Petition Closed
Petitioning President of the United States

President Barack Obama, please deliver a series of Fireside Chats guiding us to sustainability, peace, and a high quality of life for our whole world.

We face a critical juncture in American and world history. Our President needs to deliver and act on a series of Fireside Chats to place America and the world on a sustainable, peaceful and eminently livable path. Below is a list of proposed topics followed by condensed topic outlines for such a series of 30 Fireside Chats, named after the famous series of talks by the same name delivered by Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Great Depression era.

President Barack Obama needs to take ownership of, and embrace the content, scope, and spirit of these proposals. He must make and consider them his and speak them, as our national leader, from his heart. It is from our hearts, and nowhere else, that an unprecedented yet absolutely essential sea change in our cultural ethic must come. Not only must this fundamental shift occur for our very survival, we will actually enjoy a far better quality of life besides. Let stewardship, sharing, and peace replace plunder, empire maintenance, and war. These times require this caliber of leadership.

We are laying waste to our natural world, of which we are part.

We are drowning in debt, unraveling our future fiscal security.

We are living dangerously beyond our means, both physically and fiscally.

We are all, as Americans and as world citizens, being directly affected by this.

We want to rediscover one another and our splendid natural world.

We want to be financially solvent, with a secure fiscal future.

We want to make friends instead of enemies on the world stage.

We want to set a positive and constructive example for the whole world to emulate.

The time is crucial for this paradigm shift in our culture - for our quality of life, for America, for the world, for our very continued existence.

The time is now.

Image Credits: Wikipedia Commons, National Museum of American History, Bloomberg


1.   Debt as a Way of Life Does Not Work

2.   Restoring Full Faith and Credit, Getting Rid of Debt

3.   Transparency and Accountability

4.   Get Real about Unrealistic Expectations and Unsustainable Spending

5.   Pensions

6.   Health Care

7.   Education

8.   Work

9.   Income

10. Housing

11. Borders and Immigration

12. Consumerism is Consuming Us

13. Remaining Fossil Fuel Deposits - Some Things Better Left Alone

14. Gas from Fracking, Oil from Oilsands - Not Worth the Real Price

15. Life After Consumerism

16. Our Greatest Times Lay Ahead

17. Commercial Advertising Propaganda is Pushed at Us and Pushing Us to Oblivion

18. What National Security Is and Is Not About

19. Enemies

20. Our World Standing

21. Fiscal Reality

22. Physical Reality

23. Standard of Living is not Standard of Consumption

24. Malignant Growth to Steady State

25. Plundering to Caring

26. Greed to Good

27. Our Global Human Family

28. The Long and Far Horizon

29. Values, What Really Matters

30. Prosperity is Wellbeing and Freedom from Want

Due to space limitations, the following are condensed versions of proposed Fireside Chat outlines mailed by the author of this petition to President Obama on 11 October 2013.

1.   Debt as a Way of Life Does Not Work

In our present consumer oriented culture, we feel the insatiable need for bigger, newer, and above all, more. We often refer to ourselves not as citizens or as fellow human beings but rather simply as consumers. This endless quest for more needs to be paid for somehow. Since our personal incomes are finite and the need for more appears infinite, additional purchasing power is an absolute necessity. Credit somewhat fills that need, in the here and now, by allowing us to spend beyond our incomes, to have more right now, more than can be acquired with our incomes alone.

The intractable problem with and downside of living on credit is that the bill, with interest, will come due and in one way or another has to and will be paid sometime and somehow.

Our federal government currently owes about $18 trillion, the equivalent of 2½ Canadas. This came about by spending beyond revenue. In fact, spending has continued to spiral and revenue has been lowered due to angst over the federal income tax burden. Much if not most of the excessive spending has been on promises, such as pension schemes of all kinds, that simply cannot be kept because they are actuarially unsound. The promises were politically motivated and not based on fiscal reality. Another large portion of the excessive spending has been on wars of empire to assure the steady flow of cheap resources and other input to prop up our insatiably consumptive lifestyle. Further, our central bank, the Federal Reserve, is creating dollars out of nothing to help lower this debt burden, which is of course denominated in dollars.

This is making our creditors nervous. If it continues unabated some of our major creditors who happen to be ascendant foreign powers could take action against this country, up to and including taking it over. This could make America and Americans another power’s source of cheap labor and materials, for another society that for years had been cajoled and taunted by American commercial media to emulate the consumer lifestyle.

Further, this is rapidly devaluing our currency. Anyone who goes to the grocery store on a regular basis is aware of this. Enough said.

Debt is no magic solution to anything, at any level in society. Presently, every level in American society is literally awash in debt. It is sinking us.

2.   Restoring Full Faith and Credit, Getting Rid of Debt

Restoring Full Faith and Credit

At one time our currency was based on and/or backed by something of intrinsic value such as gold or silver. Coinage contained metals equal to face value. Paper currency was backed by sufficient gold and silver on deposit to redeem the notes on demand for said gold and silver.

We now are in the brave new world of fiat money, with no backing by something of intrinsic value. The only backing is something called “Full Faith and Credit” or a promise to pay for value received. Gold and Silver Certificates have morphed into Federal Reserve Notes - promissory notes - backed by, yes, someone else’s promise to pay - by debt.

