our way to effective solutions will have been a useful fiction for its time. Later, scientists can pick it apart and explain to us the details of how we got ourselves into this mess and out of it, teaching us things that will help Life in the future. For now, let’s experimentally employ any mind tricks available to see if they can help us.”

“Sir, help me visualize how you’d like to see this turning around.”

“All I can do is what I just recommended to all of us. I will share with you my first crazy ideas about how this is going to play out and how the American people are essentially so smart that despite slowing ourselves down with silliness we will get to the balanced and prosperous state we want. Don’t judge the ideas —” Washington turns to the camera and speaks to the people directly — “just ask yourselves ‘ok that doesn’t work but is there some variation on the idea that could work? What needs to happen beforehand in order to change the underlying conditions that would prevent George Washington’s first cut from working?’

“I see,” Washington says, turning back from the camera to talk to the journalist — and then he looks a little to the left of the man and seems to be staring into the future. “We have to cut the budget in the most obviously off-kilter categories first — and yet we have to make such cuts in ways that vastly jack up the efficiency and effectiveness of the remaining dollars in the categories we’ve reduced. Probably working with for-profits in win/win ways — like the highly successful Boxtops for Education program launched by General Mills in 1996, which has so far raised $400 million for America’s schools. This is just one of many successful partnerships between for-profits and the public sector — and we need more, utilizing advertising sponsorships, cause marketing, affinity clubs, social media.

“First and foremost we cannot default on Social Security. To make up the gap, in addition to budget cuts, we will need to tax not only the income but also the accumulated wealth of the rich. I would prefer them to come forward and volunteer that money philanthropically — perhaps we can make that work instead, or some combination. Doctors among the rich might find this the appropriate time to voluntarily lower their rates. We need to inspect the profiteering of companies and individuals, and do this objectively, respectfully, and efficiently — which calls to mind applications of the Internet as one of the sources of efficiency we need. Where government has become inefficiently bureaucratic and there are rules we have made that prevent bureaucrats from layoffs, or that provide excessive perks to public servants, we need to fix those rules. We are going to have to find ways to move people out of jobs and into other jobs, about which more in a moment.

“We’re going to have to encourage more barter trade within the USA. People out of work will need ways to log on and indicate the kinds of work they can do and we’ll have to do a combo Craigslist and MatchMakers, preferably in partnership between the public and private sectors, in order to help connect people and jobs.

“Work programs to put everyone back to work have to in some form be part of this. Bridges and dams need to be rebuilt. Where necessary, perhaps we can find empty real estate to house those in the work programs. We have big-hearted people here in America and we can encourage patriotism in the form of greater charity towards the needy, especially those heroic individuals joining work programs, a true form of community service; I have every confidence that most of us will respond to such a call. Beyond work programs, there is the need to upgrade skill sets. I must add that your current leaders have been generous in this regard to those on the Unemployment rolls — but this effort needs to extend to all who need and are willing to upgrade their skills. I see us helping private corporations to work together to create a computer code whose interface to the programmer is like a kinetic video game, so that everyone in the USA can become a computer programmer if they so desire — because there is no end of work for those people. Because belt tightening is not the future I want for our baby — this noble experiment we are all still caretaking and guiding and leading — we must as a nation find ways to generate huge wealth together — like this all-programmers project, for example.

“There are other ways to generate wealth that require out-of-the-box thinking. There is an organization that today is thriving and largely insulated from the recession — crime. It makes most of its money by catering to illegal pastimes that, while unsavory, do not harm anyone other than the person indulging, for the most part. By decriminalizing drugs, prostitution and gambling, the government can make those pastimes safer for the indulgers, can offer options to the indulgers that will gradually take some of them into more positive uses of time and thereby reduce collateral damage, and we can generate the dollars we need to provide for the elderly and the needy, and to rebuild the infrastructure, especially education. This will also take funds away from the crime/terrorism sector. Again, making these things legal gives us more exposure and opportunity to suggest other job opportunities for prostitutes, bookies and dealers as well as suggesting other options to their customers.”

Washington smiles to himself as if over an old memory. “We used to kid Tom — Mr. Jefferson — about his soapbox. Of course, we all believed in Democracy out of an innate trust in the wisdom of the people — otherwise it would be insane to contemplate putting one’s life in their hands. We assumed that public education would be well cared for. This is what gave us courage to trust the people. What we think of as education includes deep thinking about life, and connecting to the inner knowing of the spirit dimension. This never actually came to pass in our schools, and for good reason: we separated Church and State. What we didn’t think enough about was how the Spirit side of the equation was going to stay opened up. Of course, we never foresaw how the accelerating grind of life was going to alter that feeling of connectedness. Today’s people do not realize how different it all was then. It was something you felt at all times. You didn’t know what it was, or Is — God, or something else? But it was there. Today you can’t feel that as we did then. You are simply moving too fast.”

“You and the other Founders must be very sad,” the journalist sympathizes, realizing how in love with America this man is.

Washington shakes his head. “We see education as the main solution direction. All we are is a group of people in a piece of land. The land is a vast resource, but just a small fraction of the potential value stored up in the people. Optimized, the people become as God On Earth — full of wisdom and bonhomie, grace and culture. Optimized means that education is the main force for Good that exists in the world. When I say ‘education’ — from the Latin educare, to draw out something that is in there, not to pump anything in — this is up to more than just the schools and churches. It is also up to the media, corporate climates, climates within every organization — every organization in America must be fired up with the zeal to optimize its people in a well-rounded way. They have no mandate to exclude the spiritual — we must all be willing to talk about the spiritual dimension again without fearing that it is sure to divide us; we can find common ground because it is there waiting for us. One of the first lessons must be forgiveness: we must stop wasting time pointing fingers. Let us declare a National Amnesty on those who have taken too much for themselves just because everyone else was doing it.

“Verily sir, I tell you that if we do not stop this disunity at once, the greatest hope for humanity will be literally torn in shreds,” Washington says darkly but then instantly brightens, “This is where we were a couple of times before,” he says, “and those were times we showed what America is made of. We rose above our ordinary levels of performance and made idealism practical. That is who we are: practical idealists. This is one of those times where our ability to be heroes must prevail — not just for glory, power, money and sex, but because it is innate, it is who we are, it is our nature to be heroes.”

This is one way a Founder might look at it.

Best to all,

Bill

 

*Here I would respectfully differ from Washington and say that given sufficient centuries it can be heaven-like here on Earth. That is a spiritual viewpoint and I would not impose it on anyone.