Happy New Year to one and all! I haven’t been around much, sorry about that. My sorta-kinda pseudo retirement hasn’t been going well of late. So badly in fact that I am busier now than I have been in many years. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I’m enjoying it a lot. At any rate, I have officially postponed my retirement for another few years.
But enough about me. Instead, I have two questions. First, what do you think was the most significant political shift in the past year? Second, what do you think will be the most significant political shift in the coming year?
I think the most significant political shift last year was the shift in attitudes about gay marriage. The change has been amazing. And even though the Supreme Court avoided giving their final word on the issue, I think it’s safe to say that they did everything but. And in response it seemed resistance to gay marriage pretty much melted away. There may still be a few coughs and sputters along the way (e.g., one wonders what’s going to happen with respect to that recent ruling in Utah, of all places), but I think by the end of 2014 or so acceptance of gay marriage will be more the norm than the exception. Next up… bestiality!
Lol! I’m kidding. I just couldn’t help it. But I gotta say in defense of my good buddy, um… um… Okay, he’s not my good buddy, but I’m thinking about that guy on Duck’s Dynasty. You know, the one with the beard. 🙂 Anyway, I get the whole tolerance thing. I really do. Then again, maybe not. At what point does tolerance become ridiculous? And at what point does it butt up against intolerance? Said in a more personal way (except I’m not asking any one person, but everyone), what exactly are the boundaries for you, and why should we take your word for it?
The connection may seem obscure (probably because it is), but I keep thinking ’bout all those naked cowgirls floating across the ceiling. Oh Lord, naked cowgirls sure can make you think you’re in heaven. But I shouldn’t be thinking about such things. It’s sexist. More to the point, I keep thinking about how my own prejudices oscillate to and fro, depending on the particular situation, and about how they’ve changed over the years. And I gotta say, I’ve grown more tolerant of intolerance, because sometimes it has its place. Maybe it’s just me (I guess it’s all about me again), but it seems to me that if your cause is just all you have to do is apply the pressure, wait long enough, and the intolerance will respond to changes in reality, so long as those changes are just. But I digress…
As to what I think will be the most significant political shift in the coming year it just might be that the fossil fuel lobby will lose their stranglehold on the clean energy debate. In that I harken back to my post of Sept 11 wherein I pointed out that conservative Tea Party groups in Georgia and Wisconsin were teaming up with liberal environmental groups to advocate for more and better access by clean energy sources to the energy mix offered by “local” utility providers. I put “local” in quotes because utility providers are not usually “local” in any sort of proper sense of the word. And that, I would say, characterizes one of the new battlegrounds. More recently a conservative group in Michigan, calling themselves the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum, has branched out to advocate for clean energy all on their own, without the help of a leftie/greenie organization holding their hand. Interestingly, they divorced any mention of climate change in the process, electing instead to emphasize the many other important issues clean energy impacts. Things like the economic impacts, national security impacts, public policy impacts, the imperatives faith implies, and of course the fact that they’re losing the political message to the lefties/greenies — Haha!. But hey, it doesn’t bother me if they’re ignoring the obvious as long as they’re headed in the right direction.
Ironically though, the one-year extension to federal production tax credit (PTC) program that was designed to promote the deployment of clean energy sources (particularly wind) officially ended today. It did so with surprisingly little fan-fare. There are reasons for that which I won’t go into here — suffice it to say that there’s still time to reverse that lapse without serious damage, as long as it’s done within the next few months. The longer it takes the worse the impact is. And after all, this is a program that was begun under the Bush (Jr) administration with bipartisan support, and really <i>should</i> be a darling of the right. It should be so because it has not only been hugely successful in spurring the development and spread of wind energy (resulting in a dramatic 25% reduction in capital costs over just the last 4 years as well as produced multiple thousands of domestic jobs, mostly in the manufacturing and construction sectors), but also because it is a uniquely results-oriented program which rewards the producers only on the basis of what they actually produce. It appears to me that the only reason the PTC program is the least bit controversial is because the fossil fuel industry is against it. Thus, it seems to me, this coming year will be a real litmus test revealing just how deep in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry the conservatives as a group really are. After all, they do so at the expense of just about every other sector of the economy. I don’t know how they can successfully spin that at this point. Maybe they can pull it off for another year or so (and thus my prediction may be a little premature), but I’m pretty sure that by the 2016 elections the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold on opinion will be broken and both sides will be advocating renewable fuels to one extent or another.