We now are so heavily indebted that it would be impossible to repay it all, were it called in at once. As the debt load keeps piling up, this fact becomes increasingly obvious. Creditors are getting nervous. Full Faith and Credit has thus been seriously eroded. To restore it we must get rid of our debt load and preferably accumulate a surplus.

Getting Rid of Debt

Our national government debt has reached crippling proportions and major creditors are skeptical at best about ever being fully repaid. This puts us in a precarious position to say the least.

The good news is that we can eliminate this ball and chain. Every penny can be paid back. However, it will require willpower and time. The willpower is a willingness to commit $600 billion per year towards paydown of the debt. The time needed is 30 years, since the debt amounts to about $18 trillion. Think of this as you would a home mortgage, for yes, we are indeed mortgaged. We need to apply that $600 billion for each of the next 30 years for debt repayment before anything else.

Debt loads permeate our whole society, not just the federal government. For instance our total real estate mortgage debt is also about $18 trillion. Then there is credit card and myriad other types of debt both private and public. Similar action is needed as for the national government debt. We need to become solvent.

3.   Transparency and Accountability

We have failed to be open and honest with one another. We have failed to be open and honest with ourselves. We have totally lost our sense of direction about what our real needs are, and what we need to do to fulfill them.

Consumerism will never satisfy. We are forcefully persuaded to forsake our life energy, our future, to support the consumer habit. This includes being hard-sold on spending beyond our resources to feed our falsely induced desire for more. Dishonesty is integral to the selling of debt as a way of life. We are given less than candid disclosure of the consequences of endless borrowing. We are often kept in the dark about the real terms of our debt.

Debt overload induces yet further nefarious behavior. Bankruptcy becomes a game, a strategy of making debt burdens disappear by offloading them onto someone else. Then there is the practice of packaging debt into investments that then become someone else’s supposed assets. It becomes an opaque, insidious, vile game that comes around full circle. Perhaps and lowest blow of all is the Federal Reserve and other sovereign central banks reducing the size of national debt burdens by simply creating more fiat currency out of nothing. This is a scam that swindles the holders of debt denominated in the currency in question, as well as those who use and save the currency in question. This is done in a very opaque manner, behind closed doors, with no accountability.

We need to become transparent and accountable first and foremost with ourselves and honestly evaluate just what our real needs and wants are. We will likely find that consumerism has not even come close to satisfying. To the contrary, we will discover that it has totally devastated us.

We need to, further, be transparent with and accountable to one another. All cards on the table. No more shenanigans.

4.   Get Real about Unrealistic Expectations and Unsustainable Spending

There has been talk of putting the federal budget at some future date on a more sustainable path, known as “primary budget balance.” This means the budget would be balanced except for interest payments on the federal debt. At that point, the nation’s economic growth would only need to keep up with interest rates in order to stabilize the debt. Per the above, the total deficit less interest payments is the “primary deficit” in the federal budget.

Another instance of psychotic fiscal unreality is the numerous and totally actuarially impossible promises that have been made regarding pensions. This includes Social Security, government employee plans, and numerous private retirement programs. The promises were made not based on fiscal reality but rather on political expediency, often under the influence of powerful organized interest groups. We need to look out for one another’s basic needs, and can afford to do so. We cannot afford to furnish the compleat consumer lifestyle to numerous interest groups. Consumerism as a way of life has fueled these demands for the impossible with pension income.

America has forcefully yet often hypocritically engaged in global empire through needless military ventures around the globe. A major underlying driver for this activity, which is extremely expensive to engage in, is cheaply securing the raw materials and labor of other sovereign nations to feed and support our extravagant consumer lifestyle. We cannot afford to continue with this boondoggle either.

And no, we cannot afford the luxury of “quantitative easing” or the creation of money by the Federal Reserve out of nothing to help pay for our excesses. This ultimate dodge comes at the price of a devalued currency, and of angry creditors who hold American debt denominated in American dollars. Some of these creditors are fellow Americans who would deeply resent being cheated out of their savings. This is domestic dynamite.

No more psychotic fog and delusional thinking. We cannot afford it, and we definitely do not want to go where it could well take us both domestically and on the world stage. A clear head and reality-based thinking are the order of the day.

5.   Pensions

Arguably the greatest single threat facing us from unsustainable fiscal management is unrealistic promises that have been made to current and future pensioners.

Social Security, due to actuarial conditions, faces the possibility of having to reduce benefits in the foreseeable future and openly admits so in writing. This system depends on payroll deductions from current workers to pay benefits to retirees.

At least four things complicate future actuarial viability. (1) For purely political reasons, payroll deductions have been drastically reduced. (2) There is a huge cohort of Baby Boomer retirees entering the system. (3) There will be relatively fewer current workers per Baby Boomer retiree to finance benefits than was the case for previous retiree cohorts. (4) Baby Boomers have a slightly longer life expectancy than previous cohorts.

Then there are the unfunded liabilities of federal employee retirement funds. These liabilities are not counted as part of the national federal government debt.

