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Limited Choices, Limited Results

By       Message Barry Tevelow     Permalink
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Somewhere between John Zerzan and Ray Kurzweil there lies thousands of paths that humanity might traverse. Unfortunately between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani there are only a few degrees of separation. When candidates such as Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul are labeled as extreme and unelectable, when in reality they are only a matter of degrees removed from the mainstream, it becomes painfully obvious our political leaders offer little more than the status quo.

If instead of being confined to the narrow set of choices offered up by the two major political parties in conjunction with the mainstream media, we were presented with a more expansive range of possibilities, imagine the scope of ideas we might hear.

Let’s take a subject and instead of looking at it from the point of view of the center and a few choices on each side of that center, we look at a more expansive set of possibilities. For instance the subject of transportation.

One Position

Transportation is the lifeblood of our economy and hence our way of life. It is of such monumental importance that to try to put any significant limits on the infrastructure that supports this industry is unacceptable. We should build and repair bridges, improve roads, and secure by whatever means necessary an adequate supply of fuel. If and when new technology becomes available we will make the transition. We can not allow other countries to infringe on our right to our share of petroleum deposits and we will take whatever means necessary in order to ensure that we have a constant supply of petroleum that is adequate for our needs.

Another Position

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Transportation is important, however we need to find safer, greener ways of getting people and materials where they need to be. Our infrastructure should be evaluated and resources should be allocated such that there are efficient means, other than individual vehicles, which provide a viable option for transporting people and materials. As the cost of petroleum has become excessive, as measured by obtaining the petroleum, by negative environmental impacts and by global turmoil, significantly more resources should be made available for developing alternative fuels. These new initiatives will be funded through a tax on fossil fuels and low mpg vehicles. These taxes will make the cost of driving more closely reflect the actual cost of both obtaining the fuel and mitigating the negative effects of using this form of transportation.

And Another Position

We as a society have become overly dependent on the transportation of both people and materials. We are under the false impression that movement signifies progress and increases our standard of living. In reality our current mode and level of transporting people and materials is unsustainable and needs to be curtailed immediately. Individually owned vehicles should be phased out in favor of mass transit and pooled vehicles. Communities and infrastructure need to be re-evaluated from the perspective of sustainability and a zero sum net carbon footprint. These steps are not optional if we wish to repair the damage that our previous lifestyle has caused the environment. In the short term a change in worldview is the most effective way to address this issue. Once we dramatically decrease our dependency on transportation we can then decide if new technologies are necessary and if so we can begin to rationally develop them.

The point being that there is a huge range of possible reactions to this one issue. From technology will solve this crisis, to let’s just stop moving around. From becoming a fortified, self-sufficient nation, to the world and its resources are there for our consumption. Instead we get a mushy middle ground that pacifies some and quite possibly takes the worst from each of the many alternatives. The candidates either don’t have the vision or ability to have these discussions. Most likely they have surrounded themselves with advisors who caution them against taking any but the most generic of positions. This process defines the type of people we will elect to fill these positions and the actions they will take when they are elected. It is time for another alternative.

Lets have a real debate where ideas are considered and evaluated, free from posturing and political positions. We are living in a time where we don’t have the luxury to present the facade of resolution when what we need is to explore possibilities with the knowledge that change is inevitable. We can either guide the change or allow the change to take place, perhaps catastrophically.

Anyone, Everyone, Please propose a solution. Justify it, explain it, show how it is workable, put it out into the public domain to be explored, discussed, and compared to other possible solutions. Let’s have a debate, a dialogue, where our ideas are illuminated, not disguised; looked at from all angles, not ideologically to be knocked down if they are different from the prescribed notion, but to be understood and weighed against our understanding of the current situation; defended, but not too vigorously, not from the point of view, that this is mine and it must be correct, but from the perspective of each of us attempting to understand another’s viewpoint for the purpose of reaching a workable solution.

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The author has  founded a non-profit organization, published a newsletter, and conducted Socrates Cafe dialogues.  He is an independent writer, activist and will respond to inquiries.

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