Sh*t (many) Democrats believe

Okay, turnabout is fair. I’ve gotten too burned out on our two party duopoly to try and cut the Democrats much of a break. And in any case, many of the talking points that Democrats have picked up are off-base if not totally wrong.

And this list also belongs in the group of ‘Don’t Know Much About History’. Liberals like to disparage the flat-earthers who populate the Republican Party, but many of their fondly-held beliefs are also out to lunch. If you’re going after Todd Akin’s claim about ‘legitimate rape’ and pregnancy, you’re shooting ducks in a barrel. The problem is that many liberal ideas have become accepted wisdom—it’s harder to parse out the truth. Many of these items are common ‘knowledge’. It’s harder to tease out the deception (especially the self-deception).

BTW, I usually vote Green Party in elections. And part of what I’m trying to do in these two articles is show that neither party has the sort of grasp on reality that one would get out of the political system in, say Germany or The Netherlands. The Green Party movement in Europe rejected all sides in many cases–they didn’t work with Christian Democrats OR Socialists, believing that both were falling into the same environmental traps of doing too little, too late.

I could do this whole post about Al Gore and his following in the party. There’s nothing I disagree with in An Inconvenient Truth, and I understand why he’s popular with the Democratic base. But imho, his Repower America group has been disingenuous about the severity of our climate problems—and just how radical a change Americans would need to make to address it (and yes, this is an American problem–we’re less than 5% of world population and we use over 20% of all energy). To make a substantial change in carbon output, we’d need to start doing things common in Germany (where many families unplug all their ‘instant-on’ appliances at night to save power). We’d be taking baths and showers in water recirculated from washing machines, which is what is done in Japan. We’d bicycle to work and shopping in January the way people do in Denmark and The Netherlands. And though Al Gore is a believer on Peak Oil, he hasn’t made that story part of his spiel. If you’re going to talk about CO2 levels, you need to also mention the whole peak oil thing.

Meme in red; explication follows.

We can reverse climate change by switching to electric cars (or cars with high gas mileage). The power for electric cars is not delivered by an electricity fairy—much of the Northeast is still using coal-generated electricity and that’s what powering the plug-in car. And the creation of those electric cars will require lots of rare earth metals, which are, well, rare and very toxic to get out of the ground. Beyond that, the act of creating a car and the act of maintaining a road are both carbon generating (most people never realize that our entire highways infrastructure built of oil in the form of asphalt). Depending on who you ask, it takes anywhere from 20 to 50 barrels of oil to create a single car once you factor in mining and transporting the metal and all the plastic and rubber.

We can solve energy problems AND climate problems by switching to mass transit:  mass transit needs a certain population density per acre to be viable. That leaves out about 95% of our country’s built environment (aka Suburbia). Absent a big retrofit of suburban areas (and changing suburban zoning that prohibits multi-family construction), mass transit isn’t viable in most of the US. And it would be political suicide for the Democrats to take on suburban sprawl in any meaningful way.

Democrats are friends of working people—only relative to the GOP. Remember that prior to going to Washington, Hillary Clinton sat on the Walmart board of directors in Arkansas. If she was sticking up for their workers, it’s news to the people who knew her when. Bill Clinton himself isn’t a big fan of unions. Obama has stayed out of the ‘right to work’ fights in Ohio and Michigan and sat on the sidelines when Governor Scott Walker went after municipal unions. And many Democrats are now coming after the pensions of civil servants.

The economy does better under Democrats. To some degree this is true, but there are some big caveats. I don’t get why otherwise smart people don’t understand this, but nearly all the swings of our economy from boom to bust over the last 40 years have virtually everything to do with energy prices. The first OPEC embargo in 1973 brought huge economic dislocation and stag-flation  (the mid-1970’s were the last time American families incomes kept up with inflation). Jimmy Carter got hit with the Iran hostage crisis, which also turned into an energy problem/OPEC embargo—and an economic downturn. The economy went into recession again in 1982 under Reagan, in large part because of the ripple effect of energy price inflation. But Reagan had the good fortune to be president when two major (NON-OPEC) oilfields came on line—the North Sea and Cantarell in the Gulf of Mexico (the latter is the second largest oil find in the world after the Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia). That (more than anything else) broke OPEC’s pricing cartel power for a decade. Next, Poppy Bush had a gas price hiccup as a result of the 1991 Gulf War that pushed the economy into recession. And we would have had a major recession in 2008 regardless of the collapse of the housing bubble—oil went from under $30 a barrel in 2001 up to $147 in late summer 2008. At one point in May of 2008, the United States was losing an airline a WEEK.

Republicans have sent jobs overseas; Democrats will bring them back. Granted that during the Bush years, offshoring went crazy thanks in part to advanced networking capacity (which made it possible to have all of one’s engineering or financial analysis or customer service performed in Mumbai). But manufacturing also took a huge hit (Paul Craig Roberts glumly noted that US manufacturing in the Bush Years had job losses more in common with a country experiencing saturation bombing).

That said, off-shoring ramped up and was made possible by Clinton’s promotion and the Senate’s passage of the WTO, NAFTA, and the GATT agreements. And Obama has done little to protect US jobs—his USAID head loaned $36 M to Indonesia so that they could train customer service personnel (including teaching them English). Obama’s highly secret Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations will surely result in the loss of American jobs.

In 1992, William Greider wrote about the problems with both our political parties in Who Will Tell The People. One of his more trenchant observations was that Democrats especially make great fanfare about passing laws to protect jobs and the environment, but then (in concert with Republicans) don’t ever fund the agencies charged with policing the laws. It doesn’t help that both parties get most of their donations from corporate interests or lobbyists, and a politico always leaves the door open with lobbyists should he tire of making a mere $178K yearly and decide to break into the big money (a million plus for someone with the right connections).

I don’t know how this gets fixed.

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