Category Archives: Climate change

Opinions on Climate Change

Alternatives to the Green New Deal

I have been thinking about the proposed Green New Deal. It sounds extremely radical. It probably is extremely radical, but is it as crazy as conservatives have argued it is? I don’t know, but here is what I think I do know.

First of all, the ravages of climate change are the most serious problem the world has faced in a long time–perhaps ever. If we cannot grapple with this problem the losses will be staggering. As well, until now very little has been done about it at least in Canada and the U.S. Conservatives in both countries keep pointing out how difficult it is to tackle this problem and how much it will cost to fight. When I hear this I think of what Oscar Wilde said about cynics, “They know the cost of everything but the value of nothing.”

So, they keep neglecting to come up with alternatives. I am willing to look at alternatives, but they must be rational. Liberals in both countries have spoken about how they want to control or limit climate change but are vague on how to do it. That is also unsatisfactory.

What is the alternative? Business as usual is sure to lead to doomsday. Therefore, that is unsatisfactory. So we need lofty goals. That much seems clear to me. Why not the Green New Deal? What better plan does anyone have to offer?

In the US a rookie Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, together with others, has come up with a bold proposal, commonly called the Green New Deal. Republicans like Donald Trump have mocked that plan. They try to put fear into people who might be inclined to support the proposal by saying it will require people to give up eating beef, driving cars, and shut down all air flight. None of that is actually required by the plan, but it sounds scary or daffy or both together.

Dave White a professor at Arizona State University’s School of Community Resources and Development is a cooler head. Professor White was a co-author of the recent Fourth National Climate Assessment in the US, a comprehensive study published by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a research group that studies the global environment and climate change. He knows something about the subject, unlike the former American President.

Professor White knows that because climate change is happening so rapidly and because its effects will be so severe, “we must consider transformative changes.” Professor White added, “Climate change represents a significant risk and exacerbates other risks that are dangerous.” Unfortunately, in part due to the successful campaign launched years ago by the oil and gas sector, the public was for decades confused into thinking perhaps climate change was not a real problem. It was and is a serious problem that now requires much more serious changes than would have been enough 30 years ago.

As a result, even if I consider the approach of young and inexperienced politicians like Ocasio-Cortez radical, the do-nothing approach of conservatives seems to me to dangerously worse. As White said, “We need solutions that match the scale of the problem. People underestimate the action needed, not only to reverse, but just to stop the increasing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Until the conservatives in the US or Canada come up with proposals for the transformative changes we need, I will look instead at the Green New Deal. I am willing to look at it critically and will consider criticisms, but I won’t move towards inaction that conservatives seem to insist on. The new conservative leader in Canada Pierre Polievre is taking this exact  approach.

I think Professor White has the right approach.  He realizes the Green New Deal offers innovative ideas, but that does not necessarily mean we have to give up cars, air travel, or burgers. Instead, White says, “If we focus on outcome, which is reducing emissions, we need to implement innovative projects to reach those goals. Does that mean eliminating air travel? No, it means making air travel with less pollution. It also doesn’t mean getting rid of cars, but making cars with more green technology.” I would add that it also doesn’t mean we can’t have any more big Macs. It does mean we must have less. And I love Big Macs. And I’m not keen on cynicism.

 

The cost of New Green Deal; the cost of denial

 

In the United States the Republicans are lining up with overflowing eagerness to tackle Democrats based on the “radical” New Green Deal proposals. The latest conservative issue is that it will cost every citizen of the US $600,000 if implemented. This I suspect is fear mongering at its most robust. I do not know what it will cost, but I do know that business as usual will cost horrendous sums. What will cost more? I wish some reputable economists would tackle this issue.

As Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany pointed out:

“We’ve already warmed the world by 1.1C, and we’re experiencing the effects: the International Federation of the Red Cross estimates there are as many as 50 million climate refugees. Once we reach 4C, most models agree it will be impossible to return to today’s abundant world.”

 

We know the problems that huge numbers of refugees can create. There are enough political refugees. We should add climate refugees to the mix. That can’t possibly end well.

 

Another climatologist, Ken Caldeira, climatologist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in California  put it this way:

“For me, the issue is that we are transforming (and simplifying!) our world for many thousands of years into the future with millennia of rising sea [levels], acidified oceans and intolerable tropical temperatures, just because we weren’t willing to pay the small differential between fossil-fuelled prosperity and prosperity fuelled by non-greenhouse-gas-emitting energy systems…“People live in Houston, Miami and Atlanta because they live in air conditioning through the hot summers. If people are rich enough to air-condition their lives, they can watch whatever is the successor to Game of Thrones on TV, as the natural world decays around them,” he says. But he points out that while richer people risk a loss to their quality of life, the poorer risk their actual lives.”

