More On What’s New?

So we begin by agreeing on some philosophy, and eliminating the extremes. The extremes are at one end, over-planning, which equates with socialism, and under-planning, which equates with unchecked capitalism. Our goal is a sustainable society, based on a healthy middle class, which is realized through regulated capitalism.

There are extremes which will not accept this goal. From an environmental point of view, it may not have the ecological vision defined clearly enough. How do we know what to do about climate change, carbon emissions, species protection, wild land protection, and so forth? And some capitalists and libertarians would ask for more freedom, wanting to amass more wealth, to experiment more freely. Those guys need to give in, I say.

I am for limited government, but a government that is powerful enough to truly rule by law. It needs to check corporate power and corruption, but be transparent enough to expose its own waste, corruption and iniquity.

The column I mentioned previously from the Washington Post was titled “Is Capitalism Moral?” Some would say the clear answer is ‘no;’ it is what it is, a blind force of competition and choices. That is fine. Morality is not absolute for me though. Capitalism is amoral, evolution isn’t either. Our ethics do evolve, though. Our society is past the slavery thing, past suppressing women, and getting past suppressing homosexuality. It would be a mistake to say the moral views of the past were evil and wrong; they may have been right for their time. We don’t need very many rules about disposing of horse manure in roads any more, though this is an issue after a parade, and in Amish country. Things change. Who knows what our morals will be many years from now? Society begins with memes based on our learning and attitudes about various activities. Then we create morals, some explicit, like ‘cover your mouth when you cough, don’t steal, or don’t sleep with your sister. And when those morals need to be enforced, we attach consequences to them, and finally, we ask the government to make real consequences for serious infractions. Those morals become laws when we – or our empowered representatives – vote on them. There is nothing wrong with codifying morals according to our time and point of view.

All of this is necessarily a case by case basis. And I like it that way. We had to learn what was wrong with an action before we ruled against it. Sad, but true; we are doing exactly this with gun control – Sandy Hook, Columbine, Gabby Gifford, and so forth). That’s how we should proceed. But we should certainly proceed.


About Jim

I've been leading outdoor environmental education in the YMCA since the 1970s. I love teaching nature, history, current events, being a dad, fixing stuff, groups, and general thinking.
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