Social, Economic, Enviromental Responsibility

Tag: politics


Just caught an interesting show last night on National Geographic.

The premise is that 200 years into the future, scientists are investigating the remnants of 21st century.

Apparently an epochal collapse had taken place.

While it was a fair amount of gloom and doom, there was a consistent reminder that it doesn’t have to end that way.

The closing line was “the train is already moving, we can make decisions now.”

What we all decide to do collectively makes a difference.

The US dropped out of the Kyoto Treaty because, in principle, it was believed that if other countries weren’t participating then what was the point of the US participating?

That is entirely the wrong attitude. The US should be leading the way in climate change.

We should at least attempt to do the right thing.


Government Waste

Efficiency by its nature, is sustainable. Inefficiency is not.

Our government is grossly inefficient. If we were to simply reduce waste, we would decrease our environmental impact.

Silly idea I know, that our leaders would embody and live out the highest ideals of our country. If the government were to practice what it demands of its citizens: we might actually get something done.

Stupidity Reproduces Itself

I had a professor in college, after I landed myself in some serious trouble with the administration, say something to me that stuck with me. He said;

“bureaucracies exist to perpetuate themselves.”

It was said to me to remind me that there is no mercy or grace in a system, despite it’s outward trappings. Earlier this morning, I caught Robert Rubin and Paul O’Neil on Fareed Zakaria.

Paul O’Neil has come under fire for criticizing the Bush Tax Cuts repeatedly. But his reasoning behind it is simple: The IRS is inefficient, complex, and bloated. A tax cut merely lessens it’s horrible inefficiencies; it doesn’t fix them. He believes basically that the IRS is merely an experiment in stupidity that everyone tries to fix instead of blowing it up and starting over.

O’Neil would like to see a simpler, more effective and easier to enforce tax system.

Take the two ideas: bureaucracies exist to perpetuate themselves, and a stupid system needs to be scrapped and rebuilt; and you have a pretty good idea of what’s occurring in the the environmental world.

We’re holding onto ideas that are a hundred years old, no longer work, and are merely self-perpetuating stupidity.

  • Take our power generation. We burn something to heat something to make electricity. Cavemen burned things, Peasants in the Dark Ages burned things, and what do we do after 10,000 years of human development? We burn things.
  • Our highways and byways could stand to be reevaluated as well. It was built as a defense tool for the Cold War in the 1950s. It’s 2010 and the Cold War is over. Yet we still plan and build roads like Eisenhower is president and the Soviets are a button push away from starting WWIII.

We have better ways to generate power, better ways to build roads, houses, businesses, better ways to plan communities, better ways to manufacture, transport, and more. Basically we have better, and cleaner ways to do everything in our lives. And yet?

We still are allowing a stupid, bureaucracy to reproduce itself.

What Are We Doing?!?

Oil Companies Reap Billions In Subsidies –

This is ridiculous! The subsidies are supposedly there to help a volatile industry stay more even keeled. Yet we see wild price swings regardless. If it were any more volatile, most people wouldn’t be a part of it.

Simply put, subsidies are doing just enough to keep the oil industry essential and relevant (read indispensable) for everyday life. It’s basically killing competition from other industries. Free market indeed!

Here’s my proposal. Take 2 of the $4 billion dollars in subsidies and invest heavily in sustainable technologies and initiatives. $1 billion is invested in a pay out fund for the families directly affected by the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon disasters. Why Exxon Valdez? Because the payout to the families was pathetic, and the beaches affected by it are still not clean.

The last $1 billion dollars?

Divide it evenly among the citizens of the United States of America. To stimulate the economy, by actually providing money to those who power the economy and as a way of apologizing for completely ignoring the best interests of the citizens of the United States of America.

If you’ve figured out that there are over three million citizens which roughly equates to $3 and change, then you’ve begun to wonder why that’s an apology. It isn’t! There’s no possible way the government can even begin to apologize for it’s awful behavior over the last twenty years!

Consumer Rebellion

I was talking with my brother yesterday and he made the comment “I’m surprised there hasn’t been a consumerist revolt.” A light Sunday afternoon discussion I know!