During the most recent equities market downturn, where the market lost about 20%, state public employee retirement funds, which rely on equities investments, faced $3 trillion to $4 trillion in unfunded liabilities. The equities market is highly leveraged. Traded companies often carry huge debt loads. Then, the shares are often bought on margin, that is, on credit. Here is a colossal instance of someone’s debt being someone else’s supposed asset.

Worthy of note is that should the equities market totally pancake in the future, this unfunded liability would be $15 to $20 trillion. This is similar to the current national federal government debt, and is the equivalent of 2½ Canadas. Remember, this is only for state public employee retirement funds.

Some state public employee retirement funds are aggressively trying to assert a legal entitlement to in effect bill the general public for any shortfalls rather than come clean about potential shortfalls with present and future retirees. This is a real potential sociological powder keg.

Anyone who has a pension entitlement, but does not need it, should forego it. Please, base your decision on real need and not on frivolous, excessive craving for more.

We must note that most members of the global human family have no pension entitlements or rights whatsoever. Let us replace our craving for more with a mission to help assure basic security for everyone, worldwide.

We can collaborate with other wealthy nation-states in this endeavor. In so doing we will heal some major dysfunction in the human family.

The resources we have clung tightly to through pension schemes, to frivolously consume, may well more than cover the cost of this initiative.

Think 2½ Canadas and then a whole lot more besides.

It will also, for a change, place America in high esteem geopolitically.

6.   Health Care

Full, quality health care services can and must be provided to everyone on this planet with no card required, no payment of any kind due at the point of service, and no questions asked. Period.

Simple human decency and compassion compels us to care for the physical and mental wellbeing of our fellows. Such caring is not a business, it is a matter of simple human compassion and decency.

Health care is a universal and unconditional human right, anywhere on the globe.

America, in addition to establishing universal quality health care access as a way of life here, must reach out and strive to make such access a worldwide norm. This will be far less costly than our current enforcement of empire and military adventurism, and it will make friends instead of enemies for America in the global arena, and it can turn current enemies into friends. This transcends nation-state politics. It is a human family matter.

Providing such access is a matter of mindset, one of moving away from a business oriented model and towards a public service oriented model.

We can partner with established international organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, and with other nations that have already begun to recognize health care as a service instead of a business. This will be a continuous work in progress and will be aided and enhanced immensely through collaboration with the world community.

Anyone in need of health care, worldwide, must be covered. Period.

7.   Education

A good education is invaluable.

The more well educated global citizens we have, the more likely it is we will find solutions to today’s and tomorrow’s most vexing problems, of which there are far too many to detail here.

Education is a universal and unconditional human right, anywhere on the globe. The main barrier to realizing this human right is ingrained attitudes and mindsets, largely revolving around ability to pay.

Excellent and universal public education is an investment that will pay for itself many times over.

Opportunities need to exist for access to top quality college education for anyone capable of and wanting to obtain higher education. Loans are not the way to do this. Stipends are.

America should call on the rest of the industrialized world to form a joint effort to globally realize this vision of universal access to quality education. A well educated and student-debt free global citizenry will likely act to steward our world, out of the realization that this is both desirable and necessary.

8.   Work

We need to redefine what employment is all about, and how much of it we need or even can sustain. Some individuals have been able to amass a huge fortune on the equivalent of an average workweek of 16 hours.

If everyone in our society did this by working a 16 hour week, the sheer physical impact of it all on the planet would by now have wiped out humanity due to horrendous global warming and pollution.

The point is, humanity is now able to provide for its material needs with relatively little time and toil. We need a fairly small amount of employment in the traditional sense.

What remains is an unprecedented amount of available free time in which to contemplate, create, solve some of the world’s pressing problems, and simply give thanks for our wonderful world as well as just be there one for another.

9.   Income

Income will need to be based on a broadly defined contribution to society, rather than on formal employment in the traditional sense. This is because there is now relatively little traditional employment required or even ecologically tenable.

There will always be the ongoing need for active participation in society in the sense of informally maintaining it and helping one another as family, the family of humanity.

Income will thus evolve from the concept of paycheck to one of social stipend sufficient to meet the needs of life. This is a global thing, not just an American one.

America and the rest of the industrialized world can and should be instrumental in implementing this wealth sharing paradigm globally.

Bear in mind that much of the world’s population now lives in absolute and abject poverty. The vast majority of humanity has no pension rights whatsoever, and probably does not even know what a pension is.

This is in sharp contrast to the industrialized world. One thing that can be done with pension entitlements that are foregone by those not needing them, is helping to fund the global stipend. Ultimately, all of us will transition onto the global stipend. It will be small by industrialized world standards yet be quite adequate. It will support the equivalent of an Eastern European or Russian lifestyle.

10. Housing

American housing is generally grossly oversized, built on excessively large lots, and often totally car-dependant for carrying out activities of everyday living. Often it is poorly made with inferior materials. This leads to a huge life cycle cost for such housing, taking into account construction, maintenance and disposal of the structure and all of its components.

Creative alternatives are sorely needed in America’s approach to shelter, beginning with size. The typical American home is as large as it is not to shelter its occupants, but mostly to house tons of junk that the residents are traditionally expected to buy and accumulate in our consumer culture.

