John Steiner: Bob Burnett on Renewing Democracy, Shifting Paradigm and Open Letter from Robert Steele
Huffington Post, 27 July 2012
Thomas Jefferson believed in renewing democracy by regularly shifting the dominant social paradigm. Jefferson argued that constitutions should be rewritten every generation, declaring the ³dead should not govern the living.² That explains why contemporary Americans are so fractious: we¹re overdue for a new paradigm.
In computer technology the dominant paradigm has shifted approximately every twenty years. In 1954 IBM introduced a mass-produced mainframe computer, the 704. In 1977 the personal computer era began with the introduction of the Commodore PET. In 1996 Nokia introduced the modern era by introducing the 9000 Communicator, a personal data assistant.
Not every company can adapt to change. In December of 2000, Microsoft stock shares were worth $119.94; it was the most valuable corporation in the world with a market capitalization of $510 billion. When the paradigm shifted to the personal data assistant, Microsoft didn¹t adapt but Apple did. In October of 2001, Apple introduced the Ipod a digital music player. Apple followed with the 2007 release of the IPhone and the 2010 introduction of the IPad. Today Microsoft¹s stock is worth $29.15 per share and its market capitalization is $244B. In twelve years, Apple¹s stock increased in value from $8.19 to $574; its market cap rose from $4.8B to $538B and it became
the world¹s most valuable company.
In the last eighty years there have been two social paradigm shifts. In the thirties, Franklin Delano Roosevelt ushered in ³the New Deal² in response to a catastrophic depression. ³Throughout the nation men and women, forgotten in the political philosophy of the Government, look to us here for guidance and for more equitable opportunity to share in the distribution of national wealth… I pledge myself to a new deal for the American people.² The New Deal featured “three R’s”: relief, recovery, and reform; it provided a safety net for all Americans.
For forty years conservatives attacked Roosevelt’s New Deal. In 1980, the dominant paradigm shifted. Ronald Reagan demeaned the safety net concept and convinced Americans they no longer needed financial regulations. (The Chicago School of Economics promoted deregulation by arguing that markets were inherently self-regulating and no matter how severe the setback, markets would quickly return to equilibrium.) “Reaganomics” promoted the cancerous notion that helping the rich get richer would benefit everyone
else, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
Thirty years later, it’s clear that Reaganomics has failed and once again America needs to supplant the dominant paradigm. The US economy is broken. The Reagan conservative ideology assumed that rich folks buying yachts and vacation homes would catalyze the consumer economy, but that didn¹t happened. Belatedly, Americans recognized a healthy economy depends upon steady consumption by the middle class. Unfortunately the current recession has devastated 99 percent of working Americans and benefited only the
richest one percent.
A second reason why the paradigm needs to shift is because, under Reaganomics, corporations and the wealthy acquired too much power. They bought the Republican Party and used their wealth to flood the mainstream media with conservative propaganda. Corporations plundered our natural resources, while the richest one percent moved trillions of dollars out of the US economy offshore into tax havens.
Finally, the social paradigm needs to shift because, as a consequence of Reaganomics, serious problems are being ignored. The US economy will not function unless determined efforts are made to bolster the lives of working Americans. Until there¹s a sea change in perspective, many other vital issues will continue to be ignored, such as global climate change, energy usage, and infrastructure deterioration.
We need to shift from Reaganomics to a social paradigm that renews democracy. The first step is recognition that the real strength of America is its people, not its corporations. Leveling the playing field requires limiting the power of corporations. Democracy has to take priority over capitalism. And restoring the economy means redistributing wealth by means of an equitable tax system.
Renewing democracy requires that Americans plan for the future. One of the most debilitating aspects of Reaganomics has been its short-term perspective; Thomas Friedman characterized the conservative ethos as IBG/YBG: ³Do whatever you like now, because ŒI¹ll be gone¹ or Œyou¹ll be gone² when the bill comes due.² But it¹s our moral responsibility to plan for the next generation; we have to confront long-range problems such as the lack of meaningful jobs and Global Climate change.
The 2012 presidential election offers a stark contrast between Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama. The men have different backgrounds and philosophies. Most important, they represent different social paradigms. Romney defends Reaganomics he wants American to continue to do business as it has for the past three decades, to continue with a system that is broken and destructive, to remain in the age of dinosaurs. Obama wants something better he wants to reinvigorate ³the New Deal² and renew democracy. But Obama needs to articulate a more coherent alternative to the dominant paradigm.
That’s the challenge for Liberals in 2012. We must help Obama formulate an alternative to Reaganomics, a new vision the 99 percent can identify with.
ROBERT STEELE: Following is the email that was sent to the author with a copy to the contributing editor.
I hold John Steiner in the highest regard and treasure all that he shares via email. I found your note engrossing and have just a couple of disagreements, as well a few additional sources to recommend, that I wish to share with you. In my mind, you and John represent the most intelligent and moral of the Democratic-leaning public, so it is with grave concern that I notice that you do not look beyond the two-party tyranny for an out of the box solution.
