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The First Presidential Debate: Energy Independence?!

The First Presidential Debate: Energy Independence?!

By Dennis Loo (10/2/12)

A first take on the first part of the debate:

If I were an alien, watching this debate from outer space, twenty five years into the future, and knowing therefore for a fact what had happened to the Planet Earth in the twenty-five years after 2012, I'd surely wonder (scratching my bald pate with my newt-like fingers) how the two men vying for the presidency of the biggest superpower by far on the planet, could prattle on about jobs and growing the economy and energy independence and not once mention the fact that using middle-class tax cuts to maybe buy another car (as Obama said at one point) or producing an alleged four million new jobs (as Romney claimed would happen if the U.S. became "energy independent") should not be discussed without also considering the disaster of global warming.

As someone who I interviewed at Occupy LA so perfectly put it the other day, "You're driving a car with your foot flooring the gas pedal towards a cliff over a gigantic canyon and hoping that by the time you reach the cliff that a bridge is built for you to cross that canyon."

Can we talk about the U.S., its consumption of 25% of the world's fossil fuels, with less than 5% of the world's population, our profligate use of other resources such as water and land, and our refuse such as plastic bottles that are ruining the oceans and the species therein, when all of these resources don't come from thin air or spring from holy books but arise from the earth and the labor of this planet's denizens, as if this is all independent from the rest of the globe and our collective - and precious - lives that depend entirely upon that planet's carrying capacity? What crazy talk is it to speak about all of this as if we can separate them from each other and act as if we could grow and grow and grow and not face consequences from that?

As I put it in Globalization and the Demolition of Society,

To grasp what is going on we have to probe beneath the surface to the underlying forces at play. The problems of capitalism that are now being expressed are not simply the product of a few (or even a lot of) greedy, corrupt, and shortsighted business figures. They are not primarily the result of poor monitoring by the Federal Reserve and the federal government. They did not arise principally because of an inattentive media. They are not fixable through a set of adjustments or through electing one party over the other, or installing into power one individual or another. They are not mainly the fault of a mall-obsessed, savings-allergic public. These are systemic problems. Life will never again be the same as the life Americans have known for the last few generations. The limits of consumption are upon us if we will only recognize them. But recognizing what is up is not so easy. Systems do not change just because you put a new face in the White House and new faces in Congress. (p. 88) 

These debates are supposed to convince Americans that we are deciding what happens by choosing between these two men.

The choices, however, are so narrow that voting for one of them is no more us really determining what is going to happen than it was four years ago when millions voted for Obama thinking that by doing so they were going to have a president who was going to end torture, close Guantanamo, restore habeas corpus and transparency to government, and respect the rule of law.

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