Wednesday, September 15, 2010

God may not play dice with the universe, but we might want to start...

I've long said that I think the only long-term hope for human survival is to get off the planet--at least in part.  Not only can our hunger and our current economic system not be sustained on one world for long, but our inevitable waste--both toxic and relatively innocuous, must have a limit.  There must be a point when we refuse to refuse.

I believe space exploration and eventual colonization is our destiny as a species.  Not because some almighty deity declared it, but because we have all the tools to make it happen.  Sure, there are those who are skeptical, who think we should 'take care of things down here first,' or fear 'they'll just take our disease into space,' but I say to them that I, at least, am not so far gone that I thirst for the end of humanity.

I believe that there's something worth saving in us, despite our missteps.  I believe we are a clumsy, inept puppy of a species, just beginning to figure out how to toddle to the threshold leading out of our den and peering into the outer world.  And we are bold puppies, full of mischief and trouble.

I have little patience for those who would throw humanity on the discard pile, be it for religious reasons (hungering for a little Armageddon, are you?) or secular, philosophical reasons.  Despite our foolishness, despite our destructive tendencies toward our environment and our fellow creatures, we have within us the capacity to accomplish wondrous things if given the chance.  Those who feel as though we should turn away from that, slink back into our caves and forget the light we so briefly held within our hand, I have only one thing to say.

We're running out of options.

The debate over our rights and obligations regarding the fallout from our industrialization has waged for centuries, when we first began to venture away from a feudal economy into a capitalistic one.  People once thought even the river Thames was too large to be fouled by industry, but they found out quickly enough that the were wrong.

Now conservatives want to pretend that it's impossible than man's emissions are affecting our entire world, and the notion that it isn't seems so ludicrous that we find it hard to take them seriously.  We are poisoning the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the very Earth in which we grow our food.  And those who are making the most money from it will do nearly anything to keep us from impacting their profitability.

But we all know it's unsustainable.  There's no such thing as infinite growth in a finite system.  Something, somewhere, has to give.  And we can only hope that it's not our ecosystem.

There are those who have embraced the lifestyle of what I might call a neo-luddite, people that would like to reject the modern world and its vagaries.  But in the end the modern world will find you, and the very corporations you wish to ignore will happily shit in your pantry.  Witness what happened to the backwaters of Louisiana, as the oil from the gulf spill seeped slowly into their environs.

No one is safe, and it is not possible to hide from what's happening.  There is no going back, no forcing the genie back into the bottle.  Even assuming you could get every American on board with what you believe must be done, there are several billion people looking to live a Chinese version of the American Dream.  And a government and social structure that doesn't have our inherent checks and balances--regardless of how ineffective they may seem.

Honestly, it may be our only hope is to go forward, to strive with everything in us--our ingenuity, our ambition, our fear of calamity, to seek a solution to the problems we have caused.  Technology has put us here, but it's possible, just possible, that technology might also be the answer.

There are those who might scoff.  But let's remember how long we've been at this, and how many changes we've initiated already.  We stand on the brink of as many as a million world-changing discoveries and inventions, from protein farming to new sources of energy, from super-efficient batteries to nanotechnology.  We may not have the option of pulling back, reining in on our "carbon footprint" and environmental impact.  It may be too late for that.

Our best answer might well be "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead."  And this is not to say we shouldn't take into consideration possible negative consequences of some decisions... but we have to balance those with what we're likely to face if we do nothing.

Some might be able to argue that we should have exercised restraint, but I'm not sure that was in the cards.  This modern world, for all its problems, has either solved, or is on its way to solving, many of humanity's long-term problems.  Each leap forward carries all of us with it, whether we understand what it means or not.

Our only hope is to get "out there," to find and make use of the resources that we now know are abundant.  Our solar system awaits.  Let's stop fiddle-farting around and put our mind to not only repairing our mistakes, but transcending them.

I don't think we have a choice.

Is it a risk?  Yes, but is it a larger risk than sitting on our hands watching our planet come apart around us?  I don't think so.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fighting the Future

The Conservative agenda.  To fight tooth and nail to bring America back to some alleged "better time," (conceivably when women shut the fuck up, gays were buried in the back of the closet under a blanket and a dozen pairs of shoes, negroes knew their place--at the back of the bus--, and those who disagreed with the status quo knew how to keep their traps shut).

They claim to want to "take back America."  From the "socialists," conceivably.  Certainly from us liberals--you know, the people who gave the world the reformation, the enlightenment, modern democracies and republics, the industrial revolution, an end to slavery, woman's suffrage, child labor laws, workplace safety regulations, The GI Bill, pensions, health plans, clean drinking water and other environmental protections.  Not to mention social security and unemployment insurance.

Sure, the corporate fat cats bankrolling the Republicans and the whole Tea Party morass want you to swallow that many of these things are UnAmerican, but we argue 'what's more American than justice?  Parity?  Making sure people get a fair shake?  They'd like to take us back to a time retirees were lucky to survive on something better than cat food.  They say "it's your responsibility to plan for retirement" and yet attempt to pay people as little as possible.  Doing it through the power of taxation allows for a shield from the vagaries of fate.  One cannot be destitute for life because of a single bad decision, or a stroke of ill fortune.  For every person who could (theoretically) manage their retirement better than, say, social security, there are several who would choose badly.  For all intents and purposes they might as well suggest the "Circus-Circus Retirement Package."

They don't believe in regulation because they believe that "market forces" will somehow balance out the profit motive, ignoring exactly how effective Madison Avenue and advertisers have become.  BP caused the greatest environmental catastrophe in American history and still people are buying their products.  "What, ARCO is owned by BP?  But they have the cheapest gas..."  And, after all, didn't BP suffer enough?

Here's a clue.  Rich Republicans don't give a SHIT about any of us.  Can't say for sure that rich Dems do either, but they'll at least suggest and support legislation about more than giving away the treasury to their rich cronies.  They know what lending a helping hand means.  Republicans know how to help themselves, and suggest to the rest of us that we do the same.

They scream about anything that "smacks of socialism," but the fact is that anyone with even the slightest brainpower knows that the current model is unsustainable. It assumes an infinite supply of material, an infinite supply of capital, and an infinite space in which to dump goods once we're no longer satisfied with them--once the planned obsolescence has kicked it.

People might well decry me as a "socialist" for even saying so, but anyone willing to look at the current model with an ounce of honesty will realize that something has to give, somewhere.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

History Lesson

Conservatives proudly embrace ideas we abandoned generations ago. And think this is a GOOD thing. There's a reason we moved beyond these notions... and a reason you folks have not. Clinging to outdated ideologies is what conservatives do You fought the reformation, the enlightenment, the establishment of democratic/republican forms of government, the industrial revolution, workers rights, the end of slavery, the end of child labor and unsafe working conditions, women's suffrage, social security, environmental protection (you can thank us that your water is actually drinkable--if left up to conservatives we'd be drinking lead soup), minimum wage, etc... etc... etc...

And let's not confuse "liberal" with "Democrat" here. Anyone with any knowledge of history whatsoever know that the old Dixiecrats abandoned the Democratic Party in droves when it became clear that liberals were taking over and fighting for equality and decency. They became the backbone of the Republican Party. It was called "The Southern Strategy."

Conservatives have always held on to outmoded notions with the fierceness of delusional certainty.

Not all liberals are Democrats, nor all Democrats liberal. And that's a shame. A crying shame, since the Republicans have never in their life had an original idea. Even their propaganda campaigns come directly from the diaries of Gobbels and Stalin.