Day In/Day Out, Our Continuing Troubles
Some things are episodic. Others just go on and on. And on.
You might think a massive disease outbreak or skyrocketing unemployment would make our other troubles come to a halt or at least slow down. But no, not so much.
Here are a dozen examples of things that refuse to stop, regardless of the day of the week, the presence of an epidemic, or a collapsing economy:
- Greenhouse Gases. Day in, day out, regardless of pandemics, wars, or national holidays, GHGs keep trapping heat. The most important GHG, CO2, can remain in the atmosphere for centuries. And sea level just keeps rising.
- Regulatory rollbacks. Like locusts, the Trump team keeps chewing its way through protections for public health and safety. Not even a global pandemic has slowed them down.
- The coronavirus. Until we get a vaccine or herd immunity, COVID-19 doesn’t look likely to go away once it has a foothold. Even where cases have declined, there’s always the threat of flare-up or of reintroduction.
- Senate rubber stamping of judicial nominations. Nothing will stop Mitch McConnell’s drive to pack the judiciary with ideological zealots. And why should it? It’s been his greatest accomplishment as Senate Majority Leader. So long as the Republicans are able to, they’ll keep going down this path.
- Climate change denial. Thousands of peer-reviewed studies later, climate change deniers refuse to acknowledge scientific reality. Now many of them are branching out, denying the seriousness of the epidemic or blaming cell towers instead of the virus.
- The political influence of the oil industry. Not even a pandemic and crashing oil prices can weaken the industry’s political power, as shown by its ability to get bailouts from the government.
- Natural disasters. Yes, it’s a bit obvious that these don’t care about hard economic times or pandemics or for that matter, elections. But it bears keeping in mind: Just because we’re in the middle of an economic and public health crisis, that doesn’t mean we’re immune from hurricanes and earthquakes.
- The War on Science. Trump has grudgingly paid some heed to public health experts. But don’t forget that the Administration has gotten its epidemiological advice first from a right-wing law professor (Richard Epstein), and then from an in-house economist who knows nothing about public health. In the meantime, the Trump EPA is pursuing what it calls a scientific transparency rule, which is really designed to keep EPA from considering important public health studies.
- Anti-vaxxers. These people are proof that crackpot theories can span the ideological spectrum. But this crackpot group poses a threat to the lives and health of others. The pandemic hasn’t fazed them. In fact, they’ve started showing up along with racists and anti-Semites at anti-lockdown rallies.
- Trump’s twitter account. No need to say anything about this. If it’s a day of the week ending in “y”, there will be a slew of attacks on the media and Democrats, a patter of false information, and occasional attacks on old foes such as Hillary Clinton and John McCain as seasoning.
- Subsidies to fossil fuels. Old subsidies never die, they just get bigger. Almost everywhere in the world, notably including the U.S., fossil fuels are boosted by special tax benefits, regulatory exemptions, and outright cash payments.
- Conspiracy theories. There’s the one where the coronavirus was started by a bio-weapons lab. No, some say it’s caused by 5G. No, according to others, it’s Bill Gates, who wants to use a vaccine to inject us all with microchips. Or could it be George Soros, a usual suspect amongst the conspiracy minded? You almost have to wonder: Who’s really behind all these conspiracy theories?
What all of these things have in common is their constant operation, in rain and in shine, regardless of changes in circumstances or scientific evidence. And none of them care the least about what you think about them. Like “Old Man River,” they just keep rolling along.