 

The environmental reporter Gaia Vince summed it up this way:

“We are now making the climate of 2100 and however hard it seems to meet our emissions targets, it’ll be far harder for our children if we don’t. With international cooperation and regulation, we can make it liveable.”

 

I think the dangers of climate change are real and we should do everything to mitigate against it. The only ideas that might work, which I have heard so far, are the Green New Deal. Doing nothing serious about it, which basically is the conservative position everywhere, seems to be the worst thing we could do.

Conservative Fear Mongering About the Green New Deal

 

Some time ago I watched the American talk show, The View. At the time it  had 2 regular Conservative commentators or hosts as they are called. At the time, both of them, Abby Huntsman and Megan McCain, thought the most alarming thing in years is the extreme radicalism of the proposed New Green Deal.  Abby opined that one of the most radical aspects of this proposal was offered by newly elected Senator from New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among others. She said that she was thinking about whether it was a good idea for her to have children, given that they would be inheriting a world so awfully degraded. Is that not a legitimate question?

Huntsman thought that was the most extreme thing she had ever heard. She equated this with advocating the end of the human race, which of course entirely missed the point. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was just saying that some women might choose not to have children. No one was advocating that no women have children.

Others, like Sean Hannity have said we wont’ be able to eat burgers anymore. Some have said we all will be required to become vegans. What could be worse than that?  Some have said our entire lives will be unrecognizable.

These are all example of fear mongering on the right.

Rather than fear mongering, I wish the right would propose reasonable alternatives and the public could then weigh in on what makes the most sense.

Muscular Government Action

 

When the Canadian federal liberals introduced a carbon tax many conservatives rubbed their hands with glee. After all, former Conservative Prime Stephen Harper ran a highly successful campaign against his liberal opponent Stephane Dion in 2008 in opposition to his plan to shift some taxes from income to carbon expenditure. Dion called his climate program a tax shift, but it was really a carbon tax. Harper successfully excoriated Dion as a tax grabber.

But a lot changed in 11 years and the Conservatives, cocooned from reality in western Canada, did not realize it. That is the problem of listening only to people who think like you. You begin to think wrongly that everybody agrees with you. People had moved on. People know that serious problems demand serious solutions. This becomes clearer every year.

The Conservatives lost the 2019 federal election running against a carbon tax proposed by all 3 of their political opponents.  They deserved to lose.

I have been surprised to learn how many people favour a carbon tax as the most viable solution to the emergency of climate change. Even that strongly conservative magazine The Economist, favours it. Even some pretty vigorous capitalists realize something serious, like a carbon tax is necessary. Therefore, they have said they favour it.

ExxonMobil, no shrinking violet of a capitalist firm, has said that a carbon tax is the best policy to tackle climate change in the United States and elsewhere. All of the 4 western major oil companies—Chevron, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, and Total—have said that they support the Paris agreement to limit climate change so that average temperature changes are held to an increase of no more than 2ºC and hopefully 1.5ºC. There is some hope for reason beyond self-interest from multi-national corporations.

Of course, we should not go too far in praising them. Being better than the Conservative Party of Canada is still pretty faint praise. The fact is oil companies are not doing enough, even if they are talking more nicely. The Economist, again, not a wild left-wing source, put it well:

“Yet amid the clamour is a single, jarring truth. Demand for oil is rising and the energy industry, in America, and globally, is planning multi-trillion dollar investments to satisfy it. No firm embodies this strategy better than ExxonMobil, the giant that rivals admire and green activists love to hate. As our briefing explains, it plans to pump 25% more oil and gas in 2025 than in 2017. If the rest of the industry pursues even modest growth, the consequences for the climate could be disastrous.

ExxonMobil shows that the market cannot solve climate change by itself. Muscular government action is needed. Contrary to the fears of many Republicans (and the hopes of some Democrats), that need not involve a bloated role for the state.”

