Friday, November 1, 2013

The Caligula Caucus

The politically correct are calling it a class war, or even a war against the poor. But that's putting it too mildly. Because the assault of the plutocrats on the body politic is now actually reaching the level of extermination -- or, if you prefer, culling the herd, slow starvation, and legalized homicide. Here are a few of my recent New York Times comments addressing this largely ignored crisis*. First, in response to Charles Blow's piece on the partisan hammering that the neoliberal health insurance reform known as Obamacare is now receiving:
Lost in the circular blame game media hype of the GOP vs. the White House vs. the contractors vs. HHS are an estimated 30 million people who'll still be uninsured even if the website worked like a charm from Day One. This includes the 8 million desperately poor people deliberately barred from expanded Medicaid in GOP-controlled states.
These same 30 million are joining nearly 20 million others who, starting Friday, will have their SNAP benefits cut by an average of $32 a month for a family of three. That's a week's worth of thrifty meals. And since most Food Stamp households contain children, it kind of does bring the political malpractice up to the level of felony-grade child abuse.
The looming cuts don't even factor in the $4 billion already agreed to by the full Senate. That's peanuts, compared to the $40 billion the clinical sadists of the House GOP want to inflict, just to hold up poor people as Old Testament pariahs deserving of scorn.
So where's the outrage over the deliberate slow starvation of a fifth of the population? Where's the anger over the fact that half of all public school children now live below the poverty line, and that a third of all adults are deemed officially poor in the "one exceptional nation?" How about the insanity of both parties even discussing chained CPI for retirees when the level of extreme elder poverty jumped another 16% in the last year alone?
A website glitch is the least of it. Where are the jobs? Where's the humanity?

And continuing in that vein is my response to Paul Krugman's piece on "War on the Poor":
War on the poor? It's looking an awful lot like a planned annihilation of the poor.
Starting today, SNAP benefits for more than 45 million people are being slashed for the first time in history. It amounts to the loss of about 16 meals a month per person.
Is Congress done yet? Of course not. The Caligula Caucus won't rest until they literally snatch an additional $40 billion worth of sustenance from the mouths of children, the old, the disabled, veterans and working poor families.
And not content to simply starve people, the Grand Inquisitors of the GOP demonize them, demanding they be drug-tested before consuming their rice and beans. And, they proclaim as they thump their Bibles, if you want to eat, go get a job. They callously ignore the fact that it's the lack of jobs created by their own political malpractice that's forcing record numbers of people onto food stamps in the first place.
Are they done yet? No way. Unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless will expire in two months, throwing even more millions into outright destitution.
It's not only a war on the poor. It's a counter-revolution against the New Deal. Wall Street gets billions every month in quantitative easing (a/k/a corporate welfare for greedy hoarders.) The downtrodden get a kick in the teeth. Or should I say gums, because poor people can't afford to see a dentist. And if people can no longer chew, food becomes a choking hazard.
And that is probably all part of the grisly GOP plan.
Mind you, I'd been watching The Pit and the Pendulum, part of TCM's Vincent Price-Edgar Allan Poe bloodbath Halloween marathon at the time Krugman's column came up. Nothing like Grade B cinematic horror to make you realize how tame it is compared to the real thing.

My only regret is that I didn't sufficiently chastise complicit Democrats in my Krugman comment. (Blame it on the 1500 character count allotment and my chocolate sugar buzz) They are the wimpish, craven technocrats feebly trying to control the plutocratic monster by petting it and calling it Fluffy. Rather than control the beast, they strive to placate it. And of course, we know what historically happens when those ineffectual types working in the laboratories of democracy fail to do their jobs:

* The Times finally got around to writing an article on the subject and placed it prominently on the homepage. For the time being. Let's see if it's just a one-off or part of a continuing series on Down and Out in America. Of course, they make sure to appease the consciences of the plutocrats by headlining mass slow starvation as "trims to the program." Gotta watch those waistlines, poor folks!


James F Traynor said...

Congrats, Karen, you're currently number one in approval on the Krugman's comments line. Go, get 'em!

Zee said...

I have to laugh at Charles Blow's assertion that ObamaCare has “forced insurers to offer more robust plans,” resulting in the cancellation of millions of policies in the private health care insurance market. Blow is the consummate apologist for the Obama administration's incompetence.

