How To Save The Planet–Without Detailed Instructions

By James Wallace Harris, Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Humans are destroying the biosphere of planet Earth. Homo sapiens have overpopulated the planet, crowding out all the other species, and has initiated a self-destruct countdown. To solve this crisis requires creating a sustainable way of life, one that will ethically accommodate 13 billion people, allow other species to thrive, create a stable weather system, and not poison the biosphere with pollution. This is an immense challenge. There are countless books, studies, organizations, documentaries and pundits claiming they have solutions, but few people agree on anything. (I use the number 13 billion because most people today will see the Earth’s population grow to that number before it starts to shrink.)

The real responsibility falls on us individually. We each have to decide how to live and justify that lifestyle’s sustainability. In other words, any rational for survival you choose must be judged by what impact that lifestyle would have if 13 billion people also followed it. The Lifeboat Earth metaphor applies here. Ethically, we all have a justification to claim one thirteenth billionth of the planet’s resources, excluding the ethical share we first deem is due to all the other species. Our current philosophy is “everyone for themselves” – grab all you can get, and fuck all other humans and all the animals. It is this philosophy that will lead us to self-destruction, and why there is so much hate, violence and stress in the world.


Finding an ethical way of living that is equitable to our fellow humans and to all the animals is hard. You will have to do a lot of research, read a lot of books, watch a lot of documentaries, and listen to countless thousands of talking heads argue and argue. One recent documentary I feel is very persuasive is Cowspiracy, a film by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn. I shall use it as an example. At it’s core, the film is trying to do what I’m talking about regarding sustainability. However, I don’t trust it’s numbers, and I’m guessing it’s motivations aren’t entirely honest and straight forward. But understanding these problems I have with the film are exactly the skills we need in evaluating any solution to save the planet.

There is no reason to want or expect us all to decided on the same path. We can each develop our own consumption plan so long as it integrates into the whole, and we each use only our fair share. Before we can begin inventing our individual solutions we need to understand what is our fair share of consumables and pollution. The mathematics of such an undertaking is way beyond my ability. So I never trust other people who claim to have that ability.

I find documentaries that use lots of facts, figures and infographics to be more persuasive than documentaries that don’t. The watchers of these film must deal with is whether or not the film’s figures are accurate. Even cheap, crudely made films can have great impact, such as Cowspiracy. I was far more moved by Cowspiracy than I was the more famous and better made, An Inconvenient Truth. Both appear to be about climate change and environmentalism, but I suspect the underlying motivation by Cowspiracy is animal rights. Andersen and Kuhn contend that raising farm animals has more impact on the environment than all burdens the various transportation industries place on the planet.

Do their numbers add up? Is their basic assumption correct? They are offering a reasonable solution to save the planet. Are they right? They offer a very simplistic path to solving the sustainability problem. First, watch the film Cowspiracy (free on Netflix streaming, $4.95 digital download, $19.95 DVD). Their solution, stop eating meat, poultry, fish and dairy. We must evaluate their plan. Would choosing a plant based diet make a sustainable lifestyle? Cowspiracy defines the sustainability issue properly, but I doubt their numbers justifying their solution, even though I’m personally pursing a vegan lifestyle and I’m for animal rights. I’m willing to consider that there might be ethical ways to eat meat that is sustainable.

Whether or not to eat meat, and whether or not raising food animals has a massive impact on the environment are a highly contentious issues. You can can find people on both sides of the argument claiming they know the truth and throwing out tons of facts and figures. I wish to set the ethical issues of killing animals aside for a moment, and just consider Andersen and Kuhn’s assertion that raising animals for food has a greater impact on the environment than all of the transportation industries combined. Does giving up meat help the environment significantly? More than going to mass transit and switching to a renewable energy based economy?

My guess is we could greatly improve meat and dairy production to make it sustainable, but it might require that people eat a lot less animal products than they do now. And even then, we’d still have to bring back the issue of animal cruelty. Andersen and Kuhn do define many of the issues we have to consider in creating a personal sustainable lifestyle.

