News of the Week, 1.21.17

The Week In Legislation

Creative Loafing, the Atlanta lifestyle magazine, has a readable and capable preview of what might show up under the Gold Dome in 2017. Highlights include gambling, religious freedom, medical marijuana, and, of course, education.

The Week In The Environment

For two different conservative points of view on the potential of this planet to sustain life in the future, I recommend these two pieces, both from the American Conservative. The first, by Catrina Rorke, is perversely optimistic, and takes the view that reduced regulation is the path forward to environmental sustainability. The second, by arch-reactionary Rod Dreher, is far bleaker, and states that meaningful action on our rapidly-warming planet is impossible. His thesis is sound; he argues:

[H]ow do you convince poor and developing countries to slow down the engine of what is drawing their people out of abject misery? I’m not asking, “Should we ask them to do this?” but posing it as a question of basic politics and human nature. China’s own capital city is all but unlivable because of pollution and smog, and yet still, the Chinese factories and coal-burning plants chug on.

Are you going to be the one to tell a village full of extremely poor people in India that sorry, the manufacturing plant that might have pulled them all out of the mire is not going to be built because of global warming? You might be 100 percent right that the plant shouldn’t be built, but how do you tell the poor that — especially given that as a Westerner, you are already the beneficiary of industrialization? Serious question.

It highlights the difficulties in substantial global action from a perspective you don’t always hear. Depressing, but worth the read.

The Week In The Pending The Present Autocratic Kleptocracy

Yascha Mounk, a man I’ve never met, has no idea I exist; all the same, I owe him a debt. His article on the rising conflict between illiberal democracy and undemocratic liberalism was nothing short of revelatory, and his ongoing defenses of America’s role in preserving global liberalism are inspiring.  He recently tried to switch gears and offer some good news, but in classic Mounk fashion, all he could manage was, “there is a chance that Trump marks the beginning of the end of American democracy. And, yes, there is a good chance that Trump will corrupt the American republic in lasting ways. But there is also a chance that this scary story will ultimately have a happy ending.”

Well, I don’t know about you, but I feel better.

If you read that and just can’t stand the relentless optimism, might I recommend this piece comparing Trump and Stalin.

The Week In Policy

Jacobin had a thought-provoking piece this week on Finland’s experimental Universal Basic Income program. I haven’t written about my views on UBI too much on this site; hopefully that will change soon. The Jacobin article advises caution with regard to the Finnish experiment; if you’re curious about UBI, it’s a fascinating read.

On the domestic side, former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was nominated for Secretary of Agriculture. That’s two Georgians on the Cabinet, for those of you keeping score at home.

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