Here's one young, self-described middle-class man who doesn't seem to think that the new policy that he is being offered—after cancellation of his previous one—is so “robust.”

“I’m a healthy 34-year-old with a taxable income hovering right around the Obamacare subsidy level who, for the last several years, has purchased a relatively inexpensive catastrophic health insurance plan from Blue Shield. I get to see the doctor four times a year for a $30 co-pay, and I won’t have to spend the rest of my life working off the debt if I get hit by a bus.

Last month, however, I received a letter from my insurance company informing me that my plan was “no longer available” due to “new requirements for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.” I am being funneled into the closest equivalent plan under the new California health exchange, and my monthly premium is going to rise by nearly 43% to $214 a month.

My old plan was as bare-bones as they came, so I assumed that even though the new plan would cost more, my coverage would improve under Obamacare, at least marginally.

It did not.

Under my old plan, my maximum out-of-pocket expense was $4,900. Under the new plan, I’m on the hook for up to $6,350. Copays for my doctor visits will double. For urgent-care visits, they will quadruple. Though slightly cheaper plans exist if I decide to shop around on the exchange, I will lose my dental coverage should I switch.

Needless to say, I am not pleased.

Most young, middle-class Americans I know are happy that millions of previously uninsured people will receive free or heavily subsidized insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

We just didn’t realize that, unless we had health insurance at work, we’d be the ones paying for it
(My bold emphasis.),0,1645290.story#axzz2j6lco3nP

Young, healthy people in the private insurance market are finally understanding that it is not the public at large who will subsidize affordable, accessible health care insurance for those who are currently uninsured, but subsidized by only about one-half of those currently in the private insurance market.

The author goes on to explain why ObamaCare is destined to implode:

“ If young healthy people like myself feel we’re being taken advantage of, and opt out of purchasing insurance–paying the penalty instead—the healthcare exchanges will collapse. (The penalty in year one for opting out is only $95 or 1% of your salary, whichever is higher -- far less than the cost of even the most basic insurance plan.)

When Obamacare comes fully online, it will do wonders to provide healthcare for people who were not eligible for Medicaid but still could not afford health insurance. If this system is going to be sustainable, however, we’re going to need to find a way to get older and wealthier Americans to chip in more. Because, right now, it’s young, middle-class people just outside the subsidy range who are biting the bullet. Young, middle-class people who already bore the highest toll in the recent financial collapse, who have seen our wages sliced and our job prospects dwindle.

You can only ride our backs for so long before we’re going to tell you enough is enough.

Would that young people would actually wake up to that truth, but I'm not counting on it.

And as an “older and wealthier American,” if I'm going to have to “chip in” to subsidize health care insurance for others, it will only be for a single-payer system, not some half-baked program under which I also have to subsidize insurance company profits, too.

Meredith NYC said...

Congrats--your comment excerpt is on the front of Krugman's column on the op ed page. If yours doesn't attract more readers, what will? With your choice phrase..kicked in the teeth. Good judgment by the NYT stafff.

You should have a daily column on the op ed page,for your realistic and informative sarcasm--a necessary reaction to our destruction. So much of a higher quality than, say Dowd, who teaches us very little, with her trivial putdowns. And Gail Collins' last column was the high point of her compulsive adolescent humor, superficial triviality, and habitual avoidance of the main issues. Is that too harsh? I don't think so. She was in the vanguard of women's success in journalism at the Times--and this is what we get? Like Women's Section type stuff--it's a shame. There are many better women columnists out there.

You are an antidote to the timid, middle of the roaders, like Bruni, and Kristoff who always include some phony balance, even as they pretend to be progressive. That may do more harm than frank conservatism.

I won't even mention Friedman and Ross D,who I think just graduated from college several years ago. And of course Keller, who actually seems to admire David Brooks, and who rates 2 pages when the rest get 1. The Times could use improvement, but otoh, the mediocrities do point up the excellent ones--Krugman, Blow and Egan, and Edsall, too. They're almost like college educations. Do you ever read Eduardo Porter's column in Business? I must read him more.

