The Greening of America
It starts with a simple proposition: the United States spends more on Defense than all other government programs combined, not including Pensions, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. We also spend more than the next seven countries combined, including China and Russia.
The defense budget is closing in on $900 billion. Perhaps up to ten percent of the workforce is employed directory or indirectly by the domestic defense industry. In other words, it’s a huge slice of the economy.
The drumbeat for increased defense spending echoes demands to “defeat ISIS”, protect America from terrorists; and to match or exceed Russia and China militarily. All these projected scenarios are specious. We are meeting those demands, and an expanded military will make no impact.
Chinese companies are investing in green technology and lead the world in production of things like inexpensive solar panels. Why should the United States take a back seat to anyone in an industry with the potential market offered by this discipline?
European and Asian countries have also taken the lead in education. Check out SAT scores in this country and see who tops of the lists. “Greening” includes not only protecting the environment and creating green industry, it also refers to education. Our current system is toxic and we must clean it up along with carbon and other emissions into the atmosphere. Here’s where we begin:
- Create and agree to a fifty-year plan to shift eighty percent of the DOD budget to the Departments of Energy and Education and NASA (or whatever entities might evolve from these current departments)..
- Companies that are part of the military/industrial complex and rely on government funded defense spending are gradually converted to “Green” organizations by offering free technology and government subsidies. Note: we already subsidize enormous chunks of our economy, so this is nothing new.
- Standing military personnel are pared down through natural attrition to ten percent of today’s number.
- The nuclear deterrent is technologically upgraded, and the number of warheads and weapons reduced by eighty percent. Most experts agree that this is feasible.
- Military facilities returned to the public domain—not including VA hospitals and clinics.
- A moratorium on construction of new naval vessels, aircraft, and other weapons of war that are deemed obsolete or about-to-become thus. Weapons still to be considered will be high-tech and innovative.
- Military training facilities and military school enrolment cut by sixty percent.
- The Federal government will allocate money to the States to facilitate current programs and to implement new ones. Education will be provided free to all citizens from K through 16. Students will be offered the option of a formal college education or vocational training.
- States will be required to comply with all laws prohibiting discrimination.
- The Department of Education will monitor and enforce educational standards.
- Religious education will be funded and operated by the religious organization providing curricula and facilities. No Federal money will be used.
- Programs such as Head Start, nutritional guidance, school lunches, etc. will be administered and funded by the Federal government.
- Continue as the organization to conduct nuclear research and build weapons.
- Fund Green technology development.
- Enforce carbon emission standards.
- Publish and enforce clean river and lake standards.
- Enforce all EPA regulations that have been reviewed and deemed necessary to the preservation of the environment and life on this planet.
- Continue research of the universe.
- Design and implement an interstellar spacecraft capable of taking humans to another planet and returning safely.
- Pass new technology on to industry as it is developed and tested.
- Establish a broad intern program to introduce young scientists to NASA’s mission and activities.
Is this it? Of course not. There are myriads of additional steps we can take as a nation to ensure our children’s futures and to make our own lives more palatable and enjoyable. What I’ve outlined will generate knee-jerk rejection from some segments of society. The ideas are politically incorrect.
We love to discuss our “political process” as if it’s the Holy Grail. We engage in great battles over States rights versus Federal authority—that’s been the case since 1776—and it’s just as ignorant today as then. We’re either the “United States” or we’re simply the “States”. In the first manifestation, we can accomplish anything; in the second—nothing. Time to decide, and the first steps might be to implement the ideas I have set forth.