The Hubris of Trust


Most of the time I believe that I’ve got a really good bead on things, that is to say that my understanding of the important issues of the day matches up fairly well with my position, personal beliefs, and actions.

I try to stay well informed; I read veraciously all that I possibly can from as many diverse sources as possible, still there are days when what I read confuses the heck out of me and calls into question some of my most basic beliefs.

I possess the neuroanatomy of a Liberal and think of myself as a Socialist with the best interests of my fellow man at heart. This has focused my attention on the environment and the moral imperative to leave the remaining fossil fuels in the ground. There are arguably many other issues that I, as a liberal and a socialist should and could be involved with but I just don’t have the mental band width to fully engage or participate in them all, so when I come across an article that discusses a convergence between two or more issues that are on my radar scope I tend to focus intently on such articles.

And so I give you excerpts from EDF Voices: People on the Planet

Is 15% of the global clean energy market good enough?

“Sure, the “advanced energy market” is a broad term, but that’s because it’s a broad market.

Distinct from conventional energy products, advanced energy products are all the clean energy innovations we see and use on a daily basis including solar panels, wind turbines, electric and hybrid vehicles, high-performance buildings and energy-saving industrial processes.

Simply put, the advanced energy market is everything that enables more secure, clean, and affordable energy for today and tomorrow.

A competitive, innovative market rests on stable, forward-looking policies, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan is one crucial step in the right direction. By placing limits on carbon pollution from existing fossil fuel power plants, the plan will create long-term market signals to drive investment in energy efficiency and all areas of the advanced energy market.”

Now compare the text in the above article with the content from this article and you’ll see my dilemma;

“This is relevant to the Trans Pacific-Partnership (TPP) because it is difficult to see any force in the domestic economy that can spur enough growth to offset a high and rising trade deficit. In spite of what you hear from many economists (you know, the type that couldn’t see an $8 trillion housing bubble), consumption is actually high relative to income. The share of income that is being consumed is higher now than at any point in the last seven decades, except when consumption was driven by the ephemeral wealth from the stock and housing bubbles.

Investment is also near its long-term average as a share of GDP. It is difficult to tell a story as to why we should expect a large uptick in investment from current levels, although there is some room for growth in housing construction.

We could see more government spending, which would boost economic growth, but for political reasons that doesn’t appear likely. If Congress were prepared to embrace a plan for major spending on infrastructure, health care and clean energy, that could get us back to full employment, but not many people would bet on that prospect.

This leaves us with trade. If we don’t see a large reduction in our trade deficit there is no plausible way in which labor markets will tighten enough to allow workers to see real wages and get their share of economic growth. The TPP matters in this story because it provides a venue through which we could see a reduction in the trade deficit, if the deal included rules on currency values.

Currency values are central in the story of trade. When the dollar rises in value against other currencies, it makes goods and services produced in the United States more expensive. As a result we buy more imports because they are cheaper and our exports fall because they are more expensive. This is why the trade deficit has grown. The rise in the dollar in the second half of 2014 has priced many of our goods out of the market.

The TPP gave the United States an opportunity to address the problem of an over-valued dollar, but President Obama chose not to take it. This failure would likely condemn us to many more years of weak labor markets in which workers lack the bargaining power to secure their share of economic growth.

President Obama may pretend to be outraged that his allies on other issues are not supporting him on the TPP, but he surely knows basic economics. His trade deal is a step towards locking in large trade deficits and high unemployment. No one should be surprised that those who care about working people don’t want to go along for this ride.”

I petitioned vigorously against the TPP Trade agreement primarily because it was conducted in secret without the Public’s knowledge or the participation of Congress, whose members are supposed to represent the people’s interests but who recently seem as if they only represent the interests of their corporate handlers, but that is a problem for another day and sufficient bandwidth.

I feel lost in this argument between the economics of the advanced energy market and the needs for growth of our own economy; living in a market system is my personal bête noire.

I truly believed that the TPP was a bad deal principally because it was negotiated in secrecy but now that Obama has signed the leases that will allow Shell Oil to rape the Arctic and put that pristine environment at risk of a BP like spill I’m convinced that the man I once admired and voted for twice has other interest at heart than the American people or the world in which we all depend. This betrayal on two important issues calls into question the most basic premises for my critical thinking; if I could be so wrong about the man how can I trust my instincts about anything. Was it hubris on my part?

hubris (ˈhjuːbrɪs) noun

  1. pride or arrogance
  2. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) (in Greek tragedy) an excess of ambition, pride, etc, ultimately causing the transgressor’s ruin. – [C19: from Greek] – huˈbristic hyˈbristic adj.

I do not know but I’m left here today with a very bad feeling.

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