Meanwhile, Rosenthal announced an expanded page for international writers. Where are they? I guess he doesn't mean regular columnists--not sure about that.
Thanks, Karen.....Meredith..NYC

p.s. still overlooking the Extel construction site, with pile drivers keeping us awake after midnight, while they work on Amtrak rr tracks below, only when trains don't run! The City Council is meeting with Amtrack and Rep Nadler to figure out an alternative. I hope! I emailed my 2 cents.

James F Traynor said...

From what I understand the only reason ACA passed was that the insurance and pharmaceutical industries' conditions were met. And the biggest requirement was that health insurance would be compulsory and the second was that they be given time to adjust the offered compulsory plans to their benefit. I am sure that another was that optional federal insurance not be included as a choice.

In consideration of this, Zee, what the hell did you expect? And just what the hell did that whining 34 year old expect? Even had the public option been offered at a lower expense it would have still probably meant an increase in his premiums. But in the out years he would have been more than repaid.

Jesus, can't you people count? For years conservatives, libertarians and the stupid young opposed single payer on the basis of greed or just plain stupidity.

I carry no brief for ACA or Obama. The first is a band- aid engineered to fail by the insurance and pharmaceutical companies who had a large hand in designing it. And the latter? Well I have even less regard for him than I have for the Clintons.

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks, James and Meredith. I try to faithfully contribute to Paul Krugman's columns, but it's hit and miss with Collins and Dowd. The Collins comment threads are usually a Tea Party bash-fest, which is way too easy and echo-chamberish. Mitt Romney and the dog on the roof!!! Michele Bachmann is a nut!!! I agree that Dowd can be shallow, but at least she spans the globe on her subject matter. Her reader-commenters revel in bashing her Barry-bashing even when she's not bashing Barry. Brooks, thank god, is on "book leave" or vaycay, but still going on TV while his unpaid interns (college Republicans of America) do all his research for none of the credit. And the sight of the smirking "pasty little putz" (h/t Marion at FDL) staring at me on Saturday nights reminds me I should at least be pretending to have a life! I will only comment on Friedman occasionally, usually when he enters Grand Bargain Junction. I am always happy when Charles Blow veers away from reciting CAP talking points, and writes straight from the heart. His Trayvon Martin coverage, for example, was eloquent. The NYT should give him Sundays. Oh, and as for putting more women on their international op-ed page, big effing deal. These ladies are kept safely out of range of the Beltway groupthink, and the Times gets to brag how inclusive they are. Meanwhile, we commenters provide them with clicks and content and a "platform" from which to "share our thoughts". For free! I don't mind, if that's the only way any subversive messages will ever sneak their way through their back door. We're like the riffraff allowed the cheap apartments at that luxury NYC highrise.... as long as they don't have to personally mingle with us! (I will never forget being called "the thundering herd" by Arthur Brisbane III.)

Zee said...


"[W]hat the hell did [I] expect?"

Well, more or less exactly what has happened: The premiums for my employer-sponsored health care insurance remain unchanged, whereas about half of those in the small, private health care insurance market are getting screwed to pay for the subsidized, other half.

Those of us on the Thinking Right understood that this was a sweetheart deal for insurers and pharmaceutical manufacturers and a big, fat, shafting for those in the private insurance market, and we tried to explain it to the rest of America long ago.

Clearly, the young Obamabots--and even the old ones--weren't listening.

Hence, the whining of not only the 34-year cited above in an LA Times article, but also the one in another LA Times article that I quoted on an earlier thread:

"I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it."

So sorry, but I'm thinking that you probably voted for the guy.

So I find it hard not to laugh aloud at those who supported ObamaCare until they found out that they were in its crosshairs.

So, to answer your question, NONE of this comes as a surprise to me.

Yes, I resisted "single-payer" for a long time, but I like to think that I've finally come around.

James F Traynor said...

Yeah, Zee, you came around - too late. When you found out that it was people of your class for whom they were finally coming. Tough nuggies as they used to say in the long ago. You fell for the libertarian-conservative hype long before that 34 year old fell for the ACA scam. And, no doubt, you voted accordingly-same as he. Well, now there's no one, or party of consequence, left to vote for. It's not your fault, or his, or mine, just the way the cookie crumbles - as they also said in the long ago. Tecumseh must be laughing his ass off. Me? I'm going to have another drink and get lost in a stupid but entertaining video. Have a nice evening Zee, sleep well, don't let the bed bugs bite (they probably wouldn't dare).

