No matter what happens on Nov. 2, a
national election has the ability to act as a national reset
button, possibly instigating totally innovative national policy
initiatives. No matter who takes the White House, a new tone needs
to be set in this country. The current Bush administration has led
us on a wild goose chase in Iraq, made our name mud in the world
and set up a budget disaster that my grandchildren will still be
dealing with. The United States has squandered valuable resources
and intellectual ability that should have been used on bringing
America into the 21st century.

Zack Denfeld

The future looks bright, but has nothing to do with whether
Republicans or Democrats win the White House. As always, it is the
integrity and the ingenuity of average Americans that show the most
promise in making the world a better place. In fact, maybe I am
being a little mystical, but I think the fact that the U.S. Postal
Service has recently released Buckminster Fuller stamps is a sure
sign that there is hope for the future.

Some stuff we need to take care of in the next decade:

Reducing our consumption of everything from oil to electricity
and unnecessarily large cars will be key to leading the world by
example. I often wonder if Americans have it in us. Americans
should be given a choice, but can they make the right one? The Bush
administration, directly tied to the oil industry, didn’t
quite get this point. Nor I suspect will the Kerry administration.
California under the Terminator might be getting the point, but
we’ll have to see what Detroit and the marketing department
has to say about standardizing fuel efficiency, hybrids and smaller
cars.

There are major developments in sustainable development and
green architecture, not funded anywhere near where they need to be,
but until there is a fundamental shift in the way the average
citizen understands and interacts with their mental and physical
environment nothing substantial will happen at the national
level.

That fundamental change in consciousness can only come about
when our public and media institutions divest from the corporate
psychological experiment, where, currently, many of our best and
brightest are stationed, working on making people want to consume
things.

The Internet has helped distribute some of the power of
communication, but as corporations try to colonize the web, they
are setting the United States up for a collapse. Inadvertently they
are preparing a giant for a great fall.

Our top-heavy, vertically integrated, one-way corporate mass
media means that a simple rumor started online by some bloggers and
chain emails could be picked up by the three major news sources and
reverberate and feedback, back down the chain of their many media
holdings. Because the influence and power of communication is
concentrated on top, this kind of cascading collapse is entirely
possible.

For example, I could see a single person easily being able to
create a price shock to the U.S. economy, by simply rumoring that a
new Kerry administration would institute a large gas tax. If this
is picked up by the networks and plays for a day, with the headline
“New administration likely to raise gas tax: $1 per
gallon” people and businesses freak out, make a run on gas
and drive the price up to new highs. Just sit back and watch the
whole thing spiral out of control. This would be much harder in a
horizontal, un-concentrated media structure.

Something the U.S. government can do in this respect is
institute a national project, on the scale of the building of the
interstate highway system, that would set up the infrastructure for
free wireless Internet access to every U.S. citizen living in a
city. This would attract a variety of people to once again populate
our cities, spurning an urban renaissance and a move away from
suburban sprawl. It also seems much more interesting to most people
than offering tax breaks for companies to relocate to cities or for
malls to be built. It would also lay the infrastructure for a
citizen-to-citizen information system that is easily accessible,
and distributed in power and place, limiting the ridiculous
dominance of corporate- controlled commercial communication
networks.

Similarly, if both candidates are serious about securing nuclear
materials in the former Soviet Union, we need to not only institute
a Department of Peace, as proposed by former Democratic
presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich, but give it more funding than
the Department of Defense (formerly Department of War) and enable
it to transparently work with Russia and other post-Soviet
countries to properly locate and dismantle its nuclear
materials.

I am not holding my breath for either the Kerry or Bush
administration to implement either of these policies, but maybe the
reset button of the election will allow other interesting policy
ideas to rise above the uncreative, and just plain bad policy
making we have lived with for four years.

 

Denfeld can be reached at
“mailto:zcd@umich.edu”>zcd@umich.edu.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *