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ILF Summary July 15. | Quality Of Life | Wealth

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GardenWorld Politics, the real hidden agenda. Douglass Carmichael doug@dougcarmichael.com Humans are drowning in the tsunami of their own success as a species. As our population crowds in on itself, we increasingly feel that change is driven by the numbers out of control, such as population, pollution, currency manipulation and abstraction. And change itself has been driving an expanding economy and collapsing society and makes brokers rich while most people, who assume a more steady state soc
  GardenWorld Politics, the real hidden agenda.Douglass Carmichaeldoug@dougcarmichael.comHumans are drowning in the tsunami of their own success as a species. As our population crowdsin on itself, we increasingly feel that change is driven by the numbers out of control, such as population, pollution, currency manipulation and abstraction. And change itself has been drivingan expanding economy and collapsing society and makes brokers rich while most people, whoassume a more steady state society, suffer from displacements. I believe that most people,Democrats, Republicans and Independents, progressive and conservative, actually agree with this picture. Difference emerges when standardized options, emphasized by the leaderships and the press, force polarization. The manufactured differences help maintain existing institutions, whichgo unexamined.People want to live in a blend of civilization and nature, but this yearning is hidden in current politics. It is hidden because it does not fit the needs of the financial managers and the MilitaryIndustrial Complex. Or perhaps worse: it seems soft compared to the inevitable march towardmore coherent empires with tightly interwoven populations and technocratic management. WhatI am calling GardenWorld Politics is the effort to make the civilization/nature agenda public andto develop the politics to make it realizable. Our humanity and the environment, as a seamlesswhole, require it. GardenWorld is not a plan, but an intent to innovate our way towards anattractive life that is a better integration of the human with nature, rather than a continuing andexpanding dependency on a reductionist technology. GardenWorld is a post modern equivalent of what the impressionists did with painting (Renoir, Bonnard, etc) to make mid 19th centurymiddle class life vibrant. It is not anti-technology, but looks to subordinate technologicalinvestment and deployment to a real vision for the quality of human lives as actually lived.Contemporary issues reveal a failure of politics to deal with problems of the economy andenvironment. We have the resources to feed and house the population of the world with qualityof life, but the economic machine has its own momentum and choices that dominate the world of investments and politics. We have lost any vision of where we want to move towards with potential solutions. The modernist vision post WW2 has faded and nothing replaces it tomotivate in a positive way the changes we need. I start with a radical idea: any politics whichdoes not aim towards the gardening of the world and the humanization of its people is not anadequate politics. The core idea of GardenWorld is that since everyone wants to live in a balance between civilization and nature, why don’t we use our wealth to go there?By GardenWorld by I mean the intent to enhance the full spectrum of environments from inner city to wilderness with an enhanced garden aesthetic and biologically productive use of land,creating an economy that cannot be exported, and, through tough environmental regulation,drives innovation and entrepreneurial opportunities, especially at the regional and local levels. Itcan give government an orientation beyond just economics. It brings back the balance betweeneco-nomics and eco-logy, remembering with irony that the two eco’s derive from same Greek  eco for household, its laws and logic.  People mostly want to live in GardenWorld but have not articulated it to themselves. We need toinfluence the dialog leading up to this next election, and policies enacted after, based on acoherent view the best work in the social sciences, art, and science of the last half dozen decades,and that answers the question that follows from Erich Fromm’s Escape From Freedom, Insteadof escape, what? .The GardenWorld idea is a response to the current failure of most of us to have a vision of thefuture that is plausible, attainable, and attractive. There exists an agenda that 80% of the peoplewould vote for if it were offered, but it is blocked by political commitments to existing power.GardenWorld is an integrating vision that already exists in the minds of most people. But it needsto be named in order to be evocative, and GardenWorld is an effective name. People remember it because they already believe it. Perhaps GardenWorld is the most effective name for a hoped for future to replace the failure of mechanized modernism, with its lack of sustainability andunattractive simplifying and reductionist mechanicalness.So I think most of us agree with the following five summarizing ideas.The image of the future and the promise of progress have languished, under the pressures toadapt to modernism , through a failure of imagination, leadership, and resources. The promiseof a better life after WW2 has not been realized. Progress for all turned into privilege for ever fewer in a great game of economic musical chairs.Both major political parties are stuck and governance is not responsive. The merry-go-roundeconomy, works for those who are in it, but marginalizes those who are not.Much current political activity – attitude and voting - is a way of saying no to the wholesystem, made necessary when no is not one of the votable options, nor are positive policies thatwould deal with the obvious issues ignored by the leadership. The strong emphasis in parts of thecountry on religious tradition is a way of saying no when local culture offers no other way.There exists a political agenda that 80% would agree to. Not an agenda of mere platitudes, butdeals with real issues. It requires mixing a new business climate with environmental rigor, andusing health and education as enablers for fuller participation. Simply turning downward therising curves of inequality and environmental degradation would be sufficient for a vast increasein hope and would be a good beginning. But we need to go much further to deal with thecurrently degrading environment and quality of life.The GardenWorld vision is necessary to make the 80% solution come alive and be evocative.GardenWorld, a blend of the organic and the technological, entrepreneurship, and seriousenvironmentalism, oriented for human development across the life-cycle, is that image. GardenWorld is not a plan but an intent, allowing for, requiring, maximum flexibility to respond to theemerging future. It is critical of the gridlock politics, corporations, and the financial structuresimpose on preventing needed experimentation for