Of Money, Biophysics and Government
Jane Mayer’s new book, Dark Money, sets forth with frightening clarity and compelling detail how sinister the problem of money in politics has become[i]. The issue has been amplified in various tracts \ , none more simply stated and powerful than Bill Moyers’ widely circulated essay deploring the concentration of wealth in the hands of one percent of the populace while the majority is systematically impoverished[ii] . Mayer deplores the conspiracy of the Koch brothers and allies in advancing that transition and supporting the patently false proposition that the free enterprise capitalistic system assures the welfare of all without governmental interference or regulation. She shows how corporate interests have used tax-free "public interest" institutions to advance the 1980 Reagan mantra of "getting government off the backs of the people". Their efforts have produced the neo-conservative congressional leaders who refuse to perform the duties of their elected offices. These same seditious officials have also frustrated efforts to correct corporate exploitation of environment for profit including in particular all efforts to control the climatic disruption now wreaking havoc globally. .
Neither author considers the biophysical limits of the earth as now limiting, if not defining, core political and economic objectives. Growth of the human enterprise alone generates a soaring need for rules to protect not only public health and welfare but also corporate safety and welfare. Here I am guilty of blatant self-promotion for I have written about these limits recently [iii]. I join in showing that it is now essential to invert the Reagan mantra and to restore the integrity of governmental function. The objective becomes building a government that works in assuring the full functional integrity of the global environment to accommodate growth in all aspects of the human endeavor. We who thrive on growth travel a one-way street into a compelling need for regulation of human affairs in the interests of protecting welfare, including civil rights, as human numbers swell, corporate aspirations expand and the human undertaking intensifies. There is no turning back to simpler times on this road into life in an ever tightening world whose core functions demand a delicately defined set of circumstances to support all life.
These developments are products of biophysical reality, ineluctable products of growth, not to be set aside by what amount to bribes from corporate interests aimed at turning governmental purpose to corporate advantage. Roots of the changes required to correct these trends lie in the realities of the physical, chemical and biotic integrity the earth, whose continued function is ever more important to human welfare and challenged as never previously. Answers lie not only in a new economy and a restoration of responsibility and reason in government but also in using scientific insights into the elementary biophysics of crowding a planet with 7-10 billion humans.
[i] Jane Mayer. Dark Money. Doubleday, N.Y. 2016
[iii] George M. Woodwell. A World to Live In. MIT. Cambridge, MA. 2016
George M. Woodwell
Woods Hole, MA Sept. 11, 2016