Monday, November 06, 2006
Teaser Appetizer: Dalai Lama Becomes the President of the USA
George Bush, in his last year of office, finally got the comprehensive immigration reform law passed. He signed the law in a ceremony in the White House on 10 Oct 08. Two events compelled a bipartisan approach: the looming election fiasco and the intense lobbying by Arnold Schwarznegger
With election only a few weeks away, no one wanted to be the president to clean up the global Bush mess. No Republican. No democrat. No candidate. Period.
Iraq was the dilemma; while the republicans simply had no desire to withdraw, the democrats did not know how.
Arnold, aware, this was his only chance to be the president, garnered the support of democrats, republicans, free lancers, independents, dependents, deal makers, fence sitters, border crossers and lobbied successfully to change the law. The new immigration law said:
"In the absence of any candidates for the post of the president, the congress and the senate may appoint a person -- including a foreigner – as the president of the USA, but on a temporary work permit, named POS-4: presidency outsourced for four years.”
The congress considered many candidates and finally selected The Dalai Lama because he had traveled through the USA more than he had done in Tibet and in a recent Nobel peace prize winners rally he was not critical of the US.
Next morning a benign smile replaced a silly smirk on TV screens while emasculated Arnold sulked in his gym.
In his inaugural speech president Dalai Lama declared, “We will launch novel initiatives in foreign, domestic and economic fronts; we will follow the doctrine of TLC: terrorism, liberation and consumption.
TERRORISM shall be our foreign policy. (Hillary’s jaw dropped, Kerry’s eyes popped, Kennedy’s heart stopped.) But we will give a new definition to TERRORISM: To Engage Rivals in Redirecting Our Resources In Serving Mankind (Hillary-Kerry-Kennedy body parts relaxed.)
On the domestic front, we will not only ensure life and liberty but seek liberation of the intellect from the clutches of the ego. Then and only then we will achieve true freedom. (Richard Gere smiled)
Our constitution ensures separation of religion and state. As a natural evolution of this cherished principle, I propose, we now separate religion from God because religion has lately become a major impediment in understanding God.” (Buchanan and Gingrich cringed)
Our economic policy shall be to cut our consumption. Our avarice for plundering the earth has exceeded its ability to sustain us.”(Cheney got pensive)
The Dalai Lama received inaudible applause in the house but thunderous appreciation in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Iran.
Next day he appointed three eminent persons as his close advisers. Donald Rumsfeld, Joseph Stiglitz and Arundathi Roy.
He chose Donald Rumsfeld as the chief adviser. When the nation protested, he calmed the fear. ”He is the single most valuable asset in my administration. If we do exactly the opposite of what he recommends, we will not go wrong.”
He invited the Nobel laureate economist, Joseph Stiglitz and said,” You have an image of a person who opposes globalization.”
“But I don’t” Joseph protested, “I am only against the machinations of the world bank and IMF. I have written about it in my book -- Globalization and its Discontent”.
Dalai Lama winked," It doesn’t matter what you write. The street protestors don’t read. They follow the slogans. Look here, we can pursue the globalization of non violence with you leading it. With your image no one will suspect.”
He selected Arundhati Roy - a writer gifted by her small god - with talent to oppose anything: dams, nukes, dictators, democracy, judges, foreign policies, wars, Saddam, Bush, corporations, globalization, free markets, long hair – almost anything. She could write expert opinions simultaneously with both hands; the left hand hurling invectives to the right and the right splashing sarcasm on the right. Her stunning looks, incisive intellect and strident criticism of the USA gave her credibility with its enemies. She had thundered in Turkey, “We are here to examine a vast spectrum of evidence about the motivations and consequences of the US invasion and occupation, evidence that has been deliberately marginalized or suppressed. Every aspect of the war will be examined - its legality, the role of international institutions and major corporations in the occupation, the role of the media, the impact of weapons such as depleted uranium munitions, napalm, and cluster bombs, the use of and legitimation of torture, the ecological impacts of the war, the responsibility of Arab governments, the impact of Iraq's occupation on Palestine, and the history of US and British military interventions in Iraq.”
At their first cabinet meeting, Joseph Stiglitz gave an overview of the state of the economy. He told that our priorities were skewed and we could easily afford to improve the condition of the world. He cited from the Human Development Report, 1998, the comparison between the total cost for health and education of the world and other frivolous expenditure the world was indulging in:
Cost of basic education for all $6 billion (Cosmetics in the USA $8 billion)
Cost of water and sanitation for all $9 billion (Ice Cream in Europe $11 billion)
Reproductive health for all women $12 billion (Perfumes in Europe and the USA $12 billion)
Basic health and nutrition $13 billion for all (Pet foods in Europe and USA $17 billion)
Business entertainment in Japan $35 billion
Cigarettes in Europe $50 billion
Alcohol in Europe $105 billion
Narcotics in the world $400 billion
Military spending in the world $780 billion
It was not any better in 2005 Human development Report:
Annual income of the richest 500 people exceeded that of the poorest 416 million
Cost of ending extreme poverty – $300 billion – less than 2% of the income of the richest 10% of the world’s population
Joseph also quoted from a report on health by Jeffrey Sachs and associates:
“8 million lives could be saved per year in low income countries by intervention in nutritional and infectious diseases. These countries need additional grants of 22 to 31 billion dollars per year by 2015 from donor countries. The USA gave only 0.012 percent of its GNP, an average of 920 million dollars between 1997 and 1999 as development assistance for health and population programs.
