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Have you ever heard the song that goes, "This land is your land, this land is my land, this land was made for you and me"?  The lyrics to this song make the point that the United States belongs to you, and that you are the government.

The Constitution of the United States begins with the words, "We, the People..." because here the people are the government.  And it is time we all realized it.

Last week I wrote about the way we think about our government.  

Ronald Reagan liked to say "Government is the problem, not the solution" and, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help.' " ... [But] the Constitutions of the United States of America and of the state of California both begin with the words, "We the people."  So "we, the people" are the government. ...When you think about it this way, it makes the things Ronald Reagan said sound contradictory. How can we, the people be the problem? How can it be scary that we, the people are here to help each other?

Our government is US working together to take care of each other.  This is a monumental shift in the way many of us have come to think about our relationship with our government.  Government is not some "them" out there, like the conservatives want you to think - government is you, and me, and all of us in this together, for each other.  

The process of changing our "frame" of thinking about the relationship between us and our government changes the way we understand lots of related ideas.  So, expressing this change by talking about "our" government instead of "the" government is a beginning toward helping yourself and others understand the implications of this monumental shift in thinking.

One implication of this shift in thinking is that, beyond the idea that we are the government, this land is also our land.  Literally.  WE own this state, and WE own this country.  This means we own the oil and minerals under government land - and the government land.  It means we own the trees in the national forests - and the national forests.  (This means that the companies that are pumping that oil and mining those minerals and cutting those trees should be paying us a fair price - better check on that. ...  Uh Oh.)

Here is a revelation:  this also means that companies that pollute your air and water should at the very least be paying us for the right to do so.  And because we are the government, it also means that we decide the rules - all the rules - and we are supposed to tell the corporations what to do, and not the other way around.

Wow.  When the implications of all that sinks in, things are gonna change.  Big time.
Here is just one example of how we can start to change the way things are done, once we realize that we are the ones who are supposed to be in charge of this state and this country.  

In his book Capitalism 3.0, Peter Barnes writes about how the people of Alaska set up and benefit from the Alaska Permanent Fund, and how these ideas could be used to help fight pollution and global warming.  Here's how it works.  The PEOPLE of Alaska are PAID by oil and mining companies to allow them to pump their oil or mine their minerals.  Everyone gets a check.  But, on top of that, these companies also have to pay into a permanent fund, so even after the oil is gone everyone in Alaska STILL gets a check because of the way they decided to manage that resource, the oil under their state, and everyone in Alaska will continue to get a check, forever.  

Barnes suggests extending this idea to cover air and water pollution.  WE own the air we breathe and the water, but right now corporations just dump CO2 and other stuff into that air, and pollutants into the water.  Once again, WE, the people own the air and water – so we should be charging these companies for the right to pollute, up to a certain limit.  Then we can raise the price they have to pay, every year.  We can use that money to undo the effects of the pollution, build wind and solar generators, etc.  And because they finally have to pay instead of just dumping stuff into our air and water, they will have an incentive to find ways to stop polluting.

The more we start understanding and asserting that we, the people own and govern our country, the more we will start to get things back under control.  

This piece originally appeared at the Speak Out California blog.

Originally posted to davej on Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 10:14 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Bravo! and Amen. (7+ / 0-)

    May I suggest you continue beating the drum about WE the people being the OWNERS, and caretakers,  of our natural resources.  I'll help.

    Peace: Whose crazy idea was that?

    by GoMommyGo on Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 10:30:11 AM PDT

  •  I've been saying the same thing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Spoc42, riles, jlms qkw

    Excellent piece. Rec'd.

    I've been telling people this for a long time.  There are many places where the government can't be this all-knowing entity, watching everyone, correcting all injustices.  That's God's work.  :)

    One little nit:

    The constitution of the United States begins with the words, "We, the people..."

    Please correct the diary; the words Constitution and People are capitalized.

    Other than that, great diary!  Where's the Tip Jar?

    "People should not be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people." --V

    by MikeTheLiberal on Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 10:31:09 AM PDT

  •  I've been saying the same thing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lineatus, jlms qkw

    In fact, I just wrote a comment about this in bonddad's diary.

    I'll help beat the drum too. =)

    Am I a libral? or just well informed?

    by riles on Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 01:14:04 PM PDT

    •  As long as we're sharing comments (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      november3rd, Spoc42, jlms qkw

      ... from other diaries, this bears repeating:  

      BTW, did anyone catch Hoekstra's quote about FISA on NPR today?  Referring to Conyer's bill, he said "This could mean more liberties will be extended to radical jihadists - people like Bin Laden - than we give to American citizens".  (emphasis mine)

      Let's just skip over the obvious hyperbolic scare bullshit... they give us our liberties?  Ahem... the constitution - ring any bells, Pete?  I thought you were in the business of protecting our liberties, not doling them out as you see fit.

      Just call their form of government Hypocracy.

      by lineatus on Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 08:20:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great piece! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlms qkw

    I would love to have you crosspost over at our place. See my sig line.

    A different way of thinking about OUR government is exactly what we need!

  •  Public Media Takeover (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gogol, jlms qkw

    As Al Gore pinpoints in his book, The Assault On Reason, one-way electronic media--like television--have closed the dialogue in the marketplace of ideas in America.

    Anybody can get into print, but television is closed to free exchange, the way it exists now.

    We need regulation of tv--for the people's interest--but only after a complete moratorium on commercial electronic media ownership.

    We the people will decide what we want on television and radio in our own communities, democratically.

    Let the advertisers pay us, not Comcast, Verizon and AOL-Time Warner!

    Let's let cities like New Orleans and Cleveland decide what programming to run in their own communities--and if Exxon really wants to advertise there--they can pay into the city treasury.

    Total public access--that would be fair and balanced, and democratic!



    The so-called, "Global War On Terror" IS Terrorism!

    by november3rd on Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 08:45:32 PM PDT

  •  dead on it's We The People= (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gogol, jlms qkw

    it's to reflect who we are......

    "Bush always listens to the generals. When he gets tired of listening to them he replaces them. ..." - Wesley Clark.

    by army193 on Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 09:05:30 PM PDT

  •  We The People say you are right on and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlms qkw

    righteous davej.

    Keep up the drum beat.

    I will carry the flag. I have a friend who will play the fife.

    Forward into battle with our recruits.

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