The long-term dangers of short-termism
One of the advantages of having to do repetitive domestic chores is that it frees up the mind to think about more interesting issues.
While doing my chores today, I was listening to a radio program discussing some of the effects of pollution, mainly of water, from Canada to Africa. In general, the problems have arisen because a wealth-creating venture has been undertaken without any, or sufficient, initial enquiry into the long-term effects of the undertaking.
And is that not the story of our present problems with global warming?
“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” was never more true than when an idea or a brainwave was actioned, without effective analysis to determine the impacts it might have outside those it is intended to cause.
At a philosophical level, probably the foundation of most of the damage in human society was caused when money was introduced into the barter system. Replacing the concept of my labour for your goods, with a middleman who negotiated the deal – and took his cut for his services – has ended up by devaluing labour for the benefit of capital.
Accumulation of capital, at the expense of those less able to follow this route, has impoverished and deprived millions of people and, it is now obvious, all life on earth.
At a simplistic level, one man could be out in the full force of the elements, building a house, or growing plants for food, while another man sits in air-conditioned comfort in front of a computer, playing the stock market, while millions are seamlessly moved from one account to another.
We have devised government systems in which those we elect to make decisions on our behalf can only see in the short term, and therefore plan in order to enhance the likelihood that they will be re-elected, rather than looking into the distant future and trying to ensure that present practices reap future benefits for society as a whole.
In my view, Gough Whitlam was a clear example of someone who saw all the changes which needed to be made to improve physical health, to prevent family breakdown from becoming a vicious fight and, in general, to make for a more just society.
Sadly, his vision was not realised because his judgement of his colleague’s abilities was faulty and he tried to make major changes without adequate preparation.
Fortunately, we still have Medicare – against all efforts by the conservatives to destroy it – and no-fault divorce. And subsequently, possibly influenced by his more open attitude to civil rights, we have finally achieved access to contraception, abortion and same sex marriage – all of which were opposed by conservative and religious elements of society!
But when it comes to wealth creation, we are involved in a losing battle between major corporations and those who seek to prevent the environment from being destroyed.
The radio program drew attention to the effect of putting salt on the roads to enable vehicles to move more safely when they were covered with snow. But those who thought up the idea did not try to explore what effect that salt would have on the run off when the snow melts.
Perhaps the world was less complicated when some habits were formed, so that the potential damage which might be caused, when a new initiative was implemented, might have been hard to conceive,
But scientific research has made massive advances and it is now, or should be, standard practice to investigate the impacts of innovations.
The irony in today’s world is that the fossil fuel companies did all the right things – except one.
They researched the effects that their emissions would have on climate and then, with the history of opposition to smoking already available to them, (please note that, in 1602, the effects of tobacco smoking were questioned!) they realised that, if they stopped the population, as a whole, from having access to that knowledge, they could go on making massive profits until the truth eventually came out.
So, they not only failed to publish their research, but they paid agents to put out disinformation.
And throughout history, bribery and corruption has always been the preferred method of getting those in power to be onside, in concealing knowledge which would affect profits!
We do not have a democracy – merely the façade of one.
Our politicians have been bought and have sold us down the river.
A campaign of national civil disobedience will be the only way we can oust this pretence of a government, led by a sham, of whom, doubtless, even Jesus Christ would be ashamed!
If you care about the world which our children will inherit, please seriously consider joining Extinction Rebellion or one of the many groups opposing government failure to act to ameliorate climate change.
Once more – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:
“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”
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There should be (maybe there is) some scientific investigation into the dynamics of population density. i.e. how a large group behaves in relation to individual wellbeing. For instance, democracy is supposed to represent the majority of people, so why does it end up representing the interests of power. There is likely a mathematical explanation behind this.
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Rog Fryer -I can’t remember who said it, but this quote keeps coming into my mind – “The mob is only as strong as its weakest member”. Not very scientific though, sorry.