Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

This should be obvious . . .

But it still bears repeating because it doesn't seem to live comfortably in the political consciousness. A major point of Lawrence Lessig's new book is that as important as the corrupting influence of money in politics is to determining the outcome of the political process, it's just as important in determining what we talk about. One of his big examples is the major focus by Congress this past winter on whether banks could charge transaction fees on debit cards -- while spending less time on unemployment, global warming, health care, the various wars in which the country was engaged, or the deficit. I would add that we wouldn't be talking about further cutting wealthy people's taxes either, and we never would have cut them in the first place back in 2002.

I would also add that while all of the above is important, the simple fact is, as Tom Murphy explains so even a historian can understand it, civilization as we know it is doomed. It will not be possible to produce enough liquid fuel to sustain the existing society, let alone the growth anticipated in India, China and elsewhere, within a very short time. Even if we want to do shale oil and tar sands and coal liquification, climate be damned, those resources cannot be developed fast enough. and we face the Energy Trap no matter what we do -- it takes energy to develop renewables or unconventional oil sources or infrastructure that promotes conservation such as mass transit. No matter what direction you want to go, we need to use the fossil fuels we have no in order to get there, but if we don't start investing now, if not yesterday, those fuels will get more and more expensive and will be in too short supply to support that development.

So we need to deal with this immediately, radically, and with full commitment. But all we're talking about is financial deregulation, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and lower taxes for billionaires. See you 'round the apocalypse.

Ooooghh: Tangential but, Revealed: huge increase in executive pay for America's top bosses. From The Guardian:

Exclusive survey shows America's CEOs enjoyed pay hikes of up to 40% last year – with one chief executive earning $145m. Chief executive pay has roared back after two years of stagnation and decline. America's top bosses enjoyed pay hikes of between 27 and 40% last year, according to the largest survey of US CEO pay. The dramatic bounceback comes as the latest government figures show wages for the majority of Americans are failing to keep up with inflation.

The guy who scooped up $145 million? That would be John Hammergren of McKesson, which is a pharmaceutical and medical supply distributor. Now you know why we can't have single payer national health care.


robin andrea said...

Lawrence Lessig was on the Daily Show Tuesday night. He stayed around for some added interview time on the internet. Interesting interview.

Think how much health care could have been had for that $145,000,000.

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