Saturday, April 16, 2011

Two kinds of rational voters: which kind are you?

Vote for telescope. It takes the long view.

Election rhetoric is mostly about the economy. Short term voters see economic positives to continuing in the same direction. How can we go faster, fly higher, be stronger? 
The long term voters would suggest that we're stealing from both the past and the future to juice the present.
Both of those views are rational, given the worldviews of the people who hold them. This makes the case for long term thinking.
We steal from the past by removing resources from intact ecosystems and removing fossil fuels from the ground faster than they are being replaced.
We steal from the future by promising the fruits of our future labour, typically in the form of a mortgage, so that we can have things we want now. These promises to pay create money, as well as debt with interest which can (mathematically) never all be repaid.
In the short term, fossil fuel use gives us the sources of energy we need to power our lives.
In the short term, expansion of the money supply via increased debt loads drives economic activity and fosters a sense of well being throughout the land.
Both fossil fuels and expanding the money supply bring a tremendous high. Potent by themselves, together they magnify each other's effects. Like Icarus, our wings take us higher and higher.
Any politician stumping "we shouldn't fly so high" is unlikely to be elected. Even the ancient greeks were all about the faster, higher, stronger; and that hasn't changed, only increased in scope.
Rational voters aren't going to vote to make things worse, and most rational voters are living in a short-term paradigm of instant-gratification and endless resources.
With the short term glasses on, rational voters are going to vote for more business as usual.
It's time to take off the short term glasses.
In the long term, fossil fuel use is poaching the planet, upsetting the balance in the biosphere, and compromising its ability to support us.
In the long term, massive debt loads will never be repaid, demanding ever increased natural resource extraction in a futile attempt to pay back debts with interest. These debt loads will crush the economy, and soon interest on debt will demand all our money. 'Reducing the deficit' still means spending more than we take in and going deeper in debt.
We're already expecting a hangover the likes of which the world has never seen, but what a pretty view.
It's time to take the long view. Not just this election, but in where we decide to take this civilization. The long view is a tough sell, and it's the only view that gives our civilization a shot at the future.

You might also like:
18? Step into your power (This one still gives me chills when I read it. Originally intended for municipal elections, it counts triple for a federal one.)

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