Does Environmentalism Create Any Economic Benefits?

My friend Pat Rasmussen sent me a link to the Center for Biological Diversity. Pat does some great work with temperate rainforests and works with so many groups in the Puget Sound area on forestry, sustainability and environmental issues. It’s an honor to know Pat.

The link contains the NYT story about how the Clean Air Act will yield 2 trillion in benefits. It’s also saving lives. Does government regulation work? Yes, it does. Is it necessary? I say yes, though I know that Monsanto, BP, and Enron say it is a waste of precious public dollars and that we can trust the market place. Each of us will need to make some decisions. One thing we can count on is that automated pod people will show up in the comments suggesting that Monsanto et al have done so much for us.

Environmental activism and civil disobedience has costs. And while the benefits of environmentalism accrue to all, the costs apply to individuals.

Here is a link/suggestion from the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace list serv this morning that informed that Tim DeChristopher was found guilty this past week and faces up to 10 years in jail for making a fake bid in an oil and gas auction.

Will Potter at Green is the New Red has the DeChristopher story.



EOI on public employee compensation

Conservatives are slashing state budgets, as well as tax rates for the well-to-do. They’re blaming budget problems on the alleged high pay of public employees.

This report from the Economic Opportunity Institute exposes some of the myths about public employee compensation.

Wages of public employees are typically lower than those of people working in
private companies with similar levels of education and work experience.
Nonetheless, critics frequently point to better benefits in the public sector, and
advocate cutting public employee pension, health, and other benefits.

However, even with better benefits calculated into the equation, a number of
analyses have found that public employees receive less total compensation
than their private sector peers.2



News and Weather from Climate Progress

Click on photo to read the storyClimate Progress does a fine job of keeping up on the science and making presentations on global warming and climate change in a way that most of us can understand. If you click on the chart above you will jump to the climate progress story on Arctic sea ice.

The graph tells the story pretty effectively. Sea ice is steadily declining.

Why should we care? The ice-makers on refrigerators are still working, right?

Yes, polar bears will notice, but why should we? Well, check out the next graph from Climate Progress:

Click to jump to the story


The same changes that are driving the loss of Arctic sea ice are also reducing food crop production and creating rising food commodity prices. Paying more at the checkout stand for a couple of bags of groceries, that’s not good. But it’s harder than that if you are living on $2 per day or less. And amazing as that may seem, many folks on the planet are in the $2 per day or less class.

If you are interested in the nuts and bolts and hard science of global warming and climate change, bookmark Real Climate as well as Climate Progress.



HB 1366: The Limited Service Pregnancy Center Accountability Act

Call Speaker Frank Chopp at (360) 786-7920 TODAY with this message:

Please pull the Limited Service Pregnancy Center Accountability Act (HB 1366) out of the Rules Committee for a floor vote. Women facing a possible unintended pregnancy deserve to know the truth about these centers and to have their medical information kept private.
Limited service pregnancy centers (also called “crisis pregnancy centers” or fake clinics) generally offer nothing more than free pregnancy tests, anti-choice pregnancy and health care information, and sometimes ultrasounds. Women facing an unplanned pregnancy deserve real medical care and unbiased pregnancy information. Instead, they get false or misleading information about what services are offered, their patient privacy isn’t protected, their test results and medical records are withheld, and they are denied needed referrals for reproductive health care.


The Limited Service Pregnancy Center Accountability Act (HB 1366) requires these centers to disclose that they do not provide abortion or birth control care or referrals, to provide pregnancy test results immediately, and to keep women’s medical information private.


From NARAL pro-choice Washington



The Dirt on Coal

Special Series by the Sightline Institute

The Dirt on Coal

The Dirt on Coal

Here in the Northwest, coal feels like someone else’s problem. We know that much of the electricity that powers our homes comes from carbon-free hydropower, which can make flipping a light switch feel almost virtuous. But the numbers tell a different story: coal is big in the Northwest. In this series, Sightline researchers look at the region’s real reliance on coal and examine how we can get ourselves off the dirtiest of fuels.

Click here to see the reports.

This content reprinted by permission of Sightline.



Boycott Koch Industries? Are You Down With That?

I am down with that.

If you want to get the attention of the Koch brothers and express your disapproval of their attack on unions, the middle class and working folks, all you have to do is stop giving your dollars to purchase Koch Industries products.

Alternet has picked up this story:

How You Can Boycott the Kochs


Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue on Flickr

Over the past few weeks, the billionaire Koch brothers and their front groups have steadily increased their involvement in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s efforts to strip state workers of their collective bargaining rights. The Kochs’ outsized wealth and influence are forces to be reckoned with; that’s why we should all be grateful that a Koch backlash, including a boycott of Koch Industries’ products, has started picking up steam.

