What We Owe Future Generations

We are standing at the crossroads and it is time to take action. The choices we have in front of us include the sustainability of our communities, our country, and our society as a whole or the rapid destruction of all we know by greedy capitalists and corporations. Sustainability, as defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987, is meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This definition is broad and somewhat incomplete. The definition should include the economic, social, and environmental resources that are used by the present generation and what will be left for future generations. This would incorporate inter-generational equity and dynamic efficiency into the model (Stavins, Wagner, and Wagner, 2002).

Basically, sustainability requires that, as we use the resources available to us now, we must reinvest some of the benefits into the infrastructure and the ability to maintain society for future generations. A good example of the problem would be Apple Inc., whereby the company moved production to Foxconn in China. Foxconn pays their employees a significant amount less than what labor would cost in the western world. Yet the prices we pay for the devices Apple sells are as if they were paying labor rates in the western world, rather than slave labor rates abroad.

We can no longer stand by and assume that our politicians are going to lead us in the right direction, due to the power that money in politics holds on our elected officials.  This is most evident in how many governors are dislocating elected officials and injecting city managers to try and cut costs in certain cities, such as Detroit and Flint Michigan and soon to be Atlantic City, New Jersey.  The problem is created by the governors when they cut tax revenue from the system by granting tax cuts to corporations. The problem is exacerbated by the governor’s use of public funds to defend their actions.

It is time to right the wrongs that have been perpetrated on the people of our society by relinquishing the laws that are based on racism and lies, starting with the drug war laws. Nixon domestic policy Chief John Ehrlichman stated, “You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or blacks, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said. “We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” This should stop now and the people this was perpetrated against should be released from prison and their records cleared.

Trickle-down economics is another failed attempt on controlling the “free-market” and the capitalist system. Neoclassical economics, otherwise known trickledown economics, does not work. This is evident on how the IMF, World Bank, and the EU are pressing the neoclassical economic standard on Greece. Trickle-down economics and tax cuts to corporations, without accounting for the loss in revenue, sets up problems with budgets for states and local governments. “Kansas lawmakers in June approved the largest revenue increase in state history thinking they’d closed a $400 million hole created by income-tax cuts Republican Governor Sam Brownback pushed through three years earlier. They hadn’t” (Tim Jones, 2015).

“Michigan approves bill that cuts corporate taxes by $1.7 billion, raises taxes on low-income families” (Garofalo, 2011). On October 14, 2014 “General Motors decided to stop using Flint River water at its engine plant…because river water supplied by the city caused engine parts to rust” (Ron Fonger, 2014). So the governor and state officials knew of the water problems in 2014. In March 2015, Flint’s City Council voted seven to one to stop using water from the corrosive Flint River. The city’s unelected emergency manager Jerry Ambrose rejected the proposal.

It took great men throughout history, such as Lincoln, JFK, Martin Luther King Jr., and Fred Hampton, a Black Panther who was assassinated on December 4, 1969 by Chicago police, to take a stand against the injustices of our society. Unfortunately, many of the leaders that have tried to move our society forward have paid with their lives for doing what they believed to be right. “Justice is merely an incidental to law and order” is a quote from J Edgar Hoover. Hoover put out memos to police departments to use any means necessary to disrupt the Black Panthers, regardless of infringing on their civil rights.

The refugee problem is not where to put them, but rather how to fix the conditions that pushed them out of their homes and off their own lands.

 

Fonger, Ron, October 14, 2014 rfonger1@mlive.com      http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2014/10/gms_decision_to_stop_using_fli.html#

Garofalo, Pat, MAY 13, 2011 http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/05/13/173952/michigan-tax-cuts/

Jones, Tim, October 29, 2015 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-29/kansas-tax-patches-fail-as-tea-party-experiment-riles-residents

Stavins, R. N., Wagner, A. F., & Wagner, G. (2003). Interpreting sustainability in economic terms: dynamic efficiency plus intergenerational equity. Economics Letters79(3), 339-343.