Jay - Ottawa said...

@ Zee & James

Gentlemen, Gentlemen, Please!!! There are ladies present. Lay down your First and Second Amendment shooting irons for a spell.

What's past is past. I believe I hear you both saying, one way or another, a pox on both parties. Certainly that curse brings us together in reason and harmony. Now, chastened and wiser, let us look forward to the future together with resolve and -- yes -- hope.

All we need to know is whether each of you will vote Third Party NEXT TIME.

The Doktor said...

Hey Karen, great comment on Krugman's piece today, I too saw it highlighted by NYT, congrats and let's hope it gets some peoples attention, I do think more Americans are waking up to the outright black hearted evil that has taken over the republican party.

Also, I am one the people who needs help these days, luckily nothing on the order of true poverty, but damned close. So I extend a heartfelt "THANK YOU KAREN!" to you for speaking out so forcefully for those less fortunate.

The Doktor said...

Hi Zee! Hey ....listen, here's something I haven't seen the conservatively biased media lift itself out it's stupor to point out - I recently learned the hard way that most Doctors offices will give you a discount when you are a "self pay", so that office visit only costs you between 30 and 60 dollars. So somebody who pays 60 or 70 dollars a month is going to lay out 7 or 8 hundred bucks, plus kick in the co-pay of $120, putting it close to a thousand dollars out of pocket, when she/he could have gotten the same treatment for 240 bucks tops!

Zee said...


Thank your for your peace-making effort.

I'm pledged not only to vote third-party, myself, in 2014, but to encourage others to do so as well:

And Mrs. Zee and I did vote third-party in 2012, though not with the noblest of motivations:

At the first link, I acknowledged that I am rather late to the “Vote All the Bastards Out!” party, but I'm consoled by the fact that at age 63 I'm still capable of learning new things.

Zee said...

@The Doktor--

Hi, Dok! Great to hear from you after such a long absence from this forum. I think of you often, but was especially doing so as I read this article, just yesterday:

Yes, thanks to Mrs. Zee's long experience as a health care administrator, I have long been aware that self-payers can usually pay less than the insured, though I agree with you that the conservatively-oriented media have never pointed this out. But I'm not sure that the leftish media have done so, either.

I'm not sure that this does anything for the truly impoverished, however, which is why we have insurance or a single-payer system. Some of us pay more so that those who have less—or none at all—will still receive health care, even when any of us stricken with serious and expensive illness. But I'm sure you already know that.

I hope that all is well with you and Mrs. Dok, or, at least, OK.

Best wishes!

Zee said...

I probably shouldn't do this, but here's an article from February, 2012, from the right-leaning Daily Caller that predicted with some accuracy that the majority of those in the individual health care insurance market would see rate increases, even after their low-income subsidy:

The source for that analysis was one of the "architects" of ObamaCare, Jonathan Gruber, who was aware of this as early as 2011.

'During his presentation to Wisconsin officials in August 2011, Gruber revealed that while about 57 percent of those who get their insurance through the individual market will benefit in one way or another from the law’s subsides, an even larger majority of the individual market will end up paying drastically more overall.

“After the application of tax subsidies, 59 percent of the individual market will experience an average premium increase of 31 percent,” Gruber reported.'

As I said, the price increases now being seen--and complained about--by many were predicted some time ago, and by the very people who helped create ObamaCare.

Conservatives tried to make this clear to the public, and, obviously, failed.

Pearl said...

Hearings about Pakistani drone victims. The video sound is poor but the sights horrific. I hate this rotten government we have in power now"

Rep. Alan Grayson: Has It Become Too Easy To Kill?, description:

Pearl said...

How science is telling us to fight back, from Naomi Klein:

Jay - Ottawa said...


Let’s see if I’ve got this straight….

Naomi Klein’s report (your last link) says science-based models on climate change declare that the economic system now in the driver’s seat is about to drive humanity right off a cliff – no ifs, and or buts – within a generation or two. Roger that.

And the only way to avoid that cliff is to curb development and consumption radically in order to slow global warming down to no more than 2 additional degrees. Specifically, advanced countries must throw economic development into reverse at a rate of no less than 10% over each of the next 10 years. Roger that, too.

