Rachel's Precaution Reporter #19  [Printer-friendly version]
January 4, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: A traveler visits Bhutan, learns that Gross
National Happiness is the precautionary principle under a different
name, and draws some lessons for President Bush about restoring his
popularity at home.]

By Joan Reinhardt Reiss

Dear President Bush-

Recently I returned from a trip to Bhutan. I love that country. Mr.
President this small Himalayan kingdom near Nepal holds the key to
your future success in politics. In Bhutan, the King has mastered the
Precautionary Principle under a different name: Gross National
Happiness or GNH.

The GNH is more important than Gross National Product because
happiness trumps economic prosperity. The entire concept rests on
changing your thinking to an upstream mode. Instead of trying to
mitigate after you have behaved destructively, you plan ahead to
prevent a problem. Mr. Bush, if you adopt Gross National Happiness,
your public approval ratings will soar and the majority of Americans
will love you.

Now that I have your attention let me explain the four postulates of
Gross National Happiness.

First is individual sustainability meaning that every person has
enough to eat and a place of shelter. So Mr. Bush, distribute the food
surpluses, restore government subsidies for housing, and end farm

Second, retain the tradition. In Bhutan this means Buddhism where
there is no killing of anything live. Here it means stop the U.S.
participation in Iraq, revoke the Patriot Act and return all our civil
liberties. Needless to say, spying is out.

Third, preserve the environment. Bhutan has 62% of its original
forest cover. So reverse American forest policy and preserve the
trees instead of cutting them down. Stop plans to drill in the Arctic
Refuge. Don't expand the mining law to include protected public lands
and sign the Kyoto Treaty to help curb global warming. Adopt the
European Union approach to the control of toxic chemicals.

Fourth and the final lynchpin is good governance. This is probably
the most difficult for you to attain but it's not too late to try.
Here's a short list: forget the tax cuts, increase Medicaid, Headstart
and the minimum wage.

Gross National Happiness may not be for everyone but Mr. Bush it will
do wonders for you and us!

Best regards,

Joan Reinhardt Reiss, M.S.
San Francisco