President Reagan is the hero of the Republican Party and particularly for those who believe in less government. His legacy is that America is no longer a Republic. He may have brought in a time of good feelings, after all his speeches made us feel more confident and we felt better about ourselves as a people, but look at what he has left us, a government by the corporations and for the corporations. We have a plutocracy run by oligarchs. The corrupting influence of money has corrupted our representatives, not all of them but enough of them to insure that we the people no longer have the power to govern ourselves. The worst part of it is our attitude today towards problems that we face, and the lack of quality candidates that one of our major political parties puts up as candidates. The attitude is that we can be as dumb as we want to be. Stupid is in, science and reason is out. You can’t fix stupid and the more stupid people we elect the wealthiest among us will be guaranteed to keep their power.
If you recall President Reagan was perhaps the first candidate to become President to actually run against government. He spoke again and again on how government was the problem and that government was evil. The American people were made even more suspicious of government. After Watergate, and after the weak Presidency of President Carter, government was an easy target.
Along with the mantra that government was the problem came the horrible consequence of the failure of government to come to grips with the government’s responsibilities under the Constitution. With the fiction that the Reagan revolution promoted that we citizens can self govern ourselves came the very real fact that nothing got done that we the people needed. The Constitutional task of promoting and providing for the general welfare fell by the way side; and the selfish notion that it is all about me took over. Taxes became the enemy. We are told that government doesn’t know how to spend your money with the emphasis on the word your. The fantasy was sold like laundry soap, that the Free Market knows all and if only we unleash the Free Market of capitalism all would be well. Trickle down economics would make sure that the Middle Class would flourish, and with lower taxes individual wealth was around the corner.
What a joke! We have the greatest income inequality in our history. Wages have been stagnant for 40 years. The worst part of Reagan’s legacy is the attitude of some that when it comes to solving problems, we’ll get around to it. We went from being the can do society to we’ll get around to it when we have to.
Government is not the problem we are the problem. If we could be the first to land on the Moon, we can do what is difficult and have a partnership between government and business to help solve the problems that we face as a people.
It was too late to get around to it when the bridge on Interstate 35W collapsed in Minnesota. Our airports are too crowded, our roads have too many potholes, and the list goes on.
There is this national malaise, lethargy and apathy towards our biggest problem climate change. It is pathetic. For people who claim to be progressive, many of them talk a good talk but find wind turbines ugly or they complain that they kill birds. You hear excuses all the time when it comes to why so-called liberals don’t have solar panels. You hear, that their bill is too low, or that they are too old to do it, or that the panels don’t look nice. Come on people, it might be nice cocktail conversation on how you bought a Prius, but that just is not enough. If we are to save the planet, we have to suck it up and feel pain. There are reasons not to do solar, and there are excuses. Government should provide assistance to those who have roofs that need fixing or replacing. Government buildings should be powered by solar power.
The Chairman of the board of Chevron described the problem in a more realistic way. David O’Reilly when quoted in Thomas Friedman’s “Hot, Flat and Crowded,” said the following:” There is a problem with energy literacy,” ” If you look at energy consumption in the world each day and convert it all into oil equivalent, we are consuming ten million barrels an hour-that is 420 million gallons per hour. Think about that. That means if we take all the hydro, coal, oil and renewables-everything-and put them together, that is how much we are using. To really make a difference, there are three issues: There is the scale of the demand, the scale of the investment needed to produce alternatives at scale, and the scale of time it takes to produce alternatives . Many alternatives are just at the embryonic phase.”
We are not taking the problem of energy and climate change seriously enough. We act as if we can deal with it tomorrow. We act as if government should not be a key part of the challenge and the solutions. The question should be how many tomorrows do we have if we do not act now.
Nate Lewis from Cal Tech has said,” For all of the talk of a green revolution, things are not getting any better. In fact things are actually getting worse. From 1990 to 1999, global CO2 emissions increased at a rate of 1.1 % per year. In the years 2000 to 2006, we tripled the rate of global CO2 emission increases, to an average(increase) for that period of over 3% a year.
Since then the global efforts at reducing emissions has improved but the urgency is there more than ever to take action. Denmark and Germany are great examples of how to make change happen by making it painful not to change. In 1973 Denmark got 99% of its energy from the Middle East and now they get none, zero.
We need to ask of ourselves to do something different and difficult and have a real green revolution. We need to get over the Reagan Revolution. It is not about what we can do for ourselves to have more material things, but to have a revolution where we ask of ourselves as citizens of not only America but the world; ask not what you can do for your country but what can we do for our children and the world so that we can have a future. We only have one home planet earth.