What it all boils down to is that all advanced industrial nations must work real hard to impose upon the whole world a New Economic Plan. The NEP requires industrial and consumption cutbacks equivalent to 10 Great Depressions in rapid succession.

Seven billion people have to jump off Cliff B, into economic despair, to avoid Cliff A, the bill for global warming.

Please tell me I’ve missed something.

Zee said...


I think you've read Klein's article correctly. We have to destroy humanity to save humanity.

This is “climate science hysteria” on steroids, made all the more ridiculous by the fact that climate scientists are currently scrambling to explain why their sacred models have failed to predict the fifteen-year plateau in warming that we have now observed.

As I have stated before, yes, as long as we pump CO2 into the atmosphere, temperatures will rise. But as someone who has spent an entire career testing models against carefully controlled laboratory experiments, I know that models are often wrong—sometimes dead wrong.

As Denis Neville has quoted someone or other, “All models are wrong, some are useful.” But to blindly believe them in toto is simply foolish, especially when the models say that we all need to live in yurts and read by candlelight to save the planet.

Pearl said...

Jay and Zee:

I do not follow your reasoning as to how disciplining our overuse of fuel,
energy, harmful emissions into the air and other current activities that are polluting the air, water, land as well as overpopulation, etc. is the wrong direction to go. Changing the way societies operate by curbing the
extravagant life styles of the wealthier classes is one important way of equalizing how we share the earth's bounties. Huge yachts, expensive homes and cars as well as high maintenance life styles are helping to deplete the
planet's resources and calls for a society that benefits everyone by curbing excessive wealth. Capitalism does not encourage this construct as well as avoiding dealing even in small gradual methods for preservation of the planet. And dueling with numbers in your responses does not include the
destruction created in more alarming numbers. We need more public transportation, more moderate cost housing, preservation of land for agriculture instead of profitable housing and condo developments
among other things. We need better methods of travel via air or land that do not jeopardize the overuse of fuel and as well as support for intelligent family planning to allow nations to feed and take care of their citizens. And most of all we can dispense with the utter wastefulness of war. If nothing else, we must have some strong goals in mind and begin implementing change toward that end. We are at a crossroads in the world now, and until and unless fair and equitable methods of running societies
are developed, we are indeed doomed.
We have to start listening to the scientists who are being ignored and give them the chance to prove or disprove what will work and won't. It is too dangerous to continue the current rapaciousness going on which I truly believe is on the way to becoming irreversible in very short order. I agree with Naomi Klein, that this will begin to force political and social change that will benefit humanity fairly. Your description of Uruguay Jay, is an interesting experiment which we need on a larger scale. Our choices will diminish as unresolved problems become more threatening.

Zee said...


I'm on the road to Oklahoma to help Mrs. Zee pick up a new, specially-made musical instrument, so I'm working from a tablet and don't have my usual resources.

But I think the point Jay is trying to make is that reducing carbon emissions in developing countries is HUGELY expensive. I found one old article which indicated that the annual cost for Colombia to reduce its carbon emissions by 20% over 21years would cost Colombia over 15% of its GDP per year, or maybe 7.5% of its GDP for a 10% reduction.

Imagine the cost to Colombia or any other developing country to reduce its emissions by 10% in one year which is what Klein is aiming for

It would be catastrophic.

It'S one thing to aim to reduce emissions over time. Foolish to expect 10% in one year.

Imagine the cost

Jay - Ottawa said...


I agree with just about every ‘ought to’ you mention, and I’m not mocking Naomi Klein or the experts – Brad Werner, James Hansen, Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows – whose research Klein endorses. I would challenge them for more realistic solutions, however. The world is not the academy or the jam session of an annual meeting of scientists.

Aren’t you floored by what Anderson and Bows say will keep the globe from overheating by more than an additional 2ºC? Anything more than those additional 2 degrees, they say, will send us down the climate slide chute, natural and social.

What are the odds of leadership changing everywhere to adopt the do’s and don’ts you listed? The old elites will have to be dislodged one way or another, and an utterly different (anti-capitalist) economic system put into place – all of this within a handful of years from today.

