The environmental crisis, racism, the growing gulf between rich and poor… where to begin this Woeful Wednesday? Cultural disintegration? The collapse of community and family, the destruction of public education, the tear-down of knowledge and the ruination of the scientific edifice that once promised increasing abundance for all… humanity really must solve some structural problems if we hope to share a decent quality of life on planet earth.
Fortunately, there are people working hard to do just that.
The Climate Mobilization is organized to urge global governments to mount a World War 2 scale campaign against environmental degradation. American leadership seeks solutions in time-frames that no longer will work to cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to halt warming and to reverse the acidification of the oceans. Hillary Clinton has stepped up to the issue and published a plan for shifting from carbon based electricity generation to solar power and other renewables. Sadly, Clinton’s plan offers too little in the way of structural change. The proposed implementation time-frame will be too late. The Pope has spoken up too. On May 24th this year he published Laudato Si — On Care for Our Common Home, an encyclical letter encouraging all earthlings to come together around the problems we face. Franklin Roosevelt, he ain’t, but it’s encouraging to hear him talk in terms of taking on our common enemy. We really are at war and we really must get mobilized if we don’t want to suffer the miserable consequences of defeat. It’s an existential thing.
What blocks our ability to tackle the biggest crisis civilized humanity has ever faced is our lack of civility and common concern for each other. The rich are divided from the poor, and white people in general are wandering about in a fog of entitlement and privilege ignoring the challenges faced by people of color. Is there anybody reading this who doesn’t understand the context and the reason why #BlackLivesMatter trumps the sentiment that “All lives matter?” If so, leave a comment and we can have quiet conversation here on this blog, away from all the Facebook friends and twitterers who have moved on from social justice issues to profound veganism and what-not.
I read yesterday that a group of hedge funds are calling for Puerto Rico to close schools, reduce university subsidies and fire teachers so it can pay back its debt (to those same hedge funds). “Austerity” is one way we keep the rich rich and the poor poor. Another way, of course, is with the gun. Contrary to the slogan on the picture above, banks and guns enjoy more complementarity than clash. Disparities in law enforcement are intensified by weapons in the hands of the police. It has always been so. The poor and the marginalized are suppressed by an armed force chartered by the rich. “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” That simple-minded bullshit, the second amendment of the constitution of the United States of America comes to us with some baggage. The security they’re talking about there is founded in the fear of slave revolts. While the second amendment bolsters the right of gun nuts, fetishists, and hunting afficionados to own firearms, the real “well regulated militia” we all live with is the heavily armed network of state and local police forces. And while the arguments for gun control go back and forth around the tragedies and the atrocities that civilians endure and mutually inflict on each other, the real danger–the gun owner most feared by people in the black community–is the cop.
As an older fellow, it has long been my observation that younger generations feel the need to re-invent, to re-state knowledge and understanding, to re-learn (sometimes painfully) the lessons of history. In politics there is constant back-pressure from conservatives to re-write laws that they find offensive. Some of this back-pressure comes from cynical ploys to drive the poorer classes apart with wedge issues. Whether the scapegoat of the season is ACORN or Planned Parenthood, the only “good” that comes from the scapegoating is the divisive influence brought by the rich against the poor so they will vote against their own interests. Other reasons for the back-pressure are more direct, more obvious. Rich people want to protect their wealth, and one way to do that is to eliminate progressive income taxes. Many of those rich people want to increase their wealth and one way to do that is to take money from the government. “Corporate welfare,” subsidies to agriculture and industry are among the obvious ways to redistribute wealth. Another way is to tear down the support infrastructure. When laws protecting the environment, or providing a social safety net, or supporting reproductive justice are overturned, who benefits? Maybe we can take a closer look at that question in the next Woeful Wednesday blog post.
Homework assignment: Learn about the Ludlow Massacre and perform a citizen’s arrest on at least one oligarch.