Thursday, February 8, 2018

Did Shakespeare foresee Trump?


We might have known, we should have known, that once again Donella Meadows had anticipated our  current problems and defined appropriate responses. She wrote the following paragraphs back in 1997.
We have to cut BOTH kinds of power down to size.  Not just government — that idea is a corporate scheme.  Not just corporations — that idea is a liberal dream.  As voters we have to throw out corporation-run politicians.  (That means nearly all of them).  Get private money out of government.  Revoke the corporate charter when a business breaks the law.  Get serious about anti-trust enforcement.  Undo the global trade regime, which is just an excuse for business to evade government control.  Tax pollution at a rate that either deters it or fully pays for its cleanup.  Give government back its mandate and funding to be a strong check against corporate power, and insist that government do so efficiently, out in the open, where we can keep an eye on it.

I don’t think there’s a “left” or a “right” to this work.  Only a growing up.
Now that we've shared her proposed solutions, you might want to read her outline of the problems. That can be found here, under the title: Left and Right and Power. Therein she mentions that the "fault line" goes back to at least 1824, so what we are faced with these days is certainly nothing new. Perhaps the fault line, and the faults, have hardened since Jefferson wrote about them, but the essence of the issue today is, we believe, an unbalanced "giantism," much of the response to which calls for localism (without parochialism). Do you shop at a farmers market? Have you joined a community supported agriculture farm? Did you caucus this week? Are you participating in a solar farm?

do you see trees, or a forest, or both?
do you see trees, or a forest, or both?
Photo by J. Harrington

Much as we respect Ms. Meadows, and that is an enormous amount, we suspect there is a related issue, accountability, or the absence thereof, that's not mentioned in her essay. When we were more active in the green building sector, we learned about what are known as "Owner's Project Requirements [OPR]," that serve as the "Basis Of Design [BOD]". Here's a primer on how to set "the stage for project success."

The combination of OPR and BOD are, in many ways, the equivalent of a professional sports team's game plan. What do our political parties offer us that's comparable to an OPR statement? Platforms of internally inconsistent and conflicting policies? Pandering to an electorate that's only too willing to have someone else pay for what they, themselves, want? Has the time come that we should we expect, insist on, not more, but better?

How will we know if our elected officials are indeed doing the best job possible? Do we need to bring green building and sustainable development processes to politics? We're thinking more and more the answer is "Yes!" Based on our recent experiences at both a precinct caucus and the roads committee meetings we've been attending over the past year, we believe the world, and its inhabitants, would be better served with less reliance on commodities and more emphasis on built to specifications. If we truly want a balanced approach to governance, we need to demand more specificity and transparency from those who would govern us and profit by meeting our needs for food, shelter and other necessities of daily life.

It seems to us that one way, if not the only way, we can keep democracy from having to become a full-time job for each of us is to create a better system of governance so we can elect better governors (generic term). That means we need to create our own OPR before we vote. Party line choices are a cop out these days unless each party shares with the electorate their own OPR in the form of Owner's Party Requirements. Or, have we just replicated the theme of "belling the cat?"

                     What Kind of Times Are These



There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don't be fooled
this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it's necessary
to talk about trees.



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