Saturday, June 3, 2017
America is unique in a number of ways: for one thing, for good or for bad, our media dominates the world's media; that is, although every large country has its own film industry, Hollywood earns the lion's share of the world's box office. And the same goes for our TV shows and music industry; The whole world watches and listens to things made in the US. Even in North Korea there is an enormous market for black market Hollywood movie DVDs.
There are other things that make America unique that we shouldn't be so proud of, like the fact that we have the world's highest prison population, and that we're the only country to have those horrid baby beauty pageants. Another thing to add to that list is that America is the only country in which political money spent equals free speech, meaning that individuals, corporations and unions can legally make the kind of massive campaign donations that would be considered outright bribery in other countries. Although there are some limits to campaign contributions in America, there are easy ways to get around them, especially after the 2010 Citizen's United ruling by the Supreme Court relaxed limits on spending into Political Action Committees, opening up the floodgates to even more of what is essentially legalized bribery in our political system.
Which leads us to the subject of climate change. It is the overwhelming belief of the global scientific community that climate change is real and man made, and that the negative effects of it, ranging from crop failure to droughts, are already with us and will continue to escalate. But in America, people who doubt climate change or down play it's effects hold prominent places in congress and the White House. How did America wind up on the wrong side of this issue? Because of that legal political bribery that I mentioned. For decades now, oil and gas companies, led by the billionaire Koke brothers, have poured billions of dollars into political campaigns and think tanks to muddy the waters of scientific research on climate change. Like the tobacco companies of old that buried reports on the dangers of smoking, the coal and oil interests have put their own short term financial gains over the good of the general public.
And yesterday, they saw the fruits of all that spending, with President Trump officially pulling America out of the Paris Climate Accord, an agreement that President Obama had signed onto in 2015. While it looked like there was no way under Trump that the country could possibly have met the goals of the accord anyway, by yanking the country out the president sent a strong message to the other 190(!) countries that signed on: don't look to the US to be a leader on this issue despite the fact that our country pollutes the earth more per capita than any other. Or to put it another way, in Trump's America first era, the profits of our companies must be put ahead of any concern for the world's environment. Not only is this policy wrong headed, it's economically foolish; the renewable energy job market is rapidly growing while jobs in the coal industry have been shrinking for years. Trump's action has put us on the wrong side of history and plunged us backward into a time when coal and oil were the energy kings of this country. Now we will lose ground in the rising green energy market to countries like India and China, who are both moving forward on solar power and other renewable energy sources.
While it remains to be seen just how much damage Trump's disastrous decision will have on the world, one thing seems clear: the country's experiment in having a president with no political experience is leading us down a darker and darker hole with no easy end in sight. If America is doomed to fracture or fall like Ancient Rome did, or to have some kind of civil war again, its breaking point will begin with the Trump election, and the damage he has caused the country and the world. I hate to be so bleak, but we do seem to be standing on the precipice as a country, with a egotistical psychopath about to lead us in.