Is Environmental Regulation Good?

How you answer that question most likely has a lot to do with whether you live in a red state or a blue state in America. Conservatives, in general, feel that governmental regulations are bad, and that industries should be allowed to self-regulate. They feel that federal regulations impede industry’s ability to be profitable, and therefore they have a negative impact on jobs and the economy.

This is one of the many ways that conservatives and I part company. I have never seen industries act in the best interest of the common man, so I feel they need to be watched over very closely. But everyone is entitled to their opinion, and subsequently their vote. That’s how democracy works.

I only hope that when people vote, they cast educated votes. I certainly try to. In an attempt to educate myself about the vast gulf in my opinions as compared to the average conservative, I decided to read a fascinating book entitled Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild. I highly recommend that you read this well thought out book, regardless of your location on the political spectrum. The author is a sociologist who spends a year in conservative Louisiana to get to know the people, and learn how they have drawn the conclusions that they have on a variety of subjects, including the environment.

Louisiana has been ground zero for an unbelievable number of environmental disasters. (See also, my post entitled, “A Forgotten Catastrophe.”) According to page 79 of this book, “residents of red states suffer higher rates of industrial pollution than do residents of blue states. Voters in the twenty-two states that voted Republican in the five presidential elections between 1992 and 2008—and who generally call for less government regulation in business—lived in more polluted environments.”

But she also discovered that it isn’t just a state by state issue. She looked at data on the EPA website, which breaks down risk of exposure to pollution into counties, and she compared that to people’s answers on the General Social Survey, that linked what people believed about the environment and politics county by county.

What she found was very interesting. “If, in 2010, you lived in a county with a higher exposure to toxic pollution, we discovered, you are more likely to believe that Americans ‘worry too much’ about the environment and to believe that the United States is doing ‘more than enough’ about it. You are also more likely to describe yourself as a strong Republican.”

I find this paradox both fascinating and heartbreaking. Just because I disagree with you politically does not mean I want you to suffer. And, of course, I feel that your children should suffer even less. Unfortunately, your stance on the environment effects the planet as a whole, as well.

You don’t have to agree with me. But can you at least understand why I would find this contradiction in thinking confusing? Therein lies the crux of our extreme divide. By voting the way that they do on environmental issues, conservatives are hurting themselves and the rest of us. And that hurts to watch.

Like this Escher box below, I struggle to understand this logic.

Paradox

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The Creepy Concept of Covenant Marriage

Recently, I came across a disturbing little factoid. In 1997, the state of Louisiana passed Covenant Marriage into law. Arkansas and Arizona later jumped on the bandwagon. Thank goodness no other states have taken the bait.

These policies, if you opt into them, make marriage more difficult to get into, and a lot more difficult to get out of. For starters, according to Wikipedia, you have to attend premarital counseling sessions, which “emphasize the nature, purposes, and responsibilities of marriage”, and you must sign a statement saying that the marriage is for life.

While I think premarital counseling is a great idea, I wonder who exactly is conducting these sessions. And I really would have a problem with having someone other than me and my spouse dictate what the nature, purpose and responsibilities of our marriage are to be. Marriage is what you make it. No two are alike.

And as for signing one’s life away, if you aren’t confident that the other person is going to try for a lifelong commitment unless they put it in writing, then you might want to reexamine how much you trust this person in the first place. Trust is the bedrock of any relationship. If you don’t have that, you’re building a castle on sand.

This is starting to sound like the equivalent of a homeowners’ association for relationships. I chafe at rules and regulations. I’ll pass.

Even worse are the restrictions placed on getting out of the marriage. In a covenant marriage, you are waiving your rights to a no-fault divorce. Before you can even consider divorce, you have to first go to counseling. You must also be able to prove that your spouse has committed adultery, a felony, is a drug addict or a sexual predator, or that you’ve been living apart for at least a year (perhaps two, depending on the state.)

First of all, why bother with counseling if your spouse is involved in such heinous acts? Those things, as far as I’m concerned, are deal breakers.

And you notice there’s no provision for your husband punching you in the face and not being prosecuted for it, nor is there an option if your wife suddenly joins a cult. Your only recourse in those situations would be a long painful separation, and there’s no guarantee that the nut job in question would agree to being apart.

Life is messy. It can go south in many ways that are outside the bounds of these few legislative dicta. No one should have the right to define what you deem to be unsupportable.

