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Dear Kaniela,

Amid all the reporting on the Maui fires, your words in Time stood out as truth, and a light showing a pathway to a better future.

Their legacy and extractive way of life endures. Maui’s most dominant corporations today, like Alexander & Baldwin, embody the legacy of those same barons who once sought to profit from our fertile lands. Their ethos of extraction and destruction persists in Maui’s most dominant industries: land speculation and tourism. These industries seek to destroy much of Hawaii’s natural beauty while gatekeeping sections of it for the privileged few.

 AUGUST 17, 2023 11:58 AM EDT
Ing is the National Director of the Green New Deal Network, former state legislator, and a seventh-generation Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) from Maui, Hawaiʻi

We at the Fair Start Movement write to you with thanks for the truth, and to add one arrow to the quiver of tools you will use to dismantle colonization. Based on over a decade of research and nearing ten positive peer-reviews, it’s now clear that governments cannot assign property rights – including claims to wealth at the top of the economic pyramid – without first satisfying their obligation to ensure all children an ecosocial Fair Start in life, concretely defined as climate restoration and birth equity (or a 280 or lesser ppm climate emissions standard combined with progressively scaled birth equity entitlements (tied to race reparations in some cases)). Fairness in who we are, our basic power relations, comes first.

Anyone can ensure the redistribution necessary to achieve this, and by all peaceful means effective, ideally focusing on high profile bad actors to liberate the future majority at the true border of freedom / power.

Why all means effective? All rules must be fair, and the first rule is that which should create us. It comes first. As we argued in Newsweek, climate reparations are the ideal vehicle to ensure this birth equity. Only a creation norm would have this antecedent, or overriding, capacity.

This move reverses racist ecocide, but takes decolonization to its logical conclusion and a new level by liberating the most vulnerable – future children and nonhumans – at the same time through ecocentric and equitable family reforms. We cannot decolonize using traditional eurocentric family models that treat future persons and the nonhuman world as resources to be exploited. Instead, we have to empower them with a norm that ensures biodiversity and minimum levels of welfare and equity.

Not starting with children’s rights also commits a logical fallacy – ignoring child-centric human rights as the system of inclusive obligation that overrides all competing interests and sets the baseline for cost and benefit analysis, telling us what words like “good,” “bad,” “impact,” and “problem” mean. Inclusive obligation simply means having children so that they are empowered in democracies that actually regulate economies, not simply employed in economies controlled by unaccountable wealth and its politicians.

This is not altruism. This is freedom.

If the authority of government and our obligation to follow the law fundamentally derives from people who are empowered at birth, then the only way for me to be free of their power, socially and ecologically, would be through a first and overriding rule that ensures birth and development conditions of mutual self-determination in which we offset each other equally. This would entail high enough levels of investment in those conditions, enough to limit growth towards the optimal population ranges specified by Sir Partha Dasgupta and Dr. Chris Tucker. That would require the opposite of the policies now in place (the ones lauded by conservatives and socially liberal commentators), and the opposite of a culture of unsustainable growth based on insufficient social and ecological birth conditions for children.

This would require delaying having kids until parents are ready to parent well (not torturing one’s infant to death, for example), allocations of wealth that ensure all children equal opportunities in life not defined by race, and smaller or more ecocentric families for all – the most effective climate solution. Freedom is not possible without this change, and many leading philosophers seem to agree.

Not ensuring these things slowly converted the liberating possibility of town halls filled with empowered citizens in a biodiverse world instead into shopping malls filled with workers and consumers enriching a few, and created a preconstitutional world where we are all subjected to others’ ecological impacts against our will, some are born to slave for others’ benefit, and we are controlled by governments over which the average person has no control.

Free persons will target those who benefitted from this process, to pay what they owe to end it, turning shopping malls back into town halls, in a restored climate and a world filled with nature. The border of human power is not some line a map. It’s the creation of the persons from whose authority line drawing derives.

If freedom always requires some level of self-determination, it would be impossible to ensure any version of it without birth and development conditions for all children that meet minimum thresholds so they can self-determine rather than be determined (e.g., climatologically and through inequitable birth-based power relations ) by others, and one test for whether that is occurring equitably would be treating growth as inverse to self-determination, relative to the absence of human power/nature (which requires, at a minimum, climate restoration). This precedes all legitimate governance. This formula leads to a free and equal future – again, Tucker/Dasgupta’s optimality. Who we should be, via children’s rights, logically always comes first – and sets an overriding baseline for all cost and benefit analysis, including climate reparations.

Yes, Donald Trump is a threat to democracy, but he is a symptom of the disease that nests in unfair family policies based on inequity, and the exploitation of nature.

Be effective.

When this research was brought to wealthy funders in the animal rights movement, they tried to bury it. This truth is dangerous, and many are already changing their view of who we should become using its logic.

Call on us in your efforts to free people, and we will assist.

The Team at Fair Start Movement.

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