 

Yes, you read that right. The Economist said, “Muscular government action is needed.”    No doubt many of their readers consider that heresy. But I suggest the numbers who would say that are declining. The Economist also said, unsurprisingly, “It would be wrong to conclude that energy firms must therefore be evil.” To which I would respond, it would be wrong to conclude that energy firms must therefore be angels. They are large corporations responding to demand. That is how the system works. Until the demand is quelled that is exactly what they will do and no one should be surprised or dismayed. Rather, we should be determined to demand “muscular government action”.     And soon.

 The Economist has gone a lot farther than the Conservative Party of Canada which weakly criticized the Canadian carbon tax as “a tax grab,” without offering a significant alternative to it that had a hope of success. Recently Canada was criticized for being at the bottom end of the G20 in tackling climate change. To offer alternatives that were even weaker than the liberals did not seem like an attractive option to most Canadians.

 

The Green New Deal proposed by young radicals like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez might be too extreme for many to accept, but offering Caspar Milquetoast in response was also too lame to accept.     Most Canadians know stronger medicine than that is needed. This is no time for lame.

And so far the only proposal that is not lame is the Green New Deal. If conservatives don’t want the Green New Deal they had better come up with something better than they have done so far.

 

 

An Economic View of the Green New Deal

 

The Economist is not exactly a left-wing rag.  It is a very conservative and thoughtful journal. I love to read it for a different point of view. Sometimes, the point of view is not that different from my own.

 

I read an article in the Economist about the Green New Deal. It was not a ringing endorsement, but it was not a rabid diatribe against it either as I am accustomed to seeing in conservative journals.  The article talked about how climate change was really about market failure. In other words, it is a serious problem that the market has not figured out how to solve. This is how they described it,

“In economics, climate change is a big but straightforward example of a market failure, with a correspondingly straightforward solution. People take environmentally harmful decisions because the private benefits of doing so (using a car to get to work, say) outweigh the private costs (the price of the petrol to run the car). But emission-producing activities also impose social costs—deaths from pollution and collisions, the contribution of carbon emissions to climate change—that do not influence an individual’s decision to drive rather than walk or take public transport. To solve the climate problem, then, governments need only include the social cost of carbon in the prices people pay. The simplest approach is a levy on emissions corresponding to that social cost. Carbon-intensive activities become more expensive, and people efficiently reduce their emissions by responding to prices. It is an elegant approach favoured by this newspaper. In January a distinguished and bipartisan list of economists signed a letter that ran in the Wall Street Journal arguing in favour of a version that would refund carbon-tax revenue in the form of a flat, universal dividend.”

 

That is the problem we must address.  Once again, people like me who own and drive a car, tend to ignore the costs of driving that car which are born by the public. I count the fuel I must pay for as well as the costs of the vehicle, but the costs to the public at large, I largely ignore.   I shouldn’t. Neither should you.

A carbon tax fairly forces us to do the right thing whether we want to o not. We can still drive a gas guzzling car if we choose. But we have to pay the whole cost–the public as well as the private.

 

Evil Socialism and the Green New Deal

 

The common complaint against the Green New Deal is that it amounts to socialism. In the US socialists are of course on the same plane as child molesters. Nothing they say can be good and nothing that could lead to socialism can possibly be good. Any government largesse in favor of the poor, but not the rich of course, is quickly labelled socialism. When massive subsidies are given to the rich this is not socialism. This is good for business. When farmers get huge subsidies somehow that is free enterprise. After all they deserve those subsidies.  The poor deserve to suffer and therefore should suffer in silence.

 

The most famous recent example, were the enormous subsidies to the rich by the Bush and Obama administrations after the 2008 financial collapse. This is a good example of what has often been called socialism for the rich.  John Kenneth Galbraith described such actions this way, “Socialism is deeply abhorrent in the culture of contentment but not for the financially most contented.

 

This is perhaps one of the reasons Galbraith said, in another book, The Affluent Society, “wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding.” That is exactly the reason I am suspicious of their current objections to the New Green Deal. A good recent example of this phenomenon was the massive tax cuts the British Prime Minster Liz Truss advocated and led to her downfall today.  Fortunately, the British did not swallow her arguments.

 

I admit I am not an economist. That is a gross understatement. I am not trusted to make or endorse cheques or to reconcile our modest home accounts. As a result, I don’t really know if the ridicule heaped on the proponents of the Green New Deal are justified. I just know that I am deeply sceptical whenever I hear the well to do defending their turf.  I want to hear from independent impartial expertise without skin in the game. I will withhold judgment until then.

 

I wish John Kenneth Galbraith was still around to help. We need clear and independent thinking on this. We should be deeply sceptical about the spokespersons for the rich.