I ran for President, accepted as a Reform Party candidate, for six weeks, learning all I needed to learn about the total corruption of our electoral system from digital vote fraud via the centralized counting (instead of paper ballots and open counts at the precinct level) to the many different means by which the Democratic and Republican parties jointly block all other legitimate parties (there are six, the four active ones are Constitutional, Green, Libertarian, and Reform) as well as all Independents from having voice or vote. My TEAM website, We the People Reform Coalition, is still standing, and I am certain we could execute those ideas and take back the Republic if someone funded an Electoral Reform Summit in September 2012. Mike Bloomberg has made some big mistakes that can be turned into assets; I speak of IndependentVoting.org, NO LABELS, and Americans Elect. My briefing to Hackers on Planet Earth on 13 July 2011 in NYC, can be seen at the below title with embedded link. Please note the graphic showing 100 million times $10 annually outspending the corporate donors.
Respectfully, I would point out a few facts to you, first saying that I agree completely on the paradigm shift. My own contributions to that effect are four, all linked below.
01) It was Bill Clinton and Secretary of the Treasury Rubin, who allowed the two-party tyranny in Congress to pass the legislation that included 200 pages written by lobbyists, deregulating everything, put into the legislation five minutes before the vote. The lack of integrity by Banking Chair Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) was compounded by the lack of integrity on the part of the other 99 Senators, none willing to demand a postponement of the vote to read the 200 pages. The fix was in. Where it really broke down was on the Executive side. Rubin was working for Wall Street while he was Secretary of Treasury, NOT for the public. The Mexico bail-out, for example, was a bail-out for the bad judgement of Wall Street, not a bail-out for the Mexican people or the American people. So don’t go saying Reaganomics is the cause of all this, I agree in principle, but in FACT this is on Bill Clinton and the team he put together. He has has the gold certificates and got his golden parachute. He betrayed the public trust, an impeachable offense (to be clear, I also think Newt Gingrich and several others merit retorspective impeachment in the form of Truth & Reconciliation trials).
02) Senator Obama (and Senator McCain) both failed to respect the gut instincts of the House Republicans, and voted for the bank bail-outs. I tried very hard to get through to Senator McCain but his office was staffed by Bushies and I am convinced to this day that Senator McCain was sabotaged from within by Bushies who were part of the “Obama fix” by Wall Street and foreign sovereign fund — to this day Obama has not accounted for $300 millon of the $750 million he spent. Had either one of them sworn to stop all foreclosures and evictions, and to insure American from the bottom up, we would have had some enormously creative destruction on Wall Street, and the core of our national power, the public, would have been relatively unperturbed.
03) The Obama Administration, like Administrations before it, continues to lie to the public about fundamentals. The actual unemployment rate in this county is 24.4%, not 8% or any other fictional number of the day. In my demographic (60) and that of the young leaving colleage with debt and no real education, the unemployment rate is closer to 40%. I like to quote
Bob Seelert, Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide (New York): When things are not going well, until you get the truth out on the table, no matter how ugly, you are not in a position to deal with it.
As I have written in nine books and many articles and chapters and briefings and lectures, the US Government consists of good people trapped in a toxic system — irrespective of which of the two-party tyranny is in power at any time, this means that the US Government in the current state of imbalanced and unaccountable powers does NOT prepresent We the People, but rather it represents the stakeholders who receive the taxes paid by the people, and kick back 5%–the standard established rate– to the Presidential or Congressional PAC. This is an unsustainable proposition, and all the money the Obama Administration has been printing and borrowing out of thin air is going to lead to an economic collapse in 2013-2014. I note with interest that no one has gone to jail here, and Iceland, where people have gone to jail, now has a stronger bond rating than all of Europe.
04) I humbly suggest to you that the paradigm shift we need right now is NOT one the Democratic Party or Barack Obama can lead (unless he leaves the party and implements the ideas at We the People Reform Coalition PRIOR to election day 2012). We need to restore electoral integrity. That in turn restores the legitimacy of the political process and the governance process. That would allow initiatives I have proposed, such as an Open Souorce Agency to create a Smart Nation, to come to the forefront. That in turn would allow the constructive reduction of the government by half (the half that is documented as fraud, waste, and abuse, from agriculture and energy to health, prisons, and military), the end of all income taxes, the decriminalization of marijuana if not its outright legalization, and the funding of a national corps of unempoyed who receive training in information era jobs and/or are able to contribute to the rebuilding of America, but not around our decaying urban areas, but around high speed rail connecting mid-size cities, all mindful of where the water level is going to be in 50-75 years.
It troubles me that just by paying attention and keeping my integrity intact, I know more about how to rescue America than does the President of the United States of America. He made some very serious mistakes early on (Rahm Emmanuel being the biggest) and now he is a captive of the very system he led us to believe he was going to change. As long as he is a captive, he will change nothing — we will simply get four more years of Corruption Lite. So I urge you to consider the FACT that the majority of the voters in this country want a political process that is transparent, truthful, and worthy of trust. NONE OF THE ABOVE (two-party tyranny) is the first step toward a real paradigm shift. I invite you to contemplate that posslbility.
Robert David STEELE Vivas
Theresa Amato with Ralph Nader, Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny (New Press, 2009)
Robert David STEELE VIvas, Election 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Substance of Governance; Legitimate Grievances; Candidates on the Issues; Balanced Budget 101; Call to Arms: Fund We Not Them; Annotated Bibliography) (Earth Intelligence Network, 2008)
Peter Peterson, Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It (Picador, 2005)