Welcome to Earth? Who’s in Charge Here?
April 02, 2017 -Steve Hays
In case you’re new here, Earth is the living space ship in which we move around the galaxy at an incredible speed but with so little vibration that we don’t even know we’re moving—and without making us dizzy.
Even though earth is well designed and equipped enough to enable us to use and appreciate it every day, once a year many of us join to celebrate it.
If you are from here, you probably already know that around 60,000 of us will gather in San Diego’s Balboa Park on April 23 to celebrate. It’s the largest free annual environmental fair in the world! In addition to being a party, people come to discover ways to ensure and continue our residency here.
That’s important since we aren’t building any other options right now. Besides, would anywhere else be as accommodating or comfortable? Maybe we should stay.
Given that, it’s not a bad idea to notice how we are fouling things up, too. Earth would do just fine without humans, but we’re not positioned to find out if we can do without earth.
The living biosphere called Gia maintains the balance of the systems and enables the conditions that make our existence possible. No matter how you name or define Gaia, we know that earth and all life forms are bound in symbiotic relationships and systems we know work, just not how. Even those who best understand the earth’s ability to support us and itself are still surprised and in awe when they discover how intricate it is.
I wonder what it would be like if we approached society like that and politicians actually studied what it takes for us to work well together. I’ve wondered why we don’t apply to the earth the same creed or oath that doctors are supposed to follow: “do no harm.” That’s the goal. We know enough about the body and earth to know that we understand very little, but also know that both work better when taken care of and treasured.
We have an oath like that our elected officials swear to uphold—the Constitution. I think it’s supposed to focus them on the general welfare, not just theirs; to establish justice for everyone, not just those who can buy it. Think of our posterity, not just for today. Make sure there is liberty for all and ensure domestic tranquility. If our representatives took that to heart, wouldn’t they be bringing people together and know that dominating and separating people doesn’t work?
The principles found in the Preamble to the Constitution actually serve as a good checklist for how they are doing. It may not say anything specific about the environment, but then again it all is. It’s about that and the common resources we share.
Right now one of the few principle in the Preamble they do follow is providing for the common defense—just expanded to include more offense. The theory seems to be “just do that and the rest of our problems will fade away.” It’s like on stop shopping. All done.
That’s the broad plan. Expand a defense budget already higher than the rest of the world combined and pay for it it by by eliminating the programs designed to ensure our other rights—which include having a safe planet to live on.
Our environment now figures prominently on the list of areas to relax regulations and controls, replace it with one system based on the vague rules of the “free” market. One-stop shopping again? One solution for everything?
A good example is the dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It was formed in 1970 to consolidate into one agency the monitoring of data collection on the environment, the status of pollutants that affect our air, water and land, and regulate industries that pollute.
The idea is to remove the chains, as some put it, from businesses in order to create more jobs and profit—to help the economy. Looking at the wealth of the cabinet, it’s not surprising they might think that money solves everything.
The idea that the EPA can be replaced by the marketplace, by competitive market forces, has often been referred to as the self-correcting “invisible hand.” Basically it says capitalism works, all by itself, don’t mess with it.
And here I thought the EPA was formed to slap the invisible hand when it reached too far. This solution ignores the fact that we started with market forces as the controller and discovered that the short-term profit motive was usually a much stronger motivator for businesses than either the long-term well-being of society, or even a livable environment.
What happens next? I know a lot of people hope that, like the failed healthcare plan, only 17% of us will agree. After that defeat I hope people don’t think the game is over, and that the trend will automatically continue. Not sure trends always do that. This is more likely to be a series of battles that call for people to express what they are passionate about.
While no one clearly knows the agenda or ramifications of all the proposed changes, the broad purpose seems clear—deregulate, whether that’s good or not.
We can’t know the unintended consequences until they happen or know where the solutions we will need are. We know only that humans can adjust and are creative.
I saw an example of what it may look like in an interview the other day with Michigan State head football coach Jim Harbaugh (Politico, March 28). He’s always appeared to be a sore loser to me and I don’t embrace his yell and scream at the team approach. Yet the interview surprised me.
He’s upset about justice. He tweeted that he hoped reports that the White House wanted to defund Legal Services Corp (LSC) was not true. LSC provides legal aid to the poor.
For Harbaugh, “LSC is CRUCIAL to making the justice system fair.” It protects those who are most vulnerable from losing their right to be represented in our justice system. It spreads and ensures democracy.
Quoting the The Federalist, Harbaugh said: “As [Madison] said in Federalist 51, ‘Justice is the end of government, the end of civil society. It ever has been [and] ever will be pursued until it be obtained or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.’”
In those times they use “end” to mean the object or or goal. In these times some clarification is required, as some people act as if the don’t know why we have a government.
Harbaugh has been passionate about supporting LSC for several years.
If others, like Harbaugh, step up for what they are passionate about, ideally we can retain what supports our society.
What I can’t understand is this. Many say what defeated TrumpCare was its 83% disapproval rating and people all over the country got involved and voiced their opposition. With some reps that worked.
Then again, much more than 17% in the House supported it. It surprised me that leadership knew it was widely unpopular, yet still pushed it. They clearly were not representing people. It was certainly about money for some. But many representatives had to separate themselves from what 83% of the people wanted, in order to push their ideology on the majority.
That’s disconcerting. Do we have a government that represents people or is that an old mask of pretense they don’t bother to wear now? Don’t their actions say people don’t matter?
In case you wondered about the people on the cover: They are lying on the beach absorbing the warmth of the sun. A ritual humans do. Someone asked before we printed if they were dead. Did the environment kill them?
Well, only if we kill it first, is my guess. Not sure who will track how we are doing. That story’s still evolving.