Category Archives: Michael Hoexter

Loathsome Wall Street Deficit Hysterics: ‘Blame the Old and Sick, Not Us’ – Part 1

By Michael Hoexter

The austerity push by politicians, political operatives, and pundits of the last 5 years is the height of economic, political, and social perversity and stupidity. Yet, as it still resonates in the halls of power, in the White House and Congress, and in many parts of the media, it still requires explanation and clarification.  Besides inspiring the reduced level of government funding we are now seeing in the US and elsewhere, the deficit hysteria campaign is threatening to undermine what remains of the American social safety net that helped form and support the American middle class over the past 70 years.  In addition, now and in the future, we will need a government able to use the full range of fiscal (i.e. financial) tools to combat climate change, tools which the austerity campaign seeks to lame or sequester for the benefit of a small financial elite.   In the latest turn, deficit hysterics are trying to incite intergenerational warfare between the young and the old, accusing the latter of taking more than their share of public financial resources which the young will need later in life.

Continue reading

Obama Finally Fights GOP, Affirms a Role for Government, but Renews Threat to Shrink the US Economy

By Michael Hoexter

As the US government shutdown was still in effect and the prospect of a debt default loomed, President Obama held an extraordinary and revealing White House press briefing on October 8th in which he clarified his then position vis-à-vis the shutdown and debt ceiling.  After the shutdown was (temporarily) ended on October 17th, Obama made a fairly extensive public statement airing his views of how he sees economic policy and government’s role. While I have not followed every one of Obama’s press conferences or speeches, in both of these public appearances, Obama went into unusual detail and lengths to expand on his views of politics, government and the economy.  In addition, he marked out his most combative stance vis-à-vis the Republicans to date.  Also in his October 17th statement we had the clearest statement for a number of decades, of some of the benefits of having a government at all from a top American political leader.

Continue reading

Behind the Crisis in American Governance: Delusions about the Economy Treated As a Matter of Differing Economic “Taste” – Pt. 2/2

By Michael Hoexter

[Part 1] [Part 2]

Why It’s Delusional:  The Critical Dependencies of Capitalism

The mythical market and view of an autonomous, self-managing capitalism is contradicted by the multiple real critical dependencies of our economy.  These critical dependencies, i.e. necessary relationships with other non-capitalist systems/entities, are integral to capitalism rather than optional features.   Dependencies between these social and natural systems are the object of any meaningful economic policy or, for that matter, any government policy with economic effects.  They are “critical” because they are non-optional and therefore not a matter of individuals deciding that for ideological reasons they “don’t like” one or the other of them and we can therefore jettison them, while maintaining something that is recognizably capitalism.  If people in society were to seek to change the economic system to some other system, either by conscious effort or by historical accident, it then may be the case that one or the other of the dependencies listed below may no longer be “critical”.  However no mainstream political actors in this drama are claiming that they are making a break with capitalism; in fact, to the contrary, right-wing Republicans claim to be its sole political defenders.

Continue reading

Behind the Crisis in American Governance: Delusions about the Economy Treated As a Matter of Differing Economic “Taste” – Pt. 1/2

By Michael Hoexter

[Part 1] [Part 2]

While the US political system (federal, state and local) has been assumed to be one of the more stable political institutions in the world, over the last two decades a series of confrontations between the Republicans and the Democrats has started to expose serious faults in American governance.  The current government shutdown is just the latest and in all probability not the last in a long line of aggressive efforts originating almost always from the right-wing of the Republican Party intent on destabilizing and delegitimizing its opposition with no seeming regard for the integrity of the institutions of government as a whole.  There is a sense of “entitlement to win” on the Right that is not mirrored on the supposed “Left” represented by the Democratic Party.  From that sense of entitlement, the Right feels justified in using extreme measures to get its way, including shutting down government to extract political concessions from the party that currently controls both the Presidency and the Senate.

