Wednesday, January 14, 2004
  What better way to solve problems than to start brainstorming
with some "what if?" questions? I'd no sooner begun to train myself
to think in those terms than this article appeared -- instant brainstorm!

What If We Had A Progressive Vision That Offered Corporations Big Profits?
By Rob Kall

One clear reason the right wing think tanks that have been at the root
of the right wing’s success in politics have received so much money from
wealthy businessmen is these think tanks have envisioned national policies
that will make megacorporations megabucks.
Here are 17 “what ifs” that are very doable.

Today, I was reviewing the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) document that describes the Bush pre-emptive war policy, published in 2000, even before Bush was president. The document, titled REBUILDING AMERICA’S DEFENSES; Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century, has the following credits; DONALD KAGAN, GARY SCHMITT, Project Co-Chairmen and THOMAS DONNELLY Principal Author. [*]

I'd done some research on Kagan and Schmitt but I hadn't checked out Donnelly. So I Googled him. His little writing exercise for PNAC certainly paid off. He went from being executive director for PNAC to... are your ready for this? ... Director, strategic communications and initiatives, Lockheed Martin Corporation, 2002. Now, would you like to guess how many billions his strategic plan has made for Lockheed? Nice payoff.

One clear reason the right wing think tanks that have been at the root of the right wing’s success in politics have received so much money from wealthy businessmen is these think tanks have envisioned national policies that will make megacorporations megabucks.

Sadly, I must face the fact that corporations drive this nation's policy. Being very pragmatic, I wonder if it might be possible to show we can draft some policies that would reward corporations for peaceful pursuits, for healing the planet, for supporting humane treatment for all. On Christmas day, I’ve put together a realistic wish list of what-ifs that could make lovely gifts to humanity that would brighten future Christmases, Kwanzas and Chanukahs.

What if we could create a collection, a vision of policies that encourage and reward corporations for doing good?

What if we established regulations (as opposed to de-regulation) that encouraged, with higher profits and lower taxes, employers to treat their employees better?

What if we sought an energy self reliance program that took away profits from oil sales and that gave extra profits for renewable energies, for US job creation and for ecological responsibility?

What if we put taxes on products produced by slave or lowest-cost-human labor, whether made in the US or abroad? This might even finesse the cheap labor policies of the WTO and NAFTA.

What if we taxed corporations extra heavily for weapons production and sales, and gave them tax breaks for business operations that strengthened democracy and freedom, and ecological balance?

What if we set up a reward system for pharmaceutical and health care companies that gave them more profits based on the number of people they helped, rather than by squeezing the most money out of the system. The current system allows the US government to provide millions in research funding and then the corporations can predatorially sell the products these funds help to develop to American citizens at inflated prices while discounting them to other countries?

What if health insurers could only make money by keeping people healthy for the long run, rather than making their money by teaming with pharmaceutical companies and hospitals for quick fix, short term, illness treatment rather than wellness maintaining policies?

What if automobile manufacturers were required to operate in an economic environment that rewarded them for making safer, more ecologically friendly, energy efficient vehicles, rather that the obscene situation we have now, where they are encouraged to build bigger and more energy wasteful vehicles? A few weeks ago, a family in my congregation lost their ten year old son when an SUV driven by a 17 year old hit their high mileage, gas efficient small sedan. If they were driving an SUV, he might have survived. SUVs should be taxed, not only for being gas guzzlers but also for being more dangerous to people who take ecological responsibility by driving smaller, more gas efficient cars.

What if we created laws for imprisoning criminals who do things who hurt others-- like corporate heads who pollute or build dangerous products, or waste precious resources, or export high paying jobs from the US via internet and telephone outsourcing?

What if we could let millions of prisoners out of jail who didn't hurt anyone but themselves by smoking pot or using drugs? We need to deal with drug abuse, but jailing drug users is the wrong answer. Let's create an industry that helps drug users, rather than an industry of privately run prisons that incarcerate them!

What if companies that make their money building weapons and war planes and missiles were given opportunities to make even bigger profits designing and building more affordable public transportation and space exploration technologies and even renewable energy technologies?

