Who Makes Policy Campaign 2016 Edition

Climate Change: Pope’s influence is running low

A little over a week ago we all wrote polling briefs on the salience of our topic and what action, if any, should be taken by our principals. FiveThirtyEight.com reported last week pretty much what I told my principal- What you have done already has caused no noticeable change, so it’s time to do more. Click here to read what my polling brief could have looked like. 

Strategy: Not talking about climate change

As the election nears, many news outlets have reported on issues that they  feel were either not discussed enough or not discussed at all during the campaign trail. One of the issues largely touted as ignored is Climate Change. An article from Slate states “During the three debates, the candidates spent 5 minutes and 27 seconds (about 2 percent of the time) on the topic” [climate change]. While the fact that so little air time has been given to this global issue angers some, others see the benefit. Democrats and Republicans share opposing views on the climate change topic and many of its sub-categories (e.g: renewable energy), and it is possible that more time spent on this topic would work to refuel partisan beliefs. The lack of repetition about plans to tackle climate change from the candidates may in fact make it easier for the incoming president to push a climate policy as hopefully opposition won’t be so tied to a particular concept, since well they haven’t heard much about a particular concept.



Wikileaks is everywhere!!!

This week Wikileaks released some 2014 e-mails involving John Podesta (Future Madame President’s campaign chair). These emails essentially depict the members of liberal think tanks attitudes towards a particular writer’s column on climate on four beloved fivethirtyeight.com- The writer, Roger Pielke questioned the link between rising natural disaster costs and climate change. Piece’s argument is that the rising natural disaster cost has little to do with climate change and more to do with the factor that the world is getting wealthier which just means we have more (infrastructure, housing, materials, etc) to lose. The emails found in Podestsa’s gmail account describe how Judd Legum (editor of  ThinkProgress) believed Climate Progress, the environmental arm of ThinkProgress, got Pielke to stop writing about climate change for FiveThirtyEight and thus eclipsing his reach. “I think it’s fair to say that, without Climate Progress, Pielke would still be writing on climate change for 538,” Legum wrote.

Sneaky Sneaky! More on that here.

Will US energy policy push fossil fuels or renewable energy?

In all honesty, I can’t  answer this question with certainty. The question will be answered by what energy and climate policy the next president adopts as we know the candidates differ.  An article published over a month ago titled “Memo to next president: Here’s how to avoid our history of energy policy mistakes”  is one that I would encourage the candidates advisers to read, if they haven’t already. The article goes on to discuss innovation and much more than the coal industry issues that are talked about in media all the time. It is essentially a list of all the times the American government has failed at an energy policy- Fun stuff!!

The Animals… That usually gets people listening

An article from Huffington Post  states that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco agreed with the National Marine Fisheries Service in its decision to list a species of seals as “threatened.” The court made its decision based on forecast models that show climate change will drive melting ice and habitat loss. Maybe a marketing campaign on habitat loss as a result of climate change is what we need to increase the importance of this issue.

“Civilization Thrives’ In Warm Weather!”

I’m just going to say it, I hate the cold frigid weather we have been having this week. Where is the Global Warming that they speak so dearly about ?  Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin-R has really touched my heart with his most recent climate change statement- “How many people are moving up toward the Antarctica, or the Arctic? Most people move down to Texas and Florida, where it’s a little bit warmer.”  Now we all know that global warming is a slow process and in tackling it one has to think of future generations, however many people see no urgency in the issue because well it’s not currently affecting them. Where is the America that liked to be prepared? How does one raise the alarm over this issue when well we all want it to be sunny an warm all the time.

The Complications with Research

Reliability of data put forth in research material has always been an issue and most recently an article exposed that a London University essentially pocketed money for climate change research. As if the climate change and global warming claims don’t have enough uncertainty surrounding them in this current election, now one must also be concerned with the statistics put forth by scientists. What if scientists have in fact been making these climate change claims because they were positioned, well paid, to do so?

Vietnam is Moving Ahead with or Without America, and so is China

As America plays politics with its’ economic future, Vietnam and China press forward with securing their place in the world. The truth is that America is by far the world’s most powerful nation. However, with that in mind, America cannot afford to stop and admire itself in the mirror. With China working towards peeling off American allies like the Philippines, and Vietnam already working on its own free trade agreements; America risks losing ground in a region of the world it cannot afford to lose an inch. While it does sound like an alarmist position because America’s role in the world is secure, for now, it is important to understand that agreements take years to negotiate and once a topic is politically toxic it is virtually impossible to revive it with any kind quickness.

Is that a Bear or a Fox?

Is Putin crazy like one? When we finally finish fumbling around in the dark looking for our glasses, what will we see?  With the hacking of  Clinton campaign and DNC emails, and with the attacks on various state election systems, could Russia really be trying to alter the results of the U.S. presidential elections? If indeed it turns out to be Russia, are they really that crude and unsophisticated in their tactics? With individual states and counties having their own independent voting systems, is it realistic for Russia to undermine the election results? Or perhaps they’ve already succeeded in finishing what the Republican party began almost a decade ago, which is undermining the confidence in our political institutions. Recently released hacked emails purported to belong to Vladislav Surkov, a top aide to Putin, point to a concerted effort between him the Kremlin to undermine Ukrainian elections. The U.S. is a much bigger and sophisticated nation than the Ukraine so altering the direct results would be very complicated. However, by undermining confidence in the institutions and their leaders, they can achieve a similar result. It may sound narcissistic, but nonetheless, the world, just like U.S. citizens, hold American institutions in high regard. America derives much of its global authority from the fact that we are a Democracy and that we have institutions of power that are transparent and trustworthy. It would benefit Russia to see a decline in that power and in seeing the U.S. retreat from the world stage and global commerce. Over the last few presidencies, Russia has witnessed America expand its power and influence closer to its own borders. A Trump presidency would mean a retreat from that stage and perhaps from America’s commitment to NATO. Failure of the TPP would be comforting to a country that has witnessed itself commercially being frozen out of regions by American free trade agreements. A weaker America is good news for a Russian government that grows increasingly distrustful of American intentions in their sphere of influence.

The Basic Income Guarantee

I know that this is another post not about Russia, but it is one that is near and dear to my heart: The Basic Income Guarantee. Before I get into a Vox article, I read this morning I want to invite you to read a great piece on libertarianism.org (a Cato brand) “The Libertarian Case for a Basic Income.”

The basic income has come in many flavors, from Milton Freedman’s “negative income tax” to the so-called “citizen’s dividend.” It is an idea that creeps up every once and a while, and while it reeks of socialism, there are many libertarians who defend the idea (though they come to that defense in a way that might make some liberals cringe).

In fact, there is a “basic income guarantee” program that is alive and well in America today: The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend. It works in Alaska because they have partially socialized oil extraction (not lost is the irony that Sara Palin was their governor).

While, from a moral and ideological standpoint, I agree with the concept of a basic income I also realized that in America the idea of giving people something for nothing is antithetical to our national Puritan work ethic. Politically I do not see how we can achieve something like this.

But we may not have a choice in the near future.

I was reading this piece on Vox this morning, and it hit me, probably because the author made the point quite well, that as we move to a world of autonomous cars and trucks where will people labor. Labor is, in fact, being replaced by capital and as capital can increasingly do the work of labor many will find themselves on the proverbial bread lines.

The Vox piece puts this issue front and center in my mind. While libertarian conceptions of markets make a lot of sense I have to wonder if these conceptions work in the technological age. If we no longer need truck drivers and waiters and cooks and janitors and drivers and train crew and… then what will all those people do? Can we change the minds of people as to what work is in a world where there is an increasingly small number of traditional jobs?