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After Biden Is Elected, Prioritizing
October 18, 2020
by William P. Meyers

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Steer Away from the Slow Motion Apocalypse?

It is looking likely, entering the second half of October, that Joe Biden will win the 2020 election in November. That will make Kamala Harris Vice President. The U.S. Senate is more up in the air, but with any luck elected Democratic Party members will control the executive and both houses of the Congress. Conservatives will have firm control of the Supreme Court, which might be trouble, or might not.

Whoever wins, the nation and the world will be in bad shape. The Covid Pandemic might be near its end if new vaccines work, but it could take a year to get the entire nation vaccinated, even if people fully cooperate. The economy could heal if fear evaporates and the Fed and Congress provide enough stimulus. But there will be pools of unlucky people for whom economic recovery is difficult. Then there is the issue of racism, policing, and criminal justice.

But what I would prioritize (while not neglecting other issues) is the Slow Motion Apocalypse. In most movies, TV series and books the Apocalypse comes a' calling in a day or a few days. Nuclear war has become a less popular theme, but in fiction electricity and the Internet go down, and civilization is history. Instead I think we are in a gradual decline, with some areas deteriorating more quickly than others. Predicting the specifics of the decline is difficult, but with the world at 8 times it carrying capacity for humans, decline will continue.

I like civilization, at least the civil parts of it, but I know it depends on the health of the planet. Without food we can't have much of anything. Food production is in much more danger than most people are willing to believe. It requires good weather, and good weather seems to get scarcer each year. For about 3 decades increase productivity per acre, driven by new strains of crops that can use more fertilizer, have hidden the fact that weather damage is getting pretty bad. Pesticides, new and old, are barely keeping pests under control. People who say organic gardening will come to the rescue are deluded, as are those who fervently believe the answer is a vegetarian diet. Droughts, heat-related blooming and growing failures, tropical storms, and derechos all directly impact crops. Throw in insects, plant diseases, and apocalypse-style weed problems, and the earth has a recipe for famine.

I believe the only solution is a decrease both in the global human population and in the consumption per person. There is plenty of room for consumption per person to come down in the U.S., particularly in the upper-middle class and the rich. But politicians do not like to talk about either of these elephants, or giant society-eating apocalyptic zombies. I believe there are ways for politicians to talk about the real issues, and the real solutions, and still win elections, but so far I have not seen enough backbone anywhere for that to be tried in a significant way.

So we need to distinguish between how to prioritize the federal government in 2021, while working to get citizens to push politicians towards realistic long-term solutions. Certain reversals of Trump policies should be easy, and I agree it is good to go for the low-hanging fruit will the going is good. Rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and get rid of the tax cuts for the rich. Fund the Post Office and the IRS.

Any Green New Deal will take longer, and I agree there is much disagreement in what a Green New Deal will look like. I want it to focus on minimizing energy consumption and population. My bet it will promote "green" industrialization. Whatever. Get one done before the next election, and we can complain about it and see how it works, then modify it in 2023.

I hope Congress will quickly make the right to contraceptives and abortion a national law, rather than depending on Roe v. Wade. We need more. We need a one-child policy, which I believe can be best implemented by giving women of child-bearing age the same financial support, whether they have children or not. But that will take a national conversation and I would like to see some states experiment with policies, to see what works, before making a national law.

We need a national law making it a crime to engage in racially motivated police brutality. So that local prosecutors and juries cannot protect the guilty. We also need economic justice for all, including allowing poor people of every race to share in the capital this nation of workers has accumulated.

Finally, we need to demilitarize. This is where I think it is most likely that the Democratic Party politicians will let us down, largely because so many Democratic voters don't know how to distinguish between necessary and unnecessary military expenditures. So they err on the side of a "strong" military. I am willing to err on the side of a weak military. If anyone ever invades the actual United States, we can always ramp it up to the necessary level.

Please, vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, vote for Democrats up and down the ticket. But feel free to tell them what you really want. And feel free to replace an ineffective Democrat with an effective one, if you find yourself in that situation.

Keep safe, be kind, but be active.

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