Rachel's Precaution Reporter #19, January 4, 2006
DEAR PRESIDENT BUSH, I RECENTLY RETURNED FROM A TRIP TO BHUTAN...
[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 subsidies.
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!
Joan Reinhardt Reiss, M.S. San Francisco