From Jan. 24, 2017
This feels like the opposite of Nobel prize week. Instead of a celebration of ideas that were successful, this is a week of really bad ideas.
Physics anti-prize – let’s get those pipelines going, because 20th century energy is the best energy.
Medicine anti-prize – Repeal ACA. Repress CDC and other research.
Chemistry anti-prize – I think that’s still coming. Also weakening environmental protections.
Literature anti-prize – every assault on truth that comes out of press conferences and tweets.
Peace anti-prize – walls, withdrawing from the UN, take your pick.
Economics anti-prize – ditching trade agreements in order to magically create jobs.
And I actually don’t mean that because I disagree with them, although I do. I mean that there’s a tension between ideas based on some principle, and ideas that will work. All the actions this week are based on principles. Cut environmental protections. Build a wall. Bar immigration from Muslim countries (yes, that’s what it is, despite the dissembling). In each case, the idea is meant to make a minority of the country happy. They are standing on principle.
And in every case, they are ideas that won’t work. They won’t accomplish what they are meant to. Will a wall keep anyone out? Please. How ridiculous. This is all for show. Will taking away environmental protections spur business? Nope. Will reinstating the pipelines create more jobs? Again, no. Why won’t these work? Because every one of these problems is far more complex than a simplistic action will fix. Economies don’t work like the Trumpublicans think they do. Science doesn’t work like they think it does. Society doesn’t. It’s all vastly oversimplified, and made emotionally safe, because the threats can then be located in other people rather than in reality itself. It can be located in opponents, rather than doing the hard intellectual work that nature and reality present to us.
These moves this week are all for optics. They are to reward the minority of voters that gave us this government. When I hear about some people not liking technocrats, not liking people who “don’t speak their language”, what I hear are people who don’t like that the world is complex, and so would rather have a simple solution than a real solution. Easy, lazy answers.
This week is feel-good week for the revanchist base. Put everything right. Easy-peasy, all ya gotta do is make these simple moves, and hey presto, everything works for real Americans. Get back at all those people who made everyone feel bad by making the world more complicated than it has to be. Get back at the moochers, the lazy, all those horrible evil people. And really, if we have to put up with blatant lies and heavy-handed oppression of government agencies that produce actual knowledge as opposed to spin for it to happen, that’s a small price to pay.