In what passes for tradition here at Wickersham’s Conscience, we spend the last week of each year thinking about the year that is ending, and making our wishes for the coming year. This final blog post in that tradition.
Despite the abject failures of his wishes for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and most recently in 2018, WC, in his continuing triumph of hope over experience, once again sets out his wishes for the coming year. While a few readers have suggested WC moderate his wishes, WC is not inclined to lower his expectations in the hope of greater success.
So here they are: WC’s wishes for 2019, most largely unchanged from past years:
- 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 7.7 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, destructive and dooms us all. Human population must be controlled. More than two children is a sin by whatever definitions they use. We know how to fix it: increased aid in Third World countries, better education of women and broad distribution of contraceptives. Religion and short-sightedness are the obstacles.
- Anthropocentric climate change. Another repeat from 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018: the second great existential threat facing humanity is the changes we are forcing on our planet’s climate. We learned this year that climatologists underestimated the rate of climate change. Earth is warming faster than we thought. It’s no longer just a crisis; it’s now an urgent crisis. Despite what the presidential buffoon and his corps of science deniers may claim, the time for denying man-caused climate change, or the magnitude of the change, or even the rate of 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. So many things about government are broken: the process for funding elections, the process of setting election districts, the rules of the U.S. Senate, the failure by Congress to address a long list of critical issues and, above all, the presidency. Government hasn’t been this dysfunctional since the lead up to the Civil War. And the Republican Party has chosen to kiss the pig. WC had hoped that the Republican-controlled Congress, after kissing the pig, would limit the damage that pig created and, just this once, place the interests of the nation above their own failed agendas. Wrong. Instead, the Republican-controlled Congress over and over again has enabled the dangerous thug. There is a horribly long list of critical issues facing Congress. They do nothing, but fawn on a 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 Republicans 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, a substantial minority – not a majority – of 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 utterly repugnant. First it was torture; the United States had led the prosecution of torturers and war criminals after World War II. First the Bush Administration and now the Trump Administration 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. Kidnapping children. Knowingly working harm to little kids. The people that built a nation out of compromise – the U.S. Constitution itself is demonstrably the product of compromise – now embrace 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. Perhaps it is a pendulum, and perhaps the pendulum has begun to swing back to rationality with the 2018 midterm elections.
- Find a path to reduce income inequality. In the United States, income inequality remains at its greatest extreme since the Gilded Age. The middle class in America is vanishing like the polar sea ice (see #2, above). 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 Trump’s economic plans, tariffs and treaty violations have aggravated the middle class crisis. The tax bill, the rollback of climate controls, the sabotage of health care; each of those hits the middle class hard. In the U.S., the increasing income disparity could be resolved by a real change in tax policy. Not the continuation of rich-favoring changes that we got. The chance of that happening in the 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, long 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 secretaries[^1] and ambassadors. 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 2020. Short of a messy revolution or massive number of election recalls or impeachments, the earliest we can continue to fix our broken government is the Congressional elections of 2020. Flipping the House is a good start. But it will only serve as a brake on some of the worst of the Republican goals, and with Trump willing to shut down the government for trivial reasons even that brake will be only partially effective. But voter education and, in the longer term, reform of apportionment against gerrymandering are mandatory. The goal has to be Democrat control of Congress and the Presidency in 2020, if only to undo the damage Trump and the Republicans have done.
- Restoration of the Rule of Law. We used to be a nation of laws. Now we are a nation governed by the tweets and whims of an ill-tempered, childish, ignorant con artist. It starts from the top. Whether by impeachment, indictment or election, Trump needs to go.
So there you have it: eight comparatively modest, sensible and practical wishes. WC cautions against holding your breath while waiting to see if any of these wishes come true. Asphyxia is bad for you.1
Happy New Year, everyone.
- WC has been accused of being too serious, and to “lighten up” the tone here at Wickersham’s Conscience. Okay, here’s an unofficial wish for 2019: That Rich Burlew speed up his cartoon production. Burlew, the author of the otherwise excellent Order of the Stick, is famously slow at posting new material. In fact, he only managed 40 cartoons in all of 2018, a new low. At this rate, the series will end sometime around the heat death of the universe. WC’s semi-serious wish for 2019: that Rich Burlew double his production of OOTS cartoons in 2019. ↩