  • We all have a fair share of fresh water this is sustainable, but will vary by location.
  • That a sustainable lifestyle will impact specific area of land.
  • That land set aside for humans should leave plenty of natural areas for animals.
  • That the impact of our land requirements not impact the weather, pollution or the biosphere.
  • That our personal energy use must be sustainable.
  • That we shouldn’t let people starve while we feed animals to produce meat.
  • Can we raise animals so they have quality lives before we kill them?
  • Are there humane ways to kill animals?
  • Is it ethical to kill animals?
  • Should you eat any animal that you didn’t personal kill?
  • Should we give land to food animals when wild animals have so little?
  • That factory animal raising is not sustainable.
  • That free range animal raising is less sustainable than factory animal raising.
  • That industrial fishing isn’t sustainable.

I’ve been a vegetarian since the 1960s, and in the last couple years I’ve been veering towards veganism to reduced the clogs in my arteries, so Andersen’s and Kuhn’s solution would be no sacrifice for me. It would demand a tremendous change for most people, and a drastic transformation of society. Can you imagine if all restaurants were vegan and all grocery stores health food stores? I’m going to assume Cowspiracy plays fast and loose with its numbers simply because the film is on the amateur side. On the other hand, I’m going to assume they might be right and explore their solution.

We often admire members of The Greatest Generation because they survived The Depression and WWII. We admire their determination and sacrifice. We admire first responders and soldiers for their dedication and heroism. Often I meet people who wished they had done more good in their lives, or even lament they hadn’t done something extraordinary like their heroes. Some even feel their life has been without meaning. I don’t believe you need to be Pope Francis or Martin Luther King to help other people and make a great sacrifice. Just being decent, law abiding and nonviolent adds a lot to our society. Choosing not to act like an asshole and controlling your temper goes a long way toward bringing peace on Earth. Of course, I think many folks reading this will say they’d prefer to work inside burning buildings or go to war in Afghanistan than give up eating meat. However, from now on out, the best thing we can do for our fellow humans and our descendants is live a sustainable lifestyle. Are we willing to make that sacrifice and dedicate ourselves to meeting the challenge?

You need to see the film to be convinced that animal farming is having a greater impact on the Earth than all forms of transportation combined. Cowspiracy asks why all the major environmental groups are not focusing on the biggest problem the planet faces. If Andersen and Kuhn are right, then the single quickest way to fight climate change, the current mass extinction of animals, the destruction of the oceans, the collapse of civilization and create a sustainable society is to give up eating animals. The documentary points out that a plant based diet is sustainable, and it’s healthy. My own research into healthy diets is uncovering more and more doctors advocating a plant based diet. Giving up meat is better for the planet and better for you, and gives us hope for our descendants. However, I don’t know if Andersen and Kuhn’s numbers are anywhere near accurate.

Will people give up eating meat? I doubt it. Republicans are taking the brunt the responsibility for not doing anything about climate change because they refuse to give up fossil fuels. What if giving up meat could actually solve climate change without waiting on new renewable energy technologies? I doubt even liberals would embrace that solution. Why are bacon and eggs, milk and cheese, beef, chicken, pork and fish so important to us? What if the facts and figures in Cowspiracy are right?

Are there any sustainable sources of animals products? If people raised chickens and rabbits in their backyards, feeding them with yard grown food, would that be sustainable? What about hunters culling deer populations every year, or other animals that could live abundantly in the woods without human support? What if all fishing was from hook and lines? Andersen and Kuhn make it obvious that neither factory animal farms, or free range animal farming are sustainable. But what if everyone hunted their own meat? What if you really wanted to eat meat and were willing to hunt down an animal, kill it and butcher it, you could eat it and be sustainability justified? Andersen and Kuhn assumes all the land that went into grazing or raising food for livestock would be returned to the wild. Would that be true?