He was talking about free markets, and how in many cases they don’t seem to exist. He highlighted urban apparel; companies like Sean John, FUBU, and others sell clothes at ludicrously high prices to a demographic that, on paper, can’t afford it.

Or take gasoline prices. Volatility doesn’t encourage economic growth, in fact quite the opposite, in encourages a bunker mentality. Yet everyday it’s a new price, with swings of $0.50 a day not uncommon.

What has developed is a legal trust or monopoly. And in the face of this, voting with one’s wallet has no impact. Like quitting Facebook because of privacy concerns, it doesn’t send any message whatsoever; it only affects the individual.

It is effectively a captive market, with a few companies doing similar things for similar prices. It is the appearance of a free market, the illusion of one.

Has anyone stopped to wonder why MPG standards have decreased since the 80s? An 80s BMW gets better mileage than a Smart Car. According to the plans laid out before, we should have at this point in life:

Cars with 30 mpg city as the norm.

Clean, renewable energy for everyone.

Ultra efficient homes, and smart cities.

But what has happened? The mega players in captive markets have used lobbyists effectively, dragged their feet, cited “free markets” and “competition,” and in some cases ignored outright government demands and regulation.

And people still believe in a free market as though it were a personal benefit. The current system benefits a small slice of Civilization. And the other 90% believe it benefits them.

At what point do we realize that we are the market, and that we can’t bear what is occurring any longer?

The “Ecological” Debt Issues

This phrase is typically used to indemnify Western Civilization for the current state of environmental affairs. Especially by poorer countries throughout the world.

The idea being that because Europe and America have polluted longer, those countries should foot most of the costs to clean up our planet. It’s nothing more than a filibuster.

Basically it’s a code for CBAU: Continuing Business As Usual.

It immediately brings up ideas of socialism, punishing the haves, eliminating the rich and redistributing wealth. And that is accurate. The problem is this: 100 years ago when the Industrial Revolution started, no one knew any better!

Now we do. If we buy into this idea of retroactive consequences: then we should punish every doctor alive who proscribed drugs and treatments now found to be unnecessary or ineffective, and we should overturn every conviction ever made that didn’t involve DNA testing and on and on and on into ridiculousness and triviality.

If the EU or North America, or any single country: were to foot the bill for cleaning up the planet; it would bankrupt them.

With the oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, ecological debt is a moot point. We need to come together and fix these serious issues.

Is oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico a global issue? It’s quickly becoming one.

Is oil use a global issue? Yes, we use it inefficiently and irresponsible.

Is pollution directly responsible for global warming? I don’t know. Some say yes, some say no; both sides have research.

Is pollution harmful? Yes. Just ask any town that lives near a power plant, factory or waste site.

Is our current form of consumption a serious problem? Yes, it is.

But the arguments of ecological debt do nothing to address serious issues. What needs to happen is this:

We all admit implicit guilt. Take stock of our resources and start fixing things!

If every country starts implementing sustainability and conservation initiatives then we won’t see a global break down. Prices AND wages will rise.

Unions lament outsourcing saying it undercuts American workers. Of course, if they were to unionize every factor and plant in the world, and implement standard wages across the planet, then there wouldn’t be an issue.

Think about that: Every country in the world comes together and implements the same conservation laws. The costs would no longer matter, because everyone’s cost would rise, and so would wages, and profits. We wouldn’t see or feel a long term net difference, because there wouldn’t be one.

So step one: Prove that sustainability works

Step two: immediate global adoption.

Make it happen people! Start with your home and community, then grow from there

Nobody Likes Innovation

Yesterday I watched a video from Shai Aggasi, that I had posted in an earlier article. He made an interesting point that Europe will be the first area to stop using gasoline powered cars, China and India would soon follow suit. Europe through economical reasons (electric and alternative fueled vehicles are cheaper there) China can simply declare that cars will no longer be used in China, and for India electric cars offer an increase in range and mobility.

But in the United States, the whole system is reversed and the rewards go the wrong way.

Which brings up something interesting:

Free markets are supposed to be the birthplaces of innovation. The best products, best companies, and such win out. If you can make a product better, faster, cheaper or any combination of those three you win.

But if we’ve learned anything as of late. That’s not the case at all.