About 100 square feet per person provides an adequate living space, provided the space is put to good use. Housing units of this size are far less expensive, affordable enough that costly long term financing often is not needed. Typically costing about as much as a new car, they can be financed with short term loans and often simply paid for in full with no financing at all.

Quality materials and construction methods can affordably be used due to the far smaller amounts required to build the unit. This lengthens the life of the dwelling while making it more appealing to live in. The total life cycle cost of the unit is extremely low.

High densities enabled by small houses allow pedestrian, bike and transit oriented communities where the hassle and expense of a car is not necessary since everyday travel distances are reduced dramatically. This also encourages more social connectedness and mingling. The vastly reduced land use requirements allow more land to remain as farmland or in a natural state.

Often, traditional housing already in established cities can lend itself to subdivision. This involves each bedroom in the traditional dwelling becoming a separate residence, with plumbing and cooking facilities shared and the former living room, dining area and den becoming common areas. In other words, subdivisions shrink from vast tracts of land to individual existing buildings. With such subdivision, the structure can often be rehabbed and upgraded by using quality materials and building methods in the conversion. Worth noting is that garages can be converted to living units also, especially as cars become less necessary as the neighborhood becomes more densely populated.

Another approach is the refurbishing of single-room-occupancy or SRO, hotels for ownership rather than rental. The structures are typically older and rundown but very well built and structurally sound. These residences typically have rooms of about 100 square feet with a lobby area, shared bath facilities on each floor, and a sink in every room. Add a small refrigerator and stove and the room has its own cooking facilities. SRO hotels can also be built new, of course.

Yet another option is individual detached so-called tiny houses that range in size from about 80 to 160 square feet. These homes are of excellent quality, cost about as much as a new car, have extremely low utility costs and are generally very inexpensive to live in. They are built on a trailer chassis, and thus can be easily moved if so desired.

Housing such as this is sized on a human scale. It discourages the accumulation of junk and encourages close human interaction, both of which are very desirable aspects.

In many communities, zoning and other code restrictions interfere with the buildout and occupancy of this human-scale housing. These restrictions need to be revised to allow and encourage human-scale housing development as the coming dominant form of housing in America.

Housing of this size and type can and should also become a global standard.

11. Borders and Immigration

We once had city states, where individual cities were sovereign entities on the world stage. At one time, this served a useful purpose. As our population grew and the world shrank due to innovations in long distance travel, the primary political entity became the nation state. This is the current paradigm.

The size of the human family has grown to the point where it is present over much of the globe. Travel and communications technology has made our world quite a small place. Humanity is now an extended family living on the surface of the globe. This planet, this spaceship if you will, is our common domain. It is home.

City states served a purpose at one time in history. Nation states filled the bill at a later time in human development. Nation states are no longer relevant, they do not fill our present needs.

The time has arrived for organizing as a global community. We must openly reach out, learn from and teach one another, and become accustomed to running our affairs as a community of equals.

The practice of empire or domination by supposedly select groups over other groups is a relic of the past that must be left behind. Our overarching common agenda as fellow members of the human family requires that.

We must steward and care for one another and for our common home, this beautiful spaceship we call Earth.

12. Consumerism is Consuming Us

Our consumption habit is ruining our natural environment, of which we are part, in a number of ways. Climate change from carbon emissions is but one. There are also numerous toxic discharges related to manufacturing, maintenance and disposal of our endless torrent of consumer items. Aesthetically, our world is being degraded as increasing proportions of it are taken over for human activities including power generation and fuel extraction to run all of our stuff.

Psychically we are being wounded and eaten up as we are incessantly and forcefully persuaded to crave and lust after one consumer good after another as a way of life, leaving an emptiness, a void that of course can never be filled.

We do not need to subjugate our fellows and despoil our world to survive. We do not need to colonize and despoil other planets to survive, something that actually has been suggested by some as a solution to our trashing of this planet. We can steward and cherish one another and the beautiful home we have right here on this world.

The cure for our severe case of consumption is to evolve away from it. For our own good and for the benefit of all, this is imperative.

Share our newfound awareness as an example for others, globally, to emulate.

13. Remaining Fossil Fuel Deposits - Some Things Better Left Alone

We are finding a virtual bonanza of newly available fossil fuel reserves. North Dakota is promising to become the new Saudi Arabia for oil. Further north, Alberta has large stretches of oilsands much of it under subarctic forests. Just as it seemed we had reached peak oil with declining extraction and the near term specter of running out altogether, we have a newfound cornucopia of fossil fuel reserves.

On the surface, this sounds like a blessing, at least by the thinking of traditional economics. Supplies once again are abundant which should stabilize or perhaps even drive down prices. American consumerism gets a new lease on life, with a vast newly discovered source of energy to power it longer into the future than anyone ever expected.

A look at some externalities, or ignored factors, is in order. There are several such factors that make these finds perhaps more of a curse than a blessing.

Continuing to burn these fuels continues, unabated, to add unwanted combustion byproducts to the atmosphere. The major, but not the only, one is the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, which is the prime culprit in human-induced global warming and climate change. We risk having increasing portions of the world become uninhabitable due to excessive heat, and are courting other climate disasters such as increasingly common severe weather events. The possibility looms nearer and nearer of total climate catastrophe that could end life as we know it.

