Blowout 2100

2011-06-23

in Canada, Economics, Law, Politics, Rants, Science, The environment

The overall aim of governments and political parties in North America an Europe at the moment seems to be serving the interests of people who are about 50 and at least fairly well off. Keep stock prices and house prices up, prop up failing banks and car companies, keep pumping fossil fuels, don’t worry about climate change or what future generations will use for energy. After all, the core supporters of the politicians (especially when it comes to all-important campaign cash) will probably be dead by the time the most serious effects of climate change are felt. The same goes for the people in high-level decision-making positions in government and industry today.

It seems that future generations will have good cause to hate us. We have had climate change endlessly explained to us, with multiple convincing lines of evidence to back up the theory. We have been told what we need to do to stop it, but we have chosen to do nothing because we care about our short-term economic welfare more than anything else.

If that is the implicit attitude of the politics of today, it would be helpful if it was made explicit. “Vote for Party X for 30 or 40 more years of relative prosperity. After that, no promises.”

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

alena June 23, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Many fifty-somethings are also struggling to find a place to live in our over-priced city. Even more are entering retirement with little financial security. On the positive side, many of us are fully engaged in our community trying to make a difference at the grass roots level. I would most definitely state that this government is not serving my needs as I did not vote for it, I hate our involvement in Afghanistan, bemoan the lack of environmental legislation and a myriad of other things.

coyote June 24, 2011 at 8:37 am

I think you’re correct. A government catering to a narrow base — in the case of this country, a variety of aging reactionary that feels entitled to its entitlements, but that doesn’t want to be bothered thinking about what that type of smash-and-grab means for everybody outside its apparently (self) limited comprehension — can be incredibly short-sighted. Apparently because it gets them into power.

The fact that, according to pollsters, younger citizens felt so disengaged and unrepresented by the process and most of the parties that they just didn’t vote, reinforces the “smartness” of this to party strategists, who, like many MBAs, focus only on short-term “results”, with no concern about their pernicious long term effects on the entity-as-whole, whether that’s one company or a society, or a whole planet. They’re under the impression they’re succeeding, and that they run the world, because nobody’s telling them different in any way that’s convincing to them.

A whole bunch of somebodies with a highly vested interest need to do that convincing. Passive disengagement from this particular insanity is no long-term survival strategy, either. Perhaps, to effect the changes we all need, a start might be a longer-term, better-organized, national version of the non-partisan vote mobs in the last election. Just to get the most affected demographics forming a critical mass. Critical enough, in all senses of the word, for the people that think they run things to notice, start worrying , and act on their concerns.

There’s much hard work in that, by people prepared to hang in for the long term.

Sarah June 30, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Is the problem really the politicians, or the electorate? Voters are (collectively) disastrously short-term in their thinking, and young people don’t show up at the polls. If political parties included the caveat you suggest then I’d be surprised if it made any difference to their support – except, perhaps, by boosting their support amongst people who perceived them as even more short term. There’s virtually no incentive for party strategists to look beyond the next election, so 30 years is a huge timespan by comparison.

mek July 1, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Don’t hate the players, hate the game.

dp July 5, 2011 at 4:05 pm

I can’t help but noticing that even though today’s politicians and voters have adopted a ‘to hell with the future, let’s make money now’ attitude, people still are not doing very well financially. The average American household saw its real income decline between 2005 and 2009.

Milan July 5, 2011 at 6:15 pm

There are counterarguments to that.

For one, it could be argued that the world is still largely dealing with the fallout from the recent financial crisis, and that the damage could have been worse.

That doesn’t mean we should ignore long-term problems, but it could explain why a short-term focus has not produced substantial growth in median income or reduced unemployment.

There has also been a great deal of growth in both median income and overall GDP in emerging markets. Of course, that would be more straightforwardly good news if the economic growth was not accompanied by growth in greenhouse gas emissions.

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