Note: This post was ready to publish last week, but I wanted to give a friend an opportunity to convince me that the net neutrality situation was a non-issue. That was a mistake. I remain unconvinced that what the FCC intends to do would not wreck things beyond repair.
It is not difficult to find things to be grateful for during this American Thanksgiving holiday. The question is whether you will still have that sentiment at this time next year. Much of what we take for granted is now in serious jeopardy thanks to this edition of the Presidency and Congress. Life as we know it may not survive through the next three years. One could argue that optimism about the future has been the first casualty.
Elephants, and lions, and tigers, and Polar Bears, oh my. They may be trophy-hunted or poached into extinction, or killed off by the policies exercised by climate change deniers. Science has no place in federal government right now, unless it can be used to accelerate the extraction of fossil fuels in the interest of "secure" energy of U.S. origin. The only bright spot has been the President's apparent reversal of his bid to overturn the ban on the importation of African Elephant parts by trophy hunters who kill their victims in Zimbabwe and Zambia. He has faced more public pressure on this one issue than any other so far, and he is apparently bowing to it. Good to know.
The onslaught against nature continues with a proposal to raise one-day admission fees to popular national parks a whopping $50.00 to $70.00. Yes, our parks are starved for funds for maintenance and other services, but that is thanks to a bloated Department of Defense budget that amounts to corporate welfare for private contractors, and wasteful spending in other areas as well. The conspiracy theorist in me believes the astronomical entry fee proposals are designed to drive down park visitations. Even people who can afford those prices may boycott the parks on principal. The less the attendance at parks, the more our President and Congress can argue that those public lands should be opened up to something truly beneficial: leases for oil, gas, and mineral extraction. The government will not see the profit, but the multinational corporations doing the work certainly will, which is the whole point. Meanwhile, leases are already being drawn up for properties managed by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and other agencies.
Do you think the World Wide Web is just fine as it is? Me, too, which is why I am aghast that the Federal Communications Commission, again led by a Presidential appointee, plans on allowing ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to pretty much write their own rules for access to the internet, both for users like you and me, and for those who provide services and content online. The oversimplified scenario is that if you want access to some of the websites and apps you are enjoying currently, you will have to pay more. Likewise, if you want your business to continue enjoying a (high) profile online, you will have to put up more money to get the same amount of customer traffic. Gee, I wonder who gets rich in all this (rhetorical question, sorry).
Meanwhile, alternative media, the non-fake news we turn to for the real scoop, will get overwhelmed by traditional media that can afford to get its message out there. Organizing protests, boycotts, petitions, and other means of dissent will become infinitely more difficult if people have to choose between different social media outlets, or are now unable to afford access at all. It might be the final nail in the coffin for dissent.
That question could be taken two ways: What other atrocities of policy are we in for? Or, what do we do to stop this runaway train? I cannot recall a time when I have written more about public issues, signed more online petitions, or (ever) written to my Congressperson than I am doing now; and it has nothing to do with political affiliation. I honestly feel I am being personally assaulted because of my passion for liberty, wildlife, creative enterprises, small business, the sharing economy, local agriculture, and rights to freedom of (non-hate) speech, healthcare, and safety. This administration is not good for anybody, except the ultra-rich who are also greedy.
What we have to do is avoid despair, and keep up the pressure. Keep informing each other. Raise awareness of issues as you yourself become aware of them. Raise funds for organizations battling against this administration on the streets, in the courts, and elsewhere. Mostly, don't lose friends over disagreements.