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Finding common ground for sustainable investment

People on the Left, in the Center, and on the Right disagree about the direction of the country. But our political futures are tied together. We could benefit from finding what common ground we can within the important questions we are currently facing.
(pic by bigfoto.com)
In the Common Dreams newsletter, former President Jimmy Carter writes movingly about his concerns with the fundamental direction of the nation. And former Vice President Al Gore is featured in a piece (linked above) about sustainable investments in his new business venture. Translating his idea about the business sector to the public sector, our nation should think hard about the consequences of its investments. After all, we “put our money where our mouth is,” and all must live with the results.

  • The consequences of embarking on a war of choice in Iraq are profoundly damaging to America’s leadership capital within the family of nations. We are putting billions of taxpayer dollars or money borrowed from foreign investors into fighting the wrong war (at the original behest of Ahmad Chalabi) at wrong time. It is a huge mistake. And it simply is not sustainable. Our military cannot sustain the numbers; their families should not have to sustain their inordinate sacrifices, and our deficit dependency on international dollars is too risky to our kids future.
  • The consequences of our national leaders’ squandering of their ethical capital is worrying. A vacuum in governance, when so many people are under a cloud of illegality or scandal, leaves citizens feeling anxious and vulnerable to harm from a terrorist attack, or natural or man made disasters. The Republican majority in Congress has become fractured as moderates did in their heels against their own wounded leadership.
  • The consequences of putting our economic capital too heavily into fossil fuel driven industry are deeply damaging to the environment. We, and those who come after us, depend upon a sustainable climate with our very lives.
  • The consequences of spending our nation’s moral capital on questions like “intelligent design,” women’s rights of choice with our own bodies, the Ten Commandments in public places, etc., are far reaching. Paternalistic moralisms pushed through by a minority of people impinge on issues when the number of those in the majority would win by any accounting. The pendulum of opinion cannot sustain such a swing to the radical right for very long, because pendulums are weighted towards the center.
  • The consequences of our current president’s overspending his remaining political capital are becoming clear in his falling poll numbers. He has little influence left in the bank here at home. And, as he travels around the globe trying to persuade world leaders to our way of thinking, the broad base of international opinion is also hard to sway towards our side. On several crucial questions, the president’s leadership capacity will fall short of what it once seemed to be.

The answer to sustainable investments from the human capital comprising our national leadership seems to me to be found in building bipartisan coalitions at national and state levels. They will have to work hard and in good faith to find common ground within the issues, but we know that is what is needed. And there are small signs that this is already happening. We hope so.

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