Historians may look back on this time as the beginning of "the great lessoning". A time when human beings accepted the twin realities of burgeoning population growth and finite material resources. A time when nature made the link between human activity and climate change obvious. A time when we learned to measure human success in ways other than simply growth and consumption. A time to agree that as our natural material wealth is limited, to consume more than one's share should be viewed as a source of shame not pride. An economy based on waste is suicidal and yet that is the model for civilization America is promoting and much of the world is pursuing.
In order to save democracy, capitalism and civilization we need to consume less not more. We need to stop promoting and subsidizing waste, and find ways to include wear and tear on the our planet in the price of everything. Everything will cost more and for this reason we need to strengthen our social safety net not shred it. For starters we should rescind the Bush tax cuts for all, not just the wealthy. We should abandon the hard won health care bill, agree that it is unconstitutional and extend medicare for all. We cannot afford to cover everyone for everything but we can cover everyone at some basic level. The same is true for education. Let's determine what is meant by a quality basic education and provide it for all. Public education has served this country well, let's not abandon it. I find the specter of uncontrollable climate change far more frightening than any likely terrorist attack. We need to invest in green technology as though our children's lives depended on it.
Everything will cost more in the future. This is likely regardless of what we do. The question is what will be our prevailing narrative? Will we see ourselves as victims being robbed of our material wealth or will we purposefully find ways to minimize waste, so our children will inherit a planet that is still capable of providing for everyone's needs? The narrative is all important. During times of scarcity, it is natural to blame others for our perceived dwindling lifestyle. It is in these circumstances that the worst of human behavior often takes place. But not always. History is full of examples of people overcoming fear and choosing to act in ways that put the welfare of others ahead of their own. They become our heros, and rightly so. Is America still the home of the brave and land of the free? We have an opportunity to be the people we like to think we are and lead the world to a better future.