We need to evolve out of consumerism, and to rely on our solar energy income for what energy we really do need. This genie is best left in the bottle.

14. Gas from Fracking, Oil from Oilsands - Not Worth the Real Price

Fracking is one of the newer and more complicated methods of extracting oil and gas from harder-to-access deposits. It is very labor intensive, can get quite messy, and has a high risk of severely and permanently damaging the ecology of the regions where it is performed.

Instead of a standard vertical well, the drilling goes down to the level of the petroleum bearing strata, which is often shale, and then fans out horizontally into that strata.

Then fluid, mostly water, lots of clean water from somewhere, is injected or pumped down the well with pulses of extremely high pressure. The shocks from the pulses of high pressure fracture the surrounding strata much like a giant jackhammer. The idea behind doing this is to free up trapped pockets of petroleum to the point where they will empty into the well pipe after the fracking operation is complete and the water has been drawn back out.

So far in this scenario, enormous quantities of water have been required that went down clean and came back up oily and thus in need of disposal as hazardous waste. There is more. The fracking may actually open up fissures into water tables that lie above the oil or gas deposits. What this does is potentially create oily groundwater in the region. Previously reliable local sources of potable water in that case, of course, disappear. The land becomes basically worthless for farming, building on, or as a nature reserve, since all of these uses require clean local water.

Oil extraction from large tracts of oily sand is also very laborious and messy. The oil itself tends to be very heavy, or thick. When the oilsand deposits are at or near the surface, the material is scooped up, or strip mined. This seriously disfigures the land and of course destroys the subarctic forest cover present above many important reserves.

Then, the material has to be heated to cause the oil to separate out. This step requires enormous energy inputs from somewhere. Then the tailings, that is, the sand after most of the oil has been removed by heating, has to be dealt with somehow.

If the deposit is deep underground, the heating operation is done in situ. Heat is delivered, and oil drawn out, through boreholes from the surface. Again, enormous inputs of energy are required for the heating. And the land could be disfigured due to subsidence as the oil is removed.

Oilsands oil is often more difficult to refine than conventionally extracted petroleum. The increased difficulty with refining represents yet more required energy inputs.

Neither fracking nor oilsands extraction is worth the full, real cost.

15. Life After Consumerism

Humans are an integral part of the grand realm of nature. Thus, they are interdependent with nature. We have evolved through millennia along with many other life forms that inhabit or have inhabited this planet along with us.

Our natural world is arguably our most precious asset. It provides us with the air we breathe, the water we drink, sustenance, and the means and resources to shelter ourselves. Aside from strictly physical considerations, our world gives us aesthetic beauty and splendor to heal the mind and refresh the soul.

Avoid getting caught up on an endless work-borrow-spend-consume treadmill. Live within your means, both fiscally and physically. Value yourself in all its wondrous dimensions, your relationships with others, and with this beautiful planet that is our home. Avoid being consumed by consumption.

The greenest energy is energy not used and the greenest product is a product not consumed. Prioritize your values. Keep your possessions from ever possessing you. Be stewards not consumers. Encourage others in your life, and society at large, to do likewise. Sustainability is a field for all of us to work in 24/7.

This is our grand and wondrous life after consumerism. Once we give it a fair try we will never want to go back, for we will be as one with our true element, the natural world of which we are an integral and interdependent part. Damaging or besmirching it will become unthinkable.

16. Our Greatest Times Lay Ahead

We have an opportunity, albeit a forced opportunity, to vastly improve the human condition by evolving beyond the following

Endless material acquisition for gratification and proof of worthiness.

Nonstop spending and ever-mounting monthly payments.

Stress, estrangement, insecurity, and indentured servitude.

Total fiscal collapse on a personal and societal level.

Total physical collapse of our natural world of which we are part.

Limitless material consumption and limitless debt accumulation are both unsustainable.

Revolve our lives around the below tenets instead

Material acquisition sufficient to satisfy our actual physical needs, with real gratification and worthiness found in our relationships with one another and our natural world.

Saving combined with prudent spending, and no ongoing monthly payments.

Freedom for a rich and fulfilled life revolving around one another and our natural realm, both of which we can be wonderful stewards.

Fiscal stability on all levels.

A rich and bountiful natural world to call home.

How about fewer hours at work and more time with ourselves, our family, our friends, and activities that really are meaningful to us? How about working at living, not living at work?

An age of unparalleled prosperity, that is, wellbeing and freedom from want, awaits

So why are we waiting?

17. Commercial Advertising Propaganda is Pushed at Us and Pushing Us to Oblivion

Advertising is the most powerful and pervasive propaganda vehicle imaginable. It totally immerses us. It molds our perception of the quality of our lives. It mobilizes us to do what we are supposed to do, in the opinion of the advertisers, to maintain and improve our quality of life, our standard of living.

Public service advertising (PSA) is noteworthy in that it advises us on how we might actually improve our condition rather than just keep on consuming endlessly. Public service advertising is presently a sideline, of course, to the advertising industry’s core mission of persuading us to buy and consume ever-increasing amounts of goods and services.

