1. When Good Governments Go Bad
All good things must come to an end. Whether societies are ruled by ruthless dictators or more well-meaning representatives, they fall apart in time, with different degrees of severity. In a new paper, anthropologists examined a broad, global sample of 30 pre-modern societies. They found that when “good” governments–ones that provided goods and services for their people and did not starkly concentrate wealth and power–fell apart, they broke down more intensely than collapsing despotic regimes. And the researchers found a common thread in the collapse of good governments: leaders who undermined and broke from upholding core societal principles, morals, and ideals.
“Pre-modern states were not that different from modern ones. Some pre-modern states had good governance and weren’t that different from what we see in some democratic countries today,” says Gary Feinman, the MacArthur curator of anthropology at Chicago’s Field Museum and one of the authors of a new study in Frontiers in Political Science. “The states that had good governance, although they may have been able to sustain themselves slightly longer than autocratic-run ones, tended to collapse more thoroughly, more severely.”
2. The Green New Deal Can’t Break The Laws Of Physics
Elections, as everyone now says, have consequences. But they can’t change the laws of physics.
That matters, even in this hypertrophied political season, because one of the policy choices in play this election is whether or not to embrace a Green New Deal or one of its variants. But the Green New Deal has at its core an impossibility in physics: the idea of “free” and “renewable” energy.
The monetary, environmental and geopolitical costs of energy technologies all derive from nature’s constraints. And the physics of all energy sources, whether wind and sun or oil and gas, share the same core features. All exist in nature for free. But that’s irrelevant. One has to pay landowners (private of governmental) to access locations where useful resources are located. Then one purchases machines, built from materials extracted from the earth, in order to convert any resources into a form that can be delivered to people. Since all machines wear out, there is nothing truly “renewable” about any of them.
Thus, the invisible elephant in the room with a Green New Deal, whether implemented by federal or state governments, is the staggering quantity of stuff that needs to be mined in order to build all the green machines, and where that mining and processing happens.