The privileged like their privileges

 

The contented and well-off people around the world are not interested in the Green New Deal think that plan is so absurd because it will cost too much money. They are less concerned about the costs of climate change which they know are so far being born largely by the poor. Efforts to improve matters for them are not worth it. Besides, the affluent are doing very well and enjoy the status quo immensely. What’s not to like if you are rich?

 

John Kenneth Galbraith knew as well the general satisfaction the well-off have in regards to their privileges and the extent to which they are easily able to offer moral justifications for them. Denial of privileges to the less well of are similarly morally justified. Inevitably, the denial is ‘for their own good.’ As Galbraith pointed out,

The first and most general expression of the contented majority is it’s affirmation that those who compose it are receiving their just deserts.  What the individual member aspires to have and enjoy is the product of his or her personal virtue, intelligence, and effort… there is no equitable justification for any action that impairs it… The normal response to such action is indignation, or, as suggested, anger at anything infringing on what is so clearly deserved.”

 

The rich and powerful always command a ready and willing bevy of economic experts to espouse the solid justifications of their privileges. The poor and vulnerable of course do not have the benefit of such a cadre of expert support at their command. As a result, Galbraith pointed out, “ One of the most reliable, though not necessarily most distinguished, accomplishments of economics is its ability to accommodate its view of economic process, instruction therein and recommended public action to specific economic and political interest.”

For such reasons I am leery about accepting the view of economists that the wealthy deserve the massive subsidies they receive for their oil and gas interests. Those subsidies massively exceed subsidies to the poor to help them pay their energy bills.

It is understandable why as result political leaders are quick to give the wealthy what they want and look with greater scepticism at the claims of the needy. But it really should be the other way around. As Galbraith emphasized, “mainstream economics has for some centuries given grace and acceptability to convenient belief– to what the socially and economically favored most wish or need to have believed.”

 

One of the most notorious examples of course was the so-called theory of trickle-down economics that was quickly latched onto by the Neo-conservatives, and others, for the obvious reason that it closely matched their own views and interests. This theory is now widely discredited by independent economists, though the rich still love the theory and continue to use it to justify their privilege. For example, Trump and the Republicans used it repeatedly in 2018 to armour their claims that the Trump tax cuts that largely benefited the wealthy were for the benefit of all.   It did not matter that all the evidence was to the contrary. Trickle-down-economics was in turn supported by economic theories of Professor Arthur Laffer. One excellent example was the theory of the Laffer curve or supply side economics, which held that a reduction in taxes would actually result in increased government revenues.

 

This is what Galbraith had to say about that theory:

“It is not clear that anyone of sober mentality took Professor Laffer’s curve and conclusions seriously.  He must have credit, nonetheless, for showing that justifying contrivance, however transparent, could be of high practical service.”

 

The history of the treatment of the Laffer curve is reason to be careful in accepting economic theories that support the interests of the proponents. It can lead to some wild conclusions. Again, Galbraith had this tart remark about it, “Supply side economics convinced people amazingly, that the rich needed the spur of more money, the poor the spur of their own poverty.

I wish Galbraith were around to analyze the economic implications of the current Green New Deal. But like him, I think it is good to be skeptical of the desires of the well off in analyzing proposed changes in public policy. There are reasons why they usually get their way, as the less well often end up sucking socks.

The Rich need money; the Poor need Poverty

 

Although John Kenneth Galbraith pointed out how  the socialist and capitalist countries are similar, but in the west the

“controlling contentment and resulting belief is now that of the many, not just of the few.  It operates under the compelling cover of democracy, albeit a democracy not of all citizens but of those who, in defense of their social and economic  advantage, actually go to the polls.  The result is government that is accommodated not to reality or common need but to the beliefs of the contented, who are now the majority of those who vote.”

 

Galbraith points out this discrepancy of governmental treatment of the poor compared to the wealthy in amusing terms, though the consequences are far from amusing:

“The substantial role of the government in subsidizing this well-being deserves more than passing notice.  Where the impoverished are concerned — a point to which I return — government support and subsidy are seriously suspect as to need and effectiveness of administration and because of their adverse effect on morals and working morale.  This, however, is not true of government support to comparative well-being.  By Social Security pensions or their prospect no one is thought damaged, nor, as a depositor, by being rescued from a failed bank.  The comparatively affluent can withstand the adverse moral effect of being subsidized and supported by the government, not so the poor.”

