Despite the abject failures of his wishes for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and most recently the utter failure of his wishes for 2016, in a continuing triumph of hope over experience, WC will once again set out his wishes for the coming year. While it is tempting to moderate those wishes, WC is not inclined to lower his expectations in the hope of greater success.
So here they are: WC’s wishes for 2017:
- 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. We’re now approaching a staggering 7.5 billion. To a deplorable extent, especially in the Western world, the rate of population growth is a function of religious dogma. The Catholic church and the Latter Day Saints’ crazed, self-destructive 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.
- Anthropocentric climate change. Another repeat from 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016: the second great crisis facing humanity are 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,or the magnitude of the 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?
- Our national government still remains broken. For the first time since the prelude to the Civil War, a political party set its agenda as obstructing everything a president proposes. Worse still, it succeeded. At best, it’s an unfortunate precedent. Up until the recent past, the “loyal opposition” meant cooperating with the guy who, you know, won the election. No longer. And now that broken political process has put Dpnald Trump in the presidency. And the Republican Party has to kiss the pig. WC hopes that the Republican-controlled Congress will limit the damage that pig creates and, just this once, place the interests of the nation above their own failed agendas. There’s a horribly long list of critical issues facing Congress. The excuse of divided Executive and Legislative branches of government is gone, replaced with a allegedly Republican president who has the ethics, instincts and attention span of a rabid weasel on speed. If it weren’t so dire, it would be amusing to watch the Republican self-destruct.
- The American people re-discover their values. Have you seen a video of a Trump campaign rally? If you have, you know it’s now beyond question that as a people, many Americans have lost their 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. First it was torture; the United States led the prosecution of torturers and war criminals after World War II. Now, seemingly, we endorse torture. A nation of immigrants – American Indians and Alaska Natives excepted – now wildly cheers erecting Berlin Walls along our borders, of blocking refugees out of irrational fear, and turning back refugee children. 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 core values and our society, that would have been derided 25 years ago, are now taken as beacons. We must re-find our true selves.
- 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 sea 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. Every aspect of president-elect Trump’s economic plans will aggravate the crisis. In the U.S., the increasing income disparity could be resolved by a change in tax policy. The chance of that happening in the incoming Trump presidency and Republican Congress is effectively zero. Which seems to WC to imply an increasingly harsh government and some kind of revolution. Perhaps WC’s readers can see a better path.
- Reform Campaign Finance and Lobbying. It’s more than the deluded, disproven ideas the U.S. Supreme Court espoused in Citizens United. It’s even more than the ludicrous claim that major campaign donors don’t have out-sized influence with the candidates they support. If you think that a politician who has accepted a six-figure contribution in her last campaign, making a call to that donor for a contribution for the next campaign, won’t do what the donor wants, well, WC envies you your pink, fuzzy, warm delusions. And suggests you look at Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees. We must move to publicly-financed election campaigns. It can be financed by a tax on the richest 1% – not only can they afford it; they are spending the money already. Political action committees must be abolished. The gross abuse of §501(c)(4) exempt organizations for political fundraising must be stopped.
- A Chance in Control of Congress in 2018. Short of a messy revolution or massive number of election recalls or impeachments, the earliest we can start to fix our broken government is the Congressional elections of 2018. If there is sufficient voter dissatisfaction, control of the U.S. House would shift and possibly even the U.S. Senate. WC hopes planning starts now.
So there you have it: seven comparatively modest, sensible and practical wishes. WC cautions against holding your breath while waiting to see if they come true. Asphyxia is bad for you.
Happy New Year, everyone.