a real quality of life on a crowded planet.From these five ideas we can examine the context in which I write and you are reading, and mostobservers agree, is that:The economy is making the rich richer and the poor poorer in almost every country (includingthe Middle East, creating the conditions for chaos there), and that the legal structures of   corporations, along with the computer enabled mischief by financial institutions are a major factor;The fact of global climate change is also now accepted, realizing that its changes are a mixture of natural and manmade actions. But the actionable policies we need to make this livable with graceand compassion have not been architected by the politicians;The idea and practice of democracy have been corrupted and nothing yet replaces them;Security in a crowded world is better achieved by diplomacy and pinpoint police professionalismthan by militarism, but above all by worldwide fairness and compassion;All these problems affect the local quality of life.From this context we can see toward the future. The long term is described by some combinationof three major scenarios (All consistent with any outcome to the disastrous war in Iraq, a war thathas distracted us from the larger issues).1. Technocratic centralist control of the world economy as a single integrated machine, a policeworld with strong media control2. A shift toward more participation and democratic unfolding and the supporting humandevelopment in health and education, with an emphasis on the quality of life, towardGardenWorld.3. And, of course, one must add, the possibilities of Rwanda like collapse where human needsoverwhelm the social system.GardenWorld, the second scenario, is the viable and more attractive possibility. To get theremight require some more aggressive changes, such as rethinking corporate charters, the way our financial institutions are allowed to work, the way congress works, land use, and internationalcooperation. But I’ll emphasize that great progress can be made simply by shifting the rulesenough so that increasing concentration of wealth and income cease and measurable and visibledecreases in wealth concentration are sustained. Much of this is tax code. But other smallchanges could make a big difference. Take for example local land use, which, in its current legalstate, keeps most land locked into current use, or held for profit. What we need is more complexmultiple use of land, but society cannot under current rules afford it. We have to get beyondtreating the increase in value of private land as something the state must pay for if rezoned, or inother ways partly taken . Just as the loss of value to the owner is real, the increase in value isusually due to roads, schools, water service and other public goods that have helped increase thevalue. Just as no legitimate value should be taken from the owner, nor should any increase due to public expenditure be taken from the community. Balance and fairness need more commitmentand support in law.A future that is a mere continuation of the trends we are in is not promising. We live in a timewhen the economy is doing well, while the people are doing badly, The national policy is to protect the rich in a time of national decline, and there is no national policy to help the countrycope with meeting local needs with local jobs while acknowledging globalization. I’ve donemany interviews over the last 10 years with red state conservatives and blue state liberals. From  those interviews I concluded that the differences are far less extreme than portrayed in the press.In fact both share common values of family, community, opportunities for children, the healthyand safe community, where education and health enables participation in the economy, aneconomy that is environmentally responsive, entrepreneurial at the local and regional level, anddeals fairly with security and justice.The Right fears big government, the Left fears big business and a big military. Each sees theother as supporting bigness which they have projected on the other. Their critiques cancel eachother out, and bigness wins. But an alternative, a society based on what people want, iscompletely feasible.Why is leadership and benefit so narrowly distributed, not only in the U.S. ,but in the rest of theworld? The economic machine has room for those who can add to its production andconsumption, called wealth, but not for those who would dilute it. I call this machine the merry-go-round and show how people must choose either to align themselves with it to be included, or  be marginalized. The capacity of the merry-go-round is intrinsically limited and cannot extend tothe whole population. We have a worldwide business culture that knows how to create moneywealth, but not how to distribute it.Religious affiliation is one way of saying No to the current political direction when the political process does not offer the possibility of a no vote, or an attractive GardenWorldalternative. Most people do not like the direction society is taking. That direction is perceived asenvironmentally and economically destructive, making any quality of life increasingly out of reach for a larger number of people, trashing the environment and making jobs scare. But the realresistance is to the loss of community, hope and meaning. Under pressure, people revert to whatis close at hand, and in most parts of the US and the rest of the world that means some kind of religious orientation. Hence the rise of religion in politics is a reflection of social discontent on alarge scale lacking any means of political action.GardenWorld is a way of framing the solutions 80% of the people would vote for. By blendingtechnological advances that impact the environment, education, local building and landremediation and enhancement, we can create the obvious, a world where architecture, landscape,agriculture, private gardens and public parklands - all blend into a cultivated landscape mixinggrowing and making with vital human lives.I've been calling this GardenWorld, because people take to this image, and the name. As I returnto audiences where I've raised the issue, people seem to remember it, even savor it, wanting toknow what's next. GardenWorld is a balance between growing people and growing society inways consistent with nature. It proposes a relationship between humans and the natural worldthat, from a human perspective and with evidence from a healthy environment, enhances both.We need to outgrow the view that we live in progress and that the goal of history is to tell thestory of that progress. If human excellence and the quality of lived lives is the “object” of historyit is clear that progress is a shaky concept. Plato, Shakespeare, Confucius, Cicero – were thesenot interesting lives? And compared to our own? We fell for the logic that the greatest good for the greatest number is the measure – but that avoids the obvious: that twice as many people withhalf the quality of good is the same number as we have now. GardenWorld asks us to be smartabout these measures.
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