This is the kind of big, bold thinking that is required if we are to have any chance at transforming our so-called civilization that has decimated bodies, minds, souls, and that of our Mother Earth. Not piece-meal thinking, merely trimming away at edges leaving the destructive core intact; rather, let us first imagine, discuss, decide, and then put into practice, the elimination or transformation of entire industries.
October 29, 2015
by Rob Kall
Industries are killed, with jobs lost, for different reasons, usually to kill union and middle class jobs. I say it is time to intentionally kill or drastically shrink some big, major industries that hurt the democracy and freedom or damage the environment and, literally, the future of life on earth.
In recent years, the legislators and presidents who have embraced transnational trade deals have chosen to kill industries that employee American workers in manufacturing industries like steel, clothing, furniture, shoes– often, unionized workers.. Those industries had long been protected by tariffs. This article is not about trade deals, which I believe are terrible for 99% of Americans. This article is about deciding to kill industries.
Some of the most egregious abuses of democracy are perpetrated by industries that literally deserve to be killed. These industries are usually old technology or energy companies, or privatized versions of what used to be or should be government owned and operated. They flood congress with lobbyists and flood politics with money. They flood the ecosystem with toxic pollution and threaten the planet.
It’s time that the killing of industries be put on the table. Companies with interests in maintaining the industries that should be killed raise cries of accusation about threats to their industries. I say, lay it out in the open. We don’t want your industry to exist. We want to make it go the way of buggy whips, corsets and plow horse harnesses. Get out of the business you are in. Transition to something else. It’s time for your industry to die.
My picks include health insurers, private prisons, charter schools, privatized military services, coal mining, the oil business, nuclear energy, and monoculture factory farming for starters. And let’s make Libertarians and teapartiers happy and shrink two huge parts of government — the out of control military and the drug war. Finally, we need to start a major war aimed at killing BIG.
When trade deals are proposed, the proponents have, historically, lied, saying that they would help workers, while, in truth, they were designed to kill industries, jobs and unions.
Why not start talking about intentionally killing industries that are not ecologically sustainable, that are predatory, extractive operations inserting added, unnecessary costs for vital services.
The first step is to stop corporate welfare subsidies to the industries. That should be easiest to get bi-partisan support for.
Coal and oil are unsustainable energy sources. Coal is incredibly dirty and should be the first to go. We should be intentionally aiming to put the industries out of business. Shell just reported that it lost billions of dollars in the last quarter. Good. Start by immediately ending all subsidies/corporate welfare for old energy companies. But don’t end the subsidies– re-direct them towards building a native US sustainable energy industry that includes wind, waves, solar, hydrogen… Use some of the money that was used for corporate welfare to re-train coal miners and workers in the oil industry. Encourage new sustainable energy ventures to build operations where old energy workers have lost jobs due to intentional killing of their industry.
The nuclear energy industry has a history of irresponsible operations and it is unbelievably subsidized. End the subsidies and start shutting these operations down, as other nations are doing.
Monoculture farming and factory farming of animals produce unhealthy degraded nutrition food while generating massive levels of greenhouse gases. Many nations have made the use of GMOs illegal. In Russia it’s a crime to grow GMOs. Locally grown food, with crop diversity, is much healthier and does not require the addition of oil to move the food around. Factory farmed meat produces drug and hormone filled products that increase risks of illness– diabetes, heart disease, cancer, infections. And these operations reduce jobs. End subsidies and tax breaks. Give tax breaks to small farming operations. Consider this an investment in health care rather than food marketing
Drastically destroy private health insurance — including the bogus non-profits. Create a single payer health care system like every other first world nation has. The USA’s privatized health care system– the most expensive and inefficient in the world, proves that it is a lie that private industry is more efficient and competitive. Kill the private insurance industry. The money saved will provide health care to millions of uninsured Americans and will produce more jobs than those lost with the destruction of private health insurance. I expect that there will small, boutique health insurers for the wealthy. They should be regulated so they don’t sabotage the single payer system.
Private Prisons and the drug war go hand in hand. We need to kill the drug war– a government operation that is totally out of control at the federal and local levels. Local police depend on drug war money to fund their operations. Legalize marijuana. Decriminalize use of all drugs and treat the use as an illness. Make them available at drug stores. Create jobs in the rehabilitation business. Already, there is a bi-partisan effort to fix the justice system and end mandatory sentencing. Aim to reduce the prison population by 60-80%. Shut down all the private prisons. They’re, in a sense, getting corporate welfare. We now have technologies that allow wireless tracking of convicted felons. Use that technology instead of prison walls. Nowadays, millions of people work at home. Allow convicted felons to work at home, instead of putting them in prison. Create a conservation corps to employ the out of work guards, with the task of rebuilding and renewing our infrastructure.
Fund MORE Police. That’s right. invest in training police to connect, bottom-up, with their communities, so they are trusted and respected, and so they respect the members of their communities. Just as the military is investing more and more in soft power– building schools and bridges, develop ways for police to get to know and connect with the people– bring back cops walking the beat. Destroy the cop culture in which police protect criminal, law breaking, even murderous cops. They don’t deserve to be police. Put them in jail. With a new generation of police being hired, make it clear that the old police ways are dead, deadly and no longer tolerable.
Kill the Big Military, big security/intelligence. Don’t get rid of them, but re-invent them as smaller, more accountable and more controlled. This is the most bloated, most unaccountable part of government. The first step is to, from the bottom up, rebuild the military so it is far more transparent and accountable– one hundred percent accountable. It is insane and criminal that over a trillion dollars in funds are not accounted for. While the military has historically been very top-down, the new military should be more distributed, more bottom-up, especially in the massive and burgeoning parts of the military that are not involved in direct combat. Look at holacracy as a management model that builds smarter, more agile operations with employees who are more empowered. We need soldiers who leave the military without having been indoctrinated into being authoritarianism enablers.
Also, as Ron Paul advocated, drastically reduce — we maintain. Replace foreign military bases with increased investments in soft-power/smart power diplomacy. Take young people who would have enlisted in the army and train them to operate as envoys and workers for the Department of State.
Eliminate archaic technologies that don’t reflect the realities of asymmetric warfare that is waged in today’s world. Massive naval fleets, battalions of tanks? These are as out of date as the cavalry.
Intelligence and security agencies are out of control unaccountable and well on the way to endangering freedom and democracy. They have proven they are not worthy of our trust by spying on members of congress. If they can do that they can hold every member of congress in thrall. The urge to know everything is a form of hoarding. The intelligence system must be re-built and re-scaled with new leadership who are vetted to respect laws and privacy. Of course, that starts from the top down. We need to replace the commander in chief with someone who understands the dangers of putting obsessive compulsive hoarders who don’t respect laws and who lie to congress in charge of any agency.
Charter Schools — another unaccountable development that is parasitizing funding of education, a business model that hedge funds are rapaciously salivating over. We need to invest more in education, but no to privatization– another way the one percent are ruining America.
A bit further down the road, Killing Big— I’ve written a series of articles along these lines, in my article series, Small is Better than Big; small acts, world, economics, lifestyles, solutions, activism. As a longer term goal, we need to aim to get rid of, kill, eliminate, legislate out of existence, make it immoral, disgusting to be too big– which applies to corporations and people, as in billionaires.