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August 26, 2021


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(Almost) all of the people I knew in the sixties believed that there was no time to waste, even then. You didn't have to be a student of history to realize that major social and economic changes take time. It was also clear that humans resist change and only seem to react to crisis when the crisis becomes undeniably and personally imminent (now, I even question whether humans will react when the crisis is imminent if there is any cost or inconvenience - stupid humans)
With the birth of neo-liberalism, in 1980, the important difference between D's and R's disappeared. They joined forces in the common goal of increasing their own personal wealth and maintaining their power. Eliminating the enforcement of anti-trust laws and the refusal to establish meaningful campaign finance laws were intentional acts that both parties were guilty of.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this paradigm shift was the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 and the deregulation of media that allowed market capture. This resulted in the media becoming more of a business and less of a force for democracy, which depended on it for sustenance.
As a result, corporate America accumulated great wealth and political power (Citizen's United solidified that power). The Democrats were no longer the party of the people. They abandoned the working class and the middle class has suffered the consequences. Between 2000 and 2012, there has been a 50% reduction in worldwide abject poverty and that is a good thing but has become problematic as the wealthy have become the obscenely wealthy and the working class has become less distinguishable from the poor.
What does this have to do with a local climate action plan? Everything.
Even locally (especially locally), the forces of neo-liberalism result in essentially identical actions from those whose words and emotions seems to suggest that they are different in virtually all ways that are important.
Both camps desire and depend on support from the same portions of the local constituency (although one camp, in the recent election, was remarkably able to get elected based primarily on the platforms of the candidates). They both have personal stakes in maintaining the status quo. Nobody will say no to the Chamber or any powerful representative of the real estate industry. That would almost certainly be political suicide and you can't help people if you can't win elections, right?
Anyway, I support a local climate action plan if only to allow the well meaning and impotent Council to feel better about themselves and the strong supporters to feel like they are making a difference (in a small way, they do).
Nevertheless, the implied argument that if we don't do it nobody else will, is absurd. Scientific studies, along with the concurrence of regular people with common sense, indicates that the actions of a relatively isolated unit, taking a relatively minor action, will have essentially zero affect on the behavior of groups that lie beyond its immediate sphere of influence.
Pretending that the plan means more than it does may be useful. People need hope and should plan for a less dystopian future, regardless of what that future may look like. There is no point in being excessively pessimistic because nobody really knows what the future holds in store for us.

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