next occupant of the white house

CNN had the democratic debate on the other night, and no one talked about the environment-at least not while I was watching.  And in today’s NY times, they talked about a few of the candidates’ positions, which are pitifully weak.  2050, 2030 are too late–I want a candidate who will say "50% decrease in greenhouse gass emissions by 2015" or something equally drastic.  We’re talking about the future of humanity here!  drastic problems demand drastic solutions!
 
Many people claim "it will cause economic contraction, it will cause people to lose their jobs… well, what about all the people in bangladesh who will permanently lose their homes, or Manhattan, or anywhere else that’s at sea level?  If you lose your job in the coal mine, you can get a job as a wind turbine technician–it’s better for you to be outside in the fresh air anyway.
 
The way I see the government is that the government is supposed to be like your parents:  the government is supposed to tell you what to do and what not to do, within reason of course.  The government exists to know better than the average joe.  I pay my taxes, they pay for Betty to go to the south pole and watch the ice melt, her research tells the people in washington (and better New York) that we had better turn down the heat.  The government is supposed to protect its citizens–from outside forces (like al Quaeda) and from ourselves.
 
Having met a lot of middle americans on my bike and build trip, I have even less faith in democracy now than I had before.  A few years ago, I hear of Wikipedia described as Digital Maoism: a veneer of collectivsm controlled by a small group of motivated (and for the most part smart) people.  That’s how I think the government should be run.  I don’t trust the nebraskans and brooklynites and pakistanis–I trust Walter LaFeber and Mark Sorells and Gro Brundtland.  they are experts–and highly educated.  I don’t think the average american or average world citizen is educated enough for democracy to work–we’re barely muddling through as it is… and that’s not going to be good enough.
 
The next few decades will prove to be some of the most important in the history of humanity.  events that seem big, like WWII don’t even compare (perhaps the cold war counts, there was at least the possibility of omnicide had people gone over the edge).  The future hangs in the balance–and I want some people to lay down the law on me and everyone else so we will survive.  The paradigm is totally different than any other time in history:  business as usual = death.  the exact opposite of the cold war situation (everyone stays cool, nobody dies).
 
choose wisely
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2 thoughts on “next occupant of the white house

  1. I agree that most of the candidates have a weak position on global warming, but then again I think most of the candidates (R’s and D’s) have a weak position on just about *everything* other than high-minded platitudes.  ("We want more Americans to have more jobs", "pay less taxes", "better healthcare", etc.)  But you’re right, they are worried about a severe economic downturn if drastic CO2 protocols are implemented, because while the consequences of global warming may be open-and-shut, the effectiveness of anything we humans (yet alone we Americans alone) can have on that outcome is far from clear.  Even if America went to zero emissions tomorrow, we’re about to be far outstripped by industrialization in India and China anyway.  Maybe the Bangladeshis should be talking to them (and it’s kind of a cheap shot anyway, since Bangladesh has always been flood-prone, and now it’s our fault because the flooding gets worse?  When you build your home, or your city, or your country in a flood plain, you will *gasp* suffer from flooding!)
    And I don’t think I have to say it, but as a libertarian I find your view of the government frightening.  The government is a collection of resources, it is not an all-knowing god of reason.  It IS the people that give it power.  The people grant it power (and money) so that it can have the resources to solve big problems.  But it is a tool for the people, intended to help them make choices, not make those choices for them.  And it is certainly not an embracement of Digital Maoism or wikiality.  It is a bureaucracy, the very essence of which is what Mao was fighting against!  If you want to see a society that embraces the collective nature of people (much like wikipedia), that’s called a free market.  Truly free, not heavily-regulated capitalism.
    Democracy has its troubles, for sure.  The mob mentality can be dangerous.  But that’s why we live in a representative democracy, electing leaders who we believe are qualified to make those decisions on our behalf.  (Isn’t this similar to the benevelont, intelligent government that you want to make decisions for us?)  Obviously there are problems with this model, too.  People elect their reps and senators bases on looks or charisma, the retention level is absurd, and there’s definitely room for improvement.  But I don’t see how the solution is to hand over control to, who, the academics?  Who’s to say that they would even want the job, let alone not get corrupted by the system like other politicians?  You’re one of the most pro-education people I know, but in this case you seem to be saying "people aren’t educated enough, take away their power!"  Instead, why don’t we just educate people so they make better voting decisions?

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