We all ignore the fact that we’re consuming more than the Earth can give. Humans are increasing in numbers while everything else is decreasing. We’ve been laughing at The Limits of Growth for forty years because the book hasn’t come true. We always assumed science and technology would continually solve the problems of exponential growth. The Club of Rome didn’t anticipate disruptive technology, but their basic premises were still correct. The Earth’s resources are finite and consumption can’t increase forever.

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What Is Outside of the Box?

By James Wallace Harris, Friday, October 9, 2015

We are constantly advised to think outside of the box. This usually comes on the job, when a breakthrough is needed because doing things the old ways are obviously no longer working. But what is outside the box? For a CPA, it might be new ways to shelter taxes, or for a NASA engineer, a completely novel way to land a rover on Mars, but for most people it means, “Try thinking other than the way you’ve always thought.”


To understand how that’s done really requires knowing what’s in the box and what’s outside the box. I like to think of the box as our skull. Our brains are inside a bone box, connected to the outer world by five sensory input ports. You can read 2,500 years of philosophy about what’s outside the box, but it essentially comes down to three things. Solipsistic thinkers believe only the self exists and there’s nothing outside the box. It’s all an illusion. Theistic thinkers believe we are souls embedded in a physical reality created by God, that obscures a greater spiritual reality . Finally, scientific thinkers believe there is a vast singular objective reality outside our heads that can be understood through gathering evidence with scientific and statistical methods using our five senses.

Each of these viewpoints can hinder the perception of what’s outside of the box through rigid adherence to beliefs about what might potentially be outside the box. Which is why we’re constantly told to think outside the box. If you believe your religion explains what’s outside the box, then why are there so many other religions? Which one explains reality? If you believe the religion you were brought up to believe, how can you know if you’re not culturally brainwashed? To think outside the box would require studying a good sampling of all religions, and then deciding which theological ontology is the most valid, if any. Any scientist who’s heard the phrase paradigm shift will understand their own potential for rigid thinking that blinds them to something new.

Inside our heads, we build the walls of our box with cultural brainwashing. Most people think the way they do because they were taught to think that way by parents and peers. We seldom escape that original packaging. Anyone who is completely confident in believing what they were taught are delusional. And even when taking on new views, it’s very easy to take on new delusions about what’s outside the box. Can we ever really know what’s exists outside our skulls?

It’s very easy to find masters of hidden wisdom who to claim to teach the ultimate secrets to what’s outside of the box. Just watch this entertaining video about thinking outside the box. It’s a come-on for the esoteric belief in hidden knowledge called Kabbalah. I highly recommend watching this video because it’s very convincing. And that’s the trouble, there’s an infinity of convincing cases made to what’s outside the box. There are plenty of other ancient systems of hidden knowledge, like Gnosticism and Pythagoreanism. Folks have been trying to figure out what’s outside the box for thousands and thousands of years. Yuval Noah Harari suggests in his book Sapiens that humans have been inventing ideas since the cognitive revolution 17,000 years ago. Homo sapiens are experts as making shit up—it might be our defining characteristic.

For the last five hundred years, science has been trying to measure data from outside the box by looking for consistent behavior. During the time it has developed an extremely statistically consistent view of what’s outside the box. It’s precise down to enough decimal places to allow scientists to send probes to Pluto billions of miles away or let giant heavy-than-air jumbo jets fly around the world.

We all live in a subjective reality created by our minds which give us delusions that we know what’s outside the box. We’d like to believe there an objective reality that is the same for all seven billion of us to perceive. Subjective reality might be too powerful to ever let us comprehend what’s outside the box. Culturally we carry the baggage of thousands of years of religious and philosophical thinking that provide no actual evidence to what’s outside the box. Zen Buddhists work to teach people to see directly with their senses and forget corrupting concepts, but few people can do that.

Often to think outside of the box requires us to stop thinking inside the box. It helps to let new concepts inside.

