Home Authors Posts by Dawn Allen
When the mining and manufacturing jobs that supported a strong middle class went overseas or were automated away, they told us not to worry. Not only would these changes make widgets cheaper for people with lower incomes (like most of us were destined to become), we were just transitioning into a service economy, and new jobs would be easy to find as long as we were ready to retrain and think outside the box. As it turns out, we're going to have to think outside the Big Box (stores, that is) since now, even those lower wage jobs are disappearing in a retail collapse.
There's an upcoming case at the Supreme Court that has some rather far-reaching implications. Trinity Lutheran v. Comer concerns a Missouri recycling program, a religious school, and a whole passel of issues. In this case, religious freedom advocates seem to claim that grant money isn't nearly as fungible as when it goes to Planned Parenthood.
Remember ancient history, all the way back in 2013, when the world was a much simpler place and the news of the day was that the IRS had supposedly “singled out” Tea Party organizations for further scrutiny before allowing them tax-exempt 501(c)(4) status? It's been a while, but those events are still shaking out in the legal system.
Since Earth Day is tomorrow, it's worth considering a couple old, bold examples of what humans can do right – and wrong. Surprisingly, two of the most contrary landscapes on the face of the planet may both have been created by people. What can we learn from the stark difference between the Sahara and the Amazon?
Why is it that so much of modern life, frankly, sucks? Sure, we have a few fun gadgets and some booze (and in some places, legal marijuana) to distract us and ease the weltschmerz, but why does it so often seem that this is the natural, unavoidable state of things? Can we hope for better? Life isn't always easy or fun, and learning that is part of growing up. However, there really is more pain than there absolutely has to be, and that's because misery is profitable.
Ever drive out in the country where livestock feedlots saturate the air with ammonia so thick that your nose hairs practically wither? Where I come from, that and the ever-present earthy smell of manure were euphemistically called “fresh country air.” These industrial feedlot exhalations aren't just stinky, though: they are a potent source of pollution. Solving this problem seems like a good way for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make itself useful, but in 2008, the EPA decided that CAFOs didn't have to report their pollutants. Last week, though, the D.C. Court of Appeals vacated that rule, saying that Congress had not given the EPA the authority to create CERCLA exemptions as they pleased. Now, CAFOs and other massively polluting livestock operations will be required, like everyone else, to answer to all of us for their pollution problems.
Last month when the GOP got their first honest-to-God chance to repeal the Affordable Care Act (which they nicknamed “Obamacare”), their failure to follow through despite having majorities in both houses of Congress and a Republican president merely illuminated what most of us have suspected all along, which is that their years of bluster have been a steaming pile of politics and that there's very little in the way of governing going on. The GOP healthcare zombie seems once again to be poking its withered fingers out of the legislative grave, though, this time with a new “conservative” solution to the problem of expensive premiums: high risk pools.
An upcoming Supreme Court case, Jesner v. Arab Bank, will decide whether corporations can be sued for human rights abuses under the Alien Tort Statute. This case, set to be argued during the term beginning in October 2017, will force some hard decisions for conservatives, including the newly minted justice Neil Gorsuch. For example, which decision will be the harder poison pill to swallow, a ruling upholding corporate liability that can be extrapolated to other cases, or giving an approving nod to a company that allegedly funneled payments to the families of suicide bombers?
When the man who bragged about grabbing women by the genitals won the highest office in the land, leading by 53% among white women in particular, it was abundantly clear that womens' issues needed a front row seat in politics and pop culture over the next four years. The January Women's March put forth the first steps in a resistance movement that may well galvanize the electorate and provide the mainstream-Left determination that severely lacked in the lead up to the Trump presidency. Later, the “Day Without a Woman” and Equal Pay Day provided additional soapboxes for women trying to be heard. However, just as “uppity” women have done for generations, they've drawn commentary, condemnation, and even capitalist efforts from all sides. Because, you know, the last thing society seems able to do (besides stop spewing carbon) is find its peace with women.
In response to my essay “Who Shall We Throw Under the Bus?”, a politically conservative friend wished that liberals would throw the gun control advocates under the bus in order to gain votes among disappointed Red Staters that supported Trump in the last election. Since Trump's election empowered dangerous forces in our society, however, more and more liberals have been embracing a defense-based gun culture.