 

 

Subsidies to the poor are always on a very different level than subsidies for the wealthy. The poor are always underserving, the rich always in need. Not only that but subsidies to the rich or well-off are always for the benefit of society as a whole. Subsidies to the poor are given out of the largesse of the well-off. The rich are to be complemented for permitting their money to be used on the poor. As well, the rich are to be complemented for accepting subsidies not really for themselves but in order to benefit society as a whole. The poor should be looked down on for accepting charity. It shows they are not of strong character. That is just how it works when you control the political process. As a result of such attitudes, when the Green New Deal proposes to spend money to ease inequality of incomes, we must treat the howls of protest from the affluent with careful skepticism. They might have a point, but we should not assume they have a point.

Although Galbraith was describing the United States the same things happen in Canada too.  In Canada the contented accept government subsidies through CMHC, CDIC, RRSP’s, farm supports, DREE, and numerous grants to businesses.  Particularly the oil and gas sector which has done so much to create the problem of climate change enjoys subsidies in the billions. Subsidizing clean energy or green projects is seen instead with alarm by the contented.

 

Business sees no problem in going to the public trough for itself, but not so for the poor. They are also extreme in their defence of their own privilege. Witness the recent puny attempt by the Liberal government led by Justin Trudeau in making fairly modest tax reform proposals in Canada principally around reducing the benefits of well-off Canadians in earning money through a corporation rather than personally. Those benefits of course go largely to the rich. In my practice of law it was not common to see homeless people come in to incorporate their scrounging ‘businesses.’

Even though he was a privileged Harvard economist, former Ambassador, and confidant of the rich and famous, Galbraith had similar scepticism:

 “While self-interest, as we shall see, does frequently operate under a formal cover of social concern, much social concern is genuinely and generously motivated.

Nonetheless, self-regard is, and predictably, the dominant, indeed the controlling, mood of the contented majority.  This becomes wholly evident when public action on behalf of those outside this electoral majority is the issue.  If it is to be effective, such action is invariably at public cost.  Accordingly, it is regularly resisted as a matter of high, if sometimes rather visibly contrived, principle…”

Given the power of the affluent to influence public opinion, it would be surprising if the Green New Deal were easily proven to be a rational plan to reduce climate change.

Socialism for the Rich

 

As my favorite political philosopher Hannah Arendt made clear more than 50 years ago, notions of left versus right are hopelessly out of date. For example, no one believes in free enterprise anymore.  Least of all business people, who are the first to lobby the government for grants, subsidies, and protections.  Witness the farmers, often thought to be the last bastions of individualism.  They are now among the quickest and loudest in their demands for government intervention.  What we see now is what others have called “socialism for the rich.”  Or what David Lewis, years ago, referred to as “corporate welfare bums“.

At the same time, the ideas of the left have also been discredited.  The welfare state is seen as a prison, governed by mediocrity.  But the voices of dominance and privilege are heard loud and clear, and are usually accepted at face value, while no credence is given to the voices of the dominated.  Their voices are considered cranky, silly, and immature.

The philosophy of privilege, namely, conservatism, or its newest version, neo-conservatism, particularly in the US, but also in Canada, has been very effective in imposing its agenda and its very vocabulary on government.  The public sector is regularly pictured as a burden on individuals, as sapping their strength and vigour.  The free market is lauded as the engine of real growth and the savior for all of our woes.  For example, in Canada, the Fraser Institute, a right-wing think tank, is given a wide press each year when it announces “tax freedom day“.

It is implied by such comments that public institutions merely consume, while not providing anything of value.  But is it really true that video games are more valuable than public libraries? Is it really true that toys are more important than public swimming pools?  Public services are often more important than private services.  Through them we have clean water, clean air, accessible hospitals, standards for safe food, housing for seniors, safe roads, and mind-expanding education.  Public services are not a drain on our initiative.  They are what frees the creative juices in each of us.  Without them civilization is a dream.

 

My  favorite economists, John Kenneth Galbraith understood this process and explained it with his customary verve. As he said,

“…individuals and communities that are favored in their economic, social, and political condition attribute social virtue and political durability to that which they themselves enjoy.  That attribution, in turn, is made to apply even in the face of commanding evidence to the contrary.  The beliefs of the fortunate are brought to serve the cause of continuing contentment, and the economic and political ideas of the time are similarly accommodating.  There is an eager political market for that which pleases and reassures.  Those who would serve this market and reap the resulting reward in money and applause are reliably available…

…there were few doubts among the happily privileged, strongly  self-approving, if hygienically deprived, throng that surrounded and sustained Louis XV… a forceful set of economic ideas, those of the Physiocrats, affirmed the principle by which those so favoured were rewarded .  These ideas supported and celebrated an economic system that returned all wealth, superficial deductions for trade and manufacturing apart, to the owners of the land, the aristocrats who inhabited and served the court.

