Minister-Mentor Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore has said that demography, not democracy, is the defining element of the future, and I agree with him. This is important for two reasons:
First, if the projected population explosions occur in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and in Africa, then all ten of the high-level threats from poverty to infectious disease to environmental degradation and onwards will also explode, and these threats do not recognize artificial political boundaries. Starvation, plagues, deforestation, genocide and democide, and dis-organized crime will be wide-spread. The USA can expect to be over-run by illegal immigrants -- vastly worse than today -- just as Europe is being over-run from Africa and Russia is being severely encroached upon in the East, where global warming is making Siberia a "go to" place for many Chinese.
Second, we are now finding that there is not enough clean fresh water for those who are alive today, much less for the several billion more expected by 2020. While technology could certainly be developed that addresses this shortfall, it is unlikely to accomplish in a decade what the Earth's natural systems of systems accomplished over millennia -- and in the absence of predatory human consumption. Fresh water can be considered the "touchstone" for both a convergence of all the limits to human prosperity that cannot be overcome without dramatic changes in our behavior and our practices; and for the emergence of a new appreciation for "wild law," the rights of natural systems to be sustained, and in that context, the emergence of a humanity conscious of both its limits and its responsibilities.
This point of view has recently been articulated by Maude Barlow, former UN Senior Water Advisor, is National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and founder of the Blue Planet Project. What I find striking, apart from the fact that humanity is self-destructing, is her brilliant articulation of why we must recognize the natural (non-human) commons as the essential foundation for humanity to be humanity. Although our indigenous forefathers understood this, their knowledge has been lost during the two centuries of Western industrialization.
All of this is a preamble to declaring that the USA has to become a "Smart Nation" in which citizens demand informed governance and an end to fraud, waste, and abuse such as have characterized the two-party tyranny since they achieved a duopoly control on the public purse. We have to do this for two reasons, in my view:
First, if the USA does not get a grip on the ten threats and twelve policies here at home, we will see what one book calls "the long emergency," with cities running out of water, crops dying for lack of water, disease spreading because of contaminated water, and so on. Our Nation is on "thin ice" because we have lost the Republic -- the sovereignty of an informed attentive public.
Second, and the bigger picture, if the USA does not adopt a Strategic Analytic Model and demonstrate in a compelling manner the urgency of stopping all of the practices that are impoverishing and endangering our own America Once Beautiful, then we will have nothing to offer in the way of constructive influence to the eight populations on the verge of taking over Earth--Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Wild Cards including Africa as a whole.
The USA has become a stupid, selfish, cheating Nation in the macro sense--obviously this does not include everyone who attended the Rally for Sanity, or most people across the Heartland, but it certainly does include all of Wall Street, all of the incumbents in Congress (both Chambers), and all of the political appointees going back at least to 1981, when the Reagan Revolution (I am ashamed to admit I was once an enthusiastic Reagan Republican) began the uninhibited looting of the US economy by the top 5% of the population.
There are four methods that We the People can develop and demand, the four together allowing us to self-govern and to displace the predatory union of Wall Street and a corrupt two-party tyranny.
We have allowed Wall Street, aided and abetted by Congress with the explicit approval of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and now Barack Obama, to both legally loot the U.S. economy, skimming off one fifth of the value of tangible investments while exploding the economy with financial fraud sold at seventeen times its actual value. It's time we demand both a balanced budget, and an end to legalized crime, not only by Wall Street, but by those that cheat the taxpayer by bribing the two political parties to insert earmarks at our expense for the benefit of a few. An online transparent budget with line item detail is possible today, not only for the federal government, but for state and local governments as well. The existing budget of the USA is insolvent, incoherent, and lacks legitimacy. Completely apart from Electoral Reform, a nation-wide demand for budget transparency is a demand that cannot be ignored. We must demand that our money be spent wisely. The figure above shows one concept for achieving full transparency and deliberative dialog, which the figure below shows the change we must demand from Cold War and Wall Street binges toward integral responsibility.
While pioneered in the 1970's and 1980's, the concept of "true cost" economics, a means of calculating the social and environmental costs of specific products and services, did not become a popular meme until recently. We now know how to calculate the fuel and water costs of specific items; we now know the social costs of exporting jobs while importing illegal immigrants to do the jobs that are left. It is time we demand the investigation, documentation, and publication of true costs of every product and service. Informed citizens can move markets overnight. We need not wait for anyone else; this is something we can do for ourselves. The figure below is a high-level illustration of true costs for one white cotton t-shirt--each T-Shirt comes with a one-page document providing much more detail including sources of the information. We need to do this for EVERYTHING.
Bio-mimicry refers to the copying of nature to achieve efficiencies artificially that took tens of thousands of years to evolve. This illustrates the larger challenge, that of designing society to human scale, and in a manner that minimizes external or "true costs" of needed goods and services, while phasing out those goods and services that we really do not need. "Buy local" combined with an end to absentee ownership of land are part of what must be a design renaissance in America. This will also require Governors and State Legislatures to nullify most federal regulations, for example those pertaining to the butchering of meats--they were designed to put local butchers out of business. We must restore the integrated local economy, and end the federal "one size fits all" approach to business.
Medard Gabel, founder of BigPictureSmallWorld, is an American hero who worked alongside Buckminster Fuller to create the analog World Game, and at my urging in 2006 crafted the architecture and an estimated cost for creating a digital EarthGame™, a trademark in his name. We are now at a point where we can demand that all budgets be online, that all costs be online, and that we each have an opportunity to "play ourselves" in each domain where we have an interest, at every level from local to global. It is time to apply our collective intelligence to our collective challenges in a manner that no bureaucracy--and certainly no corrupt bureaucracy--can match. This final figure puts it all together and illustrates how I think We the People can get a grip on all information in all languages, and in so doing, achieve the ability to self-govern on all issues across all boundaries.
This concludes the orientation portion of the Virtual Cabinet series. Next, we will start making policy and balancing the budget. By November 2012, if the Huffington Post community desires, there is no reason why we cannot refuse to elect anyone who cannot recite the ten threats and twelve policies, appoint a coalition cabinet, announce core policies in advance, and present a balanced budget. We get the government we deserve. It's time we rise to the possibilities, and demand an honest government that makes informed decisions in the public interest. That starts now.