What if we rewarded retailers who stayed small, who did not turn into giant megacorporate chains, putting local stores out of business? What if we rewarded small businesses and gave them tax and licensing and zoning advantages over the "Terminator" megacorporations? We would have to revoke the right of corporate personhood that was fraudulently perpetrated on this country by railroad barons in the late 19th century. And while we're getting rid of corporate personhood we could deal with creating a corporate death penalty for companies that repeatedly hurt humans and the communities they operate in. [Emphasis added. -v]

What if we rewarded big, mega-chain retailers for supporting and maintaining the survival of small stores, perhaps even partnering with them? [Emphasis added. -v]

What if we re-invented the school systems so kids, instead of being made to sit passively and learn from lecturing teachers, were taught by engagement in work, in projects that they would be guided to CHOOSE, so they'd be motivated to work MORE than they had to, because they wanted to, needed to? We might find that schools and education, instead of costing billions of dollars and putting pressure on budgets, might actually contribute to the economy.

What if our leaders were empowered and regulated by legislation that rewarded them for withstanding the entreaties of special interests and rewarded them for providing legislation and leadership that empowered and protected the people of the nation rather than the corporations and special interest groups?

What if these "what-ifs" were seen by businesses as real opportunities to be both corporately responsible and profitable, and they contributed to progressive PACs and think tanks that worked on developing policies and strategies that supported these visions?

What if progressive leaders chose which corporations and businesses were, based on the nation's interest, based on humanity's interest, worth supporting, rewarding and encouraging to grow, rather than the current criteria used by the Bush Administration?

What if corporations asked what they could do for their country rather than what their country (or, as is more often the case nowadays, their former country, since they set up international tax haven offices) could do for them?

What if we started thinking when these "what-ifs" can happen and how we can make them happen instead of what if?

Rob Kall is editor/founder of, president of Futurehealth, Inc. and organizer of the Futurehealth Winter Brain, Optimal Functioning and StoryCon Meeting. This article is copyright Rob Kall and originally published by but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog or web media so long as this credit paragraph is attached



*Find more about this document
  Here in the U.S. we're kicking off the early primaries of the presidential election. The past three years have been pure hell for progressive/liberals and, in fact many conservatives, as well. I know the following doesn't really qualify as strictly a solution to a problem, but booting Bush would solve a whole lot of problems not only for Americans, but for people everywhere!

The most exciting thing I've heard yet about the forthcoming election!

Two Waves of Change
by Stephen Dinan

Many Kucinich supporters lament the number of people that have assembled, somewhat skittishly, behind Howard Dean. Since many Dean supporters have confessed that they would really prefer Dennis Kucinich were he "electable" many of us wonder, "why not get behind the candidate you REALLY believe in?" [Emphasis added. -v]

Instead of fighting the current situation, I say celebrate it! The reason is that there are two main waves of change sweeping the country. Howard Dean provides a powerful rallying point for the first wave and Dennis is providing the rallying point for the second. Many people involved in the early stages of the second wave wonder why the masses haven't yet caught on. But this misses a crucial point: people can't be forced into the second wave until the first wave has worked its magic. And that magic is this:

Many, many Americans are hurting. Every new announcement from the Bush administration is like a dagger, cutting the proud ideals of America into red, white, and blue ribbons. We are ashamed of America's behavior in the world, outraged by the overthrow of so many advances, galled at the waste of life and resources. We feel grief and pain over our national trajectory

For quite some time, many have felt the wound, but most felt powerless to stop the ongoing abuse. Corporate money, fear of terrorists, distorted media, and the juggernaut of Bush's neo-cons seemed unstoppable.

The magic of Howard Dean is that his feisty demeanor and anti-Bush rhetoric has stirred progressive America from its slumbers. Through righteous anger in the service of ending the abuse of power, he has provided a rallying point. Through his goading, he resurrects our confidence that we can defeat Bush next year. Through his attacks, he inspires the grass roots to organize. He is allowing us to shed the first layer of our cocoons.

The thing to notice, though, is that Dean has a much more cloudy vision of the society and world we want to create. His energy is that of rebellion, not progress. His voice is that of combat, not peace. His vision is that of railing against the status quo, not creating a truly just world. His stance is one of antagonism, not the stance that goes beyond the fight and stands in a fundamentally wiser place.

