Saturday, February 09, 2008
Mesplay on the Issues
From Kent Mesplay for President.
A Quick Take on the Issues:
Overview: We are in trouble. The single, over-riding, primary reason that I am running is to help save lives. Climatic instability is the defining issue of our time, dwarfing even nuclear proliferation. One cannot fire missiles at crop failure or indefinitely ignore the on-going suffering of tens of millions of environmental refugees, world-wide. Even if you do not "believe" in human-induced global warming, the solutions to global climate change are the same: live more lightly upon the land in a less wasteful manner. Sustainability is a security issue. The issues of the day are Green, and even mainstream politicians are now green-washing themselves to capture the environmental vote. When I am done with politics I will still be interested in helping societies rapidly adapt. I am an advocate of emergency preparedness, renewable energy, light-rail transportation and treating health care as a human right, not a commodity. I do not trust our government to be able to provide us with leadership. We-the-people must organize and prepare for the worst while expecting the best of ourselves and others. If you are registered with a party other than Green, I will gladly accept your vote should I win the nomination to represent the Green Party in the General Election. Especially if you are not registered to vote, I encourage you to register Green so as to help improve the level of public debate and discussion on important issues. Right now, it is all but illegal to participate in politics outside the main two parties. I am dedicated to improving our political system to provide more accurate, fair representation of ideas, concerns and parties. I am told that we can only have two (seemingly different) political parties in this country. If that is the case, then we need to replace one of the two main parties with the Green Party. This is not for me to do. It is up to you to participate, especially if you are within the half of the people who could vote but do not do so. When elected, I promise to work with members of Congress from both main parties to move our nation away from fear and toward really solving our underlying problems. Thank you.
Leadership: I recently received a commendation from a San Diego County head honcho for "Service Above and Beyond the Call of Duty" during the October 2007 firestorm. I did not actively save lives, but I did serve as a Shelter Manager at an Evacuation Center, having first volunteered and gone through the training some months prior. I work for the county as an Air Quality Inspector II, regularly interacting with businesses to ensure compliance with air quality standards (Yes, I do write tickets, but I hate doing it and I always try to be consistent, fair and understanding. I've previously received awards for customer service. During my periodic evaluations I receive many "above standard" marks). I read, interpret, enforce and help to improve regulatory law. I followed the development and passage of Assembly Bill 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, and I am comfortable with reading and interpreting legislation. Even businesses that didn't support AB32 are beginning to recognize the brand value of being "green."
It is important for our next president to help rebuild our international reputation by being more critical of our nation's tendency to quickly go to war. The war in Iraq is not the "good" war that proponents attempt to make it out to be. I hear conservatives say "they started it" and I disagree. Our current administration started this war and needs to bear responsibility. We need to become an energy-independent nation based upon efficiency and renewable energy so that petroleum is not such a strong part of our foreign policy. In addition to breaking our addiction to oil, breaking the military-industrial-congressional complex will help us break our addiction to war.
Economy: We are in trouble. Without waiting for six months of economic down-turns I think it is safe to say we are in a recession. I would take the forty billion dollars in annual subsidies for fossil fuels and create five million "Green Collar" jobs, with a special emphasis on training and providing jobs for inner city youth and veterans, to retrofit the nation's homes and buildings and conserve 20% of our energy use by 2015, if not sooner. Our new growth, including manufacture "at home," needs to be in the energy sector so that we can quickly become an energy independent nation based upon increased efficiency and municipal power generation. Every roof-top in sunny places of the country needs to be thought of as a power-plant providing electricity and heat. Moving toward structures being "off grid" will improve our basic physical security regardless of threat (terrorist or environmental). Perhaps "homeland security" emphasis can be placed on creating intrinsic, basic physical security in non-militaristic terms. Our politicians tend to not support "people-scale" solutions because of the influence of big business on re-election campaigns. Greens believe in community-scale economies that support small businesses, create a sense of place and require little waste in terms of transportation. I would re-work our farm policy to allow small-scale processing on small farms, to improve the economic viability of farmers (especially organic ones). I question our national addiction to subsidize crops that are harmful in comparison to the alternatives. For example, it makes no sense to generate ethanol from corn. Also, rather than so much use of corn for animal feed it is good to support "grass farming" in which soil health is improved by coordinating grazing with the life-cycle of grass. Also, over-all yields are higher in comparison with corn farming in that on a per-year basis the land can produce more, with fewer imports, less subsidy and healthier ground. I gave up eating beef in 1982. As long as people eat beef, we may as well develop healthier farming habits. I support organic farming, especially small-scale in contrast with industrial farming. It is especially important to purchase local produce. Most items on our plates come from over 1,500 miles away, which becomes an issue of energy waste. (I recently devoured An Omnivore's Dilemma.) So many of our issues are inter-related. There is no quick fix or sound-bite to cover it all.
