Profitable industries, complacence with the status quo
Recently I suggested that the main reason for the virulent hostility we see toward both undocumented immigrants and to universal medical insurance is raw greed. Two different concerns share a common opponent in a national flaw, a rapacious surge to grab and hold every last dime, and the heck with the poor. This kind of Scrooge McDuck avarice gets lionized in the entertainment and news media as some kind of national virtue, to be taught to our kids early. It glorifies ruthless individualism and it loathes concern for others, putting it out of step with the Gospel — assuming that matters to Christians. Immigrants, or rather refugees fleeing often for their lives, are painted as threats to the labor market even though they perform valuable labor shunned by native born citizens. And health insurance for all is tarred as socialism, a McCarthy-era epithet used even to finger gift-giving Santa Claus as a commie because of his red suit.
Another problem we have because of our insatiable desire to acquire is our failure to shrink our carbon footprint, our consumption of carbon-based fuels like coal, gasoline, and natural gas. Let’s face it: there is a not inconsiderable industry at home and worldwide that profits mightily from our assuming we have the right to devour limited fuel resources as though there were no tomorrow. Or children to populate this tomorrow. This industry runs commercials promoting our support of extracting natural gas by the “fracking” method despite what it has done to the drinking water and environment of natural gas fields. These ads want us to pester our representatives to deregulate the process so they can run roughshod over those who suffer. Laws provide the only safety barrier. Yet they want our help in getting rid of them in the name of smaller government.
Another industry, mammoth but increasingly rivaled by foreign manufacturers, is the auto business, which could have produced fuel-efficient engines generations ago but did not. For decades it bought up and buried patents for better cars. It has gotten us to accept $50 and $60 tank refills. This inflation ripples through the economy as industries dependent on moving their products to market pass on the mark-up to you and me.
So I propose combining some familiar ideas. What if we used the sun as a power source? What if on garage roofs there were solar panels, the way they’ve had in Israel for 40 years since Israel cannot very well buy petroleum from middle-east unfriendlies? And what if in those garages there were cars that ran on battery power gotten from those panels? In Germany they have widely distributed public recharging stations. Technology works to boost the capacity of present batteries and to make this kind of innovation more distance-practical.
Since the world has the means, as is evident abroad if not here, to cut far back on our dependence on two major industries, can you smell the fear generated by the inability to sell sunshine, and by the inevitability of post-petroleum cars? It would be a stretch to say that God will relieve the poor by confounding the rich once this scenario arrives. Or would it? Christians know that the greatest commandment the Lord left us is love. This is not evident when people are kept poor artificially not just by two industries but much more so by everyone’s complacence with a status quo we know is wrong. We can’t say we love if we condone injustice.
Christian congregations, where the full Gospel is preached, still blanche at homilies saying that people are more important than profit or property, and that the gifts of material creation are intended by the Creator for the use of all and not just of the fortunate who are white, American, employed, with home, food and clothing. Since our economic thinking is governed more by what we have rather than by what the less fortunate are unjustly kept from having, homilies like these unsettle worshipping stockholders. But preaching the full Gospel necessarily means comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.
God equips everyone with a conscience. So I suspect that the massive abandoning of church membership by the conscientious young stems from their judgment that false religion is a scam for the well off when the well off do not give evidence that we have a God-given obligation toward the poor, despite a visceral fear of socialism.
Since these things are so, the Second Amendment must be repealed.