Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Donning the Turban

Okay, I promised I'd get around to looking ahead to 2012 in the U.S. and I guess it's now or never. I've been procrastinating because it seems an unpleasing prospect.

I try to avoid the pundit's occupational hazard of presuming magical predictive powers. But I do hereby declare there is a 95% chance that our national conversation will completely miss the point on just about every important subject. That's the basis of my gloom. It's not that we can't make real progress toward solving our problems, it's that we won't even recognize them or talk about them. We'll talk about other problems that we don't have.

Everybody has noticed that we have extreme economic inequality in the U.S., the kind we used to deplore in what were once called Third World dictatorships. Some people on the right don't think this is a problem - those folks with the loot are the "job creators" and if you want a job, you want them to have even more money. Apparently there's a guy who only has $5 billion right now, and once he gets $6 billion, he'll give you a job. The way to achieve this is to stop making rich people pay taxes and to eliminate environmental, worker safety, food and other consumer safety regulations, and allow banks and investment management companies to steal from you.

On the other side we have people who want to increase marginal tax rates on income over a million dollars a year by 2%, and slash federal spending on stuff like health and other scientific research; technology investment; infrastructure maintenance, repair and construction; health care for the poor and elderly; education; and basic needs for poor children, in order to reduce the federal budget deficit in 2030. Oh yeah, meanwhile they want to give you a break by underfunding Social Security. Those are the liberals.

What we won't talk about is the absolutely critical need to invest everything we can right now, while we still have the resource and time, in a post-fossil fuel energy regime; to dismantle our globe girdling military empire; to prepare our young people for the demands of the knowledge-based economy; to save the ecosystem services of forest, grassland and ocean; and to destroy the power of the psychopathic, soulless corporations that are running the world right now. Because we won't even talk about any of the above . . .

We will continue our national decline. Our economy is controlled by people who have no loyalty to the United States or its citizens, who will extract whatever they can from the public infrastructure without paying for it, and send the proceeds wherever in the world they can loot at an even higher profit.

Our remaining national strength is squandered on a useless military behemoth designed to fight World War III on its own against the rest of the planet combined, but unable to defeat a few hundred men with homemade bombs. (Why we want to defeat them in the first place is a profound mystery.)

More and more of our children will go hungry. People who have worked and saved all their lives suddenly find themselves with their savings and careers destroyed, architects and engineers taking the jobs their teenage children would have had ten years ago. Higher education will be impossibly out of reach for more and more of those kids even as their elementary and secondary schools deteriorate.

And almost in the background, noticed only to be denied, the weather will grow more and more destructive, whole regions of the country will become essentially uninhabitable, agriculture will decline, mass extinctions of plants and animals will continue, and the ecology of the world ocean will collapse.

What do you expect the political campaigns next year will be all about?


roger said...

guns, god, gays, evolution, abortion and "personhood," prayer, obama's dog, etcetera, etcetera etcetara!! ad nauseum! ad infinitum! ad abadsurdum!

we're so screwed.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year.

best, Ana