PSA campaigns like Unplug and the Keep America Beautiful Crying Indian, done with the fervor and intensity of commercial advertising, can influence our feelings of connectedness with nature and raise our desire to practice sound ecological stewardship.

Connectedness with nature and the practice of sound ecological stewardship are definitely part of our quality of life, our standard of living as measured by wellbeing and freedom from want.

PSA campaigns like Loose Lips, Rosie the Riveter, and Pass It On, again done with the fervor and intensity of commercial advertising, can constructively influence our social norms and values. Social norms and values mold our quality of life, our standard of living, for better or for worse.

A serious re-alignment of the advertising industry’s core mission from selling consumption to promulgating social values has awesome power to assist everyone worldwide in attaining a quality, worthwhile, meaningful and sustainable standard of living.

18. What National Security Is and Is Not About

National Security Is About

Integrity is imperative in our dealings with fellow Americans and with citizens of fellow sovereign states. Fairness, openness and transparency invite response in kind.

Stewardship of American physical and fiscal resources, and encouraging such practice by other sovereign states, through our words and our deeds, is absolutely essential. Our unique powers as humans lay upon us the calling to care for one another and for the natural world of which we are part.

Humility in all our dealings, domestic and international, is crucial. We are all interdependent one on another, and on our common home, this planet.

National Security Is Not About

Despoiling and squandering of either American or other sovereign nations’ material or fiscal substance, is the highest of moral turpitude. Those who have been systematically despoiled will not appreciate it, obviously compromising the security of the despoiler.

Plundering, pillage and theft of other sovereign nations’ resources for any reason whatsoever, including American gain, is totally barbaric. Those who have been stolen from will remember, and may well respond in kind given a future opportunity to do so, out of sheer frustration and resentment.

Subjugation of either fellow Americans or citizens of other sovereign nations for any reason whatsoever, including material gain, is repugnant and has no place in a civilized human culture. Those who we subjugate for apparent quick gain will resent it bitterly, and when given the opportunity could well visit us with the same treatment.

19. Enemies

We Make Enemies Faster than We Can Kill Them

America has aggressively pursued worldwide empire to support rampant consumerism with cheap overseas inputs of raw materials and labor, and intimidate anyone who gets in the way of that agenda. Not only that but it has been extremely hypocritical about the motive by insisting the endless military adventurism was and is intended to promote democracy and stabilize the sovereign nations that have been invaded, subjugated, or bullied. Some of America’s behavior in the Middle East and Cuba, for instance, has amounted to sheer subjugation.

 In 1953 America was the prime mover in a coup in Iran to depose a democratically elected government that had made the mistake of nationalizing Iranian oil fields. The Shah was then installed as Iran’s leader. The Iranians were obviously a bit upset about this.

America has repeatedly intervened militarily in the Middle East, before and after the Iran coup. The motive has of course been taking over and retaining control of the region’s oil resources.

On 11 September 2001 America was attacked. Commandeered airliners flew into the twin World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. This was undoubtedly a reprisal by Middle Easterners, who had only box cutters for weapons, over America’s endless pummeling of their home region for the obvious reason of controlling their natural resources. America responded quickly to this by, of course, invading Afghanistan. The invasion was named “Operation Enduring Freedom” which is typical of America’s gross hypocrisy about its brutish building and enforcing of global empire.

On 17 April 2010, representatives of post-Shah Iran lambasted America at a summit of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In a summit hall decorated with pictures of the American atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a written statement from the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was read aloud saying: “Only the U.S. government has committed an atomic crime. The world's only atomic criminal lies and presents itself as being against nuclear weapons proliferation, while it has not taken any serious measures in this regard.” Iranian officials also criticized the U.N. Security Council as reflecting the views of only a handful of countries.

We, America, actually brought the world to the brink of World War III. America was the aggressor against Cuba. The Soviet Union was Cuba’s ally, and stepped in to help. Note, too, that America already had missiles in Turkey aimed at the Soviet Union for some time previous to this whole episode.

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp and Guantanamo Bay Naval Base represent an ongoing vestige of American imperial presence in Cuba. We must terminate our imperial presence in Cuba. It is wrong. It must end.

Let’s Turn Enemies into Friends

First, get over the endless craving for more. This has been the primary driver for America’s brutish quest for world empire.

Second, America, along with the remainder of the industrialized world, would be well advised to engage in global initiatives not of empire and subjugation but of reaching out as fellow members of the human family. One such initiative should be the establishment of quality health care as a global human right. Another ought to be establishing universal secondary education as a global human right, along with open opportunities for college education as well. Initiatives regarding meaningful employment, income support, and housing are also in order. The industrialized world can do this at far less cost than enforcing empire. More important, however, is that we will be treating fellow members of our human family as, well, family, for a change.

There is really enough for everyone. Really, there is.

20. Our World Standing

America is the biggest military power in the world by far. Using that muscle, the United States has held onto global dominance for the purpose of empire to feed a hyperconsumptive society, all under the guise of supposedly being the beacon of democracy and protective guardian of unstable or failing states worldwide.

In addition, America has worked hard to attempt to freeze the so-called Post-War world order in perpetuity, along with other victors of World War II. This has been implicit in foreign policy decisions. It has also been explicit in such ways as arranging for World War II victors to have permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council.

