In the November 2010 Washington Park Profile, Paul Kashmann wrote an editorial “Revolution, Rage, or Age of Aquarius?” in which he ends “Let the revolution begin.” This is my response.
Dear Mr. Kashmann,
Thanks for your editorial decrying the vast inequality in the United States and for saying: “Let the revolution begin.” Where do I sign up?
You are right to raise questions of inequality and the destruction of the middle class. Inequality is getting worse because the rich control not only the economic resources but the political resources, and thus can stifle action on urgent topics and poison the needed debate.
The environmental crisis is just as critical. Besides climate change, we are at or past “peak oil,” and other resource crises (food, soil, water, forests, minerals, etc.) are waiting in the wings. The bottom line is that we have already hit the limits to growth; any meaningful attempts to save the environment will depress economic output. Social inequality is destroying the country. Environmental destruction is destroying life on earth. We need to deal with both, and fast.
I know that many people believe that we can have economic growth and environmental progress at the same time. This is not going to happen, as a large and growing number of people already understand. We had the chance to have environmental progress and keep our standard of living in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and we blew it. Our economic output is already unsustainable. Because of these physical limits, we will encounter more fiscal crises like the panic of 2008 and the economy will continue to go downhill no matter who is in power.
We need a sustainable, “steady-state” economy at a lower level of economic output. We need cap and trade not just for climate change, but to protect all our natural resources. We need a maximum and a minimum income, and a steep progressive income tax. We need land reform, the abolition of factory farms, and a 100% reserve requirement for banks. We need other things too; this is just for starters.
Let’s forget about the Democrats and Republicans, sit down and work out what this “sustainability” thing means, and then take over, by any peaceful means necessary. Give me a program that I can believe in, and I’ll be happy to get to work on that revolution of yours.