Iraq, the War on Terror and Other War: We are in trouble. At a time when our nation needs to focus on pulling together for a genuinely more secure future the forces of fear and expedience are pulling us apart. War is terror. I do not subscribe to the notion that "either we fight them over there or we fight them here." Our forces overseas are not "containing" violence; it's not in a box, neatly packaged and sealed up! Rather, by modeling violence and that "might makes right" our foreign policy relies heavily on intimidation and brute force and is regionally providing a target for extremists. Although I recognize that misguided Muslim extremists are behind attacks, I am also concerned by Christian extremists treating the war in Iraq as a war against Islam. It is especially important, now that our civil liberties are being destroyed by politicians at home under the excuse of "protecting" us, that peace-loving Muslims everywhere redouble their efforts at presenting a more accurate representation of their faith in the media. I do not believe for a moment that Abraham intended for his religious descendents (all the Israeli sects, Christian sects and Muslim sects) to perpetually be at one another's throats. By accepting and expecting violence this is the world that is being created and destroyed. We must have peace. We must have diplomatic solutions. Nations that over-extend with their military pursuits tend to be nations in decline. A better way is possible but not if you remain silent and afraid to speak. Both main political parties got us into this war and the front-runners in the presidential race of both parties are not apologizing for the grave mistake of getting us into ongoing conflict in a region that has had such epic instability.
Health Care: I believe that health care is a human right, not a commodity to be traded or denied. I've heard estimates that by shifting to single-payer, publicly financed prevention-based universal health care we would save $350 billion a year. In such systems (and there are many models) practitioners can still make a good living. Opposed, of course, one finds the big lobbying companies of insurance, advertising and drugs. In contrast to socialized medicine, hospitals and clinics would remain private. Our current system is wasteful, bloated and inadequate, with upwards of forty million people lacking any coverage at some point during a given year. I am especially appalled that all children are not covered and I am disgusted by politicians who block improvements to health care. Help improve our national standard of health care. Support Green candidates.
Education: More funding and help for underachieving schools, not less. More freedom for teachers to actually teach, and to not feel pressure to "teach to the test." Better school meal programs so that students are not hungry. Children learn better when their basic needs are better met. More support for art and music, especially at the lower levels, and an affordable or free college education for anyone desiring to better their lives and their economic prospects. The money for this would come from cutting the military budget back to 1999 levels.
Energy: Architects will play a major role in helping us achieve and maintain energy independence. Current buildings are highly energy-inefficient. Older buildings need retrofitting and newer structures need to be designed with as much self-reliance in mind as cost-effectively possible. Renewable energy does not need subsidy to quite the extent that it needs a stable policy environment supporting multi-year (multi-term) investment and development. Having uniform inter-connection laws between the states and net metering standards will help reduce the cost of solar electricity so that the same devices and processes can be used in different states. We have the ability to become energy independent. So far, our nation has lacked leadership on the issue.
Water use is also an electrical issue in that electrical pumps are used to pump water. Conserving water conserves electricity. Also, dependence upon hydroelectricity is tenuous during drought years such as we experienced in the Pacific Northwest in the 90's, since a variable hydrologic cycle can result in lower volume and pressure heads at hydro plants (and less electricity production). In the southwest, 40% of water use goes to operating coal-fired plants for producing electricity. The solution to energy needs will be to reduce the demand by conservation, efficiency and greater diversity of green sources, and cutting down on conspicuous consumption and excess transportation and all take education and action.
Emergency Preparedness: Everyone needs to have a three-day supply of water and food on hand. Beyond this, regional security is enhanced once you get to know your neighbors, their skills and needs, and with everyone having more local access to the basics: water, food, energy and medical clinics. For as strong as our nation is, we are yet brittle when we consider that our ordinary lives could be so seriously interrupted through relatively small disruptions to supplies of electricity, water and food. Again, sustainability is a security issue. We are not prepared. Organize. Register Green. Change the system. Vote Mesplay.
Diversity Issues: Race matters, gender matters, sexual orientation matters, especially in that people who are put into "less than" categories are not adequately represented in government. Greens value diversity. As with libertarians, we also place high value on personal choice and on not having government attempt to be the arbiter of personal responsibility. We are liberal in that we, as a body, are pro-choice on health matters such as abortion, on drug use and on civil unions and marriage between adults who do not fit the "normal" mold. As in a healthy ecosystem, within a healthy society diversity is normal. I understand that there are religious doctrines interpreted to restrict and disallow gay marriage. A century and a half ago religious arguments were used to keep people in slavery. In the same manner, a hundred years from now, bisexuality and homosexuality will be recognized as part of the natural variability in our one human race. Greens represent under-represented groups, and we are strong advocates for the poor, the dispossessed, the disenfranchised, the indigenous.
Posted by Jason Nabewaniec