If you’re following the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign, so far all the candidates are rigidly thinking inside their boxes, and so are the voters. Essentially politics have become a way to form coalitions of like minded subjective thinkers, usually based on the same moldy old issues inspired by subjective desires. If there is an objective reality out there, we must work on the actual problems that we face to let us live safely in that objective reality. If it’s a solipsistic or metaphysical reality, it hardly matters. Sadly, most voters are seeking candidates that validate their delusions. Isn’t time we all start wondering what’s actually outside our boxes?


JWH #971 is for Hooking Up with the Right Presidential Candidate

By James Wallace Harris, Friday, July 3, 2015

Go to and take the quiz. Over 16 million people have used this site so far.

For the next year and a half we’re going to be bombarded with presidential campaigning. It’s all very confusing and boring. My friend Bill at That’s Interesting… sent me this computerized quiz that does all the work for us. It’s like for hooking up with the best candidate for your political personality. Here are my top results:

Top results

Be sure and expand all the subject areas to answer all the questions to get the most accurate results. Then when you get the results keep scrolling past the candidate rankings to see other demographic information about your political leanings.

In some ways the results matched what I already knew. Intuition told me I liked Sanders most and Cruz least, and the quiz confirmed it. I match with Ted Cruz only 1%. I am surprise I agree so much with Chris Christie, because my gut told me I liked Jeb Bush best of the Republicans. But evidently Christie and I agree a lot on environmental issues. Who knew?

One graphic I really liked:

Political graph

I aim to stay in the middle of things – to be a Centrist, but evidently I’m not. I’m more authoritarian than libertarian and I knew that, but I didn’t know I’d be equal with Ted Cruz. But I’m for legislated equality and he’s for legislated morality.

Taking this quiz concisely shows what issues we’re dealing with in this campaign. I think the quiz should be expanded as we get closer to voting, adding other issues.


How Conservatives and Liberals Rank Obama

By James Wallace Harris, Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Lately my conservatives friends have told me that Barrack Obama is the worst president the country has ever had. I ask them how they come to that conclusion. They just say he is the worst, and everyone knows it. I point out he did win two terms, so by that metric, he’s ahead of all the one term presidents. Most people think it’s much too early to judge Obama’s legacy, but I wondered if there are yardsticks by which we can measure on-going presidential success.

Some conservatives are quite hard on past presidents, such as this book, Recarving Rushmore. They judge presidents by very narrow value systems and personal opinions, and would remove Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt from Mt. Rushmore. I did find some conservative news sources basing their judgment of Obama on an opinion poll taken by Quinnipiac University. It has a sample size of 1,446 and a fair spread of demographic diversity. But is current opinion any real measure of actual performance? It would be better to say the poll showed Obama has low popularity at that moment. If the same poll was taken after the recent Supreme court rulings it might be very different.

If you search the web you’ll find two kinds of presidential evaluations. Opinions and numbers. That old saying about actions speak louder than words apply here. The only real measuring of reality is with numbers reflecting action.

Forbes Magazine took a numerical approach, effectively using statistics and graphs. By gathering a variety of economic measurements they showed Obama outperformed Reagan on job creation, economic growth and investing on Wall Street. Here’s just one of their charts – see all here.

Reagon v Obama investing

A personal way to numerically measure a president’s performance is to look at your retirement savings. Mine took a beating under Bush, but has rallied nicely under Obama.

Once we get away from opinions and into numbers, Obama’s track record looks much better. By using money as a measuring stick, Forbes also ran a story back in 2013 “Economically, Could Obama Be America’s Best President?” This makes me wonder how many quantitative yardsticks I could find. If we use health insurance as a measuring tool, millions more Americans are protected now. Just look at this article from New Republic, “7 Charts That Prove Obamacare Is Working.” Or this article from Vox,Barack Obama is officially one the most consequential presidents in American history.” Politicians have been trying to find a way to provide Americans with health insurance for over a hundred years, and Obama was the first to succeed.

We really should ask what we want from the captain of our political ship. For some requirements, we all want the same thing, whether conservative or liberal.

