December 20, 2007

Bush administration: still hypocritical

California and 16 other states don't get to have their own air quality standards, because the Bush administration thinks we should have a single national standard. Where were they on Medicare, where their private insurance/drug coverage plans have created a dramatically confusing system? How about when they gave states 'superwaivers' from all the miscellaneous welfare regulations and also from independent evaluation processes?

You know, I have some respect for people like Mike Huckabee and John McCain, even though I think they'd be terrible presidents, because they mostly seem to have some kind of political philosophy that informs their votes and policies. With the Bush administration, it's just about greed. Up until I started reading about No Child Left Behind, I imagined that it had just been a triumph of misguided educational philosophy; actually, it's a give-away to test publishers, private tutoring companies, and corporate curricular design. I have never, ever heard of a Bush initiative that was not a corporate give-away of some kind if you paid attention.

Having a single national emissions policy would be good. But the one we have? It sucks. California's independent emissions laws - 50+ waivers already granted - have driven much of the new automotive technology, including hybrids, ultra-low emissions vehicles, zero-emissions vehicles, and electric cars. The rest of us are better off because of those laws. As the US refuses to use regulatory structures to promote public health (see also Europe's new toxicity standards for artificial materials) we get further behind other industrialized countries, and end up being a dumping ground for crappy, high-emissions vehicles and left-over stocks of cheap, unsafe plastics. California and state standards are our hope of fixing that, since right now the federal government is too greedstruck and deadlocked to do much.

Meanwhile, doesn't it strike anyone else as funny that 17 states, with a good portion of the US population, want better air standards, and yet we can't get them through Congress?

Stay tuned for further discussion of counter-productive public policies that conflict with what we actually know about the world. I'll be at it all decade.

December 12, 2007

crazy shit

I haven't written anything for, what, a month? And I never did write the post about the Outward Bound trip and how amazing it was and how ridiculously cute all those kids are, but if you email me I'll send you the link to their photos.

And I have a whole month's worth of crazy shit at school to write about (getting asked about by a senior, apparently seriously; the boys who just got arrested; two murders of students in two weeks; class average on a quiz being 81%, meaning they learned their times tables [!!!!]; the boy who told me, 'this is the best math'; long conversations with a student about friendship, values, strip clubs, and Aristotle; explaining why I don't have a TV; Vietnamese food with kids) but there will always be crazy shit at school.

What there might not always be, though, is ice in the Arctic. Which, that is crazy. The Northwest Passage? It's going to exist. The North Pole? Not frozen. As of 2013, says the new prediction, and that doesn't even consider the historic lows in ice coverage from 2005 and 2007. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is talking about catastrophe: catastrophic extinctions (40-70% of species on earth!), catastrophic drought (Tucson, I'm looking at you), continued and catastrophic rises in sea level (wiping my current and possible future homes off the map).

Where's my post-apocalyptic survival group when I need it?