The case continues.  The great entrepreneurs and their acolytes who were dominant in British, German, French and then American political and economic life in the nineteenth century and into the early decades of the twentieth were not in doubt as to their economic and social destiny, and this, again, was duly affirmed by the companion views of the classical economists. ”

 

And of course, this process continues to this day. Those who speak to power with news that power wants to hear are quickly given an audience.  Such people  find themselves much less welcomed. The privileged see their privilege as natural, right, and good. That happened then, it happens now, and will happen forever.

Galbraith even pointed out that this process was common in the Soviet Union, which we all know bore no resemblance to its reputed realm of justice and equality. As he said about socialist countries inside the Soviet circle, “They were protected in their fortunate position by the presumed power of socialist principles…Thus, to repeat, was belief accommodated to the need and comfort of the favored.”

 

What does this have to do with the green new deal? Everything. Proposals for reform of our energy system are made, and immediately rejected by the contented in power.  Radical proposals are seen as absurdly expensive clap trap. Radical proposals are often wrong, but what about the status quo?  There are clearly people who benefit from it and they will do everything in their power to prolong what they find comfortable and delay or dismiss which is not in their narrow interests. The rich would have us believe that the only socialism we can afford is socialism for them. The rest of us should be content with rapacious capitalism.

Perhaps the green new deal is not as ludicrous as the contented would have us believe.

 

A Conservative  Wet Nightmare

 

I was hearing a lot about the New Green Deal.  Until I wasn’t hearing anything anymore. The Green New Deal drives Republicans in the US and Conservatives in Canada, apoplectic. That is why Samantha Bee has called the Green New Deal the “Republicans wet nightmare.

 

Why  don’t we hear about it anymore. Were the criticisms of it from conservatives so radically convincing? Or did interest groups get their away (again)?

Dominant groups invariably react to anything that undermines their dominance with scorn, mockery, and howls of opposition. They think the upstart must be irrational, if not absolutely insane. Listen to their howls. They scream it; they mean it. It makes no sense. None.

This is what the dominant groups in the US did when Roosevelt introduced the original New Deal. It was completely absurd they claimed. We can’t afford it. It will bankrupt the nation. How could anyone say in a time of 25% unemployment that the country must put those people to work? It made absolutely no sense they assured us. Well–they were wrong. Entirely absolutely wrong. Roosevelt has been credited with saving capitalism from its greatest foes–the capitalists! Now they complain similarly about the Green New Deal.

Is that how it will be with the Green New Deal? We have already heard the screams and howls of laughter, mockery and pain.

Karl Mannheim, in his landmark book, Ideology and Utopia, building on an insight of Marx, first pointed out that ruling groups can in their thinking become so intensively interest-bound to a situation that they are no longer able to see certain facts which might tend to undermine their sense of domination.  The ideology of ruling groups often obscures the real condition of society from itself, and often even to those groups that dominate.  The ideology of ruling groups is self-serving.  As a consequence, such groups often do not recognize the unpleasant facts which might detract from their domination.  This is usually accomplished naturally, without conspiracy.  To them, all dissent, as Herbert Marcuse noticed, is irrational, if not insane.

No one likes to lose privileges. That is the long and short of it. In fact, groups with resources, will use those resources to protect their privileges. That does not mean that all their arguments are bogus. It just means we ought to be wary of them. We should, as John Stuart Mill made clear, always look at the other side. Are we getting the whole truth from the privileged groups or are they using their influence to influence those in power to do their bidding?

Over that past 3 decades industries in the oil and gas sector, including some of the richest corporations in the world have spent enormous sums of money to convince political leaders, and even us the mere peons, that what is good for ExxonMobil is good for us too.  Is it?  Is the Green New Deal really that radically subversive? Or are we being sold another bill of goods? As the Sergeant on the television series, Hill Street Blues used to warn the police before they went out on their beat each morning: ‘Be careful out there.”

That was wise advice to the beat cops. That would be wise advice to us peons.