I always enjoy people assuming my positions, just because they consider me to be liberal. One of my fellow liberals decided to start an argument over the Keystone Pipeline being debated with some of our more conservative dinner companions.
I surprised him, when I really didn't take a strong position on the project. I said Obama might as well do it, because at least it will give him some political appeal to the middle. My friend was aghast.
Here's the thing. Extracting and refining oil has a negative impact on the environment. That impact is the same in Texas as it is in a Japanese refinery. Why is it that American liberals seem to think that ethical responsibility disappears 200 miles off shore?
This conversation was probably more amusing for the conservatives at the table. As a liberal, I don't think anyone, who owns an iPad, can claim to be pro labor. I'm not saying I don't own anything made by slaves, I just don't pretend to have some sort of ethical superiority about it.
America has spent the last few decades importing products, while exporting the ethical considerations involved with manufacturing. As coal plant powering a factory in Ohio produces the same amount of carbon as one in Shanghai.
I'll admit to being cynical to the point of frustration, but this outlook is not without cause. As long as the American conversation revolves around rearranging the distribution of economic resources, no meaningful change will occur.
I work with 60 year old friends, who tell me they just need to get 11-15% a year out of markets, and they'll be okay to retire. These same friends will bash greedy bankers, and decry outsourcing of American jobs. It is interesting that their own actions of economic extraction don't square with their macro concerns about greed.
We do have an entitlement problem in this country, but it isn't one confined to a specific economic class. It is the belief that the American standard of living should always improve, regardless of the environmental and economic factors related to sustainability.
We should always be able to turn on a light, get water from our sink, fill up our gas tanks and buy plastic crap, and we should never be burdened with what it takes to achieve those ends.
Arbitrary activism is no substitute for individual decision making.