Tuesday, May 24, 2016

What will Minnesota settle for?

Today is the 75th birthday of a Minnesotan of my Generation. Happy Birthday Mr. Dylan. Thank you for sharing your phenomenal talent. Thinking about him and the recently ended session of the Minnesota legislature triggered a recollection of one of his wonderful songs, Ballad of a Thin Man, especially the refrain:
"Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?"
After seeing the train wrecks that the end of the 2015 and 2016 sessions produced, I think it's clear that Minnesotans have elected too many "Mr. Jones" and that much of what's called "political leadership" is clearly in over its collective head.

Those assessments don't come easily. But, if we are not to attribute to maliciousness what can be accounted for by limited vision, we have to ask ourselves what vision, if any, our legislature has been trying to achieve. Are enough of the members, especially the leadership, focused on a Minnesota future that extends beyond their next election?

Minnesota's GHG trend

According to the Regional Indicators Initiative,
"...if the RII cities continue to follow current trends, their GHG emissions from energy, VMT, and waste will increase. It also shows the rate of change necessary to meet the statewide target established by the Next Generation Energy Act (NGEA) of a 40% reduction of GHG emissions by 2030, using 2005 as a baseline. This target is based on total GHG emissions; therefore, since the population is expected to continue growing, each person must reduce their emissions at the even steeper rate of 49%."
 I don't understand how some legislators think that responsible reductions in GHG emissions from transportation are going to be attained if we don't fund light rail and other transit improvements. Perhaps they believe, like the presumptive Republican nominee for president, that global warming and climate change are all a "con to help Chinese manufacturing." (That same presumptive nominee is, of course, now in the midst of trying to protect his golf course in Ireland from rising sea levels caused by ...?) Maybe they believe we'll all be driving Teslas or Leafs by 2030 and our grid will all be supplied by renewable energy? I just wish they'd share with us what their vision of Minnesota's future is. We have a chance to learn as part of the upcoming election process, so we might want to read this piece about To build a better future, we must imagine ourselves there and use it as a basis for talking with those who will be asking for our votes. If they don't have good answers, whether or not they're what we want to hear, we must consider our options.

A contemporary of Bob Dylan's, and a great singer in her own right, Janis Joplin, expressed a telling insight that we should keep in mind as we consider whose vision to support in the upcoming elections. She said, in a last interview before her tragic death, You are what you settle for. You are only as much as you settle for. Do we Minnesotans believe we deserve a better future than we have?Do we deserve better governance than we've already received the past two years, or should we settle for chaos and continuing unfinished business because it's "good enough for us?"

Minnesota's Impaired Waters

Remember, if Lake Wobegon is on much of Minnesota's prairie, her above average children shouldn't swim in the lakes and streams because they're too polluted. Then again, we're now looking at risking our world-class "up north" Boundary Waters heritage for limited mining employment. Isn't it about time we elect politicians, all of whom will need to be above average, to help us create a future we'll be proud to hand over to our own above average children?

Vision Test

By Patricia Kirkpatrick

The brain, like the earth, lies in layers.
Floaters dart and punch. I see the field.
My face stays numb. Keep your eye on the target.
Click the button when a light appears.
Last night I read “So little evidence is left
of what had vanished.” I can’t always follow directions.
The tumor pressed a lobe, charging
the amygdala, emotional core of the self.
In school they taught us that soil covers core
and mantle; mythology explains creation
and change. Now age drapes childhood;
my hair, the incision. I see a light but forget
to click. I didn’t remember dreams for a year.
How I’ve changed may not be apparent.

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