Climate Change, Automobiles, and Other Random Thoughts

Climate change is up there with my big two issues that is threatening life as we know it. The other is economic inequality. And they are related. I have frequently said that capitalism is what pulled us and most country’s standard of living up, but unregulated it is an unmitigated disaster. The comes this thoughtful essay from the Stone basically looking at climate change as the result of capitalism itself:

The real culprit of the climate crisis is not any particular form of consumption, production or regulation but rather the very way in which we globally produce, which is for profit rather than for sustainability. So long as this order is in place, the crisis will continue and, given its progressive nature, worsen. This is a hard fact to confront. But averting our eyes from a seemingly intractable problem does not make it any less a problem. It should be stated plainly: It’s capitalism that is at fault.

I have no argument with his statement. These people who control our corporations and industries are making decisions that are neither stupid or evil, but based upon the rules of their game. The essay goes on to suggest that the problem is not technical, but political. Capitalism itself has to be tamed. Now you know why Republicans deny Global Warming.

Next up is cars, and in particular driverless cars. Did you know that we now kill more people in cars than we do with guns? Speed, texting, and plain stupidity are killing people. So some are hoping that driverless cars can be our salvation. I personally would love to get in my car, dial in the destination, and catch up on emails. But here is what I worry about, and not a failure of the technology, but the failure of my fellow human beings. Won’t there be at least one nut job who is in a hurray and is swerving in an out of all the driverless cars doing the speed limit? Won’t they in their fog of superiority try to check their texts? As with driving on a two lane highway, we are always at the mercy of the lowest common denominator.

Finally, on my flight to San Diego, why do I always get the seat behind the nut job who has to put his seat back? We are already crammed into the seats and then clueless, the nut in front of you reduces the space more, The world is full of careless thoughtless people.

Okay, I lied, there is one more thing I want to talk about. D.J. Dione wrote this morning about the Democrats having to quit waring with themselves (Beltway politicians) and see what is going on out in the country.

And what do leading Washington Democrats want to do? They would have us engage in the “move left” vs. “move to the center” squabbles that have obsessed the party for at least three decades. Old arguments feel comfortable, but they’re inadequate for the moment. And new research is finding that this bickering does not match the mood of local anti-Trump activists.

And I would say yes and no. He sees new activism where Trump won and gives us this:

This activism, as Skocpol sees it, is motivated by a simple but powerful civic sense that Trump is violating basic norms and principles of American life. The troops on the ground don’t need programs or litmus tests imposed from on high, she adds. They need practical support and the freedom to act as they see fit in their own areas….Virginia voters who “were looking for a calm and strong leader in the midst of chaos in Washington.” Moderates have a point when they say that voters nationally are similarly seeking steady and reliable leadership.

But progressives, in turn, are right to argue for clear, compelling and comprehensible policies to deal with the economic inequalities that are hurting many in the ranks of Clinton and Trump voters alike. Bold, not bland, is the way to go.

For now, the imperative is to check Trump’s abuses and to stop the truly radical agenda that Republicans are advancing, including their continuing efforts to wreck Obamacare and to pass an unpopular, budget-busting corporate tax cut that redistributes large sums of money to society’s wealthiest.

I think he wants to have it both ways. And maybe we can. We can certainly be against Trump, but we also have to have policies that attempt to replace what Trump is bringing. And here is where I truly want to raise the issue that we have moved so far right that what seems wild-eyed lefty, is really common sense solutions. No Democrats do not have to be all for full funding of higher education, but we want to make it affordable to all those that can, and not by loans that suck them dry for years. No we don’t have to be for a single payer health care system, but we have to be for universal healthcare so that all of us make it affordable for each other. Abortion is a litmus test. It is about a woman’s right to control her body. It’s about getting government out of those most personal and truly hard decisions.

So Democrats need to get in at the grassroots with ideas to improve people’s lives, but at the heart of it, is that the market place must be controlled so it does not crater the planet, and more of us share in its benefits. If that is left-wing crazy, then so is the survival of all of us.

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