I commend and support the Backbone Campaign’s successful activism concerning Shell’s plan to drill in the arctic.  They are expert at getting media coverage.

But there are many battles to fight, and I wish Backbone would direct their activism towards economic justice. In particular, I want Backbone to expose the outrageously regressive tax system in Washington State. Republicans need to feel the heat for their opposition to a capital gains tax and to adequate funding of education and social services. Had Backbone targeted Andy Hill last year, maybe Matt Eisenhower could have won.  (Hill won with under 53% of the votes.)

Of course, progressives must be willing to financially underwrite such activism. (I am a donor.)

It’s mostly Republicans who are harming progressive causes, especially in the state senate.  But Dems too have sold out. Governor Inslee, for example, needs to feel the heat for having spearheaded the $8.7 billion giveaway to Boeing.

One other thing:  conservatives ridiculed the anti-Shell protesters for using kayaks made from petroleum products and for traveling to the protest via automobiles that consume fossil fuels.  Defenders of the protesters have pointed out that there’s little alternative and that arctic drilling would be destructive not just by releasing carbon into the atmosphere but also by threatening the fragile arctic ecosystem.

While I strongly oppose arctic drilling, I think the campaign to limit the supply of oil is doomed to fail unless we can control the demand and encourage alternatives.  An excellent analogy is the failed War on Drugs.  Despite decades of efforts, hundreds of billions dollars spent, and millions of people imprisoned and killed, illegal drug use continues.  When there is demand, there will be supply.

We are addicted to oil and coal.  We must encourage alternatives (solar, wind, geothermal, conservation, smaller cars, and public transportation,  for example). A carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system would reduce demand.  Just restricting supply is insufficient.