To force the world’s big economies down to Great Depression mode and to keep them there for a number of years strikes me as a tad counterintuitive and just another face of the austerian solution, only this time advanced by scientists other than those from the economics department. Maybe that is the solution, the only way to atone for 300 years of the excesses of capitalism and the industrial revolution. Now go try to sell that solution as a policy. Remember, it’s been shown that the world cannot even swallow the timid goals of Kyoto.

I don’t think Zee’s picture of yurts and candles is far from where most people would be after millions of wheels stop turning throughout the advanced economies of the world.

Klein and friends have to stop wringing their hands about climate change (like so many of us political commentators kvetching about the Duopoly). What are the solutions (1) that will work to keep us within our 2ºC budget AND (2) stand a chance of being widely adopted? Or is it sackcloth and ashes from here on out, whether we boldly address the problem or ignore it?

Pearl said...

Zee : You made these two statements involving the costs of creating needed
change that Naomi Klein speaks about:

"It would be catastrophic".

"Imagine the cost"

If you added up what it costs the country to keep this albatross of
unfettered capitalism alive it would far exceed your percentages mentioned.
Besides, how do we know what it costs to clean up our Augean stable compared
to waiting until the roof completely falls on our heads? You talk in terms
of money. What is the cost of destroyed human lives whether at war abroad or domestically for survival. For example, the differences to cover the costs for U.S. citizens with quality health care as opposed to that in Canada is huge and that does not even consider that the care in the United States is much poorer. The costs of job losses is much greater to the country than if they regulated outsourcing that merely enriches the pockets of the corporations. The costs of war financially and in terms of human lives (how much is a life worth?) is beyond the percentages required to clean up our
act environmentally. The cost of healing people's health problems far
exceeds what it would cost if they had early preventive care to say nothing of the loss of what they could contribute if well.

The loss of lives and its aftermath during shooting rampages are more costly than if they would regulate gun purchases and prevent the horrifying results.
And the loss of contributions to society by all the students who have
dropped out of higher education due to costs of tuition as well as not
finding jobs is really not even possible to estimate. We have the resources to resolve our challenges - we do not have the kind of people to implement them as well as those who will destroy any attempts to examine the scientific statistics in order to continue keeping the wealth alive for
their own selfish purposes.
Ironically, these people will be destroyed along with the rest of us should the status quo be allowed to continue. Have you examined the percentage of taxes you pay which involve the military 'needs' of the nation? Do you really know what it costs to keep the NSA working away - even vague reports are horrifying. Think about it all, Zee.

Pearl said...

Jay: I would be interested in hearing from other scientists about the possibilities for improving environmental standards before accepting the findings of the people you named. I have read enough reports to indicate that changes are possible without seriously affecting the business of the nation which is rapidly pushing the limits of environmental tolerance.

I trust Naomi Klein's judgment on this issue as I have on other articles and books she has written.

Zee said...


You ask me to “Think about it all,” and, indeed, I’m trying to.

But with all due respect, I think that you are seriously misunderstanding what I have thought about and which I am trying to express.

Most rational proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) talk in terms of reductions of 20% over several decades.

Anderson and Bows are talking about 10% reductions year-after-year, which, as Klein admits, would be “unprecedented.”

“In fact, cuts above 1 per cent per year “have historically been associated only with economic recession or upheaval”, as the economist Nicholas Stern put it in his 2006 report for the British government.” --Naomi Klein

“Cuts” of 10% per year would throw developed countries into depression, as Jay has said. The economic impacts on developing countries would be hugely worse, because they are growing faster than the developed countries, and are far more reliant on fossil fuels. And, of course, their GDPs are much smaller than those of the developed countries.

The first paper is an older one (1993) which predicts that to achieve a 20% reduction in GHGEs in Colombia over twenty-one years, the economic impact would be a whopping 15% annual reduction in GDP. (See Figure 7 of that article.)

Imagine how many Colombian children would not be educated—or, maybe even, not fed —under those horribly reduced economic conditions, if you want to think of the “cost” in terms of “lives” rather than “dollars.”

And then try to imagine the impact on the Colombian people if it were demanded that they accomplish fully one-half of that 20% reduction in one year as Anderson, Bows and Klein desire, rather than over 21 years.