  • Economic Stability
  • Peace
  • Social Stability
  • Law and Order
  • Maximum freedom for all
  • Opportunity for all
  • The promise of a secure future

Economic stability means reasonable growth with no bursting economic bubbles or inflation. What conservatives want is unfettered growth that allow them to get rich quick. That has always led to disaster. What we really want is a stable steady-state growth and low unemployment. And it’s become very apparent that wealth equality is important to overall economic stability. Minimum wages that cover living expenses is good for long term economic stability.

We all want to live in a safe society, and a peaceful world. Law and order without corruption is the key to social order. Stable societies have corruption free police, national guards and armies. Societies where everyone is treated fairly have a great happiness index. As we bring political equality to all, we should have less social unrest in America. If we could stop arguing for a few years over what is marriage and how to give everyone health insurance, we might find less polarization in our society. If religious beliefs and sexual relationships were private affairs there’d be a lot less anger.

Many conservatives hate Obama for personal reasons. Because he’s black, or think he’s Muslim, or believe he was born outside the country, or he doesn’t support some pet personal belief. I also think a lot of conservatives hate Obama because of team mentality. Like rabid football fans who passionate hate rival teams, I feel some Republicans just can’t accept anyone who plays for the Democrats. Personal traits and party affiliation should not be considerations in evaluating a president’s performance.

In 2016 we want to elect a president that can keep the country peaceful and prosperous. Every four years we want to elect a president that will enact policies that will continue that security into the future, and even the far future. Refusing to deal with climate change now, puts future America at risk. If you think about the United States surviving for a thousand years, or even a million years, we can’t use up all the resources now, or destroy the environment or climate.

I think we need to get away from opinion polls. We need to start measuring political success impartially by statistical indicators in as many ways as we can find data to track. It would be great is we had a governmental site that had a whole range of graphs like this one from the Washington Post.


The power of infographics is constantly improving. Just look at this one at Bloomberg Business. I can’t copy it here because it’s an animation. Go to the site, and then slowly scroll down and watch the show. I find the use of numbers more persuasive than opinion.

If you go to this Google search you’ll see hundreds of graphs that measure all kinds of indicators that prove Obama is not the worst president – not even close. In terms of creating a stable economy and providing more freedom, jobs, security and opportunity to the most people, Obama has done an extremely good job.

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Why Fixing Climate Change is Conservatives Worst Nightmare

by James Wallace Harris, Thursday, February 26, 2015

Conservatives deny climate change because they are savvy enough to understand what it takes to stop climate change, either intuitively, or with calculated conscious awareness. The only way to stop climate change is end business as usual, kill off marketplace capitalism, create a super-big federal government, increase taxes like crazy, and probably introduce the beginnings of a world government. Fixing climate change is their worst nightmare.

To solve climate change will mean giving up oil, gas and coal as cheap forms of energy. To solve climate change will require designing a steady-state economy that isn’t based on a cancerous consumption of the Earth. Industries depending on building cheap products in poor countries and selling them halfway around the world to more prosperous countries will have to stop. Such a steady state economy would probably put half of the population out of work, requiring a massive socialized form of government. To stop coal, oil and gas usage, and curtail other forms of greenhouse gases from being created, heavy carbon taxes will have to be rolled out. Trillions and trillions of dollars worth of extractive ores, minerals and gases will need to be left in the ground. People will have to stop living in mansions, driving SUVs, and developing every last acre of nature.


Is it any wonder conservatives deny climate change? It’s much easier to promote business as usual and pretend the bill for economic collapse will be delivered to a future generation. Maybe they imagine after we kill off all life on Earth except humans, rats and cockroaches, after we destroy the atmosphere and ocean, we can just live on this planet in space suits, like we would have to on Mars. Some even talk about blasting off to outer space when Earth is used up. Of course, they always imagine they will be among the few to get a berth in one of those rare lifeboat rocketships.

