Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Poem Written for Rush Limbaugh From a Tough Smart Green

Kathleen Martin is a good poet.  Below I report her poem.  Economists rarely discuss "moral imperatives".  We discuss the free rider problem and we recognize that social sanction can substitute for formal sanction but what if "social sanction" is ineffective with a subgroup of the population? Tell Rush Limbaugh to extinguish his cigar when it is making a young kid cough and what will he do? The cliche is that he will laugh.  Ms. Martin wants him to put down that cigar for all of our sake. But Rush understands the free rider problem and knows that there is no "cigar tax" so economics predicts that he will keep smoking.  Ms. Martin knows that Limbaugh knows this and she is trying to make him more aware that the child is suffering.  If Rush is made aware of others' suffering caused by his actions, what will Rush now do?
HERE is her poem

"This "prose poem" below was written in a rush of despair the morning of the autumnal equinox upon hearing a radio report the temperature could reach 100-degrees in the Louisville, KY, metro area that day. Various titles I've considered for it include "If the Shoe Fits..." and "Which Shoe Fits You?" and "Get Your Gloat On" -- whatever it's called, it's long past high time to start calling some of us so-called '70s "pessimists" by our true identities: REALISTS.

Okay, all right. Gotta admit, you got us good. I'm talking to YOU, the

loud, materialistic majority who smirk at us bent on our bicycles or

cramped in our compact cars as you cruise around in your roomy,

gas-guzzling SUVs and minivans. Who scoff at all the extra time and

effort we take to recycle and compost over the decades while you fill

the ground with your mounds of trash. Who luxuriate in your long hot

baths and chuckle at us shivering in our stream-off-when-soaping

showers. Who fill up your swimming pools and hot tubs with utility rate

breaks while we use collected rainwater on our locavore gardens. Who

sneer at the "eyesore" of clothes hanging to dry on lines while you run

your w/d's for that one pair of jeans you just gotta wear tonight. I

could continue ad nauseum with this laundry list of compare and

contrast, but you get my drift.

So now when it's 100 degrees on the first day of autumn and natural

disaster after natural disaster follow upon the heels of man-made

disaster after man-made disaster, you get to gloat about us all winding

up together in the same oil-filled boat after all. You can smile smugly

to yourselves and think, "Tree-hugging suckers! At least WE really lived

it up and enjoyed the spoils of the planet before we spoiled it for

everyone! Ha-ha! You took all that extra effort and sacrificed creature

comforts for decades, yet in the end you won't suffer any less from our

selfishness just because of your responsible behavior. And besides,

we'll just crank up the A/C even higher and go take a dip!"

But here's a truly sobering thought for consumerists who have done

little-to-nothing as stewards of this great Earth: If not your children,

then your children's children, and whatever generations may survive

beyond that, all still alive will curse you and your lethal legacy left to

them with every labored breath they try to take. And the band plays on

with Nero on first violin....

Kathleen Martin

New Albany, IN

September 23, 2010"

The logic of my climatopolis book   is that Rush Limbaugh and friends will slowly see the link between their actions and collective outcomes.  How will Rush change his behavior as climate change unfolds? He has the income to protect himself in a variety of ways. Ms. Martin is pointing out that the rich transfer quality of life away from the poor when they live a high carbon lifestyle because climate change's impact will be mostly borne by the poor.  In Climatopolis, I argue that all of us will have access to some coping strategies for adapting to climate change and that economic development will help the poor to adapt. In 100 degree areas (as they grow more common), we will need more electricity to cope.  Capitalist innovation today in anticipation of such trends will help all to reduce the quality of life impacts caused by Mother Nature.