Luis Davila's Weblog


Why does Paul Krugman hate Obama?
April 20, 2008, 10:22 pm
Filed under: obama, paul krugman, politics | Tags: , , , , ,

I have been an avid Paul Krugman for a few years now. I don’t necessarily agree with all of his positions, but his data-driven explanation of the economy and issues such as health care has always been appreciated. My main area of disagreement with Krugman falls on his approach to create change. He focuses on this old-school idea of confrontation as the only way to accomplish a “progressive agenda.” This idea follows the same type of prescription that states: 1) let’s put together in a room a bunch of technocrats (scientists and lawyers for the most part) who come up with a “solution” to a specific problem. 2) Let’s hire a bunch of lobbyists, lawyers, NGOs and other groups to push and “fight” for the “progressive solution” and not stop till the other side (in Krugman’s vision this means the Republican Party) is fully destroyed and left with nothing. 3) Implement the solution and continue to step all over the opposing party (instead of looking for ways to create bridges and understanding),and focus on reminding the losing party that they are wrong and the winning party (in Krugman’s vision this means “the progressives”) is on top.

This of course has not worked since the 1970’s in the US (policy-wise) and since Lyndon Johnson (in presidential politics). At that point, the US population got tired of this old cycle, and started looking for political leaders to propose ideas (even if the wrong one), remain optimistic (even if for the wrong reasons), and provide the solutions that will keep people positive about their future (even if those solutions are wrong).

It is sad that Krugman doesn’t seem to get this, and instead continues to be insecure about the possibilities of unity and foregoing a stop to confrontation and bickering as the only way to obtain positive solutions.

Sometimes Krugman seems like the harassed nerd at school, who in a passive aggressive way plots ways to get back at the jocks and popular kids – I tend to think that he is a big fan of all those late 90’s teen flicks that focused on this story line. I just never believed that this was real. I always thought that a middle way always exists, and that we are globally (not only in the US) ready to move towards politics that transcend self-centered bickering and truly looks for common solutions.

Hopefully Krugman will get on the bandwagon before it is too late… A first step to achieve this is stopping to bash Obama every single opportunity he gets.

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Is Blue the new Green?

I recently read Adam Werbach’s newest speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. The first one was extremely controversial among the environmental community, as it declared environmentalism dead. This was huge given Werbach’s work with Sierra Club (youngest president ever at 23), and essentially as the poster boy for young people involved in environmental issues (for more discussion on this go to Grist.com).

The new speech still declares environmentalism dead, but instead declares the birth of a new movement called Blue. This new movement is essentially a movement made up by everyone and anyone, allowing people to become better consumers, design what he calls PSPs (personal sustainability practices), and live better, healthier lives. Werbach designed this idea while working for WalMart as a sustainability consultant (this obviously brought more controversy to his image). The concept also feeds to the same thinking embraced by the folks at the Breakthrough Institute (see my previous posting).

I think the idea has a lot of potential… Sure, people conscious of the magnitude of climate change, should consider ways to reduce consumption, and live healthier lives through more sustainable lifestyles. However, most people are not aware of this! Until there are massive investments into educating citizens around the world about the dangers posed by climate change, and ways to adapt and mitigate its effects, efforts like Blue actually make a lot of sense. I also think that Blue also changes the framework by which most people consume and behave as members of society. It provides a positive, non-confrontational solution to the way we approach sustainability.

I am convinced that this idea is going to remain controversial, especially among the activist community, but I am looking forward to gaging whether it becomes a true vibrant movement or not.



Obama and the Apollo Project

Hi everyone! It has been a while since I posted to the blog. I have been really busy and doing some traveling for work. Nevertheless, after watching last night’s debate I had a definite urge to start blogging again!

I don’t want to comment on the bickering between the candidates… For that go to Politico.com

Instead, I wanted to write about the most interesting subject (in my opinion) that came out of the debate; a clear remark by Obama supporting  an Apollo Project-like presidential initiative to support renewable energies and a global economy based on green jobs. This would include a dramatic increase of funding for R&D in overcoming the technology gap when it comes to energy resources.

Interestingly enough, I went to a meeting earlier this week with the Breakthrough Institute discussing recent findings published in a Nature Magazine on how the IPCC understimated the technological advances needed to stabilize carbon-dioxide emissions.

The presenters at my meeting focused on the need to mobilize the US in a massive technology innovation effort, like the rebuilding of Europe after World War II, the Manhattan Project and the Apollo Project. Michael Shellenberger, famous with Ted Nordhaus for proclaiming the Death to Environmentalism, has been promoting this concept as well, especially as it fits the idea of reframing the discourse on environmentalism to a more inclusive and broader movement for all progressives. All of this is very much influenced by George Lakoff’s work on framing language focus on strenghts and not on policy/wonky confrontational prescriptions (a la “bread and butter” Democrats).

The other side of this Apollo Project-type effort involves an honest partnership with groups that have not been fully engaged in the renewable energy discussion in the past, such as unions, environmental justice groups, people of faith, etc. An interesting group that is trying to bridge this is Green for All which tries to “build an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.”

The point with all of this is that at my recent meeting, I specifically asked if anyone was speaking to the presidential candidates about all of this stuff, and no one really knew… Based on Obama’s remarks last night, it seems that someone is! Let’s see how it works out!