The Dalai Lama asked Joseph Stiglitz, “How much will the Iraq war cost?” Joseph replied,” I estimate, it will be at least 1.1 trillion dollars by 2016.”
The Dalai Lama said, “If we stop the war now and spend some money instead on health and education, do you think that will be a better foreign policy? Do you think we will make more friends? Do you think that is the right action?” Rumsfeld disagreed,” First we need democracy in Iraq to ensure our national security. We can not cut our defense expenditure and our war effort”.
Dalai Lama had chosen the right path instinctively and Rumsfeld’s objection validated it. He asked Rumsfeld," When should we withdraw from Iraq?”
Rumsfeld said," Not for five years or may be ten.”
Taking Rumsfeld’s advice seriously he ordered the US army to withdraw immediately.
He asked Arundhati to go Iraq, publicize the new US foreign policy, convince them of our sincerity and embrace them with friendship and love. She hesitated," Since I can not be guaranteed security I would rather not travel. Instead I would just write angry articles and persuasive letters.”
Rumsfeld chuckled," In New York she needed only a podium but in Baghdad she also needs courage.” Arundhati, livid and challenged, defied Rumsfeld and left for Iraq.
Dalai Lama blessed her with parting advice," Mr. Bush had used WMD – words of mass deception -- to fabricate excuses to attack Iraq but now it is your responsibility to use the right speech. And don’t practice in Iraq what you may have picked up from the communists in Kerala. Freedom of speech does not legitimize the freedom to shriek.”
Arundhati was a big hit in Iraq with her passionate persuasion.
The Dalai Lama then set out on an earnest campaign to convince Americans to cut consumption.
He cited from a report, that 20% of the world population living in the highest-income countries indulges in 86% of total private consumption. They also:
Eat 45% of all meat and fish
Use 58% of total energy
Own74% of all telephones
Use 84% of all paper
Own 87% of the world’s vehicles
The president pleaded," We in the USA are the profligate market for the world. The whole world sells to us and we buy a disproportionate share of world’s production of goods and services. That makes us vulnerable and insecure. We should cut our consumption and lead simpler lives.”
When Americans finally decided to live without compulsive shopping, the imports decreased, trade deficit narrowed, national debt plummeted, credit card debts vanished, inflation leveled off and the need for Valium and Prozac abated.
The shopping outlet of the world, the USA, had pulled its shutters down. Main mart of the world was closed!
The experiment seemed to be work for two years.
But, by the third year of his presidency global effects of this policy sprouted. The Chinese had lost their outlet store for manufactured trinkets, the Indians who had facilitated the lives of Americans with their software (while neglecting their own poor people) had no users, the French and Italians had to keep their luxury frills at home, the Japanese inventory of cars escalated, the Korean electronics had no buyers.
In the US, as sales plunged, government revenues plummeted, unemployment escalated, bankruptcies multiplied, discontent simmered. And the Mexicans stopped crossing the border.
But Cuba insulated and hardened by decades of US blockade, was the only country unaffected by the global depression. Cuba had also recently hosted the Non Aligned Movement summit where they had decided to drop the word “Aligned” from the title and call it (appropriately) ‘Non Movement’ and Fidel Castro, whose guts had been surgically removed, became the president.
Fidel rose from the hospital bed and startled the comrades, who seduced by the promise of free markets had slumbered for half a century. The ‘Non Movement’, they figured, was a hint from Fidel to revolt.
The workers of the world united and threatened, “Either the US reopen its free market or now face the terrorist wrath of the Cubans, Chinese, Indians, South Americans, East Europeans, Koreans, Africans - all combined.”
The Dalai Lama was sad. The magnitude of global depression was worse than the world had seen before. That night, Dalai Lama had a dream ----- Cubans had invaded the USA. He advisers told him to flee the country. He groaned, “Oh not again.” And then he reluctantly encouraged his followers to trek to Canada. “It is a flat land, an easier trek compared to my first one.”
In the background he heard Rumsfeld taunt, “Ha, Communists need free markets to feed them and pacifists need an army to protect them.”
Bush sniggered from his ranch and praised Rumsfeld with Bushism, “What a clever and apt simile!” Arundhati swiftly opposed the Bush metaphor and retorted, “No, it is called an irony.”
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