As I said, the effect would be catastrophic for Colombia, and, if that same policy were extended around the globe, catastrophic for the entire developing world.

If this sort of lunacy were to prevail, we would be lucky to be living peacefully in yurts and reading by candlelight; more likely, the vast majority of humanity would be living out Cormac McCarthy’s book, The Road.

Anderson, Bows and Klein fantasize that climate change will “demand” some cosmic political and economic re-ordering that will save the planet and re-make humanity, and that this revolutionary transformation will occur peacefully (?) in the near future.

It just isn’t going to happen. At least, not without a succession of preceding, horrible, not-so-peaceful events occurring that will make lack of an education or universal health care look like small potatos.

Jay - Ottawa said...

@Pearl & Zee

Naomi Klein and the researchers she invokes may indeed be correct in their forecast and analysis of what must be done to appease Mother Nature. Their solution, a drastic and drawn-out carbon austerity program for the planet, may in fact be the only thing left to do to keep us within that inflexible 2ºC budget, the very tight wiggle room we have for survival.

At the same time, they may be fully aware their proposals will never fly. The follow-up pronouncements by Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows, I am beginning to suspect, are meant to be absurd, intentionally pitched to be beyond humanity’s capacity to achieve. In a word, futile. Humanity’s boat to survival left the dock long ago.

They just might be resorting to Becket-like absurdity by way of telling us …. telling us …. Telling us what?

Well, to find out, take another look at model-maker Brad Werner’s title for last year’s paper at the American Geophysical Union. It’s a not so rhetorical question telegraphing really bad news, but obliquely and with a touch of humor to break it easy to the rest of us.

(That revealing title is in the second paragraph. I’ll stand by while we all return to the site to see for ourselves.)

The answer, apparently, is ‘Yes.’

Zee said...


Back in the days when I was attending scientific conferences and presenting papers, it would have been impossible to give a talk titled Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism. But today, it seems, anything goes.

Given that bombastic title, I suppose that it is entirely possible that Brad Werner is implicitly saying “It’s time to throw in the towel; there’s nothing more that we can do to save ourselves. Yeah, we can protest in the streets if it makes us feel good, but, let’s face it: We’re really f**ked, and that’s all I have to say about that.”

Whether or not Naomi Klein, Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows are expressing that same fatalism and are merely trying to emphasize the futility of it all by suggesting a preposterous, impossible solution to the climate change problem, I just don’t know.

Upon reflection, I think it would be preferable for me to think that’s true, rather than to believe that they are really so naïve—or dense—as to think that their “revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony” has a snowball’s chance in hell of ever transpiring without global calamity happening first.

Re-reading Klein’s article, I realize now that she is talking about radical carbon emission “cuts” for developed nations, only. However, as the developed nations sink into deep depression as a result of these cuts, developing countries will suffer mightily too as they will have no one to whom they can sell their products in order to be able to buy the things that they can’t make for themselves. So, in the end, I think we still both agree that much of the world may still wind up “living in yurts and reading by candlelight” if Klein et al. are really serious about their “modest proposal.”

I guess we’ll have to wait for Klein’s next book to see if she gives us any of the details for “radical and immediate de-growth strategies in the US, EU and other wealthy nations.” If she flits on to another topic, I guess we’ll know that she really wasn’t serious.

The suspense is killing me.

Zee said...

Just out of curiosity, I Googled “degrowth Wikipedia” and came across this chapter (from a larger book), along with an “executive summary” of the chapter.

As I’m waiting for Mrs. Zee to try out and collect her new musical instrument, I’ll get a little reading done on the subject of “degrowth.”

Pearl said...

From an article from Naom Chomsky about the environmental damage happening under Prime Minister Harper in Canada.

He wrote: "At one extreme you have indigenous, tribal societies trying to stem the race to disaster. At the other extreme, the richest, most powerful societies in world history, like the United States and Canada, are racing full-speed ahead to destroy the environment as quickly as possible."

To organize around climate change, Chomsky told the Guardian that
progressives should not frame it as a "prophecy of doom," but rather "a call to action" that can be "energizing."

As the country continues what David Suzuki called a "systematic attack on
science and democracy" and "we are facing an irreversible climate
catastrophe like the tar sands," Canada's race to disaster shows no signs of abating.