Friday, November 20, 2015

The Right is Right?

The heading for this post comes from the first chapter of Naomi Klein's book This changes Everything. The point she makes is that the Free Market Right understands the implications of climate change and how it directly challenges their ideological assumptions. They therefore go into denial/ obfuscation mode as a logical response. She contends it is liberal environmentalists who are fooling themselves, believing that with a few Green tweaks, capitalism can be harnessed to get us out of this mess. This dynamic seems to be playing out in the state's reaction to the Obama Clean Power Plan. Industry is saying the economy is screwed if we abandon coal. Renewable advocates are saying no, the transition will be painless. To make their point, Northwest Energy hired the U of M Business School to do a "study" showing projected job losses, tax losses,and negative impacts more generally. Critics are saying it doesn't account for potential gains if we plan ahead and invest now and mobilize political forces and harness the power of markets and stay optimistic.But that isn't the record of "democratic" capitalism to date. History shows capitalism lurching from crisis to crisis precisely because it reacts only to short term stimulus and maximizing shareholder profit and corrupting the political process. Just like we knew about the effects of tobacco, we have known about climate change and the effects of burning coal for four decades. There have been 20 UN summits, countless reports and studies, but the tyranny of the Market (telling us fossil fuels are "cheap") holds sway. Right now the coal industry is in collapse mode but the good people of Colstrip Mt. believe their lives can somehow remain unchanged. They will not plan ahead. They will not invest in the future. They will deny reality and then act shocked when it bites them in the ass.

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