1. I find juxtaposing the two issues to be an interesting choice. Under capitalism, it is not the government’s job to defray the effects of mother nature. In Utah, they teach us to be prepared for exactly that reason– and to help those who can’t help themselves. Like saving for a rainy day, preparedness is not a luxury. But (like saving) many Americans have somehow come to treat it like one.

    I was pleased to see that a certain local Utah church (that shall remain nameless and of which I am not a member) sent planeloads of supplies to victims of Katrina– delivered in their own plane. I was pleased to see communities reaching out to the victims, taking them in, paying for their transport, even saving their pets. Then we stopped, and left the rest to the fed. Sure, it costs money to help people. But let us remember that if the fed helps people, that money comes right out of our own pockets anyway. And, as has been well documented, the fed’s economics of scale does not necessarily mean lower adminisrative costs. They seem to have bought a lot of pork with our money, and little of it of the edible variety.

    Arguably in this case the government bears additional responsibility because all levels of government failed to maintain the levees. However, this was public knowledge before Katrina. To look back now and say “they should have” when no one, or at least not a significant majority, demanded that government take responsibility ahead of time, is somewhat disingenuous.

    We are responsible for ourselves, our communities, and our nation. When we abdicate that responsibility to the fed (or any other level of government), we’re saying we don’t care enough to do it ourselves. And if we don’t care, we get what they give us. In this case it sucked.

    Now, the issue of global warming, which requires policy and market changes, legislative carrots and sticks, changes in taxation, and international diplomacy, all of which ARE the realm of a capitalist government. We’ll need technology too, and civic responsibility, for which we can’t rely on the fed. But to say that a capitalist government can’t do what it is supposed to do because it failed to do what it is not supposed to do… well, I don’t quite buy it.

    Government was not meant to supplant community (and God help us if it ever does), because government is inherently about power, while community is about common welfare. We need them both, but they are not the same.

  2. Any government, capitalist or socialist, needs to understand global warming is happening and then genuinely work to remediate it. Governments can do things that business can’t at least in part because it can mandate it, plus they have huge resources.

    I think governments have a major role to play here. Self-reliant private citizens can’t possible do it all.

  3. I agree. As I said, “requires policy and market changes, legislative carrots and sticks, changes in taxation, and international diplomacy, all of which ARE the realm of a capitalist government.” My argument is that disaster relief is not, therefore the government’s Kartina response is a poor indicator of whether it can respond to global warming.

    However, the two issues do have one thing in common: our government will respond adequately only if pushed by a significant percentage of the voters. That means not thousands but millions writing to their Congresspeople. This is a basic capitalist (with a small “c”) relationship: our leaders will reflect what will get them elected. If they believe not acting on global warming will lose them their seat, they’ll act. Otherwise, it’s just show.

    Unfortunately, many Americans do not yet believe global warming is an imminent threat– only 49% believe it is having an impact now, and global warming ranked only second under environmental concerns. Only 35% of Americans say they would not vote for someone who disagrees with them on the environment– so it’s not yet a hotbutton issue. THAT’S where the challenge lies. Otherwise, we’d need a non-democratic government that is not subject to the voters…

Comments are closed.