Are liberals any more realistic? Can we build a society where everyone has a little house powered by sun and wind, with lawns made up of indigenous climate friendly plants and trees. Can we switch from packaged food to growing our own fruits and veggies or buying from local farmers. Can we build and decorate houses with renewable building materials? And work at nearby creative jobs that don’t hurt the environment, and commute to those jobs in small electric cars or bicycles? Are our egalitarian ecological fantasy lives their nightmare too? Is it any wonder that Republicans embrace climate change denial. They fear the future just as much as liberals, but their nightmare is different. Their whole way of life will be destroyed, just like Comanches and Apaches in the 19th century. They don’t want to move to the liberal reservation.


Why Do Millions of Americans Side with Capital Against Labor When It’s Not In Their Best Interest?

By James Wallace Harris, Friday, December 5, 2014

I just finished The Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr, about automation. I had an insight in the middle of the night. We are political polarized by defining everything in terms of Republican and Democrat, or conservative and liberal, but the real division is still between capital and labor. Capital is the population that make their money my manipulating wealth. Labor is the population that make their money by working. There is a gray area, the portion of the population that labor by managing capital’s wealth. Even though we claim to live in a democracy, we actually live in a plutocracy. Most everything in our society is determined by money.

Sometimes I think people pick their political parties like they pick their football teams – emotionally.  They stick by them thick on thin, right or wrong, always the loyal fan. However, politics is more than just one team against another. Politics defines how we live, and it seems strange to me that so many Americans are Republicans even though that party’s goals don’t line up with their economic lifestyles.

We essentially have a strict two party system, even though independent parties show up from time to time. We divide ourselves into conservatives and liberals, but those really aren’t apt descriptions.  It’s really capital versus labor. Economics is  the driving force of our society. There are societies that are shaped by other forces, like religion, but in the 21st century, most societies are shaped by money.

Even before the Industrial Revolution, we had the wealthy, usually the aristocratic, governing the poor, usually peasants. With the coming of machines, we had the rise of the middle class – merchants, skilled trades, academics, clergy, etc.  As industry transformed society it broke down into essentially two driving forces: capital and labor. Some people had the money to do things, and other people had the skills to do things. People with money always assumed they were in charge because they financed the doing of things, but without the skills and labor of workers, nothing would have gotten done.

Because of automation, capital is now in the position of undermining the inherent leverage of labor. Capital is no longer dependent on hiring people to work, they can buy machines instead. Because of this, we’ve been seeing the erosion of labor power.  Politically though, why are we seeing so many millions of people who should be siding with labor siding with capital? I find this psychological conundrum very interesting.

Capital is those who invest. Labor is those who work. Except for their 401k savings, most people in America have little capital to invest. So why do they side with capital politically? Right now capital is on a role to crush labor by lowering wages in every sector it can, and to reduce the size of the government. This adds to capital’s total wealth on two fronts.  It’s understandable why they want to do this, except it’s destroying the middle class, which is the main generator of their capital.

So why are the laborers of America backing capital in their own self destruction? The plutocracy of America actually works through both parties, Republicans and Democrats, but they favor the Republican party as their main tool. However, there’s not enough true capitalists in America to give the Republican party the numbers to survive in the democratic process, so capital started working on coalitions.  Divide and conquer.  They have broken labor up into different social groups and pitted them against each other.

By backing hot button emotional issues like fundamental religion, race, xenophobia, and hatred of freeloading, they have gained millions fans for their team. What makes me wonder is why those people side with capital when it’s obvious they should side with labor. Is it a kind of denial of reality? Or is it a kind of wish, that they hope one day to be rich too, so they side with the rich now?

Capital is working extremely hard to squeeze every last penny from the system. They want workers to earn the bare minimum, and they want to pay the least possible in benefits. Conversely, they don’t want to pay taxes that help labor survive the shortfall. If people can’t make a living from capitalism, and they can’t make a living from socialism, where does capital expect labor to earn its bread?

