columnist that I am, I have decided to use the pages of this magazine
to make a public announcement: I hereby declare my candidacy for
the governorship of California.
True, Im not even from California, but Arnolds from
Austria and hes running anyway, isnt he?
Im told that if youre going to run for office, youve
got to have a platform, so heres mine, trimmed to its essentials.
First, and I say this in all humility, I will change the name of
the state to Carlifornia.
Secondand, as it happens, in conclusionI will get the
states business-and-sustainability act in order. As my second
gubernatorial act, I will appoint a sustainability czar who will
be charged with making Carlifornia a national model for the greening
of industry. (And if he doesnt do it, youd best believe
I will boot his czarry butt straight out the door.)
I hereby pledge to hand the following guidelines to my personal
czar on our very first day in office.
* Zero Tolerance. When you mess
with Mother Earth, its a crime against nature and, ultimately,
a crime against humanity. When corporate executives run afoul of
our environmental laws, I wont just slap them on the wrist,
Ill slap them with really big finesor behind bars. Ill
also consider that ultimate three-strikes-and-youre-out penaltyrevoking
the corporate charter. If zero tolerance can be invoked against
nine-year-old schoolchildren with nail files on their key chains,
why not against greedy fat-cat executives? Ive even got a
slogan lined up: When it comes to the environment, California
means business. Be afraid, corporate criminals: be very afraid.
And welcome to Califearnia.
* Revising the Rules of the Game. Corporations exist
to maximize profits. Thats their legal duty, and unless we
change the law (which isnt going to happen any time soon),
its delusional to think theyre going to behave in any
other way. How do you do green industry, then? By changing the rules
of the game so that the pursuit of profits protects rather than
destroys the environment. Instead of subsidizing environmentally
destructive practices, you subsidize environmentally restorative
ones. Goodbye, oil subsidies. Hello, solar!
In the end, this is a reality-based approach. You play to what corporations
actually are, not to what youd like them to be.
* Fairness. As your governor, my relationships with corporations
will be based on mutuality. I wont demand anything from them
without offering something reasonable in return, and ditto the opposite
way. Theres a word for this, actually: mitigation. For example,
if a corporation wants to build a new factory, it has to restore
a wetland, too. Fair is fair, after all. As governor, I will mitigate
the hell out of our proud state.
Voters, remember: a vote for me is a vote for Califairnia!
* Inspiration. In addition to the appeal to fear and
the appeal to fairness, theres what has famously been called
the vision thing. People need inspiration, these days
especially, and theres nothing more inspiring than a great
common project and vision.
As your governor, I will seed the business community with visionary
challenges. A million dollars to the first company that eco-excalibrates
the frumpulosity of kadidgets! And much more like that there.
I will also make California the worlds leading center for
businesses with environmentally restorative technologies, products
and services. With climate change already well upon us, and with
overpopulation and pollution burdening our natural resources, we
are heading into what is looking increasingly like an ecological
perfect storm. If we are to have any chance of countering
this, we need a Manhattan Project for enterprise. This time, though,
it wont be named for a burgh on the tired East Coast. Nosirree,
it will be the . . . California Project! Its an
invitation to a transformation: sign on and save the world! Like
our slogan says: When it comes to the environment, California means
Theres much more to my platform than this, of course. I will
support local living economies by gaming the system in their favor.
I will pass legislation that legitimizes and empowers social enterprises
that unlike old-style publicly-held companies tether capitalism
to the public good. I will pay close attention to the social dimension
of sustainability, for instance, by bringing eco-jobs to blighted
I will do lots of other cool stuff, too.
Trust me on this. I am not your usual politician.
The future is Carlifornia!
Carl Frankel’s next book,
Out of the Labyrinth: Who We are, How We Go Wrong and What We
Can Do About It, will be
in 2004. Frankel can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.