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Politics can remind me of old Star Trek episodes. Spock telling captain Kirk that there is no logical way out of the situation and that he must use his human intuition.
I just wrote and deleted a post on healthcare. I certainly have my opinions on it, but it is a really hot topic and I'm not sure I have anything all that constructive to say about it. It's very complicated. I'm going to choose to focus on climate change here.
I keep on thinking about my whole "this sounds more republican than democratic" position. Is it the democratic policy that to pay for renewable power, college education for all, Medicare for all and solving the homeless crisis, that we are simply going to tax the rich? Is that really going to help the trade deficit? Will not raising taxes on the middle class allow us to bring the roaring airline industry back after the pandemic is over? Is that going to be good for climate change?
My position is that we are all going to have to pitch in to fight climate change. I'm not defending President Trump's $750 tax bill or his bankruptcies. The wealthy have certainly been getting a bargain. I just find the idea of giving the bill of climate change, and all of the rest of the world's problems, to the wealthy while we drive around in SUVs and book plane flights half way across the world to be distasteful. The democratic, middle class, needs to own up to their part of the problem and the solution.
This is the problem I have with the direction the democratic party has been taking and the Green New Deal...
How to pay for it? Tax the rich, right?
Let's look at the last 100 years. We had the great depression. FDR put these social programs in place and ran up the national debt. And then we had WWII which further ran up the debt. But America was the leading manufacturer in the world. We then paid down all that debt by taxing the rich. Wow! It did work. My theory is that then the rich had less money to put into building factories and that is when the outsourcing of production to Asia took hold. We also had a large influx of women going into the workforce which was a production gain that helped pay down the debt.
Then the debt started going back up. The 70's, the 80's. Deregulation. Movement away from pensions. Then the dot com boom. Computers! The budget was balanced on President Clinton's watch during the boom. That didn't last long though. Then the middle east war. More deregulation of financial markets which lead to the great recession. Then huge bailouts at the start of President Obama's watch. We had a secondary computer boom with smartphones, tablets, laptops and tvs, but the debt kept going up. Most of that stuff was produced in Asia.
Then we had President Trump calling out to bring manufacturing back to the US. Buy American, right? His theory, the republican theory, is to put more money in the hands of the wealthy. They'll build factories and put people to work. And of course we need cheap energy. Part of the recovery from the great recession was the fracking boom, right? It's fascinating to see how the Hubbert Peak Oil theory held up until horizonal fracking?
Now the democrats have power again and passed another huge stimulus today. Their plan is to tax the rich. Like we did after WWII, right? The problem with this logic is that after WWII, we were already the top manufacturing country. Now we are not. My theory is that taxing the rich is going to make it harder to bring manufacturing back. Impossibly hard.
Like all political things though, this is very, very difficult to think about. You could say that the US is doing more of the soft part of production. We code software. We do research and development. We come up with ideas. We have good management. Are we doing our part? There is a trade imbalance. The debt keeps going up and up. The rich are getting richer and it can't go on forever. Maybe a centralized world factory in Asia makes good sense.
What happens if automation eliminates millions of jobs? Do all those people get retrained to become advertising executives? Do they all become welders for wind turbines? Do we create millions of massage therapist jobs? Do we come up with a Univeral Basic Income scheme? Is that fair? Does the national debt to gross domestic product even matter? I say it does, but simply creating a bunch of bullshit jobs doesn't make a lot of sense either. If people are not working, then what are they doing? Playing video games? Traveling the world? Playing sports? Playing music? What happens if all the restaurants are run by robots? If having robots cooking for us saves us time, what do we do with that time? Work more hours in the advertising job? Play more video games? Play more music? Go on more cruises?
So those are my thoughts on politics. I obviously think about ecomonics a lot. And I've very concerned with how this all ties in with climate change. We all want more money; more prosperity. But more prosperity is just going to bring more climate change problems unless we really take a hard look at what we are really trying to accomplish (and use some restraint). If the democrats are successful at getting more money to the middle class, it is likely just going to turn out to be spent on more cars and planes. Sure, we can make the cars electric, but they are still energy hogs. The world has a history of adopting cleaner technologies and then just using them more and more. I call this "spending the surplus."
I like thinking and researching about all of this. There are a lot of people in the world. I am an armchair politician, but I am in the race too. I am on the ballot with these ideas.
The way I choose to interact with politics is to make a platform, be on the ballot and put a band together to promote the idea on TV. You can certainly get on TV with a political idea by breaking a window too. Being someone from Portland, I certainly feel that there are just as many radical people on the left as there are on the right. If I am successful with getting my band on TV, and I'm sure Albert Lee has been working his agenda, we might have some decent discussion this time around.
I think that Elizabeth Warren has her finger on the problem with her Two Income Trap book. I think that Mr. Money Mustache has the solution. It always frustrates me to hear people talk about booming economies and more jobs. Human activity causes climate change. I think the solution is living local. It's a gooey energy to talk about being locked in your neighborhood instead of flying to Hawaii twice a year.