Is it just me, or is it creepy and strange that these three super red states, full to the brim with conservatives who claim to want less government, not more, are all for these highly regulated covenant marriages? But then, this legislates religion and “family values”, and restricts the freedom of women even further, so yeah, I guess it makes sense.

Fortunately, these three states have not made covenant marriage mandatory, and less than 1 percent of the couples getting married each year in these places opt in to this foolishness. But still, it seems like a disturbing, backward trend, and it gives me the willies.

I love holding my husband’s hand, but I wouldn’t want to be handcuffed to it.

Business people handcuffed together

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A Basic Flaw in the Race War Concept

If you’re in a public place right now, look around you. Pick out people of your own race. That may be harder to do than you think. Race is not based on science. It’s a human construct. We could just as accurately divide ourselves up into rival groups based on eye color, the length and number of our nose hairs, or pimple count. But anyway, do the best that you can.

Have you found your “tribe” yet? Good. (I suppose.)

Now, ask yourself what the motivations of these people might be. Are you all in full agreement politically? Do you all hold the same views on religion? Most importantly, are you all on the same page regarding race?

Don’t bother answering. I’ll do it for you. You haven’t a clue. How could you know? You haven’t even talked to these people. You never will.

This is just a core sample of your cluelessness. Now multiply it by a gajillion, to account for all the other people in the world whom you don’t currently see, and you will get an idea of just how little you know about you and yours. (That goes for all of us. I’m not just picking on you.)

So why on Earth would anyone think that one’s race, or any other race for that matter, would rise up as one in hate, anger, and violence to participate in a race war? It beggars belief that there are so many people out there who think that humans are that unified and robotic in their thoughts and actions.

We don’t even all agree about cranberry sauce, for crying out loud. (Pro or con? Lumpy or jelly-like? Canned or fresh? This is the stuff of great holiday drama.)

But that’s racism in a nutshell, isn’t it? The misguided idea that one can slap a label on someone and then have a complete understanding of their motivations, and be able to accurately predict what they will or will not do. As if we’ll all line up like obedient little ducks in a row, sorted into groups based on the size of our tail feathers.

Do you have any idea how insane that sounds? It’s even worse than insane. It’s idiotic. And yet people buy into it every day.

Charles Manson believed in Helter Skelter, a race war that he felt he could start himself, to the world’s ultimate horror and dismay. The neo-Nazi buffoon, William Pierce, wrote The Turner Diaries to encourage racial annihilation, and crazies have been inspired by it ever since.

You can find people who believe in this insanity all over the web. Dylann Roof was one, and he went on to kill 9 people in a church in Charleson, SC because of it. And Roof inspired the mental defective who killed 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand.

These poor excuses for human beings went on to inspire a seriously mentally ill guy named James Harris Jackson to walk up to a total stranger in New York City and stab him in the back like the coward that Jackson is. You can read more about his pathetic devolution here. It’s a tragic story. My heart breaks for his family. Thank God he got life without parole. Now he can hang out with equally warped Aryans in their own little iron-barred clubhouse.

But don’t misunderstand. Violence can beget violence. Insanity can trigger insanity. But these people are sick exceptions to the rule. Most of us march to the beat of our own, individual drummers. We cannot be controlled.

I suspect that this utter lack of control is what scares white supremacists most of all. Too bad, so sad. It’s the very definition of life.

Diversity

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Your Own Little Inner Fascist

Here lately I’ve been binge watching a series called The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime. It’s 4 seasons long, and it’s about what America would be like if the Axis powers had won World War II. In essence, Japan has the Western states, the Nazis have the Eastern ones, and the Rocky Mountains are the neutral zone.

This show makes the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up. I’ve written about fascism before. I fear we are flirting with it now, as we don’t seem to learn from history. In fact, we seem to be irrationally idealizing a past that never existed.

As uncomfortable as The Man in the High Castle makes me, the writing is phenomenal. It causes me to look at things with fresh eyes. One character said, “You’ve got your own little inner fascist telling you what you can and cannot do.”

That really resonates with me. According to Wikipedia, “Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy.”

If that doesn’t describe my inner voice, nothing does. My inner voice is all about explaining to me how I can’t or shouldn’t do things. It’s all about walls and roadblocks and keeping me from doing anything outside the box. My inner voice wants me to be a good little soldier and follow orders.

“You’ll fail.” “You’ll be laughed at.” “People will think you’re crazy.”