Such bullying, hypocrisy, posturing, and of course inflexibility to the changing geopolitical landscape since the close of World War II, has seriously eroded America’s standing in the global community.

Serious American geopolitical attitude adjustment is required. This is imperative for America to become admired and respected rather than loathed and feared.

America must acknowledge the fact that the geopolitical order is not frozen in time at that moment in history when World War II ended. America and all of the holders of permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council need to relinquish that perk.

America would do well by actually being a beacon of democracy and protective guardian, rather than just saying so while acting in the totally opposite way. America can and should launch global initiatives such as health care, education, meaningful employment, income support and housing, in concert with other rich industrialized nations.

Americans, for a change, must be supportive participants in geopolitics, not bullying, hypocritical, takers and grabbers. This will confer great respect and admiration on Americans from the wider world community. America’s founding fathers would have it no other way.

21. Fiscal Reality

We need honest bookkeeping from a full ecolomic (ecological + economic) perspective in managing our fiscal affairs. Attempts to distort, lie about, or conceal the facts will simply catch up with us later. The longer we continue to ignore reality, the attendant consequences will become increasingly greater and more painful. There are no convenient end-runs or shortcuts around this. The sooner we realize that and begin to plan and act accordingly, the better off we will be.

Internalize (recognize) “externalities” of standard economics. Many important decisions are now made with important factors in the situation at hand being simply disregarded for reasons of ignorance or just plain short term convenience. One case in point is America’s euphoria over new-found cheap oil, thanks to the miracle of fracking. Fracking has serious downsides since it involves deliberate fracturing of geologic strata to facilitate the extraction of the oil.

Another example is the supposed solution of electric cars to our environmental problems. A couple of downsides immediately come to mind. Large batteries are required. During their life cycle, from raw material extraction through manufacturing, use and disposal, batteries have many deleterious effects on our natural environment. Another downside is that the electricity does not appear by magic with no consequences.

Value tomorrow at least as much as today rather than “discount” it. We are effectively always living in the future, today is ephemeral. Think about what kind of world you want to be looking forward to next month, next year, next decade. Then consider what kind of world you want to leave for future generations.

Finally, think about nonhuman inhabitants of our world, for we are not separate, or somehow above, nature. We are part of nature and belong to it. We have a special responsibility to steward and preserve, not harm or destroy, it.

Consumption consumes us with high costs like product life cycles and alienation from ourselves and our natural birthright. Standard of living does not mean standard of consumption. Prosperity is wellbeing and freedom from want.

Real wealth is us and that of which we naturally are part. The concepts of externalities and discounting have no place in our decisionmaking. They reflect delusional thinking that ignores reality. We simply cannot afford that anymore.

22. Physical Reality

Our environment is finite and has limits. We are part of and inhabit the ecosphere, a collection of interlocking thin layers covering the surface of our globe. This is essentially a closed system, like a spaceship if you will.

Energy and matter are neither created nor destroyed but they can and do change form. The total amount of matter and energy remain constant. The proportion of matter to energy can change. The form of matter can change. The form of energy can change. On changing form, a portion always becomes more diffuse, disordered and chaotic.

The general state of messiness, chaos or disorder will increase in a closed system such as our ecosphere without further inputs of energy from somewhere outside the closed system. In other words, to avoid degenerating into total chaos, the system must “feed on” such an external energy source.

We have a finite energy income, primarily sunlight, some but not all of which is available for direct human use. The rest of the ecosphere, of which we are just a part, also needs to feed on this energy income to maintain stasis and continue functioning.

Fossil fuels are an energy “savings account” with withdrawal penalties. These fuels are derived from the remains of long-dead biota. The withdrawal penalties are significant. The process of mining or extracting the fuel, itself, involves the use of energy with side effects of increased chaos in or pollution of our world.

Our job is to live within the means of our energy income. This means deriving our energy from the sun. This human energy budget needs to include the energy inputs required to build, maintain and replace the physical infrastructure used to harness the solar energy for our use.

Physical reality directs us to be physically responsible by living within, not beyond, our energy income.

23. Standard of Living is not Standard of Consumption

We have the choice to be well off and free from want, and at peace. We may choose to thrive in healthy stasis, or we may continue as we have with our consumptive ways, becoming a malignancy on the world with the definite potential to destroy and derail the stasis of the whole ecosphere.

We may stubbornly continue to insist on equating standard of living with standard of consumption, but do so at our own risk. Let us cast off delusional perceptions, and embrace reality. This will lead us to make sure that the climax, or ultimate developmental state, of the human enterprise will be such that it is in harmony with the remainder of our ecosphere, that both our human enterprise and the ecosphere as a whole remain healthy and in stasis.

Using our enormous intellectual prowess to steward and provide, not plunder and grab, is our responsibility to ourselves and to our world.

Our fate is in our hands. Live instead of consume. There is a vast difference between the two.

24. Malignant Growth to Steady State

The ecosphere is dynamic, in a sense alive, much like a healthy biological organism. It takes in a steady diet of energy in the form of sunlight. It uses, or in a way metabolizes, this energy diet to fuel its routine functioning and maintain a stable condition, or stasis.

