Government Is the Solution, Not the Problem




“With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),” said on Monday in its prelease.

And that can’t happen without the support of governments. Ninety-one authors and review editors from 40 countries prepared the IPCC report in response to an invitation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) when it adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015.

This means the U.S. should rejoin the Paris Agreement on global warming, or voters select a more climate-friendly administration as soon as possible. The Trump administration is doing everything in its power to deny and defeat any support for mitigating the effects of global warming, even recently transferring funds from FEMA that aid hurricane and tornado victims occurring with more frequency to fund its border wall and zero immigration policy.

Best-selling author Michael Lewis in his latest book, The Fifth Risk, details how the Trump administration is doing everything in its power to neuter any government functions that hinder the profitability of his mega-donor supporters at a time when government is most needed to protect Americans from any number hazards—not only the environmental hazards from global warming, but growing costs of healthcare, and record income inequality.

Lewis says the risk a society runs in thinking short term, rather than long-term solutions, “…is the innovation that never occurs and the knowledge edge that is never created, because you have ceased to lay the groundwork for it.”

“Government is the problem” was President Reagan’s call to downsize government, which he characterized as full of waste and inefficiency, when tried to convince Americans private enterprise was a paragon of efficiency and prosperity for all.

Yet history has shown that none of this prosperity and progress would have happened without government research and support. We wouldn’t have built our highway system, gone to the moon, invented the internet, or even constructed the energy grid without government mandates.

Such progress has always required strong national leadership, with an ethos that it should benefit all Americans, not just the wealthiest. “Government is the problem” has always meant cutting taxes that take away programs lifting the many, and benefit the few most favored by circumstances or birth.

And now we have the dangers that arise from global warming scientific research tells us is man-made, and only leadership from governments can mitigate.

A recent New York Times article highlighted the necessity of government support. “None of the major technological transformations of the 19th and 20th centuries were the product of the private sector acting alone and responding only to the market. Railroads, radio, telegraph, telephone, electricity and the internet were all the result of public-private partnerships,” said its authors, science historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. “None was delivered by the “invisible hand” of the marketplace (a favorite rationale of conservative economists). “All involved significant interventions by the visible hand of government.”

In fact, “The internet was created by scientists funded by the federal government’s Advanced Research Projects Agency,” said the authors. “Al Gore didn’t build it, but he did sponsor the 1991 legislation that made it public, which laid the foundation for the World Wide Web, Silicon Valley, smartphones and our information-driven society.”


Union of Concerned Scientists

Australia, the U.S., and Canada lead the world in per capita emissions of CO2, yet the Trump administration withdrew from the Paris Accord within months of his inauguration in a sop to the fossil fuel magnates that funded much of his campaign. It was pay-and-play, politics as usual, in a deeply cynical ploy that endangers not only Americans, but the rest of the world, as Americans with only 5 percent of the world’s population consume 25 percent of its resources.

“Mr. Trump’s decision to abandon the agreement for environmental action signed by 195 nations is a remarkable rebuke to heads of state, climate activists, corporate executives and members of the president’s own staff, who all failed to change his mind with an intense, last-minute lobbying blitz,” said the NYTimes then. “The Paris agreement was intended to bind the world community into battling rising temperatures in concert, and the departure of the Earth’s second-largest polluter is a major blow.”

Need we say more about the necessity of making government the solution to our problems, not the problem?

Harlan Green © 2018

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About populareconomicsblog

Harlan Green is editor/publisher of, and content provider of 3 weekly columns to various blogs--Popular Economics Weekly and The Huffington Post
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