Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The only reason I still care about politics: thoughts on the 2010 midterms

A couple thoughts on the midterm elections.

1. The system works just the way the founders wanted it to: the volatile House switches parties to reflect the fickle passions of the masses, while the Senate holds those passions in check. For the last two years, we Democrats have complained about the dysfunctional Senate and its progress-killing filibuster rule - and yet in the end, the Senate's built-in conservatism turns out to be the liberals' levy against a tide of un-reason. Or as James Madison put it, a buffer against the tendency of a more democratic body to "yield to the impulse of sudden and violent passions, and to be seduced by factious leaders into intemperate and pernicious resolutions." While I can't understand how the electorate can change its mind so quickly on who to vote for, the Founders anticipated this and built in safeguards against the will of the people. And in November 2010, at least, the Senate did its job.

2. But there's one problem beyond the founders' foresight, and that problem is global climate disruption. In general, I'm fine with the government staying out of things and letting people go about their business; the Founders did a great thing by setting up government to check itself. That was especially true when the chief problem they were trying to solve was that of tyranny.

But they largely solved that problem; tyranny, though a major problem in the 18th century, just isn't something we need to worry about anymore. When free health care is the worst thing the government can do to you, you know things are pretty good. The chief problem of THIS century, global climate disruption, is not one of too little freedom, but one of too much license to live irresponsibly. It's the one problem that's both big enough--truly big enough--to matter, and requires government to solve it. And for members of government to sell out God's earth to protect money-making (or ignorance) is an abomination of Biblical import.

Honestly, if it weren't for this issue, I probably wouldn't care about politics. Because the truth is, Republican or Democrat, life goes on. The economy will eventually get back on track. People will still fall in love. Babies will still be born, and kids will still play football. And all the while, asphyxiating carbon dioxide will still build up in the atmosphere, with potentially unimaginable consequences. And that's why I still care.

3. Apparently the only part of the American economy that's generating jobs is the CNN political newsroom. The funniest moment of the night (for me) was the first time I saw CNN's camera pan away from one panel of 8 political "experts" onto a second table of about 6 different "experts." Maybe if you get enough people who have no idea what they're talking about all shouting at the same time, you can confuse the audience into not fast-forwarding their DVR through the commercials.

4. The second funniest moment: on a break to commercial, the voice says "'Election Night in America' brought to you by Exxon Mobil." Seems to explain everything...

16 comments:

  1. To be fair, the exxon mobil commercials on CNN promote the power of math and science (at least when employed to increase shareholder value), a notion vitally important to the long term vitality of America.

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  2. Quote of the year: "When free health care is the worst thing the government can do to you, you know things are pretty good."

    You are a funny man, Andrew.

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  3. But really, the people in America are still going to drive their gas guzzling vehicles, move further into the suburbs, want to build and have everything bigger and faster regardless of the environmental impact because too many Americans believe that is the real "American Dream". And that is something that government will take a long, long time to change. Because like you said in #4, everything is controlled by the big money companies, and it seems like most politicians just care about being re-elected...

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  4. "But really, the people in America are still going to drive their gas guzzling vehicles, move further into the suburbs, want to build and have everything bigger and faster regardless of the environmental impact because too many Americans believe that is the real "American Dream". And that is something that government will take a long, long time to change."

    People dont buy houses in the suburbs and drive hundred of miles in SUV's because of a cultural belief. They do it because this pattern of settlement is massively subsidized by government policies in three areas: 1.) subsidy of car use through capital funding for highway and road projects; 2.) subsidy of home-ownership through tax policy; and 3.) subsidy of oil production through, among other things, massive defense spending to secure supply.

    People choose the suburban lifestyle because our government has made it the logical economic choice for the majority of people. Preventing continued growth of car-centered exurbs is as simple as removing the massive subsidies that make that alternative economically viable.

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  5. I wouldn't underestimate the importance of culture. People like yards, and there's still a strong perception that suburbs are safer and have better schools. Get rid of subsidies, and you'd see fewer people moving out to the suburbs, but you'd still have a lot of people who think that the best place to raise kids is a house with a yard.

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  6. "you'd still have a lot of people who think that the best place to raise kids is a house with a yard" - Exactly.

    And..."People choose the suburban lifestyle because our government has made it the logical economic choice for the majority of people" that is what I am saying by stating that they believe it is the "American Dream" or the "safe option" or the best thing to do because of the motives and direction of government...

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  7. Of course people have that belief. Its not just a perception that schools in the suburbs are better...its an undeniable fact. But these beliefs are a product of 60 years of systematically draining our cities of middle class families through a pattern of government policy that makes suburban cul-de-sac housing the most economically logical choice. If the massive subsidies are removed, then the settlement pattern changes, as do "beliefs." People like money more than yards.

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  8. Nice review mate. I totally agree with your viewpoint :) Thanks for sharing!

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  9. I'm disappoint with the politics at all! All my expectations are broken...

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  16. The biggest problem is the climate disruptions and it will cause a massive loss to our resources.

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