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Open Letter to President Bush

This is a post I wrote over a decade ago – I’m not sure when, although I think I could work it out from the State of the Union references. I pulled the content from The Wayback Machine, from a long-ago deployment of my site. It’s being replicated here mostly because I wanted to preserve my please with regard to education and energy research.

I’d add commentary to my own open letter, but … meh, I think I’ll leave it here. Let’s just agree that some of it is outdated (and probably slightly jingoistic, albeit trying to be kind).

I am thrilled at the ongoing successes in Iraq, and while I am not pleased with the loss of life, I am indeed ecstatic with the resolve, the dedication, and the resulting defeat of a regime who, in my opinion, can only be regarded as representative of the grossest corporate evil in human culture today. That said, I would ask that the goals of the United States coalesce in drives to resolve a few specific issues, in order.

For one thing, please, please, please make education the number one priority. More than national defense. More than infrastructure. More than research… more than anything. Our nation is dying because we’re bloody retards. Those who can think critically and rationally – on all sides of the political fence – are happy accidents, not products of our education system. I would say that if we can really, honestly, truly fix our education systems, focusing on the core sciences and humanities, everything else would fall into place. Those who are able to think critically would see that national defense is important, and how to pursue it without a set of knee-jerk reactions. Those who can think rationally can see how infrastructure preserves the functioning of our economy and rights. Those who can think critically can see that research is the key to our vibrant economy, that production and not consumption is our strength.

Without critical thought, you have a set of unwilling and unpredictable random events, all hopefully being herded in such a way that nobody gets hurt too badly. Without reason, you have people screaming, “I suffer!,” unable to figure out that their suffering is a small thing in the face of the universe, and a willingness to fight the suffering constructively is the best way to defeat suffering.

In Iraq, I’d suggest that the governmental system is far, far less important than this same goal: education. Teach them how to think critically! Rather than impose abstract ideals of self-governance or freedom or capitalism, teach them how to reason for themselves. This is a culture whose leaders apparently honestly expected them to not be aware of coalition tanks not twelve miles away. “We have repelled the invaders!,” they said, against all reason, while the “invaders” were mere leagues away. This is an indictment against the way these people live, a damnation of their thought processes that they accepted it in any way. They need critical thought more than we do. A nation of Arab rationality in the Middle East would be the beacon the region needs. Perhaps the historical animosity towards Israel would persist – but a rational discussion need not result in the exchange of weapons fire, or the death of dancers in some club over a political statement.

Thirdly, focusing on the United States again, I would ask the administration to sponsor – after education – alternate energy research. In the last State of the Union address, you suggested $1.2 billion in alternative energy resources. While I was pleased with this, moreso than nearly any other point in the address, I fear that this sum is far too little. We need alternate energy, Mr. President. We need it now. If, for example, hydrogen cells were efficient for transit, many of those who stand against us, yet profit from our consumption of oil, would be beggared within a generation. A mere generation after which they would be free to scream their disapproval to the stars, yet they would have no funds with which to arm themselves or others. What’s more, alternate energy research would enable us to preserve our landscapes and reserves. I understand your willingness to drill for oil in Alaska’s pristine forests, yet I was overjoyed when Congress refused.

Lastly, I would beg the administration to cease the assault on civil rights. The DMCA, the Patriot Act – both have good intentions, and destroy the fabric of this great nation, the right of its people to be self-determining. Education would teach the young and old alike not to pursue destructive behavior, and it’s well known that prevention is worth far, far more than punishment. The Patriot Act destroys the rights of the innocent; the DMCA destroys the right of commerce, turning transactions not into ownership of media but into temporary licensure of the content of the media… where possession is no longer nine tenths of the law but absolutely none of the law. I implore you, please reverse this course!

Thank you.

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