Fortunately, I often chafe at this type of control, and can therefore resist it. But every once in a while, when I’m feeling tired or insecure, that little voice has caused me to avoid taking chances, or has prevented me from speaking up. And now that I consider it a fascist voice, I abhor it even more.

I think it’s high time that we all overthrow the little dictators in our heads. Cast off the oppression. End the torture. Free our minds so that we can be our best selves. We can do it.

And incidentally, if you are someone who uses the terms fascism and communism interchangeably, here’s a little primer by way of clarification.

fascism

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Congressional Hearings Then and Now

Even as I write this, I’m listening to the impeachment hearings. I’ve borne witness to live testimony at every opportunity. I’m finding it riveting.

I’m really impressed with some of the dedicated public servants I’ve had the opportunity to hear. There really are bureaucrats out there who are well-meaning and full of integrity. That makes me feel as though our country may be able to recover from all this divisiveness and corruption. Someday.

Unfortunately, these testimonies have also shined a light on some of the cockroaches in our government. Those who are choosing not to testify are not participating in the process of revealing truth and clarifying the situation. Justice is not the end goal for these people. Their integrity will forever be in question, as far as I’m concerned. Clearly, they have something to hide.

Other cockroaches include those who are trying to stir up drama by using inflammatory phrases in the hopes that they’ll make good sound bites. Comparing this situation to a “drug deal” or an “inquisition” is not helpful, nor is it even remotely accurate. Implying that the closed-door depositions are somehow out of order is absurd. In all types of hearings, depositions are behind closed doors. The only time one sees a deposition is in the movies. Also, attempting to out the whistleblower is an effort to find a scapegoat to deflect attention from the subject of the impeachment.

But worst of all, without a doubt, are the tweets and the bullies who are attempting to intimidate witnesses. It makes this country look like a banana republic. It makes us look like thugs. And it makes me ashamed.

But even as I listen to these hearings, I remember the 8 year old me during the Watergate scandal. Little me threw more than one tantrum because the hearings pre-empted all her children’s programming. And it seemed to go on for an eternity. She was sooooooooo bored! She was furious at her mother for not being able to tell “someone” to restore decent television to the land.

What a difference maturity and life experience make. How radically one’s priorities shift over time. And thank goodness for Netflix.

Watergate-Hearings.jpg

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The Whistleblower

People seem shocked that the Republicans are calling for the exposure of whistleblower that started the current impeachment investigation. I’m not. People hate those who blow the whistle on their team. I know this because I’ve blown a whistle or two in my lifetime. It never went well for me.

The idea that this whistleblower is some sort of a rat, or a troublemaker, or a liar, is outrageous. I think this person is a hero. Anyone who sees something that’s morally, ethically or legally suspect, and speaks up about it despite all possible repercussions, is admirable. It takes courage.

And make no mistake, this person is not dictating what happens with the information he or she put forward. That person simply identified a situation that seemed wrong, brought it to the proper authorities, and those authorities are now in charge of investigating those allegations. It’s that simple.

That the Republicans are trying to imply that keeping this person’s identity a secret is some nefarious conspiracy by the Democrats is absurd. It’s. The. LAW. And for good reason. If you start exposing whistleblowers, then no one will have the courage to speak up when they see things that they feel are wrong.

And, lest we forget, just about every allegation that the whistleblower has made has been corroborated by other witnesses. So what’s the point in exposing the whistleblower?

I’ll tell you the point. The Republicans are anxious to have a scapegoat to deflect attention from the questionable behavior of Trump. They can’t afford to have us look at Trump too closely at the moment. We might notice that the emperor has no clothes.

whistleblower

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When Will We Get the Message?

I just read a bitterly ironic news article entitled “Italian council is flooded immediately after rejecting measures on climate change”.

It seems that the far right members of the council decided that there was no need to fund renewable resources, green busses, and plans to reduce plastics. And then, as if the universe was weighing in on their arrogance, the water came pouring into the council building for the first time in history.

Venice, the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen in my life, got hit with more than 6 feet of water. It’s the worst flood there in 60 years, and a lot of its damage will be permanent. My heart breaks for the city, and I wonder what I’ll see when I visit next spring.

So many disasters keep occurring due to our hubris. Mega-storms. Fires. Floods. Droughts. Saltwater intrusion. Sea level rise.

None of this is normal. The alarms keep ringing. But no one seems to want to listen.

It will be horrible karma if we kill off this planet and our last thoughts are that we should have done something, but couldn’t be bothered.

It makes me want to slap a whole lot of people upside the head.

Climate Change

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