We have over 330 million people in this country, and the number of jobs is shrinking. Capital is embracing automation with a passion, which means even fewer jobs for the future. Capital is close to destroying all unions and collective bargaining by labor. But they are also working hard to undermine professional workers too. K-12 teachers are on a rout, but capital, through state legislatures are now finding ways to attack higher education. Capital is also trying to find ways to pay professionals in medicine and law less too. And once glamorous high paying jobs like airline pilots are seeing their average salaries in decline because of automation.  If capital could replace all the fast food workers with robots, they would. And if the service economy goes, where will labor be?

Capital is so greedy they ignore the fact that a fat middle class generates the most capital for them, yet their goal is to kill the golden goose.  Nor will they allow socialism to take up the slack. Were will that leave labor?

Thomas Piketty, who wrote Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century suggests there will be social revolution.  That’s a nasty fix to the problem. There is a growing underground economy, but I don’t know if a capital-free economy can ever become large enough to sustain the growing unemployment of labor. The system is self-correcting. If capital gets all the marbles, things will fall apart, and our society will reset like a video game. But who wants that?

I think the solution is limitations on capital, supplemented with limited socialism. That’s what we’ve been doing since the 1930s, but capital has been fighting tooth and claw to undo it.  Capital should allow a higher minimum wage, and support universal health care.  In other words, if capital bought off labor to a degree they could avoid a revolution. I don’t think they will. Capital is too single minded. That’s why they are against immigration reform, Obamacare, social security, Medicare, education, and any other pile of money they can’t control. Capital wants every last penny.

The people behind capital make their living by piling up money – that’s why they resent government handouts and welfare – why should anyone live without capital or laboring? Yet, they are rigging the system so socialism is the only humane solution. If the 1% get all the pennies, the system will collapse. I don’t know why they don’t see that, in the same way I wonder why labor votes with capital.

The 99% need to survive somehow. They have to divvy up a portion of the pie. How small that portion gets before the next American revolution begins is yet to be determined. The last recession got us close enough to see the whites of their eyes. Nations all over the world are coming apart. Capital needs to take notice. Just because you can replace labor with machines doesn’t mean those people go away.


Are Humans Smart Enough?

We humans are quite proud that we’re the smartest species on the planet, but are we smart enough to survive?  Evolution has been characterized as survival of the fittest, but what happens if one species succeeds so well that it kills off all other species and self-destructs?  That’s not very smart, that’s just being cancerous.  The trouble is we don’t think as a species, but as a collection of individuals, and our self-interests are now in conflict with our species best interests.  The Republican party, and many Americans have chosen to just ignore global warming in favor of self-interests.  Is that a realism that we must just accept?  This morning at they presented “7 reasons America will fail  on climate change.”

Ezra Klein is totally pessimistic that Americans will change, and he makes quite a good case with his seven reasons why we will fail to do anything significant about climate change.  The trouble is as individuals we don’t change until we’re force to, and it looks like we won’t be force to until after we’ve reached a point of no return.


One point that Klein didn’t make is  people who want to be politicians do it for reasons of self-interest and not altruism for the species.  Even if young people start out idealistic about saving the world, the political system corrupts them by forcing them into a game of political self-preservation which corrupts them into selling out.  But we don’t see many save-the-world young people going into politics anyway.  Instead, the newest politicians with the most passion are Tea Party types who want to do just the opposite.

The only counter trend to this pessimistic black hole is technology.  Cars were invented just as cities were about to drown in horseshit.  If clean energy alternatives become way cheaper than carbon producing non-renewable resources then things might change.  But what if there are other technological changes that might help?  What if technology changes politics?  Hasn’t the Internet already changed the political climate?

This will sound silly now, but what if we replaced our political representatives with AI machines?  This will sound facetious, but obviously we’re not smart enough to solve our own problems, so what if it was obvious to all that someone smarter was, a brilliant machine?  Would our individual self-interests vote for it?  Right now politics is more of a personality contest than electing the best person for the job.  What if a robot was an option, one that knew a thousand times more about the issues of your district than any human?

We will always be surprised by unexpected game changers.  Klein might be right, and we’re already defeated, but we never know when a black swan might show up.

JWH – 6/7/14