All of its components remain in balance, functioning in harmony. In this way, the system as a whole is robust, healthy, and can thrive for a long time, making adaptations on occasion as necessary for continued survival and wellbeing.

Serious malfunctioning of or imbalances in components of a dynamic system such as the ecosphere or a biological organism can throw the entire system off balance, upsetting its ability to function and maintain stasis. This can sicken and weaken the system, or lead in an extreme case to total failure of the system. Successful biological species have a tendency to reach a climax, or final stage in their evolution, where the species itself is in stasis. It also fits in well with the functioning of the ecosphere at large, and it has a secure niche where it can efficiently function.

Us humans succeeded in establishing a secure niche, then went on to become a major destabilizing influence on the ecosphere. We now draw off so much stored energy from the system, and create so much waste, as to threaten the stasis of the ecosphere and perhaps bring about its total collapse. Humanity’s development resembles a malignancy in an organism. This is due to our infinite material cravings. We are not enhancing the functioning of the ecosphere. We are destabilizing it.

We do not need or want to be in effect a malignancy on the ecosphere that might well bring on its total collapse. We must reach our climax as a species that is in stasis and that facilitates the healthy functioning of the whole ecosphere. We must steward ourselves and our world.

25. Plundering to Caring

Redirecting the development of our species from its current malignant state to a climax state that is in stasis and that facilitates the healthy functioning of the whole ecosphere involves the conscious decision to curb our acquired excessive consumption and drive for limitless material growth.

An excellent way to start down this path is to put to rest any tendencies we may have been encouraged in the past to feel towards plundering and exploiting others or our environment for sheer personal material gain.

In other words, each of us is much like an individual cell in a part of an organism. Each of us is like a cell in the human species which is in turn a component of the ecosphere. Individuals forsaking urges from past conditioning to plunder and exploit others humans or the ecosphere at large are like cancer cells on the path to becoming normal again.

By making the decision to care for rather than take unfair advantage of all members of the human family, nonhuman life, or nature in general, we are assuring stability and stasis for humanity as a species.

This transforms humanity from a malignancy to a healthy, normally functioning part of, the ecosphere that preserves rather than destabilizing or utterly crashing it. Caring about our fellows and our surroundings is in sync with nature.

26. Greed to Good

Switching from acts of plundering to acts of caring in our daily individual lives and then by default in the collective functioning of the human species involves an underlying shift in our life philosophy. Many of us, especially in the industrialized world, have grown up with and been incessantly exposed to the concept that greed is good.

Greed is good has become obsolete and downright toxic. It needs to be replaced. This is simple. We only need to alter one little two letter word.

Greed to good is our needed replacement. Make it our mission, our desire, to be of good to fellow humans and nature at large. We will like and come to crave the results over time.

Those results are feelings of camaraderie instead of enmity, of partnering rather than competing, all in a priceless, splendid natural world that is there for the fulfillment and enjoyment of all its inhabitants, human and nonhuman.

This is humanity transforming from malignancy to a species climax status as a vibrant and healthy part of nature.

27. Our Global Human Family

We are accustomed to thinking of family as our circle of closest relatives. These are our loved ones, the ones who receive our attention, affection, care and support. Others mistakenly fade into the background. We have bought food, clothing, and of course much generally useless junk, produced and brought to us by anonymous workers.

A few of these workers have decent working environments and decent pay. Many, however, do not. This is especially true in desperately poor third world nations where the industrialized first world has set up sweatshops. However, money is made and cheap junk is available to buy in the first world. This is the old greed is good mantra in action.

Every human is actually related to one degree or another with every other human. This is a biological fact. We are the family of humanity, running a collective household on our spaceship called Earth. We now need to think of greed to good.

Let us become fully aware that whatever we do to anyone, even half a world away, we are doing to a member of our own family, our own household. Our family dysfunction needs to be addressed and gotten rid of. This too is part of humanity evolving from malignancy to a healthy climax state.

28. The Long and Far Horizon

In charting our course, we need to be forward-looking, for after all we are continually living in the future. We need to consider not just tomorrow, next week or next month. Our primary focus must be on next year, decade, century, millennium and beyond. All of us, including the as yet unborn, belong to the human family. The condition of the natural world of which we are part is of utmost importance, it is our home.

Moving to the healthy and sustainable path of living within our energy means and equitably sharing, makes all of us rich in terms of fulfillment and freedom from want. This is where we want to go.

29. Values, What Really Matters

What really matters begins with the physical, mental and spiritual being that is each of us.

Further, it is our being of service to our fellow humans, and being stewards of the natural world of which we are an inextricably integral and interdependent part.

Value what really matters, not what has been destroying us and our natural element. We can do this.

30. Prosperity is Wellbeing and Freedom from Want

We belong to Family Homo Sapiens, lineage of wealthy genius. Each of us is individually responsible for stewarding our rich inheritance, through personal lifestyle decisions.

There is plenty for all of us to enjoy a rich physical, emotional and aesthetic standard of living. Peace, stability, and geopolitical security are achievable. Make it so.

Letter to
President of the United States
President Barack Obama, please deliver a series of Fireside Chats guiding us to sustainability, peace, and a high quality of life for our whole world.