Dennis Kucinich spent some of his early career in a more oppositional stand, just as Dean does now. He fought the good fight with the "enemies." However, he now stands beyond that, in a place of commitment to truth. He will certainly go into battle for a good cause, but he does so without rancor or demonizing the perceived enemy. He has worked through the dramas that are necessary to become a man of wisdom and integrity. He has been through his fiery trials to become a light unto the world.

From that place, his policies emerge as a service to the country and a service to his constituents rather than a way for him to maintain or increase power. In doing this, he rekindles the noble fire at the heart of America and reminds us of our highest mission as a country. [Emphasis added. -v]

He is a new kind of political leader for today's America, more like Mandela in South Africa or Lula in Brazil, or stretching backwards in time, like Abraham Lincoln. These leaders surface at moments of crisis when it is imperative that a country evolves beyond the problems of the moment into the next stage of maturity. [Emphasis added. -v]

Please read on for an exciting vision for America

[While being deeply and bitterly disappointed in the leaders of the U.S. and their actions "in our name," I've always
held out hope for a leader "with vision like Kennedy" to emerge and, with a higher purpose, join the world community in a way that fulfills the potential of all of us, working together. This is the first time I've seen my thoughts expressed. Now I wish I'd written what I'd been feeling. LOL! Stephen states it very well. Could it be . . . ? -v]
Thursday, January 08, 2004
  Ellen DeGeneres shared a great solution to an annoying problem today on her U.S. morning TV show. She was talking about "things not to do when you drive a car" and, as usual, her observations of human behavior, delivered in her earnest manner were hilarious. One thing in particular struck me. After acknowledging that she might just be paranoid by fearing that a cigarette butt flicked out another driver's window might bounce off the pavement and fly into her car resulting in its exploding in flames or, equally horrifying since she often sings at the top of her lungs while driving, might fly into her mouth, she mentioned throwing trash out the window and repeatedly demonstrated the right-handed throw out the left-side window. Ellen's suggestion was of course to just stop throwing altogether. However, for those who were addicted to the throwing motion, there should be trash containers for the outside of their car doors! Brilliant!

They say one should always "start 'em off with a joke" when speaking in public. I thought it was good advice for blogging as well. 
  Welcome to ACT-Solutions, the adjunct to ACT, The Blog, where we will attempt to actually SOLVE the problems of the world which, heretofore, we merely identified. Our attempts at problem solving were limited to "letting George do it," in a manner of speaking. Actions consisted of signing petitions, writing our representatives in Congress by mail, email or fax and marching in demonstrations. Since our representatives and their think tanks have proven inadequate to the tasks at hand, it has become evident that our contributions are necessary to set them on the right track. Your comments and solutions are welcomed.
Collection of Solutions

Being a repository for solutions to the problems that plague mankind, necessarily including ideas and works in progress toward those goals as collected from thinking, surfing the internet, brainstorming, interviewing, daydreaming, researching, interviewing, reading, meditating, watching TV, extrapolating from movies, etc. May contain submissions from fellow ACT-ivists J-9, Lisa, Pip, Nora, Lucy and DUG, Honorary ACT-ivists Stephen, Danny, Bill and Eric, readers of ACT, friends and relatives or even occasional strangers as may be encountered. From this gathering shall emerge, we hope, some usable form of activity or guidance thereof so as to enhance the experience of life for someone, and hopefully for some many individual(s) attempting to survive for a rewarding while on this planet. Long may she spin. -- Veralynne Pepper

An Adjunct To A-Changin' Times ACT, The Main Blog

In Conjunction With Bloggers Parliament

MEMBERS OF BLOGGERS PARLIAMENT (in order of joining, starting September 29, 2003)
Augustine & Natalie
Guy Andrew Hall
Lucas Gonzalez
Josef Hasslberger
N.Todd Pritzky
Josef Davies-Coates
Morton Emanuel Winston
Coup de Vent
Roger Eaton
Deb Ramage
Frank Paynter
Charles Perez
Maria Concepciòn Lenna
Ryan Fugger
Veralynne Pepper
Cass Brown

01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 /

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