A few geometric patterns of light passed for sunrise in an otherwise cloudy, gray sky when Koko and I went walking this morning. She was friskier than usual, set off, perhaps, by a dog that barked furiously at us from the front seat of a passing truck, which prompted dogs around the neighborhood to join in the chorus and had Koko lunging and snarling at every subsequent truck, of which there were many.
It was a scene not unlike what is happening around the $900 billion economic stimulus bill, which has President Obama sounding the alarm as he presses for quick action, right-wing politicians and radio commentators snapping over pork and a so-called war on prayer and environmentalists howling over plans to spend billions on nuclear power.
Yup, $900 billion is a pretty big bone, and it’s not surprising it’s causing more than a few fights. But can we really spend our way out of this mess using borrowed money, especially when over-spending, over-consuming and over-borrowing is largely what got us into it?
We keep on doing the same things, while expecting different results, which is not unlike the situation with agriculture on Kauai. Farmer Jerry gave me a copy of a the proceedings of a 1971 conference on “The Future of Agriculture on Kauai,” and it's proven to be an interesting trip down memory lane.
Yup, even 38 years ago those in the know were deeply concerned about the deleterious affect of land speculation. They issued a strongly-worded call to protect ag lands, strictly enforce land use zoning, stop granting variances for non-farm uses on ag lands and halt the process of fragmenting large parcels into smaller lots.
They even went so far as to say no subdivisions should be allowed, “especially on Class A or B lands, and only seldom on Class C lands.”
We all know how well those cautions were addressed, that advice heeded. And why were they ignored? Because special interests groups held sway, using the argument that unless we pursued development, the economy would end up in the crapper. So we did, with a vengeance, and yet it still wound up in the crapper.
Is it so wild and lunatic fringish to suggest maybe, just maybe, it’s time to try another approach?
On a similar note, a Big Island reader responding to Monday’s post, which touched on the not-so-greenness of solar power, emailed to say:
“Gee, Joan, I thought I was doing the right thing four years ago when I chose to invest in solar panels and batteries rather than continue to pour money into HELCO's gaping maw.
I have to admit, I was surprised to see that the panels were made by Shell, but I wasn't given a choice of manufacturers, and is it even possible to produce solar energy without some kind of carbon footprint? I can't help but think this alternative is way better than forever burning imported oil.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to solar power, and if I had a house on the Big Island, I’d likely choose it over HELCO and the scourge that is geothermal. My point was only that so-called “green energy” isn’t always green, especially in a corporate-controlled world where people are constantly forced to choose the lesser of two evils, whether it’s energy or politicians.
As a New York Times blog post notes:
In the latest installment of the debate over the emissions impact of corn-based ethanol, researchers from the University of Minnesota and other institutions found that corn ethanol is worse for health and the environment than regular gasoline, and far worse than cellulosic ethanol.
It prompted a reader to comment:
Seems like no matter what we do, it’s wrong. For every possible solution to a problem, there seems to be ten reasons why it won’t work. Or one person’s solution is the cause of the problem to another person.
Hello! Yes, let’s think these things through and figure out their true costs and full ramifications before we start touting them as the next great saviors, replete with tax incentives and subsidies and vacuous marketing campaigns. Because what bugs me even more than shallow thinking is the hype that invariably accompanies, and trivializes, these various initiatives.
As the late George Carlin observed in his own inimitable way: “It’s all bullshit — and it’s bad for you.”