The Pinko Rat
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The Pinko Rat

I Give Up

Everything we do is too little too late.

I give up on climate change, the environment, politics, and people. Dogs are good.

Environment and Climate Change

Every time I read new climate change projections, they are worse than the last ones. There is no hope of turning this mess around. We may not even be able to pick what kind of hell-hole we want to live in. Entropy is going to win this round; disorder is the one thing we can be sure of.

Whatever you do, you soon learn that things are harder than you thought and that everything will take a lot longer than you planned. If climate scientists tell us we have ten years until the environmental damage is irreversible, we should assume we have less. If someone has a plan that will take ten years to complete, it doesn’t have a chance in hell of getting done in time.

We were once going to be the generation to embrace sustainability. We were going to recycle and save endangered species — fat chance. We are running out of places to put our garbage. We are burning more coal and polluting the air faster than ever before. We are running out of drinking water, and we are burning down the Amazon forest. Net result, more species are becoming extinct faster than ever before, the planet is heating up, and the weather is becoming more violent and unpredictable.

We were going to go back to our roots and live healthier, simpler lives. Instead, we are fatter and sicker than ever. We watch TV and stare at our phones non-stop. We don’t talk to anyone; we exchange texts. The words “like “ and “friend” have lost all meaning; I can get people to “like” me by posting the worst thing I can think of. I guess this makes them my “friends.” Everybody seems to be depressed, or stressed, autistic, or bipolar, or have OCD or ADHD; we are all nuts. Suicide has become increasingly popular, and it makes sense to me.

Social Justice

What about the war on drugs? Presumably, we were fighting addiction; how is that working out? We made things worse. We made drug trafficking immensely profitable and chose the least effective and most expensive way to deal with addiction, i.e., prosecution and incarceration. It may sound conspiratorial, but I have to ask: quo bene? Now the pharmaceutical industry is in on the game and has flooded the country with opioids and started up their own illegal drug distribution network. Good going, humans! We can’t pass up a chance to screw up.

Poverty is endemic in the wealthiest, most powerful country on Earth. Half the families in the US can’t come up with $500 in an emergency. So what do we do? We defund education, and we reduce support for public health-care, housing, and transportation. We destroy labor unions and cut taxes on the rich. Could we do worse? It seems like we hate ourselves; the principal goal of a large number of Americans appears to be to make things hard for everyone else. I have read that surveys have found that a significant amount of people will refuse free health-care if particular minorities will also get it. It is not enough for us to win; we insist on someone else losing.

We have militarized our police forces and encouraged brutal enforcement of our laws. I thought we were on our way to racial equality, integration, and all good things back in the 60s. Instead, we have our police forces beating people on the ground and shooting them in the back, all with the consent and approval of our courts. I think there is a method to this madness; there are those that believe they will benefit by turning us into a feudal society where the peons live in fear of the ruling class.

Democracy

The style of democracy adopted by the US is anything but democratic unless you think democracy means “one dollar — one vote.” A system where enormous amounts of money are required to get elected guarantees that the wealthy are well represented. The rest of us, not so much. Long term studies have been done comparing enacted legislation to public opinion polling at the time. Congress consistently passes bills favored by the wealthy; measures supported by the poor are adopted only if they also happen to be endorsed by the rich.

The two-party system forces unnatural alliances where a wide range of interests are ignored in the search for a majority. It is tough to support defense spending if you are a Democrat and even harder to support public housing if you are a Republican regardless of what your constituency wants. Winner-take-all elections make gerrymandering effective and disenfranchise vast numbers of people. New ideas are discouraged; you have to have a majority before you can bring up a plan for discussion.

We know who came up with this scheme, a bunch of rich, old, white men. I don’t expect them to save us. They are not going to do anything about climate change, poverty, justice, or anything else that matters to the rest of us. It is not in their interest, i.e., the interest of their donors.

What could have been

I believe a lot of this could have been avoided or fixed. But, we did not do it. I want to say that this was because we are idiots. But I can’t. It was because we are selfish, mean-spirited, greedy, and bigoted; in a word, evil. When I hear about the “essential goodness of the American people,” I can refute it with just one word, Trump. The good people elected Trump and keep him in office. And no, don’t tell me that more people voted against him than for him because it was about 50/50 and it should not have been close. And, it is not just Trump. He is the least of our problems; we are the problem. If one rotten apple spoils the barrel, what happens if half the apples are rotten?

And now, we have run out of time. Catastrophic climate change is getting near, and our minds will soon focus on survival. Since we have done little to avert or prepare for the problems we will soon face, we will resort to violence — the clear path to survival for the few lies in the subjugation or extermination of the many. We will become the most militarized society that ever existed. We will need to fight to keep what we have and fight to get what we have not. Trump will not only get his ridiculous wall; we will erect real walls, and we will defend them as if our lives depended on them. Which they will.

Should we continue to try

So what to do? It is tempting to say, “let’s party!” Those of us who are older and less energetic, just want to sleep or maybe sit and stare. If I was all I had to care about, I might do that. As it is, I spend a lot of time thinking about what to do and getting nowhere. It is hard to give up after spending your whole life believing you could make things better if not for everyone, at least for yourself and your family. By the time the worst of this happens, my wife and I will be in the departure lounge. My parents, aunts, and uncles have already sailed. But, my children are young adults; they have fifty years to go and will be around to see catastrophic changes. My grandchildren are toddlers; for them, this disaster we are leaving behind will be the only world they ever knew. How can I help any of them?

If one is going to give up, it is essential to give up soon enough. If you fight to the end and use up your last ounce of energy, and spend your last dollar and then give up, all I can say is that you really screwed up.

Vengeance as the Solution

At times, I switch from thinking about how to make things better and settle on vengeance. What can I do to hurt those I blame? I have to be very selective since we are all to blame, and I don’t have time to stick it to everyone.

In a way, an impending climate catastrophe is what we needed. Without the threat of impending disaster, the powerful have been able to keep us sedated with an ever-expanding range of toys, TV shows, food, drugs, and sex. They have kept us weak and tired, with increasing demands for productivity and efficiency. They keep us poor with rising rents and decreasing wages. They keep us afraid with brutal law enforcement and stories of horrendous crimes. They appeal to patriotism with rumors of terrorists and never-ending wars. They divide us with false claims about other races and religions. Maybe an existential threat is what we need.

I fantasize that vengeance might be the solution. If enough people get angry enough and can unite with a common purpose, it may still be possible to take our world back. It better be soon, though, and it better be brutal. The time for half-measures is past. And yes, I know, many would argue that we become what we despise and I agree. But, when your back is against the wall, such niceties cease to matter.

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