If too big to fail taught us anything, it’s that our markets are hardly free. Rather the power is concentrated in the hands of a few very powerful, very rich, very well connected players.

Innovation is a threat to the status quo. Meaning the big dogs will move very quickly and decisively to stifle innovation. And will use whatever means they have to annihilate the opposition.

As long as we have these large, well-funded politically connected organizations; then a free market doesn’t exist.

Electric Cars: Offerings of Smoke

There was a Rudyard Kipling novel “Puck of Pooks Hill” that I read as a child. The story is that two children meet Puck, who then proceeds to tell them stories about the area. One of the stories involved Puck meeting a foreign god at the start of his religion, and then again towards the end. By the end the god was being offered smoke and hair and charades.

Electric cars are the same. Almost every car company, especially those recently bailed out, has an electric concept vehicle. It’s a token offering though.

In the same breath that electric cars are praised, the lack of infrastructure is damned. Making this one of the most expensive PR gestures ever made.

Putting aside my own feelings for electric cars, there was a video from TED that I had posted earlier that outlined an infrastructure for electric cars that would work. And work well!

Here is the rub that every great environmentally friendly idea runs into: Without infrastructure, people won’t buy; If people don’t buy, the infrastructure won’t be built.

Someone needs to cowboy up, bite the bullet and change the world.

What has occurred then is business is afraid. The little guys don’t have the resources to make these changes happen, the government is caught in petty squabbles, and big business is more worried about profit than doing the right thing. Too Big To Fail means too afraid to change.

From the Pentagon

According to CNN, the Pentagon has released it’s Quadrennial Defense Review. This is the Pentagon’s equivalent of a self-assessment; what is important, what do we need to keep, what needs to change.

The biggest change in the Pentagon is the possible abandonment of the two conventional war mindset. Soon after WWII, this idea of simultaneous conflicts has kept our armed forces large and well provisioned. And rightly so.

Why is the Pentagon on Conservance?

There is an interesting, almost post script, note towards the bottom of the CNN report.

“However, a bigger challenge the Pentagon will face is future conflicts fought around and over reduced resources and environmental catastrophes.”

If the Pentagon is claiming that global climate change is an “accelerant of instability,” then who am I to disagree? For all the modern satire that has grown around the military and military intelligence; they know their stuff. People forget that warfare is tough. And when our optimism meets cold reality: we blame reality, not our overly optimistic attitude.

The Stance

With the military highlighting the difficulties of future conflicts being exacerbated by climate change; environmentally friendly and sustainable practices are not only necessary, they’re essential.

The scarcity (or believed scarcity) of resources will be the cause of the next great war. Ideologies and beliefs will only be used to exaggerate the underlying lack of basic necessities.

If the pentagon is preparing for a worst case scenario, we should be praying.

Check it yourself:

CNN – CNN’s review of the QDR

QDR – The homepage for the Quadrennial Defense Review

State of the Union

Tonight is President Obama’s first State of the Union address. For those that don’t know, it is a chance for the President to address where we were as a country, what’s been done, and where we will be going.

Does It Really Matter?

Of course not. Like many things in politics; it did matter at one time, now it is nothing more than rhetoric. We’ll here about how Obama inherited these tough problems, and how it will take time to fix these problems, that we need to come together.

We’ll learn how the stimulus was a good idea (even though reports and investigations state otherwise), how banks need to be held accountable but that it’s tough to make that happen. We will definitely get some rhetoric about health care, and probably about green initiatives if we’re lucky.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

So we’ve got a democrat senate, and president and it is still business as usual. In fact, we’ve taken a big step backwards. We are worse off now, then at any time under G.W.

Hope and change were promised us, and nothing has been delivered.

Main Street

“Main Street” was the rallying cry of presidential candidates. Main street needed to be put first on agendas once more; to be the focus once again of government.

It’s been a year, and economic recoveries have yet to be centered on “Main Street.” Big business though has gotten its share, Wall Street got their share, and these are the entities responsible for the mess we’re in right now!

Conservance Prediction

The unemployed will still be unemployed. Green economies and reforms won’t be delivered in the near future. We’ll never get reforms that would actually reform, or make life better for “Main Street.”

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