Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pandering to Today's Populace

Today's Star Tribune has an article about the conundrums and costs the state and Iron Range communities are facing due to what now appears to have been an extremely short-sighted approach to building Highway 53 in its current location. After a little reflection, I realized that it's all par for the course in a system of governance that's essentially based on pandering to today's populace because tomorrow's can't vote yet.

A new day dawning?
Photo by J. Harrington

"The state took the cheap, easy route in 1960, when it cut a deal with the local mining companies to lease the stretch of land leading into Virginia instead of buying it outright." My thoughts are that's essentially what national and state governments do every day when it comes to Anthropogenic Climate Disruption, they take the cheap, easy route because by the time the hard decisions have to be made, today's "leaders" will be retired, just as those who decided to lease the route are probably long gone. The electorate, that's us, all too often punishes truth tellers. If sustainability were in fashion fifty years ago, would that have affected the Highway 53 decision? Would an alternate route with a longer life span have been chosen? In what economic system do sustainable decisions make sense when "A high discount rate is literally saying that the future doesn't matter." What time frame regarding future generations should we use to look at payoffs to today's old timers and debts to be paid by our great-great-great-great-...grandchildren. How will economics and discount rates be applied in any PolyMet or frac sand  regulation decision in Minnesota? What counts more, today's profits or tomorrow's children. Think about these questions between now and November 4. Keep them in mind as you pull the lever or fill in the dot. Ask yourself "Will my children think this is stupid?"

Turning over a new leaf?
Photo by J. Harrington

The Flash Reverses Time

By A. Van Jordan 

DC Comics, November 1990, #44
“Never Look Back, Flash
Your Life Might Be Gaining On You”

When I’m running across the city
on the crowded streets
to home, when, in a blur,
the grass turns brown
beneath my feet, the asphalt
steams under every step
and the maple leaves sway
on the branches in my wake,
and the people look,
look in that bewildered way,
in my direction, I imagine
walking slowly into my past
among them at a pace
at which we can look one another in the eye
and begin to make changes in the future
from our memories of the past—
the bottom of a bottomless well,
you may think, but why not dream a little:
our past doesn’t contradict our future;
they’re swatches of the same fabric
stretching across our minds,
one image sewn into another,
like the relationship between a foot and a boot,
covariant in space and time—
one moves along with the other,
like an actor in a shadow play—
like a streak of scarlet light
across the skyline of your city
sweeping the debris, which is simply confetti,
candy wrappers, a can of soda,
all the experience of a day discarded
and now picked up
even down to the youthful screams of play
that put smiles on the faces of the adults
who hear remnants of their own voices
through a doorway leading back
to a sunrise they faintly remember.