politics

How much time?

How much time do we have? Is it too late?

“Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you’re done.”

One of the better responses to these questions I’ve seen.

(Paul Hawken via JNP, Authentic Hope, p. 48 )

Winks and Nudges

“Over the past thirty years the federal government has used two primary mechanisms to fuel the winner-take-all economy. It has acted deliberately to insure economic gains for the superrich, and it has deliberately failed to act as a way of blocking needed reforms.” (Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, Authentic Hope: It’s the End of the World as We Know it but Soft Landings Are Possible. Full disclosure, Jack is a participant in our upcoming movie.)

I’ve spent a little time in board rooms, closed door meetings, halls of power, that kind of thing, and I’ve noticed a phenomenon. Maybe you have too. A decision is in front of the group, and there’s an opportunity to either take a  tough stand, or kowtow to powers-that-be. Here comes Bill (let’s call him Bill) for the lay-up. “Plenty of good reason not to rock the boat,” he offers. “Wink, nudge.” You see, Bill is a “reasonable person.” He’s not an agitant, he’s an aspirant to the cocktail party. He knows how to speak in the code of power. He’s not one of them, he’s one of them. He looks around to gauge reaction, and the room obligingly winks and nudges together. Easy points scored and order preserved.

Representative Tall Building

“Tall Building”

Contrast this with an attempt to take the harder position, and cue awkward silence.

I mention this because I get the draw and am challenged by it, not to suggest it takes a lot to think you’re the king shit in some room somewhere (it doesn’t). One day, during one of my big-law stints, I caught wind of some prospective legislation which would negatively impact “the firm” and which wasn’t yet common knowledge. Pleased with myself, I called the corner-officiest partner I knew, saying something awfully clever like “I assume our people are on this.” Our people. I mean, sure I was (sort of) doing my job, although it wasn’t my motivation. Nor was it to consider the merits of the policy itself. Again, not my job. Kind of barf, though, right? Anyway, I got the  pat on the head and hop in the step.

Maybe the political capital I earned that day better positioned me to blah blah blah. But I kind of doubt it. Too. Damn. Easy. At the end of the day, I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t really even like that guy. Especially since I think that guy has something to do with the pickle we’re in.

Introduction

In 1984 I was 10. At night, in my light blue second floor bedroom, I sometimes thought about tornadoes and nuclear war. I liked the sound of the taconite train in the near distance. In summer, my bedtime was 9. But it stayed light later, and I could hear the kids still playing outside my window.

It was a simpler age, but I had an inkling. Among other things, I hated pollution. And I thought the president should reduce military spending since we already had enough missiles to blow up the world many times over – including my light blue bedroom. I thought, I’m 10.

Well here we are, almost thirty rapacious years later, and allow me to say goddammit. Goddammit I say. So, tiny apologies for the attitude. Welcome to whytheattitude.com.