SOLO ZONE      essay


a letter to Obama and crowd
by Charles Wehrenberg

      What can be done with a pen had better be a viable alternative because we are running out of credit to buy bullets. The fact is we ran out of money long ago. Unfortunately the fuzzy logic of Reaganism continues to hobble America. We can only hope that a simple pen can become the magic wand required, perhaps in the hand of an inspirational President. I do believe Americans can carry their weight, ponderous though it has become, and that Americans will do so if enjoined with the right poetry. Here are eight concepts for Executive Orders that will have a profound impact immediately. The poetry here is not Tax What You Earn, rather Pay as You Burn. The theme here is that we grow as we learn.

  • Energy independence and oil dependency: To immediately reduce the demand for imported oil and to simultaneously lend impetus to the development of transportation alternatives, the Executive Order mandates a Permanent, Nationwide Speed Limit of 55 mph for all internal combustion vehicles on all roadways. 55 miles per hour is a fuel efficiency point for the existing automotive and trucking fleets, and it is a point of inspiration. I have no doubt that there will be alternatives on the road within twelve months. Substantial penalties for speeding are imposed, however, keep in mind this is a penalty you do not have to pay.
  • Growing prison budgets are a fact of life, so is the fact that a significant percentage of felonies are caused by alcohol consumption. Like tobacco and gasoline which are being priced to pay for their use, beverage alcohol must pay for the consequences of drinking alcohol. Police and prosecutors maintain that 50%-70% of felonies (which demand investigation and prosecution and lead to a subsequent cost of incarceration) are caused by alcohol consumption. In California this translates to roughly $1 per cocktail, beer, or glass of wine, in addition to the very meager taxes on alcohol currently collected. This insidious leak in the bucket has grown worse annually since 1970. The shortfall thus created has compounded wickedly, eroding school budgets and other social efforts. This user fee will not make up for the years of shortfall, however, it can change the direction. This Executive Order degrees a nationally collected fee imposed on distribution of beverage alcohol, to be redistributed to states equally according to their respective population. Once again, this is a tax you do not have to pay.
  • Infrastructure is typically seen to include roads, sewers, bridges and dams. This Executive Order envisions housing as infrastructure, and directs Congress to provide an infrastructure maintenance stipend of $1000 to each unit owner for the express purpose of maintaining that unit. This stimulus package money will be for painting, plumbing, rewiring, appliance renewal in each unit, and it must be spent within the calendar year. Even units for sale or in foreclosure need this infusion to maintain our neighborhoods. This is putting the money into the bottom where it can Trickle Up through the economy.
  • Culturally, America needs to restore the Native American voice. This is a weak part of our foundation. We need Native America’s culminative wisdom, and we need to acknowledge their long suffered grievances. This Executive Order frees Leonard Peltier and directs the Congress to pay these beleaguered Americans long overdue reparations. This is in fairness to those who came before us and who were once stewards of this land.
  • Socially, Americans need to acknowledge that the wisdom of humanity is not owned by any one language. In 1776 many wanted The Declaration of Independence to be printed in German as well as in English. Clearly, it was the intention of the Founding Fathers that the United States should have a single American Document Language. Now as then, America remains a polyglot amalgum. And now as then, we are stronger for this diversity. Without an esthetic of bi-lingualism, however, this diversity can become chaotic. We need to foster language studies in our schools at every level. This Executive Order directs the United States Armed Forces to prioritize bi-lingual skills when assessing recruits and to mandate second language studies for anyone seeking a military career.
  • For both environmental and for personal health reasons we need to get people out of cars and get them walking to work, walking to school, and walking to buy a quart of milk. This Executive Order directs urban planners to assert a Pedestrians First concept whether designing an inner city block or a designing a suburban neighborhood. Every neighborhood home in America needs to have a neighborhood store and neighborhood school within walking distance. This is in fairness to our children and to ourselves, all of whom need exercise.
  • The United States requires a universal health care plan to revitalize American entrepreneurial spirit and to encourage small business. We must level the playing field. This Executive Order directs Congress to establish a single payer, universal health care plan within one year or to mandate those who are currently receiving health care from an employer to include this compensation in their taxable income. Being fair is simply being smart.
  • We can be larger than a Nation that kills easily or takes a life willfully. This must start at home. For many reasons, this Executive Order suspends the US Death Penalty and hereby commutes any existing death penalty sentence to life in prison without parole. God told Moses "Thou Shalt not kill."