Once again, WC opened the year with wishes for the upcoming months. And once again, WC’s wishes and hopes were mostly dashed. But with less than a week or so left in 2015, let’s look at the specifics (Wishes in bold face; outcomes indented below):
Overpopulation. Yes. Still at the top of the list. The root of much is what is wrong and going wrong on this tired, over-crowded and badly abused planet. Back in 2011, we rolled the odometer over to an estimated 7 billion. To a deplorable extent, especially in the Western world, the rate of population growth is a function of religious teachings. The Catholic church and the Latter Day Saints’ crazed obsession with large families would be two obvious examples. When religious dogma have counter-survival effects, it’s past time to change them. WC calls on all those latter day saints and infallible pontiffs to have a revelation: that further growth of human populations is terrible, and must be controlled, that more than two children is a sin by whatever definitions they use.
No progress at all. Not even on many folks’ radar. An absolute fail.
Anthropocentric climate change. Another repeat from 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014: the second great crisis facing humanity is the changes we are forcing on our planet’s climate. The way things are going, to paraphrase Pratchett and Gaiman, we are going to scourge all intelligent life from the planet, leaving nothing but dust, cockroaches and fundamentalists. The time for denying man-caused climate change is past. Can we at least shift the debate about how to deal with it? The Arctic Ocean will soon be ice-free. Can all the global warming-denying politicians who have sold their small, dark, crabbed souls to the fossil fuels industry have a look in the mirror and ask themselves, “Do I care about my grandchildren?” There will come a day when fossil fuel lobbyists and the politicians they have purchased will be held in the same contempt as Congressmen who defended slavery, or claimed tobacco was harmless. It’s past time to act. Why not now?
Very slight, very modest progress. Paris was a qualified success. ExxonMobil was revealed as the despicable, duplicitous scumbag that it is. There has been a slight move away from fossil fuels, especially coal. But far too many members of Congress remain in the political pockets of the energy industry, climate change deniers for the sake of their campaign coffers. Contemptible.
Our national government still remains broken. For the first time since the prelude to the Civil War, a political party has set its agenda as obstructing everything a president proposes. Up until the recent past, the “loyal opposition” meant cooperating with the guy who, you know, won the election. No longer. WC wishes that the Republican-controlled Congress would, just this once, place the interests of the nation above their own failed agendas. Obstructionism hasn’t worked. Shutting down the government didn’t work – any of the times it has been implemented. Why not try compromise as an alternative? The recent budget settlement demonstrates it is possible. There’s a horribly long list of critical issues facing Congress. So long as the Executive and Legislative branches of government remain divided, compromise is the only path to resolving those issues. Congress has repeatedly demonstrated it can compromise; it simply won’t.
Again, very slight, very modest progress. New House Speaker Paul Ryan seems to be able to accomplish what his predecessor, John Boehner, could not: controlling the lunatic fringe. The December 2015 budget bill was an impressive piece of classic, pre-Teabaggery political compromise. We’ll see if it lasts.
The American people re-discover their values. As a people, we have lost our way. Out of fear, or revenge or some even darker emotion, we as a people have come to embrace things a generation ago we rejected as morally repugnant. The country that led the prosecution of torturers and war criminals after World War II now, seemingly, endorses torture. The people that built a nation out of compromise – the U.S. Constitution itself is demonstrably the product of compromise – now embraces inflexibility and confrontation. Ideas and proposals antithetical to our society that would have been ridiculed 25 years ago are now taken as beacons. We must find our true selves.
Grave, frightening regression. The dark, xenophobic tendency of the American character is emerging in Islamophobia, inflamed by unprincipled opportunists like Donald Trump.
Find a path to reduce income inequality. In the United States, income inequality is at its greatest extreme since the Gilded Age. The middle class in America is vanishing like the polar ice. The share of total U.S. wealth and total U.S. income commanded by the top 1% of the population has increased every year since the start of the Great Recession. The problem isn’t limited to the U.S. It’s international. But in the U.S. the increasing income disparity could be resolved by a change in tax policy. The chances of that happening in the current Congress or the incoming Congress is effectively non-existent. Which seems to WC to imply an increasingly harsh government and some kind of revolution. Perhaps WC’s readers can see a better path.
Another complete fail. Income inequality is actually worse at the end of 2015 than at the start. And a billionaire egomaniac is the leading Republican candidate for President.
So there you have it. An unmitigated disastrous outcome for WC’s quite moderate, entirely reasonable wishes. Again. It’s enough to make even an optimist a bit gloomy. But not gloomy enough to not make a wish for 2016 in a week or so.
We’ll move on from where we are.