Geebeebee at Daily KOS has put together a pretty comprehensive list of Koch Industry goods that you might want to avoid if you want to send a message.




Some Thoughts on Justice

Arthur Miller has been working for decades now in the Puget Sound area to build public support and pressure to release Leonard Peltier. He has been a steady organizer behind the annual northwest regional march event to rally support for Leonard’s release. The march is tentatively set for May 14th, 2011.

Why can’t we get Dick Cheney in jail and Leonard Peltier out of jail?
Why would Clinton and now Obama fail to give a presidential pardon as a humanitarian gesture and recognition that this man does not pose a danger to any of us and has spent too many years in jail?

Get in touch with Arthur – – if you feel the call.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons



Are conservatives mean, greedy, and stupid? Or just different? A response to Lakoff

In a recent article The “New Centrism” and Its Discontents, George Lakoff wrote

Progressives have to get over the idea that conservatives are either stupid, or mean, or greedy – or all three. Conservatives are mostly people who have a different moral system from progressives.

That statement irked me, because it seems to me that there are plenty of powerful, mean, and greedy conservatives, and plenty of uninformed and gullible — if not stupid — voters.

For example, how about the infamous Koch brothers? Aren’t they greedy? And how about wealthy Senators pushing for tax cuts for the rich? (See this page.) Plenty of rich corporations and individuals (e.g., insurance company executives and even doctors) donate handsomely to conservative causes partly in hope of keeping taxes and regulations low. Surely, that’s based largely on greed. Military contractors who support (neo)conservative policies are another example.

Whether these people are mean is harder to say. I’m sure many conservatives are loving parents. George Bush is probably a likable fellow in person. And the vast majority of middle and lower class conservatives are good people too, I’m sure.

But, damn, it sure seems that sending young men to fight and die for lies is mean. Actively deceiving the populace and the Congress about the evidence for going to war is about as mean as you can get. Same with supporting torture. (See Defenders of Torture Unite.) Cutting taxes for the super-rich when millions of people are struggling to survive and the country is in debt sure seems mean. Conservative corruption, privatization, and indifference to corporate malfeasance (e.g., toxic pollution) are also mean. Perhaps the meanness is impersonal and bureaucratic — banal, in Hannah Arendt’s verbiage. But it’s still mean.

So, it’s a gross simplification to say that conservatives aren’t greedy and mean, in my opinion.

Perhaps some conservatives actually think they’re doing the right thing for the nation and the world. No excuse. They’re still mean.

As for the whether conservatives are stupid, I admit: rich conservatives aren’t usually stupid. They’re smart enough to protect their own interests. Karl Rove wasn’t stupid.

The conservatives who appear to be stupid are the middle and lower class people who vote against their own (economic) self-interest by supporting candidates who will ship their jobs overseas, send their sons off to immoral wars, slash government services, defund their pensions (including Social Security), and cut taxes and regulations on the rich.

It’s unwise and elitist to call such voters “stupid”. (In fact, calling people whose support we need “stupid” is pretty darn stupid.) But the point remains, why are people voting against their own self-interest? Are they dupes?

Perhaps some of them sincerely value the wedge issues (guns, gays, abortion, and religion) more than they value their economic well-being. In that case, they’re not stupid, they just have different values, right?


But perhaps some of these people need to be trained to have the right values and beliefs. (Yeah, call me elitist.) Like valuing peace and empathy and non-violence. And believing in more science and less superstition.

On this issue, Lakoff argues that conservatives’ values are based on a strict paternal morality, while progressives’ values are based on a morality of ethics (“maternal morality”, I presume, though Lakoff didn’t use that phrase). In fact, I think it’s a sexist to say that men are inherently and significantly less empathetic than women, but it’s an informative generalization nonetheless.

Lakoff states his standard case about not using conservative language and talking points. “If you start adopting conservative language and/or positions, you become conservative-lite, or worse. ” Lakoff criticizes President Obama for often using conservative language, and (implicitly) for being too centrist:

Obama’s message in his warm-up video to his supporters said that the economy can be rebuilt only if we put aside our differences, work together, find common ground, and so on. It’s the E Pluribus Unum message – no red states or blue states, just red, white, and blue states message. It’s a message that resonates with a majority of Americans. And so his poll numbers have risen.

Such centrism will be the death of the New Deal.

As Lakoff says, “A well funded and tightly organized right wing has been pulling American politics to the right for three decades now. And with a few instructive exceptions, Democrats who respond by calling for a new centrism are just acting as the right’s enablers.”

I think that by insisting that conservatives are neither mean, greedy, or stupid, Lakoff too is enabling the right.

If Democrats and progressives don’t fight the right, we’re screwed. The best defense is a good offense. Right now, the right is kicking our butts.