There are certain things upon which almost all Americans (one is tempted to say Humans) can agree upon. Some of them are, a clean and healthy environment, fewer crimes and less violence, better health and health care, more representative and cleaner government, stronger economies with more employment, better education, less drug use, more safety, more security.
These universal goals have been hijacked, some of them long ago. In some cases, such as the environment, the flaw is deep within the socio-economic structure. In others, it is the ascendant policy of a small number of revisionist, right-wing radicals. In *all case*s, logic dictates that we act in a way that we are not. In education and on the environment, the left needs to rethink its basis, just as much as the right.
The environment suffers from the ‘tragedy of the commons’ and from the economic valuation we give give it. To a fish in the sea, to a rain-forest in Brazil, to the trillions of plankton that provide half the planet’s oxygen, we give same initial economic value: zero. When the fish is caught and sold, when the timber is felled and sold, a value is given. When the plankton are destroyed by pollution, no value is given. This will, if the universe allows (my new version of inshallah) be the subject of another diary in the not -too- distant future.
The body of this diary the offspring of two diaries. One did well and one not so well and both failed to pass the Wile E. Coyote test: were they ready? This one isn’t either, but I really want to catch that Roadrunner (C).
The avowed aim is proclaimed loudly by the establishment and the media. The actual policy and actual effects should be self-explanatory. The preferred aim will only be used if the avowed aim is bad framing and needs to be reframed. The better policies and their effects should also be clear.
Avowed aim: Clean environment
Policy: Subsidies for oil and coal, weak fuel efficiency standards, no carbon tax, etc.
Actual effects: Underuse of alternative energy sources, unnecessary pollution, distortion of national foreign policy priorities, wars.
Better policies: Subsidies for conservation, solar, wind, geothermal, hybrid, fusion and clean fission technologies. Not to mention what happens if we assign a value to environmental systems that provide life-support for the planet.
their efffects: Increasing energy independence, less environmental damage. Not to mention the god-like power of fusion, if it ever takes off. An exercise for the student.
Avowed aim: Drug free population
Actual effects: Increasing drug use, esp among the young
Preferred aim: less drug disruption to society, less drug crime, (forget the drug free-free population, ain’t gonna happen.)
Better policies: All drugs should be legalized and the dangerous ones regulated. All taxes from the new industry fund rehab and anti-drug campaigns.
their efffects: Drug use and drug-related crime decline.
Avowed aim: Fewer crimes and less violence
Policy: More violence than sex on tv and in movies, drug prohibition, cheap and easily available firearms
Actual effects: More and more horrific violence, less ability to empathize with others, crime very profitable, tens of thousands of gunshot murders
Better policies: Reduce violence in the media by by inverting the violence/nudity scale. Nudity acceptable, the slightest hint of violence, not acceptable. Legalize and regulate drugs. Tax and regulate legal firearms with the same strictness as you would lethal chemicals or biological agents and really crack-down on illegal firearms.
their efffects: Less violence, crime pays less, fewer murders, less anxiety
Avowed aim: Healthier population
Policy: No universal healthcare, overuse of antibiotics, tolerance of pollution, subsidized gas and coal, lack of pedestrian-friendly cities, fast-food, cheap, legal tobacco and alcohol [the only reason tobacco is beginning to come under fire is because tobacco farmers, in most countries, no longer determine elections. In Greece, where they do, a pack of smokes can cost less than $2. In China, much, much less.]
Actual effects: Cancer epidemic, widespread heart disease, resurgent TB, superbugs, obesity epidemic, millions of uninsured
Preferred aim: better health and health care
Better policies: Provide universal health care. Reduce pollution by promoting hybrid vehicles, a carbon tax and a CO2 market. Stop subsidizing gas and coal. Pedestrianize cities, crack down on fast food, make tobacco less appealing and more expensive by eliminating subsidies for tobacco farmers and Big Tobacco.
their efffects: Healthier, happier, longer-lived and more productive societies (not necessarily in the narrow sense that economist’s mean), especially among the less well off. Expensive tobacco, no subsidies for tobacco farmers or companies. Discourage hard liquor through taxation.
Avowed aim: more representative and cleaner government
Policy: Partisan election officials, contempt for the equality of the voters, dirty tricks
Actual effects: Highly questionable elections that would not pass a “global test”
Better policies: Non-partisan election officials, fair national redistricting standards, zero-tolerance (aside: we should reuse their own slogans, reframed) for electoral shenanigans etc.
their efffects: Greater trust and participation in the political system.
Avowed aim: Healthy economy
Policy: Tax cuts for the rich, deficits, corporate consolidation, lax oversight
Actual effects: Increasing inequality, additional risk in the global economy, more powerful and unaccountable corporations
Better policies: Tax cuts for the poor and lower middle class. Higher taxes and penalties on corporations and the wealthy. Apply and tighten anti-trust rules. Improve corporate oversight.
their efffects: Decreasing inequality, improving finances, fewer all-powerful corporations, greater public (that means us) oversight.
Avowed aim: Educated population
Policy: Chaos, fragmentation, low standards, low expectations, wrong priorities, where to start?
Actual effects: An overall uneducated, misinformed, incurious and conservative population
Better policies: Start younger and harder. This is the most important of all. Stay focused. Where to start?
their efffects: A brighter, more curious and progressive population.
Avowed aim: Free press
Policy: Media consolidation into the hands of fewer and fewer corporations
Actual effects: A more monolithic and tame press that is ever deeper in bed with its corporate masters and their political bedfellows
Better policies: Allow a few giants but keep a very healthy amount of undergrowth. Include one state owned giant (In Europe we have found that it makes sense to allow the state a voice of its own. The either become really good like the BBC or they become really bad, like most of the rest of Europe’s national broadcasters, and the private channels, in either case, get shamed into being better. Make sure the local and mid-level press is healthy, perhaps even through subsidies, and certainly through competition. P.S. Kill the FCC.
their efffects: A less monolithic and tame press that has ever less time for its erstwhile corporate bedfellows.
Avowed aim: Combat terrorism
Actual effects: More hatred for America, a giant live-fire training ground for terrorists, more and better terrorists
Better policies: War only when absolutely necessary and `when you do war, you do war’. At all other times, `speak softly and carry a big stick.’
their efffects: Empires and hegemonies are bluffs. American’s are supposed to be good at poker. We should almost never “call,” we should almost always “raise.” We are richer than they are.
[ed] removed a duplicate entry on healthy economies.
Originally posted at dkos but only seen by a score of people or less