HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

January 21, 2008
Two Matters:
The Environmental Crisis As An Economic Opportunity,
And John Edwards As An Angry Populist

Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
VelvelOnNationalAffairs.com


I’m going to break a record and send out two postings in one day. [Link to Dr. Velvel's second posting: Richard Levin: President of Yale And King Of Comedy] This one is short.  It consists of brief comments on two matters that have been on my mind for awhile.

An anonymous email correspondent has asked why I don’t post on environmental matters.  The truth is that, for whatever reason, the environment is not my bag.  But I do have one idea which never seems to be mentioned.

Programs to clean up the environment are often resisted because they would be an expense, a very large one.  But wouldn’t they simultaneously be a fantastic investment opportunity that would work wonders for employment, incomes, return on capital, the economy in general?  Take automobiles, for example.  If you have to redesign them, retool factories, find lighter materials, revamp engines, and all the rest of the paraphernalia, wouldn’t this of necessity require extensive investment and create new jobs galore?

By the way, isn’t much the same true of the need to fix our infrastructure?  Isn’t the need to repair hundreds or thousands of roads and bridges, and to revamp utilities, a sure fire way to launch a thousand ships of private investment, and a thousand arks of jobs?  Isn’t that exactly what happened when our original infrastructure was built? - - the railroads in the 1800s, the initial highways in the 1920s, the interstate system in the 1950s and 1960s?  Isn’t the environmental crisis, in short, a massive economic opportunity which the foresighted would embrace, and not some kind of economic drain?

On a different note, I’ve read critiques of John Edwards which say he can’t win because, instead of being a sunny upbeat populist, he is an angry one - - just like the original populists were angry, I suppose.  He is assailed by the punditry for anger displayed by speaking of “‘corporate greed’” and “‘the destruction of the middle class.’”  Well, just what the hell do the pundits think has been going on in this country for the last decade or so - - corporate charity for one and all (not just CEOs) and heartfelt unremitting advancement of the middle class’ interests?  Apparently Edwards is supposed to refrain from telling the truth as a lot of us see it and, one might venture to guess, as many, many millions of struggling middle class people see it.

You know, the punditry’s attack on Edwards - - whom they apparently by turns either attack or ignore - - reminds me of a comment by Jefferson.  He said that if forced to choose between government without newspapers or newspapers without government, he would choose the latter.  Well, I know government has been rotten since the early to mid 1960s, and I also know the media has been rotten since about the 1980s.  So maybe we need a third choice in addition to the two considered by Jefferson.  Maybe we need a choice among government without the media, the media without government, or neither government nor the mainstream media.  I would vote for the last of the three.


This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel.  If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at velvel@mslaw.edu.  Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.


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