Continue reading

Now is the Time to Cast Off Delusion…

By Michael Hoexter

In writing the Pedal-to-the-Metal Plan (P2M) to build a post-carbon energy system, I felt compelled at various points to turn and address what would be expectable objections to what I believe is a sensible way forward on economic and climate-related issues.  To face the massive challenge of climate change and to reorient our economy towards “real” goods and services will require people to have greater mental clarity about a number of important issues that have over several decades become muddled or swept into forgetfulness.  To sign onto and participate in an effort such as the P2M Plan or similar it would in many cases involve examining some of one’s life priorities and will take deliberate thought by each to figure out how they would come to terms with and collaboratively shape a new reality.

Continue reading

The Only Way Forward: A Pedal-to-the-Metal Plan for Energy System Transformation — (Pt. 3 of 3)

By Michael Hoexter

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3]

Market Transformation Policies: Harnessing Self-Interest for the General Interest

With the assumption that government has the right to intervene and shape markets for the public good, the below policies will drive consumers and private investors to help shape the zero-carbon energy system.  The motivational forces harnessed by these policy instruments are narrow individual and business self-interest (i.e. increasing monetary income, decreasing monetary costs).

Continue reading

The Only Way Forward: A Pedal-to-the-Metal Plan for Energy System Transformation — (Pt. 2 of 3)

By Michael Hoexter

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3]

Policy Instruments to Realize the Pedal-to-the-Metal Plan

The above list of technological changes to radically reduce and eventually zero-out society’s emissions using current and near-future technologies would represent the largest construction project in the history of humankind by far, occurring over several decades.  While these developments are required to preserve something that resembles society and what might be called appreciable human wealth, in themselves they are not objects of desire for significant portions of the public nor do many private investors see attractive returns in them, so that it cannot be said that market demand currently exists for this type of transformation.  Still, many individuals would probably come to enjoy, for instance, the amenities offered by the zero-carbon infrastructure once built, as political battles and the battles around finances, land use and the noise and inconveniences of the construction period had receded into the past.

Continue reading

The Only Way Forward: A Pedal-to-the-Metal Plan for Energy System Transformation – (Pt. 1 of 3)

By Michael Hoexter

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3]

The largest-scale, most important and time-sensitive challenge facing humanity is the climate crisis.  The capitalist industrial societies of the last two hundred years and the command-and-control industrial economies of mid-20th Century Communist regimes are and were both premised on the idea that the environment is an infinitely capacious dumping ground for the physical by-products of industrial production and consumption.  One class of those byproducts that was overlooked in the first waves of concern about the environment in the 1960’s and 70’s, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, has turned out to be the most potentially damaging in the longer term and among the most difficult to bring under control.  Continue reading

Politically Fashionable Carbon Gradualism vs. Reality

By Michael Hoexter

The recent re-entry of the Obama Administration into public discussions and advocacy for climate change action has been a mixed blessing for the climate action movement.  On the one hand, President Obama possesses the (U.S.) bully pulpit as President and thus can broadcast messages, which can be heard around the country and the world.  Furthermore he leads the executive branch of the US federal government, where his Administration can enforce existing regulations, negotiate international business and political relationships, and set climate and energy targets for the functioning of the federal government’s internal operations.  Indications that the US President personally is concerned about climate and assigns it a medium or high priority would, one would assume, make more likely real policy and executive actions, not just speeches.  Against the background of relative US government inaction on climate change over the past two and a half decades, the decision to bring the climate issue out of the shadows in the beginning of his last term in office and his June 25th speech would under most circumstances be viewed as a net “win” for climate action and the climate movement, no matter what the exact content of his policy prescriptions.

Continue reading

Summer Heat: The Movement Against Ripping the Face off the Earth for a Brief Fossil-Fueled “Party”

By Michael Hoexter

350.org’s “Do the Math” educational campaign and documentary film points out a crucial fact for our time:  that most of the known reserves, the assets of the fossil fuel industry, must remain in the ground untapped, for the climate to remain something remotely like what we have known throughout the history of civilization.  Civilization requires agriculture, which is dependent on a few sensitive species to produce a surplus of food for masses of people with comparatively lower levels of labor or mechanical work.  If we make the climate inhospitable to these species, as well as to ourselves, via fossil fuel use and degradation of  the carbon buffering capacity of the environment, we will make it vanishingly likely that our own success as a species will continue.

Continue reading